When you were a child, when you thought of cranberries, did you think of round slices of red jelly?
The good ol’ canned cranberry sauce is like comfort food – but this relish is awe inspiring.
It’s delicious, it’s beautiful on the table, and it’s easy.
You can make this in just a couple of minutes!
Fresh Cranberry Relish
1 12oz bag fresh cranberries
Slice oranges (do not peel!)
Chop oranges and cranberries in food processor
Mix with sugar and set aside
Stir occasionally until thoroughly combined
|Would you like some more ideas for side dishes, pies, or other treats for Thanksgiving?
Then quick, go download Christ-Centered Thanksgiving –
it’s free for our newsletter subscribers!
One of the great joys of the holiday season is the chance to spend time with family members that you don’t get to see the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, that’s also one of the stressful things about the holidays – extended family that you don’t see the rest of the year.
Michael Hyatt recently shared a list of nine conversation starters to help get over the awkwardness, small talk, and unfortunate side-paths we sometimes find at extended-family gatherings. It’s a great way to be pro-active about the dinnertime fellowship; among other advantages, he says,
It filters out the weird. If you’ve got a track to run on and everyone can join in, you can also avoid a lot of the odd and awkward moments. Instead of feeling trapped, you can feel empowered.
Try and stay out of bad conversations altogether. The old rule of avoiding politics and religion is hard to do when anyone has strong convictions about them. However, it’s useful to have some inoffensive ways to step back from an invitation to confrontation:
Anticipate the worst questions and have an answer in mind
When I was doing media interviews as the spokesman for our state homeschool organization, I would try and think of the worst question they might ask. Was there anything I was just praying they wouldn’t ask? If so, that was the question I had to have an answer for!
If there’s anything controversial or embarrassing going on in your family – an unpopular child-rearing decision, a medical situation, someone in trouble – isn’t it likely someone will ask? Do you have an aunt or great-grandparent who’s always worried about your decision to homeschool? Are you expecting your fourth child and there wasn’t universal celebration of your third? Plan ahead how you’ll explain your position on it, politely and pleasantly, but firmly – and don’t ad lib!
You don’t want to be that relative yourself!
There is a story about a young man invited on a blind date. He was thinking the stereotypical thoughts about the poor girl who didn’t have any friends, probably awkward or plain, and such, and feeling very noble about himself. When he was introduced to her, though, she wasn’t just pretty – she was gorgeous, elegant, a knockout! And he suddenly realized that he was the “blind date,” not her.
We might get braced to deal with obnoxious and antagonistic relatives, but in fact, could we be the unpleasant person in the group? How can we avoid becoming the person everyone wants to avoid?
Figure out other people’s hot buttons – then don’t push them!
Know thyself and be on guard. Do you ever get into a certain frame of mind that you regret later? It doesn’t take an alcoholic buzz – you may get unfiltered when you’re tired, stressed, or hungry. You may be doing the family a kindness if you get yourself a snack instead of falling into crabbiness. Be aware of your own weaknesses and walk carefully around them.
Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. That’s the advice of the apostle James, and it’s good to remember – all the time!
Grace, grace, grace. We all need grace from God, and we need grace from other people. We can start by showing grace to them first, and set the example in our family’s gatherings this year.
“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6 NKJV)
Hal and Melanie
Some great audiobooks will make the travel go smoothly – CLICK HERE for downloadable family fun!
Our favorite Thanksgiving recipes and the Thanksgiving story, if you’re supposed to bring a casserole or devotional and you’ve drawn a blank, our downloadable Christ-Centered Thanksgiving will help – and it’s free if you’re on our newsletter list! CLICK HERE and get your copy for free!
(If you’re already on the list, go ahead and sign up to receive the ebook – you won’t be added to our mailing list twice!)
Our recent podcasts on Teaching Gratefulness and Preparing for Christ-Centered Holidays – always free!]]>
It’s funny the things that throw you for a loop when you’re homeschooling.
Teach four grade levels? No problem.
Volunteer at the local food pantry with kids in tow? Got it.
Lead a field trip with a dozen parents and a hundred children of all ages? No problem.
“What grades are your kids in?” <runs screaming from the room>
When we first started homeschooling, we’d dread that question. A sales clerk would ask, our child would look at us confused, we would jump in, stuttering, trying to explain that we homeschooled … and the innocent person behind the counter would look at us oddly.
