Redeeming the Time

Redeeming the TimeThe last time my wife asked me to guest-post, I wrote a brief description of homeschooling from a father’s perspective (well, from this father’s perspective, in any case). This time I was asked to write about the importance of fathers in the homeschool process, and I’m primarily addressing men here. Because it’s such a vast subject encompassing so many aspects, I’ve chosen to begin on one particular aspect: Time         

…For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.
– James 4:14

The older you get, the more you realize how short life really is, and you realize how little time you have to do all the things you’d like to do. Let me say right now that if you spend all of your time trying to fulfill some “bucket list” you’ll probably miss out on the important relationships that really matter. No man on his death-bed has regrets about never having had a chance to sky dive. What a dying man inevitably regrets is all the time wasted on useless things while neglecting his family. If there’s only one point I can get across to husbands and fathers is that you need to be attending to your relationship with your family. If that means you miss a football game or time on the golf course, so be it. Better to miss a few meaningless pursuits than to come home one day and find that your children have grown and are gone, and you missed out on the whole thing.

Work – Let’s face it, guys need to work. Given the state of the economy, a man’s got to do whatever it takes to make ends meet. This may eat up most of his time, and the family just needs to understand that dad can’t always be around. My only advice to dads is that they only work as much as necessary to properly provide for their families. I won’t define “properly” here, because everyone’s circumstances are different. Suffice it to say that you shouldn’t be working more than is necessary if it means you’re neglecting your family to make a few extra bucks for that new car you’ve been wanting. Like I mentioned earlier, no man will look back on his life and regret not getting a new car. He will, however, regret not spending more time making his kids laugh. It’s the little moments we take for granted.

Labor not to be rich: cease from your own wisdom… for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward the heaven.”
– Proverbs 23:4-5

Education – So what does all of that have to do with education? It’s constantly being repeated that homeschooling is about using every opportunity to teach some lesson. This means that, as a father, your involvement in your child’s education includes every moment you spend with them, which is why I wanted to focus on the importance of time spent with your children. If you’re not spending any time with your kids, then you’re likely imparting no knowledge to them. And take note that education isn’t all about academics. It’s about teaching your kids about truth, beauty, wisdom, justice, goodness, order, and about the God who provides a rational ground for making these things intelligible in a coherent, correspondent world view.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
– Proverbs 1:7

Teaching your kids to cook, ride a bike, or play an instrument are all educational experiences. It should also be noted that the classical understanding of why we receive an education is not to get a degree so that we can go out and get a high-paying job. Rather, we educate ourselves so that we might glorify God as we live a moral, intellectually robust, winsome lives, while helping others. I’m not suggesting that a job isn’t important as well, but only observing that no certificate of degree has any value if it doesn’t correspond to having actually gained some wisdom. The world isn’t short on idiots with degrees.

Training – We’ve all heard about the social ills due to fatherless homes, so I won’t touch on that except to say that most of it is due to a lack of discipline. I won’t pretend to have this down perfectly, but dads need to be teaching their children (especially if they have a headstrong son, which I do) that their behavior has consequences. It’s better to spank your child’s bottom and teach him this lesson while he’s young, rather than him learning this lesson the hard way when he’s an adult, at which point the consequences might be permanent and more severe. Fathers who fail to teach their children the harsh reality of consequences are doing their children a great disservice.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”
– Galatians 6:7

With respect to headstrong boys, let me say that a man’s nature is to be the dominant sex, and so a headstrong boy will have a difficult time taking instruction from a woman, even if it’s his mother. He’ll rebel and protest and refuse her instruction, often to the point of disrespect. If you have such a son, you’d better be ready to discipline this child and communicate very clearly to him that you will not tolerate his treating your wife this way. You wouldn’t let another man treat your wife poorly; don’t let your own little man treat your wife poorly. You’ll also be doing his future wife a favor if you teach him now to have respect for women, so love and cherish your wife and show your son how to be a loving husband.

