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Volume 16, Issue 5: Virga

Gormet Boil

Matt Whitling

Water in a pot rolled and then bubbled as the red electric burner began to expand and glow. A dancing waterfall of steam rose to the track-lighting above and condensed on the cool glass shades skirting three unlit bulbs. Even the kitchen mouse traps had been lulled into a semiconscious doze. Afternoon was blending into evening as the shadows began to pour themselves out across the front yard, extending their dominion toward the street. In the pot, each hot, clear bubble sacrificed itself in a joyous enunciation of the transition, but no one heard. No one came to celebrate this quiet little bar mitzvah between roll and boil. The water boiled alone while the lid on the steamy pot began to talk and clap out a rhythm of its own. All of the daytime inhabitants of the house were tucked away out of sight. Bedrooms, kitchen, dinning room, den, and living room all sat silently with an expectant air of exhalation from each. Mouths were open and window shades had been pulled up so that each room could gaze out through the warm evening light that flooded in. Only the basement remained closed and dark.

Loving your children through consistent biblical discipline requires time, and the more children you have, the more time and energy it will demand. An additional factor on the plate is that even in a relatively small group of children, the odds are that you will have one or more that are what our family calls "high-maintenance kids." High maintenance kids require twice as many hugs and spanks, and three times as much love and instruction as the rest of the bunch. This extra time and work is an investment of faith and it will pay off, but not right away. On top of it all, there are certain seasons in your children's lives that will require an increased amount of time and instruction from you. These could be called high maintenance seasons. What some folks call the "terrible two's" is an example of this sort of season.
I can remember days when I left for work at 7:00 in the morning and kissed my wife as she took one of our sons down to the basement, only to return at 4:30 with the same two individuals down there doing the same sort of business. These were particular seasons of intense discipline in which my wife needed encouragement, actual physical help, and the covenantal backing of her husband. There are a host of things that a husband should be doing in times like these in order to back his wife up, but only one has direct implications toward the use of cheese in the discipline process.
"Sweetheart, I don't care if the clothes are washed, the house is cleaned, or dinner is made—your primary job is to love our son, and what he needs most right now is to be held accountable for his actions and specifically his attitude toward you."
One of the lies surrounding sin is that it is overwhelming and impossible to deal with. For example, it is evident to many parents that their children do not obey cheerfully or immediately, and it is just as evident to them that if they started addressing those particular sins it would consume not only the morning, but the whole day, or several days, and by implication the rest of their lives—therefore tackling these sins in any concerted fashion seems impossible. "You don't realize what our kids are like. We just don't have the time or energy to deal with anything other than the big issues." In reality, however, if parents work diligently to teach, train, and enforce cheerful obedience in the home when the children are young, they will end up with more time for other duties, not less. A home in which the children are required to obey right away, all the way, and with a good attitude every day is a home in which Mom has time to tend to all of the duties that she has been called to. The paradox is that parents need to be willing in principle to give up those other duties in order to love and nurture their children through certain seasons of life. It is a father's job to identify these seasons and to make sure that he takes up the slack in the schedule and bears the brunt of the load as he leads his family. For starters, this means bringing home dinner or cooking it yourself, taking on some of the cleaning duties around the house, and making sure that your wife has an adequate Sabbath rest each week. As a husband learns to give himself away for his family, he will find that the more he gives away, the more he has.
The basement, of course, played the antagonist in all household politics. Dark, sinister, and unfinished, it had its own decor of cobwebs and glistening concrete. Close steep stairs served to welcome visitors down into its bowels. This, of course, is where all the people were that early evening—doing dark business down in the basement. A hard but loving business followed by the peaceful fruit of righteousness, rest, and time. Dinner will be ready in ten minutes, or when the noodles are soft.

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