Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2010, The Year of the Terrier

The Year of 2010 in the Engle household
From the perspective of Scruffy, their dog
While I sit outside everyday and peer through the sliding glass doors of my house, I watch my owners and their children go through life, and the following is what I have witnessed over the last year…
They moved me to a new home.  They lost their old one, although, I hear Jolene say, “It is not lost, I know exactly where it is, besides, it was a temporary dwelling place, our permanent home is in Heaven and I know how to get there.” I happen to like my new home, there are lots of squirrels that come into my backyard that I chase every morning but I have yet to catch one!  So, do you know where your eternal home is?  “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”  Philippians 3:20
I know my owners were saddened to move.  They experienced a loss of income because of the real estate market which resulted in the loss of their home which equated to broken dreams, frustration, heartache and worry as to where they would live. “And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."  Matthew 8:20 My owners are thankful that the Lord has provided them with a place to lay their head.  I am thankful too; I even have a doghouse with a big fluffy pillow for my head!  It’s a nice pad; you should come over and see it some time.
Eric has had to sell many items and do what he can to make ends meet right now, but at least he still has enough money to feed me!  Although I have heard him talk about cutting out that expense as well!  I know it has been a real struggle for him to provide for his family, but I always hear Jolene tell him that she loves him and that the Lord is in control of their lives.  I am not sure what that means but they seem happy because after all, they never kick me!  Are you too struggling to make ends meet in your home this year?  "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  Matthew 6:26
I think Jolene needs to buy some new jeans because her old ones seem to be getting a little tight. I think she has gained about 5 pounds this year, although Eric doesn’t seem to notice.  I guess she should have eaten less of her food and given me her table scraps, if she had, she would have saved some money on my food bill too!  It’s a win-win situation for both of us! Hey, if you happened to gained weight too, remember what the Bible says, For man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  1 Samuel 16:7 I love my owner just the way she is, but I love her even more when she throws my toy!
My owners are still homeschooling the boys.  Seth is now in the 6th grade and Noah is in the 4th grade, although, their grade level is not too important to their parents.  Their desire is for the boys to be pleasing to the Lord and to grow in Godly wisdom.  The boys are so very different from one another.  One’s strengths is the other one’s weaknesses and vice versa.  Yet, I hear Jolene say, “Every child is gifted in their own way because they were made by the Creator of the Universe. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him.”  Genesis 1:27 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”  Psalm 139:14 Although I am not made in the image of God, the Creator of the Universe did make me too and I have some pretty fabulous gifts.  You should see them!  I am lightening fast (although apparently not fast enough to catch one a those stupid squirrels.)
My family takes me on more walks now.  They say it is because Jolene’s health has improved after 10 long years of battling a chronic illness.  She gives credit to the Great Physician.  If you are sick perhaps you need to go see Him, I am sure He can help you feel better too.  But maybe you have gone to see Him and He has not healed you.  Paul the Apostle had a health problem too and he asked the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh three times and God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9 If you are ill, I hope you boast in your infirmities too, just like Paul, and try to remember that God’s grace is sufficient for you!
Jolene told the boys the other day that there may not be many gifts under the tree this year, but there are many more above the tree if you just lift your head up and keep your eyes on the Lord!  She wanted to remind them of what matters most in their lives.  God is seated on the Throne in Heaven.  Many blessings will be poured out on them.  "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants."  Isaiah 44:3
In spite of all the disappointments, hardships, obstacles and headaches that my family has experienced this past year, they are filled with joy and peace, although, they do become tired and weary at times!  I get tired too; it must be because I keep chasing those SQUIRRELS!  However, they have a hope within them because of their relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is the Lord of their lives and they try to live a life pleasing to Him in spite of their sinful nature, shortcomings, imperfections and failures.
So, did you happen to get kicked in your teeth this year?  Maybe you lost your job or your boss cut your hours and you don’t know how you are going to pay the bills?  Or perhaps is someone in your house always sick and the docs don’t know why and they never seem to help them?  Maybe you have a child who is always struggling with school work or worse, they are becoming more and more rebellious?  How about this one…you and your spouse are constantly at each other’s throats.  Depressing isn’t it?  Yes, I know all too well how difficult life can become, after all I am a dog!  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-10.
Jesus Christ came to earth as a babe to offer hope, joy, peace, forgiveness and eternal life to all who accept Christ into their hearts. If you have yet to ask Jesus into your heart, will you do so this Christmas?  You won’t regret making this life-changing decision!  If you know Jesus, we hope you draw closer to Him in the coming year! "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."  Luke 2:11-12
Oh, I gotta go! I think I see a squirrel!

Merry Christmas,
From the Engle Family (Eric, Jolene, Seth, Noah and Scruffy)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Does God Know What He is Doing?

