10 Life Lessons from Generation Joshua and SAT’s

ten_life_lessons_from_genjNow I know November has all but come and gone, but before the title of this post sends anyone into a panic, please allow me to put your mind to rest. This month held a lot of amazing life lessons but taking college SAT’s was not one of them. No, our little family had the opportunity and blessing of attending our first Generation Joshua Student Action Team event, and we can’t stop talking about it!

Generation Joshua is an American Christian youth organization founded in 2003 that aims to encourage young people to learn about and become involved in government, history, civics, and politics. During election months throughout the year students and their parents have the opportunity to volunteer around the United States on Student Action Teams, encouraging people to get out and vote.

Earlier this month, the girls and I spent five long days working with a local campaign alongside many other homeschooling families. Days were spent running around town, knocking on doors; while evenings were spent making thousands of phone calls. It was crazy, busy, and absolutely amazing. Through it all we learned a few life lessons.

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… – There is nothing like faith in action to give you first-hand knowledge of spiritual fruit. We quickly learned the value of patience, as waiting for the right moment to move and for everyone to be ready plays a big part in election season. We learned to be joyful in harsh circumstances. Kind toward those who would abuse us. And so much more. Our week-long experience put Scripture into action, and we learned so much.

Everyone Has Limits – We had a perfect plan set in place. Then reality hit. Some of us could not run as much as others; eating lunch mid-day proved to be problematic as we got tired afterwards; and bedtime became a serious need. Our team learned to identify our own weaknesses, and then set about a plan to strengthen the group. Our limits didn’t prevent us from reaching our goals, but it did teach us to rethink how we would accomplish them.

My Kids Far Exceed My Expectations – My children never cease to amaze me. While I think they do fairly well on a day-to-day basis, there’s nothing quite like a stressful situation to bring out the worst and the best in someone. Through this event the Lord allowed me to see my children’s gift of communication, their kindness, their teamwork, and their dedication to a task. There were a few tough moments, but overall they did exceptionally well and I’ve learned not to discount their abilities.

My Children Don’t Always Need My Help – Confession. New situations tend to make me anxious. When my children are in new circumstances, I tend to over-instruct or hover. It’s true. Student Action Teams depended on trust. Trust in my children making wise decisions, sticking together, and working smarter not harder. Trust that the Lord would protect each of us while out doing the work assigned. While I don’t know that new situations will ever make me feel entirely comfortable, SAT’s were an eye opener. My kids can do so much more than I am ready for.

Competition Can Be a Powerful Motivator – Our Generation Joshua team was divided into six smaller teams, each with its own vehicle, navigation tools, and assignments. At the end of each day, teams would meet up to compare notes and see who had reached the highest goal. All in good fun, and for the benefit of our candidate, our teams quickly caught the spirit of competition; determined to reach more people than any other team. It was amazing to see these children so motivated and ready to do a good work.

We’re Most Productive When Inspired – I’ve noticed a trend in our home. When I push and cajole, my children are likely to lose interest. Quickly. On the other hand, when I am excited – when their friends are excited – the desire to move forward comes from within them and work happens naturally. It was a blessing to see our children be inspired to action and for them to care so deeply about the person they were representing.

Everyone Has a Part to Play… – But not often the same role. We would have done far worse had we all tried to do everything. Early on, we learned to appreciate each person’s unique gifts and put them to use. Some of us were awesome runners, others were fantastic navigators. We each played a vital role, but in different capacities.

Every Little Bit Helps – We can too often get caught up in serving only when it seems we will make a big impact. But who’s to say what is big? Those delivering food to call rooms were equally important to those answering phones. As were those who emptied the trash, cleaned the tables, and filled our gas tanks. Our children leaned the value in doing the smallest of jobs, and how even little things help in the biggest of ways.

God Is Ultimately in Control – Once more we were reminded that while we may lend a hand, God does the work. We might be momentarily frustrated with how some of the elections are turning but we trust He is in control.

