A Toast To All the Girls: Homeschooling the Ladies

A_Toast_To_All_The_Girls

I think most of us agree, there is a significant difference between bringing up boys and bringing up young ladies. While each child is unique and has their own personality, we firmly believe in raising our children to fulfill the roles the Lord has prepared for them. Through the blessing of homeschooling, we have the unique opportunity to train up our children to fulfill their God-given roles.

“…urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Titus 2:4-5

Let’s Hit the Books

While I gravitate towards purchasing curriculum for all three girls from the same company – I really like the format/layout of the overall learning – I also tend to vary the routine and requirements for each one. One child’s strength is language arts, so more is expected of her in this area and we push her to strengthen her arithmetic skills. Another is the complete opposite. Then there’s our third, who prefers hands-on assistance in all things. I do my best to meet each where they are.

Clean Machines

Cleaning isn’t a job for only our girls, but it is more stressed in their daily routines than in our son’s. Considering our girls need to be trained in the keeping of their homes, we spend a portion of each day focusing on these skills.
Our girls have regular chore rotations each day of the week, so they become accustomed to maintaining household responsibilities on a regular basis.

It’s Your Night!

Again, cooking is not relegated to women alone, but we wish to train our girls in providing tasty meals for their families (should they marry). Thus, we spend a portion of each day in the kitchen. Some days we focus on meals themselves, other times we choose to have fun with desserts and tasty drinks.
On occasion, we also enjoy having the girls take turns being responsible for dinner. They plan, prepare and cook. Then we all enjoy. It can be tons of fun!

The Big Debate

In our home, we have never stressed college or careers, especially not with our girls. Does this mean we are against girls going to college? Not at all. Our focus has always been that our children be open to the leading of the Spirit; that they be faithful in following whichever path He lays before them. If it’s college and a career, so be it. We have just never stressed that college is a must.
That being said… What we have stressed is that, should our daughters be led to attend college and later get married and have families, they need to remember their first calling: to be keepers of their homes. How they choose to do this is between them and their husbands, through the guidance of the Lord, but keepers they are called to be. While they might like working and be good at it, the Lord has called them to a specific role and they should be faithful in fulfilling it.

It Takes All Kinds

As silly as it might seem, some people are under the impression that all women are the same. We all like wearing skirts, heels, makeup, and doing our hair. While a vast majority of us like these things, there are also some who prefer to live in jeans, wear pony tails, and go natural.
You’d think, having three girls come from the same parents, all our girls would be alike. They aren’t. And, that’s okay. Our girls are learning they each have different preferences and are learning to respect this.

Using the ’S’ Word

Here is a tough one! That dirty word most women can’t stand: Submission! Oh, yes.
Our girls are being taught the fine art of submission. They are being taught that submitting to their pop and to their future husbands doesn’t mean they are a doormat or weak (thank you, very much). It takes strength to have faith in another person, trusting they will make the best decisions on your behalf. It takes strength to let someone make decisions for your family; strength to move forward when someone asks it of you. Being submissive isn’t weakness, but a gracious act of love and respect. When we learn to see submission in the proper light, submission is a beautiful thing.

Raising girls is fun. Our home is full of tutus, dress up clothes, odd assortments of hairbows, and a growing number of shoes. With Biblical wisdom, a gentle hand, and the grace of God, we are raising our daughters to submit to the will of God and serve Him in all they do. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We’d love to know… Do your daughters like pink? Not all girls do!

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When Our Children’s Anger Feels Personal

When_Our_Children's_Anger_Feels_PersonalShe just snapped at me. Why did she snap at me? As I walked by her room, all I did was poke my head in the doorway and ask if she needed anything. Instead of the cheerful response I was hoping for, I received a scowl and a short reply. Now, I’m nursing hurt feelings and wondering why my child’s anger feels personal.

Am I the only one who takes their children’s outbursts to heart? Please tell me I’m not alone. It’s difficult enough managing feelings of guilt when I know I’ve stepped out-of-bounds, but even more of a challenge when I’m left scratching my head wondering what has gone wrong. What’s a parent to do?