In the midst of homeschooling your children, tending to the responsibilities of the household, being a helper to your husband and dealing with relationships, when things go awry in your life do you ever wonder what is God doing?  Honestly, I know I have, many times in fact!
I often wonder where God is when I am teaching my child the same concept for what seems like the 100th time.  I wonder where God is when I am faced with persecution from family and friends as I choose to stand for my Christian beliefs as I live them out by teaching my children at home.  Then there are times I find my mind drifting to the place of its flesh when I think perhaps the Lord has forsaken me when the financial winds blow through my life like a hurricane that never seems to end.   Does God hear his daughter cry out to Him in the midst of my brokenness and pain?  Have you ever had those thoughts; times when you have thought, what is God doing in your life?
Years ago when I was a new believer in Christ, I came across the following verse in my Bible and I will have to admit that in my lack of biblical and spiritual understanding, I honestly thought this was the most ridiculous verse I ever read:  “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  James 1:2-5 How in the world do you count a trial all joy, I wondered?  Not only did I wonder, but I scoffed at the verse.  Little did I know that 14 years later I would fully appreciate the depths of this verse and the wonderful wisdom that comes from it.  However, it has been a long process of grumbling and complaining on my part along the way!  In fact, here is another one of my not so favorite verses, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Philippians 2:14-16 Ouch!  Oh, how I fall so short.  But once again in God’s divine plan, He has a purpose for this verse in our lives as well.  If you read past the command, it says the reason why we should not complain and dispute; it is so we can be a beautiful example of a living testimony pointing others to Christ even in the midst of a trial.  In a nutshell, our lights are shining for Jesus when we do not complain.  This is a basic principle that we should teach our children as well.
Raising our children to be godly men and women and providing them with the tools they will need to function in society is a very difficult task.  It requires us to be the godly example first.  Now, it is much easier for me to be a godly example to my children when life is smooth sailing, but when tough times come, then that’s a different story altogether.  That is when my true character comes out!
When we are faced with trials, be it a struggling learner, character issues, tensions in relationships, financial difficulties, ongoing illnesses, persecutions, etc. we often see the trial in our lives as a negative thing rather than a positive one.  Human nature of course!  We don’t like pain, we want the offending issue to be removed from our lives as soon as possible so we will no longer be hindered to do what we want to do. I know in my mind I often think the ’trial’ that I am experiencing is causing me to lack something.  For example, for years it was my ongoing illnesses, I felt if I was healthy I could be more productive with my family and also in ministry.  I thought being more productive would be a good thing, yet I was lacking in the ability to do so, therefore, I saw my trial as something that was a deficit in my life rather than a benefit to my character.
Yet, God’s Word is clear, the trial was producing in me something that would make me perfect and complete, lacking nothing!   James 1:4 I could not see that at the time.  I could not see that the Lord was desiring of me to be God-reliant rather than self-sufficient.  God desires that of you as well.  He knows what struggles we will need to go through so we will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. He knows what our children need to see us go through so their faith can be strengthened and so their Christian walk can start to develop or deepen depending on their age because at some point in their lives they will face trials too.  Will they consider it all joy when they face them?
So, do you feel forsaken because of what you are experiencing in life?  Do you feel ‘behind’ in homeschooling because of some recent life struggles?  Difficult times in parenting and shaping your children’s character?  Frustrations with teaching your children?  Are you cut out for this thing called, ‘homeschooling’?  The list can go on and on about what you may be dealing with right now but hold fast to the Truth of our Great Redeemer’s words, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5
So, does God know what He is doing?  Absolutely!  He is sovereign and He reigns on high!  He is making sure you are perfect and complete, lacking nothing! Be filled with joy today and teach your children to do the same!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How to Raise Brilliant Children

Every homeschooling mom has the desire to raise children who will grow up to be wise and full of understanding.  We want our children to shine, excel and be successful, especially since we have devoted our lives to them as we poured into them academically.  Not only do we want our children to be filled with wisdom, but we want them to be able to function in society as adults and of course we want them to build God’s kingdom, but where does true wisdom and understanding come from and how do we make sure that our children will obtain it?  Does it come from reading various books or utilizing wonderful curriculum programs?  Would our children be filled with wisdom if they attended multiple field trips?  How about if they take an abundance of co-op classes?  What seems to be the logical answer to these questions is ‘yes’, at least that is what we are led to believe if we were raised in an educational system and/or just being a part of our society, but that is not the Truth.   If we look to the Bible as our authority, instead of society or our past educational experiences, we will find a different answer. 

The fear of the Lord is true wisdom.
In the book of Job, God is speaking to Job when He says, “The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding." Job 28:28  At one point in Job’s life he had everything you could have ever asked for; many children, an abundance of wealth and possessions, plus good health.  If you just read the first chapter of Job and did not read any further, you would have thought that Job was a wise man because of all that he obtained.  As you read further, you find out the he was well-respected in society, which would equate in our minds that he was a man of influence; therefore a man of wisdom. Yet, God allowed all of Job’s children and his possessions to be taken away from him.  As wealthy as Job was, the Word of God says he obtained those things because …”he was blameless and He feared God.”  Job 1:1 If you continue to read further in the book, you will soon find out that Job is arguing with God about the situation he was in and finally the Lord rebukes him and then tells him, The fear of the Lord is true wisdom.”  Job 28:28  In other words,  “Job, shut your trap.  You may have possessed many things, but “I Am” is here to tell you that it is not what you can obtain that makes you wise, but Who you fear.” (my paraphrase!) 
When I read that verse several years ago, I never applied it to my life as a homeschool mom.  As the years have gone by while I have taught my children, I could not help but wonder, worry and fret if I was covering everything they needed know and whether or not there were any ‘gaps’ in my children’s education.  Although I am still very conditioned by what I think I should be teaching my children and how much of it I should be covering, the Word of God is the Truth, regardless of what society says, or what type of education I have received, or what a well-meaning homeschooling publisher may have written.  What matters most is that our children will know the Truth and where true wisdom comes from and that it does not come from reading many books, etc., but by reading the One True Book and having fear of the One True God. 
Yes, there will be ‘gaps’ in my children’s education because I can not ‘do it all’ for there just isn’t enough hours in the day. So I choose to make sure that my children are brilliant, by being full of true wisdom and understanding before I teach them knowledge. "But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”  Job 28:12  “Who has put wisdom in the mind?  Or who has given understanding to the heart?” Job 38:36  It all comes from the Lord.
The Bible speaks about Solomon being the wisest man that ever lived, he was a man of great wisdom and understanding.  When I think of Solomon, I could only hope that my children would one day have the wisdom that Solomon once displayed (until of course he rejected the things of the Lord because he chose to listen to his pagan wives and concubines.)  “ God said, "Ask! What shall I give you?" And Solomon said: "You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:9  “So God replied, "Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people and have not asked for a long life or riches for yourself or the death of your enemies- behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 1 Kings 3:11-12

