Out with the Old, In with the Renew

“Wives, mothers should leave the Bible teaching to their husbands.”

“Wives, mothers should let the majority of the discipline, especially spanking, be done by the father.”

“If you disagree with your husband, wait until later and pray before you say anything.”

These are examples of advice that can’t be blindly followed, if at all.

If you have heard/read these types of things, lean in real close, hear me.

“It’s a trap.”

I listened to these types of “instruction.”  I just about destroyed our home.  In the last eighteen months, I have come to realize that there was one thing from all that “teaching” that was right: Submit to your husband as to the Lord.  I found that as much as it thrown around in certain circles, it is so easily misinterpreted and taught incorrectly.  I went to the Lord in prayer. I got my answer.  To submit to my husband is to realize my husband’s strengths and weaknesses and work to make sure he doesn’t suffer loss.  Whether it be materially, spiritually, in his relationships, etc.  I am to step up and respond according to how he is to make sure our home brings all the glory to God.

My husband was a pastor’s son.  His family is filled with Christians going back centuries.  My family is just about as opposite from this as one can get.  Upon the announcement of our engagement, I was informed that I was the blessed one to have my husband want to marry me and make me a part of his wonderful family.  A few years later, I was told that many didn’t think we would make it because of my past, blah, blah, blah.  I was assured that my husband knew how to be and do it all; and they all hoped I would learn from him.  Being convinced they were right, I sought to find instruction that would show me, a “less-than” woman*, to help a “more-than” man.  Naturally, I gravitated toward “patriarchal” type of rhetoric for help. *my husband has NEVER viewed me this way, but I did.

My husband hates conflict.  He avoids.  He had to be pushed to take an active role in parenting or anything beyond working.  He keeps to himself and doesn’t know how to build relationships of any real depth or consistency.  These are definite weaknesses as a husband and father (He has heard this from me and is aware).  In “leaving it to the man.” I left our family vulnerable and should have kept doing what I had been doing–the majority of the Bible teaching and discipleship, training and discipline.  I thought I was doing what a “good Christian wife” does by waiting for my husband to “lead.”  I was not. There was a reason I was raised by a single (most of the time) mom.  I was trained to be this man’s wife.  I can do what needs to be done without taking over, unless that is what is needed.  In not helping my husband in his weaknesses because some women said “good Christian wives let their husband lead,” he was left vulnerable and so was our family.  We all “suffered loss.”

It didn’t work.  Years later, my husband and I find that to have a loving, happy family, this is not the kind of “advice” to entertain, much less follow.  My husband has to work many hours just to keep up.  He doesn’t have time to field all the needed discipleship of the children or needs at home. God is gracious.  He has helped us to see our error some time ago, but we are still working to bring healing and help to our family.  God has changed me drastically in the last eighteen months.  At the end of myself and just wanting Him for Himself, He came near and has stayed near.  I haven’t been the same since.  My husband has seen me become stronger in faith.  I am confident in what God is doing in me and our home.  I have hope.  I like myself.  After hating myself, for as long as I can remember, I realized I like who I am becoming.  It hit me.  I was in a depression for years.  I didn’t know it.  Now, I am alive and thriving.  God did it.

We are getting rid of old ways of thinking and living that do not foster growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  We are renewing what our children have missed from earlier times and adding new things to move us forward in building God’s Kingdom as He leads.  Our family and home are being renewed. The children are happier.  There is temperance.  It is beautiful.  We are blessed.

 

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Celebrate the “Hell” Out of the Holidays

I refuse to read one more bashing blog that would threaten to hijack our holidays.  Each year starting around Halloween, the articles march around the internet like a parade, making noise and droning on and on about how evil the holidays are:  They are all “pagan in origin”so we shouldn’t celebrate.  Then there is the other side:  We can take every worldly thing and make it Christian if we put Jesus on it or in it.  What is a family, who wants to just honor God in all things, to do?

I was feeling quite sarcastic when I blurted to my family that I was determined that we celebrate the “hell” right out of the holidays!  But it sure got their attention.  I had encountered a post of anti-Halloween/Holiday rhetoric and I was not “feeling it.”  Seriously, though, the Galatians in the NT were encouraged to let no man judge you according to the holy days.  What one person thinks of one day verses all days is not what the kingdom hinges on.  The foundation of God’s Kingdom is Jesus.  Any holiday we celebrate in our home should exalt Christ, period.  This can be a challenge, granted, but it is possible.  I believe.  It is possible.

