Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kids Who Stand Out in a Crowd

Celebrate Calm:

The Beat of a Different Drummer
I peek in at him late at night lying in bed, fast asleep, my no-longer-little guy sprawled out across his bed, long unruly mess of hair covering his face. . .and I smile. I smile because he is full of personality. He is so different than me in many ways, different than my expectations, different than the little boy I had always imagined. And for that I am grateful. He's his own person, knows what he likes and doesn't like. I look in at him, peaceful and innocent while he sleeps. The fight is gone and his little mind is resting. He's gone full force for the last sixteen hours, he needs a break.
I like it that he pushes the limits, like it that he questions everything, because one day he's going to do something spectacular. Along the way, he's going to make some big mistakes, but he's going to live large and dream large. Underneath the spunk and mouth is a heart not only lined with gold, but filled with it. It is large and feeling, and it wants to do good even when his impulses lead him astray at times.
I think God must look down and confuse him with a little tornado. But I also think God looks down and likes what He has created, likes the little tornado who is growing into a man.
I think He sees Himself in my little boy, funny as that sounds. The part of God who is the Creator, who by the sheer force of His energy and being created life and all that is in the world. The part of God who was willing to step into humanity and persevere on a rugged cross because it would help people. The part of God who walked among men, largely misunderstood, often reviled because He was different and didn't do things the way the rulers of His era thought they should be done.
But He kept going. Because He, too, had a mission. He didn't care what others thought. His vision was larger than a mere thirty-three years on earth.
I think God must see Himself in the part that sometimes misses out on earthly things because he's in tune with something deep inside another person. The part who remains an idealist even when the world around him is less than ideal. The part that isn't afraid to look into eternity and see better things in all of us.
That is my son sleeping there. We fought each other until we couldn't fight anymore. Until I realized that I was the one who needed to change, because I wasn't going to change his nature. Perhaps he has been given to me so that I would change.
That is my son. Sometimes he inspires anger, sometimes frustration. Then he makes me laugh, even smile in resignation. And as I look at him, he makes me cry. He is a wonderful creation. Through all the struggles, I can see the imprints of the Creator.
He is my son. He marches to the beat of a different drummer. Thank God.

-Kirk Martin (during his transformation several years ago)

I read this and see my daughter.  I also see myself, changing my perspective.  I love the honesty and bravery of Kirk.  Now Casey, of whom the poem was written, has begun to realize his own great potential and at age 16 is already holding motivational workshops and selling CDs for kids.  He's found his spark and his own unique mission in life, and that is what we all want for our kids.  Those of us with kids who don't fit in, who don't make friends easily, or subscribe to the popular societal way of thinking, we are fortunate!  Our kids are different!  If we don't frustrate their god-given purpose with our own anxiety and need to control, but instead lead as Christ would have us do, we will find a great treasure beneath that rough exterior.  I am begining to see it in my daughter--such a powerful soul, who is my daily gift and challenge.  She is an inspiration and a great, raw fountain of understanding,  perspective, and gratitude to God.  She changes me by being in my life.  I am a better person because of her.  I will always give thanks for my fiery angel. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A word about my husband

I have been married to my husband for 5 years, and at first, I thought I married him because I loved him.  Then I thought I'd married him because I was tricked!  Now I know that I married him because I would have been incomplete without him. 

I love this man more today than yesterday, and it's not because life has been smooth and easy with him.  It's not because he gives me roses or plans romantic dinners or surprises for me.  It's not because we have the same interests or talents, or appreciate one another's talents and interests.  It's not because we meet eachothers' needs, or even have the same ideas about life and raising children.  It's not because he never loses his temper, and cheerfully helps out around the house.  It's not because he loves the children.  It's not because he loves me.  It's not because he values the same things I value, or respects the same things I respect.  Those things, all of them, come and go.  The reason I love him is that he is part of me.  Living without him would be living only half a life.  He is not responsible for my happiness, but he is part of my happiness, as are my children. 

Last night I wanted to go to a George Dyer concert I'd been looking forward to for some time.  Kevin called, and had decided to eat out and wouldn't come home until an hour after the concert began.  I pleaded with him, but his mind was set.  I could have moped and decided to stay at home fuming that my interests weren't important to him.  In fact, I started to!  But then a friend called, and said, "why don't you see if you can pile the kids into my car and we can bring them together?"  I was going to say, no no, my needs aren't important to my husband, and I know my kids won't be able to sit for 2 hours and listen to singing, so I'll stay home.  But then I realized how stupid that would be!  We piled up the kids and went, then I was able to call my husband after an hour into the concert and the kids were tired, wired, and getting wild, and he came and took all three home.  He did not care about missing the concert, because his interests are not the same as mine, something that I am very grateful for at times!