We Loved It! – Student Action Teams are a lot of work. I won’t lie to you. But, it was an incredible blessing. We loved being there, lending a hand, meeting new people, and serving the Lord. When people ask if we would do it again, our response is an easy, “Absolutely!”

Unfortunately, November has almost come and gone. However, we’re soaking up the last few days of the month and rejoicing in the coming holiday season. While enjoying our turkey and cranberry sauce, I’m sure we’ll all be fondly remembering the blessing of serving with local homeschool friends and sharing moments of thanks for the Lord’s blessing during our trip. We learned so much, and give God the glory for each moment of our adventure.

We’re curious… Have you ever joined a Generation Joshua SAT, or something similar? We’d love to hear all about it!

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”
~ I Peter 2:13-15

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Is My Dream Dangerous?

is_my_dream_dangerousJust like Mr. Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream. It might not seem as grand as his. No one but me and God might know it exists. But it’s there. Deeply rooted in who I am, extending to every fiber of my being. My dream is a beautiful one, but potentially dangerous. For my dream, like all dreams, is not reality. And if I’m not careful, my unfulfilled dream can quickly cause a great deal of trouble.

The dream is me always smiling. I stand in my kitchen watching over my children while we homeschool happily. I am always dressed to perfection, and own a spectacular apron which personifies the glory of homemaking. There are fresh-baked cookies in the oven ready for my family to devour. We get through our lessons with little fuss, anxious to continue exploring. We play games together, cook together, and we are constantly encouraging each other.

The reality is I don’t smile as much as I probably could, or should. While I’m usually with my kiddos, there are some schools days which have us all pulling our hair out. The apron I do own is usually forgotten, and my clothes are evidence of this fact. Lessons don’t always work as planned. Particular subjects are a challenge to the day. We’re all craving cookies, but mom is on a ridiculously tight budget and can’t find five minutes to bake, even if she could find chocolate chips in the cupboard. By the time we’re done schooling, we’re all needing a few moments of space and relaxation.

While I jest, and over-exaggerate just a tad, there is nothing wrong with the dream. We all need something to aspire to. Nor is there anything horrible in our reality. We all have hard days. The danger lies in my inability to separate what I’d like to be from what God calls me to be. God is not asking me to be what anyone else thinks I ought to look like; not even myself. God calls me to be faithful.

There are days I get lost in the dream. This isn’t the life I imagined! Why can’t I seem to be the mom I want to be? Why isn’t our homeschool day as I envisioned? My day is so clouded by my dream, I fail to see the beauty in my reality. No, the day isn’t perfect, but it is mine and it is a joy. If only I would look past what I wanted and see how God has blessed.

I am sure there is a dream in each of us. A dream of what type of parent we want to be; what our marriages would look like; and how our homeschooling year would flow. Our dreams are special, ideals we are reaching towards. But in the struggle to obtain, let us rejoice in the reality in which we live.

We’re curious… What was beautiful about your day?

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”
~ I Timothy 6:6-7

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How Much Screen Time is Too Much?

how_much_screen_time_is_too_much“Mom, may I play on the iPad now?” “You know the rules. Have you completed everything on the list?” Yeah… You read that right. I have a list. It’s not a long list. It’s not a particularly hard list. But, it’s a list nonetheless. You see, I want my kids to understand something important. Technology is not the be-all and end-all of life. Using devices is fun, absolutely, but responsibility and activity really ought to come first.

How do we determine when our kids can use a device? I’m glad you asked!

Setting Boundaries

First things first, our kids need to get their day started off on the right foot. No devices before breakfast, not even on weekends. Second, during the week, our kids need to finish their learning activities and any chores we may have for them.

Once our kids are allowed to get on iPads or computers, there are also a few restrictions. I love for them to have fun, but spending all afternoon playing is just a bit too much for this mama. They are allowed to play for a designated period and then they must find something else to occupy their time. They are encouraged to go outside, play with one another, start a project, or just relax. Just because we have the blessing of a device, doesn’t mean we have to sit in front of it every waking moment.