So how did Solomon become so brilliant and filled with wisdom, he asked the Lord for it, but did you notice in this passage that he also spoke of his father’s godly character?  As Solomon was growing up, he saw his father’s devotion to the Lord.  He saw how David handled difficult situations, trials and attacks, even the attack from his own son Absalom who tried to usurp his throne. David displayed the life of a godly man, so much so, that Solomon desired to live a life of devotion and servanthood to the Lord as a result of his father’s actions.  Because of David’s example of reverence for the Lord, Solomon asked God for wisdom.
We have an opportunity every day to teach our children how to be wise, but it begins with our example.  Do our children see us live our lives with the fear of the Lord?  Do they see us spending time in God’s Word on a daily basis?  Do they see us submitting to our husbands?  Are our priorities and activities God-honoring or are they worldly?  Where do we spend our time and our money, is it in one’s self and entertainment or in ministry? Do they see us protecting them from things or situations that God would deem as evil?   When we sin, do our children see us apologize and restore our relationships?  Those things matter; they will either show our children that we fear the Lord or that we don’t.     
Isn’t it nice to know that if we teach our children to fear the Lord our kids will receive wisdom?  Yes, it is that simple of a truth, however, the faith that it takes to embrace that thought process is huge and might be difficult to live on a daily basis.  We might have the tendency to keep going back to what we think we should be teaching our children.  There is nothing wrong with that, however, if we place a higher priority upon knowledge over wisdom, we could end up raising a fool who will spend eternity in hell, rather than a brilliant, wise child who will spend eternity in heaven.  I encourage you to spend your time on the wiser choice!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

So, What Are You Going to be for Halloween?

My children are asked this question every year  during the month of October, (in fact, they were asked it again today!) and every year their response is, “We do not celebrate evil.”  Yes, that is a very strong response that I taught them at a young age.  I decided it was best to make a quick and straight forward statement and leave it up to the other person if they would like to ask us more questions about our beliefs.
Some Christians may feel that this response is too harsh or that participating in Halloween is no big deal.  But for me and my family, I believe as a Daughter of the King, I should take a stand for righteousness on that day because many Believers don’t.  In today’s society it is very difficult to be bold for fear of being rejected or by being judged by others, but regardless of the repercussions that we may face by ‘man’, we will ultimately stand before the Lord and have to give an account of what we did each year as October 31st came around.
We are set apart by God not just 364 days out of the year, but also on Oct. 31st as well.  I want my sons to know the fear of the Lord and realize that they were created to please Him. “But you are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). It may be hard to keep in mind what, we as Believers wrestle with, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
As my children came into this world, my husband and I had to make the decision about what to do with Halloween.  Should we participate in it or not?  Should our children go trick or treating or not?  Do they dress up or not?  How about attending church Fall Festivals as an alternative?  So, what we did was search the Scriptures to guide us in this decision making process and the one verse that we kept going back to is this, “Abstain from ALL appearance of evil.”  1 Thessalonians 5:22. So because of what the Word of God said, we have never had our children participate in the evil origins of the pagans practice of trick or treating.  “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).
What we have done over the years was dress our children up in Bible costumes and attend church alternative festivals.  So why Bible costumes and not just regular costumes…So my children can learn to be the ‘light of the world ‘.  In Matthew 4:13, “We are called to be the light of the world.”, so that is what we have taught our children to do at a very young age when they were dressed up as Moses, holding the 10 Commandments, or Noah and all his animals, or as King David or a Shepherd.  By being dressed in Bible-themed costumes, it was my hopes that their witness would edify the saints or minister to the unsaved that we came across that evening and it always did!
When my boys get much older, we will some day open our doors for the neighborhood kids and hand out candy and Christian-gospel tracts, but for now, I still have little disciples that I am responsible for ministering to.  Their souls are still very sensitive to evil looking things/costumes, not to mention just being lured into by all of the darkness.  Of course they are exposed to the ghoulish-looking creatures and costumes that they see while out at stores, but I do not need to invite the appearance of evil (nor evil itself) to my front porch and the reason why is because my children are my first ministry, they come before me spending time ministering to the neighborhood kids that evening.
Hopefully by the time my children are in their teens, they will have received much knowledge and wisdom in the Lord and they will one day be prepared to minister to others on Oct. 31st.  “The fear of the Lord makes men turn from evil.”  Proverbs 16:6 Perhaps they will be serving at our church’s alternative to Halloween festival where an unsaved soul comes just for the candy but is really in need of a Savior.
I love what Romans 12:2 has to say, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  Romans 12:2 Maybe the Lord has been tugging on your heart this year about what to do with Halloween.  Meditate on this verse and pray for the Lord’s leading.  Find out ‘what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ for you and your family this coming October 31st.
We live in this world but we are not of it, so as my boys grow in wisdom and discernment from year to year, we assess what is best for their spiritual growth as to what we will or will not participate in on October 31st.  I am sure you will be faced with the same decision as well.
So what will you do with that day?  I would love to read your comments.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Uncertainty in Difficult Times

My son asked me this morning if we could take a day off from our usual homeschooling schedule and I laughed and said no.  However, the Lord had a different plan in mind for my family today.  He felt it was best for us to spend some time in the Emergency Room!
My Beloved, Eric, woke up this morning doubled over and writhing in pain.  Shortly after he was vomiting, so off to the hospital we went.  This incident is very unusual for us because Eric is the healthy one in the family.  He is the one that is usually sitting by my bedside when I am in the hospital.  But today was his turn to be the patient.

By the time we showed up at the hospital, his back pain radiated over to his side and down his groin.  When I heard that information, I knew it was a kidney stone.  A few minutes later we were greeted by the ER’s Triage Nurse who happened to be the husband of an old friend of ours.  I knew in that minute that the Lord was greeting us and ushering us through this experience with one of His servants.   As the man started to treat my husband, he was surprised by Eric’s low heart rate so he ordered an EKG.  A few minutes later they had to hook him up to oxygen and then the doctor ordered a CAT Scan.  I was surprised by how my husband’s body was reacting all the while I am sitting there thinking about the worse case scenarios about his condition, so I prayed that it would be JUST a kidney stone and no other serious conditions.

As the time ticked away, I could not help but think about the financial ramifications that this trip to the ER would bring to us.  You see, we have no health insurance because we can not afford it.  For several years now we have been trusting the Lord to provide for us in all aspects of our lives, and time and time again, God has proved faithful to us.  So why did I doubt that He would provide for us in this moment?  I am not sure why, perhaps I was acting on my feelings and not resting in the Word of God.

I later contacted my dear friend who was watching my children.  In the midst of my phone conversation, I broke down in tears and my voice quivered as I gave her an update on my beloved.  I asked her to pray and to tell others to pray for him as well.  I headed back into the hospital and waited for Eric to come back from his CAT Scan.  Moments later, my stomach began to growl since I did not have much time to eat breakfast.  I sat there wondering if the hospital’s cafeteria had anything gluten free that I could eat, but then thought that even if they did, I did not have any money to purchase it.  Oh well, I thought, I guess today would be the day I would lose a few unwanted pounds!

