cultivate (kuhl - tuh - veyt)
v. 1) develop 2) nurture

graft (grahft)
n. 1) transplant 2) bud 3) union

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Easter Conundrum

Ah yes. The true meaning of Easter.

When it comes to holidays, there's a growing focus on minimalism within the Christian community. Any number of popular blogs are addressing the over-the-top celebrating, which is prolific in our corner of the world. 

Leprechauns and gold coins have bedecked St. Patrick's Day. Bunnies and an ever-widening array of designer plastic eggs have smothered Easter. Fireworks and a barbecue have overshadowed the truth of Independence Day. Thanksgiving is just an excuse to stuff our faces. Presents and Santa have usurped Christmas. 

The Devil is naturally bent on profaning that which is holy.* What better way to distract us from true celebration than to hand us pseudo-celebrations to replace the sacred?

And yet...

My children will still decorate eggs. The will still search high and low for brightly colored eggs, filled with candies and loose change. We will still take extra care on our appearance this Sunday. Why? Because it's Easter; One of the highest, holiest celebrations on the Christian calendar. Putting a little more effort into my hair on Easter doesn't detract, diminish or otherwise cripple the work accomplished on the cross and in the tomb. I know my holiday minimalist friends are cringing that I appear to be going soft, but hang in there with me.

I am all for doing away with the commercialism accompanying our holidays. One special day bleeds into the next and they are beginning to be generically celebrated. It's now possible to trim your home year round with a variety of holiday lights available on the market. Just take down the Christmas lights and put up the heart lights. Take those down and put up the egg lights, the flag lights, the skull lights. How charming.

Enough already.

But Cynthia, aren't you buying into this whole mess if your kids have matching outfits on Sunday? 

Maybe. But I don't think so. 

What do my kids see when their mama puts on her finest and double checks her reflection in the mirror? They see that something important, something BIG is happening. It puts a sense of magic in the air, and rightly so. It's up to us to tell our kids to tell them what that BIG thing is. Typically, going to church on holidays doesn't really connect with kids. It's not interesting and it doesn't help commemorate the holiday from a child's perspective. I bet if we asked our kids how they would celebrate Easter (with no preconceived notions), church wouldn't make the top ten.** I lay pretty good odds that our girls would say throw a party and invite the whole neighborhood. With that in mind, what does hunting through the yard for eggs say to my children? It says this is no ordinary day. The level of excitement runs so high the air practically crackles with glee. Now show them that it is Jesus who gives us reason to be gleeful.

This isn't about taking a middle-of-the-road stance. I'm not trying to find a "Christian compromise" or some sort of mash-up that keeps all parties satisfied. I am absolutely not suggesting we find a way to marry our beliefs to our traditions. There is no marrying the two. They are righteously unequally yoked. Our traditions exist to help us celebrate and commemorate the holidays, to remind us of what is holy, of what is uncommon in this common (profane) world. In order for this to be the case, we need to ask ourselves if the festivities are in service to to the main focus, or have they supplanted Christ, who is always, always, always the main focus?

The reason our society has begun a trend of commemorating less significant days, stems from our need to find significance and meaning. We need to flip this upside down and realize that we celebrate BECAUSE the holidays have significance and meaning. When we value the sacred of the holiday, how it is celebrated means little; It is that it is celebrated that means much.

So, whether you pull out all the stops or eschew anything pastel colored and chocolate coated this Sunday...

He Is Risen!

He Is Risen Indeed,

Easter 2011

P.S. A shout out to the handsome man for his help working through this with me.

*Here's a little trivia: To profane is to make common. OK, not trivia-just a dictionary. Whatever.
**Seriously, don't you remember how long Easter church services were as a kid? 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Parents vs. Parents

Homeschooling is the responsible Christian choice.

Formula is poison and you don't love your baby if you feed them that garbage.

Baby Wise is evil.