He looked like a white knight to me when I saw him walk through the door of the concert.  He had such a beautiful, rested, and loving look as he embraced his kids.  I realized that sometimes, he just needs to unwind a little before facing the rabble.  Who can blame him?  He was able to greet them happily instead of with hunger and stress hanging over him.

I'm so glad I brought the kids, because before they ate quite so many cookies, they did have a wonderful time appreciating the incredible singing.  Peter especially, with his love of singing, was completely overcome with the beauty, and seemed to be singing with George in Spirit, eyes peeled, breathing with him, mimiking his facial expressions.  George Dyer, for those who don't know, is an Opera singer, who is a brother/nephew (nephew who was raised as a brother for a time) to my Branch President and cousin David Light.  George put on a free concert for the Floyd area as a greeting from the LDS church to the area.  What a marvelous, smooth, rich, delicious voice!  After singing two hours to a CD, he didn't have even a trace of raspy fatigue in his voice.  That is true talent!  (He also sung at Pampa's funeral, and learned in just a few hours, a very difficult song he'd never heard before, sung it perfectly, with feeling!)  David and George also sang together for a song, which was a real treat, as David also has a beautiful, rich and velvety voice.


After the kids were gone, I got to sit and enjoy a cup of cider, and feel all the muscles in my back unwind.  I was able to let the beauty in, and feel it fill my soul up with delight.  It was the perfect evening, thanks to a good friend, a flexible attitude, and my darling husband.

Kevin is my soul mate, because I choose for him to be.  My Mom used to say that about my Dad, but I didn't get how wonderful that is, until I experienced it myself.  I have a choice, and I choose him!  That gift of free will is the greatest gift that God has given me!  I look at Kevin, not as he is now, but as he can be.  I see in him, not what he does and says, but who he is becoming, the seed of a God.  I see in him the best parts of my children.  In his eyes I see that precious light that I also see in my children't eyes, that light that went out for awhile, when life was all about scraping from one day to the next.  Now, when life is about working toward quality and self mastery, the light has returned to all of us, and we're experiencing the joy and rest and peace that we never knew we could! 

This is undenyable proof to me that there is a God.  Purely natural selection would not give our minds the ability to find joy.  Survive, yes, but joy...joy is the design of a creator who cares! 

Joy, love, peace, enlightenment, self-control, all these things are not neccessary for survival of the species.  But they are available to those who are willing to believe in something higher than themselves.  Believe in the truth, no matter what men say, believe that truth is true, and no half-truth or lie matters.

This truth is why I am still married to my husband, and why I love him so dearly and deeply.  Without God, marriage is useless, and denies the species of a more diverse breeding pool.  Without God, there is no hope for becoming better or more than we are now.  There is no reason to educate beyond survival.  Why spend our lives learning if all that knowledge dies with us?  Why spend a lifetime working out problems with our families and spouses, learning tolerance, unconditional love, respect, and laughter if there is no such relationship available after death?  Why not just compete for the best and most we can get in life?  Why do we all feel drawn to this other way of living?  Searching for knowledge, improving relationships, finding truth and happiness isn't found in the animal kingdom.  Why are we different? 

It is because we are children of a God, and we all have seeds of greatness planted in us that we are unconsciously driven to realize.  Next time you feel that urge to reach beyond yourself, realize that it's because you have the natural pull toward godhood, because you are the child of a God.  You may not be ready for the fullest desires of your heart, but never give up, because this life continues on and on, and so can your marriage, if you make that choice, and do what it takes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Death of a Great Man

