Parenting: Good-night Words

Good night words to a child ought to be the best of words, as they are words of greatest potency. The last waking thoughts of a child have a peculiar power over his mind and heart, and are influential in fixing his impressions and in shaping his character for all time.
-H Clay Trumbull

Parenting Good night words

Before Eleanor arrived and since her arrival, in small talk, folks seem to gravitate to a common place. In jest, advice, and curiosity Eleanor’s sleep seems to be thee topic of interest. It became clear to Jamie and I that this was an important issue before Eleanor came to us and so we asked and sought out and knocked on the door of scripture, books and friends to learn.

Here are some of the larger takeaways from Mr. Trumbull’s chapter on laying a child down to rest:

  • This is an hour unlike others in a child’s day where they are particularly left to themselves and so a child craves sympathy and appreciates kindness and is grieved by harshness and cold neglect at this hour where they are most alone.
  • Children are particularly malleable just before they sleep and so it is at this hour that a parent’s word and presence are most potent.
  • A wise parent will prize this hour as the golden hour of good impressions on the child’s heart. There should be no severity then, no punishment. Every word should be one of gentleness and affection.
  • The last waking thoughts of a children’s are of particular importance in the shaping of the child’s character through all time.

Eleanor has nearly outgrown her bassinet and so we are preparing her for her crib. A bedtime blessing was prepared. In our studies on sleep we found there are some 139 verses on sleep in our Bible. Most all of them point to this idea of trusting in a God who is worthy of our trust. I believe Mr. Trumbull came to a similar conclusion through his studies and perhaps that is what lead him to include this story in his chapter on good night words:

A sensitive, timid little boy, long years ago, was accustomed to lie down to sleep in a low “trundle-bed,” which was rolled under his parents’ bed by day, and was brought out for his use by night. As he lay there by himself in the darkness, he could hear the voices of his parents, in their lighted sitting room, across the hallway, on the other side of the house. It seemed to him that his parents never slept; for he left them awake when he was put to bed at night, and he found them awake when he left his bed in the morning. So far this thought was a cause of cheer to him, as his mind was busy with imaginings in the weird darkness of his lonely room.

After loving good-night words and kisses had been given him by both his parents, and he had nestled down to rest, this little boy was accustomed, night after night, to rouse up once more, and to call out from his trundle-bed to his strong-armed father, in the room from which the light gleamed out, beyond the shadowy hallway, “Are you there, papa?” And the answer would come back cheerily, “Yes, my child, I am here.” “You’ll take care of me tonight, papa; won’t you?” was then his question. “Yes, I’ll take care of you, my child.” was the comforting response. “Go to sleep now. Good night.” And the little fellow would fall asleep restfully, in the thought of those assuring good-night words.

A little matter that was to the loving father; but it was a great matter to the sensitive son. It helped to shape the son’s life. It gave the father an added hold on him; and it opened up the way for his clearer understanding of his dependence on the loving watchfulness of the All-father. And to this day when the son, himself a father and grandfather, lies down to sleep at night, he is accustomed, out of the memories of that lesson of long ago, to look up through the shadows of his earthly sleeping place into the far-off light of his Father’s presence, and to callout, in the same spirit of childlike trust and helplessness as so long ago, “Father, you’ll take care of me tonight; won’t you?” And he hears the assuring answer back, “He that keepeth thee will not slumber. The LORD shall keep thee from all evil. He shall keep thy soul. Sleep, my child, in peace.” And so he realizes the two fold blessing of a father’s good-night words.

When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid:
Yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
– Proverbs 3:24

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
For thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.
– Psalm 4:8

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
From whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD,
Which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper:
The LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil:
He shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth, and even for evermore.
-Psalms 121

Trusting in the LORD is a beautiful thing. From my studies, I have come to believe that so much of my sin has come from wanting things for myself. Adam and Eve in the garden; the apple, a way to say “If I have the knowledge I won’t need God. I will make my own way. I won’t need to depend on the LORD.” What a complicated mess. A simpler way to rely completely on the LORD. To trust completely in the LORD for He is completely trustworthy. May our children know that the LORD always watches over them, that He alone is enough for them, that they can trust in Him in all things and sleep sweetly and always go in peace.