We Need to Pray – First, foremost, and always. I pray for myself and how I should handle this. My child, so they are willing to hear. I pray for wisdom, to know when to speak and when to remain quiet. That the Lord’s will be done and relationships restored. Reading Scripture is also key. The Word allows God to speak to my heart and direct my steps.

Emotions Have Nothing to do With This – How I feel about this situation is not important. Yes, I am hurt, but I need to step back from the pain and evaluate the situation for what it truly is. A lesson, a spiritual battle, an opportunity to disciple my child, or a character training moment. I want the emotion to run clean through me, so there is nothing left but Christ and what He wants for our family.

This Isn’t About Us – Often, I hoist my children’s choices upon my own shoulders and this is wrong. They are their own people with freewill. While I am responsible for discipling and training my children, I cannot dictate their every move or be held accountable for their actions; they have to choose to do right. Their guilt is not my own. Instead of making this about me, I need to redirect my thinking towards drawing my children closer to the Lord and what He wants to do in their lives.

What’s Really Going On? – Poor behavior is without excuse and should be dealt with. There will be consequences for stepping out of line. But before we can determine appropriate ramifications or restore relationships, I want to understand what is happening with my child. Sometimes the action is unintentional; they were interrupted while finishing a project and acted without thinking. They are hungry or tired. Other times there are deeper issues at work. When the Lord opens the door, we communicate and start moving towards resolution.

Our Responsibility – While I am not directly accountable for my children’s poor choices, I do have a responsibility to fulfilling my role as a parent. I need to ask myself if I am discipling and training the way God has commanded, and whether or not I am being as involved as I should be. Then am I able to move forward with confidence.

I love my children. I enjoy seeing their happy faces light up as we’re having fun and learning new things. So when they are having a hard day or a tough moment it breaks my heart. Especially when they choose to take it out on me. Through the guiding of the Holy Spirit and a large dose of prayer, I’m learning to step back and remove myself from the equation. This isn’t about how I feel. What’s important is understanding my child and guiding them toward a righteous relationship with their Father.

May He be magnified and glorified in us and through us, as long as we have breath.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
~ Proverbs 15:1-4

Your Turn!: What is your favorite way of “Tying Strings” with your children?

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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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When Pop Comes Home

When Pop Comes HomeI frequently read lovely posts about preparing for Daddy’s arrival back home at the end of each day. The ladies might perhaps put on a pretty blouse, touch up their makeup, and spritz themselves with perfume. Moms are wonderful about making sure the house is straightened up, the kids are in decent order, and dinner is just about finished. I wonder though, what do those women do whose husbands are home all day?!

I find myself in this predicament and often wonder how many other women are in the same boat. My husband, generally speaking, works at home. There is no touching up makeup before he gets in the door, there is no sprucing up the house, or cleaning up of kids; he sees it all.

While we are together the bulk of every day, I would like to think there are a few things I can still do to bless him. They might not be astounding, but every little bit helps!

I make sure we are groomed. This might seem silly to some ladies; I mean sweats are clothes, right? While my husband doesn’t mind what I wear, I still prefer to get up before everyone else and get dressed. I put on “street clothes”, no sweats or pajamas. I put on just a little makeup and do my hair. I want my husband to know that I look nice for him, not just when I leave my house. Periodically I will touch up my makeup, as needed, to ensure I keep looking fresh. My kids are also trained to get up, get dressed, and be presentable.

I make sure the house is fairly decent. While messes can’t be avoided, we do try to keep things more livable. We have trained our children to keep their toys to one room or area at a time. This ensures that the mess can be cleaned up fairly quickly and if my husband walks out of his office, he is not overwhelmed by disorder.

I make sure to touch bases. While we might both occupy the same house, that doesn’t mean we are actually communicating. At various times throughout the day, I make sure to pop my head into his office and see if he needs anything. Perhaps he might like some fresh coffee, a snack, or a hug? Near the end of the day, we talk about when he would like dinner and I get busy.

When my husband does leave the house, I try to walk him out and greet him on his return. I want to be the last thing on his mind when he leaves and the first one to welcome him home.

