A Few Helpful Tools for the Homemaker

Several years ago I was given a cute gift basket filled with various “goodies.” One of the items in that basket has been such a helpful tool in our home that it is something I want to share with you. I know how busy homeschooling moms are. We want to maximize every moment of our days. I thought it might be helpful to dedicate this Mom’s Corner to describing several items in our home that are invaluable tools and time savers for me.

The pretty little “goody” in that basket wasn’t edible. It was a skinny pad of paper with flowery decorations and lines on it. It looked like you might use it for lists or for writing notes. In addition, it had a magnet on the back. I put that pad on my refrigerator because it had complementary colors to my kitchen.

One day someone said they needed another bag of socks from Wal-Mart. I suggested they write “socks” on the pad on the refrigerator and title that page Wal-Mart. The next time I thought of an item we were running low on that we purchased from Wal-Mart, I added it to that list. When we went to Wal-Mart several days later, I just pulled the page off the pad and was ready to shop. Immediately, I wrote Wal-Mart on the next page of the pad attached to the refrigerator. I asked my family members to write anything they needed from Wal-Mart on the list, and our shopping list habit was begun.

Within a short time, I purchased another magnetic notepad and put it on the fridge. Now I had a Wal-Mart pad and a Sam’s Club pad. Those are the two major places we shop for basic necessities. Anytime we are short of an item or out of it, we put it on that list. Now whenever someone is going to one of those stores and asks if I need something, I can tear the list off the pad and send it with them.

I can’t begin to tell you how simple this plan is and how much time it has saved us in not having to make trips back to the store for forgotten items. In addition, it has freed me from the mental burden of trying to remember what we need the next time we go to the store. I am secure knowing my list is on the fridge and ready to go.

My next time-saving help also is related to a magnet and my refrigerator. In this case, it is a clip with a magnet on the back of it. It also hangs on the fridge and holds the list of evening meals for the week. When I make up the weekly grocery list, it includes a section where the evening meals for the week are listed. I cut or tear that portion of the list off after grocery shopping and hang it in that clip on the fridge.

This list has also saved me much mental time and energy by allowing me to lay out my evening meals and then quickly see what each meal will be. I used to think and wonder and consider through the day what to make for dinner. If I was too busy to think about it, I entered the kitchen in the evening in a state of dismay at having to make a decision on what to prepare. Now it is all set out for me. The decisions are made once a week. All I have to do is to look at my meal list and go to work.

Would you believe one of my favorite household tools is a feather duster? For twenty-seven of my twenty-eight years of being married, I used a dust rag or lambs-wool duster for dusting tasks. I also avoided dusting some things, such as picture frames, door frames, silk flowers, and mini blinds, because they were difficult to do with those dusting methods. Last summer when we purchased blinds for the living room, a feather duster was recommended for cleaning them. I tried my new feather duster for other dusting besides the living room blinds, and I loved it. I even bought one for my mother and daughter-in-law for Christmas.

So what makes a feather duster so great? It gets into nooks and crannies that other dusters don’t easily reach. It gives me several extra inches of height so I can reach areas normally out of reach. My feather duster gives me a good angle for dusting, while the lambs-wool duster had to be held in a certain way. When dusting lightweight articles, it doesn’t move them around or knock them over. I have to admit I almost think dusting is fun now that I am using a feather duster.

While vacuuming is at the top of my list for household tasks I like to do, ironing ranks near the bottom. However, two ironing tools have made the job quicker, easier, and more pleasant. These items may be ones you will choose to save up for if you decide to try them since they are much more costly than magnetized shopping lists and feather dusters.

When the iron I was given as a wedding gift “died” after twenty years of use, Steve bought me a Rowenta professional style iron. I was absolutely amazed at the difference in ironing. The Rowenta is larger and heavier than normal irons. That means it irons more quickly and efficiently. Now I feel blessed, rather than resentful, every time I need to iron.

One day about two years ago one of my children decided to sit on my twenty-five-year-old ironing board. While Steve is great at fixing many broken things in our home, the ironing board was beyond help. I went out and purchased the most expensive ironing board I could find at Wal-Mart. When I set it up at home, I was appalled at how unsteady it was. With young children, I was concerned about their safety when they were around if I was ironing. We took that ironing board back.

Then we purchased a very nice ironing board at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I think this ironing board was around ninety dollars, and we had a coupon for 20 percent off. The ironing board from Wal-Mart was less then twenty dollars. I could hardly conceive of spending so much money on an ironing board. However, we decided, based on the board’s stability and added safety, to purchase it. I think every penny we spent was worth it. It should last the rest of my ironing life!

