Archives For August 2011

By Beth Groh

You could just feel it in the air—this was a night to take the tornado warnings seriously.

Our family of five grew to a gathering of eight by the time the first alerts were issued…our storm cellar in the garage was stocked, swept, and ready for action.

Several tornadoes already were on the ground, and one was barreling towards our side of town. So it was time to crowd into our 8-man shelter, fully testing its limits (especially with one of our guests being a terrified toddler).

With one hand on the shelter lid and one on the radio, we were about to seal ourselves in when our son got a call from his neighbor friend: “Can he come over?”

“Sure,” I thought. “We can make room for one more.”

But then he clarified, “It will be all four of them.”

I quickly ran the numbers—12?! We already had kids on our laps, a lanky teen crouched on the floor and an inconsolable two-year-old. I just couldn’t picture how we would wedge two more adults and two teens in our sweltering underground metal box.

Then, with words that still haunt me today, I asked: “Can you see if they can ask our other neighbor? Maybe they will have more room.”

My mind’s eyes couldn’t see the fit. My husband’s heart, though, was rightly fixed.

“Of course they can come,” he calmly said. “We’ll make ourselves fit.”

Blessedly, the storm dodged us before we had to seal all 12 of us inside. We ended up just enjoying a pleasant evening visiting outside until the electricity came back on.

But that experience later pierced my heart. How could I have even thought, “No”? How could I only look with my eyes, and not my heart?

I prayed for forgiveness. And I prayed for the wisdom on how to apply the lesson I was supposed to learn.

My answer came when I read the book, When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany, by Erwin W. Lutzer.

Just as storms swirled around our family that evening, fierce economic storms engulfed Germany during the Weimar Republic era before Hitler’s rise to power.

The economy was in utter collapse after World War I. People literally needed wheel barrows, not wallets, to bring money to the store to buy every-day essentials, IF they were even available. Unemployment was off the charts. Crime and lawlessness were rampant.

What better climate for a strong man—promising food, prosperity and national pride—to seize power?

In the early 1930s, Hitler seemed nothing short of a miracle worker in the eyes of most Germans. “Christians saw him as an answer to their prayers,” Dr. Lutzer writes, adding that some even substituted wall photos of Christ for Hitler.

So they lost a little freedom? So some of that hatred towards Jews, and others, was a little uncomfortable? So thousands of pastors were whisked off to prisons for preaching views contrary to the regime? They had food, hope.

If you were worried about how to feed and protect your children, what compromises would you make?

It’s so easy—with the 20-20 hindsight of history—to blame the Germans for getting duped into a tyrannical, utterly evil regime. We can self-righteously think, “Oh, we never would have sat idly by.”

Really? If our children were starving… Really? If our family risked being whisked away in the night to one of those rumored death camps… Really?

When the storms in life rage, we as sinful humans tend to think with our minds—not our hearts, often with answers that are ungodly. I did.
My personal lesson from that experience—and my “take away” from the book—is that I must think through in advance how to handle such life-and-death decisions. In the heat of a moment, I might react before praying…or even thinking clearly. If I had prayerfully considered my decision in advance, then my response in that split second would have been second nature.

As unpleasant as it seems, I make myself play “war games” in my mind—different scenarios when my faith and compassion could be tested: As a mom, how far would I go to protect my children? How much would I risk to openly proclaim my faith? Would I risk my family?

I dare say that if some of those early 20th century Germans had prayerfully considered such questions--BEFORE the storms raged--then they may have felt the Lord’s courage to stand on their principles and honor Him, no matter what the cost.

Read Part 1 of this series here.

When I wrote the tip for Monday, I made a terrible error that hurt my teens' hearts.  I want to officially apologize to them and set the record straight.  When I wrote that list of "No's" that are commonly said to teenagers, I did not clarify that I was speaking in the abstract.  My children have not asked me for piercings, and I was not speaking of any specific incidents with my examples.  I should have made that clearer to my readers by inserting a line such as, "All around America these types of lines are heard...." Thanks kids for having the courage to bring this to my attention.

I am so sorry to have not seen this as I wrote.  I did not even think of it when I penned that list.  Kids, please forgive me for my insensitivity.  It is hard enough to have a writer and speaker as a mom!  I love you all dearly and will strive even harder to be more careful.  Thanks for allowing me to share our family's stories so freely.