If you let your twelve year-old daughter wear lip gloss and mascara, she'll be sneaking out for clandestine meetings by the time she's thirteen.

Co-sleeping with baby is reserved for hippies and couples with intimacy issues.

Letting your high schooler date will lead directly to the condom aisle in the store.

If you value your child's soul, you won't let them watch t.v.

Sixteen year-olds aren't mature enough to drive.

Don't ever let grown kids move back home.

Working outside the home will destroy your kid's childhood, so set aside a therapy piggy bank now.

Too many of us are either condescendingly nodding our heads in agreement or donning boxing gloves (or wondering where the heck I'm running with this). Of course, it's fine to have opinions on parenting methods and beliefs. But it sure seems to me we have forgotten that we're all in the same boat here. We're trying to do right by our kids and we only get one shot at it. Instead of rowing in unison, we're slashing lifeboats and tossing empty life vests overboard willy-nilly. It's ridiculously easy to get caught up in how So-and-So parents, or what that mom did in the grocery store. For every moment I spend criticizing another's parenting, I'm missing out on my own parenting. I've written a blank check to Time, and she is unrelentingly cashing in on every single second I have with my children.

I've had it up to here with the parenting wars.* Parenting should not be a cutthroat business. We need each other. It's not necessary to see eye to eye, nor give each other the stink eye. Instead of silently (or not so silently) judging the frazzled mama in the frozen food aisle, we need to give her the mama nod. I've got your back, dear mom. I'm linking arms with you and we're going to love these rascals if it's the last thing we do. We're in this parenting thing together. I refuse to condemn you over the snippet I've seen. I refuse to let my pride overshadow love. Now. Let's do this! 

Instead of spending my limited time assessing someone else's parenting, I'm going to parent like there's no tomorrow; For it is surely not guaranteed.

Stumbling Through Grace,

*This cliché doesn't translate well over the internet...You'll just have to envision my hand raised above my noggin.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Let Them: A Saturday Series

This first Saturday series is called "Let Them". There are so many things we just big, fat don't let our kids do. I'm meeting some of those things head-on and seeing what happens.

Let Them Blow Bubbles In Their Milk

Through a child's eyes, one of the best uses for a straw is reversing the airflow. For some reason, there is nothing quite as satisfying as the gurgle of milk bubbles, watching the mountain of bubbles grow to overflowing. The goal is pushing the limit. How high can you get the bubble tower without it actually overflowing or beginning to pop?

Through a parent's eyes, one of the best uses for a straw is to use them to draw straws for who cleans up the dog barf. 

In this day and age, parents are overly concerned with efficiency to the detriment of simple childhood pleasures. We wince when we see the puddle of glue growing. We inwardly groan at the thought of a fort, because it means extra sheets to wash and living space commandeered by a maze of blankets and chairs.* The most refreshing drink during the hot summers can be found at the end of a garden hose. Sure, they end up with wet shoes (or more) and could have filled nine glasses in the time they took to manage three slurps. 

So what?

I'm not suggesting we go all "Peter Pan" on life, but refusing (for selfish reasons) the carefree joys of childhood does little more than make for disappointing memories. So, mamas, go buy a pack of straws, enjoy sticky popsicles, make forts, drink deeply, not only from the hose, but of these days. These glorious, fleeting days.

Drinking Deeply,

*Not to mention the excruciating, cuss-worthy pain of stepping on a pocket flashlight.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Everybody Has Duck Lips

Duk lipz. I haz thum.
I'm so sorry to subject you to this. Really, I am. 

I've come to the conclusion that everybody has duck lips. Sounds deep. I can hear philosophers flipping in their graves. Sorry Socrates. I'm running with it.

What spawned the infamous "duck lip" photos which (unfortunately) continue to drown Facebook?* It's simple: People doing what they think makes them look good, desirable. It becomes a contest to take it to the extreme. 