Later, we got word from the doctor that everything was fine and that Eric just had a kidney stone, I was very relieved.  As we walked out of the patient’s area and into the waiting room, a friend of mine showed up and said, “I brought you a gluten free lunch!”  I could not believe she was standing in the Emergency Room doing this.  She took the time out of her busy life to minister to us.  The Lord always knows what we need even down to the smallest details!  The ‘Great I Am’ sent this beautiful, godly woman just to minister on our behalf!  I was grateful.

As we were leaving, I received 2 prescriptions that Eric would need to have filled.  I sat there just staring at them wondering how we would afford it.  Within minutes, Our Most High God sent in another one of His servants to minister to us.  Our friend asked Eric how he was doing and the next thing I know, this  man of God took the prescriptions from me and said he was going to drop them off, get them filled and pay for them!  I was astonished.

Jesus was there with me as I walked through the uncertainty.  His presence was very evident.

No matter the circumstances that you are in, remember that Christ is your Rock and Comforter just like He was mine today.  He will not leave you nor forsake you.  He is walking with you as you go through those difficult and uncertain times as well.  Don’t lose heart.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Ps 18:2

From Failure to Fruit

It’s almost mid-October and school is in full swing.  For my family, I school my children year round because that has been the only way for me to survive this homeschooling lifestyle!  “No”, I don’t do it because I think my children should always be learning so they can be ahead of everyone else!  I started doing this when my eldest started the second grade.  Originally, my homeschooling schedule was set up just like a traditional school year, but God had other plans for our journey and I am so thankful that He did because He ALWAYS knows what is best for us!  Let me tell you why….
I am a type-A personality; a determined, over-achiever who is borderline obsessive-compulsive along with being highly focused.  Now, this personality may sound wonderful if I was on a job interview for a fortune 500 company, but that is not what I was created for.  Just like you, I was created to be a wife and mother.  And just like you, we have both embraced the biblical commands to raise our children in the Lord, thus, that is why we homeschool.
God decided it was best for my personality to be a chronically-ill wife and homeschool mom for almost a decade.   For a good 10 years of my life I felt like a constant failure as I attempted to school my boys.  What I was physically capable of doing did not line up to what I was mentally capable of, therefore, I felt defeated everyday that I attempted to train, teach and raise up my children.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 I walked through the ‘valley’  as early as when my babes were in my womb up until just last year.  It saddens me to this day to know that I honestly don’t remember much of my time of being a young mommy raising up her little boys.  Health wise, I am now at the point where I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel yet the chronic pain and the constant inability to teach my children and what I thought they should be learning was overwhelming.  My eyes well up with tears just thinking about what I physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually endured.  The pain is still so real.  Even though I feel that I lost many years of my life and I did not ‘school’ my children enough, my God in all of His sovereignty knew exactly what I needed so I would choose the better part of homeschooling and not get caught up in all the non-essentials.
You see, as an overachiever, I would have had my children down the path of being filled with as much knowledge as time would permit.  Now there is nothing wrong with knowledge, but if it is absent of God’s wisdom, then it is a futile pursuit; a pursuit that I would have embraced all for the sake of ‘homeschooling’.  God literally forced me through my brokenness of an unhealthy body to choose the better part of what to pour into my children.  For most of our young days of schooling, much of my time was spent teaching my children about godly character, them learning to obey their parents and simple Bible stories.  There were a few days during the weeks and months when I would be able to add in teaching them to read, count, etc. but those days were not often!
During the many years in the valley, I was often reminded of the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus came to their house for dinner.  “And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42 Had I had a healthy body filled with normal energy, I would have been like Martha, but my heart’s cry was to be like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet.
When I would read God’s word about raising up children in the Lord and training them to obey their parents and teaching them wisdom, etc., of course I would do all of that to the best of my abilities, yet, because I could not add all of the other subjects, like reading, writing, math, etc. to the extent that I wanted to, I felt like I was failing my children and ultimately disappointing my Lord.  However, because I believed God’s Word for what it said, that was where I put my emphasis.  I chose the better part, but honestly it was because of my brokenness that I clung to the Lord and I thus I decided with the small amount of energy I did have, I would teach my children what mattered most; the fear of the Lord and godly wisdom.
So fast forward to today…
My eldest will be 11 years old next month.  He is now in the 6th grade.  We started this school year the first week of July and I have been able to teach my children many of the ‘academic’ subjects.  In fact, I have been able to teach them more in the last 4 months than what I have been able to teach them in the last 2+ years!  I am actually amazed at God’s faithfulness.  (O, ye of little faith!)  All those years when I felt like a failure, God is now showing me the fruit that has taken root in the lives of my children.
Perhaps you are faced with a chronic illness and you are contemplating putting your children in school, I implore you not too!  God has a plan for your life and the life of your children, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11 For years, many of our so-called homeschooling days were spent with me just keeping my children at home away from the negative influences.  Life was filled with daily responsibilities along with instilling in them godly character.  They were still better off at home even if I did not teach them anything other than the Word of God and I have the proof today of the fruit that is growing in their hearts!
Maybe you don’t have an illness that you are dealing with but perhaps it is a financial hardship or a difficult relationship, a job change or loss, etc. that you feel is hindering your ability to homeschool….I encourage you to change your perspective and remember the reason why you chose to keep your children at home in the first place.  If it is godly character that matters most to you then GOD HAS YOU RIGHT WHERE HE WANTS YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN!  Let Him do His work in your life and the lives of your children.
As tears come down my face as I look back over the years, my sense of failure comes from me not fulfilling MY PLANS for homeschooling my children.  Although I think I know what is best for my children, I am not sovereign.  God, who is the GREAT I AM is fulfilling His plans for the lives of my family.
He is also fulfilling His plans for your family as well.  Perhaps you need to put your eyes on the Lord more or maybe your need to change your focus or reason for homeschooling your children.  “Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22 Remain steadfast and be determined to teach your children godly wisdom, you will eventually see the fruit.  “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.  John 15:7,8
God answered that prayer of mine to be like Mary, yet, had He told me it would come through a trial like the one I experienced, I am not sure that I would have embraced it!  Even in the midst of what I thought was failure, God was producing in me godly fruit as well as my children.  I assure you He will do the same with you as well!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Leaving Egypt and Entering the Promised Land