Readers, I am officially on the record to say....I have the most wonderful kids in the world.  And yes, I am extremely biased!  My teens love Jesus and me dearly, and I am so proud of how easy they make my parenting job.  They are each a treasure from the Lord and are growing in His likeness every day.

Thanks for reading and watch for the new edited version of Monday's tip!

By Lisa Cherry

Parenting teens is sometimes a rather messy job.  Loving your 14-year-old often involves an eclectic mixture of wanderings through the mall to find the perfect pair of jeans only to return home empty-handed because none in the whole mall “fit;” loud trips to accompany a carload of loud teenage boys to a loud local Christian concert; weepy late night “counseling sessions” to sort out the latest friend conflict…all sweetly interspersed with dozens and dozens of NO’s.  All around America these types of lines are heard....

No, you won’t be going to see that PG-13 movie with your friends.

No, we will not be piercing that part of your body even if all your other teammates are.

No, we will not be allowing unlimited internet access in this house even thought the filter system is inconvenient.

No, you may not go to that party without any adult supervision.

No. No. No.

Seems like some days that is our main job as parents—providing the screening system that filters out the immaturities and ill-conceived ideas of our remarkable and creative teens.  Over the years I have often asked myself, will I ever see any benefit to all these careful years of parenting where I am the big, bad Mama?

Fellow parents, I have great news!  There is hope for light at the end of the tunnel!

In August I celebrated the momentous (though slightly painful) landmark of 50 years.  I received one of my best birthday presents of all time from Kalyn.  It was a little box marked “50 Thanks…Happy Birthday Mom,” and it contained an amazing treasure: 50 small pieces of paper each marked with an expression thanks for my mothering.

Some brought me to tears as I reflected on her little girl days.  But right there in the midst of the stack were a few that I would have paid big money to be able to look ahead and know I would one day see.

“Thanks for sticking to the rules and teaching me to do the same.”

“Thanks for telling me the truth.”

“Thanks for having patience with me even in my ‘fit of rage’ stage!”

I think I get it now!  The parenting tip of today:   Be the ADULT who is patient to wait 10 years for a “thank you.”  Not that Kalyn hasn’t been extremely grateful for several years already.  But some parts of our job require a new form of delayed gratification.

I needed that little box as a reminder.  Not so much in my relationship with Kalyn.  She is already through!  I needed it for my four teens and two tweens who need me to be the mom who can wait in faith and patience, say “No”…and even with a smile!

By Lisa Cherry

For years I have dreamed of achieving the once a month cooking plan for my family.  Maybe you have heard of the concept of spending one very "hard day" of cooking and freezing the meals so mom can simply thaw and bake her way to culinary freedom.  Always sounded like a dream come true to me.

But how does one find enough storage space to cook for ten people (plus frequent guests), three meals a day, for 31 days?  My conclusion?  We would have to add on.

So since home renovation was not in our immediate plans, I settled for my own version of the once a month cooking dream.  I worked all summer on the project planning, strategizing, and experimenting until I thought we could handle the new vision.

As of this Saturday, I am proud to say...we did it!  We launched my four-page, month-long menu plan complete with a three-ring binder of itemized weekly shopping lists and secretly coded quantity charts.  Posted on the refrigerator as our trusty guide, I have tweaked, adjusted and wrestled the masterpiece into Cherry family submission!

I must humbly confess I could never have achieved such a masterpiece if it were not for my fellow sisters who have gone before me braving a daring path of home efficiency. (Here’s one of my favorites and here’s another.)  To those who have posted before me, I say a heartfelt thanks.  I could never have done it without you, girls!

One month down!!!  And my kids are only dreading two days of the week!  Not bad, eh?

Which days, you might ask?  Mondays...the days we must either cook and debone seven chickens, brown and bag seventeen pounds of hamburger, or bake and freeze fourteen dozen muffins.  And Wednesdays...the day we eat soup.

I figure a few more months at it and I will have even four-year-old Josiah skilled at digging through chicken carcasses,  and two of the other children (who will remain anonymous) will be done asking if they have to eat the broth of their soup as well as the noodles.

