Friday, February 25, 2011

Childhood Salvation

I participate in a Yahoo group called Above Rubies.  One of the ladies asked about children getting saved.  Below is my response.  I just thought I'd post it here in case others might have some thoughts to share.

Neither my husband nor I were raised in a Christian home. Both of us came to the saving knowledge of our salvation as teens. I just mentioned a few things we've considered and done so far concerning our 6 year old.

First, we were determined not to give false assurance of salvation. We've seen too many children "pray for salvation" as children that then get assure over and over again by their parents of their salvation vs "making sure" own salvation (2 Peter 1:10).

So, whenever we've talked about salvation, we mention our salvation, but we've used qualifiers when talking about her such as, "If you are a Christian...," "When you accept Jesus...,"

When she did ask if she was a Christian, we just turn the question around and ask her if she was. "I don't know, if you've accept Jesus as your Savior you are."

As far as communion went, we made sure she understood that it was only for believer's and therefore, she couldn't have it unless Jesus was in her heart.

It truly is amazing to see a child grow up in a Christian home. I totally know what you're talking about. The things of God are just as normal for her as breathing... praying, Bible reading and memory, singing praise, etc. Talking about Scripture and doctrine are just a normal part of conversation.

Eventually, after hearing my husband and I talk about our salvation, she became more curious about her own. One night she asked specifically, and she prayed about it. My husband and I were excited, but again, determined that if she was sincere, it would be her assurance and not ours.

She started refering to herself as being saved. Communion was our first "test". We did not mention to her about partaking when it was time, but she told us, "I'm a Christian now, so I can have communion."

So, we are fairly sure of her salvation because of her assurances not because we are telling her.

Now, I recently heard a lady at our church give her testimony, and she made an awesome point. She was saved at 8, but as she said, outwardly, you may not notice a big difference between a saved 8 year old and a unsaved 8 year old. They're only 8. Doesn't make it less real or sincere, but it's not like they're necessarily going to have a tremendous change in lifestyle.

One thing I would suggest for you and your husband, however, is to start discussing and planning on how you want to handle things or encourage things before they happened. We discussed how we wanted to handle communion, for instance, long before she was even able to eat communion! I know kids can always throw curves that we're not expecting, but discussing some of these things not only help us know how we want to handle them, but also helps us be sure of our beliefs on the subjects as well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Butterflies Are Free (and so are a few other things).


I like free.

I have a whole other blog based on my couponing and freebie search.

I sign up for all kinds of free newsletters.

Most newsletters contain free encouragement, information and products.  Many of the ones I think best I repost right here on my blog. 

Some people say you get what you pay for.  I've got to disagree.  After all, the grace of God is a totally free gift, and yet, you can't deny it's great worth!

Now there are other things that are free that are definitely not equal to the grace of God, but are definitely worth it.  One of the newsletters I look forward to each week is the Encouraging Moments Newsletter from Moments Newsletter is sent out by Eternal Encouragement Magazine (formerly TEACH Magazine).  

Each week, the newsletter encourages and challenges me to be free to become the wife and mother God wants me to be.  Lorrie Flem is always spot on with what she shares.  How can you go wrong when you open a newsletter and come face-to-face with things like, "Marriage isn't supposed to make it happy.  It's supposed to make you married.  It's your job to make your marriage happy and satisfying."

Chick Flicks For Mom ButtonNow, she also includes a link to a new element called Chick Flicks for Mom.  It's a short video clip in which Lorrie addresses a specific topic.  Beside the great stuff she shares, it's cool to actually see the face and hear the voice behind all the great written articles.  I also think that it helps to really sense the humble attitude Lorrie expresses. 

Encouraging Moments Newsletter also shares what Lorrie's been up to on Facebook and where she will be speaking.  Don't forget the articles from others and the sale offers.  Ok, the items they offer aren't free, but are really good deals just the same!

I'm doing this review for The Gabby Moms, but regardless, I want to be honest with what I think.  I truly appreciate all the growth I'm challenged and encouraged to undertake as a result of Encouraging Moments Newsletter.  I truly have shared articles on my blog previously

I only have two very minor dislikes.  I don't like the new format, but that is just a personal opinion.  There is nothing wrong with the format, I just don't like everything listed in a single column.  It just makes it hard for someone of my...well, "maturity level" to tell where one thing ends and another begins. 