Not only did we gain the safety benefit we wanted, but we noticed several other benefits. This ironing board has a much larger ironing surface. That means I can iron more quickly and spend the saved time in another way. The board itself is taller so that I can stand more erect while ironing and not hurt my back. It is much heavier and sturdier so that it doesn’t rock when bumped. The ironing board has a place on the side to set the iron in so that it isn’t sitting upright on the board itself when someone isn’t holding it. Therefore, the iron is less susceptible to being knocked off the board. Each time I iron, I think about how grateful for something as simple as a high-quality ironing board.

The Lord has given homemakers the responsibility of being a keeper of the home. For me, having good tools to save me time and to help me in this process is extremely beneficial. I am happy to be as efficient in my homemaking as possible so that I have more time for mothering and schooling.

Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome? – Part 5

Teri and I have had our hearts broken to see parents close to finishing the job of raising a child then lose the child to the world. I have to admit that quite a few years ago I actually said, “Homeschooled children don’t have problems with drugs, alcohol, immorality, and rebellion.” From the large group of homeschoolers we interact with, I can’t say that is true anymore. Now my thoughts run this way: “Homeschooled children don’t have to have problems with drugs, alcohol, immorality, and rebellion.” I don’t believe it is a matter of whether you “get a good one or a bad one.” The issue is this: “Dad, what are you doing with what God has entrusted you?”

We continue with this heavy subject (read the previous months here). The topic was originally broached by a father, and we’ve been looking at what he wrote. I’ve copied the last half here again for reference.

What I am seeking is good, practical advice on how and at what age to expose my children to the world. And how to keep from losing them to the world. (I’ve got a seven-year-old daughter, four-year-old daughter, two-year-old son, and one on the way.) This isn’t the first time that I have heard people speak of sheltered kids getting out and “going nuts.” It seems to me that it would be best to expose them to the results of sin (chapel for recovering addicts, jail, etc.), as compared to letting them see “all of the pleasures and none of the guilt,” such as is seen at the mall, etc. Maybe even working this into some kind of a family ministry (although my children may be too young now, that is part of my question). This recent comment about the backsliding grandson has got me seriously considering self employment and some kind of family businesses.

Space no longer permits revisiting all we have already covered in previous Corners. However, each piece is critical to our parenting.

I firmly believe that if you do everything else and not this next area we will discuss, your children are at great risk. Please don’t think that I’m exalting my opinion to such a high place that you need to follow it. Read this Corner, and study the Bible passages to which I refer, to see if it is true. May the Holy Spirit confirm in your heart truth.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:1-2). “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7).

In verse one, we see that all who don’t enter the sheepfold by the door are thieves and robbers. Then in verse seven we see that Jesus is the Door. The Middle-Eastern shepherd was so concerned about his sheep that after bringing his sheep into the fold for the night, he would sleep in the doorway. The shepherd, literally, became the door. Nothing could get through the doorway that the shepherd didn’t allow. He would give his life for the sheep. Therefore, a thief knew the only other way to get to the sheep was by climbing over the wall. In doing so, he was still likely to be confronted by the shepherd as he entered the fold.

The protection of the sheep was of utmost importance to the shepherd. He would have carefully constructed his fold so that the sheep would be safe. I can picture him building the walls so that nothing could easily steal away those who depended on him for safety. Even though the sheep knew his voice and not the voice of the stranger, he still took great care in protecting them. Was it because he didn’t trust the sheep? Of course not. Scripture says that they knew his voice and wouldn’t follow a stranger. He knew, however, that others presented danger to the sheep.

This example is critical for dads who love their children. We are the shepherds of those God has entrusted to our care. We are to be the door to the family. No one gets by us to our children. Is it because we don’t trust our children? Absolutely not. It isn’t a matter of not trusting our children. Rather, it is a matter of our responsibility to protect them from others.

Recently, a dad was telling me that he didn’t have a problem sending his children off for further training because they had proven themselves trustworthy. Unfortunately, I believe, he is basing the future of his children on his evaluation of their being trustworthy. Their trustworthiness is important, but maybe as important is the issue of WHO they will encounter.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a school or religious organization of stellar credentials. I’m not even assuming there is evil intent on the part of the other person. However, something happens when the right two people get together. Suddenly all logic and self-control are gone. I expect that most have heard of pastors who have become involved in an immoral relationship. Likely those who have been ensnared like this never thought it would happen to them. It is contrary to everything for which they had lived. It is just that they found themselves in a situation that soon was out of control. If it can happen to those who are highly respected and have proven themselves “trustworthy,” then how is it parents think it can’t happen to their young adult children?