I have been hesitant to even report this endeavor lest we couldn't make it through the first month.  But here we are about to go into month two!!!  This is a miracle! The kids are actually excited that I can tell them exactly what we will be having for lunch on February 17, 2012.

Anyone want to check in on us later to see if we hold????

And hey, if you have any time open on Monday, you might want to stop by :) ...and bring your gloves!

By Beth Groh

Note from Lisa: When my sister sent me the first installment of this series of posts, my curiosity was piqued. But as the series progressed, I was gripped with the urgency of the consideration of these concepts. Please consider discussing them in your home as we are ours!

So it’s not exactly your light summer reading…

But it’s a book that had me in its grips the minute I started reading—When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany, by Erwin W. Lutzer.

Certainly I would recommend that you read it, especially since it’s a fairly quick read at 141 pages.

But I realize that time and money is short. So the next couple of posts will be devoted to giving you an overview of the lessons presented in this powerful book … lessons that we should heed today as Christian parents and grandparents, and those who care deeply about the generations to follow.

Let me tell you first what it is NOT saying! Dr. Lutzer is not comparing America today to Nazi Germany.

However, he does paint a chilling picture that many of the conditions that gave rise to the Third Reich – extreme economic hardship, devaluing of life, apathy in the church and the secularization of society—are certainly present in the United States today.

“…Nazism did not arise in a vacuum,” Dr. Lutzer states in his introduction. “There were cultural streams that made it possible for this ideology to emerge and gain a wide acceptance by popular culture. Some of those streams—myths accepted by the masses—are evident in America today.”

He reminds us, too, of this familiar warning: Those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it.

Fundamentally, Dr. Lutzer paints a sobering picture of how the Nazi worldview permeated so much of German society – in the schools, in the newspapers, in universities and, yes, in many churches.

That ungodly worldview created a lens through which people viewed everything --their government, their daily lives, their morality, even their faith. That man-centered worldview explains how such unspeakable crimes as the extermination of the Jews and other “inferiors” became acceptable or, at minimum, tolerated or ignored.

Ultimately, the battle for the heart and soul of German in the early 20th century was a battle of worldviews. A Christ-centered biblical worldview largely collapsed. A man-centered humanist worldview—taken to new extremes by Hitler—prevailed.

Tragically, we know the results. And we may know in our guts that there’s a battle of worldviews raging in our nation today.

So what are the seven lessons we can learn from the German worldview battle?

Let’s start today with Lesson One: Remove God from His place in society and government—judgment will follow.

Surprisingly, Hitler did not initially want to destroy the church. He just wanted to neuter it. To make it irrelevant to the lives of Germans—kind of like a social club on Sundays that had no impact on the beliefs and actions on the other six days.

One step was stripping Christian holidays of religious meaning—Christmas became “yuletide” and Easter became a pagan spring celebration. The state stepped in to provide marriage services and “blessings” by Mother Earth and Father Sky (pp. 24-25)

In 1934, Hitler summoned two Godly and outspoken pastors—Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemoller—to the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. In not-so-veiled threats, Hitler advised them: “You confine yourself to the church. I’ll take care of the German people.”

That night, Niemoller’s rectory was ransacked by eight Gestapo men and he narrowly missed a bomb detonation in his hall a few days later. The more than 2,000 pastors who originally stood behind Bonhoeffer and Niemoller got the message—and withdrew their support.

Later, hundreds of pastors would be amongst the millions who would be rounded up in prisons, proving correct one of Hitler’s comments in those early days: “One god must dominate another.” The Nationalist Socialist party made it, in essence, a “hate crime” to preach anything from the pulpit that could encourage people to defy the state.

While Niemoller, Bonhoeffer and many other brave Christians withstood persecution for their beliefs, millions of others chose to ignore the spiritual battle raging throughout their nation. Dr. Lutzer drives that home with the gripping story of one churchgoer, who later recounted how his congregation could hear the screams of the Jews on Sunday mornings as the trains went by their church to the concentration camps.

The nightmarish horror of those desperate cries haunted those in the church. Their solution: Sing hymns louder.

Before we get too self-righteous about, in essence, turning up the volume to drown out the horror, Dr. Lutzer asks what we would do.

“What train is rumbling past us today whose whistle we ignore?”