As Christmas nears, I want our thoughts filled with Jesus, why He came, what He accomplished… even before He was born (John the Baptist leaped in his mother’s womb when Christ entered the room, via Mary).  Also, he is “the Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth.”  He is coming again, but let us enjoy this time of what His first coming has brought to us.

There was a time in recent memory (of our children) that I got caught up in all the holiday rhetoric and wondered about purging our holiday traditions of anything that could be construed as “unbiblical” or “secular” or “pagan.”  That was a social experimental failure!  Christmas, along with other holidays that year or so were not as enjoyable.  In attempt to make those days more “holy,” stripping away all the celebration left the day “common.”  Which in the Bible “holy” and “common” can be used as antonyms of each other.  So I actually made the holy-days less holy.  Then something happened eighteen months ago that has profoundly changed me.  I have never known Jesus as I do now.  I never knew grace as I do now.  I never knew freedom from sin as I do now.  I never knew freedom to celebrate and trust God to keep from grieving Him in the celebrating, or in just living my life, for that matter.

So this year, we had decided we will let our light shine–literally and figuratively to always welcome those who trick-or-treat.  Last month, we planned our own family celebration in addition to the extended family, instead of just one or the other.  You can never be too thankful, can you?  For Christmas, our resident light decorator, (JM, 18) bought new lights, and more, to “do his thing.”  We have lights, lights, lights–Jesus is the Light and we  are to be lights in this dark world.  Our Christmas tree is decorated with all sorts of ornaments we have collected/made over the years.   Oh, the memories!  We have hung our homemade stockings along our living room ceiling ledge with care.  Though now, some of our men are taller and keep hitting their head on the one that hangs over the hallway.  We already have gifts under the tree, for although each child drew a name of another, we have some that just want to buy gifts for everyone!  Because, after all, Jesus is for everyone, right?

This year we celebrate freedom in Christ, not just from the power of sin and death; but free to live His life –doing God’s will, bringing God glory in all we do.  The gates of Hell shall not prevail. Neither shall the holiday rhetoric that works to instill fear that we will be dragged to hell for decorating a tree to remember Jesus’ light and warm, everlasting love, even in the darkest and coldest times of life.

By all means think through celebrations, make sure God get’s the glory whatever the celebration and kick Hell out of the home and out of the holidays.  But celebrate, and celebrate much.  Christians of all people have more cause/reasons to celebrate everyday for eternity, literally, than any others!  Amen.

 

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Trimesters, Our Family’s Best Choice

This is working the best of all we have tried.  By number of years, I might be considered a veteran homeschooler.  Actually, I find I am a novice in many ways.  That is okay.  I was surviving.  Considering my situation, it was something for me to even keep going.  I won’t think about all the stuff I should know by now, but focus on what I do know and pressing toward the goal in Christ.  Planning and scheduling has been a challenge. What was going to work best?

We started out following the traditional school calendar.  This helped as my husband taught in schools then.  When  I started a home business, this schedule didn’t work.  I had to take chunks of time off to do the work as it came in.  It was sporadic and, in hindsight, undermined the structure of our home.  Feeling behind, we adopted a year-round schedule.  This became overwhelming and took us beyond burnout to vaporized.  We went back to a more traditional schedule.  We found ourselves grinding out the work and just trying to get things done.

Now, I had been praying, but I think my fears overrode what God would hint…trimesters. But that would mean only 12 weeks on content subjects (science, history, fine arts).  Science is not a favorite in our home.  The idea of being done with it for the year after 12 weeks, found favor in the eyes of all.  I made this subject the first trimester to get it done and over with.  We changed curriculum for this subject.  We purchased the 101 Series Biology and it was one of the best investments we ever made.  Even our 5-year-old was recalling things from the video, discussions, readings that amazed me.  We made it through our first trimester. After making adjustments, we did fall short on hours, so we will use our day off to read and do more experiments, activities, etc.  It wasn’t the curriculum, there was plenty to do, but with time as it was, and I lost a week from being in the hospital…

We are now in the second trimester and enjoying history: All American History, Volume 1 from Bright Ideas Press.  We cycle through their history curricula. With the four units we can spend 3 weeks on each.  Two weeks with a lesson daily, instead of weekly, then a week for unit review, family activities.  In the spring we will alternate art and music.

