The Kingdom-Driven Family

Building a Home That Serves Christ and His Kingdom

Women Working Outside the Home

October 9. 2014

Periodically the subject of women working outside the home comes up in discussions with women I mentor. The question is: Now that this practice is so entrenched in our culture, is it a practice that honors God or not? The first thing we need to consider is the responsibilities that the Word of God gives to women. Only after this subject is understood can we determine whether a particular activity falls within the jurisdiction God assigns to women.

All the commandments of God have applicability to all people—male and female—although they will be applied, in some cases, differently for each gender. Second, where the Bible directly addresses matters pertaining to women, such as Proverbs 31, special attention needs to be given as to why certain aspects of a woman’s character and activities are highlighted. In the case of Proverbs 31, even though the speaker is addressing her son, the chapter establishes the Biblical characteristics of a worthy woman.

When it comes to adjudicating whether or not an activity (not just employment) is suitable and honorable for a woman to pursue outside the home, care must be taken not to resort to an either/or mentality. Too many people are quick to automatically conclude that anything other than a home-based choice is wrong. This sets up the caricatured perspective that a woman has to abandon any outlet of creativity or fulfillment other than the care of her family. God’s way doesn’t posit a conflict of interests in a woman’s life, but rather a harmony of interests. In order for a woman to stand with a clear conscience before God in the choices she makes, she needs to evaluate the trade-offs involved and determine if God’s law-word is being honored in her decision.

A personal story highlights this well. At the time, I was a wife and the mother of two children with my elderly mother-in-law living with us. As a result of some organizing work that I had done well, I was asked to consider a position as campaign manager for a lawyer who was running for city council. To say that I was flattered is an understatement. They explained that I was their top candidate for this position.

I was a homeschooling mom and actively involved in not only educating my children, but running and administering some of their extracurricular activities, not to mention my normal household responsibilities and transporting my mother-in-law to her medical appointments. So, I knew that this undertaking would be a challenge if I hoped to do all these things well. Nonetheless, with my husband’s approval, I decided to attend a meeting to discuss the offer further.

I put on my most professional clothes (something I hadn’t done for some time) and had a good meeting with the men of the committee. They explained that if the candidate won, I would have the option of running his district office. The men who were trying to convince me knew the buttons to push. They explained that this would be an opportunity for me to exercise dominion and influence local government to be more Biblically oriented. I told them that I would discuss this with my husband and get back to them.

Meanwhile, back at home, I had left my two children with a babysitter as I didn’t feel that my mother-in-law (in her late 80s) would be comfortable with them by herself. Whereas I expected that things might not be smooth, I never anticipated the disaster I found when I returned home. The babysitter had gotten on the wrong side of my son, and my daughter was crying hysterically. My mother-in-law was aggravated, and the babysitter made it clear that she would never work for us again. After I drove her back home, I noticed that I was almost out of gas and stopped to fill up my tank. Already frustrated and upset over the mess I returned to, I forgot the gas cap for my car. I only realized it when I got home and, in the short time that it took for me to return to the gas station, it was gone!

By the time my husband returned home from work, I managed to have everyone settled. He and I talked. We both decided that God had spoken through the circumstances of the evening, and we came to the obvious conclusion that, although I was capable to handle the job offered, this was not the right time. The next day, I called and declined the offer.

Pursuing this activity outside the home did not fall into the category of sin, in and of itself. The issue that became obvious was that I wouldn’t be able to address my responsibilities at home and do a good job for the candidate. If a similar offer were presented to me today, since my circumstances are radically different (all children schooled and grown), I could consider it.

Whenever a woman takes on responsibilities outside her home, volunteer or paid, she must realize that her role as wife and mother is primary. Too often, a woman who has paid employment elsewhere is under the authority of others who don’t have her family’s well-being as their top priority. So, for example, if her child is sick, rather than be the person who remains home to care for him, she may shuffle him off to daycare or school, sometimes even masking his symptoms. (Some daycares and schools allow children to attend who have fevers so long as they are not above 102 degrees!) Thus, money and job security end up trumping her role as mother. If she does decide to remain with her ill child, she may be sacrificing a project or potentially compromising her standing at work. In either case, there is a conflict of interests.

We need to remember that the primary “employer” in our lives is the triune God, and we must make His concerns and priorities our concerns and priorities. To do otherwise is to invite His judgment and displeasure. Whereas outside work can provide additional funds, a sense of accomplishment, and, at times, prestige, we must be more concerned with storing up the treasures in heaven that God promises to those who are faithful.

Homeschooling through High School

October 6, 2014

Some Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why would I want to homeschool through high school?

The book of Proverbs stresses the importance of wisdom, knowledge, and discretion. Throughout a young person’s life, it is important that the primary influences be godly individuals who know the young person’s strengths and weaknesses and can provide hands-on support in helping him/her maneuver through the many deceptions and lures of our modern humanistic culture. Homeschooling provides such a situation.

