Dating Our Children


Every Saturday, the children and I head over to my mother-in-law’s house for a visit. When possible, I drop off three of my children (who excitedly run into the house and announce they are ready for fun and food), then the fourth child and I head on out for a date.
When on our dates, I usually allow my children to decide what they would like to do. Sometimes we go for a walk or visit antique stores. At other times, we have gone for fancy tea parties or ice cream. It doesn’t matter where we go, what matters is that we are spending time together.

I think one of the greatest joys of our “dates” is getting to know who my children are. I am often surprised by their observations and questions about life. I have learned so much
about their dreams, their fears, and their struggles. We often share how we’re each doing in life, how we could be praying for one another, and what the Lord has been teaching us through His Word. Here I can focus on just one child for that limited space of time, assuring them they matter and are remembered.

I pray that the Lord would use these days to strengthen our relationships and unify our family. That He would use these times to teach me about my children and how I can better minister to their needs. I pray my children will look back on these days fondly, remembering all the little things that really meant nothing and yet everything.

“Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.”
~ Ephesians 5:19

We’d love to know… How do you “date” your children?

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In This Alone

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24

I admit, there are times when my vision becomes skewed. It is in these moments, the Lord must remind me it is in Him alone I am satisfied.

How often do we start idolizing the things around us? Our spouses, our children, and our family can become the focus of our lives. Our jobs, our homes, and our financial status can start to define us.
What about our homeschooling? Do we boast in our ability to homeschool or to homeschool well? Has homeschooling itself become the very center of our lives, instead of the values upon which homeschooling was built? Has progress, for the sake of progress, become our goal?

May we not make an idol out of homeschooling itself. May we focus less on the act, the daily progression of lessons. Instead, let us rejoice in our children’s ability to draw closer to the Lord. May our homeschooling be a means of helping our children understand Christ better, and may we boast in this alone. That our children walk with God.

Please share with us… Take a moment to brag about what the Lord has been doing in your homeschooling. How is He working in your lives?

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Waiting for ‘Real’ Ministry to Begin

Do 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.

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 community to edify one another, encouraging closer relationships with Christ.

The World of Outside Ministry – As our children have gotten older, our ability to serve in other areas has become available. In the right context, time and place, this too is important. I want to example a well-balanced ministry for my children to see. Not a mom who is so busy she can’t take of her family and not a mom who never serves. Balance. This too ministers, trains, and educates my kids.
So we openly discuss church and community opportunities as they become available. Together we pray, list the pros and cons, and finally come to an agreement on managing our time and resources. Sometimes the ministry opportunity is only for one member of the family (e.g. A daughter helping other teens sew pillow cases for missionaries.) and other times we serve as a family. Always, the ministry opportunity is led by the Lord and intended for His glory.

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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When Our Big Summer Plans Amount to Something Small

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My children long to know what we’re doing each summer. A grand adventure seems to be called for. All of their friends will be announcing their fantastic escapades: vacations to exotic locations, camping with other friends, road trips, and more. These all sound wonderful. But with a work schedule which doesn’t let up and a budget which cannot afford such luxuries, our big summer plans usually amount to something small.

Truthfully, this breaks my heart. I’d be lying if I said I don’t want these things for our children or myself. Like most parents, I would love to give these experiences to my family and explore the world with them. Unfortunately, that’s just not where we’re at. So what can I do? Begin with prayer, and ask the Lord to lead.

Start with a Heart of Gratitude Unfulfilled desire can easily lead to a heart filled with bitterness and anger over what we don’t have. Instead, we need to choose look around us and be thankful for all we’ve been given. We have a lovely home, good food to eat, too much clothing, and plenty to keep us occupied right where we are. It’s good to have goals, but we must remember to be content with what God has given us already and be thankful for all He continually provides.

Plan for the Future If there is something important we wish to aim for, then we should also be willing to do the work needed to make it happen. Vacation trips don’t just fall in our laps. So, we’re researching, planning, and minimizing to make these happen in the future. Some of our goals are more easily attained while others might take years to accomplish. With a visual guide and plan in place, everyone becomes excited to see progress and help with cutting back.