The only other thing I don't like is something you won't miss since it's no longer there.  The newsletter previously included a little post entitled "Spurgeon Speaks" which was a quote about parenting or mothering by the "Prince of Preachers" Charles Spurgeon.  I miss that.  He was such a wise, godly man.

All that said, while I get dozens of free newsletters, there are few I would make the effort to recommend.  Encouraging Moments Newsletter is one of those I'd recommend.  To start your free subscription, just go to  In the upper right corner, you will see the box to enter your email address.  Oh, and no, you won't get a lot of junk email as a result.

So, if you want something free in addition to God's grace and butterflies, sign up for your Encouraging Moments Newsletter!

I am reviewing Encouraging Moments as an official member of The Gabby Moms blogging program for Eternal Encouragement magazine.  I did not receive compensation for this post and all opinions are solely my own.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Are you *just* reading to them? GIGO.

Are you *just* reading to them? GIGO.
From the February 2011 Inspire from A Thomas Jefferson Education website.

So much has been said about the importance of reading to our kids; and those of us who do can attest that it’s a formative experience–on so many levels:



Making memories

A shared language


Reliving the past

Pity and compassion

Empathy for others


Shared stories/quotes/inside jokes

Moments of transparency and unguarded confiding

Feelings of righteous outrage and commitment to make a difference

Self discovery and desire to improve

Exploring new ideas/places/words/peoples/images

Connecting with our ancestors/predecessors

Deepened affection for family

–and so much more…

It occurred to me one day last week, when I was teaching a little lesson for a group of friends and their kids (we take weekly turns for an hour of class before the kids play together), that I do something a little more than just reading. It’s one of those things that comes so naturally that sometimes you forget to even comment on it or suggest it to others.

As I taught our little group about the the power of stories to help us “Remember”, I retold the traditional folktale of the 3 Little Pigs–not the Disney version, but the one where the piggies actually get gobbled up because their houses were not made to last. And then I did what I always do: I started to ask questions about the story.

We had a discussion about it. In technical mentoring terms, we had a “debriefing.” It took longer to discuss the story and listen to the responses from the kids and their moms than it did to tell the thing, and it could have gone on for three times as long. There is so much to talk about when you have a good quality story!

I found a version on the web that’s really close to the one I read to the kids. You can view it here. (Click on the arrows at the bottom of each illustrated panel to “turn the page”.)

Some of the things we discussed:

Why did the piggies leave their first home?

Where did the little pigs get the materials to build their houses?

Does it seem strange that the man gave away the straw/wood/bricks just because the pigs needed them and asked for them–without paying?

Do you think the man would have given away the materials if they hadn’t asked?

Who in our lives gives us what we need, just because we ask?

Why is asking an important part of that process?

How did the pigs get the houses? [They built them]

How much did they cost? [Only the cost of their labor]

So basically, they all cost the pigs the same amount; which house was the most valuable, and why?

Why would a pig ask for free materials of lesser value, and put his effort into building a house that doesn’t actually do what a house should do–protect and shelter?

Do we ever ask for things that aren’t of lasting value?

Do we ever put our effort into things that don’t serve our interests? How/What?

Did the unfortunate piggies try to avoid the wolf? Why were they unable to do so? [Because they had not prepared adequately]

Did the wise piggy try to avoid the wolf? How? [He put in extra effort to use the resources he had been freely given by the man so that the wolf wouldn't be able to enter his home. He also made plans and sacrifices in an effort to never be in the same place with the wolf when he had to leave his home.]

What happened to the foolish piggies? Does misfortune ever come to those who mean well but do less than they could?

How does this apply to us?

There are many more questions that could come from such a story. But obviously, just any old version of the story doesn’t provide such fertile thought. Some common versions are stripped of the details that make this one such a great discussion. This is why we recur to the classics. They stay around generation after generation, retelling after retelling, because they have more than a bossy moral at the end; they have myriad open questions embedded in the details.