How Much Time is Too Much Time?

If you’re looking for a fast, easy answer, you’ve come to the wrong place. Honestly, this is not a decision anyone can make on another family’s behalf. Through prayer and study of our children we have a better understanding of how much time is too much time and when to pull the plug. Sometimes literally.

I would recommend monitoring screen time though. As in all things, moderation is key. You can have too much of a good thing! One key factor is how our children start behaving in their free time. If they become unable to entertain themselves outside of devices, they are spending too much time on it. If their behavior starts to suffer from usage – throwing tantrums when asked to get off, etc. – this is also an indication that we might need to start cutting back or cutting off entirely for a period of time.

Understanding the Difference

There is a significant difference between being on a device for gaming purposes and learning purposes. Yes, both require sitting in front of a screen, but one adds significantly more wrinkles on the brain than the other. Arguments could be made that Minecraft and the like are actually helping our children to learn; I won’t debate that point. However, games like Crossy Road? Just… don’t.

Screen time for gaming purposes needs to be limited. Learning, generally speaking, has no limits. However, I reserve the right to kick my kiddos off all technology and make them get fresh air. After all, one can only sit in front of a glowing screen for so long before the brain starts to fizzle and die.

If At First You Are Confused…

Go and ask Pop! That is my fall-back. As much as I’d love to tell you we always abide by the above routine, that would be a lie. There are days our routine is completely thrown off; days when we take field trips; days when we have hospital visits; and days when they want more time on a device. When mom doesn’t know what to say, we ask Pop. He always has an answer.

I’ll be honest. If I could own the newest Apple device the minute it comes on the market, I would. I like technology. I use technology. All…the…time. However, I also understand that sitting in front of this screen all day everyday is a bad idea. Our bodies need sunshine, exercise, food, fellowship, and rest. Technology is a good thing, as long as we exercise self-control and use moderation.

We’re curious… In your opinion, how much time is too much time?

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Fulfilling Our Civic Duty

fulfilling_our_civic_duty

“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government…”
~ U.S. Constitution – Article 4 Section 4

Mid-terms are upon us and it’s time to turn our attention to the voting booth. As citizens of this constitutional republic, wherein we are blessed to participate in this experiment of self-governance, we have a civic duty to be proactive in electing representatives and voting on legislation.

As parents, not just “homeschoolers”, it’s our duty to teach our children about fulfilling their civic duties. While our children’s textbooks taught them government and civics, we thought it was time to start putting what they learned into practice. So this year I decided to include the whole family in the voting process; a practice we intend to continue, hopefully, for the rest of our lives.

Begin the Voting Process With Prayer

During the Constitutional Convention, Ben Franklin declared: “In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and by word down to future ages.”

If one of the Founding Fathers, a self-confessed deist, believed in divine intervention and called for an appeal to God based on divine scripture, certainly we who call ourselves by Christ’s name can and should do no less.

“You can’t legislate morality.”

In truth, morality is one of the few things you can legislate, and it’s important for our children to understand this. Upholding and enforcing moral principles is the main point of legislation (the other legitimate duties of government being that of adjudication and defense). Laws are passed to codify and announce to everyone that there will be a penalty for engaging in activity that violates moral principles. Thus, while there is nothing inherently wrong with driving past a pole with a red light affixed to it, it’s certainly wrong to endanger the lives of people walking or driving in the other direction, so we have rules to uphold the moral principle of not intentionally endangering others, and this principle is upheld via things like traffic-lights. We need to teach our kids that, upon examination, most laws have some underlying moral principle. The few that do not obviously require weighing other considerations.