Oh the irony of wearing my "It's not about me" t-shirt...
"did u see my new duck lips photo?"
"sick. I bet I can stick my duck lips out frthr than u."
"not even." 
"just uploaded it."
"ur the duck lips queen."**

 Maybe your news feed isn't clogged with duck lips:

"I just ran 14 miles with ankle weights on, did 4,000 crunches, drank kale juice and haven't touched a Snickers bar in 3 three years. What have YOU done today?"


"I got up at 5 am, baked 6 loaves of bread, greeted my family with made-from-scratch buckwheat pancakes in the shape of flowers, after which we enjoyed a blessed time of family worship in the garden while we sang hymns and weeded. Then we washed our vegetables, swept, mopped, dusted, vacuumed, got all the laundry done and still had time to make a nutritious dinner and light the candles on the table well before hubby walked in the door."


"I just got employee of the year again (six years running)! *giggle* I guess I'm the best in the company. Sorry co-workers. Time to step up your game."

Duck lips. Duck lips. Duck lips.

Not resonating with you? How 'bout this:

"I'm such a good Christian. I did my quiet time, prayed over each of my children, volunteered at the local shelter, made time to mentor three kids and will spend my weekend praying and fasting. If you're not doing this, you are seriously missing out."

Duck lips.

In case you're wondering, this is "smart duck lips".

None of these are bad things (well. except for the kale juice). Pretentiously touting your accomplishments across your Facebook, Twitter, whatever (or in person) is just your brand of duck lips. 

I'm sure some people share their triumphs to keep family informed. If you don't live near the parents, this is a great way to share the daily happenings. I'm also sure they're the minority. Most of us are just looking for a way to pat ourselves on the back and hopefully get some others to applaud us as well. I know I'm guilty of it. But isn't unsolicited praise so much sweeter than that which is squeezed out of others? 

My identity, my worth, my accomplishments need to be rooted in something so much bigger than the praises of man. I serve a God who can blow their speech right out of the water with seven golden words: 

"Well done, my good and faithful servant." 

I'd rather hear those nine syllables once than hear a thousand praises for the mundane undertakings of my day. 

Setting Aside My Brand Of Duck Lips,

P.S. I had a heck of a time explaining to my children why exactly I was taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror. You're welcome.

*And we wonder why Facebook stock struggles. 
**Try to reign in your enthusiasm over my mad high school conversational skillz.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Mile In My Shoes: Non-Religious Homeschooling

An opportunity for YOU to share your stories, in order that we might all learn to love more deeply.

We homeschool, but we aren't religious. The assumption is that every homeschooling family does so for religious purposes. We might be the minority, but non-religious people do homeschool too, and I for one, struggle with finding our identity in the homeschooling community. It's more difficult in a small town to "break into" a homeschool group, especially if you don't have the required "Statement of Faith". In a small town, the prospects for a secular homeschool group is limited. 

I don't love my children any less, or care about their education any less just because we aren't religious. What I would truly appreciate in a homeschool group is diversity of beliefs. What better environment to expose my children to several worldviews? We don't need to fear the people behind different beliefs, and socializing with a diverse group of people isn't going to undo all the teaching and training we do at home.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my heart on this subject. It's close to my heart. :)


Submissions may be e-mailed to:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Let Them: A Saturday Series

This first Saturday series is called "Let Them". There are so many things we just big, fat don't let our kids do. I'm meeting some of those things head-on and seeing what happens.

Let Them Contribute To The Family

Last Saturday we chatted about kids and money. Chores were part of that conversation, so I figured I'd wrap this up into a neat little package for you by attacking those dreaded chores. 

Lie #1: The right system will make chores flow seamlessly in our day.
Lie #2: You can make any chore fun.*
Lie #3: Kids will grumble through chores and it's not worth the fight.
Lie #4: It's easier for me to do it myself.
Lie #5: They're too young/They'll mess up.