2. Aren’t high school subjects harder to teach?

That depends. With a myriad of curriculum choices available (complete with teacher’s editions and answer keys) much of the learning experience can be tailored to meet individual academic needs. Many families make use of co-ops where parents divide up subject matter according to their area of expertise or experience. Additionally, by the time a student gets to high school and is a proficient reader, much of the learning that takes place is self-taught.  What the student needs is a forum for discussion and development of his/her thought.  Parents can provide this or seek out others who are willing to engage the student.

3. What about athletic opportunities and activities?

A number of private Christian schools allow homeschooled students to participate in athletic activities. Also, drama, speech, and other programs may also be available, either through a school or by way of a homeschooling co-op. Of course, if there is something that parents want that doesn’t already exist, they can always start a project themselves!

4. What about socialization?

This is a non-issue. In our current society, no one who attends church, goes to the grocery store, or is involved with extended family has any difficulty in socializing if they have been taught the rules of godly living from the time they were little. The entire socialization issue is a humanistic construct. Surely we can’t say that the students who are graduates of public school settings are systematically socialized in ways that most people would consider positive.

5. Will homeschooling through high school hamper my child’s chances of getting into college?

Not according to the experience of homeschooling families around the country. Many have attained very high SAT/ACT scores. Moreover, many college professors actually prefer homeschool graduates because they tend to be self-starters and ready for serious self-disciplined study. It is not unusual for homeschooled graduates to finish college is less than four years.  What’s more, many become successful businessmen, professionals, and very competent parents.

6. What should I be looking to achieve in my homeschool?

The most important result of successful homeschooling will be the production of godly individuals who look to the Word of God to provide a perspective and standard for what is right and true and honorable. With this orientation, all areas of life and thought can be groomed and educated to the glory of God

7. Can I tailor educational opportunities for my high-school age child?

Most definitely. The major advantage of homeschooling is that it allows you to spend extra time on those areas that need more personalized attention. Moreover, if your student has special giftings or talents, the flexibility of the schedule allows for greater concentration on the pursuit of excellence in that particular area.

8. How will I evaluate our progress?

Many homeschool publishers include tests as part of their curriculum choices. Standardized tests are available to monitor progress. However, the best indication of how well a student is learning is not in the answers they give, but in the questions they ask.

9. Are there people to help me as I get started?

Yes, there are a multitude of resources. Visit my websites: thekingdomdrivenfamily.com and wordsfromandrea.com to get additional assistance.  Also find the homeschooling associations in your state to understand the legal issues involved.

10. Where can I go for instruction as to how to be a good teacher?

There are a number of good resources for this. Much can be accomplished by making use of the teacher editions and guides that come with many courses. There are many homeschooling magazines and websites and support groups that offer seminars and newsletters to help you.  And, contact other homeschooling veterans from your church or circle of friends.  The experience gained in educating their own children will be invaluable to you.

11. What resources are available?

Go to the internet and type in homeschooling and you will have many days of reading material. Videos are also available, as are books that can be found online and at many Christian bookstores.

12. What are my options in setting a course of study?

Depending on what your student is interested in pursuing, you can make use of online courses, community college courses, DVD courses, audio CD courses, and many computer based ones. If your school will be college prep, you can find out what requirements have to be met (subjects covered) and tailor your curriculum accordingly.

13. Where does a Biblical Worldview enter the picture when it comes to homeschooling through high school?

This is probably the most important question. Since there is no neutrality when in comes to ethics and morality, it is vital that a biblical worldview is presented in every subject taught. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and His law-word must be the standard by which all areas of life and thought are judged. Browsing through the offerings at http://www.ChalcedonStore.com is a good place to find helpful materials and resources.

When the People We Help Disappoint Us

October 2, 2014

 

One of the hardest realities to deal with in life is a lack of gratitude from those we go out of our way to help. It can leave us cynical and less willing to step out and lend a hand or provide assistance to another person in need because of our past hurts. How tempting it is to arrive at the world’s conclusion that “no good deed goes unpunished.”

Our Savior experienced betrayal (Judas) and denial (Peter) from those who were among His closest colleagues. And, when He cured ten lepers, the majority of them felt little need to say “thanks” for His graciousness toward them. Yet, the story of our salvation can be summed up with the words, “[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 ESV).

All of us, at one time or another, have been on the giving end of being that ungrateful person, and we would do well to remember the people who showed us grace and mercy. In looking back at the people God put in my path when my husband and I were new to the faith and in need of support, I marvel at the fact that they didn’t immediately turn and run from us. There were definite risks in being associated with us. Yet, God placed within their hearts a genuine desire to help.

Doing what is right is not dependent upon whether or not our actions are received well. In fact, one of the major tenets of our faith is to obey God’s law even when it is hard, we are ridiculed for doing so, or are tired of being disappointed in our efforts. One never knows who is watching and being convicted as they observe us extending ourselves, once again, for the umpteenth time. We would do well to remember that God uses the successes and failures of our life to further His Kingdom, whether or not we experience gratification or satisfaction.