Dr. Vearl Gordon McBride

Vearl Gordon McBride, beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather passed from this world to the next, December 8, 2009, after a full life of service to the Lord, his family, and his profession. He was born September 24, 1919, in Pima, Graham County, Arizona, one of 10 children, to Don Carlos McBride and Emma Jane Hubbard McBride. He is survived by his sweetheart of 66 years, Betty Jean Henderson McBride, whom he married May 14, 1943, in the Mesa Arizona Temple, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and by their children and their spouses: Maurice & Alicia McBride, Dr. Dane & Karma McBride, Darla Anderson, Tanya & James Skeen, Dr. Reo and Keri McBride, Bonnie Colleen & Dr. Alan Whitehurst, and Gina LaRee & Dr. Michael Jones, together with 34 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. He was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in a variety of church callings. He served as Branch President or Bishop for the Church in Iowa, North Carolina, and Illinois. Together with his wife, he served as a volunteer missionary for the Church in the Houston Texas Mission, where they taught remedial and rapid reading to over 1800 people, most of whom were not members of his church. For the past 17 years he served as Patriarch of the Roanoke Virginia Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in History and Political Science and his Master's in Educational Administration at Arizona State University. He earned his Ph.D. in education at the University of Virginia. He spent 30 years teaching at the college level, serving as department chairman at three colleges, Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa; Methodist College in Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri. One of his greatest achievements was the creation and development of a unique reading program, which he called "Panoramic Reading." He taught over 10,000 people in 42 states, 3 Canadian provinces, the islands of Samoa, and in Hong Kong. He was able to apply these principles to helping problem readers, including the dyslexic, the emotionally disturbed, the blind and sight-impaired, autistic, deaf, and ADHD students. He felt deeply that the reading program he developed was received through inspiration from the Lord, and he was quick to share the blessings of that gift. The family expresses its deep gratitude to the entire staff at the Brandon Oaks Rehabilitation and Nursing Center who so lovingly and excellently cared for our father in the final weeks of his life. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, December 12, at 11:00 a.m. in the LDS Roanoke Virginia Stake Chapel located at 6311 Wayburn Drive, Roanoke, Virginia. A viewing will be held on Friday evening 3:00-5:30 p.m. at Oakey's South Funeral Home and 9:00-10:30 a.m. at the church prior to the services. Interment will be in the Ferguson Family Cemetery in Roanoke County.

I would like to add that he was a great missionary to the end, handing out over 1,000 copies of the Book of Mormon (after 900 he stopped counting) before his death, his last act, a great physical effort surged forth from him to offer his unspoken testimony to a male CNA who had cared for him in the hospital, having instructed his son to give a Book of Mormon and a tip to the man. He lived as though he were on a perpetual full-time mission. His handing out copies of the Book of Mormon was the same to him, as his mission to teach people to read and read faster. It is all education--giving people tools to improve their minds and lives.

Learning To Read


Patriarch gives away 880 Books of Mormon


New Methods Help Dyslexics Speed Read


Vearl G. McBride left behind his wife of 66 yrs, 7 children, 6 children in-laws, 32 grandchildren, 11 grandchildren in-law, 24 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, siblings, 1 son in law, and 2 grandchildren.

From the Deseret News, June 18, 1966: "Eleven year-old Tanya McBride claims to be the fastest reader in the world. She was trained by her father, Dr. Vearl G. McBride, chairman of the department of education and psychology at Methodist College, Dunn NC. He specializes in teaching rapid or 'panoramic' reading. Mr. McBride is the Branch President of the Dunn Branch, Raleigh Stake, NC.

I took classes from "Pampa" as we called him, as a child. One of my fondest memories was when I was embarrassed and frustrated that everyone else could speed read, but I, the youngest in the class, just wasn't getting it. In frustration one time, I pretended to speed through an entire book, and just fibbed about having comprehended it. I got all sorts of attention, "Ginny was the fastest! Wow!" and then he asked me to stay after as he sent the class out to do his specially designed exercises. He quizzed me about the contents of the book, with my parents nearby. When it became obvious that I'd lied, he didn't flinch for a moment, and just said, "Ginny, we are very proud of you. You can go now, thank you." My mother was tense, and I could tell almost jumped down my throat for dishonesty, but he smiled with a twinkle in his eye, knowing, and understanding why I'd done it. He never exposed my lie to the class, and continued to praise me, as though I'd actually done it. I knew that he knew, but I also knew that he didn't want to embarrass me or discourage me by direct confrontation. He never spoke to me about that for the rest of my life, and never told anyone else either. That's the kind of patience and enduring love it takes to reach children, and he reached thousands. Pampa, you will live forever, because of the legacy you left behind.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Help for the Harried Mom!

Help for the Harried Homeschooler by Christine M. Field.

This book is amazing, and poorly named, I feel. It is so much more than "help." It is a perspective check and if necessary, shifter. Field brings it all back to Christ, which is really what all of us are all about. She shows how laundry and dishes and mopping the floor can and are part of teaching our kids, and that these things can be used as tools of learning as we complete these tasks. She shows how we don't need to compartmentalize every aspect of our lives into categories. She gives so much that would be helpful to anyone, even non-homeschoolers, such as her advice on discipline how-to's.