OK, so there's a nugget of truth to some of these, but here's the deal: You aren't running a Bed & Breakfast. These are human beings, and they aren't the Queen of England, so they can darn well help with the laundry. I won't bore you with the details of our children's chores. Suffice to say we have printed workable chore charts for the three olders, shoved the chart in a page protector sleeve, stuck it to the fridge and we cross stuff off with a dry erase marker as it is accomplished. We (the parents) are the ones preoccupied with the structure of chores. You'll notice no kids are scouring Pinterest looking for the ideal chore system. That's why I'm not sharing the specifics of our system. You don't need any more ideas; Just give something a whirl and tweak it as needed to fit your family. 

More than cleaning games and children's annoyingly peppy cleaning songs, your attitude will make or break the deal. If we approach cleaning as just another part of life, eventually you'll meet with less resistance. Eventually. I was struck with the truth of this last night as I asked my oldest to unload the dishwasher. She was in the middle of playing...with a friend...who was spending the night. She didn't bat an eye (or roll them either). She just did it, because it's one of her chores this week. Our kids clue in to our attitudes. If I grumble my way through cleaning and gnash my teeth over messes, why would I expect my kids to do otherwise?

It's NOT easier for me to do it myself, and it IS worth the fight. We've heard it before. We've read it in books and other blogs. We all know that it's trying at first, and we just need to persevere, because it's worth it in the end. Right? Right. Here's what I have to add to that: Their future room mates, spouses, children and house guests will benefit. Your family will benefit. One reason gangs are so tight is because each member contributes, is held to a standard and has responsibilities. We could learn a thing or two. If we want our children to have strong bonds within the family, they need to make real contributions (not just letting the dog out or fluffing pillows). They need to be held to a standard.** Real responsibilities leave a person knowing that others depend on them to complete a task. If my kids can say, "Oh well. Mom will do it." Nu-uh. No dice Kemo Sabe. They need to know that everyone in the family is depending on their contribution or else there will be something undone, something lacking in the home. Now I'm not claiming that slapping a broom in your kid's hands will keep them off drugs, but just like the family dinner, it's bound to have a positive effect. And that is easier for me and is worth the fight. 

Some kids truly are too young. Our youngest can barely hold her head upright, let alone a dish (Psh. Slacker). I refuse to give you a system, but I will say this: If they can reach it, they can help with it.*** A toddler can reach the laundry basket. A grade-schooler can reach the stove top.

We all know they will mess it up. There's grace
We all know it's hard work. Training our children is worth it

And sometimes you will need to secretly go back over a chore. But if you get caught, you'll have a heck of a time explaining yourself. 

Grab A Duster,

*I'm sorry, but cleaning behind the toilet is not fun no matter what song and dance accompanies it. 
**The room shouldn't look like an F3 tornado just leveled it.
***For the vertically challenged I present The Footstool. Use it. Learn to love it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Top Ten Homeschooling Tips From Yours Truly

In recent weeks, several people have sought my advice on homeschooling. Apparently slogging my way through a few years makes me genius material. Snort. I'm always willing to help, so without further ado...

How Not To Homeschool 101*
1. Read thousands of curriculum reviews until your head spins.**
2. Keep searching for the perfect curriculum.
3. Be a slave to the day planner.
4. Ignore the day planner.
5. Forget that you are still a wife.***
6. Judge other parents for making different schooling decisions than you.
7. Over commit to activities.
8. Fret about whether they're "getting enough".
9. Get lazy.
10. Lose sight of why you began this crazy homeschooling journey in the first place: Love.****

I could easily quadruple this list, but I've got to save something for another post, right? Besides it's time for this family to rock the school books. 