That’s when we stopped to think, “What is this person actually asking?” Did they really want to know we’re way ahead in math, but slightly behind in language arts, or whatever? No! They’re just trying to show some interest.
What they are really asking is, “How old are you?”
So, we started coaching our children, “Honey, they just want to know how old you are. When someone asks what grade you’re in, just say, ‘Third,’ because that’s the grade someone your age would typically be in.”
Problem solved. If they remember. Hopefully …
But that’s not the only question that drives you crazy. “Are they all yours?” “Don’t you know what causes that?” and the ever popular, “I’d shoot myself if I had that many children!” are all favorites when we’re out shopping during the day. Not.
It helps to realize that most people don’t mean any harm. They’re trying to make conversation and they just don’t have any filters.
How do you handle it, though, when people ask questions you’d rather not deal with? What if they’re intrusive or too personal? What if you feel attacked?
We’ve found that people are a lot like chickens – they peck on those they perceive as weak. If you respond to questions with embarrassment or defensiveness, it just encourages them. On the other hand, if you fluff up your feathers and answer confidently, most people drop the offensive. Sometimes they’ll even change tone and agree with you. Maybe they’re afraid you’ll peck on them! Our friends over at Simply Charlotte Mason wrote a great article on preparing for dealing with those homeschool critics. You may want to read it before the holidays!
So the next time someone asks your child what grade they’re in and they stammer and look up at you, just smile really wide and say, “He’s ten and he’s doing so well in school!” – even if it’s been an awful week. It’ll get better. You know it.
Hal and Melanie
Sometimes this confusion about grade levels gets really pronounced about fourth or fifth grade. Why’s that? Because there is a whole lot going on in that boy’s brain just before puberty sets in! You can both survive it and make the teen years great if you understand what God’s doing in your son’s life … and how you can be the most effective parent you can be! Check out our Boot Camp 9-12, five live online sessions to discuss all the stuff we wish we’d known when our first was a pre-teen — starting January 5, and you can get the recorded version to listen to right now, too! CLICK HERE and find out more!
Copyright 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by authors. Originally appeared August 19, 2015, in The Homeschool Minute™, an E-Newsletter published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. Read this family education magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices. For free homeschool information visit ConsideringHomeschooling.info.
This time of year, the housework goes into high gear – cooking, cleaning, and all that, getting ready for the holiday rush. If your home is like ours, the cry for “All hands on deck!” is deep, often, and heartfelt in November and December!
When we were a boys-only family, though, a friend with daughters chided Melanie for expecting our sons to help with household chores — that was “women’s work,” in her opinion. We’d like to suggest the opposite — it’s just work work, not unmanly at all. In fact, guys who help around the house are just being Biblical!
Cooking is singled out as a “womanly” task, yet Hosea 7:4 describes men as bakers, Abraham’s cook was a young man, and Isaac instructed his son to cook dinner before receiving his blessing. (Genesis 18:7, 27:4) The Levites cooked for their brethren in the Temple service so their duties could proceed uninterrupted.(2 Chronicles 35:14–15) The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.(Matthew 26:19)
(The Food Network has probably helped our cultural attitude on this, since it turned cooking into a competitive sport complete with trash-talking superstars and cheering fans.)
Clothing and Laundry: There are numerous commandments for men to wash their own clothing, and the Greek word for “launderer” is a masculine noun (note). God specifically commissioned two men, Bezelel the son of Uri and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, to sew the elaborate priests’ garments. (Exodus 39)
Decorating: The same two craftsmen were assigned to design, teach, and do the work of weaving, engraving, and making embroidered tapestry and fine linen for the tabernacle.(Exodus 35:30–35; 38:22-23) Paul and Aquila both sewed tents by profession. (Acts 18:2–3)
Even caring for the baby is fair game for a guy. Moses complained to God, “Have I begotten this people, that thou shouldst say unto me, ‘Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the suckling child … ’” The Lord uses the same term, speaking through Isaiah of the restoration of Israel, saying, “Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles … and they shall bring thy sons on their arms and thy daughters upon their shoulders, and kings shall be thy nursing fathers … ” (Numbers 11:12, Isaiah 49:22–23 (KJV – note)
Even In Our Culture
There are plenty of examples within our own culture; in fact, the military provides prime examples. The thought of a young man stirring a pot being “less than manly” doesn’t stand up to KP duty in the military; “Cookie” serving in the chow line is almost always portrayed as a sweating bruiser of a man. Sailors were called “swabbies” because mopping the deck was their daily task. Does it make a difference that the sailor wore white bell–bottoms and a square collar? Maybe if we provide our sons with a business–like canvas apron rather than one of Mom’s, we could see kitchen duty in a different light at home, too. In civilian life, men are tailors and dry cleaners, too, and the most famous chefs are men. So why would we balk at asking our sons to do similar tasks for the family?