Not all stories are created equal; not all reading times are created equal. It sort of brings to mind the computer science term, “Garbage in, garbage out.” The common acronym is: GIGO. It means, the quality of output is determined by the quality of input. How many times have we pulled out our hair in frustration because our computer (or vacuum, or car, or…) isn’t reliably doing what we need it to do? Somewhere in the programming, design, construction or planned obsolescence of the tool we were confronted with its limitations. And yet, a sleek, well designed program can really make your life a dream and simplify your work; and there’s nothing as quite so glorious as a vacuum or car that you absolutely love!
When it comes to family reading time (or personal reading, or leisure pursuits), are we choosing materials freely available to us that don’t serve our interests? Are we putting in the time and effort, but getting inferior results?

GIGO. The lesson of the 3 Pigs tells us this:

Choose the highest quality materials

Put in the extra effort to put them to work (Don’t just read; interact. Don’t just lecture; listen.)

Shun, dismiss and expel the influences that distract, compete or deceive

I think sometimes moms and dads feel overwhelmed, frustrated or disillusioned with their family’s education and have no idea that the fix could be as simple as having a family reading time with a great classic. Consider: if I had chosen a different version of the 3 Little Pigs, what kind of discussion might have ensued? How might I have spent that 30 minutes? What additional effort or floundering might I have gone to, and never had such an enriching and bonding experience with my kids and friends?

To my way of thinking, it would have been a lot harder, and a lot less fulfilling. When we’re engaged with a great classic, I don’t have to have 7 different lessons going on for 7 different kids at home. They each take from that experience something that applies to them specifically. In fact, my 18-year-old daughter happened to pass by the parlor while I was leading the 3 Pigs discussion and she stayed to take it in. It was every bit as interesting and relevant for her as it was for my neighbor’s 4 year old. She commented to me afterward that she hadn’t realized how much there was to think about in that story! My response: that’s the power of classics and mentors. GIGO. Quality in, quality out.

And in this case, quality also translates to all the wonderful feelings and experiences I listed at the beginning of this article. After such a discussion, the natural result is a spirit of harmony and productivity that never fails to lead to other wonderful projects and happy times throughout the rest of the day. Isn’t that more productive and less stressful than the alternative?

What do you think will happen to your family’s education when you input the classics and debrief with interactive listening? What will the output be? Sounds like a good time to employ the scientific method….

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Fridge Door Is Not Big Enough!

You know, there were certain aspects of teaching that were easier when I was a classroom teacher. The one I'm thinking about today is arts and crafts.  It's really fun and easy to do art and craft projects as a classroom teacher.  Make a mess.  Have a bunch of little hands help in the clean-up.  SEND HOME TO PARENTS.

That's right.  Let's make life-sized, paper-mache Napoleon Bonaparte statues!  AND THEN....take them home.  I don't have to worry about what where to put them!  Not my problem.  Figuring out what to do with your child's arts and crafts is part of the parents' responsibility in the well-rounded education I was providing their children!

Fast forward a few years to my home school.  In my determination to make sure my DD gets that "well-rounded" education and explore a variety of learning modes, I make sure to include arts and crafts.

Now, I have figured out what to do with her projects.  It's called her "portfolio."  Our state requires one.  It's a wonderful idea even if it's not required.  It gives you something tangible to show how much learning has taken place. 

Portfolios make it really easy to store. 

If it's flat, punch holes and put it in the portfolio!
That's what I did with her picture of the caterpillar.

If it's too big or 3D, then take a picture of it, journal about it, and then that gets put into the portfolio.

But here the quandary begins. What about me?  What about my artwork?

What about the cute groundhog I made for Groundhog's Day? Look at the wonderful shading!

Remember a few weeks ago I did a snow day?  Sure I displayed all her snowflakes on the front window of the house, but what about mine? 

And the lion I made was awesome!  Put a crown on him 'cause he's the king of the beasts.
Well, I have no answers.  All my projects are usually secretly treasured for awhile but usually end up in the trash.  I have, however, considered what all this means, and I wanted I'd share a few thoughts before I forget them.