Homeschooling Guru Extraordinaire,
Learning Alongside My Kids,

*Don't ask me how I know.
**Head spinning tends to freak out the kids.
***Apparently it's not enough to own a "Sexy Homeschooling Mom" t-shirt. Just whatever.
****It's the same motivator for parents who choose public, private, charter, whathaveyou; We love those rascals around the dinner table.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Five Steps To Bullying A Kid

Every few years a new buzzword appears in the world of parenting. Like when everyone had Autism. Autism was the trend. Well, the new buzzword is Bullying and bully-proofing your child is trendy. Apparently there has been a significant rise in reported bullying (either on the playground or in the cyber world). Parents, teachers, curriculum designers, and senators are all crying "foul" and forming plans to assist kids in handling bullies.

Here's the deal: Bullying (in any form) is just a symptom. All of these anti-bullying campaigns and government programs are falling ridiculously short of the real issue. The real issue is the degeneration of the godly family. Families aren't fearing God. Where there is no fear of God, there is little reason to respect others. When we don't value and respect others, we don't care how our actions affect them. We see it all around us. Drivers trying to edge out other drivers for a prime parking spot, people not holding doors for the person behind them, kids in the cafeteria mocking the effeminate boy, and so on and so forth. Bullying is just one problem stemming from the degeneration of the family. All of society seems hellbent on shredding the family. With social media and texting at the fingertips of everyone in the home, there is no need to attempt to connect with our own family. We can build our own family via friends online. School sports oftentimes require practices and games during the dinner hours. Even churches divide everyone up according to age. We disembark the minivan and go our separate ways. Apart from going all Amish on the problem, how is the modern family supposed to stay tight-knit and how does this make a dent in the bullying problem?*

Be present

Catchy, right? 

Time to BULLY.

Be Present. Oftentimes we are rushing from one event to another, catching food on the go, telling our kids to hurry it up. This is no way to connect to our child's heart. They need us to slow down and just be with them. Stop worrying about the next thing on the day planner and just embrace them right here and now.

Unplug From Distractions. Technology is great. It really is. But it comes with a very real risk. We are reprogramming our minds to think we need to check in on Facebook, or we have to Tweet about such-and-such. When our family is with us, we need to set down the phone, close the laptop and look our kids and spouse in the eyes.

Learn the Love Languages of Your Family Members. It's kind of fun and will give you a springboard for proclaiming love over your kids in a way that speaks volumes to their tender little hearts.

Listen to the Heart Issues. The spoken word and the underlying truth are not always in agreement. We need to be proficient in looking past the surface and truly listening to our children.

Press Into YAHWEH. It's all for naught if this foundation is not being laid constantly and consistently.

How does this help the bullying problem? Wellllll more kids being embraced means less kids falling through the cracks. Less kids falling through the cracks means more kids being called to task. That's all well and good, Cynthia, except my kids aren't the problem. Here's the rub: Once we're doing this with our own kids, we can begin to tackle the problem outside our front door. So, you suspect (or know for a fact) that there's a kid in the neighborhood whose parents are divorced and he's a latch key kid. You also just happen to know he's a bit rough around the edges. BULLY him. There's a girl in your daughter's class who is snarky and disrespectful. Invite her family over for a cookout. Include their daughter in a round of goofy golf with your family. BULLY her.

It won't solve the world's problems, but you'll make a difference right where you are.

Scouting Out A Kid To BULLY,

*I was going to apologize to any Amish reading this and then I realized...oh right...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Let Them: A Saturday Series

This first Saturday series is called "Let Them". There are so many things we just big, fat don't let our kids do. I'm meeting some of those things head-on and seeing what happens.

Let Them Mismanage Their Money

You heard me. Let 'em blow it all on dumb stuff. If they want to buy trinkety, break-in-a-week, gimmicky toys, so be it. It doesn't take long for children to begin to appreciate the value of money and the benefits of saving it up for something better than plastic heart-shaped Slinkies. 

Well, that makes for a short blog post. 

I guess I'll let you in on how we train our children in the ways of finances. 