It is good to remind ourselves, on a daily basis, the words of the apostle Paul:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:1, 9–21 ESV).

The Modern Inquisition

September 29, 2014

Since one of the major themes of the Bible is to abstain from worshipping idols, it is incumbent upon the Christian homeschool teacher, to make sure that the subject is thoroughly covered and properly understood. Unfortunately, most parents spend more time on “Look both ways before crossing the street,” and “Have you cleaned your room?” than giving their children a strong foundational understanding of this topic. Since the first two of the Ten Commandments deal with idolatry, and do so in very strong language, it is a subject that should not be taken lightly.

I remember taking my daughter through the second volume of the Institutes of Biblical Law by R. J. Rushdoony. We read a chapter a day and together discussed it. Sometimes the discussions were so far-reaching that an hour and a half had gone by, because we had examined the implications of a particular concept across many disciplines.

One chapter was titled “Idolatry and Law.” Rushdoony described the dedicated assault on Christianity in our culture as the humanist inquisition in action, because the humanistic state won’t tolerate dissent from its stated theological position and persecutes those who deviate from it. No wonder Christian homeschoolers are often in the bull’s-eye of state and federal legislators and regulators who try to gain access and control over those they wish to proselytize.

Later in the chapter, Dr. Rushdoony made the following statement, having previously expounded on the biblical definition of idolatry and its manifestations:

All who are content with a humanistic law system and do not strive to replace it with Biblical law are guilty of idolatry. They have forsaken the covenant of their God, and they are asking us to serve other gods. They are thus idolaters, and are, in our generation, when our world is idolatrous and our states also, to be objects of missionary activity. They must be called out of their idolatry into the service of the living God. (468)

For those who have already taken the obedient step of teaching and nurturing their children in terms of God’s Word, this perspective is probably not new. However, the implications are enormous. Among other things, it means that it is time for homeschooling families to stop apologizing for their decisions to obey God, feeling the need to justify their course of action to those who have chosen the path of compromise. It is time to stand firmly on God’s command to make disciples of ALL nations, starting with our own families.

Quoting Rushdoony again:

It is our duty to evangelize, to work for the conversion of men and nations to Christ as Lord and Savior. At the same time, as part of our evangelism, we witness to the meaning of covenant law, and, in our own personal dealings, we live by it: we practice the tithe, restitution, debt-free living, and much, much more. Only as God’s law is made the practice of man can it become the practice of nations. Only those laws are enforceable which virtually all men are already enforcing in their own lives. (468)

Therefore, among the greatest tools of evangelism remains the faithful application of God’s law-word to every area of life and thought. By doing so, we are acting as beacons of light to a dark and hopeless world, and are boldly manifesting the position that, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” What better way to combat those who seek to destroy our faith, our families, and our foundations.

Why Write?

September 25, 2014

I am repeatedly asked for my advice regarding how to teach writing to grammar school-age children. Not only have I taught my own children how to write, but I have taught in co-op settings and privately tutored other homeschooled students. To fully answer the question, I will begin by repeating my opening remarks to each class or initial one-on-one tutoring session I’ve ever taught.

Here goes:

There are four kinds of people:

Those who have something of value to say and say it well.

Those who have something of value to say and say it poorly.

Those who have nothing of value to say and say it well.

Those who have nothing of value to say and say it poorly.

I then let my students know that I have no interest in helping people who have nothing of value to say. From my point of view if they have nothing of value to say, I certainly don’t want to help them say it better — whichever category (3 or 4) they fall into.

What do I mean by something of value to say? Simply put, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most valuable piece of information that can be imparted. Admittedly, not everything one is called to write will include the Gospel message, but ultimately, those with a biblical worldview, who understand that the law-word of God speaks to every area of life and thought, are those who have something of value to say. By implication, this means that if someone is going to communicate (either orally or by the written word), what they have to say, how they say it, why they say it, and when and where they choose to say it are all relevant questions needing to be answered.

Now, back to the question of teaching writing. As children learn to read phonetically, writing out the words they learn and saying them aloud cements new words into their vocabulary. Likewise, as they are provided with challenging and worthwhile reading material, their vocabulary will increase. It is my opinion that young grammar school-age children should spend the majority of their time acquiring knowledge by being given a steady diet of “nutritious” books with ideas meant to stretch their understanding of the world in which God has placed them. In essence, this is increasing their arsenal of having something of value to say.