Hal and Melanie
On laundry duty: Numbers 8:21 refers to the purification of the Levites for service in the Tabernacle; they were all adult men. There are dozens of references to a man washing his clothing for ritual impurity. Mark 9:3 is the only use of the term gnafeus for a fuller (KJV) or launderer (NKJV), but it appears in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagent) in 2 Kings 18:17 and Isaiah 7:3 and 36:2.
On “nursing fathers”: Newer translations render the term “guardian” or “foster father”, which basically means the same thing; a foster mother of an infant at that time would be expected to nurse the child, after all.
This is excerpted from our book, Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys. We find that when you look at the whole sweep of Scripture, the life of a godly man includes not just courage, boldness, and strength, but compassion, courtesy, and yes, household chores, too! We need more of all these things in the church and the culture …
… and if you’d like some ideas for making these Biblical principles a practical reality with your son, [ CLICK HERE! ]]]>
A dear sweet friend of mine nearly lost her son the other night. Just a few seconds, maybe a minute more and she’d be planning a funeral right now. Here’s her story:
Sam, our fourteen-year-old, came stumbling into my bedroom on Saturday night at ten, crying pretty hard and saying, “Mom, I don’t know what happened, I don’t know what happened…”
I asked him repeatedly what was wrong, but he was nearing hysteria, so I got him calmed down a bit, and he was finally able to speak.
Sam said, “I was standing by John’s bed (our 12 yr old), and we were talking about the football games we’d watched today. The next thing I remember was hearing really loud buzzing, and he said I put a scarf around my neck and started choking myself. I wouldn’t stop, Mom, and look at my neck!!!!”
I looked, and y’all, his neck had really bad purple bruises on it, like bad rope burns. He was very near hysteria again, so I ran and got the younger one out of bed and brought him in my room. My hubby was in the shower, so I sat on my bed, just loving on both boys while they both just sobbed, and asked hubby to please hurry.
In the meantime, I prayed with the boys, asking God to reveal to us exactly what had happened. I was VERY frightened, because he obviously had NO CLUE how or what had happened.
Hubby came out, and I managed to get the younger brother calm enough to speak, although it was extremely difficult for him. Here’s what he told us:
“Sam was standing by my bed, and we were talking about the games. There was a crocheted scarf tied onto the foot of the upper bunk, and while we were talking, he started messing with the scarf. Then he looped it over his head. When he got it over his head, he stepped down, and then he started acting really funny. I thought he was messing with me, so I turned over and faced the wall.
Sam started making noises, so I looked back at him, and he was kind of jerking around and acting weird, but I still thought he was fooling around so I told him to cut it out, and I turned back over again.
The noises got louder, and when I turned back over, his face was really purple and he was twitching and his body was like jerking and there was drool running out of his mouth. So I hollered at him, “Are you okay?? Sam?? Sam???
And then I realized that he was choking, so I jumped up out of my bed and I lifted him underneath his arms, and I held him there against my body, and I worked the scarf back over his head. Then he fell to the floor and he wouldn’t wake up. I kept trying to wake him up, and he finally opened his eyes, and he came to your room.”
At this point, both boys were really crying hard again, but the Lord is faithful and showed me exactly what happened. Our son literally has NO MEMORY of putting that scarf over his head. But I was able to explain to him that because of the oxygen deprivation, he simply can’t remember it.
His neck looks pretty bad, and he said it hurts on the inside a lot, like a sore throat. He now remembers standing there talking to his brother, and then experiencing a loud buzzing sound, and he remembers hearing the sound of himself trying to breathe, and then he was on the floor and had no idea how he got there.
I am honestly still struggling a lot. It was so close.
