motherhood

Homeschooling: Encouragement not to Quit.

 

 

                                                  

 

 

 

  So you want to quit.  

I can’t say I blame you, or that I don’t understand. Actually I get it.
Really, I do.
I’ve sat there overwhelmed by the cost and the scope of the task.
I’ve looked at me and been totally, completely underwhelmed.
I’ve watched the tide as friends returned their kids to conventional schools, and felt the creeping hand of doubt clutch my heart while its voice whispered my failures and fears.
I really do get it.

 

But….here’s what I have to say on the other side. The finished side, where it’s all done, and the books are completed. Graduation celebrations are over, and there are no more papers to correct or curriculum to order.

It was worth it.

It was more than I ever could have imagined it was, even on the very best day. It was worth every day that was long or hard, and every struggle.

It was gold.

Pray this thing through.
Don’t give up, give in, or cave.
What you are doing matters.
It has eternal consequences.

It matters beyond today’s frustration at listening to your stuttering early reader, the repeat attempt to explain decimals, or the child that misspelled every single spelling word. It matters beyond your guilt in thinking that your littles are not getting enough attention and your older ones aren’t getting enough instruction.
You are raising a unique generation. A generation with an iron core because it has not been subjected to the constant barrage designed to create a conformed populace with a “group think” mindset.

Satan does not want you to believe that homeschooling matters so he will take every opportunity to discourage you and tempt you to do something else. He will bludgeon you with guilt and perceived failure. He will whisper deceit and defeat continually if you let him.

So, don’t let him.

People will not applaud. Actually, most people will actively disapprove and try to convince you to do something else.
People will tell you it’s too hard on you, it’s too hard on your kids, and too hard on your finances.
People will tell you that you will make a greater impact if you are out in the work force.
Don’t listen to them.

It isn’t true.

History is filled with examples of the power of one. One man or woman who thought differently than everyone else and therefore did something unique. One man or woman who came to the world with an individual vision that challenged a generation and turned a culture.
We celebrate these individuals when we see the impact of their lives; we just don’t applaud (at the outset) the sacrifices or unique roads it took create them.

Homeschool Mom:  you are giving a gift to the times you live in. Your children are that gift. They will think differently. They will value uniquely. They will bring something precious, beautiful, and pure to a culture obsessed with ugly. Your work matters. Eternally.
Day by day, week by week blending into year by year you are building strong minds forged with an iron core, a potential of powerful influence on their generation. A gift to their culture of a different perspective, a bastion of truth, a bright light to the darkness that surrounds us.

Don’t listen to the voices that encourage you to quit.

Listen instead to the words of Deut. 6: 6-7:

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

Embrace the calling. 
Remember the power of one.
Resist the urge to quit.

Praying for you, and cheering you on from the sidelines.
Let me know if I can help.

 

Raising Boys

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a BOY!!!

I remember the first time I heard those words.  It was pure shock.   As far as I knew, babies only came in one gender…. girls.   We had five beautiful daughters, and I didn’t know the first thing about raising boys.    Talk about unqualified and overwhelmed….

It turns out that raising boys is amazing.  I see your eyes roll and hear your snicker.   Ok… so maybe raising boys is a wrestling match in a war zone. Amid gales of laughter, boys will use smelly feet and bodily functions to their advantage.  “Arm yourself ladies ….with a cardboard shield, a Nerf gun, and a can of Lysol.”  Makes you want to run doesn’t it?

 Truth is that raising anybody has always been a battle for their soul, and currently it’s harder to raise a boy than ever before.   The culture is at war with manliness.   Culture is determined to define your son for you.  Boys will embrace that definition if you do not actively war for their soul.

Remember the goal.

You want to raise a Godly man.

I currently have a real vested interest in raising boys.  Beyond my own two wonderful sons, those five beautiful daughters have given us nineteen grandkids (all 11 and under) and fifteen of them are boys.  Yes, you read that right… fifteen grandsons.  When there are that many little boys all in one place; you have a real vested interest in how they are raised.  (Actually when there are fifteen little boys all in one place you need some strong coffee and combat gear 🙂 )

 

More than anything else our present blessing of boys has really brought home to me how important it is to have a plan and a goal.   The truth is that you want your son to be a gift you give to the times he lives in; a man who can stand when no one will stand with him, and who will lead. You want to raise a true follower of Jesus.  Imagine a family unleashing fifteen young men on a culture, young men that know what’s true and are focused on what really matters.   The potential is enough to make you quiver with anticipation. 

Remember the goal.

You want to raise a Godly man.