Initially, evidence of concepts and ideas being absorbed will come in the form of comments, questions, or discussion. It is only when someone has something of value to say, that being able to articulate those ideas with the written word makes any sense at all. Otherwise, it just becomes an exercise in putting words on paper without the intent to communicate something of value. The homeschooling parent can assist by acting as a secretary taking dictation — writing what the child says orally — thereby helping the child see that writing is merely taking what one says and committing it to paper. Then, the parent can interject suggestions by applying the rules of grammar and syntax in order to have the child’s ideas put forth in a clearer and more coherent fashion. This helps the child see that writing is just another way to communicate. Once the parent has completed the dictation and suggested rephrasing and grammatical corrections, the child should take the paper and prepare a final copy in his best handwriting. Now, he has produced something worth reading, and you should seek a greater audience for it than just you and your child.

A couple of things will become apparent with this exercise: good writing takes effort, practice and time. Finding the correct words (a dictionary or thesaurus helps) and arranging them in such a way as to make their meaning clear is an activity that in the end produces a product worthy of someone’s attention and time investment.

No one who enjoys talking should hate writing. If a child has been being taught that he has been put in this world to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism), and additionally knows that he has been privileged to take part in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those he comes in contact, it follows that he should strive to fulfill that commission the best way possible. Writing will then be an opportunity to let others know what he believes, rather than just an assignment that has to get done.

If you find that your child has difficulty with dictating to you (can’t really think of anything to say on any topic), then I suggest you have him copy portions of good literature or Bible passages as a way to train his ear how to write well. Afterwards, you can dictate the portion or passage back to him and have him write it as you say it. This process helps create a pathway that enables the student to realize that writing is what the authors of his favorite books did in order for him to have the opportunity to receive and appreciate their ideas.

There are many opportunities in life for kids to write: letters to family and friends, “reviews” of books or movies they’ve enjoyed, and summaries of topics learned in history or literature. Or, for those who need a little more incentive: If your student seeks permission to buy something or go somewhere, inform him that he needs to put the request in writing in a clear manner before you will even entertain the idea at all. This might spur a reluctant writer to overcome the hurdles to acquire a greater proficiency in persuasive writing, in order to get what he wants!

The homeschooling teacher need not stress over this process. Some children will take to this sooner than others. It’s like walking and potty training: We care more that it happens rather than when it happens, just so long as it eventually happens. The important part is to continually provide material that enables your student to have more to talk and think about. Help him get to the point where he knows he is able to bring ideas and opinions to the conversations of life — something of value to say — and with your help, the ability to say it well.

Repairing the Fences

September 22, 2014

Those of us who desire to be salt and light in our day-to-day interactions, often miss the obvious arena to let our light shine—our homes. In fact, it is all too easy to have a winning demeanor with those outside the faith, only to regularly trample on those in our own families.

I recall a time I was doing very important work for the Kingdom. Don’t get me wrong; it was important work. But, in the process I would hush my children, and overlook behavior that was clearly out of line. Why? Because I was doing very important work to further God’s Kingdom.

Hopefully, you see the disconnect in this. I was busy sinning against my children, and justifying it with the “eternal importance” of what I was doing. This is not to say that the activity I was involved with should have been sidelined until my children were grown. What I’m saying is that in an effort to build the Kingdom, I was tearing down fences in my own home.

Fences can have a variety of purposes. One function is to protect and preserve things of value. A fence around a garden keeps out pests and intruders that would damage what is growing. In a like manner, there should be fences around our relationships that prevent our sinful tendencies to trample on one another.

This is an all too common situation between husbands and wives. Each can become so focused on his or her area of concern (work, church, and schooling), that they inadvertently trespass against one another by failing to really listen to each other and nurture their relationship. They trample on each other, figuring that because they are committed to each other for life these trespasses won’t matter. But they do matter, precisely because we are to give special attention to those of our own households.

Recognizing the tendency is the first step, but there are many that need to follow. When one person of the pair sees what is happening, rather than carry on extensive one-sided conversations in his/her head, the need to confront the situation directly is in order. This doesn’t mean raised voices or a shouting match. It means caring enough about the relationship to not let weeds grow and varmints invade within it. How couples resolve this will be unique to their own relationship. However, failing to deal with these trespasses will allow them to grow from molehills to mountains.

Scripture gives us two differing words in the recounting of the Lord’s Prayer in the Gospels. I find it more useful to consider my offenses against my loved ones as trespasses rather than as debts. By trespasses I do not mean deliberate violations of God’s commandments. I am referring to what takes place when sinful, not fully sanctified people live under the same roof in close proximity and take each other for granted. These are real life opportunities to forgive each other on a daily basis, while ensuring that we don’t let the enemy stake his claim in our family.

God is delighted to forgive us our trespasses providing we acknowledge them and ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). We should imitate Him in this regard and be ready to repair those fences we have knocked over, as well as be ready to help restore those knocked down by others.

Lessons from the Cuckoo Clock

September 18, 2014

I love clocks. If you were to visit my home, you’d see all sorts of clocks in almost every room of the house. Some of these clocks chime, others ding, some play music, others have a swinging pendulum, while still others display the barometric pressure and humidity levels. (Since I have to adjust the time on each so they all don’t go off at one time, my husband jokes that we have different time zones in various parts of the house!) A number of years ago, I added a cuckoo clock to my clock menagerie; it was something I had wanted for quite some time.