1. Establish and Enforce Clear Lines of Authority in your Home and in your Homeschool.

The way to do this is not the way that you and I may have been raised with, by parents ordering us around, with harsh consequences for dis-obedience. That is not what Field is about. She says to establish Christ, or God as the Authority in our home! How simple! How true! "Let your children see you obeying and honoring God with your life. Then expect them to obey both you and God." Expect from them the same things that God expects from you.

She does talk about a woman who's No means no, and Yes means yes, (the second part we often overlook, but should not!)

She also teaches that to gain the children's respect, we respect their father. I have never thought of this in this way before, but it's true! "Acceptance of [the children's] dad's authority gives her children a healthy model for accepting hers."

2. Establish Clear Expectations based on Biblical Values

(This is made even richer with the advice of Kirk Martin.)

When we teach as Jesus taught, we teach in terms of principles. A much more powerful way of teaching "don't hit your sister," is to put it in a frame. "In our family we treat each other with respect. Hitting is not respecting, no matter how mad you get." You can frame it however you like, with "Loving," or "Kindness," but get down to the heart of the matter. In my personal experience, this can be done very well, or be done very badly and destructively. The difference is in the tone and manner. When I got mad at my daughter for hitting my son, my Mama Bear claws came out, and I ended up really hurting her feelings, and establishing battle lines, and her as the enemy! I did this by standing over her wagging my finger shouting, "IN OUR FAMILY...blah blah blah!!! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO RESPECT EACHOTHER! YOU DON'T HIT NO MATTER HOW MAD YOU GET! Don't EVER lay a hand on my son! Blah blah blah..." But since I was screaming at her, she was hearing: "I DON'T LOVE YOU! I CARE MORE ABOUT HIM THAN YOU! I WISH YOU WEREN'T MY CHILD!" She then acted out even more.

After learning from Celebrate Calm, however, these discussions go like this now:

I send her to her room, or force her to her room. After a few minutes to collect myself, I go in the room and sit down. I don't say anything until I sit down. Then, if I'm really upset, I put my feet up and search for and find compassion for her in my heart. If I can't, I pray for it. Then I say, "You want to roll a ball to me, and I'll roll it to you?" If she says no, I know she's really upset, and I ask if she wants to say a prayer with me. I may say it, or she may say it. If she won't cooperate, then I do anyway. When I'm talking about her, she'll listen. The prayer is genuine and a heartfelt confession and plea to the Lord. We do this, and after the tension is eased, I may or may not ask about what happened. Usually once she is feeling like she can talk about it, she'll confess or ask questions about what occurred. I will then tell her the above statement in context of what happened, with a tone of love for her. Then we explore options for next time. She helps come up with a plan of what to do next time she gets really angry. After this she will often apologize to her brother of her own accord, which is what I'm looking for, and praise her for! If she doesn't, I'll remind her that she will feel so much better once she does. I usually find, though, that after several hours, if I'm making sure to be positive and cheerful and loving, setting an example for them, they really are sorry, they will say sorry again, and really mean it. I love that my 18 month old Kenny says "Sahyee" (sorry) frequently. I also apologize to them every time
I can, even if it's just a moment of harshness, because it's really good practice!

(During Family Home Evening the other night, we renewed our Calm Family Creed, which needed some renewing and re-focusing as we were begining to stray, I felt. Kaylee, age 5, was teaching the lesson, sort of. I said most of it into her ear, but she felt proud of her role as teacher. Then at the end I asked her, "What's your favorite part about our Calm Family Creed?" She said, "You sit down." I knew then that the calm in our home is as priceless to her and her brothers as it is to Kevin and me.)

3. Establish Consequences and Consistantly Enforce Them

There are so many many books and programs all based on this. I won't say anything much, except that she sites a great author who gives guidelines for establishing consequences. She says, "finding consequences is an art:"

  • It should be reasonable.
  • It should be enforceable.
  • It should be clearly related to the offense.
  • It should be consistent with nurturing care.
  • Anger, resentment, and retaliation have no place in an appropriate consequence.

Those last two principles are often forgotten in other parenting books. But without them, the entire process is worthless, because the eventual outcome will be the very thing we're trying to avoid. Our children will become enemies to us and their siblings.

4. Reinforce Positive Choices and Behavior

She gives examples from the Bible to help with this. Proverbs 1:9, Exodus 20:12, Isaih 1:19, for special things you can do for your kids when they've been really good. Let them stay up late one night, take them out for a special meal, give them a crown or necklace to honor them. No really! Sometimes it just takes a little something extra to say, "well done!" We're proud of you!