The REAL “Voter Guide”
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

Too many people vote based on emotion (which they confuse with morality) and not via any sort of intelligent thought. This leads to much of the chaos we see today. However, we must have something to inform our deliberation, i.e., when deciding how we will vote for a candidate or laws, we need some objective standard of ethics to guide us. Given that a theistic worldview is the only one in which such an objective standard can be found, we turn to God’s word for guidance. Thus, we look at the policies of a candidate or political party or proposed legislation and see how closely all options align with Biblical principles.

Don’t Take Biased Material on Face-Value

We began by taking all of the voting materials sent to us, both the official ballots and general election guide as well as all of the junk-mail, i.e. political flyers. I passed out all of the material to everyone, and we all had a chance to read out loud the things sent to us. Needless to say the junk-mail sent out by candidates or proponents/opponents of certain legislation seriously lacked informational substance or else contained outright misinformation. The kids quickly saw how useless most of this kind of material is.

Just the Facts

After ignoring most of the junk-mail, we turned our attention to the official election material. Depending who controls the state, the names of proposed legislation and the analysis can sometimes be misleading as well. If you really, really, want to be certain what’s in a proposed bill, it’s best to read the actual text of the bill. I’ve only done this a few times with controversial laws because it can be a daunting task reading the vomit of verbose legalese used to conceal the dubious activity contained in most legislation. Certainly the kids won’t sit still to listen to me read through all of that mumbo-jumbo. So if you decide to read through a bill, do it on your own and give a brief recap to the kids so they don’t lose interest.

“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things,
to draw away disciples after them.”
~ Acts 20:30

While this verse is teaching about doctrine, it can also be applied to “Christian” churches or organizations that put out voter guides. We teach our kids not to place blind trust in such material simply because it alleges to be from a trusted source. If false teachers lie about God’s word, you can bet they’ll lie about political issues. We teach the kids to be diligent and do their homework to the best of their abilities.

Candidates for Our Republic

Again, most political mailers were not at all helpful when deciding on candidates. Usually, their political party platform is sufficient to determine their position on issues, so comparing their positions to Biblical standards is an easy enough task. One thing we impress upon our children is the Biblical principle that all of mankind are sinners and flawed individuals, so we’re not looking to elect a perfect person. Moreover, politicians will be long gone while their policies remain to wreak havoc on us and our families, so it’s best to impress upon the kids that one ought to vote based on a candidate’s policies, not the man’s flawed character. It’s those policies that will affect us for generations, not the person.

While we’re on this subject, it’s also important to impress upon our children the fallen state of the world. We can’t create heaven on earth. Any and all of our efforts will always be flawed in some way. Our choices in life, including our political choices, will be wrought with compromise of one sort or another. Often, in order to enact one law or another, it may adversely affect something else. Furthermore, electing a person who upholds one set of Biblical values may mean you have to suffer their endorsing of some unBiblical value. Few if any candidates will share every single position we hold, and even if they do so through their rhetoric, few actually do so through their practices. The point is, it will always be easy for critics to level some charge at any policy or politician, because few decisions in this life prove to be flawless or without some consequence. The guiding principle is to remain as close to God’s Word as possible and, where there are apparent conflicts of duty, seek to do the greater good.

“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
Mark 3:25

While we, the parents, will ultimately cast the vote, we let the children know that their participation mattered in how we decided to vote. It was also important to let our kids know that, since we are looking to God’s word to guide us, we should be united and of one mind, so one family member ought not to be voting contrary to another where clear moral principles are concerned. We are not voting based on personal opinions or preferences, but according to God’s will, which seeks unity.

Make This Family Event Fun

We didn’t want to turn this into a drudgery. All of the kids were allowed to speak their mind and give their opinion. We asked them to defend their positions and explain how it corresponds to Biblical principles. We highly encourage healthy and civil debate, if people differ, until a resolution can be found, again, based on God’s word.

It is our duty to not only fulfill our civic responsibility, but to pass the importance of that blessing down to our children. Through prayer, open discussion, careful research, and the study of God’s Word we’re looking to encourage our children both in their learning adventure and in becoming responsible members of the world in which they live. And, prayerfully, have a little fun along the way.