We provide each of our children with an allowance. Allowances begin at age two, because anyone younger just eats the money. Literally. For every year of age, we provide 50 cents. Therefore, our nine year-old receives $4.50/week, our six year-old receives $3.00/week and our three year-old receives $1.50/week. Once we hit the teen years, I have a feeling we'll be adjusting this rubric.*

Okey dokey. This is the tricky part. Our kids do not receive an allowance based on completed chores. However, their allowance is connected to their chores. It looks something like this: Part of being a family means contributing to the running of the household. Part of being your parents means contributing to your savings. You will not get paid to do chores, but if you choose to not contribute to the care of our home, Mama and Daddy will choose to not contribute to the weight of your piggy banks. 

So there's that. Take it or leave it.

Every Monday, we do "Savings". The girls all have money tins: one each for serving, saving and spending. Ten percent a piece goes to the first two tins and the remainder goes to the latter. Serving is their tithe, saving is their bank account (which requires periodical trips to the credit union to make deposits**), and spending is free reign. They can do what they wish with their spending money. When they're younger, it is oftentimes squandered on cheap, chintzy junk.*** By the time they are school-aged, they have financial goals. Naomi is undeterred in saving up for a Kindle. It will take her several more months, but she recognizes the value in forgoing spending now, in order to reap a greater reward later. 

Q: Isn't it hard to set aside that money every week?
A: It's worth the training and it's cheaper than bailing them out of debt later.

Q: Shouldn't we teach them not to waste money?
A: Experience is the best teacher. When they they set their sights on the prize (be it a Suzy Q peeing doll, a Kindle, or a trip to Disneyland), they will learn not to squirrel away their money in the checkout lane.

Q: Isn't it painful to watch them waste your money?
A: It is no longer my money AND that pain is replaced by elation when they "get it" and begin setting long-term financial goals.

Q: You're so intelligent. Will you go out with me?
A: I'm happily married.
Just making sure you're still reading.

I realize this post is more technical than usual, but thanks for hanging in there with me. I hope it helps!

Reporting From My Counting House,

* Someone clue me in: Do teens still ask their parents for money? 
**Of which we often resemble a traveling circus.
***Or sweet-talked into the pocket of an older sister...they learn. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Most Annoying Heretical Christianese Phrase

I just don't know how much more I can take!
I know, I know.
I mean it! If one more thing happens, I'm going to crack.
Oh, honey. Just remember: God doesn't give us more than we can handle.

I'm sorry. Wrong answer. 

Aw snap.

I'm not sure who came up with this trendy phrase, but I know we need to end it.* Somehow (it seems) 1 Corinthians 10:13 became a blanket statement for trials and tribulations. However, this verse is cut and dried; It's talking about good ol' fashion temptation. There's nothing in that verse to suggest God will put a cap on my struggles. In fact, just the opposite is biblically true.** The Bible is rife with accounts of God stretching people to the max. And then some. History is jam-packed full of Christians who, by all intent and purposes, should have caved. But they didn't

Here's the zinger: Most of us can name on one hand, the people we personally know who have lived extraordinary lives of faith; Whose lives cannot be explained outside of God, and even then, leave us shaking our heads in awe. 

Dear friends, this should not be. I refuse to believe that modern-day Christians are somehow exempt from the radical, sold-out, cannot-be-shaken lives that were common to generations past. Radically living for Christ is not legend; it's authenticity. A surrendered life cannot be cashed in on a wooden nickel. Only gold, refined in the fire will do. 

It is when I am gripping the last frayed strands at the end of my rope, that God's glory shines the brightest. It is where I am crushed to the point of exhaustion and cannot draw a full breath that my life is best suited for Kingdom work. Once outside the realm of my abilities, my skills and my accomplishments God's work is most visible. When I am at my thickest in my comfort, His light is at its dimmest in my life. 

I desire a life that leaves people bending their hearts to the Father. If my life is aligned with the "American Dream", I have forfeited a cross-bearing life at the cost of souls. If my life is aligned with YAHWEH, there is no damper large enough to snuff out my light. Each person I encounter will leave our conversation saying there is no way humanly possible for her to do what she does.