We are all still quite tender from the experience, and I hope we will be for a while. I have had two children be within hours of death before, one from an asthma attack and one from dehydration due to the Rotavirus.
But this was different. And to be honest, it has scared the spit out of me. PLEASE warn your kids about playing with ropes and scarves. I thought my 14 yr old knew better, and he DID, but boys will be boys and he was just messing around.
It is never too late to remind your kids of the dangers of tying things around ANY PART of their body.
PRAISE GOD that John knew what to do for his brother, and by the way, Sam is about 4 inches taller and 30 lbs heavier than he is. John is our peanut; 12 yrs old, and about 60 lbs, and about 4’6. How he managed to lift him and hold him there is an amazing act. Adrenaline is a beautiful thing.
HUG YOUR KIDS.
This was an accident, it seems, and nearly cost this young teen his life, but there are teens doing this all the time on purpose!
In the Choking Game, kids choke themselves in order to experience a high. Unfortunately, it’s very popular among Christian kids because it doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol, so they thing it must be okay (It’s NOT.). It’s highly dangerous – over 900 people have died from it, with the most common age being 12. There’s a list of victims at Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play. We know two different families who have lost children to it. It is SO common that we think it is worth warning your kids about.
So, how do you talk about something like that? Won’t it just make them curious? If they heard about the high, but not the deaths, maybe so, but we find that talking about the kids who lost their lives pretty much cures the curiosity. That’s especially true when it’s a kid a lot like them.
Here’s what that talk looked like for us:
“Guys, we need to talk. I was just reading about a family a lot like ours whose 14-year-old son nearly died this weekend! [Read them the story.] That was an accident, but some kids actually try to choke themselves for fun. They think it’ll make them feel good, but it could kill them! Do not EVER wrap anything tightly around your neck. Do not EVER choke yourself or someone else. It’s too dangerous. And listen, if any of your friends ever talk about doing something like this, please come tell us right away – you could save their life. Have you heard anyone talking about this?”
Just do it. Talk to them. You want them to know this is a deadly game before they hear about it from a friend.
It could save their life.
Hal & Melanie
For the first time ever, we’re giving away our book, Christ-Centered Thanksgiving this week only! Head over here to find out more.]]>
The holidays are rapidly approaching, and while we all enjoy the feasts and the fun, there’s so much more than that. The trick, really, is remembering why we celebrate, being sure to teach that to our kids, and somehow figuring out how to plan a big family celebration without losing sight of the One who gave us the reason we’re rejoicing!
This week’s podcast, we talk about some ways we do that here … CLICK HERE FOR A PREVIEW! (2 minutes)
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO PODCAST ON THE ULTIMATE HOMESCHOOL RADIO NETWORK!]]>
A reader asks, “I have a question I’d appreciate being posted anonymously, please. My 12-year-old son came to me with this: he would like permission to use some “stronger” words to use on certain occasions. He had some good friends who use words like “cr-p”and “dang”, and he says he feels left out when all he can say is “oh, man.” Lol. I want to tell him to always have his words be kind and good, etc. But, barring swear words of course, IS there a place for stronger words in a young man’s vocabulary?”
I have really mixed feelings about this one. Most of those things don’t offend me and you’ll occasionally hear some strongish interjections around here (but no profanity). However, an old friend once challenged a group of us at her house for a mom’s night out to consider our hearts.
Yeah, once again, it’s a heart issue.
If you use a sanitized swear word because it’s socially acceptable, how is your heart any different than if you are swearing? Christ makes it very plain that our hearts are what matter. It made me rethink a lot of things. Why did I feel the need to say something stronger than ordinary language? Was I railing against God’s providence? What ever happened to “I have learned in all things to be content?”
All that to say, that I’m not upset if I hear a son express surprise or dismay, but we discourage even sanitized cursing (jeez, dang, durn) that just seems to be another way to express ungodly anger or expressions, such as using the Lord’s name in vain or calling for His curse on something or someone unjustly. We tell them, “You speak English. Say what you need to say in real words.” (This works just as well in any language. )
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
Another big issue, though, is his desire to fit in at the cost of using words your family doesn’t. That’s a dangerous path to start on. Are other kids making fun of him? Is he just wanting to be like them?
It’s probably time for a talk with him about friendships and leadership, dares and teasing. Most kids feel very socially awkward in the preteens and early teens and it may be just a passing desire to be more comfortable, but there’s no time like the present to talk about peer pressure and how to stand strong while the temptations aren’t all that big!