Now cuckoo clocks defy modernity. This one was many years old and didn’t need batteries or electricity. Imagine that! It runs on the principle of two weights attached to a chain that allows the clock to keep time and make its cuckoo sound on the hour and half hour so long as you keep the chains pulled. One pull on each chain lasts for days.

This vintage clock was an auction item I won at the local Community Pregnancy Center fundraising dinner. It had been donated by one CPC supporter. So, when I had some difficulty in making it operate correctly, I didn’t have the benefit of a store to call for assistance in setting it up. Through trial and error, it eventually worked, but not before I was sure I had permanently ruined it six or seven times!

The lesson here: this clock was so well made that despite my ineptitude and impatience, it worked as its designer intended. A corollary lesson for homeschooling parents: your children are so well made that, despite your initial ineptitude and impatience, they can thrive and learn in the homeschooling environment, even if you are a novice rookie.

Many homeschooling parents feel that they might damage their children irrevocably or mar them in such a way that their futures will be forever compromised. Some even keep them in or return them to a public school setting for fear of “doing damage.” However, viewed from a biblical perspective, just the opposite is the case. Keeping them in an environment where the holy fear of the Lord is not the basis and emphasis of all subjects taught, is among the most deceitful and harmful of situations thrust upon children.

Like the craftsman who produced my prize cuckoo clock, the Creator, Designer, Sustainer, and Redeemer of your children constructed His creatures (your kids among them) with the capacity to withstand the bumps and mishaps from operator error!

Food for Thought

September 15, 2014

There are a good many things I wish I had done differently when I look back over the choices I made when I homeschooled my children. Too often, I abided by the “rules” of the status quo, focusing my curriculum selection on areas that would have little application in the present or future lives of my children. I would have focused less on geometric theorems, for example, and more on practical subjects that would help my children maneuver their way more effectively through adulthood. But, as they say, hindsight is twenty-twenty, and I’m happy to share some of my thoughts with those still actively engaged in home education.

Healthy nutrition is a subject that is grossly overlooked and needs to be brought to the forefront of the life of a child. Too often a mother has a difficult time improving the family diet because she has allowed poor choices to become staples in her kitchen/pantry.

Most moms recognize the health benefits of breastfeeding over processed formulas. But, as the children grow, the heavily-processed American diet works its way into their lives and stomachs. As the mom begins to realize the effect this has had on her own physical well-being and attempts to make a change, the resistance of children and husband can be quite discouraging.

In my case, right after I had my third child at the age of thirty-nine, my doctor advised me that I should stay away from wheat. His exact words were, “If you don’t make this change, you will be looking at colon cancer in ten to twenty years.” I took his advice to heart, and actually followed it for a while. But, the fact that my family rejected the idea that my diet had to be theirs finally made me give up. I went back to eating just like everyone else so that my life would be easier.

My doctor was twenty years ahead of the popular “gluten free” diet of today. Interestingly, years later, both my husband (because of arthritis) and my daughter (because of ulcerative colitis) were advised to give up wheat and gluten products. Both have found positive relief as a result. As a result, it was easy for me to return to the original advice I had been given. Oh that I had stuck to my guns and educated my family on the wisdom of the dietary change and avoided these issues!

Along with teaching children the catechism, times tables, and the parts of speech, etc., it is imperative that we begin early on to talk to them about nutrients, how the body uses and digests food, what is beneficial in a diet, and what is not. They need to understand how processed food and a diet full of sugar (sodas, desserts, etc.) will have a cumulative effect on their health in years to come. Why wait for a small section of a biology textbook to begin this discussion when your children have already established eating habits? You can start with some simple concepts and continually build upon them.

I had a rude awakening this past summer and, by God’s grace, have been able to make some substantial changes in the way I view my responsibility for my own health and the health of my family. It’s funny how a scare will do that to you. But, I desire to do more than just keep what I’ve learned to myself. I want to help women regain control of the health and well-being of their families (like women of previous eras did) by learning how to prevent disease and promote longevity.

Sure, we are all going do die someday. But I am committed to do my best to die healthy!!

From Rebel to Reconciled

September 11, 2014

When many began their homeschooling journey, they assumed that, if they did what the “gurus” directed, all would be fine. At first it may have appeared there would be smooth sailing. Of course, this was the case because their children were young and didn’t have the opportunity or wherewithal to pick up and leave. However, some of these formula-reliant folks had a rude awakening when their almost-adult children began exercising prerogatives and choices different from their own. The formulas stopped working and they were left disillusioned and heart-broken. If they had younger children, still at home observing the situation unfold, the confusion and disruption was even more aggravated.