You have probably heard the term “Scope and Sequence” since you began your homeschooling journey. I remember hearing it too, and I was not sure of what it meant. So I looked up the definition. “Scope and Sequence “ means, what you are going to teach to your children and when are you going to teach it. One of the first places I turned to figure out what to teach and when to teach it, was the State’s Standards (also known as the State’s Scope and Sequence), and things that I remembered from my own public school experience. THAT WAS A BIG MISTAKE!!!! That should have been the last place I turned to, yet nevertheless, it was my natural tendency to turn there first because of the indoctrination that I was exposed to.
The California Education Code does not mandate us as homeschoolers to follow the State’s Standards regarding what our children need to learn per grade level. We have a great amount of freedom in California as homeschoolers, because the Education Code just states that we are to “offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools.” Yet, we embrace the public schools’ Standards. What do I meant by that? The State’s Scope and Sequence tells us our children should be reading by age 5 or 6 years of age, so we think our children at age 5 or 6 should know how to read, or, according to the State, they should know their multiplication tables in the 3rd grade, and in the 4th grade they should be writing stories, otherwise, they will be behind. Behind what? The State’s Standards. Like the Israelites were in bondage to the king of Egypt, I was in bondage to the State’s Standards as a homeschooling mom because I thought I had to mimic the State.
Although it was not easy, I continued on in my homeschooling journey out of obedience to the Word of God, but I sought the Truth, the Holy Word, to try to figure out why my journey was so difficult. What I realized was the State’s Scope and Sequence dictated my priorities. However, if you were to ask me why I homeschooled, I would have said, “So I can raise godly children who would follow the Lord wholeheartedly and for my children to become leaders for Jesus Christ.” This biblical vision that I had for my children did not line up with the State’s Standards that I followed. The Word of God was not mentioned anywhere in the 12 year program of the State’s Scope and Sequence. Needless to say, I still clung to the State’s Standards because of how I was taught in the public schools that I attended for 12+ years. I thought that was the path to follow to teach my children and I would just add a little bit of Jesus to all of the academics. But there was not enough of God’s Word being taught to my boys and there was a constant tug of war between the spiritual things I wanted to teach them and the academics that I always felt I was behind in. Many days we would start with math or reading, because I felt my boys were “behind”, yet, I knew I should have started off with prayer, worship and the teaching of the Word of God. But because I was trying to keep up with the State, I would forsake the teaching of the Lord. I did not know how to balance the two priorities, the spiritual life and the academic life for my boys, so once again, I went back to the Bible for direction.
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God is our authority. The Bible does not say, your child needs to be able to read at age 5. It does not say, your daughter should know her multiplication tables when she is 8 or your son should be writing stories at age 9. The Bible is what I am going to teach my children and it is going to be taught daily, regardless of where my boys are academically, according to the State’s Standards, (which I now refer to as, “Satan’s Standards”!) God’s Word is my priority, so I am going to embrace it as my ”Scope and Sequence.” It is going to dictate to me what my children need to learn. I am not going to balance the two so-called priorities, the spiritual growth verses the academic growth. When you think of the word, ‘priority’, you naturally think, what comes first. You don’t think balance! Put first things first. If it is godly children that you desire, seek the Word of God, not Satan’s Standards. The Word says to test all things. Line up the State’s Scope and Sequence with the Word of God. If your child is reading at age 5 or 6 according to the State, but their behavior with you is completely disobedient, something is out of order according to your priorities. Maybe your child writes wonderfully, but she has a disrespectful attitude towards you and your husband. My challenge to you is to ask yourself if that is what you want your child’s character to look like; they have the knowledge of the world, but their heart is turned away from you and the Lord. All of that is because of where we turned to receive our guidance on what and when to teach our children. The Word of God says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
God’s Word is the perfect standard for our children and we need to embrace all aspects of it. For the Holy Word says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 Seek the Bible and do not be uptight and anxious if your child is not at the State’s level of reading, writing or math, etc. The State is not your authority unless you have given them the authority. I was in bondage to what the State said I needed to do. It took me several years to break free from that way of thinking and my journey is much more fruitful and my children are learning the things of the Lord. It has taken me several years to enter the “Promise Land of homeschooling”. I encourage you to teach your children to love the Lord first and foremost. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. "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.” Deut. 6:5-7 Keep this verse at the forefront of your mind when things don’t go according to plan or when your children are not excelling in all of the academic areas according to the State. Remember, God’s Standard’s don’t require them to! Say “good-bye” to Egypt and “hello” to the Promised Land of homeschooling discipleship!