While I don’t have the benefit of preparing our home before Pop’s return at night, I believe we are doing our best to make him feel welcomed and appreciated whenever he steps out of his office.

Your Turn!: How do you prepare for Dad at the end of each work day?

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The Purpose of Reproof

the_purpose_of_reproofI was hurt. I’m big enough to admit that. Her words had cut me to the core and I was inwardly aching. I now had two options. I could give in to my sinful nature and show her just how badly she had made me feel. Or lead her to Christ. It all depended on my purpose of reproof.

Let’s face it. Sometimes my children can be hurtful little creatures. Let me be clear, we’re not talking simple mistakes or saying things which can embarrass us. No, this is outright rebellion, disrespect, and meanness. It comes as a shock when my children step out-of-bounds. Generally, they are very pleasing and wonderful to be around. But, every once in a while…

When my children step out-of-bounds, I need to step back from the initial impact of emotion and assess the situation. How I react in this moment will either help my children draw closer to God and bring us back into a right relationship, or it will deepen the chasm. I need to understand that, just like myself, my children are still a work in progress. God is not done with them yet. Being children, they also lack maturity. If I am leaning on the grace of God in my own life, how much more should I extend grace to my children?

If my heart is for my children to feel guilty, hurt, and/or ashamed of what they did, I too need correction. It is not my job to act like the Holy Spirit in my children’s lives. It is to lead them to Christ, allowing Him to do a work in them. I cannot do this when I am more focused on my own emotions and desires than seeing them have a right relationship with God.

Yes, I am hurt. But, so are they. Acting out is merely a sign of a deeper issue. When I remove the obstacle of my emotion, asking the Lord to lead, God is able to work through me. The purpose is to restore my children to a righteous relationship with Him. Not to vent, make them feel badly, or punish.

Does this mean my children’s actions never deserve consequences? Goodness, no! Consequences can and should be given. Children need to experience the just response to disobedience. But, there is a significant difference between just discipline and me lashing out. One is righteous and good; the other hurtful. The purpose of reproof is to help draw my children near to God. If I cannot do this – or have a hard heart – it might be the moment to step back, correcting when my heart is in the right place.

To be fair, when the dust settles, often my children are shocked by their own outbursts. They know they behaved badly and regret their choices. They don’t always know why they reacted so strongly. Here is an opportunity for maturity and growth.

May the grace of God fill me, and each of us; helping to remove those pesky emotions which love to take dominion over the heart. May we lead with mercy, discipline with love, and constantly seek to draw our children closer to God.

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
~ Hebrews 12:11

Your Turn!: How are you inspired to help your children draw closer to God in moments of difficulty?

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To The Drill Sergeant Within

To_The_DrillTo the drill sergeant within my head, may you take these words to heart and put them into action.

Dear Drill,

With four little ‘cadets’ in your charge, you have a full routine of activities before you. Responsibility quickly fills your day, leaving little time for anything else. While I appreciate all you are doing and all the hard work you are putting into training up these little charges, there are a few things I wish to point out to you.

They’re Still In Training

It’s true, you have been given a huge responsibility; one which you are putting your full effort into. However, from time to time, it’s good to remind yourself these trainees are just children. They are going to stumble, fumble, and grumble on occasion. These little ones need not only strict training, but also lots of love. They need to know you are not only able to whip them into shape, but also able to be fun. They need to understand you desire respect, but offer grace. You are firm, but kind. You challenge, yet help. 

As they grow, they will need your daily assistance less and less. However, this does not mean your job will be over. Your job will move from drill to councilor. You will be expected to listen carefully, help them analyze their situations, and encourage them to move forward with confidence. 

Pick Your Battles

In your struggle to train these little people up wisely, you will come across many battles. It is key that you remember not all battles are going to be won and not all battles are yours to fight. Allow our great and powerful leader, Christ, to conquer where you are unable. Afford your charges opportunities to fight battles for themselves, gaining strength from their experiences. 

Stop beating yourself up over battles lost. Focus on the bigger picture, winning the war. 

Trust Your Leader

The Lord, Who called you to this, knows what He is doing. He has given you all you need to complete this mission. Never fear, He is constantly watching you; moment by moment. He is keeping tabs on the situation and is offering help constantly.