What happens when the motives may have been honorable, but the practices faulty? What is the outcome when people rely on the unexamined conclusions of others instead of striving to learn and apply God’s law across all segments of life? Can seemingly hopeless situations be redeemed?

I invite you to listen to an interview I conducted recently with a woman in her twenties. Her story is compelling and instructive. Most would examine her background and conclude that her parents did all the right things, yet the outcomes were less than preferable. Families with children of all ages can benefit from hearing her chronology from rebel to reconciled in an effort to confront those things that can derail the best laid plans.

Listen here.

~ Proverbs 31 ~
Practical Applications for Today’s Woman

September 9, 2014

1. She is a virtuous woman whose price is far above precious gems: The Geneva Bible uses the word pearls. Other translations use the words jewels or rubies. So whether this is referring to the amount of dowry the law prescribes to show good faith on the part of a man in proposing marriage or just detailing that a good wife is extremely valuable—we’re told this is something for a man to pursue.

2. Her husband’s heart safely trusts in her. How can a godly man trust his wife if she does not know how to live her life lawfully, under God—not making up the rules as she goes along? Can he trust her not to spend more than their income allows? Can she be trusted not to enter into financial agreements that he has not approved? A husband needs to know that his wife “has his back” and that she will stand by him when he has tough decisions to make. The notes in the Geneva Bible add that such a virtuous woman is a check against her husband using unlawful means to make a living.

3. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. The implication is that she can ascertain the difference between good and evil, and that her actions will be in harmony with the Scriptures. This very much ties in with a husband trusting his wife with their children as she establishes godly standards in their lives.

4. She is a hard worker and is entrepreneurial in her efforts. She is the multitasker that God designed a woman to be. It is no small feat to be able to grow a child inside of you, nurse another, and manage the rest of the children of the household. I know many a woman who manages to do just that. Why wouldn’t a man relish such a wife who holds down the fort allowing him to single-mindedly pursue his work of dominion?

5. She is not an emaciated flower consumed and distracted with the world’s standard of beauty. She is strong and healthy, both physically and mentally. The skinny supermodel type is the antithesis of a virtuous woman. As the virtuous woman works to maximize the prosperity of her family, she provides good wholesome food for herself and the rest of the crew to maintain her own health and that of those under her charge.

6. She is industrious and is pleased with the work of her hands. She knows the product she is striving for and evaluates herself by God’s standards. She can be confident that if she is putting the law into practice, the unrealistic and shallow standards of the world are not a threat to her nor do they condemn her. She is pleased with progressive sanctification and relies on the guidance of her husband and the Word of God to correct and instruct her.

7. Her care and concern for the poor and needy is tied in with her availability, not only to perceive the needs of others, but (along with her children) to be ready to address those needs. Her volunteerism and instilling that quality in her children makes her a beacon to those who need guidance and assistance.

8. She is providential regarding the physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs of those in her care and seeks answers to problems that arise. She is not intimidated by threats from statists or school boards or nosey neighbors for she is not surprised or taken off guard by the attacks of an ungodly culture. She is well-read when it comes to medical issues, learning problems, and matters of health, so that her children are given the time and attention to thrive. Her commitment to her children involves networking with other women to deal with situations not familiar to her.

9. She cares for her own needs as she cares for those under her care. She’s not a martyr or a bondservant in her work. Her clothing being “purple” signifies her regard for her God-ordained status and authority. She is the manager of the household, not the household slave. That is why she starts early on to teach her children their place in the family and instructs them in household responsibilities.

10. Because she is competent about decisions that need to be made and doesn’t burden him with trivial matters, her husband is known in the gates—in other words free to transform the culture around him. She knows his preferences and is used to discussing family matters with him, heeding his counsel, so she can act in ways that will please him and bring him honor among those in the public square.

11. If, with her skill or training, she can add to the family income, she does so.
However she must never neglect her first area of concern—the ways of her household. Even if other family members or friends watch over her children in her absence, she must maintain their well-being as a first priority.

12. She is known for her strength, honor, wisdom, and grace in her actions and her speech. This means that other women seek her out and know that she will counsel them Biblically, not engaging in pity parties or slams against their husbands. Her experience with children will allow her to help younger mothers who may be struggling.

13. She is the household manager, and, rather than shirking work, she pursues it with vigor, all the while being a teacher and example to her children so that in her absence they can manage and care for the demands of running the home.

14. In the end, her biggest fans and supporters are her husband and children because she creates an atmosphere where they can all thrive. Their successes are her successes and she need not seek acclaim outside her family. In the end, she has her priorities in order and receives honor and appreciation from her family, extended family, and brothers and sisters in the Lord. Because she fears God and keeps His commandments as her whole duty, she leaves a legacy to future generations, helping to create the context for dominion.

She truly is the glue that holds the family together, bridging the gap in conflicts and always stressing the need for repentance, reconciliation, and restoration.

