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Refining.

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The fourth step in producing gold is refining. Refining is the process of removing the last of the impurities so that what remains is 99.9 percent pure gold. The gold is put in a crucible, and the intent is to subject the gold to enough heat that the gold will soften and eventually liquefy. Compounds are then added that would separate whatever impurities remain from the gold. There are uses of gold where higher levels of purity (99.99 percent) are required. The more pure gold, the more intense is the refining process, the higher its value becomes, and the more specialized are its uses.

The parallel to the refining of gold as it relates to building character is learning; this is primarily a mental exercise—though it is an important and necessary step. The refining that occurs in the home takes our learning and give us experience. It elevates our learning by taking it to the “Real world.” it doesn't get any more real than in the home. Just as the crucible is a container designed so the gold remains, until it is poured out, so is your family a contained organization. It can prepare all of us and keep us in a purer state. It readies us to be used in many ways.

For example, As a manager, I would use a rigorous hiring process to make sure the person hired had the highest likelihood of succeeding in the end and can contribute significantly to the organization. Most of the time, everything worked great, and the people I hired have become life-long friends. There have been times, however, when things didn't work out, and eventually we parted ways. I then hired someone else. In the home, on the other hand, such is not the case. With our children, there is no interviewing process. It takes a couple of years before newborns can even walk and talk, although they can cry immediately. With children, you get who you get, and each comes with his own divine gifts and talents, as well as human frailties. Shortly after my husband and I brought home our firstborn, it became apparent to me very quickly that we were woefully outnumbered. There were only two of us, and there was a whole wonderful one of him. He didn't come with an instruction manual, return policy, warranties, or money-back guarantee. This parenting thing was strictly on-the-job training, and it would be nothing like I had ever experienced before. Everything before was theoretical. This was the real world in every sense of the word.

In the real world of the workplace, a person can fired or laid-off. The company can choose to use temporary labor outsource what they need. It's efficient, logical, and we can always reverse decisions if it's not working out. Not so at home. We all enter the world in a crucible called a family. Like the crucible used to refine gold, our families come in different sizes, styles, and material. What crucibles have in common is the ability to withstand a lot of heat. The structure of the family is designed for the refining of our character. There is no going around. The only way is through. We can't get fired, laid-off, outsourced, or be a temp in a family. Once someone becomes a member of the family, he will always be a member of the family. Not death, divorce, disowning, time, distance, nor absenteeism can completely severe the family ties. The family links may be weak but never severed. In the crucible of the family, our characters can become pure gold. Usually when the word crucible is used as a metaphor, it is associated with pain. The crucible of the family, however, can and should be a wonderful thing. Though there can be tough times at home, refining takes place in the process of figuring out how to become a better family. In the heat of challenges, trials, triumphs, laughter, tears, experiences, and how we respond to them, we can realize how much we are growing and how much we are getting refined.

The complete emotional, physical,mental, and spiritual focus that is required in the crucible of the home is the reason why the role of the-mother (of course father as well) exceeds the role of an executive in its demands and rewards. When I speak of reward I am speaking of the reward of the development of our character. When we are refined in the crucible of the home, we are so much more prepared for any crucible that any of our roles may present.

To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.

I'm not suggesting that everything has to be perfect at home before you do anything else outside the home, because every person has to the ability to choose. Some family members may make wise choices and others not so wise, regardless of what you do. The question is whether or not you are individually doing your part to contribute to the culture you want in your home. Just as an assayer can test gold ores for composition and value, so we can test the strength of our character by how well we are living out our values in our homes. Our homes will reveal to us what it is that we really believe and how much we have really learned. Our homes provide constant and immediate feedback regarding our character.

Remember the distance between heaven and hell and how heaven is alignment between our hearts and minds. Remember the first three stages :

1) Identifying our strongest character traits and consistently being and doing what we already know we should be and do.

2) Making the necessary sacrifice to more consistently live according to character and natural laws.

3) Learning through deligent study.

All of these involve learning primarily with the mind. Applying what we have learned about character development in the crucible of the home is learning with the heart. I hope you can appreciate how thorough this process is; our divine brains will be tutored well. When we add to our character development the refinement that can be best taught in the crucible of the home, then not only is the divine brain taught, but the heart is taught as well. There are certain life lessons that can only be taught within the walls of our homes. When our hearts and minds learn together at home, in the development of character, we can have a bit of heaven on earth. When you think of time management, isn't this a greater vision than merely increasing the number of things we can get done in a to-do list? Again, our purpose is to pilot our lives to a culture of being more and not just doing more.

In the allegory of the three combination lock, to this point we have explored learning from without and two-thirds of growing from within. We have understood growing in our personal and unseen lives, and now we have explored growth in our private or family lives. We'll examine growing in our public lives next. Like the three-combination lock that won't unlock, if we don't succeed in family life, we can't reach our full potential. There will always be that void. It's analogous to getting two of the three numbers in the combination lock right—close but not quite there. If you are doing everything you can to create the culture you want in your home, but it's not quite there yet, be divinative, smile a lot, stay in divine-brain mode, and just stay the course. If you need to make changes, or make mistakes along the way, pre-forgive yourself, and get back on course. Allow the heat from the crucible of the home to remove any remaining impurities and refine your heart and mind.

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