December 15, 2014

Laddie By Kimberly Wing

Laddie was one of the very first books I read when we started home schooling.  What I really enjoyed about the book was the example of the father.  He was focused on his kid’s education, but he didn’t preach about it; he set the example about learning.  He made it a priority in their lives.  He wanted his wife to be educated, but recognized her responsibilities in having a large family, so he would read to her nightly.  This impressed me greatly.  I did not have a love for reading when we started home schooling.  I knew I needed to start reading and learn to enjoy it.  My husband set the example for our family.  He would come home from work and sit down in the library and read for about four hours a night.  We could all see him snuggled up in the recliner reading.  The kids would go in and visit and sometime sit on his lap while he read to them.  At dinner he would tell us about the book he was reading and share something enjoyable about the book.  It was motivating to hear him tell a teaser about the book.  I began to get excited about some day reading that book.
We also began to do what we called “Daddy devotionals” at night, similar to the father in Laddie. Warren would pick a book like God, Family Country by Ezra Taft Benson.  He would read and then explain the book to us. We went through all kinds of books, but our favorite is always history.
  One of our big goals as a family was to understand the Constitution better and the founding fathers.  Warren started teaching Principles of Liberty classes.  The first book we started with was the 5000 year leap.  This was an eye opening book.  It helped me understand the 28 Principles the founding fathers understand and how they could put together a constitution.  We invited friends and neighbors to join in on this free class.  It helped us form a community of like minded people.  This was a key part of Laddie, their community.
I loved the idea of lead by example, especially when it’s the father of the home.  They are the Patriarch of the home and their example of loving to learn as a personal priority is huge.  Because of my husband’s example I began to pick up books and take free time to read.  I now have a love of learning and it all started with my husband’s example.  We turned off the TV and changed our living room into a library.  We bought good classical books to fill the shelves.  A love to read attitude is what we want our kids to have for the future.  And it all began with the example of the father in Laddie.

Little Women By Kimberly Wing

As the snow is falling outside I get the yearning to cuddle up in my favorite chair and pull out a good book to get lost in.  The picture of the March girls playing in the snow around Christmas comes to mind. My heart is tender towards them celebrating Christmas with their father gone off to war.  They are counting all there pennies and sacrificing while he’s gone.  They recognize the hard ship he’s going through being away from them. I relate to this part of the book in several ways.  Nine years ago my husband Warren was off serving in a war in the Middle East.  I remember being pregnant with our third daughter.  We didn’t live close to most of our family and I remember the holiday was coming.  It was a lonely thought to think we would be celebrating Christmas without my husband.  Just like the March family our means were very limited.
Our friend and family community stepped in to help us through this tough trial.  A close family friend offered to buy us tickets to Arizona for Christmas, to be with our family.  This was such a delight for us.  We would be able to curb the loneliness by being with family.  My husband told me not to worry about buying any Christmas gifts for any one in our family he had it taken care of.  I found out why the night before we left to Arizona. There was a secret knock at the door and when I opened the door there was a pile of gifts for our family.  I later learned that a close friend had offered to take care of Christmas for us.  Like The March girls example of helping someone in more need on Christmas morning by giving their Christmas breakfast away.  What a beautiful act of charity, by cheerfully giving it away.
Service is the best part of Christmas for me.  My kids get so excited about doing twelve days of Christmas for others.  Twelve nights all the way up to Christmas we leave a gift on someone’s door step that goes along with the true meaning of Christmas.  They love to watch in the distant the surprised looks on their faces.  The gift is nothing fancy or expensive but its love for the family that we are trying to express.  We look for others who are having a hard time in life and could use some cheer.  We have done this for widows, families with sick or disabled children, families whose husbands are deployed, or strangers who seem lonely.  Bring joy and happiness during the holidays to others is what makes it so memorable for us.
Christmas is now right around the corner and a new past time we have begun to start is singing Christmas songs around the piano.  I loved this part in the book where the March family gathers to sing there favorite Christmas hymns.  I started this tradition after being inspired by this seen in the book.   I look forward to continuing this tradition in our home.  Family truly is key to our happiness on this earth.