First, I'm doing a good job enriching my daughter's education and life.  I try to integrate subjects, so science, Bible, and history lend themselves well to arts and crafts.  Things have greater meaning and impact when you make it real or do it yourself.  It also addresses different learning modalities and intelligences

Second, I'm attempting to set an example of striving for our best.  Do I criticize her lion for not looking as spiffy as mine?  No way! (Although, her lion was quite well done!)  But there is an issue if a decent attempt is not made. I also try to demonstrate how to "try, try, again."  Also, there are sometimes comments about how well I do things which leads to a discussion about more practice and experience (versus being old!)  I try to make sure she understands that even though we may do it differently, we should still both try to do our best.

Third, it's "quality time."  Unfortunately, I do not always stop to play checkers or Little Pet Shop with my DD when she asks.  I know it's something I should work on, but at least when we are having fun making something, I know that we are having a chance to have some "play" time.  After all, doing an art project can't really be school, can it?

Lastly, it's fun!  It's kind of like being able to re-live some of the fun of childhood.  Sure, there are all kinds of crafts and hobbies we can do as adults to help express our creativity, but is there anything as relaxing as opening that box of 64 crayons and coloring outside the lines a little bit?

So, I have a few more dust collectors or a few more recyclables.  It seems like the pluses outweigh the minuses when it comes to arts and crafts.

Monday, February 14, 2011


It constantly amazes me that defenders of the free market are expected to offer certainty and perfection while government has only to make promises and express good intentions. Many times, for instance, I’ve heard people say, 'A free market in education is a bad idea because some child somewhere might fall through the cracks,' even though in today's government school, millions of children are falling through the cracks every day.

-- Dr. Lawrence W. Reed
(1953-) President of the Foundation for Economic Education, economist, author
Source: Making the Case for Liberty Stick, The Freeman, p.791, December 1996.

A Shock to the System

This was from the February 14, 2011 edition of Teaching God's World Newsletter.

A Shock to the System

ape man evolutionBRANDYWINE, Pennsylvania--Teachers who teach that evolution is only a theory "are not teaching science." So says Francis Eberle, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

He is reacting to the results of a survey done by professors at Penn State University. The survey received responses from about a thousand public school biology teachers around the country.

About 60 percent of those teachers said they do not take a strong stand on the evolution/creation issue in their classes. Another 13 percent said they actually advocate creationism or intelligent design in class.

The rest, less than 30 percent, said they strongly teach evolution as fact.

The survey's results disturb those who deny the Creator. Dr. Eberle says teachers who don't push evolution simply "don't understand what is science."

The Penn State profs who did the survey say it's because those teachers "lack the knowledge." They say all U.S. college students preparing to be teachers should be required by law to take evolution courses.

The NSTA is the largest science teaching organization in the world. It says the reason many teachers don't strongly push evolution is because they are victims of "intimidation" and "censorship" by creationists.

The NSTA calls creationism "nonscientific" and "pseudoscience." The LiveScience news service agrees that creationism is not "evidence-based."

The survey's answers contradict the NSTA's official claim that "there is no longer a debate among scientists about whether evolution has taken place."

This is what the LORD says- . . . It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts. -- Isaiah 45:11-12

Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker. -- Isaiah 45:9

-- Norm Bomer

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Graphic Organizers

Graphic Organizers.

They didn't exist when I went to school.  Or at least, none of my teachers used them way back them.  When I was in "teacher" college, they were becoming all rage.  I took notes, but still didn't get the benefits.  Even after I started teaching in the classroom, I didn't use them much initially.  Thankfully, I've started to grow a little in the area and now, I've been using them with my daughter fairly regularly.

Basically, a graphic organizer is just a way of organizing information.  The can be a big benefit to visual learners, but also a kinesthetic learner can benefit if you allow them to fill in the diagrams themselves.  It provides a different way of seeing the information you are learning.

Generally, when I use them, I use them for science and history, but I did one for English yesterday.  What's interesting is the one website that I usually get my organizers from gives them a 5th -8th grade level!  I'm using them with my 6 year old, second grader.  One thing, however, is that I don't let her know that she's doing anything different.  To her, all second graders use a y-graph to review adverbs.  Again, don't let "the man" tell you what you can or can't use with your student. 