5. Give gentle direction when required

See above Celebrate Calm way of giving gentle direction framed in love. She sites Ephesians 6:4 and Clossians 3:21. Then Proverbs 16:21, great scriptures to take note of.

6. Pray for Your Children

This can change the feeling in our hearts and homes faster than anything, and it is the source of my own transformation as a Mother. I believe it is everything and the key that will unlock many mysteries and closed doors in our relationships. The Lord WILL turn your heart to your children, and your children's hearts to you, and He will teach you what you need to stop doing, and do differently, and what you're doing right that you ought to feel good about and do more. If He can do it for me, he can do it for you!

Learning to Teach

"The woman [or man or child] who DOES not read has little advantage over the woman [or man or child] who CANNOT read."
-Author Unknown
I am teaching my children. This is my life right now. But all of us, whether our kids are in public school or not, are the primary teacher for our children. In this task I'm assisted currently by some important books that have helped me immensely! Here's one of them:
Learning All the Time by John Holt "How small children begin to read, write, count, and investigate the world, without being taught."

This is an incredible and inspired book about harnessing a child's natural ability to learn, and teaching them by sharing the joy of learning with them, instead of cramming it down their throats while remaining separated emotionally from them. The act of sitting down and reading with a child, a book they are interested in, is the best teaching they can receive, and this tells why. When I read this, I realized, I can do that!!!! I don't have to have special training, I just have to share my heart with them and my love for reading! He also tells about how it takes a maximum of 30 cumulative hours of sitting and reading to and with someone before they, (adult or child) will take the reigns and begin to read on their own. Some instruction will still be needed, of course, but should only be given when they ask. The importance is not that they read certain words in a certain order, but that they want to be successful. He says not to teach or focus on the direction of reading left to right, top to bottom. That is the way we write, but reading need not be so strict. My grampa, Vearl McBride, a professor as well, has taught me the same principle.
He taught me: Do not assume kids know that left to right = before to after, and don't teach it. Just teach placement. This letter goes here, this letter goes here. This says this, that says that. Holt says the worst teacher of reading in the world is Big Bird. It doesn't matter that Bat and Ball and Boy start with B. So what! Kids don't care either. It doesn't help them want to read. Many people for several generations have learened to read the Big Bird way. Those kids, while they did learn to read, grew up to hate reading, unless some other parent or adult also taught them to love to read by reading to and with them, subjects the child and adult enjoyed.
He teaches that our TONE is crucial in this. Don't talk to them like they're stupid. I once said to my husband in front of the children, "DUH..." when annoyed with him. My daughter instantly learned that "DUH" means stupid or dumb. Just from my tone. Yikes! I've been more careful about my tone ever since. So when I take a tone of annoyance and drudgery when giving her instruction, she thinks, "You think I'm stupid, You think I'm dumb. You think I can't do this." Some kids will try anyway. My daughter will not. Instantly she will stop trying if any negative tone is used with her. I am so glad I understand why now, and I can make sure I am very careful to be positive and patient, and more patient, and then even more patient. I've learned to say in my mind, "She WILL learn. She WILL learn. She is bright and intelligent, and smart, and she WILL learn, because she wants to!" That is where all talents and intelligence is begun. With the desire to learn them. So, as Holt has taught me, I'm teaching my kids to read from the time they are in the womb and I read aloud to them. As they grow to be babies, I teach them to read by handing them a book and saying, "This is yours." From the time they're born, we sit and read with them, laugh at the characters, I delight in the truths I find, and I explore the pictures and colors with them, and teach them how to learn from these things by taking those things and applying them to their world. "Do we have a ball in our house too? Do we have something that color in this room? Do you feel that way too sometimes? What do you thing she should do?" Teaching them to learn IS teaching them to read, and teaching them to read IS teaching them to learn. So that is all we're focusing on right now. Everything else is frosting.
Holt says: We begin teaching children to read when we teach them that there are great treasures found in books, wonderful stories and excitement to be found
Mr. Rogers said, "To read to a child you don't have to be an actor. You just have to enjoy the book with them."
That is the key to all learning I believe.
Have fun! Love it! Live it! Share it!

Create an atmosphere of reading and learning. Find a good book to enjoy, and if the child asks, read it to him. If it's too boring for him, he'll walk away, and that is just fine. What is important, is that when the question is asked, "Mommy, will you read to me?" The answer, if at all possible, must always be a resounding,
"Yes! I'd love to!"