We’re curious… At what age did you begin to take an active role in civics?

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Am I A Thermometer or A Thermostat?

am_i_a_thermometerIs my thermostat in working order? I don’t mean the one on the wall of our home, adjusting the temperature in the rooms of our house. Rather my internal thermostat; the spiritual gauge which helps maintain the temperature of my heart and life. I’ve discovered something true. When my internal thermostat is placed at God’s proper setting, myself, my family, and my relationships remain in balance. Every once in a while it’s important to do a heart check and be sure everything is in working order.

What happens when our internal temperatures get too hot? We tend to boil over and spew a burning mess over all those around us. We make rash choices, blow up, and occasionally stop working all together. And when we get too cold? We freeze out those we love, making them feel unwanted. We refuse to think of others, giving them the cold shoulder and becoming self-centered.

Our thermostats can be hard to maintain if we are doing it on our own strength and fail to establish helpful “programs”. We need to rely on the Lord (John 15:5). We need to set boundaries for ourselves, knowing that when we hit a certain point a change needs to be made.

When we get too hot, we need to learn to take a walk, pray about the situation, breathe, and let things go. We can call a good friend and “let off some steam”, allowing us to vent and better get a handle on the problem. When we get too cold towards others, we need to work on building the relationship and showing our feelings. We need to think of their needs, listen carefully, and speak kindly. We need to love on them and let them love us in return.

As my children’s parent and educator, part of my job is to teach them about their own internal thermostat and how it works; to help them learn their limits and how to put programs into place which access the assistance God is so willing to provide. My job is to also example a properly operating system. Are my children witness to an out of control parent, or one who adjusts to the continual changes of the day? If I am failing to model gracious, purposefully redirection of the temperature in our homes, how can I expect anything different in my children.

We are not called to be thermometers; constantly being changed based on the mood of our homes. We are called to be thermostats; constantly maintaining to remain inline with God’s purpose. Having a balanced thermostat will keep our family unified and peaceful. We will begin to recognize when the temperatures get out of normal range and how to adjust, bringing us closer to Christ. May we rely on the Lord to keep our hearts aligned with His will, and may He give us strength to work accordingly.

We’d love to learn… How do you readjust your internal thermostat when it gets out of range?

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”
I Timothy 4:16

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Am I Provoking My Child?

am_i_provokingLife can be challenging, especially for a child. There are so many things to learn, rules to follow, and people to obey. They have seemingly little control over their own lives and can often get frustrated when things do not go their way. One of the most frustrating trials a child can face is when their own parent provokes them. Whether we mean to or not, as parents we can push our children beyond what they are able to endure.

I find it beneficial to periodically reflect on my parenting; making sure I am not the source of my child’s frustration. At least not purposefully. Here is a list of ways I’ve found might provoke my children:

  • Constant criticism and a failure to encourage
  • Double standards and/or being a hypocrite
  • Being angry and harsh
  • Lack of affection
  • Telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons
  • Comparing them to others
  • Embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
  • Lecturing them and not listening
  • Failing to be humble and asking for forgiveness
  • Micromanagement
  • Giving them a greater burden than they can bear (whether it is homeschooling work, chores, or responsibilities)

The Bible teaches that we are not to provoke our children to anger. (“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4) While this verse speaks directly to fathers, I am sure it must also apply to us moms.

Reflecting on my parenting and my relationship with my children, I am able to clearly see ways in which I am failing as a parent and ways in which I can improve. While I will constantly fail, I pray that I am getting better.

We’re curious… Which verses speak to you when dealing with this area of parenting?

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged.”
~ Colossians 3:21

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Anger Management

anger_managementBeing a kid is tough; no matter your age. You aren’t a baby, but aren’t quite able to do everything your mind can think up. Your coordination might still be developing, you’re learning new lessons and being given more responsibility. Now compound that with having not only a mom and a dad, but multiple siblings trying to help you, teach you, redirect you, and often discipline you. Even when they shouldn’t. Our children can get overwhelmed very quickly.