All This for the King

Homeschooling our children is a huge sacrifice of our time.  We have given up our daily freedoms in order to train and teach our children the things of the Lord.  Not many women would choose this path because of its’ difficulties, whether it be teaching our children subjects that are hard for us comprehend, let alone teach, or perhaps it’s spending 24/7 with children that are hard to handle, not to mention going against what society and sometimes well-meaning, Christian family and friends have to say about our chosen path of education.  We are investing in the lives of our children as we spend day in a day out teaching them and training them.  It can be a very lonely and difficult journey.  So, I ask you, is it worth it?
I challenge you this coming year to think of homeschooling your children in a different light.  Think of it as home-discipleship, not just education.  Ask yourself if you are preparing your children for a career or a ‘calling’, because there is a difference.  Having our children work in a high-powered or affluent career position serves our pride and ego because we were the ones who raised them and then later on in life the ‘career’ will serve our child’s ego and pocketbook; whereas a ‘calling’ serves the Lord regardless of the paycheck and recognition.  It’s that simple.
Let me share with you a true story of God’s hand upon one of His children and what He did through a willing and obedient heart, no matter the person’s intellect and education.
Her name is Gladys Aylward.  You may or may not have heard of her, nevertheless, it is an inspiring and comforting story for any homeschooling mom and therefore, it’s worth repeating.
Gladys was born in 1902, she was a housemaid from England and she had amazing faith in God and a determination to serve Him as she was certain that God had called her to China as a missionary.  While she was still a teenager she read a magazine article about China and the people there who had never heard the gospel.  The thought that millions of people had not heard God’s word affected Gladys so profoundly that she was determined to head to China to be a missionary.
What I found to be very inspiring in Gladys’ testimony, and what I want you to remember about this amazing woman of faith is this, (since you will be teaching your children), Gladys went to missionary school so she could receive a formal education, but at age 27, she was kicked out of the program because she failed Bible class!  Yes, you read that correctly.  I hope that statement gives you hope knowing that if God is calling your children into a certain direction He will provide what they will need to know. The missionary school director said Gladys was not quick-minded, nor qualified to go to China to be a missionary, plus she did not have any special skills.  She wasn’t a nurse or teacher, she was just Gladys Aylward, born to simple parents, her father was a postman and her mother was a housewife in a small, suburb of London.  Gladys went on to China regardless of what the school director had to say about her and her abilities because she knew what God had impressed upon her heart.  She made such a huge impact upon the people of China and many souls were won as a result of her obedience to God, in fact, she became so well known in China, that the people of the U.S. found out about her and they made a movie about her life.  God does not call the qualified, He equips the called!  That’s what He did with Gladys and that is what He will do with your children as well, as long as they have a desire to serve their King.
Will your children learn to walk by faith and not by sight as Gladys did?  Imagine if she had listened to the school director instead of the Lord.  I am sure that would be easy to do, seeing how he was qualified, after all, he had a degree, so according to the “world”, he must have been right about Gladys.  “Beware, lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world; and not according to Christ.”  (Colossians 2:8)  But God does not need a degree to train our children and ultimately use them for His glory.  What God wants is for us to have a desire to be like His Son and for us to train up our children to be like Him as well.
Don’t lose sight of the goal.  If the goal is the career, then you better make sure you hit those books and make sure those tests are in the high percentiles!  If the goal is to prepare your children for a ‘calling’, ask yourself “what does that look like?”  “How should I prepare them for a long life service to the King”?  Here are a few practical examples:
1. Work on their character!
  • For the younger kids, first and most important, make sure they obey you.  If you are always redirecting them and bribing them with something, you will have a hard time teaching them things that will require hard work and determination on their part.  Plus, you will not know if they are struggling in a certain area or if they are being rebellious; there is a difference between the two and as their teacher, you will need to know the difference.
  • Instill in them a desire to serve others and not to always be serving themselves and their own selfish desires.
2. Be on the lookout for what might be some of their spiritual gifts.
  • Encourage them to use their gifts and find opportunities for them to serve the Lord.  This will require you to go out of your way; and by the way, spending the time in this area is far more important than driving them to an extra-curricular activity once a month for pure enjoyment.  Yes, you can do both, but be mindful of teaching them to serve the Lord because it is not a natural thing for them, (or us)!
3. Teach them the Word of God.
4. Most importantly, live out the Word of God for them so they can see your faith in the one true God.
If you have children in the high school years, and you know what your child’s gifts are, they may need to have a degree to fulfill God’s calling on their life.  If God wants them to pursue law, politics, become a doctor, etc., then you will see that interest in your child and surely he will be on a path where he will have to hit the books, but it is for the Lord’s glory and purpose, not for your child’s own selfish ambition or your pride; remember the difference.
The days are coming when homeschooling your children will become more difficult than you had planned, the days when you feel you are not capable of teaching them, the days when you think they would be better off at public/private school, the days when the Enemy is screaming in your ear that you can’t do this and you ask yourself,  “Is it worth it?”  Absolutely, because you are doing ALL THIS FOR THE KING!  You are preparing your children to serve Him all the days of their lives.  Don’t be consumed with the world’s philosophy of education, God’s ways are always better than man’s ways.  “What does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 10:12)
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 4:6,7 (NLT)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

If Mary and Martha Were Homeschool Moms

Think about it for a moment. Now according to the Word of God, there was no mention of husbands nor children, so I think it is safe to assume that Mary and Martha were not married and did not have any kids.  So let’s pretend for a moment each were married and they had children they homeschooled. 
            What do you think that would look like?  We know from Scripture that Martha was busy doing and she was so demanding that she even demanded Jesus to do something!  That’s pretty brazen.  “But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."  Luke 10:40
            We know that Mary was not busy ‘doing’.  When Jesus showed up at her house, she did not rush around picking things up to make the home look presentable.  She did the exact opposite.  She sat down!  She sat at the feet of Jesus so she could learn from Him and be filled by Him.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet.  Luke 10:39  Doesn’t that sound so refreshing for a moment, to just be still and sit.  “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."  Luke 10:42
            How would Martha look as a homeschool mom?  Think about how she went about her day.  Busy, always doing.  Demanding of others.  Yikes!  That sounds familiar.
Picture Mary as a homeschool mom. Peaceful and calm, patient, loving, refreshed and wise with godly understanding.  She chose “that good part”.  Those words were spoken by Jesus, the King of Kings about Mary. That is the kind of mother I wish to be.  Yet, that is not always how I respond to my children. 
My first thought is to rush through our learning ‘to do’ list so I can check it off and move on to more important things.  I ask myself what are those “more important things” other than teaching my children the Word of God and discipling them.  (Yes, I know I have other responsibilities, but I am not referring to those times.)  I have realized that I have become like Martha as I teach my children, when in my heart I want to be like Mary, peaceful and calm.  I want to slow down and choose “that good part” for my children.  I want to pour things of eternity into their hearts and I want them to be filled with Jesus.  I don’t want to become anxious thinking that I have not done enough for them, that’s probably how Martha would have responded.  “And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.”  Luke 10:41  
May we be like Mary, choosing “that good part” when we teach, disciple and spend time with our children.                                    