Young men (and women) need to be prepared to be leaders in their friendships.
They need to know how to respond to teasing by laughing themselves, ignoring it, or teasing back, but not by getting defensive or angry.
They need to know how to respond to dares. Teach them only cowards do things they don’t want to because they’re afraid of what their friends will say.
Especially, they need to understand that a true friend doesn’t tempt you to do wrong but encourages you to righteousness.
Video games are wildly popular among young men – the Pew Research Center found that 84% of teenage boys play video games on a computer, game console, or portable device, and one survey found that 60% of daily gamers spend an hour or more every day. Two-thirds of teenage gamers say they play games with “considerable violence” at least some of the time. [source]
Not all of the popular games are trouble – our kids have enjoyed many with historical themes, educational games, or simply entertaining fun. But what about games with realistic action, a level of violence, and even first-person shooter situations? If you do allow video gaming, how do you discern what’s appropriate and what’s not for your son?
Every family has to make its own decision about video gaming – whether to even allow it at all, or what guidelines and guard rails to put around it. For our part, we do allow our sons some limited play of video games, with some restrictions on the more violent sort. Here are some of the questions we ask ourselves at each point:
Is the game’s scenario sinful at the core? Some popular games encourage and even reward players who take illegal or immoral actions (We wrote about them here). We don’t allow these in the house! But we believe there is a righteous, God-honoring use of force, too – for example, in law enforcement, military service, or even hunting to provide food. Games which simulate these kind of actions may be “first person shooter” games yet not be objectionable.
You may need to clarify your own convictions first. We’ve talked with parents who said “Violence is always evil” – until someone suggested that a policeman who responds to a home-invasion or an armed robbery comes ready to do violence if necessary to protect innocent victims. If you believe and teach a strict pacifist or non-violent view of force, then the military games will be inconsistent with your family’s values. If you believe there is a Biblical place for a Christian solider or a Christian law enforcement officer, then it might be appropriate for your young men to be thinking and role-playing these things (and a great opportunity to talk about God’s expectations in those roles). [footnote]
(If you don’t have a clue which games are which because you aren’t into gaming yourself, a helpful resource is the game review page on Plugged In )
How old are the players? These high action, realistic games are better reserved for young men (at least 13 and up) and not younger boys who have a more difficult time separating game and life. Our rules for these sort of games are similar to our rules about what movies we let our children watch – but more cautious, because the player is a participant and not just an observer!
How often and how much are they playing? Of course gaming can get out of hand, whether it’s a super-dramatic military game or a million quarters of fantasy football. It’s like any hobby or pastime – we try to train our sons to distinguish between work time and leisure time. But the participation level in the more exciting games can greatly increase the release of adrenaline and testosterone in our boys’ bodies. Frequent or long-lasting play is likely to end up with extremely irritable, aggressive and hyper boys … not good! Balance play on video games with hard, active, physical work or strenuous outdoor play.
Are they playing online? Be cautious about games played against unknown opponents online. Chat and video sharing are common in the online games and they can be an influence on your boys without your knowledge – often in an ungodly way. We tell our younger guys to meet up with friends from real life, if they want to play as a group. We’ve let our older sons connect online, but with some warnings and discussions about hazards there.
Can they (will they) stand apart from their online identity? One trap of intense gaming is the ability to re-create yourself in a role-playing situation. Some guys immerse themselves in their imaginary world so deeply they end up seeking attention and affirmation from their gaming community (a group of online identities which are likely as made-up as their own). They may avoid real life, real people, and real endeavors; schoolwork suffers, relationships suffer, and worse, they may begin violating their conscience with gameplay decisions they think are “just pretend, so they don’t count.” (Proverbs 10:23 applies here … )
Consider how you can regulate access. We really don’t want our guys to become habitual gamers (and they can truly become addictive!) so there needs to be some parental control in place. When a relative passed on his game console to our boys, we hit on the idea of keeping the setup at their grandmother’s house. That way, it’s a treat and not a daily distraction to them (it also gives them some entertainment when they go visit). An accountability package like Covenant Eyes not only watches for inappropriate content, it also lets you track if someone is spending too much time online or on certain websites.