Why I’m Not Embarrassed Anymore

September 4, 2014

hen I look back over the hours of anguish I subjected myself to in my younger days, concerned about what others thought of me, I marvel at all the time I wasted. Hindsight allows me to realize that my fixation on the opinions of others had more to do with pride than anything else. Truth be told, most people don’t spend any sizable amount of time focused on anyone but themselves, so ordering your life for others is as non-productive as you can get.

Some examples:

Wardrobe
Not too long ago, I was running errands prior to going for a chiropractic visit. When I arrived, my doctor looked at me with concern asking, “Are you alright?” This surprised me as I didn’t think I looked sick. I was just coming in for a “tune-up” of sorts. When I inquired why he asked, he pointed out that I was wearing two different shoes—only one was a sandal! I had made at least three other stops prior to the appointment. What would have been devastating in my youth brought me a good laugh.

Learning Curve
Whenever I started a new job or activity, I focused on what I couldn’t do or how badly I was performing. Not only did I stress as I was being instructed in the particulars, my stress would end up causing nightmares as I would go over keystrokes or procedures over and over resulting in a night of restless sleep. Now, rather than try to hide the areas where I am confused or not up-to-speed, I freely admit that I have a problem and ask for assistance. It’s truly amazing the difference it makes in the entire process. As it turns out, most people want to help.

My Children’s Behavior
I would be embarrassed when one of my children would lose it in a public setting. Whether it was the grocery store, the bank, or at the pool, I was certain that everyone was looking at me in judgment. (The only time I wasn’t embarrassed was at the Department of Motor Vehicles. I figured any disruptions might make them work to get me out of there faster!) Now looking through the eyes of a seasoned mother and grandmother, I see the futility of being concerned over the reactions of others when it comes to children’s behavior. Onlookers are more concerned with how a mother deals with an upset child than on the child himself. All those times I spent, “saying my lines” nice and loudly (“Now you know we don’t act like that!”) so that onlookers knew I was a good mother, only compounded the problem. Demonstrating responsibility and control is far more beneficial for all concerned.

Spend your time focused on the only audience that truly matters—your Lord and Savior. If there are areas where you are weak, you should most definitely work to correct them. But spending countless amount of time trying to mask your shortcomings from the ever-elusive “they” won’t serve you in good stead. When your attention is on His priorities, His Kingdom, and His righteousness, all other things fall into place.

On the Job Teacher Training

September 2, 2014

 

What would it be like as a home educator to participate in a self-paced, teacher-training program that allowed you to work under the guidance and direction of an experienced mentor? The CTTI mentoring program (which I founded in 2008) is such a program. Participants have the advantage of being guided and mentored by me, a homeschooling veteran with over 30 years of experience.

Many who decide to homeschool often feel as though there are gaps in their own education. Unlike other teacher training, CTTI allows and encourages the homeschool teacher to “remain on the job” while advancing her own education. This unique aspect provides a “hands on” approach to the coursework, enabling the homeschool teacher to immediately apply what she is learning to the real-life situations with her students.  As a self-paced program, the participant never has to go faster than her schedule permits.Single women and/or new mothers who wish to prepare themselves spiritually, philosophically, and scholastically for the role of homeschooling teacher also can benefit from this course of study, as can those who may not wish to homeschool, but who want to be able to adequately supervise their children’s education in a Christian day-school setting.Location is not a problem as mentoring is conducted by phone or via Skype.  The program is tailored to meet the needs of the individual and allows for flexibility in books/materials used and the frequency of mentoring sessions.

It’s a “win-win” situation! Click here to obtain more information.

Steering Your Conversations

 August 28, 2014

 The Great Commission can be summarized in these words: “Go change the culture in which you find yourself so that it worships and obeys the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is important to note that this instruction was not delivered only to professional clergy. Every Christian and every Christian family needs to take this commandment to heart, and endeavor to obey it on a daily basis.

How do you turn everyday, superficial discussions so that they become opportunities for discipleship? First, you have to be committed to the fact that there is nothing more important than acquainting the people you meet with their need for repentance and faith. Second, you need to have a variety of subjects that you can comment on and converse about in order to get into discussions with the people you encounter. Third, you have to “listen” for the opportunity to interject a morsel of truth into the conversation so that you can capture the person’s attention and interest.

Let me offer an example that happened to me recently.

I went to the lab for a routine blood test. I showed up just as the lab opened: 6:15 A.M.. After I checked in with admissions, I was directed to the phlebotomist (the person who takes the blood sample). As she prepared for the procedure, I commented about how early she came to work. She said it wasn’t too hard for her because she was used to it. I asked, “Does this give you time with your children in the afternoon?’

She smiled as she nodded her head, and told me that she had two twin girls who were beginning school for the first time that day. I told her that I had homeschooled my children all the way through high school. Her eyes got wide. “Wasn’t that hard?” she asked. I told her that most worthwhile things in life were hard. She smiled again, in agreement.