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pressing Forward and Forgetting What's Behind

I just love reading through the book of Philippians because I am always so encouraged by what the Apostle Paul writes. The man was so real and straight forward. Not only did Paul have a past, but he also had a bad reputation and I would not be surprised if he felt a little embarrassed by it, seeing how he was known in the land for killing Christians; at least until his life was transformed on the road to Damascus! He, himself went through so many trials and persecutions that I think many believers can easily identify with him as they too face difficult times or circumstances. Yet, in spite of all that Paul had gone through, he always kept his eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of his faith. At this time in your homeschooling year, I hope you too will find encouragement by what he writes in the book of Philippians, chapter 3, verses 12-13, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” As the end of the school year is approaching I am sure you will look back and see your failures or perhaps your childrens' failures and become defeated in your journey; but remember that is something that the Enemy would like you to always feel as you homeschool your children. Yet, that is not what our gracious and loving Father sees in you, His precious daughter. What God sees is a woman who is living a life of self-sacrifice as you spend your days serving your husband, training your children and teaching them the things of the Lord, along with preparing them for a future of service unto the King of Kings. He sees you having the right heart attitude as you spend your days in the mundane, the day in and day out, a thankless job and sometimes what seems like no production of fruit, nor comprehension of the basic concepts that your kids will need in order to get through life. He sees you and He knows your fears and concerns. He knows what you battle through. He knows what you struggle with and what your children struggle with. Be encouraged to know that you are not alone in your thoughts, none of us have attained perfection in our homeschooling. You may look back and see where you should have used a different curriculum, where you could have spent more time on teaching the basics to your children or perhaps where you could have put forth more effort in training your kid’s character. Well, I have a saying, “Should’a, Would’a, Could’a”! God gives everyone a choice in how they are going to handle things. Paul had a choice too, he knew he was not perfect, so instead of lamenting on his failures, he “pressed on”. He did not use an excuse like, “Gee Lord, how can I bring the Gospel message to your people when I am known for killing them? Instead of complaining about his past decisions, he chose to “reach forward to those things which are ahead”. Do I think that Paul had regret from his past decisions? Absolutely, he was, after all, human! Just like you may have some regrets for the decisions you have made this past year, don’t let those things keep you from looking forward to next year. You are building God’s kingdom one day at a day with the little disciples that He has entrusted in your care. You have done your best to be faithful in this journey, something which is not always an easy task! So, have the mindset that Paul had when he penned the following: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Friday, April 2, 2010

Embracing Life's Disruptions

I am sure all of us had the best laid plans as we started off our school year.  We prayerfully considered the curriculum choices that we made over the summer.  We felt confident that our children would love the topics we were going to teach them and we found new tools to help them in a subject they were struggling in.  The new pencils,  glue sticks and books were purchased for them so they would excel.  We were ready for a new school year and this year was going to be different because we were better prepared and had a better schedule to follow.  Yet, sometimes things do not go according to our plans, because God has a different plan.
            I am a planner and I love order.  I love to write things down in my calendar and school notebook and check each box off as the task or subject is completed.  When my plans come to fruition, I feel like it was a good day because of what I had accomplished.  Then of course I have had days that do not go according to ‘my’ plan.  I am sure every homeschool mom has had those days too.  Because my day has not gone the way it should, I usually consider it a ‘bad day’.  As I look back over this year, I would classify much of it as a ‘bad year’, according to my ways.   However, according to the LORD, He has a different view point.  “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.”  Isaiah 55:8 (NKJV)  I love the New Living Translation of this verse, "My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  Isaiah 55:8  That verse just soothes my weary, fretful, “Am I doing enough”, homeschooling mom’s soul!   
We have all had bad days that did not go according to our plans.  Days when we have overslept.  Days when an illness strikes.  Days when a baby or toddler is constantly interrupting a school day.  Days when our schedules have been flipped upside down due to a disruption.  Yet, sometimes, those disruptions are exactly what God had in mind when He said in His word, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  Proverbs 16:9             
             God, in His infinite wisdom, brings about changes or ‘disruptions’ into our day.  Now, not all disruptions are from the Lord, however, some definitely are.  I am currently learning to be sensitive to, and recognize when, God has brought about a disruption into mine and my children’s day.  I still do everything I can to limit disruptions to our daily schedule, but sometimes they are unavoidable.  Though I have chosen what I prayerfully felt was the best curriculum choice for my children, there have been days when the LORD had chosen for them to learn about something other than the topic of ‘birds’ for that particular day.  Maybe he wanted them to learn about what cancer is because of what their grandma is going through or perhaps He wanted them to learn about serving and loving an enemy, or what it means when Daddy needs to find a new job, etc.  You get my point and can fill in the blank with your own ‘disruption’.
            As the school year is coming close to an end, I encourage you to embrace the so-called ‘bad days’ that the LORD has brought into your life.  Change your perspective from bad to good.  Is God’s hand upon this situation?  Learn to discern whether it is of the LORD or from the Enemy?  How can you use the situation to teach your children more about the things of the LORD while you are altering your schedule?  Be creative and do not give up in your thinking.  God is not surprised by the change in your plans.  He either sifted it through His hands and passed the ‘disruption’ down to you or He has allowed it to happen.
            As homeschooling moms, I think we feel easily crushed when we are constantly off our schedule or behind in our lesson plans.  That thought process will quickly snowball into a new way of thinking and questioning of our homeschooling abilities and/or perhaps our commitment to continue to homeschool our children in the future.  If this is where your mind is today, I implore you to go back to the Word of God and seek out the Scriptures that convicted you to homeschool in the first place.  Let God speak His truth into you heart and mind so you don’t feel defeated and attacked by the Enemy when you are experiencing a ‘bad day’. 
            Change can typically bring growth.   Just because our children are not learning a subject from a book at that moment, does not mean they are not learning and growing.  Don’t lose heart about the current situation your school year has been in, press on and do your best to get back on to your schedule, but  when God brings a disruption,  embrace it, for it might even draw you  and  your  children closer to the Lord.  “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.  Psalm 18:30