Leadership – Some people are natural leaders. They don’t even have to try, and yet people will look to such people to lead them. My wife is such a person. She doesn’t have to ask anyone to follow her. Other women just seem to do so. Men, on the other hand, are called to be the leaders of their home, whether or not they have any natural leadership abilities. I happen not to be a natural leader, so this role of leader isn’t easy for me. Suffice it to say, men are called to provide for and protect their families. That’s not the difficult part. What is difficult is being the spiritual leader, and here’s where most of us, including myself, come up short. Rather than wasting time lamenting this situation, let’s just say that we need to step up to the plate and begin praying with our families and leading them in devotions. We need to be the one to set the godly example. We need to be the one to encourage them when it’s time to go to church. Most importantly on this point, we need to lead by example, not by force. People can only follow you if you’re out in front. If you’re pushing them from behind, you’re driving them, not leading them. Your family is not cattle. Don’t treat them as such.

Finally, much of this may not seem related to homeschooling, but again, every aspect of your relationship with your family is a lesson taught to your children. Your wife already carries most of the academic teaching, so use what little time off you have from work to spend with your families and be the man God calls you to be, one of those roles being that of teacher to your children.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
– Deuteronomy 6:5-7

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Who Do We Represent?

Who Do We Represent?In the world of business, employers look for people with demeanor which would properly represent their companies. Big business understands that each person within a company represents the company as a whole; a poorly dressed lawyer might misrepresent the firm and a bad mannered clerk will be a turnoff for business. While homeschooling families are not subject to these same rules and regulations by any means, I can see where the same principle might apply.

In our outings, conversations, and behaviors, we need to be careful of what we represent. As Christians this is especially true as who we represent is synonymous with what we represent.

There is no dress code in our family, our children to do not have to wear a uniform. There is no ‘code of conduct’ our children are made to memorize. We do, however, have one family policy: Remember who you represent! When we leave the house for any reason (and often while we are still in it) our children are gently reminded of who and what they represent to the world.

As much as we hate to have anyone judge us, the fact is people do. For a brief moment in time people have the opportunity to view our behavior and make an assessment of our life. While their evaluation might not hold value to us, it might have a bearing on their futures. Our actions and attitudes might influence their thinking and decisions.

Are we ultimately responsible for their possible turning away, either from homeschooling or Christianity, simply because we had an off day? Of course not. The decision to homeschool or not homeschool is completely their own personal choice. A person’s belief in Christ rests solely on their own shoulders. However, if I have an opportunity to represent either, I want to do so in the best possible light. I want people to see homeschooling at its best; I want people to be encouraged by what they see and enlightened as to what this opportunity presents. More importantly, I want people to see Christ in our family. I want them to see love, grace, kindness, respect and righteousness in action.

While there will be moments when we are less than ideal, both in our learning and in our daily living, the ultimate goal is to represent our worldview in the best possible light. Before we ever reach people with our words, we reach them with our actions. What do our actions say about us?

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
~ II Corinthians 5:20

Your Turn!: What do you represent?

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Will Someone Help Me, Please?

Will Someone Help Me, Please?I had gotten myself into this mess. Needing help but not asking for it. No one else was to blame for me standing in a kitchen by my lonesome, washing dishes, staring at a dirty floor, and thinking on the multitude of tasks I still had to finish before getting to relax for the night. I wanted to scream out, “Will Someone Help Me, Please?” Instead, I stood in my kitchen stewing and that can only lead to trouble.

I do this to myself far too often. For a myriad of reasons, I allow myself to become overwhelmed by responsibility, then look for somewhere to cast the blame when I should be reorienting my thinking and asking the Lord for help.

Praying About My Perspective – I am reminded of Pastor Lusko’s words of wisdom. We should not pray for what we will not pay for. In other words, I shouldn’t pray for God to use me, then complain about feeling used. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by the cares and responsibilities of this world, this is the perfect time to pray. God knows what I can handle and how to help me move forward. I only need to reach out and ask for wisdom.

p.s. I also need to be on the lookout for those pesky messages the enemy will send my way as means of attack. He wants me to feel used, abused, and overlooked. He wants me to think of myself as undervalued; for my pride to take over and anger to take hold. Why should I give in to his foolishness and let him win?

