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September 30, 2007
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Hard Work

Note: Our second daughter Shawni, totally engaged mother of five has written this wonderful essay on work which we want to share with our Valuesparenting family.

I just finished reading The Good Earth a couple weeks ago and it’s been on my mind so much lately I just have to write down my thoughts before they fade away. I love this book. I read it years ago and have ever since claimed it as my favorite book. But lately I couldn’t even remember why (that’s how good my memory is) so I talked my book club into having it for our book last month. I guess one of the reasons it affected me so much this time is because I love the correlation it gives between hard work and happiness. To put it simply, when the main character is working hard he is so fulfilled and satisfied. Things around him work together for good. When he’s idle and gets caught up in his riches and forgets how working hard on the land makes him whole, things fall apart. And it worried me that I’m raising kids in such an affluent generation where hard work isn’t such the norm anymore (at least not where I live). I often smile to myself as I walk into the gym…I picture my great great grandma walking in there and wondering what in the world all these people are doing running around in place and lifting weights. People back then got such a workout from life they didn’t need stuff like that. Then I think of my own generation where kids had to ride their bikes or walk to get where they needed/wanted to go, had to mow their own lawns and had to earn their own money. Now I watch parents drive their kids everywhere (including me), these kids with wallets full of money given to them who have time to waste playing video games or watching TV while cleaning ladies dust the furniture around them. I have to back up and say of course there are so many wonderful examples of hard workers still, and so many kids are so darn responsible it makes me drool because I wish my kids were more that way, but it just scares me the direction society’s moving. I know times have changed, and it’s scary to let kids roam most neighborhoods on their bikes and kids are so busy taking classes or with extracurricular activities that they don’t have time to clean their own bathrooms for pete’s sake, but that makes me sad. I’m not sure how to find the balance.

There are things I want my kids to have…great vacations together as a family, a nice place they can call home, lots of great books to read, classes to boost their coordination, musicality, self-esteem, etc. But I also want to help them find the joy involved with working HARD to earn a new book or toy they’re dying for, have them walk or ride their bikes to school (even when there’s a bus available) and realize how thankful they are for a body that works so well, watch them tear up when they realize they’ve helped someone who really needed them after they’ve given selfless service, feel the full heart that comes with giving up something important to them because someone else needs it worse, and letting them lose themselves in the joy and satisfaction that comes from hard work. And the question is how do I give these, the most important things, to them? How do I make life harder in order to make it better?

Random thoughts…it’s late and I hope I’m making sense. I guess the bottom line is that there’s nothing like sitting back together after a Saturday’s hard work and taking pride in how the house smells and looks, how beautifully manicured the yard is, and realizing that we’ve done it all ourselves…we’ve worked so hard and now we can really play. That kind of hard work gives a high that I want my kids (and Dave & I) to have more of. That’s what The Good Earth taught me this time around.

September 25, 2007
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Families having success with the Teaching Children Values Program

Families having success with the Teaching Children Values Program:
Although my boys are only 4 & 5 years old, we enjoy listening to the Alexander CD. After listening to the September CD for a while, my 4 year old boy started to pour milk for everyone every morning. At first we thought it was strange, but nice. One morning he was singing ‘peaceable people’ song and ‘kitchen of contentment’ song! Just following Alexander’s example.
Thought I’d just share our cute story. NJ

September 19, 2007
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I’m Invisible

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” Obviously not. No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being.

I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?” I’m a car to order, “Right around 5:30, please.” I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She’s going she’s going, she’s gone! One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. My friend had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.” It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.” And the workman replied, “Because God sees.” I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, “You’re gonna love it there.”

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM
Charlotte

September 11, 2007
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It never ends. It just gets bigger!

Although we Eyres are at a different end of parenting than many of you who are Valuesparenting members, we want you to know that the process of parenting never ends..it just gets bigger! I have to laugh when I think about dreaming of all the free time I would have to lay out on the lounge chair on the balcony and read books once the kids were gone! Even though our nest is sometimes empty, our lives are full and spilling over!

This summer at our family reunion (there are now thirty two of us when we are all together, plus another eight when we include our semi-adopted Bulgarian daughter and Ukrainian son and their families) we realized that our numbers, with five kids married and four still single, will always be multiplying!

Along with the joys of a big family, come the complications! We figured that within a 10 day period at our family retreat during our 4 day reunion and the following comings and goings of extended family and friends that we, with everyone’s help, served 840 meals! There is always a continual round of needs for cars (especially because we had several break-downs) and beds and medical attention.

Yet even as we deal with the complications we feel the joy and importance of having everyone together, of spending time on the beach, in family meetings, playing games, having great talks, sharing recipes and life experiences and relishing those few days together, as well as the individual families visits sprinkled throughout the year. Nothing brings greater joy than family…for better AND for worse! There are always “issues”, crisis and difficulties but there is also the joy of overcoming adversity together and working out problems, the process of which binds us together even more tightly!

Treasure the memories with your little children, growing children, teen-age children and young adults because soon they will be gone…and be back…and gone again! I love this quote from Og Mandino: “The greatest legacy we can leave our children is happy memories; those precious moments so much like pebbles on the beach that are plucked from the white sand and placed in tiny boxes that lie undisturbed on tall shelves until one day they spill out and time restarts itself with joy and sweet sadness, in the child now an adult.” Also this one: “No one is guaranteed happiness. Life just gives each person time and space. It’s up to us to fill it with joy.” Anonymous

September 11, 2007
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Valuesparenting members are helping needy families all over the world.

As we begin a new school year, we have realized that we haven’t said enough about the fact that seven and half percent of your Lifetime Membership dues and fees for the Valuesparenting programs go directly to humanitarian aid and helping desperately needy families all over the world! We have had the priceless opportunity to go on expeditions with our children to villages in Africa, the highlands of the Altiplano in Bolivia, the mountains of Mexico and the dense humidity of the Philippines to see your contributions at work!

In Bolivia we dug trenches for PVC pipe in rock-hard soil to bring water to a village that had never seen running water. In Africa we had the thrill of building desks and making bricks for a school addition and setting up a basketball standard in a remote village. We helped build a cistern to hold the water when it rains and in Ethiopia, helped build a bridge under the direction of the villagers so that the long walk to water took only a few minutes. In Mexico we helped set up water drip systems for their gardens and put a fence around their village water supply so the animals wouldn’t contaminate it. In each place we helped with physical hygiene and helped with a medical clinic where people sometimes slept overnight in a line of as many as 600 to get medical help for their families.

One daughter went to India and organized a place for an orphanage and found desperate older women on the streets to come in an help with the orphans. She also went on her “honeymoom” with her husband to the Philippines where they spent six months helping to raise funds and set up surgeries for children with hair lips, cleft palates, club feet and cataracts who had no hope of help otherwise.In India a son did research on the micro-lending system set up by Mohammed Unis. A portion of the supplies and contributions for all these projects were bought with the help of your dues from Valuesparenting!

Although we have also sent aid through your dues to worthy and inspiring projects in the U.S. to enjoy just a little glimpse of the good you are doing in these third world programs click on this slide show. Thanks you for not only being great parents but also for your contributions to those families who are not as fortunate as yours!

P.S. For more information about taking your own family on an expedition to help in a third world country contact AscendAlliance.org.

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