Thursday, April 1, 2010

As For Me and My Treehouse, We Will Serve the Lord

As a parent, the daily example of our attitudes and actions speak volumes to the shaping of our children’s character.  Our kids learn so much of who our Heavenly Father is by the relationship WE have with our Lord.  I am sure you have heard of the popular saying, “more is caught, than taught”.  I often think of how Jesus taught his disciples as he just spent time hanging out with them, walking with them, sitting in a boat with them and finally, showing them His ultimate love and sacrifice as He went to the Cross.  He is the Great Teacher.  In the book of Matthew, chapter 10, Jesus is giving his disciples authority to cast out demons, heal the sick and instructions on how to go out to preach the Gospel.  He gives his boys a list of do’s and don’ts and then He says in verse 24, A student is not greater than the teacher.”  Of course the disciples are the students in this verse and Jesus is the teacher.  Jesus goes on to say in the chapter that it is because of the teacher that the students will become persecuted.  In other words, the student is taking on the characteristics of the teacher.  The same premise applies to our lives as we are the student and Jesus is our Teacher.  Let’s go one more step further, we are the teacher and our children are the students.  They will take on our characteristics, sometimes good and sometimes bad! 
There are several items in our home with the popular scripture verse, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15  This verse has not been something that I have purposefully sat down and taught  to my children.  They have just seen it displayed in their surroundings ever since they were babies.  As they have grown older and have become capable of reading and comprehending this scripture, I am amazed by how they have applied it to their own little lives as they have watched how their father and I live what we believe no matter how difficult life may become.  Let me share with you a few recent examples of how my teaching-conduct impacted the lives of my student-children, for both the positive and the negative.
Our family has recently moved from my dream home.   When we purchased this home, I envisioned having our children growing up in it and then some day Lord willing, having our future daughter-in-laws and  grandchildren in it for family gatherings and holiday celebrations.  There were plans for the home to be used for ministry and of course plans to grow old together with my husband in it.  That was my plan for our family’s future and the dream was shattered.  However, as hard and painful as it was to go through, my vision was, and still is, at times shortsighted, because God had a better plan for our family.  As we endured this financial trial for several years, we had a choice in our attitudes and actions, we could complain about our situation or accept that God had something different and better in mind for us.  By the way, God is ALWAYS smarter than we are, because He is the Teacher and we are the student! 
Anyways, as we signed a lease agreement for our rental home, the Landlord asked us how the kids were handling the loss of the home, and in my mind, I found that to be an odd question.  The reason being is the last few years we have been preparing our children that at some point, Jesus will move us to a different home.  What we did not do is teach our children to throw a tantrum when things don’t go our way and we did not show our children to doubt God and be consumed with fear and anxiety of what our life would be like.  We were teaching the young disciples to have faith in a Great God no matter how things do not go according to our plans. 
So, this is what my older son caught in the midst of this trial.  He embraced the situation with child-like faith and saw something good.  He is so very excited to move to this new home because there are giant trees in the backyard and he has always wanted to build a treehouse!  Later that evening he came home and wrote in his finest penmanship, “As for me and my treehose, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15  Yes, he spelt hose, instead of house!  After seeing what he wrote for the first time, I saw such excitement in his heart for the Lord.  Now, of course there was that twinge in my mind for the misspelling of the word ‘house’, but I realized that his heart was right and I just gently taught him the correct spelling of the word.  As the Enemy continually attacks me for not teaching my son well enough because he could not spell the word correctly, the Lord gently reminds me of my son’s growing, godly character which will prove far more valuable in life.
Now for the negative example of me as a teacher...after the Lord blessed us with the wonderful gift of this rental home, I decided to act like an ungrateful child who did not appreciate the gift rather than being content and thankful for it.  I referred to the house as if it were a “pig with lipstick”, in other words, it was nice in a few places, but overall, it was like a pig!  My younger son caught on to this negative attitude and he informed my husband that he did not want to move from our current home because the new one was crummy!  I don’t think I will be receiving the ‘Teacher of the Year’ Award for that example!   Needless to say, he learned the negative attitude from his teacher.
Your children’s understanding of the Lord is what they see in you and what you teach them.  They are always watching, perhaps not very intentionally, but watching none the less.  So, you always have a choice in any and all situations that you are in, you could have faith and be thankful for all that God is doing in your life or you could throw a tantrum, whine and complain, be fearful and full of anxiety and teach your children those attitudes just as well. 
My hope and prayer for you and your family is that you do the best you can to be a reflection of your Heavenly Father to your children, it is through that growing process that you will become like The Great Teacher and your students will become like Him as well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Christian Homeschooling...Satan's New Stronghold

By Eric Engle
            The other day I was considering Christian homeschooling and the significance of it in our homes and our society.  Why do we homeschool?  To protect our children from the world’s evil influences, to pull them out of the low academic standards of the public school system, to keep them from being bullied and to instill good moral values; all of which are great reasons.  As we look down the road several years from now, who wouldn’t be pleased with a son or daughter who received high grades, was protected from emotional and physical harm and did not get involved with the world’s garbage, plus they had a very high moral standard?  Employers love this well rounded, well taught employee.  Grandparents love this well adjusted, well mannered young person.  Satan is especially pleased with these accomplishments, because the more we esteem these attributes, the less we have need for the Savior.  When Satan tempted Eve in the garden he twisted the Word of God just slightly to stumble her.  Not a complete lie, just a slight move from the center of God’s Word.  Was she paying attention?  Or was she consumed with peripheral issues to miss the heart of God’s word?  Satan’s best tactic is to get us close enough to the truth that we feel comfortable and safe enough to miss the true message where God is alive in our hearts and truly the King of kings and Lord of lords.
            There are times that I have mislabeled a Mormon as a Christian, thinking they may be a believer because of their moral standards, ethics, and demeanor.  Do they look that much like a Christian that at first glance it’s hard to tell the difference?  Or have we adopted the world’s standard of what a Christian should look like, that it’s hard to differentiate between darkness and light?  What are we teaching our children?  When I tell someone in the world that we homeschool, they say “that’s great”, stating some of the reasons mentioned above.  I justify in my heart that those are great reasons.  But who am I fooling?  Only myself.  Although I want my children to get good grades, be protected, and have good character, those are poor reasons to homeschool if I am missing the primary focus of FIRST training my children to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30  Because if they learn that… and live it out loud for the Lord, there will be no mistaking who they are, and more importantly “whose they are”.
            “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 1 Cor 3:11-13
            So why do you homeschool?  Or better yet…Whom do you homeschool for?