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew – Truth be told, I often find myself in this situation because I have overstepped my bounds and gone outside of God’s will. I said, “Yes” far too often or added more to my to-do list than anyone asked of me. I need to learn to say, “No” and/or limit my tasks for a given day. I am not Superwoman.

Swallowing My Pride – Because of that Superwoman tag, I often fail to reach out due to my own silly pride. Somewhere along the line, I got it into my silly head seeking assistance was weak. I can do it on my own. This is my job, after all. If I ask for help, I’m not earning my keep. Unfortunately, I buy into this lie far too often. This is pride talking, and it needs to be quiet.

Asking For Help – Why am I in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room… by myself? I didn’t ask for help! Instead of making this a fun, family time – one where we can laugh over chores together, while making memories – I pridefully told everyone I could do this by myself. Now, my family is off enjoying a game and I’m all alone working. Together we could have had fun and gotten the job done faster. Together we could be playing after the satisfaction of cleaning up. But, it starts with me and a simple question.

If I’m feeling as if I’m overworked and needing aid, it’s more than likely because I allowed myself to fall into this trap. There is danger in thinking I can do everything by myself; that I don’t need help. It can also be a problem if I am unable to ask for help, either due to pride or embarrassment. I need to be open to receiving help, communicate my need for assistance, understand this doesn’t make me week, and graciously accept an offer of help.

Through God’s leading and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I am learning to swallow my pride and ask for support. In prayer, I will bow my head, asking to be reminded of the true heart of ministry and help to keep my eyes focused on His vision for my family. Will someone help me? Yes; if only I ask!

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
~ John 14:13-14

Your Turn!: Do you have trouble asking for help?

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Psssst… Your Tank is On Empty

2.Your_Tank_Is_On_EmptyThat fateful gauge is staring you in the face, glaring at you in an angry red, reminding you of your failure to pay attention. Anxiety begins to take over, and you fearfully look around, praying a station will magically appear before you stall on the side of the road. You’ve failed to fill your tank and you’re running low. You, my friend, are on empty. Again.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Who in their right mind would let their gas tank become so empty they are now running on fumes? But let me ask you this: Are you being filled with the Holy Spirit, or are you running on empty?

Let’s face it, we’re busy people. We get up early, fill our days with endless activity, rush around finishing errands, shove food into our mouths when we find a moment, and stay up late to get just one more thing done. It can be all too easy to push aside our need for spiritual filling, choosing to instead focus our attentions on the multitude of tasks in front of us.

Just like that silly gas tank, we need to make a point of refilling with the Word. We ought to be carving out time each and every day to allow God to speak to us, renewing our strength and filling us with His peace. When we choose to not make time with God, we slowly (sometimes not so slowly) begin to run dry. That is the real danger. Running on empty is ugly and dangerous.

Now I’m the first to admit I don’t know much about cars, but I do know this much, if we run on empty often enough, our engine starts to suffer. We start pulling up the gunk and junk which has settled to the bottom of our tank. When our tank runs out of gas, that junk starts circulating throughout our engine and can ruin our car.

As with that overworked car, our life will start to show the consequences of an empty spiritual life. We start running on our own steam, and the junk we’ve been carrying around in the bottom of our hearts starts overtaking our daily living. We become bitter, short-tempered, and act out in response. Our relationships with others start to suffer, and our ministry becomes jeopardized. Try as we might to continue pouring out to those around us, the fact is we are dry. Because we have failed to fill up, we are unable to pour out.

Unlike our car’s gas tank, which can run safely until the gauge nears quarter tank, I highly discourage allowing our spiritual life to reach that danger point. In fact, our goal is to be always leaning toward ‘FULL’; being constantly filled with the Holy Spirit, gleaning from the Word of God.