Here's a few examples of how I've used them.

This is a Y graph.  Since an adverb can modify 3 things, I listed one in each section and had her write a sentence using  that form of an adverb.

This is a star graph.  I had her write facts about mammals in each section.

Here is a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting amphibians and reptiles.

This is a tree diagram.  We used words and pictures to explain feudalism.

Where to find graphic organizers?  Well, to be honest, you can draw them up yourself, but I do save myself some time and effort and get mine from Enchanted Learning.  If you're not a member, however, you can only access the thumbnail of all the organizers they have.  I did find some for free here, here, and here.

Spelling City Here I Come sends out emails all the time with a variety of things offered.  This time I really looked and am pleasantly surprised.

"No cost" was what caught my eye and made me open the email.  The actual website made me stay. 

Book SpellingI think will become part of my regular arsenal.  You can enter and save your own spelling lists which makes it a really useful addition.  You can even select which definition of a word you would like to use.  There are a selection of games and activities your student can play using the words.  Some focus on the meaning and some focus on the spelling with games such as hang man, crossword, and word search.  There's 15 games all together.

I think the one my daughter spent the most time on was "audio word match."  It's basically a concentration game using the spelling words.  The audio aspect is that when you select a word you hear it spoken. 

You can even take the spelling test on the site.  I'm not going to use this right now because I want to make sure I grade spelling and not keyboarding skills. 

All this and more are available for free.  A premium membership will allow you access to more games and actually keep spelling records on the site.  I don't see that it would be a necessary expense in order to use the site productively. 

Two "downers" about the site.  First, you get a lot for free which means a lot of advertising.  It can be very easy to think you're accessing something on the site and find yourself somewhere else.  The second "downer" is that in order to review a whole spelling list, you have to play a game a few times.  Not a big deal if especially if you're not depending on the games to do all the review.

The March of a New Orthodoxy

The March of a New Orthodoxy

Volume 102, Program 27

Should homeschooling be outlawed? Some influential academic elites think so—and they have a plan. Today on Home School Heartbeat, Mike Farris reveals the agenda, in its proponents’ own words.

Mike Farris:

Kimberly Yuracko, who’s a law professor at Northwestern University, contends that there must be new government controls on parents who, quote, “want to teach against the enlightenment.”1

Catherine Ross, of George Washington Law School, declares: “. . . society need not and should not tolerate the inculcation of absolutist views that undermine toleration . . .. [T]he state can and should limit the ability of intolerant homeschoolers to inculcate hostility to difference in their children.”2

And what solution does she offer? I quote: “I propose that we add to the civics education goals of the state, including lessons on mutual respect for diverse populations and viewpoints as a mandatory curricular requirement.”3

Martha Fineman, from Emory University School of Law, goes further. She concludes: “. . . [T]he more appropriate suggestion for our current educational dilemma is that public education should be mandatory and universal.”4

In short: private education should be banned—all of it. Private schools, religious schools, homeschools.

Make no mistake about it. This is the march of a new orthodoxy. It is a competing religion. If you refuse to subscribe to this article of faith, your rights won’t be protected—and you will be persecuted.

I’m Mike Farris.


1Kimberly A. Yuracko, “Education Off the Grid: Constitutional Constraints on Homeschooling,” California Law Review 96 (February 2008): 183.

2Catherine Ross, “Fundamentalist Challenges to Core Democratic Values: Exit and Homeschooling,” William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 18 (May 2010): 1005.

3Ibid., 1008.

4Martha Albertson Fineman, “Taking Children’s Interests Seriously,” in What Is Right for Children? The Competing Paradigms of Religion and Human Rights, ed. Martha Albertson Fineman and Karen Worthington, 229-37 (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2009), 237.