Turn Off and Tune Out the Buzz If Instagram squares start causing discontent and Facebook posts bring us down, it might be time to remove ourselves from the action for a little while. These feeds can be lovely sources for ideas, but when inspiration becomes frustration we need a break.

Make the Most of Right Now Traveling to Europe isn’t in the cards right now, but there is plenty of opportunity for adventure all around us. Even when budgets are on a budget, there are still many ways to take advantage of the season. With a little creativity, planning, and a Google search or two, we could be having all kinds of fun.

Remember, Sometimes Small Amounts to Something Big While we’d all love grand adventures, it also helps to remember the little things in life which add up to big memories. Roasting marshmallows over a fire pit we built ourselves, sleeping in tents in the living room, homemade ice cream, free concerts, library events, kitten cuddles, and so much more. These aren’t far away adventures, to be sure, but grand none-the-less. I can’t provide exotic locations every summer – okay, not even every third summer – but I can take each day and make it memorable in its own way.

The desire for adventure remains. Through prayer, planning, and the Lord’s leading, we’re making it happen. In the mean time, I’ll continue to keep my eyes focused on what the Lord has already provided and be grateful for each new day. Because the truth is, a grand adventure awaits the moment I open my eyes. I just have to be open to the possibilities and live each day with thankfulness.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
~ I Thessalonians 5:18

We’d love to know… If you could plan one grand adventure before the summer ends, what would it be?

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Am I Really THAT Important?

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Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

Clarence, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

I don’t know of anyone whose had the pleasure of having a ‘George Bailey’ moment. Do you? You know the one I mean. A fateful night when an angel comes down to earth and shows you exactly what life would be like if you had never been born. Like George, maybe every once in a while, we could all use a reminder of just how important a role we play.

am important. You are important. What lofty positions do we hold which allow me to write these words; senator, president, prime minister, or king? Nope; we are even more important than all these.

First, assuming you are a Christian, you are a child of the One True God; a child of the King. How could you not be important, especially to Him? He created you; you were not an accident. He came to earth for you, lived as an example for you, died for you, rose again for you, and is coming again for you. Yeah… you are definitely something special.

Second, He has a plan for you. If you are following His path for your life, you are fulfilling a purpose. No matter where God called you to serve and minister, you are doing God’s work. Take joy and comfort in that.

Not everyone is going to be a super star, much less hold a government office. That doesn’t mean the role you fulfill has any less meaning or importance! Being a Christian holds so much for those who follow God’s call in their lives. Being married gives a living example of Christ’s love for the church. Parents are imparting wisdom to the next generation. Those working outside the home have the ability to minister in an even wider arena. While you might not see the benefits of your hard work now, take heart. If you are walking according to God’s purposes, you are making an impact for His kingdom.

Now that I think about it, maybe you are an ambassador after all… an ambassador for Christ, reaching out to the lost and sharing hope to those who are willing to hear. A pretty important job; don’t you think?

“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 Cor. 5:20

We’d love to know… For those of you who are Christian, share a Bible verse which encourages you in your calling. For those who aren’t Christian, and might have some questions for us, we’d love to hear from you, too!

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Helping Our Children Move Past Failure

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Some of you may have children that always seem to succeed; there is no hoop they can’t shoot and no test they can’t ace. Eventually though, both our children and ourselves have to deal with the reality of failure.

Through homeschooling my children, I have often seen them experience moments of failure. At times it is an arithmetic test, losing their self-control, or not winning a competition. It often amazes me that they put more pressure on themselves than I ever would place there. They have a goal and become distraught when their own expectations are not met. How do we show our children that it is okay to fail; that failure is merely a life lesson, helping them to grow and learn? How do we help them move on?

Congratulate them on giving it their best. One aim for my children is that they do their best, no matter the circumstance. Even when they don’t quite reach their goal, they should still be congratulated on giving it their best shot.