One thing I have noted, sometimes God will allow us to run on empty. He will permit us to run, and run, and run, until we hit a point that we are dry. Why does He do this? To show us how much we need Him! He will not forcefully fill us or chase us down to be filled. He will patiently wait until we hit a point that we recognize just how empty we are without Him. Then, He will fill us to overflowing.

Here’s the exciting part, God wants to fill us. He wants to have a relationship with us and renew our spirit. But He will not force Himself on us, He is a gentleman. We have to choose to spend time with Him, sitting at His feet.

I wish I could say my spiritual tank is always on ‘FULL’, but that would be a lie. On occasion, I get caught up in my own goals and activities, pushing aside much-needed fellowship with Christ. By His grace and mercy, the Lord quietly waits for me to realize just where I’m headed and prods me to remember He is waiting.

I cannot begin to explain the vast difference between doing things on my own steam and doing all things through Christ who gives me strength. On my own, I am nothing. In Christ, I have peace, grace, love, and understanding. In Christ, I am able to continue pouring out His affection to those around me, ministering to those who I come in contact with. In Christ, I am full.

“And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 13:52

Your Turn!: How full is your spiritual tank?

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Waiting For ‘Real’ Ministry to Begin

Waiting For 'Real' Ministry to BeginDo you ever feel as if you’re not moving forward in ministry? You desire to serve the Lord, but where would you find the time? There’s learning which needs to be done, a house which needs to be cleaned, meals which need fixing, and a world of responsibility sitting at your feet the moment you open your eyes each morning. My friends, if you’re waiting for the ‘real’ ministry to begin, it already has!

The ministry which surrounds us daily might not be glamorous; no one outside our immediate family may ever know our name or see the impact we make on the world around us. This does not make our ministry less real. The roles we are currently playing are vital and as real as it gets.

The Ministry of Marriage – The Lord is constantly reminding me that marriage is more than a relationship, it is a ministry. We are connected, but it is a bond which requires work and a call to serve the Lord together. Done right, our marriage will point people to God and His saving grace.

The Ministry of Parenting – We have a unique call to train and disciple the next generation of adults. Positively a full-time role in ministry. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

The Ministry of Education – As we teach our littles, we have the unique ability to reach their hearts, souls, and minds for Christ. Every lesson builds and strengthens, helping our children increase for God’s glory.

The Ministry of Friendship – We thank God for the few people He has brought into our lives who minister to us in this capacity. That girlfriend who just stops by to say hello? You just made our day. The gentleman who calls to encourage my husband and ask how His Bible study is going? Love that! Where would we be without awesome friends who take time just to ask how we’re doing, and occasionally stop in for a visit.

The Ministry of Edification – We might not have physically met, but our goal here at A Homeschool Mom is to edify everyone who reads these pages. While we’re perusing your thoughts, questions, and helpful tips, we’re often edified. Together, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we use this blogging community to edify one another, encouraging closer relationships with Christ.

Whenever I start feeling as if I’m not doing enough to serve the Lord, I remember a line from Francesca Battistelli’s song, “He Knows My Name“. It’s not important that my name be in lights. I am not living for applause. The God of the universe knows my name and loves me; just as I am, just where I am. He has me here for a reason, and He’s asking me to be faithful with what He’s given.

‘Real’ ministry is here and now. It’s not ten years down the road, it’s not ten minutes down the road. It’s right where I am. The real question is, what will I do with the ministry He’s given?

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

~ Acts 20:24

Your Turn!: Show of hands… Have you read The Ministry of Motherhood?

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Review: Home School Adventure Co., Creative Freewriting Adventure

Review: Home School Adventure Co., Creative Freewriting AdventureCreative writing is an active portion of our learning routine. Blank paper, pens, and books of any kind are an addiction. So, you can imagine, when we had the opportunity to review Home School Adventure Co.‘s Creative Freewriting Adventure, which also includes Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Editionwe were just a tad bit excited to get started.