How to Prevent Homeschool Burnout

How to Prevent Homeschool Burnout

Five J'sThe decision to homeschool is rarely made lightly. Often parents will do hours and hours of research about homeschooling, discuss it at length with each other, and earnestly pray for guidance before making the final decision to homeschool.
But there's another step that is just as essential to ensuring success —and preventing burnout. Finding support.
Now I'm not talking about support from your husband—that's basically a no-brainer. I'm sure we all know that having support from your husband is important.
What I mean is establishing a personal support network with other homeschoolers, preferably locally. Although homeschooling can be very enjoyable, it can also be extremely challenging. So to prevent burnout it's important to get connected with other homeschooling moms for support, whether this is your first year homeschooling or your tenth.
1. Find a local support group
To find a local group you can simply Google "homeschool support group" for your area, but the following websites might simplify your search a bit. With the popularity of homeschooling growing every year, it's likely you can find a group that's close by.
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has an excellent listing of support groups nationwide. lists some support groups.
Local HS has a clickable map to find local homeschooling groups lets you search by region.
2. Join a Yahoo!Group dedicated to homeschooling.
If you subscribe to a particular method of homeschooling such as Charlotte Mason, Ruth Beechick, Classical Method, or Unschooling, you can even find a group dedicated to issues specifically related to that method. There are even Yahoo!Groups specific to curriculum such as TruthQuest History and Apologia Elementary Science.
Members of these Yahoo!Groups post tips, questions, and suggestion related to the theme of the group, then other members respond to the post with their own comments. You are sure to find a wealth of information and support in these groups.
To find a Yahoo!Group about homeschooling or in your particular area of interest, simply visit Yahoo!Group's home page and enter whatever search term you choose (such as homeschooling, unschooling, Konos, etc.)
3. Start your own local "support" group.
Starting your own homeschool support group doesn't have to mean incorporating as a nonprofit organization. It simply means finding other homeschoolers in your area and setting up a regular time to get together.
This is something I have done in my own home town. I joined a county-wide homeschooling association, but that group didn't meet regularly since it was mainly intended for online support. But through that membership I discovered that there were dozens of homeschoolers within a five-mile radius of my house.
Using my association's online forum I was able to spread the word about my desire to start a "social group" close to my home. Numerous families expressed interest, so we started meeting together for an hour and a half once a week at our local library.
Not long afterward our group became the official homeschooling outreach for our library; we even had use of the city's community center for our meetings free of charge.
Since the main goal of our group was socialization (for both the kids and the moms), it took very little effort to organize. This group was such a blessing to my family.
4. Find some quality homeschooling blogs—then read and comment.
This is a great way to find support from veteran homeschoolers. Blogging homeschool moms are eager to share their experience with others.
Here are a few great blogs to start with. (Note that not all of them may blog solely about homeschooling.)
The Happy Housewife (Homeschools)
Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Jimmie's Collage
Homeschool Creations
Smockity Frocks
Once you get to a homeschooling blog, just take a peek in their blogroll (if they have one) and you'll likely find links to dozens more great blogs! You can also just Google "homeschool blogs" and you'll find plenty there as well.
What are some ways you've already found support in your homeschooling journey?

Monday, February 7, 2011

When All the Ducks Are In A Row

Always find great articles on Ladies Against Feminism.  Here another one by Jasmine Baucham.  This one hit me between the eyes.  It sure is easy to become a Pharisees.

Once upon a time, there were two women attending a conference.

After one of the sessions, the speaker called all of the women in attendance to bow their heads and pray. One of the women bowed her covered head, lowered her unpainted eyes, and clasped her work-worn hands in front of her:

“God, I thank you that I am not like other women, who pursued college educations, worked outside of their homes, delayed marriage or children, and walk around in power suits instead of floral dresses. I homeschool my children. I submit to my husband. I go to a family integrated church every week.”

Sound familiar?

It’s a version of one of my favorite passages of Scripture, and, yes, I took a bit of creative license. It’s much better this way:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ {Luke 18:10-12}

Here’s what I’m learning:

It’s so easy to sound like that Pharisee.

It’s so easy to feel like that Pharisee.

This article is for you, fellow Pharisee. You know who you are.