Even if the child isn’t “lost to the world,” but only fallen and morally scarred, is it worth the risk? I expect most parents of children that this has happened to don’t even know about it. We have heard many a Christian mom share how she failed when out from under her father’s protection. Might their fathers have done more to protect them? Could it be that their fathers trusted them when they should have protected them?

That is why the shepherd isn’t content knowing that he has his sheep’s “hearts.” He knows there are others out there who may cause him to lose the ones for which he is responsible or who may actually cause them harm. He values his sheep so much that he is not willing to take any chances with them. No matter how confident we are that we have our children’s hearts, they are still flesh and blood. They have to deal with the appetites of the flesh. Is it a matter of trust, or is it a matter of prudence and responsibility?

Remember what Jesus said was in the heart of EVERY person. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). If we ever think our child is strong enough and cannot fall, I believe we have put him in great jeopardy.

Remember the pastors or other people I referred to earlier—the ones in high spiritual positions who ran away in an immoral relationship, often leaving a wife and family? These are people who “had” proven themselves to be of certain moral character and spiritually trustworthy—enough to earn the positions they held. They wouldn’t have been given their positions if others hadn’t had confidence in them. Not only had they given their hearts to their spouses in marriage, but they also had made a covenant before God to be faithful to that spouse. That was not enough to stop them. No matter what explanation is given or what warning signs there were, trust was breached, testimonies blackened, and lives shipwrecked.

Then how is it that, if pastors and others in high spiritual positions fall, parents can so easily “trust” their children putting them at such risk? I challenge you to evaluate whether it is really a matter of trust or value. Teri and I trust each other completely. However, we value our relationship so much we are not going to put it at risk. That is one reason why I don’t have business lunches with women. There are more safeguards that we have put in place, but those are sufficient examples. We believe what Jesus said about the depravity of the human heart and that if we can fall, certainly our children can. May we value our children so much that we take our responsibility to protect them seriously. How is it that parents who have poured out their lives into their children and homeschooled them to protect them from the world will put them in situations where they are at great risk? If they were going to lose their children anyway, wouldn’t it have been much easier on the mother to have sent the children to public school in the first place and spared herself the years of great effort homeschooling them? By putting our children in situations that may lead to their falling, I believe the parents have become their own enemies. Their actions have betrayed their goals. Instead of the father being the door, he has invited the wolf in to spend the night with the sheep. Oh, dads—may it not be!

To prevent any misunderstanding, let me give you some examples. If your desire is that your children would remain pure until they reach the marriage altar, then is it wise that they date or have friends who are dating, and should they spend time with others (of the opposite gender) to whom they may be drawn? Youth groups, ministry projects, short-term mission trips, joining the military, anything that involves young men and young women spending time together will likely stir up emotions. May each of us carefully evaluate the activities are children are involved in as to whether they are consistent with our goals. If you let your young adults participate in any of those activities even while you claim to be committed to courtship, do not be surprised if your children don’t court. We hear too many tragic stories from people who have let their young adult children go down those roads and have experienced great disappointment.

If you don’t want your children to rebel, then is it wise to let your children associate with rebels? Where might you find rebels? Youth groups, friends (even from great “Christian” families), sports teams, vocational technical schools, junior colleges, and colleges (Christian or secular) should all be viewed with great caution. Even if someone uses the word “Christian” to describe the organization, this does not mean that everyone there is a Christian living for the Lord. As the one called to protect our families, may we be able to look our wives in the eyes and say, “God is telling me that I must send my son/daughter there.” If God isn’t telling you clearly, do you really want to send them? Just because everyone else “is doing it” or your son or daughter really wants to, this is no reason to let them. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child . . .” (Proverbs 22:15). Often we hear the excuse that the child REALLY wanted to do something, so the parents let them. Dads, that is no reason. We are the ones who are accountable to the Lord for our decisions. Our children should only do what we are convinced is God’s best for them—nothing less!

Being the “door” is not a very popular position. There will be times when some of the sheep want out, and the door is stopping them. There are other times when a wolf wants in, and the “door” has to mount a defense. However, the Lord didn’t ask us to do it because it is fun. It is our responsibility.

May I encourage you to get alone with your Lord and determine what His goals are for your family. Then critically evaluate your decisions in light of those goals. You may be surprised to see that you have invited Mr. Wolf to spend the night. Evict him before it is too late. May we be the men God has called us to be.