I shared how homeschooling permitted our family to set the schedule of when school would take place, and what subjects we would cover. I pointed out that homeschooling not only allowed us to work our schedule to maximize the time my husband spent with the children, but also allowed us to censor out those things we didn’t want our children exposed to. Again, she nodded in agreement, indicating she knew exactly what I was talking about. I then added, “As a Christian I wanted to make sure my children learned our faith.”

What followed was a litany of questions that I have been asked countless times before: What about socialization? How did you find curriculum? Do you think your children missed out? Did you bring teachers into your home for your children?

I was able to answer each and every question, because I was prepared for them. I could tell she wanted to keep talking, but knew she needed to get back to work. I asked her if she would like one of my cards, directing her to one of my websites: www.wordsfromandrea.com. She seemed to be very grateful.

I cannot say what God will do with this interaction, or the many others I have every week with grocery clerks, athletic trainers, or customer service people. My responsibility is to be salt and light. For those I see on a regular basis, I till the ground, getting it ready for future conversations. In this way, I can steer conversations in the direction I know will get us to deeper matters.

Try it yourself and see if you don’t find that you end up praying for the people you meet day-in and day-out. This brings a whole new meaning to “going viral.”

HANDS-ON MOTHERING

August 21, 2014

One of the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom, sharing day-in and day-out life with your children, is that your sensors become sharper over time regarding their strengths and weaknesses. It also allows you to detect when something abnormal manifests, as you’ve had plenty of experience quantifying the “normal.” Additionally, you have the benefit of being able to allocate time and energy for those aspects of your child’s character that need improvement, not rushing the result because you don’t have the time to deal with it.

Some examples:

  • Let’s say you overhear your children in play and one of them always defaults to being bossy to get her way. Or another resorts to biting when being overrun by older siblings. It is important for a parent to observe a child’s behavior so that she can understand why a child solves problems a certain way. Then the parent can help the child see the sin involved in that behavior and guide the child to a Biblical solution that will produce a lasting change in the child’s life.
  • Suppose you have a child who always gives in to manipulation from other children, giving away toys and possessions because someone asked for them or demanded them. The mom can teach the child how to respond to a clever form of theft by his siblings or other boys and girls without compromising his godly desire to help someone in need.
  • What if one of your children is constantly plagued with over-thinking situations and obsessed with self-criticism? It is important to take the time to assess the influences in her life that produce this behavior, rather than simply telling her to stop. With repeated observation and encouragement, the child can overcome these destructive behaviors.

A researcher spends an ample amount of time sizing up a problem and constructing workable experiments to test the validity of his solution. Rarely does good research happen without the necessary components of time and honest evaluation. Solving character issues with our children should involve a similar eye for detail.

Growing children without helping them deal with issues like these, results in adults who solve their problems poorly. Since the hand that rocks the cradle does, indeed, rule the world, we all would be better served to encourage the practice of hands-on mothering as a full-time occupation, in order to produce responsible adults who look to God’s Word for answers, rather than the expedient solutions of men.

WANT TO BE EFFECTIVE IN GOD’S KINGDOM?

August 18, 2014

Many of us entertain the “what ifs” of our lives, along with their first cousins, the “if onlys.” We all have our reasons and explanations as to why we can’t achieve this or that. I submit that the problem lies elsewhere, and it’s not about being lazy or unqualified. It’s more about understanding our marching orders and our position in God’s Kingdom.

In the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14–30), the three servants were not given equal portions by their master. Why? He deliberately chose not to do so, possibly taking into consideration the capabilities and drive of each servant. In any case, he gave them what he knew and expected they could handle. Why should we consider it any different with God (whom the parable was describing)? God knows our strengths and He gives us portions according to what He has called us to do.

Take a stay-at-home mother. When considering her role in the Kingdom, rather than figure out how she can help get a conservative candidate elected to the city council or board of supervisors, she should realize that God has placed her in a position to grow future candidates. Rather than hoping that some day the less-than-optimum candidate of today will embrace the Kingdom of God and its requirements, she can nurture from childhood someone who will hear God’s call on his life and understand God’s requirements of holiness and justice in all areas of life.

The same goes for a man in the workplace. Rather than lament that he doesn’t work with people who are eager and willing to serve God, how about doing one’s job so excellently that he will be a magnet for those who see his good works and will want to know how he does what he does. Not only will others notice, but one’s employer or employees, depending on one’s position, will see the results of God’s blessing in both production and output.

Want to be effective in God’s Kingdom? Then start from where you are with the talents, abilities, and opportunities right before you. Don’t lament your lack of this or that. If you are truly lacking in some area, then make it a top priority to become more qualified. However, don’t put off serving now. The Scripture tells us to not despise the day of small beginnings.

How are you being effective in your service to the Kingdom of God? Tell me about it by leaving me a comment  below. I’d like to know.

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