Home School Adventure Co. was founded several years ago by a homeschool mom whose passion is to help children think, speak and write well. Their goal is to give children a better understanding of a Biblical worldview so they may be able to go forth into the world with a ready defense of the truth. Creative Freewriting Adventure, in particular, takes children on a journey exploring historical philosophers including Thales and Pythagoras, and use their imaginations on several writing adventures.

For our review, our family was given a PDF download of Creative Freewriting Adventure, which also includes Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition. These books are essentially the same, with the added element of a coloring page for each selection. While we did not make use of the coloring pages themselves during creative writing sessions, we do plan to go back and use them sometime in the near future as a review of what was covered.

While all our children are avid writers, I was particular in handing Creative Freewriting Adventure to my oldest daughter, a high school sophomore. My girl is fond of trying new curriculum and anything relating to creative writing. She was given selections three days a week, after which we would discuss and share ideas on the writing suggestions.

We found Creative Freewriting Adventure very thorough. Each selection included history on the chosen philosopher followed by a brief background on “Your Journey”, establishing the groundwork for your writing assignment. The writing assignment itself included several questions for the student to consider while writing, hinting at directions one might take during the session.

Mom appreciated the historical sections covering each philosopher. I found this interesting and of benefit. The questions posed in the “Your Assignment” portion of each selection were well thought out and helpful. Our daughter enjoyed reading the historical selections as well.

For those looking for a creative writing curriculum, Creative Freewriting Adventure would be of most benefit to children in middle school or higher. While the historical portions of each selection would be acceptable for children in younger grades, most writing assignments might be too structured for littles. Instead, this might be a perfect opportunity to make use of the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition, having littles orally dictate a loosely based story while using their imaginations to color.

Creative Freewriting Adventure is a well-organized curriculum, encouraging creativity and inspiring further study of philosophy. We look forward to reviewing each selection and making use of the lovely coloring pages included in Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition.

If you’d like to learn more about Home School Adventure Co. and Creative Freewriting Adventureor the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition, please visit them at their website and on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Homeschool Adventure Co. has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

Review Crew Disclaimer

Your Turn!: How often is creative writing introduced in your learning routine?

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How Elected Are Electives?

How Elected are Electives?When our children were little, we had the freedom to flit between interests at will. One month might find us learning ballet, another we would be watercoloring. As our children have advanced into higher levels of learning, we’ve needed to buckle down and choose classes which last an entire year. Mom thinks Latin might be an essential life skill; Pop wants the children to take piano. During all this decision-making, one has to wonder, how elected are electives for our big kids?

I remember back to when I was in high school. Electives were not chosen by the parents, we students chose our classes. You could select from a range of skills: foreign language, drama, music, art, sports, mechanics, woodshop and more. A councilor was assigned to  guide you into which choice might be best, but the decision was up to us. Should homeschooled children be given the same responsibility?

On one hand, I think it is fair to say we know a little more than our children. We have more work experience, life experience, and learning experience. We should be guiding them into which electives they might take. Part of our job, both as parents and home educators, is to lay a strong foundation and teach them to make wise choices.

On the other hand, forced electives quite possibly might kill my children’s desire to learn. Yes, foreign language is an asset. Every university in the US is telling them they need it and benefit from it. But what if they would rather take Russian instead of that Spanish class mom thinks would be more beneficial? What if they want to take coding instead of a spoken language? Hey, it counts!

Instead of forcing electives on my big kids, perhaps I need a new perspective. Together we should be praying over which classes the Lord desires them to take. As a team, we weigh the benefits of each course and the commitment needed. Then, my children need to take responsibility and make a decision.

An important life skill our big kids need to learn is decision-making. This extends beyond which type of ice cream they will eat. They need to be taking part in tough, consequential life choices which affect their future.

As my children continue to grow, I pray they would respect my opinion and hear my advice. I want what is best for them, and desire to help them succeed in life. However, as my littles grow, my responsibility needs to decrease as theirs becomes greater. When they are given a portion of that responsibility, they gain independence, confidence, and wisdom. They are learning to be adults.

“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,”
~ Proverbs 1:5

Your Turn!: Do your children choose their electives?