I can understand being upset, really I can. There are moments all of us become overwhelmed by the situation or our emotions get the better of us. What I can’t allow to happen is for this to become a habit or for our children to act out in their anger. Some healthy boundaries needed to be put in place.

While there are no fool-proof plans for helping someone overcome anger, I think there are some basic steps we can take toward reaching our goal.

Pray – Before I say a word, or attempt to work through the situation, I need to come to the Lord in prayer in order to ask for wisdom, patience, and the ability to help my child.

Understand the Problem – Until I diagnose the cause of someone’s anger, I cannot truly help them start to overcome it. I need to find the source and that will help lead us to the answer.

Walk Away From the Problem – If possible, I attempt to remove my child from the situation which is causing them to lose their cool. Sometimes just walking away for a moment helps clear the head.

Handle the Problem – It’s time to tackle the situation together. We talk, determine the best course of action, and move forward. This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage them see the problem from a different perspective – a Godly lesson, a practice in patience, etc. –  which facilitates a change of heart.

Deal with the Attitude – Sometimes the source of anger isn’t a situation, it is the heart of the person involved. There are various ways we have helped our kids deal with their attitudes: prayer, communication, time alone, and, when absolutely necessary, discipline.

Each day is a new opportunity for us to win the victory over our emotions. With every unique circumstance, we have the ability to develop a higher resistance to our own anger and choose to make the best decisions possible. It all starts with prayer and taking appropriate steps toward anger management.

We’re curious… Have any of your children struggled with anger? We’d love to hear how the Lord has given you wisdom in this area of parenting.

“’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,…”
~  Ephesians 4:26

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Do Our Children Have Personal Property?

do_our_children_have_personal_propertyUh, oh. Here it comes. My son is eagerly recalling a memory from several years ago of playtime with his siblings, and I know exactly what is going to happen next. “Mom, whatever happened to that toy?” Just as I am about to remind them the particular item in question was meant for toddlers and they are no longer two, another of my children promptly announces I have more than likely gotten rid of it; as I am want to do. Now I ask you. Why would I keep it? They hadn’t touched it for years! It seemed reasonable to remove the item in question, at least to my way of thinking. My kids, however, consider this the perfect opportunity to remind me – yet again – that this needs to stop. Some things belong to them, and they should be included in the decision to have it given away. Well, perhaps they’re right.

In a home where six people live, work, run a business, homeschool, play and sleep, space can be an issue. From time to time, it’s essential to downsize and streamline our belongings; removing items we haven’t used in ages and perhaps making room for new resources to further our family adventures. I don’t think anyone in my family would dispute these facts. No, it’s the manner in which we minimize which is in question. I have to admit, they have a point.

It made sense when the children were little that I be the one to sift through our belongings, donating what could bless others and organizing what was essential. However, the older our children get, the more it becomes evident I need to step aside and allow my children to make some of these decisions for themselves. And there are some valid reasons why.

I am a minimalist. I like the bare essentials. If I haven’t used something in a while, if the piece is not functional, or if I am just plain, old tired of it; it goes. While this might seem like a good thing – and it can be – it can also work against me. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten rid of something only to regret it six months later and curse my incessant need to minimize. Perhaps, just maybe, when it comes to my children’s things I might not be the best judge of what should stay and what should go.

My children need to learn this skill themselves. At some point, my kids need to learn the fine art of organization and minimizing. They might never pair-down to the extent I would, but neither can they rely on me to always do this for them. By purposefully setting aside time to do this as a family, they learn this skill for themselves and they have no fear something will be taken which has meaning to them.