Sometimes that’s hard to focus on when you are in the midst of whatever is the “challenge of the moment”.  Boys have a habit of continually presenting you with the “challenge of the moment”, then reveling in it, and finally shooting you with it. It makes it a little hard to focus.

Boys need goal-oriented parenting. Their daily energetic nonsense tends to obscure the long term in favor of the tyranny in immediate disaster. Then the goal degenerates to “I want your immediate obedience or conformity to this present issue” (spoken at the top of your lungs), rather than I am working toward your forever obedience to the Lord of Lords.  If you haven’t thought through your goals, you will find yourself always “reacting” rather than choosing your path.

So ask yourself…

What do you want? I mean really want…????.

For me, it’s to raise true, authentic, amazing followers of Jesus…. and with that in mind here are some thoughts on the matter:

 

Teach them the Word.   Take them to church.    Give them godly men for examples.

I know those seem like obvious things to do, and they are.  The problem is that even the obvious tends to elude us in the craziness of daily life.

You can’t lead someone if you don’t give them a clear vision of where they are going. Without vision you will have to drag or push them, not lead them.  So…. You teach them the Word so that they know what the goal is, and you take them to church to reinforce what you’ve taught. 

 Great ideals inspire.

Godly men teach by their lives that character is all about who you are and it always shows in what you do.   Teaching your son to protect and defend the weak, to support others not crush them, that true greatness is measured in how well you serve etc. they will show him that real strength is measured by self-control and teach him to accept responsibility and apologize when he is wrong.   Expose your son to Godly men of the faith who have gone before.  Inspire him with their lives, and give him the tools to stand up for truth no matter what the cost.

Remember the goal.

You want to raise a Godly man.

 

 

Discourage video games.

Boys have an innate desire to conquer and accomplish great things. The danger with video games is that they give them that conquering endorphin-driven rush of feeling without them ever having done anything real. They win the virtual battle or game and feel that surge of accomplishment and strength, but it is all an illusion. Nothing real has been accomplished. As a matter of fact, the hours of idleness make it harder to do or accomplish real things, especially because the video conquests are so easy compared to the hard work and difficulty of doing something real.    (That being said, I know kids are going to play these. My point is that it is in their best interest to delay starting them as long as you can, and to limit them as much as you can).  Especially strive to eliminate and avoid those games that desensitize to violent behavior or lure towards the occult.  They simply don’t fit with the goal.

Instead of artificial accomplishments, make sure your boys get the opportunity to meet and overcome real challenges.  If you can make it fun, all the better. 

Remember the goal.

You want to raise a Godly man.

 

Celebrate his gender

Don’t excuse bad behavior by blaming it on gender. Boys need to be proud that they are boys. It is devastating for little boys to constantly hear how naughty or hard to raise they are, and that girls are generally good.  It isn’t true; so don’t reinforce it.  Bad behavior is genderless. It is a result of bad choices which come from a sinful heart. It has nothing to do with being male.  Little boys are adorable and they need to know that you think so.

For many years everyone worried about girls feeling inferior because of what the culture said to them.  Now, there has been huge pendulum swing and you find boys almost being apologetic for being male. Teach your boys to embrace their gender, to revel in the fact that God chose them to be male.  Masculinity is a beautiful expression of personhood, and it is healthy for your boys to express, love, and be proud of it.

Remember the goal.

You want to raise a Godly man.

 

 Jesus is the ultimate example of godly manhood.

So dear mama of boys, I’m praying for you that God Himself will help you to focus on the goal, and give you the grace to raise mighty men of faith for His honor and glory.

 

  

Moms of Preschoolers

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Dear Mom of Preschoolers,

 

Can I give you a hug and tell you I think you’re wonderful?

What you are doing matters.

It matters even when you or people around you think otherwise.

It’s also hard, really hard.

Comparing the dream of what it’s like to be home with preschoolers to the earthy reality is a train wreck.  The dream is a Pinterest moment complete with freshly washed, sweet-smelling children doing creative art projects in an amazingly decorated play area.   Reality is a muddy mess, complete with screeches, laughter and bodily functions.   It is a quantifiable truth that children only smell sweet for the first five minutes after their bath.  After that, you’re thankful if the only thing you smell is cheese puffs.   Toys are the new decorator style.  They are everywhere, under everything, and people never ever drop by when they are picked up.   Little hands definitely don’t pick up as well as they dump.  Laundry multiplies mysteriously in dark rooms, and everyone always wants a meal or a snack.  Preschool mom days are filled with urgent needs, endless chores, and constant commotion.

 

Few things go as planned.