Let them talk it out and offer empathy. My kids often need the opportunity to vent their frustration and “talk it out”. They want to figure out where they went wrong and how they can fix the problem. There is no need for me to get upset; I simply need to listen and then offer a comforting hug.

Don’t lecture, ask questions: Instead of telling my child what they could have done and should have done, I try asking them what they would have done differently. By allowing them work the problem out for themselves, we are helping them to grow and mature.

Offer personal insight. It sometimes helps when our children know we can personally relate to their circumstance. If we can explain how we have dealt with the same struggle, it will encourage them to keep trying and eventually succeed.

Help them to keep trying. My kids need to be encouraged not to let the situation get the best of them, but to use this as a springboard. If they can’t succeed in a particular field, I help them to explore other options. No matter what, we “try, try again”.

Please let me be clear. While we firmly believe in helping our children move past failure, we do not believe in rewarding effort only. Not every child is going to receive an award; nor should they. We encourage our children to do their best with the understanding their best might not get them a physical award or reward. They are doing their best for the glory of God, and the improvement of themselves. Children who assume every effort earns them a trophy are being set up for life-long failure.

Part of growing up and maturing, is failing. The key is learning to dust ourselves off, learn from the lesson, and move on. With compassion, understanding, and a lot of love, our children can learn this important life lesson.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
~II Corinthians 12:9-10

We’d love to know… How do you help your children move on from failure?

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Do My Children Struggle with Confidence?

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Of all the subjects taught in public school, self-confidence seems to the most valued lesson. Our children need to learn to take pride in themselves! Our girls need to have self-assurance! Ironically, the lessons aren’t accomplishing quite what the schools had in mind.

It has been mentioned, once or twice, that my children do not lack in self-confidence. I have even been asked what I have done to instill this in them. Honestly, the observation took me by surprise. I never set out to teach them self-confidence; it just wasn’t on my top list of priorities.

If my children are confident, where does it come from? Let’s give that a little thought…

I think our children learn confidence from us. When we exhibit poise, our children see this and model their lives in the same pattern. Here is where we need to be careful. It can be all too easy to have confidence in the wrong things.

I do not wish to have foolish confidence, assured of things which have no value. I should also avoid over confidence, believing myself to be worthy of so much more. Instead, I wish to have confidence in Christ and the wisdom He has given. What I know, what I am capable of doing, and the assurance to proceed with decisions should all come from a solid understanding built on Christ; not of my own worth. This isn’t about me, but how much He can do through me.

When our children see our confidence in Christ and His ability to work through us, they too will develop their own sense of assurance. Their courage will come from Him with an understanding that He will see them through no matter what.

If we truly wish our children to exhibit confidence, let it be done in the right manner. Let us model a solid faith in our Lord and all that He can do through a willing servant. When they see the results, they too will become bold for Christ.

“For the LORD will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught.”

~ Proverbs 3:26

We’d love to know… What has God been teaching you in your parenting journey lately?

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The Practice of Oral Reading

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I’m sure we all encourage our children to read. Silently. But, how much time is spent on reading aloud? Oral fluency seems to be necessary for good comprehension and an enjoyable reading experience.¹ If we aren’t already doing so, adding oral reading to our homeschooling routine might be of benefit.

Since their births, we have tried to instill a love of reading in our kids. Even before they could understand, we would read to them or read in front of them. However, reading to them isn’t enough. I want to make sure that as my children are growing, they are also reading to me.

There are some great ways to encourage oral reading. We can model how to read; ideally with us reading fluently to our children. We can read often; every day I make time to read with each child and have them read to me. We can read as a group; our family could memorize a poem and say it together.

What makes a good reader? One indication they are doing well, is that they are reading with expression; they will sound happy when it is called for and sad when necessary. Another pointer is that they are reading without struggling.

If you are looking for a great way to incorporate oral reading into your homeschool learning day, look no further than your book basket! If you care to find something a little more formal, I would highly recommend McGuffey’s Eclectic ReadersThe key is to read at least once a day, preferably reading the same passage throughout the week. This might seem boring at first, but the repetition is important. Reading the same words over and over, builds fluency and helps your child become comfortable with the text. After a day or so, your child will be less anxious about the words; focusing more on expression and delivery.