My children have an emotional attachment. I see a bracelet my child has never worn. They see a well-loved, handmade gift from a friend. I see a doctor kit made for three-year-olds. They see a world of possibility, and childhood memories. Sometimes I don’t know which items my children have formed attachments to, and I would hate to give something away which I can never replace and has great meaning to them.

If I say it belongs to them, I need to mean what I say. How would I feel if a particular item suddenly went missing only to find it was given away without my permission? I would be hurt. My children are no different! Once something belongs to my children – whether bought or given – it belongs to them. Not me. I need to respect their right to keep that item or even get rid of it. It’s theirs. Personal property needs to be acknowledged.

It is essential to downsize from time to time. But these days re-organizing our home has become a group effort. Together we tackle our respective spaces and determine what absolutely must stay. I’m constantly amazed. You’d be surprised how motivated these children can be, cleaning better than I would have anticipated and often removing more than I would have dared. Items of value are stored with great care, and generosity is shown as they determine who would benefit from items they no longer need. Better yet, I don’t have to face accusations and our home is organized much faster than had I done this on my own. It’s an all-round win!

I’m curious, how do you tackle this tricky parenting choice?

“The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.”
~ Psalm 24:1

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When the Kids Know More Than We Do

when_the_kids_know_more_than_we_doIt’s happened. I knew such a time would come a time in my children’s learning adventure. I just didn’t plan for it to happen quite this soon. We have finally reached that point in life when areas of my children’s knowledge have surpassed my own.

If I’ve done things well I will begin to work myself ‘out of a job’. As a parent, especially a homeschooling parent, my goal is to raise a fully functioning adult; four of them, in fact. In raising independent learners, it was inevitable that at some point they might discover things I have yet to explore. What are parents to do when their children start to exceed their knowledge? How do we continue teaching them when they absorb facts faster than a sponge absorbs liquid?

Practice Humility

Pride is hard to overcome. We’ve spent years educating our children and they have the nerve to start telling us we’re wrong? They want to explain how things are done, when events happened, and impart newfound knowledge to us parents.

Sure, we could get upset with them for correcting our poor grammar and interrupting our lessons with more detail than we prepared. Or, we could make this a teachable moment. We need to be able to swallow our pride, accept that our children are eager to learn, and continue to teach.

Teach Humility

It’s wonderful to learn new things and impart that knowledge to others who might be interested. However, we also need to learn the right time and place to share. We need to learn how to share. While our children might have learned facts we haven’t, they still need to learn how to share with kindness, grace, gentleness, and humility.

Learning new things should not fill us with self-righteous pride and arrogance. If that is the case, you have increased your knowledge base, certainly, but have yet to increase in wisdom. Wisdom is by far the more important of the two.

Be Patient

When our children wish to share all the exciting new things they are learning, expressing their interest in the topic, they can often times exhaust our patience. We need to remember that our children are learning and loving the adventure. The surest way to kill their enthusiasm is to become frustrated with them, belittle them, or refuse to hear their thoughts. Be open to hearing them and listen with attention to what they are trying to say. You never know, you might enjoy the lesson!

Show Some Respect

There is a fine line between sharing newfound information and disrespectfully tossing around facts to belittle parents or others in authority positions. Again, the purpose of increasing in knowledge is not to lord it over another and make them feel small.

When our children share with us, and others, they need to be mindful that respect remains intact. They should respect the life experience the adult has, respect the feelings of the adult being spoken to, and respect the role the Lord has given that person in their life. Yes; they might have knowledge to share, but that doesn’t give them an excuse to be rude to those around them.

Encourage Growth

It can be uncomfortable to admit our children know more about a certain topic than we do. But, to my way of thinking, this shows what a good job we have done as parents. Our children have been well-taught; they know how to find information for themselves, comprehend what they are reading, and are motivated to keep doing so. We ought to give ourselves a pat on the back and enjoy the fact that our children are learning, and we didn’t have to do a thing. Encourage them to keep up the good work. Encourage them to keep sharing what they find with the family. Encourage their love of learning.