December 10, 2014

Title Swap

How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Year by Julie Ross
Unbroken by Laura Hillendale
Alicia by Alicia Applemann-Jurman
The Scorpion's Sting by James Oaks
The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lesson on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning by Nathaniel Bludorn
The Great Divorce - C. S. Lewis
Perelandra Series - C. S. Lewis
And They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment by Laura M. Brotherson

December 8, 2014

Leadership Lessons from Peter and the Lion by Kami Hymas

I have read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe many times in my life and each time I see something new.  It seems at face value to be a simple children’s story, but there is so much more there if you look for it.  This time I was looking for leadership qualities.  I found them in Aslan, as you would expect, but I also found them in Peter.  They exhibited many leadership traits, but I will focus on two; humility and courage.
Everyone makes mistakes.  A leader recognizes when he has, and admits it openly.  Peter showed humility by admitting his mistakes on at least two different occasions.  The first of which was when all the children finally made their way into Narnia.  As soon as he realized he had been wrong in doubting Lucy, he apologized.  “Peter turned at once to Lucy. “I apologize for not believing you,” he said, “I’m sorry.  Will you shake hands?”  Admitting when you are wrong means swallowing your pride and humbly showing your weaknesses to others.  Another aspect of humility is taking responsibility for those mistakes.  When the children first meet Aslan, he asks them where Edmund is.  Mr. Beaver informs him that Edmund “has tried to betray them and joined the White Witch.”  Peter then steps forward and takes responsibility for his part in the problem. “That was partly my fault, Aslan.  I was angry with him and I think that helped him to go wrong.”  Peter was able to admit that he was partially to blame for what happened.  He was able to see that his actions may have led to Edmund’s wrong doing.  A leader takes responsibility for his actions at all times.  He doesn’t live in a bubble, but rather, sees how his actions affect others.  He does not excuse his mistakes, but forthrightly admits them.  Again, it takes the swallowing of pride to admit and not excuse.  Most of us want to make excuses for our mistakes because it makes us look better.  But a leader simply admits it and moves on with their head up.
Another aspect of humility a leader needs to have is the ability to let others share the lime light sometimes.  A good leader does not have to be the head honcho or big cheese in all things.  As Aslan explains his battle plan after freeing the statues he says, “Those who are good with their noses must come in front with us lions to smell out where the battle is.”  The other lion was thrilled to be included side by side with Aslan, the great leader.  Aslan’s opinion of himself was not so high that he needed to keep all the glory to himself. He was able to include others.
A humble leader can also delegate.   He lets others lead out sometimes or receive the credit.  He prepares those he leads to eventually be independent.  This is what Aslan did when he prepared Peter to fight the battle with the witch. He taught Peter everything he needed to know to carry out and lead the battle without him.  He then expected and trusted Peter to carry out those plans.  He shows that trust when they hear Susan’s horn as the battle begins and the other animals rush to the fight. “Back!” Aslan says, “Let the Prince win his spurs.” He purposely let Peter lead the charge. Great leaders work themselves out of a job eventually and are happy to do it.   Someone who must always remain in control and is prideful enough to take all the credit will never be much of a leader.  Thankfully for the inhabitants of Narnia, Aslan had great humility.
    A second leadership quality that I found in my reading this time was that of courage.  I have noticed this theme before, of course, but not as it applies to a leader.  When the children first enter Narnia through the wardrobe, Susan asks, “And now what do we do next?” To which Peter replies, “Do? Why we go and explore the wood, of course.”  And then he was the first to lead off on their adventure.  A leader has the courage to step out into the unknown.  He is willing to try new things and take risks.  In much of their adventures in Narnia, the children look to Peter as the lead not only because he is the oldest but because he has that courage and ability to take action.
Perhaps my favorite example of Peter’s courage is when he fights against the wolf to save Susan.  He sees her in danger, the wolf snapping at her feet, and though he is afraid, he rushes in to help her.  “Peter did not feel very brave; indeed he felt he was going to be sick.  But that made no difference to what he had to do.  He rushed straight up to the monster and aimed a slash of his sword at its side.”  Peter was scared, but he rushed in to fight anyway.  One of the most powerful images of courage I have ever seen is from a picture I once saw of the soldiers in WW II on the boats as they landed on Normandy beach.  The point of view is from that of the soldier looking onto the beach as other soldiers land and head to their deaths.  Underneath the picture it says, “Bravery doesn’t mean you aren’t scared.  It means you go anyway.” Peter went anyway.

The greatest example of courage in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is when Aslan sacrifices himself to the White Witch.  He made a promise to the Witch and though he could have chosen not to keep it, he shows integrity and amazing courage by keeping that promise.  A leader is willing to lay down his life for his people or those he leads.  It is the ultimate form of bravery.  The symbolism of the savior here is poignant and inspiring.  He too, courageously went to his death, refusing to shy away from the awful tasks of the crucifixion and atonement.  This he did to save all mankind.  Aslan did it for just Edmund, and I believe the Savior would have done it for just me.
It is interesting to think about how we can instill these qualities of courage and humility in our children so they can be the leaders of tomorrow.  Both are qualities that are so personal and come from down deep in the soul.  You can’t simply tell someone how to be courageous.  The full study of this question is the topic for another paper, but the answer lies in part, as it does with every other value, in studying the classics, such as the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  When we, and our children are reading and thinking deeply about characters like Peter and Aslan, or Ender Wiggin, or George Washington, we will be changed by their courage and humility and can better develop our own.