When children read out loud, we can better detect their struggles and offer them positive feedback; helping them complete their learning goals. This is especially important for children who are already struggling with reading, giving them the help they need to be stronger readers. Our children’s education will flourish when they are fluent readers. Fluency may seem out of reach, but it can be achieved. With consistent practice and constant encouragement, our children will ultimately reach their goal.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

~ Joshua 1:8

 We’d love to know… Does oral fluency play a part in your homeschooling day? How do you find ways to encourage your child to read aloud?

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Give God Your Story

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If anyone had asked me to share my testimony, the story of how I came to have a relationship with Christ, I would have told you it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t until recently I fully understood just how important my story really is.

I was actually what most people would call a “good kid”. No drugs, never drank, didn’t smoke, didn’t ditch school on a regular basis – Hey, I wasn’t perfect! – and I did what I knew would please my single mom; knowing she worked doubly hard to be our everything. See what I mean? It doesn’t sound like much of a testimony does it. What could this ‘good’, little girl have to say that could be so important?

But, here’s the thing… The problem with being a ‘good’ girl is that it’s all too easy to think you actually are good. You tend to rely on your efforts, on your ability to perform, and on your good deeds. It leaves no room for the grace of God. While I would have denied I was trying to earn my way into heaven, I was certainly living as such. As a friend told me, I was missing heaven by 18 inches. The distance from my head to my heart. It wasn’t until I was encouraged to attend an apologetics class at our church that I truly began to appreciate what God had done for me. My faith became real. I realized God is alive and active, and He requires something of me; my obedience.

Now, I have never given my testimony before large crowds. I probably never will. I don’t know how many people would even find my testimony to be worth listening to. But I do know one audience to whom my testimony is vital. My children.

My children share my experienceThey are being raised in a Christian home. My children go to church. My children are being given Biblical teaching day in and day out. If they are not careful they will quickly become what I was; someone relying on their own goodness to get into heaven.

Maybe your testimony isn’t as simple as mine. Maybe the Lord has done amazing things in your life; the person you are now is far different from the person you were before you came to know Christ. Has anyone heard your story? Do your children know all that God has done in you and for you?

“But I can’t share that with my kids! There is too much; it’s too horrible; it’s too harsh.” I don’t know what your testimony is, but God does. Pray about what God has done in you. Pray about how God would have you share what He has done. Maybe He will have you share some of your story; maybe He will have you share all. Maybe He will only have you share with your family. I am not here to force you into telling your story, only asking you to consider how God could use your story to bless others and help them come to a greater understanding of His goodness.

Think of it this way. This isn’t YOUR story at all, it’s God’s. This is less about us than what God is doing in us. This is about His goodness, His grace, His mercy, and His love. It’s about taking something less than perfect and making it truly good; not good in and of itself, but positionally good in Him because of His goodness imputed to us.

When the time comes, don’t be afraid to share your story. Whether it be to the entire world, the world around you, or the little world which resides in your home; may the Lord be glorified and honored for all He has done.

“…’Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’”

~Mark 5:19

We’d love to know… Has the Lord led you to share your testimony with anyone?

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Am I Under Attack?

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The following article was written for our monthly PSP newsletter. With permission from our principal, we are sharing this with you; praying you are as blessed by the heart of his message as we were. Enjoy!

….. 

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to go ballistic? You know the kind… the kids are constantly fighting, everything you say is taken in the worst possible way, getting the basics done, even those things they normally like doing, is like pulling teeth, and then the other stuff starts: the car won’t start, family and friends alike seem to be deliberately seeking to annoy you, dinner burns, the dishwasher overflows all over the kitchen… you know the day – the day from Hell! We all have had them, and for the record, there are more to come.