 

One child eats everything you put before him and more.  He sneaks food off of anyone’s plate, and occasionally rummages in the garbage or dog food looking for a snack.  You need locks on your cupboards and a safe for cleaning supplies.  If that child can get ahold of it, he’ll eat it.  Poison control recognizes your number and knows your name.   Another child eats nothing but macaroni and cheese, and then only if it is the right brand and they are in the mood for it.   The only guarantee seems to be that whichever child you have, you will feel like it’s your fault. The world will even clamor for the opportunity to let you know that it’s your fault.   Everyone (who has no children or has never experienced it) will “know”, and let you “know” most assuredly that picky eaters come from incompetent parents, and garbage snackers are under-disciplined.  If you happen to have both kinds of kids you get double the guilt.

 

Zech.4:10  says “For who has despised the day of small things?”

 

In context, the Israelites had returned from captivity to the promised land and rebuilt the temple.  The people were sad because the temple was smaller and less grand than Solomon’s original temple. It was therefore less than they had anticipated.  They were tempted to despise their efforts and the result.  Sound familiar?  As moms we always think we are not enough, that we fall short.  Our reality always seems to be less than we hoped for.  Honestly, we’re less than we’d hoped for. We don’t look or act much like that original dream.  Preschool moms find themselves overwhelmed with the small things of life.  Laundry, toys, booboos, meals etc.  They all seem like insignificant things.

God however, warns us not to despise the day of small things; because maybe just maybe the small things are what matter most.

Preschool years are crucial. That is precisely why the enemy fights so hard against you. The mom that teaches a child what a spoon is for and how to use it will also teach what life is about; and how to live it.  Since the spoon really works like you say and they even eventually master it, the bond of trust and belief begins.  That lifetime bond helps to ensure a future generation that is more ready for the tasks ahead than the previous.

Affecting future generations is exhausting work.  This glorious calling comes cloaked in the ordinary tasks of an ordinary life; but those ordinary tasks are of eternal value.  The enemy will continually tell you that you were made for greater things.  He will mock what you do and declare it insignificant.   He will try to distract you, condemn you, discourage you, and over all of that he will shine a magnifying glass on all your failures.  If he can convince you that your job doesn’t matter, he has already begun to conquer the next generation.

He realizes what we forget, nothing worthwhile is accomplished in an instant.

Everything that matters takes time to grow and is built bit by bit ……even people. .   Every big decision is made up of hundreds of small decisions that were made before it.   Every big accomplishment starts with the first brick of a foundation. Your patience while your little one learns a new skill establishes the foundation for his or her character that allows for failure, time to learn, and persistence.    As you care for them and meet their needs they learn trust, love, and service.

So mom of young ones, be encouraged.  Your job is important. In fact your job is essential.  The people under your care are just that… people.  People that will be your gift to a world in desperate need of God. Think of that.  You are giving a gift to the times you live in, by how you raise your little ones.

All of the ordinary is really quite extraordinary isn’t it?

 

Battles and Behavior…. What’s a Mom to do?

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There was a battle.  (Actually, there were lots of battles.)

It was ugly.  (Battles are always ugly.)

I’m not sure how the spaghetti reached the ceiling.   I mean, after all, how far can you realistically throw at fifteen months?

How can a child whose favorite food was spaghetti until ten minutes ago, suddenly decide that they will never eat it again????

Or, there was a silly dollar toy in the grocery aisle off-handedly denied; and it was my toddler laying on the floor kicking, screaming, and thrashing.  I stood  completely bewildered by the moment, unbelievably mortified.  I tried pleading quietly with a beyond-reason, pint-sized tyrant while smug shoppers stared, passed by, and gave each other the “look”.

We’ve all been there, (probably both on the smug side and the bewildered side if we’re honest).

The most frightening of the battles comes with the cold, steely-eyed stare, and frozen jaw from a teen with a rebel idea locked between their teeth. You wonder….. how did we ever get to this place?

The truth is we’ve all experienced the tyranny of the urgent, the embarrassment of the behavior, and the capitulation of defeat.  Sometimes it helps just to know that you aren’t alone.

But…

What’s a mom to do?

What really matters?

When do you plant your flag, and refuse to move; and when do you retreat to return and fight another day?

Before we start, it’s important to note that a lot of toddler issues are just developmental.  Occasional meltdowns are normal.  Ignore the looks.  I guarantee you there isn’t a mom alive whose children haven’t mortified them at some point. If your child is embarrassing you, all it means is that you are in good company.  Toddlers teach us all humility.  Repetitive behaviors are the issue to be concerned about, not the occasional dramatic performance.  I was convinced that some of my children were destined for the stage.

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It seems to me by definition that most of these “moments” occur when it’s least convenient, or when you really really really need your children to behave.  The best preventative for this is…..