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciate

Parenting: the Kitchen Table

In proportion as man rises in the intellectual scale, does he give prominence to mental and moral enjoyments in conjunction with his daily meals.
-H Clay Trumbull

ParentingTable Talk

The kitchen table is, in my estimation, of the very best of tools a parent has at their behest in raising their children. While I’ve been a parent for but a little over two months, I’ve been a child all my life. I have spent many an hour at the kitchen table. I have seen it used well and not. I have participated in and contributed to both. In my experience, not is when it is used merely as a place to rest food for eating. Not is when the family uses it non intentionally; people coming when they may and if they will, a non priority but more a means to an end. When used well it is a wondrous thing. A true delight. The family comes together in more than just physical proximity. They come together in spirit. They anticipate the experience. They linger and truly enjoy and profit from the gift of family.

Table talk ought to be such, in every family, as to make the hour of home mealtime one of the most attractive as well as one of the most beneficial hours of the day to all the children. But in order to make table-talk valuable, parents must have something to talk about at the table, must be willing to talk about it there, and must have the children lovingly in mind as they do their table talking.

I agree with Mr. Trumbull’s suggestion: the kitchen table should be much more though than just a place to enjoy family, it should be a place for family to grow. He notes that some of Jesus’s most profound truths in teaching are found in His words with those whom he sat with eating. He goes on to point out that the “table talk of great men has, for centuries, been recognized as having a freeness, a simplicity, and a forcefulness, not to be found in their words spoken elsewhere.” What if our kitchen tables were the intellectual and moral center of our homes?

Here are a few practical ideas from Mr. Trumbull and others on how we might make it so:

  • One father has been known to read over the morning paper before breakfast and bring to the attention news of particular interest to the application of family values during table talk.
  • Another father will set a topic for supper table talk in advance and challenge the children to learn all they can for the discussion.
  • One family keeps a dictionary within reach of the kitchen table so that table talk can continue on when a word needs learning.
  • Another family has been known to make a habit of asking God what He wants of each of them throughout the day and writing it down. Asking and sharing and discussing what was heard and how it went and what can be learned has lead to most profitable and enjoyable conversation.

Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine By the sides of thine house: Thy children like olive plants Round about thy table. Psalms 128:3

What are some ideas to get us all headed in that direction? What challenges have you faced in this endeavor?

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Parenting: Self Denial

It is not that a child is to be denied what he wants, merely for the sake of the denial itself; but it is that a child ought not to have what he wants merely because he wants it.
-H Clay Trumbull

let go of self

Mr. Trumbull suggests here that things in the 1890’s were getting out of control. That children were receiving too much in the way of indulgences. The quantity of presents was too many in these days, he held. Interesting. I can not help be imagine how many more presents a child receives in a year now than then. Mr. Trumbull suggests this is quite harmful to a child who needs to learn self denial. A most important characteristic for a christian I agree. Self denial is at the core of self control, a topic that is elemental in this study of Mr. Trumbull’s book, Hints on Child Training and that we lead off with in this study. Mr. Trumbull goes on to suggest that,

It is every parent’s duty to deny a child many things which he wants; to teach him that he must get along without a great many things which seem very desirable; to train him to self-denial and endurance, at the table, in the playroom, with companions, and away from them; and the doing of this duty by the parent brings a sure advantage to the child.

Without self denial, or from the parents perspective plain denial, a child, Mr. Trumbull explains is at a great disadvantage of happiness,

The average child of the present generation receives more presents and more indulgences from his parents in any one year of his life than the average child of a generation ago received in all the years of his childhood. Because of this new standard, the child of today expects new things, as a matter of course; he asks for them, in the belief that he will receive them. In Consequence of their abundance, he sets a smaller value upon them severally. It is not possible that he should think as highly of any one new thing, out of a hundred coming to him in rapid succession, as he would of the only gift of an entire year.