It is actually very easy on a day like that, provided you take even a moment to step back and look at it altogether, to realize that the battle is on. For some reason, there are the general trials and struggles of daily living, and then there are those days when, for whatever reason, you have been ambushed by a nefarious enemy who knows how to push your buttons, and seemingly has pushed every last one of them. It’s called spiritual warfare. The Bible is not silent on this issue (thankfully), and gives us great encouragement as we receive our marching orders.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

~ Ephesian 6:11-13

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”

~ II Corinthians 10:4-5

These passages remind us that our weaponry and armor is from God, that our adversary is spiritual in nature, that our enemy is cunning, and that we can be victorious. While we are able to recognize the warfare that we engage in as such, our children, at least initially, are not. It is our duty, as good soldiers, to train the next generation of soldiers for war.

“There is no neutrality in spiritual warfare. Either one is an active combatant or an unwitting pawn.”

In Matthew 12:30 Jesus told His disciples, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” He quite clearly stated that everyone is either in one camp or the other. While outright combat is pretty easy to recognize (most people recognize getting punched in the face as an attack), there are a few things that fall into the warfare category that we would do well to consider, and prayerfully train our children properly regarding such tactics: not only how to recognize them, but also how to avoid using them on others.

Assassins: These are people that come into our lives, either long-term (family, coworkers, etc.) or for short period of time. They differ from those obvious fires that approach with guns blazing to storm our fortress in that their attacks are subtle. Their weapon of choice is usually poison, either coming with false doctrine and robbing us of the joy that our relationship with God should bring, or poisoning our hearts with discontent, gossip, slander of others, or the introduction of compromise. We should realize that this type of agent is not necessarily a deliberate assassin. It is quite possible that they can be a friend, who genuinely loves us, and does not realize that the enemy is using them to drive a dagger straight to our hearts. Teaching our children to analyze the influence that others have on them is difficult because it requires a great deal of self-evaluation along the way. Nevertheless, assassins abound, both intentional and clueless varieties.

Friendly Fire: These are the wounds we receive from our own side. In this category would be sibling rivalry (when all parties involved are believers), comments said without thinking that wound our hearts, and the myriad actions prompted by our own carnality and not-yet-dead sinful natures. Even on our worst days, we don’t wake up devising ways to hurt our family and friends (that would make us an assassin), but a believer can still accidentally discharge a loaded spiritual gun. In those times when we do so, we are usually aghast when we realize what has happened.

It is not always comfortable to ask ourselves the question, “Whose tool am I being used as right now?” but that is exactly how we must teach ourselves (and then our children) to think if we are going to avoid injuring our own backup in the fight. If we are not actively trying to promote peace and unity, it becomes very easy to become an agent of division.

Another point to consider is that this type of attack is rendered completely ineffective if we practice what we are taught in Scripture regarding forgiveness, praying for one another, and loving confrontation when necessary. Parental discipline may still be required for little Johnny when he gives in to the flesh, but siblings can choose to forgive rather than hold a grudge and seek an opportune moment to return the favor with a well-placed volley of return fire.

Double Agents: “Whose side are you on anyway?” This category is for those so given in to their own carnality that it is not easy to tell where they stand. They say they love God and want to serve Him, but their behavior swings back and forth to such a degree that it becomes easy to question their motives and feelings. They differ from those engaged in friendly fire in that there is less remorse, or even none, when confronted with their own deeds. Are they saved but really carnal, or worldly and presenting a facade (perhaps they have even deceived themselves)?

In any event, we don’t want to leave that question in the minds of others regarding our own conduct, nor do we wish for our children to be used as tools in the hand of our adversary. Teaching them the importance of self-evaluation, through the lens of God’s Word, is an important part of their own combat training as we bring them through boot camp in preparation for deployment wherever their Commanding Officer may send them.

It is our hope as parents, teachers, and solders in the army of the Lord Jesus Christ to raise up a generation of champions for the Kingdom of God. To effectively do so, we need to teach our children to not only recognize the tactic, tools, and wiles of the enemy, but also to avoid becoming his unwitting pawn against their own fellow soldiers. “Who am I a tool in the hand of right now?” is a question we all need to learn to ask ourselves more often.

Forward! Charge!

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