Continue Teaching

The fact that our kids might know a little more than we do in a particular area should not prevent us from continuing on with the remainder of their learning. If we feel out of our depth, it might be time to find other ways to assist them. However, this should not discourage us from trying our best and moving forward. Things might need to change, but it doesn’t mean we need to give up. Keep pressing forward!

More or Just Different?

I’ve teased that my kids know more than I do, but, in truth, they don’t. They might have learned a few cool, new facts. They might remember dates better than I. What they’ve learned is not more, just different. Life experience and some Godly wisdom are on my side.

If your children are avid learners, take heart; you’ve done a great job in your parenting. Do not be discouraged when your children spout facts you never knew, read more books than you can, program an app that makes your head swim, and/or cook better than you on any given day. Their increase is a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication you’ve put into their education. Be proud of what your children are accomplishing, and train them to use it wisely.

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
~ I Peter 5:5

Your Turn!: If applicable, in what area has your child surpassed you in knowledge?

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Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
– John 14:27

Let_Not_Your_HeartI am a worrier. Lord forgive me, but this is true. If our routine’s off by just a smidgen, I start to sweat. Mass amounts of responsibility sit on my shoulders and I start to wonder if I can handle it all. The kids are getting out of hand, acting out, and I start wondering if I’m failing as a parent. My choices in curriculum and social activities begin to weigh on my mind. And these are just the small worries.

If work is slow, paying bills is going to be tight because we are self-employed. My kids need glasses, clothes, food, and so much more. New laws in our state might force regulations upon us that usurp our parental authority. The list could go on.

It is in my nature to worry about everything and anything. I worry about having dinner finished at a good hour; using too much laundry soap; stretching our budget; whether or not I should have said those words to that person; and if I am ‘enough’ for the people who depend on me. I worry. I worry. I worry. This is who I am… on my own.

Ah! But that changes everything doesn’t it? What I am on my own cannot compare to what I am in Christ. In Christ, I am a new creation. (II Cor. 5:17) My old nature is constantly battling with who Christ is trying to help me become. I can easily slip back into a pattern of old habits, allowing myself to be overwhelmed by life; forgetting Who is in control. My emotions war with the Holy Spirit who is trying to comfort me, offering me peace during times of trial.

Overwhelmed by Emotion

If gone unchecked, emotions can sometimes overwhelm; clouding our minds and paralyzing us. We cannot see the truth for the feelings standing in the way. We have allowed reason to fall by the wayside and allowed our hearts to dictate our current state of mind.

And yet, we are reminded in Jeremiah 17:9 that our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We are not to be ruled by our emotions or the turning of our hearts. What we feel is not to be our focus, but, rather, what is true.

What Is True?

The truth, as we are reminded in John 14, is that we have been given a spirit of peace. Not just any peace, peace given by God Himself! We have the God-given ability to accept this peace and move forward, but we have to choose to do so. God will not force His peace upon us. He will not shove this peace down our throats. He will not beg us to take it. We must choose to accept His gift willingly.

Let Not Your Heart…

Our emotions are not going to gain control of themselves. We need to be proactive about not letting our emotions control us. We need to rely on the Lord and ask Him to remove this stress and fill us with His peace. We need to trust He is going to see us through.

This does not mean He will always meet our needs in the way we expect; sometimes He doesn’t! Christians die, go hungry, and are persecuted – we are told to expect this (John 15:20) – instead we ask that He see us through the trial and come out of this stronger. We accept that God is in control.

On my own, I am a worrier. In Christ, I am learning to have peace; peace which surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). My friends, let not your heart be troubled. Instead, accept the gift our Lord has freely given. Peace which fills our empty hearts, calms our sea of emotions, and confounds the unbeliever. May we choose to accept the gifts Christ so willingly died to give us and enter into a life well lived.

Your Turn!: When worried, I find it helps to pray and reorient my focus. What helps you when emotions seem to hold sway?

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