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Interrupting School For Activity

Interrupting School For ActivityI’m sure if my children had it their way, everyday would find us learning in the field. Often, literally. While I would love to accommodate them, the sad fact is book work needs to be done. Geometry concepts require pen to paper, and diagraming sentences doesn’t work well in the sand. We’re trying to find balance, but just how often can we keep interrupting school for activity?

We’re probably not the first family to discover this dilemma, nor will we be the last. It helps – or hurts, depending on your perspective – that we live in an area where homeschooling abounds and there is never a shortage of activities available. How do we determine which to include and how often?

In our learning routine, we try to include one outside activity per week. This is fairly easy, as our PSP has weekly activities. However, our PSP is not the only group we’re associated with. Our nature groups also meet once a week. Then there is library involvement, volunteer work at the kitten hospital, personal field trips, and more. Pretty quickly, we could be spending everyday learning in the field and getting little to no book work done. Narrowing down our choices is a challenge, a hard one. We want to do it all!

  • Which activities do you think warrant a change in schedule?
  • Do you prefer to plan these activities or be open to spontaneity?
  • How many days of the week do you spend away from book work?
  • Are certain days of the week better than others for activity?
  • Is there a time-slot you prefer for activity (mornings/afternoons)?
  • How early is too early; how late is too late?
  • How do you know when you’re too busy and need to hit the books?

Trying to find balance can be tough. Our kids would gladly drop their books for sunshine and walks by the beach any day of the week. Mom needs to rein in their adventurous natures, and lay foundations in learning. On the other hand, too much book work is also a danger. Getting outdoors is vital.

Through the leading of the Spirit, we’re making the most of both our book time and exploration of the fabulous world God has created. We’re daily inspired to make the most of our time together and enjoy this adventure called homeschooling.

“Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.”
Psalm 37:5

Your Turn!: Share your thoughts with us on how you determine when to interrupt school for activity.

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So You Think I’m Wrong? (Personal Advice on Offering Objections)

So You Think I'm Wrong? (Personal Advice on Offering Objections)What should be our inspiration for offering correction when we see someone stepping out of line? A heart to see them right with God. A desire for righteousness. If you think our family is making a wrong move, here’s some personal advice on how to offer your objections to our family’s life choices. Hint: It doesn’t involve yelling!

Before overwhelming us with a verbal attack, here are a few solid tips on how to approach us when you think we might be stepping out of line:

Pray for Us – Before approaching us, ask yourself this question, “Is this Biblical wisdom or just your humble opinion?” If the Lord is prompting you to speak to us, kindly pray about not only what you’re going to say, but how to say it. Pray for us as well, that we would receive your helpful advice as it was intended. We, too, want this discussion to go well. It starts with humility and a desire to seek the Lord in all things.

Speak With Us – Please read that again, carefully. Don’t yell at us. Don’t talk at us. Don’t talk over us. And don’t talk about us to other people. We would love to work this out and resolve the issue, but we can’t do that if we don’t speak. Nicely.

Ask Questions – Odds are you have some questions, and we’d love to answer them for you. We understand not everyone is going to agree with our choices and you may want clarity on why we’ve gone in this direction. Just ask, we love sharing why we do what we do!

Show Respect – While we appreciate your good intentions towards our family, these children are our responsibility. You don’t have to agree with our choices, but you ought to respect them. Mocking us, muttering complaints under your breath, and posting on social media is not the answer.

Believe it or not, we appreciate your advice and questions. Our goal is to constantly grow and increase in wisdom. Maybe the Lord wants to use you, and your words are His tool. However, please consider we might already be following God’s plan and doing our best to be faithful. We don’t make our choices lightly or without care. Believe it or not, a great deal of thought, time, energy, and research goes into what we do and how we do it. It might look a little odd to you, but this is a grand adventure and we take it very seriously.  

May we be inspired to not only give instruction with gentleness, but receive instruction in humility; may we direct people towards Christ and His desires, not our own personal opinions and ideals; and may we be granted strength to stand against those who violently oppose.