At the end of the day, there can be a place for video gaming, the same as there’s room for sports, crafts, music, and other activities. There may even be room for dramatic or violent situations in gaming – especially when we consider our 15- or 16-year-old may be just a few years from starting a career which involves such drama! But be sure we’re teaching our kids – by example as well as word – how to exercise discernment in our entertainment decisions, and to keep all things in balance as faithful stewards of our time and attention.
Of course, if you have boys of any age you probably have asked how do you deal with the normal aggressiveness of boys? It’s not because of video games, it seems to be their natural temperament. Even when parents are uncomfortable about toy weapons and rough play, we see that boys will often seek it out or invent them on their own! (“My son nibbles his sandwich into a gun shape!” one mother complained to us) We talk about this at length in chapter 4 of our popular book, Raising Real Men – if you’re wondering about this whole issue, why not check it out yourself?
Hal and Melanie
[ 84% are gamers] http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-overview-2015/pi_2015-04-09_teensandtech_16/
[ Hours and violence] http://www.pewinternet.org/2008/09/16/part-1-1-who-is-playing-games/
[ Christians in military or similar roles] Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 3:14, Acts 10, Romans 13:1-7
Q. My wife wants to invite a nineteen year old young man over for dinner. He works with my sixteen year old daughter and brought her flowers last week. We’ve briefly talked about his interest. She came to Christ last year and she’s a good girl, but I’m just not comfortable with this – I don’t think she’s old enough or mature enough! What should we do?
They grow up fast, don’t they? It can be pretty alarming to suddenly be dealing with grown up situations like this when it seemed like just the other day they were carefree children.
There are several ways to handle a situation like this one:
You can just throw up your hands and let the relationship develop, and hope for the best. You already said you aren’t comfortable with that!
Or you can go all authoritarian and just forbid it. This might work if they were 15 and 12, but they’re not — and even if your daughter isn’t mature enough to get married yet, she’s old enough to think it might work. She’s only a couple of years from being old enough to marry without your approval, too.
And since she’s working with him, she’s going to be seeing him, often, without you being there.
Clearly, whatever course you decide, you’ve got to get her on board or you might create a situation where she’s hiding and sneaking … and that’s dangerous.
We’d recommend a middle course – one that will preserve your relationship with your daughter, but protect her, too.
If he’s bringing her flowers, there is no doubt that he’s desiring a romantic relationship and you need to have much more than a brief talk with your daughter. Right off the bat, you’ll need to find out her level of interest and what kind of relationship they already have (things may be farther along than you know!).
Then you need to share your concerns with her and talk it through. A useful thing to do with kids that want to leap into a relationship, but are still a little too young for that to be a good idea, is to take them very seriously and walk through it with them.
It might look like this:
“Okay, honey, so you think this guy might be the one? Let’s talk about how that would work.
“What are your plans for after high school? Are you planning to go to college? What about him?
“When do you think you’d be ready to be a wife and mother?
“What is he doing for a living? How much does he make? Okay, let’s look at what it takes to live around here …
“You could work, too? Better not plan on that. You might have difficult pregnancies or you might figure out — like many new mothers do — that you just can’t leave your baby in a daycare.”
You get the picture. Give her some reality therapy. Help her to realize she’s probably not all that close to being ready for marriage, but that’s what romance is about, that’s what it’s for! And it will give her a framework to think about future relationships for herself.
Their work situation offers one additional complication — what if the relationship develops into romance (with or without your agreement), and then doesn’t work out? Will your daughter feel awkward going to work around her ex-boyfriend? That might be a question to discuss if it looks like they’re going to become a couple.
We’ve been privileged to speak to thousands of parents and teens and answer their questions. In our experience, though it’s tempting to just go authoritarian, if you don’t win your older teen to your side, you are courting disaster. She’s not eleven any more. In a couple of years, she can just walk away from you. Build the relationship between the two of you and she’s much more likely to do what you hope she will.
Hal & Melanie]]>
Q: So what is Reformation Day and why do you celebrate it?
We were delighted to find out that Christians have been celebrating Reformation Day as a holiday since at least 1567! As parents of six boys, we’ve loved having a holiday to remember a true Christian hero — a man who faced death and by that, opened the door for many to find life!