There is a reason why I live my life the way that I do. There is a reason why I am a homeschool advocate, why I live at home with my family, why I make it a point to embrace and promote biblical femininity, why I have chosen to walk the path that I have…

I want to bring glory to God in my every decision. I want to take every thought and action captive for his glory (2 Corinthians 10:5).

None of the things that Pharisee mentioned were necessarily bad things. In fact, they were very right and good things. But that Pharisee wasn’t thinking about God’s glory, and, so many times, neither am I. I’m thinking. “Whew! Thank goodness I’m not out there in the rat race like those girls.” “Thank goodness I’m not wrapped up in a bad relationship like that woman.” “Thank goodness I am not like other men…”

What I’m learning lately is not that the decisions we make are not important. They are. But I’m learning that they mean nothing when they are not offered up to the Lord as humbly as the prayer of that second man:

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ {Luke 18:13}

If our convictions do not flow from a heart that realizes daily that it is only by God’s grace that we evendesire to please him… if the choices we make come from a prideful need to exalt ourselves above others… if we cannot reach out to others with the glorious news of the gospel because we somehow feel they are beneath us… if our gospel begins to include steps that will make the hearers look more like us than like Christ…

In essence our righteousness does not exceed those empty works of the Pharisee (Matthew 5:20), and unless our hope is solely in the righteousness of Christ Jesus (Romans 3:20, 1 John 2:2)…

We are no longer walking in grace. We are offering filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We are loveless, whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

And we are not blessed, as that second man:

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. {Luke 18:14}

The good news? Well, the good news is the Good News.

We all fall woefully short in this area. The answer is neither to try to walk by the letter of the law, trusting in our own righteousness to save us… nor is it to cast aside all morals in a hedonistic free-for-all.

The answer is to proclaim and apply the gospel that quickens dead hearts and transforms lives instead of the behavior modification that turns virtue into an idol and whitewashes open tombs.

The answer is to lean on the finished work of Jesus Christ, and not on our own exertions.

The answer is in our motive. Because all of the trappings of biblical womanhood are meaningless when the woman claiming to believe in “biblical” womanhood is more concerned with her own glory than that of the Author of the Word. A heart satisfied in Christ and fully applied to following him? That’s the goal.

Oh, what a sigh of relief, and, oh, what a balm for the soul! Oh, what sweet, sweet rest we find when our joy and purpose comes from seeking Christ and his will for our lives, and sharing our love for him with others… and nothing else.

Because what else do we really need?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Am I Sheltering My Child Too Much?

Received this from back on Dec. 23.  I kept it because I thought it made some awesome points.  "Sheltering" is another "s" word that gets thrown around about homeschooling as well!

Am I Sheltering My Child Too Much?

by Gena Suarez

Do you "shelter" your children? We're finding that's a bad word in some circles. Something is creeping into the church (and even the homeschooling community), and it isn't biblical. It is an "anti-sheltering campaign" of sorts, and it's full of holes. Think about it. What does it mean to shelter? Protect. Defend. Guard. Preserve. Watch over. Shield. Safeguard. Hmmmm, so far so good, right? Sure, until "Christian pop psychology" comes in and tells us we should allow our children to taste a little of the world in order to understand it or pray for it (the kids being "salt and light" baloney in the public schools is a good example) - that we should not "over-shelter" them. Nonsense.

What's the opposite of shelter? Expose. Endanger. We parents are called to be like our Father in Heaven. He is the greatest "Shelterer" there ever was, and it is us He shelters - or watches over; protecting us, preserving us, shielding us. Is God missing something, here? Should He instead follow the advice of those (shamefully, some of these are even pastors!) who say to lay off a bit? Thankfully, the Lord is a bit wiser than that. Praise Him for this! Glory to God who knows how to parent (shelter) us perfectly!

May we as parents follow this model - His model. Let's continue to shelter (love) our children as He loves us. Dismiss the garbage that crawls in; don't buy it. We're promised there will be false teachers, liars in the church (and there are many). I want to keep my eyes focused on Christ, come what may.

By the way, someone once shared with me that when it comes to parenting, she would rather err on the side of being a little too careful/sheltering than to err on the wrong side. Paul and I agree wholeheartedly with this. We would prefer to be a tad "too" protective than to make a major mistake we can't take back once it's done. We've learned some hard lessons over the years.