  1.  Prepare them ahead of time.

Whenever you can, prepare your kids for what they are going to face.  Let them know that you are in a hurry, or that they will not be getting anything on this shopping trip etc.  Explain to them what is expected of them before they are confronted with a new situation. Don’t just arrive at the dentist and expect them to open their mouth.  You may find them afflicted with “lockjaw”, also known as …. these are my teeth and I don’t show them to people with sharp instruments that smell funny.  (No I’m not poking at dentists,  I love my dentist.  But dental offices often smell of cloves from dental medications and you can bet your kids notice)

Explanation and preparation seems especially important for cooperation in preschool years, but it really matters all the way through.  Even your college kid will benefit from preparation for the onslaught the college environment will present to their faith and core values.  Actually, they will benefit from everything from what to do when their roommate gets lice…. to an introduction to Mr. Washing-Machine (if they aren’t already aquainted).

Prepare… prepare… prepare, and….

Always deal straight with your kids.  Be reliable and consistent.  Tell the truth.  In order to ensure that your preparation works, kids need to know that what you say can be trusted.

 

2. Be flexible.
  Remember the only non-negotiables are Scriptural .   Don’t plant your flag over unimportant things, or dramatize the harmless.    It is so tempting to make rules around the rules so that your kids are “protected” from their choices.  Resist that temptation, stand firm on the Scriptural issues, and prepare to negotiate the fringe ones.  After all, matching socks are the norm, but hardly critical to function.
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3.  Teach your children to listen to God’s Word.   The most important question kids need to know to always ask themselves is,
“What does God say about _________?”
Teach the Word to your children faithfully.
Teach them what God’s Word means, and teach them how to apply it to their daily life.  Make decisions (and teach them to make decisions) based on what God has said in His Word.   Be consistent with this pattern.  Let them see and know that you and your husband live with that question always in front of you….
What does God say?

 

4.  Love them lavishly.

Remember how hard it was to be a kid?  How scary it was sometimes, and how much some things hurt?  Remember how hard it was to fight temptation, and how easily you could be confused?

Love your kids.

Love them lavishly.

They need it.

Love soothes the hurts, imparts courage, and most of all it ties the heart.  It’s easy to get distracted and start thinking that child rearing is primarily about obedience.   It’s not.  Child rearing is about the heart, and winning their hearts.  It takes lavish love to win a heart  and hold it.

That battle for their heart is the one you really need to win.

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Homeschooling: Free and Easy, or Count the Cost?

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One of my daughters is crazy thrifty.

Actually they all run in that particular race; she just happens to be the winner of cheap.

It’s her superpower.

If we’re honest, most of us can relate.  Who doesn’t love a bargain or even better…. free?  I think everybody loves free.

Just try to get in line for one of those promotions that offer a “free” ten dollars to the first hundred customers.  I’ve tried.  To get in line early enough, I’d seriously have to skip sleep.   It seems the entire town is in line long before I ever get there.

How about easy?

Everyone loves easy. Diet books and programs keep themselves in business by telling people how easy it is to lose weight with their book.  Face it, you can’t sell gym memberships by telling the truth about how hard it is to work off even one donut.

 

When the homeschool movement presents itself to those considering whether this is what God would have their family do, we’re doing them no favors when we present it as easy, low cost, or even free.  The truth is that homeschooling is hard work.   Curriculum costs money, and teaching people to read, write, and compute is hard work.

I’m seeing more young moms discouraged and disenchanted with homeschooling because what was presented to them is not what their day to day reality looks like.

 

Better we should tell them the truth.

Homeschooling is hard work.

Homeschooling requires sacrifice.

Homeschooling bites into your budget.

I admit that those things are not very appealing, but they are true.    I could easily say the same things about vacations and it wouldn’t deter anyone from taking one.  Why not?  Well, because people already know that the payoff is worth it.

 

 

Better we should tell people that homeschooling is worth it.

 

Homeschooling is one of the most powerful and life-changing decisions you can make for your family.  It gives you the opportunity to truly teach and mold your children’s values. It enables you to have that Deut. 6 relationship with them, teaching them about God while sharing day to day experiences together. It gives you the opportunity to raise them free from peer dependency.   It creates close sibling bonds and allows them the time to grow deep friendships with each other.

Most importantly, God honors it.

Is it free?  Nope

Is it easy? Nope

Is it worth it?

Absolutely without a doubt…..and that my friends, is the point.

 

Don’t homeschool because you think it is convenient, easy, or cheap.  Homeschool because the opportunity to raise your children with a foundation and mindset that is established in God and His Word is priceless.

And….. the fruit is eternal.

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