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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“Little House” … Treasured Time

When the grandkids visit, we’ve been reading “Little House in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Let me just say that I highly recommend moms and grandmothers everywhere doing this. I am amazed at the organic conversations that just naturally emerge from this reading. When my own children were young, I assigned the reading of this set of the Little House books and they enjoyed them. But we did not necessarily talk about them. But this read-aloud is a different kind of thing, altogether. Don’t listen to an audio book, either. Let them hear your voice and let them interrupt. It’s a slow process, but it is so worth it!

The book mentioned that none of the children in the narrative got a switch in her stocking for Christmas. My grandchildren thought a “switch” was an electronic gaming system. They were shocked to learn that the original was a tool for corporal punishment. We went outside and I helped them choose an appropriate switch for a disciplinary switching, telling them all the while about what kinds of offenses required me (their grandmother) to go out in the yard and choose a switch for my own “whipping” (as it was called, although it was never really that). They listened with great interest and there were lessons about crime and punishment, about degrees of severity and about good parenting. They chose (and re-chose) which little bendable sticks were fit for the job.

Then we ventured into what kinds of infractions require punishment and which ones are just learning experiences. They heard about the time I stood proudly in my grandmother’s lap at age 3 during the Lord’s Supper, looked back over the crowd (we were on the third row) and sang the television commercial jingle “Winston tastes good like a (clap-clap) cigarette should!” When they finished the uncontrollable laughter, they wanted a lesson about why there are no cigarette commercials today and Ezra explained that to the girls, ending with “No one knew that smoking was bad until about 60 years ago. Lots of good people did it. I learned that from Papa and from watching ‘Highway Patrol. All the good guys on there smoke.”  

There are home-keeping lessons about making jellies and drying meat and churning. I showed them a butter churn. They couldn’t believe that real butter is not yellow, but white, and they really could not believe you can dye butter with carrot juice to make it yellow. “But won’t the butter taste like carrots?” 

The girls in the story like to look at pictures in the big Bible. Colleyanna simply could not believe that people in a story book that is not a Bible story book were looking at a Bible. This was a great moment to talk about how sad it is that most families today do not look at their Bibles, but in the late 1800’s, the family structure in America was largely centered around the Word and its principles. This was not uncommon, at all. 

I could write more extensively, but you get the point. Ezra sometimes wants to know why he needs to read chapter books like “Boxcar Children” books when it is “resting time” instead of feasting on Garfield comics or playing Minecraft. There’s a place for some of the “candy” reading and playing. But all of this, is why the wholesome chapter books. 

They don’t even know they love this nap-time ritual. But they do. There’s no complaining–ever, about reading time. And they all want to sit right beside the book (and me.) It’s a good kind of crowded.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Books Are Better than Siri.

150508162751-ben-carson-and-mom-super-169Glenn and I recently read One Nation, by Dr. Ben Carson. There were many impressive things about the life of this presidential candidate. One early factor that influenced Dr. Carson was the  fact that his mother (left), who was illiterate, decided early on that Ben and his brother were to read two books each week and submit to her a written report on those books. Now, she could not read those reports, but they did not know that. She put checkmarks all over them and underlined passages within them and they were convinced that she was reading them carefully. At first, the boys hated doing this task; one that was required before they could enjoy leisure activities. But soon, as books tend to do, those stories of heroism, adventure and far-away places drew them in. The more they read, the more they wanted to read…and know.  Dr. Carson credits this reading requirement, made by a diligent  mother, who could not read herself,  with his decision to become a physician.

It’s sad to me that, in so many cases today, reading has been replaced by video games, television and iPhones. Kids today can hardly believe that, only about three decades ago, if we wanted
to know about someone or about some historical event, we traveled to the library and looked through some drawers with cards that listed and organized the thousands of books in the building. From the directions on those cards, we could find the books on the library shelves. We then chose several relevant books to take home and we poured through those books till we found the information that we wanted to know. Then we made a trip to return the books. When our kids want to know something, they press the reset button on their phones until Siri says, “How may I help you?”.

But something is missing when all of our questions are answered by Siri or even by typing a key word in a search bar. So often the search engine takes us to the answer to the specific query but we bypass all the peripheral knowledge that we accessed in the “old days” during the search. The search was the goldmine of knowledge and, yes…even wisdom. As Dr. Carson saw, the “answers” to life might not be on the particular page to which that search engine speeds.

bc2baa3dc2b725dae5ac1d36d2ae17d7So, today, I want to encourage you moms to be sure your kids are surrounded by books. Read to them and do so with enthusiasm. Put expression into the “voices” you use for various characters. Be sure the books are wholesome and pure and that the books that are non-fiction really are NON-fiction (not historically revised or politically corrected). Take them to the local library at times when you do not have to be rushed and spend time helping them choose books. Make sure they even have a list of rules about how to care for books and that they properly care for and return borrowed books. (The Mr. Wiggle series of books by Paula Craig and Carol Thompson might be helpful for young children.)  In general, teach them that books are treasures. Of course, it’s okay to do research online, but your kids will benefit from loving books, too…the kind they can carry around with them and pass along to their children and grandchildren one day.

This year, the girls in the West Huntsville church, as a part of their Lads to Leaders participation, are being given the opportunity to complete the Information Resources section of the Keepers at Home program.  Each student will collect and organize (or locate) a minimum of twenty books (digital and/or hardcopy) including recipe books, literary classics, Bible resource books, and children’s literature. This collection of resources must be seen and approved by a Keepers mentor. This “library” will be used at least once during the year in (a) entertaining young children without pay while their parents are working in a church-related activity or (b) conducting a Bible study with a non-Christian or a new Christian.

Of course, meeting this goal will not make these girls voracious readers, but at least it’s a baby step in their personal library development. I’m grateful to Peggy Coulter for volunteering to oversee this “book collecting” activity. I know the girls will benefit from actually using their libraries to bring glory to our Father in our congregation.

Perhaps, even if your church is not doing the Lads program, you can develop a similar program to foster a love of books and a willingness to use books to accomplish great things in His vineyard. I’m thankful our children are being trained in the Lads to Leaders Program ( and especially for the Keepers at Home portion of the program as well as it’s counterpart for boys called, simply, Providers.