Put your faith in Him, knowing He will see you through; even those moments when dolling out thousands of push-ups seems the only answer. He understands your frustration, but He knows you can do this! 

Remember They’re Not Yours

While it might be tempting to think of these charges as your own, please remember they aren’t. Yes, they are in your care, but, in truth, they belong to our Commander. He has given them to you for a short time to help train, but they always have and always will belong to Him.

Train Them, But Love Them

You have been called to a unique mission. You are being asked to train, but to train out of love. Your training IS an act of love, to be sure, but, from time to time, they are also going to need physical affection; even those whose training is almost complete. Never forget to hug them, cuddle them, and show how much you care. A good drill knows there should be balance between being firm and being loving. 

Keep Up The Good Work

Finally, drill, I leave you with this. Do not give up! Your mission might seem frustrating at times. Often you might wonder if your job is really all that important. But, let me assure you, it is vital. What you are doing is of the utmost importance and you need to pursue till the end. Do not allow our enemy to deceive you into thinking you are worthless and of no value. 

One day these ‘cadets’ will be drills themselves. They will look back on this time and remember all you have taught them, putting to use all the skills you are so diligently training into them. May they see you struggle, but always rise again. May they see you move forward with confidence, kindness, and affection; knowing love is behind all you do. 

My dear drill, may the Father continue to give you strength and peace. May He fill you with His love to share with these little soldiers. May He constantly reaffirm His mission for your life, leaving you with no doubt that to this you were called.

Be Blessed,
Cristina

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” II Timothy 2:4

🔔Time Chime In: Write a short note to your ‘drill sergeant’ and share it with us!

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You’re Not My Friend

It was written all over his face. The frustration with the situation, the lack of sleep, and the need to vent. In his anger, he turned towards me and muttered, “You’re not my friend anymore.”

We aren’t perfect, any of us. As parents, part of our struggle is in teaching our children how to handle tough situations, especially when they are angry. Our personal lesson is not holding onto hurt feelings when our children choose to act out.

Hurt – Some of the words our children use can hurt us. Part of dealing with the hurt, is coming to terms with what our children said that bothered us. We need to see past the hurt to determine the truth of the matter, then help our children understand a better way to communicate without hurting others.

Disappointment – Some of our hurt is due to the knowledge our kids could have done better. We have high expectations of what they can accomplish and how they should act. We need to set aside our disappointed hopes and deal with the situation for what it is, a character issue. This isn’t about what I expected of them, but, rather, of what God wants for my child.

Pride – We not only know our kids could have done a better job, other people saw our children act out. We want to bury our heads under a thick blanket and ground, for life, the child who chose to embarrass us so terribly. Pride is our obstacle. We need to put aside our pride of being humiliated to understand there are greater issues at work. This isn’t about us and our feelings, but about our children being right with God.

How do we counter these feelings? With…

Understanding & Humility – We aren’t perfect, why do we expect our children to be? Our children need to know we relate to their issues, we’ve dealt with them ourselves, and we want to help them overcome. When our children know we care, we sympathize, we empathize, and we want them to succeed, we have a greater opportunity to reach their hearts.

Forgiveness – Be quick to pardon your children. Forgiveness is part of the healing process and restores your child back into a right relationship with the family. Bringing our children back into a right relationship with ourselves and Christ is what this is all about.

Grace & Mercy – Grace is giving gifts when it’s not deserved. Mercy is not giving punishment when it is. When our children act out, it is the perfect opportunity to share these concepts with them. Just as Christ was gracious with us, while yet sinners, we should show our children grace. Just as Christ was merciful in His punishment towards us, we could use this situation to show mercy to our children.

No family is perfect. At times, all our children go through personal struggles and trials. As parents, we need to set aside our own hurt feelings and restore our children to Christ. The goal is to raise children who seek the Lord above all else.

Time to Chime In: Personally, when my children act out, my first instinct is to ask where went wrong in my parenting. Do you struggle with this, too? In what ways do you question your parenting and what Biblical truth helps you overcome the self-doubt?

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32