That's where I want to be. I want to say each morning that there is no logical way for me to take even one baby step without falling flat on my face. I am powerless to propel myself to do what I do. Only an all-powerful God could orchestrate my life. I have ended and His glory is what goes before me and behind me. I have become but a mere speck in my own life, barely visible apart from the mighty hand of my God.

Church, we need not stand by wistfully daydreaming of a time when we were powerful. It is yet our time to renew our strength in Christ alone.

Time To Rise,

*I'm sure they had good intentions. 
**That whole "In this world you will have troubles" bit is probably just as true as the rest of the Bible.

Monday, March 4, 2013

It's Your Turn

There's nothing like firsthand experience. Collectively, we have a unique tapestry of stories to tell. I don't know what it's like to tackle an empty nest, parent a "special needs" child, face bankruptcy, or move fifteen times in seven years. Life is so much richer when we dig into each others' lives.

This is where you come in. 

Each of you have stories to tell, opinions to share and struggles you wish others understood. This is your opportunity to share. I am beginning a blog segment entitled "A Mile In My Shoes". You may submit as many posts as you wish. You may remain anonymous if you desire. You don't need to be eloquent (as I have clearly demonstrated), nor do you need to have placed in the regional spelling bee. I will post them unedited in the order I receive them. All I ask is that you avoid excessive profanity. A dictionary is a great tool to find a more suitable word. Give it a go.

Send all submissions to:

I'm looking forward to learning from each of you and being challenged to love others more deeply. Help me walk a mile in your shoes.

Loosening My Shoelaces,

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Let Them: A Saturday Series

This first Saturday series is called "Let Them". There are so many things we just big, fat don't let our kids do. I'm meeting some of those things head-on and seeing what happens.

Let Them Juggle Knives

Well, OK. Maybe juggling isn't the brightest idea, but "Let Them Use Age-Appropriate Sharp Instruments" is just so dry and cumbersome, don't you agree?

Let me begin by saying, that YOU know your kids better than anyone else. You know if it's a good idea to let your six year-old handle a knife. This is my experience based on the children we currently parent.

Our oldest is nine. She's a girly-girl, with a tomboy streak buried in between layers of nail polish and lip gloss. A while back, she got the notion to whittle a stick. My husband handed her his Leatherman and let 'er have at it. She uses paring knives on a daily basis. Our second oldest is six. The Leatherman is harder for her to control, but she has tried her hand at whittling as well. When Mikayla doesn't cut up the snack, Naomi will grab a paring knife and do the job herself. 

For Mikayla's birthday last year, I decided that a Spirograph would make a fantastic gift. Imagine my horror when I discovered that all the new Spirographs are magnetic! No more push pins to hold the pieces down? What?!? How else will my child learn the delicate art of not stabbing her fingers with push pins? I'll tell you how. We bought an old Spirograph off of Ebay and provided our own weapons thumbtacks. 

It's OK for children to handle sharp objects. They will survive. A generation ago, children carried pocket knives to school.* Not once, in all my school years did someone get seriously injured with a knife. This is merely a symptom of a greater problem; We (as a society) are preoccupied with safety (our own as well as our children's). We cannot insulate our children from every danger and potential harm. Therefore, we may as well encourage our children to learn safe handling of "dangerous" tools. Trade out "sharp" for "pointy", "loaded", or any other conceivably risky gizmo. The message remains the same: Let them!

I'm giving you permission (if you feel you need it) to pop the bubble around your kids and let them live dangerously (not irresponsibly, just dangerously). Where else better to be trained to live dangerously than in one's own home with one's own parents? 

If I can't bring myself to let my children live dangerously with a 2" blade, how will I ever train them to live dangerously for the gospel?  

Next Up: A Whet Stone,

*Confession: It may have had something to do with growing up in a hick town (which I unashamedly loved).