And so we come to the takeaway: a practical, here is a way to do it, piece of advice for parents who desire a child to understand self control. Denial. Interesting. Also I find interesting how core self denial is in being Christian. We are often referred to as Christ followers and as Jesus puts it self denial is the very first step. Luke 9:23-24 reads:

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

A small divergent on this concept of taking up your cross daily. Often I hear this referred to as a sort of burden “this is my cross to bear” and so forth. Though I have come to believe it quite the opposite. In the days of Jesus, it is my estimation, if you saw someone walking around with their cross it meant one thing. They were on their way to die. Their life was coming to an end. This mindset accompanied with Jesus’ command to deny yourself I think is an important one to consider. So much of what keeps us from following Christ is being wrapped up in our self; but I like my sin and so forth. James 1:18-20 shows us clearly that selfishness is the beginning of sin. But in this case, someone who had taken up his cross, their mind I imagine would be so far from the worries of this world, which so often are wrapped up in self. Worrying about the distant future or the distant past is often a case of being consumed with self. So in turn this idea of denying self is quite freeing and peaceful. One of great mysteries of life if this concept of letting go something you care so much about. Our nature screams hold on tight that money, that preference, etc. but God says let go my first fruits and your vats will overflow. Much the same I believe is this concept of freeing yourself from being consumed with self. Letting go of self, not a burden but a measure of true freedom and peace on earth.

 

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Good Friends: Simplicity

True friends know, accept, love, serve, and celebrate one another.
-Bill Hybles

True Friends

There is nothing quite like spending time and doing life alongside true friends. It is fun. It is rewarding. It is fulfilling. It is truly a blessing. But more, in Bill Hybles opinion it leads to a simple life. King Solomon gives this advice in Proverbs 13:20

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

People influence your life. People rub off. Bill Hybles suggest in his devotional simplify that your friends are a large factor to living a simple life. Have you ever been around someone who always seems to have a negative outlook? They seem to bring with them a cloud of drama wherever they go. I am a big proponent of positive thinking. Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Seek out friends who display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Hang out with them. Your life will get much simpler.

Are you a true friend? Are you taking the time to get to know people and focusing on how you can help them? Are you a positive person who brings good to others? In my estimation often the very best way to find a true friend or an awesome mate or a great business partner is to work hard on becoming one. Look to yourself and get to work, if you are anything like me you will find plenty to work on.

 

-A takeaway from Simplify by Bill Hybels

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

The Two Things

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader success is all about growing others.
-Jack Welch

 jesus-washing-apostles-feet-39588-wallpaper 2

I was asked in an interview “since setting out in business, what lessons [I’ve] learned in leadership?” I shared what I call the two things. They are simple. Simple to understand. Simple to remember. Simple to see why these two things are it. Still they are not so simple to enact without fail. They take sacrifice. Sacrifice at a fundamental level. They take us out of ourselves. Away from us. Less self and more others. A good friend of mine taught me what leaders do. Leaders do two things:

  1. Leaders lead by example
  2. Leaders serve those they lead

Search your experiences and you will hopefully find a leader in your life who does these two things well. One thing to mention here is that anyone can lead. Power is not needed to lead. Authority is not needed to lead. Though power and authority will accrete to those who follow these two things.

Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow. – Chinese Proverb

The point duck in formation serves by example. Those that follow benefit from drift. Do you want to be a leader? Are you doing these two things?

 

 -A takeaway from an internrocket.com press interview

 As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

God willing

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
-King Solomon

God willing

James is a most useful book for Christians who want to learn how to act. In it James writes to newly Jewish-Christians and explains just that; as followers of Christ, how are we to live. There are many practical things in this letter. As a business person here is one that I have come to believe is important to practice.

In business there are plans. Plans to do this and to do that. When we speak about the future as Christians I think we need to understand the power of our words. As a quick side note please consider reading James chapter 3 for a better understanding on how our words can change the course of our whole life. Back to it then. In business we are called to speak of the future, to lead a team to a better place in time. James shows us how we are to do this in James 4:13-15:

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

It is my estimation, that as Christians we are called to uphold God’s reputation. Here James also tells us not to boast in the future but humble ourselves and to submit it to God. Admit that it is subject to God’s will. This I have come to believe is a way to uphold God’s reputation. Here is an example of what I am trying at:

Whenever we talk about the future may we honor God. Let this remind ourselves that God is in control. Let this proclaim our belief that our future rest in God’s hands that others would know that we belong to God. The Creator of all.