And as our kids get much older, as we see the Truth in them growing as they take on their own relationship with the Lord, complete with Godly convictions, we can loosen up the reins a little. There's no set formula for this, though, so don't let anyone try and give you one. You know your children better than anyone, and can assess their maturity in the Lord best. After all, this is why you are homeschooling them (or did homeschool them through graduation), so that you can customize their education both academically, and most importantly, in God's word. But again, be careful. Do it slowly and if you're going to "go overboard", do so on the conservative end. Don't err on the wrong side.

And just to be clear, this doesn't mean to stop sheltering them. During the short time we have them, we have a responsibility to protect them and to guard them against ungodly influences and worldly displays the best we can. The wisest thing we can do right now is to soak them in God's word. Pour it into their hearts. Train them up in His ways so that as they get older and begin to leave the nest, they walk in Truth and can go out and start families, bringing their own children up (tightly to their hips) in the love and admonition of their Lord.

May your sweet children rise up and call you blessed for your faithfulness and hard work in raising them up in Christ. It's not easy, it's often thankless (for years), and you can fall into doubts, especially when you come up against a whining 14 or 16 year old who wants his way (and wants YOU out of his way). Don't give into the doubts; that's a trap. Rather, lovingly stand firm. God stands firmly beside us, sheltering us. May we do the same for our children.

"Glory to God who knows how to parent (shelter) us perfectly!"

Parents: Keep sheltering them. You are bringing them up in the love and admonition of the Lord, not in the latest "homeschool philosophy." God's word trumps any speaker! It dwarfs any author! May you be blessed as you continue to walk in obedience of His word.

Lord, thank you for sheltering me. Please never stop. "Over-shelter" if You will (if there is such a thing). Fine with me!

Over-protect, over-defend, over-guard me; please do! I'll take it all, Lord. Keep me tight to Your side. I'm safe in that place. There, I can breathe and thrive. It's where I find my hope in Christ.

For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. - Psalms 61:3

Action point: Do you need to repent to someone today for looking down on (judging) them? Have you been a thorn in another parent's side over this issue? Who have you scolded or cryptically "spoken to" about their "overbearance" in regards to their own children? It might be time to humbly pick up the phone or shoot off an email.

Parents who strongly shelter their children are to be praised, not made to feel inadequate or odd. That's the world lying to us, there. And this world is not our home.

Paul and Gena Suarez reside in Gray, Tennessee, where they homeschool(ed) their six children: Paul (20), Luke (19), Levi (16), Julia Rachel (14), Susanna Hope (3) and Chloe Abigail (10 months). They enjoy long country drives in the van while listening to books on CD, hanging out with good friends, and staying up late. By the grace of God, the Suarez family publishes The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC. Let Gena know what you thought of this article at her personal email address,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Schools to Grade Parents?

Last Thursday, CNN reported that a Florida legislator has proposed a bill that would have public school teachers issuing a grade to parents. Yes, grading the parents. HB 255 provides that “each prekindergarten through grade 3 student report card shall include a section in which the teacher grades the parental involvement as satisfactory, needs improvement, or unsatisfactory…” based on criteria set by the bill.

The whole idea of setting up public schools as overseers of parents is one more sign that American parental rights are in danger. Parents should not have to answer to government agents unless and until there is solid evidence of abuse or neglect on the part of that parent. Giving a grade to every parent clearly violates this constitutional principle.

In fact, this bill would espouse the same foundational principle as the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child: assume that all parents are bad parents, and that only government oversight can save our children from parental incompetence.

Totalitarian regimes are built on assumed guilt; the nanny state determines which citizens do or do not require their “services.” Florida’s bill would establish a system to do the same. A free nation, on the other hand, operates on the assumption of innocence until proven guilty. Parents do not need government intervention (interference) unless there is proof to the contrary. The Supreme Court has held that “historically, [the law] has recognized that natural bonds of affection lead parents to act in the best interest of their children.” Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979) Sadly, Florida’s proposed bill recognizes no such thing.

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