As a law student walking through the woods, young Martin Luther was alarmed by the onset of a large thunderstorm around him. Taking a bolt of lightning as a warning from God, he left his university and became a monk in the Augustinian order, but he did not find the peace he sought in that service. His restless search for peace with God led him to a doctorate in theology, then a professorship with the tiny University of Wittenberg in German Saxony. It was there, in his study of the Bible, that he was struck with the truth, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) He realized that all his works could not save him. Only what Christ did on the cross could pay the price for his sins!
Luther became very concerned about certain abuses in the medieval Catholic Church, and the young theologian decided to challenge other scholars to debate a number of the practices he questioned. On October 31, 1517, he nailed the notice to the door of the university church, a common practice since the broad heavy doors were routinely used as bulletin boards. He chose that date, the Eve of All Saints’ Day (“All Hallows’ Eve”), to post his challenge because the next day a church festival would attract many of the scholars he wanted to discuss these things with.
Thanks to the fairly recent spread of the printing press, “The 95 Theses” (Luther’s list of debate propositions) quickly spread across Germany and then Europe, lighting a firestorm of controversy. Luther, thinking to provoke debate among academic scholars, incidentally drew the wrath of Pope Leo X and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V as well!
The Emperor called him before the Imperial Diet at the town of Worms* and challenged Luther to withdraw his proposals and repudiate his writings. Everyone couldn’t help but think of the Czech reformer, Jan Hus, who had made many of the same propositions decades earlier — and was burned at the stake!
Luther begged for time to consider the Emperor’s demand. After spending a sleepless night in anxious prayer, he responded the next morning:
Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason–I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.
Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.
He knew what had happened to others who called for a return to grace and the Scriptures. Nevertheless, Luther stared death in the face and took his stand on the word of God – regardless of Pope or Emperor.
While a safe conduct agreement protected him in Worms, the Emperor placed Luther under his ban as an outlaw. By Charles’ decree, Luther faced
…confiscation and loss of body and belongings and all goods, fixed and movable, half of which will go to the Lord, and the other half to the accusers and denouncers. With other punishments as given more fully in the present edict and mandate.
This says loss of body! That’s called martyrdom. That’s what he faced. Among other things.
What an incredible, gutsy thing to do. It’s one of our favorite events in history.
What was Luther’s philosophy that put him in such conflict with the Church of the day? One way to summarize it is called the Five Solas:
Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone
Solus Christus – Christ Alone
Sola Gratia – Grace Alone
Sola Fide – Faith Alone
Soli Deo Gloria – The Glory of God Alone
All five doctrines flowed out of Luther’s realization of the meaning of “the just shall live by faith.”
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Here at the Youngs’, we love Reformation Day (October 31). It’s a fantastic time to teach our children about some real heroes, the fathers of our faith. It’s a time to speak about salvation by grace, through faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus fully embodied both natures, God and man, He was infinite in holiness and had no sins of his own to die for, but voluntarily died to take the punishment due to his people for their sins. They deserved death, but their judge stepped down from the bench to pay the penalty in their place. What a rich, deep truth!
On Reformation Day, we eat German or Swiss, often bratwurst or knockwurst, sauerkraut and hot German potato salad, and watch Martin Luther, a terrific B&W movie starring Niall MacGinnis as the reformer. The movie was filmed at the actual location of some events, and they did a great job finding actors who actually looked like Luther, Charles, and Pope Leo. And the scene at Worms is classic! You’ll want to cheer!
(The Martin Luther movie we love is available from several places, and is now available streaming from (affiliate link) Amazon.)
During breaks we love to sing hymns of the Reformation.
And we have candy, too … we play “Pin the Theses on the Wittenberg Door.” We draw big ornate wooden doors on brown paper and label each panel with a different treat. We use Post-it(TM) notes for the Theses. Everybody gets a prize! (and for once, the boys don’t mind if there’s no ultimate winner, as long as they get lots of candy!)
Our friends get into it, too. One year friends of ours snuck up in the middle of the night and taped a copy of the Theses on our door with a bag of candy and a sign, “You’ve been nailed!”
Take the time to celebrate the heroes of the faith. Our guys need those examples!
*I’ve always loved thinking about “The Diet of Worms,” but to be fair, it’s pronounced “Vorms” in German.
Hal & Melanie
Christmas is coming and we’re planning some fantastic new character-building gifts! Get on our newsletter list to hear about them first and get the best prices!
Sign up below!]]>