 

-A takeaway from a study in James 4:13-15

-A takeaway from a study in Proverbs 27:1

-A takeaway from a study in Jeremiah 9:24

-A takeaway from a study in 2 Corinthians 10:17

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Codex for Entreprenuership

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.
-King Solomon

entrepreneurship codex from Proverbs 24:27

Before anyone talked about nailing it then scaling it. Before Mr. Collins’ bullets and cannon balls. Before Mr. Blank had an epiphany and started developing customers and before Mr. Reis coined the phrase lean startup that now dominates high growth venture philosophy; King Solomon laid down the codex to entrepreneurship in Proverbs 24:27:

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.

All these books are fantastic. And as I read through them I could not help but thinking how lucky I was for the opportunity. They had so much truth in them. This is why I was not surprised to see this verse in proverbs backing up the core principle of these great thoughts on entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is setting out against the uncertain. Gaining understanding is the first step. Is this problem worth solving? Do people really have it? Do they care enough about it to switch and pay to solve it? Does this solution we have solve it in a meaningful way? Can we produce this solution? Can we produce it again? And again? Now that we are past the basic stuff, what is the riskiest assumption we are making? Lets try to turn that uncertainty into certainty too. Oh and do not forget we need to do this in a way that turns uncertainty into certainty with the least amount of resources possible. And this brings us to our first principle from Proverbs 24:27:

Prepare thy work without,

Why? Why not just throw a lot of with at it, a lot of resources? Let us think about it this way. If entrepreneurship is setting out against the uncertain let us equate this to driving a car in the fog. The obvious thing to do here is to not go faster than you can stop before what you see comes to pass. It makes sense, right? Jumping in the Mustang and throwing some rocket fuel in the tank to see if she can take it and what she can do will not help things. Entrepreneurship is the same way; a lot of money; a lot of resources expended too early can lead to some costly mistakes. Costly meaning of course too costly, that is; otherwise avoidable. These core assumptions previously mentioned (all the questions above that need to be answered before we speed up), most of them can be answered without actually starting a business. Prepare thine work without.

But how do we turn all this uncertainty into certainty without starting a business? How will we know if the widget will fix the problem and if we can build it at a price that allows us to build more and so on and so on, without actually building the widget and trying selling it? This leads us to our second principle:

and make it fit for thyself in the field;

Mr. Blank is famous for the saying “get out of the building.” And this is a fantastic example of how an entrepreneur needs to shift from planning (identify those core questions) to interacting with customers. The idea is simple. Figure out the next riskiest question, that is; we think this is true but if this came back false this plan will not work, then go and interact with customers in a way that allows you to learn from them if it is in fact true or false. Search lean startup, minimum viable product, or best yet at this stage minimum viable experiment to learn more about exactly how to do this. The idea here again is simple:

  1. create a plan
  2. identify its riskiest assumption
  3. go test that assumption, with the least amount of resources possible
    1. if true, back to step two with next riskiest assumption
    2. if false, back to step one and create a new plan

Build, measure, learn, rinse, repeat until you have everything tested, as Mr. Ries would say, until you have a product-market fit, as Mr. Blank would say, until it fits in the field, as King Solomon would say. Then what? On to the next principle:

and afterwards build thine house.

Only after you have followed this codex for entrepreneurship should you spend the resources to build the business, the product, the service. This is where so many entrepreneurs think it all starts and that is scary. We can not forget all the hard work with next to nothing; no investors, no partnerships, no customers, why perhaps no one else at all for the first stent. Entrepreneurs often have to prove out a lot of these assumptions before they can even attract their first team member. Until then you are just another person with an idea, which is great mind you. And we can not forget all the prepare our work without and the making it fit for ourselves in the field and just run out and ask for money, I do not think this is good for anyone.

I am of the belief that entrepreneurship has wonderful potential when it is done the right way. I am also of the believe that God is the creator and created us in His image that we might go on creating. We are always creating. Entrepreneurs are always creating. They receive an idea and start out creating. God willing; creating wonderful products that make our lives better, creating wonderful services that make our lives better, creating wonderful jobs that make our lives better and on and on. Praise God for giving us the codex to reduce our risk in creating new things for our fellow!

 

-A takeaway from a study in Proverbs

-A takeaway from The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

-A takeaway from Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank

-A takeaway from Running Lean by Ash Maurya

-A takeaway from Great By Choice by Jim Collins

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.