(Please note: We are not discussing issues of abuse today. Such difficult situations would call for immediate action, not debate. Instead, we’re referring to differences in parenting decisions such as education, discipline, health choices, and the like.)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Your Turn!: How do you handle unsolicited advice?

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When Life Throws a Curve Ball

When Life Throws a Curve BallI want routine. I like having a life plan and sticking to it as much as possible. Things just seem to flow much smoother when there is direction. On occasion, God has other plans. Every once in a while, He likes to throw me a curve ball and teach me something new.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it; to be in the middle of a well-run morning of learning, only to be stopped by sudden chaos?  Sometimes we don’t even have the opportunity of getting our day started; from the moment our eyes open, the day is already off course.

How do we deal with life’s wicked curve balls and stay focused on what’s important? How do we choose whether the detour warrants our attention or if this is a distraction to be swept aside?

Prayer – Before we do anything, we need to stop and pray! If we try tackling difficulties completely on our own, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Take a quick moment to pray, breathe, and ask for wisdom in dealing with the situation.

Evaluation – When side swiped by one of life’s problems, the next logical step would be to critique the issue. Is this something which really warrants my time or can this wait? This begs the question, though. What does warrant my time?

  • Character Training – If my kiddos are getting out of hand or being rebellious, lessons need to take a backseat. Discipleship and training need to be dealt with before my children are ready to learn.
  • Family Concerns – I do not answer our phone while we are schooling. I find this distracts my kids and throws me off track. I do look at who is calling though. The only people I answer for are immediate family. (Mostly, because I know they would only be calling at this time if it was important. They know we do most of our learning in the morning.) If they call and it’s urgent, everything else stops and we meet our family’s needs.
  • Better Lessons – Sometimes life’s curve balls have valuable lessons for our kids to learn by. If they would gain more from being ‘side tracked’ than by doing our original lesson, so be it!
  • Limited Opportunities – Every once in a while, we will get a call from a friend or family member who has an amazing opportunity to share with us, but it has to be taken advantage of right now. (Disney on Ice for free!!) When these special events pop up, we jump at the chance to participate.
  • Emergencies – This goes without saying, but, if emergencies arise, all else stops. This doesn’t happen very often, thank the Lord, but on occasion it does.

We also need to evaluate whether this is really an issue or an attack! On occasion, curve balls aren’t lessons in hiding, but a battle which needs to be fought to stay on track. Are we going to allow ourselves to be derailed and a day lost? We need to be able to identify between a genuine concern, an opportunity, and a distraction from what’s important.

Movement – After assessing the circumstances and determining our plan of attack, the next step is easy: move! We need to avoid wallowing in despair over lessons left undone. Don’t allow irritation, frustration, and anxiety to take over. All of these things distract from the new lessons to be learned and us pursuing our new goal. Instead of focusing on what wasn’t, focus on what needs to happen.

Recovery – Okay, so we’ve handled the curve ball. We made it through our detour and have to pick up the pieces we left behind. Now, there are choices to be made.

  • Forget It – Is the lesson you left behind really worth worrying about? Will it matter if you don’t do it? Some lessons and activities can be abandoned; decide if this is one and let it go.
  • Do It – While I am perfectly okay with letting things like coloring go to the wayside, abandoned; there are a few which cannot be avoided. If we had to skip something I knew was important to my kids or vital to the lesson, we reschedule it for later in the week or at the most convenient time.
  • Reduce It – Sometimes I compromise. There may be portions of a lesson I really need my children to cover, but other portions which I could easily gloss over. If it comes down to it, what I will do is reduce the amount we go back and cover. (e.g. Instead of giving my children the entire math lesson they missed, I might only have them do the work which is new to them; skipping the review sections.)

God likes to keep us on our toes, doesn’t He? He likes to give us plenty of opportunity to practice our patience, to use wisdom, and to model this for our children. When life throws us a curve ball, we need to find the exact spot to focus our strength and then attack with all our might.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
~ Romans 8:28

Your Turn!: How do you deal with life’s little detours?

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