One adjustment is that we will be taking two-week break after this trimester.  We will have a longer break after the third semester.  The one-week break was not long enough for us.  With a two-week break, the first week we can make sure all records/grades are completed an portfolios filed away.  The second week can be a “real” break from schooling.  Besides, if things go according to plan two of our children will be taking a trip with their eldest brother and will need the two weeks.

It seems that the children (and I) do better knowing there is an end in sight and a break coming as a reward for hard work.  It has helped to motivate our children improve their work ethic.  Covering different content areas, gives us the change we need to not get bored doing the same thing everyday.

Gone are the days of feeling like we don’t finish anything or make any progress.  We do.  We have.  We are encouraged to keep going.  It may have taken some time just surviving to figure this out, but as I see our children’s work and attitudes improving, I know that this was the best choice for all of us.

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Going Back to Paper

Change is inevitable.  Homeschooling allows for adjustments as the family has need.  We have made more changes for this year than the last several years combined.  It was necessary.  It has been hard.  It has helped.  Record-keeping has been difficult for me.  I have not been consistent and I thought using the computer more would make it easier.  For me, it didn’t.  This year, I took a different approach. I created planning forms to fit our need.  There is room for straightforward planning  and lesson notes.  Each child has space to record information need to  keep accurate records.  There is also a place for adding notes or information that might need to be remembered for that particular class/task.  Having the same set up for all the classes simplifies things for my brain.  I limited the space for lesson notes so I have to stay on task and focused.  I have a tendency to try and cram too much and overload the children.  I just didn’t know if I would be able to keep things updated.

We are now on week 5.  Our records are current.  Our new system allows me to easily record daily hours and grades.  Using paper instead of the computer forces me to keep it simple. At the end of the month, I have the option to scan completed daily logs into the computer.  Sometimes technology complicates things.  Forms are my friends.  Staying updated with records has helped me feel better about continuing to homeschool.  I really can do this!

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Exchanging the Lies for the Truth

Sometimes, we believe lies for so long that to believe anything different seems like we are discarding the truth.  There are things I have “known” about myself that are not truth, not real. These are things I was taught or told as I grew up and grew older. Even into my adult years, I have found there are things that were taught overtly or covertly that are lies and made me prisoner to something less than what God designed for me. I am learning that I need to fight for what God wants for me. I need to fight the world, the flesh, and the devil, and occasionally, other people. Fighting isn’t bad, if it is done right. Fighting out of anger, bitterness, vengeance is wrong. Fighting, clothed in the armor of God and in praise, humility, and gentleness, etc., is right. I need to be determined, but not necessarily dogmatic. I need to be brave, not bombastic. In a world where man exchanges the truth for a lie, I need to exchange the lies for the truth.

Behind these lies, fear resides. I have been afraid that all these things are true and that there is nothing better, no escape. It is as if I believe that what God ordained for me was disappointment, lack, chronic struggles, mediocrity, among other things. Even the lies of how people see me. I have been held captive for so long, I’m not comfortable with being free to be the “me” God wants me to be. Yet, I know I can’t go on being the person I am or thought was expected of me. The person that I formed to be accepted, liked, or whatever, has been killing me, killing my soul/spirit. It is by God’s grace that He began by transforming me by the renewing of my mind in regard to how I see Him. He has helped me see Him according to His Word. I am confident in Him and who He is and how He is. Now, I see how He wants me to change how I think about myself.  I have not been comfortable with me, ever. All these lies and situations made from these lies (real or imagined) have depressed me. I feel heaviness when I dwell in these lies. There is darkness. God is light. To dwell in Him fully, I have to leave all darkeness behind. All the lies, the mindset that hinders being #morethanaconqueror and old ways of reacting/dealing with life, have to go.

It is difficult. It is overwhelming. Can I do it? The Bible says I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13). In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The Apostle Paul considered all things “but dung” that he might “win Christ and be found in him” (Philippians 3:8).

In the Book of James it is written: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Honestly, it is hard for me to just clean my house and complete school lessons. These are the good things I need to do. I have patterns of behavior that lead me away from the good I know to do. I have to break these old patterns. Some are patterns of thinking, others are patterns of behavior. The thoughts that “love gets rid of fear” and we need to “break old patterns” are true, but only in Christ Jesus is the perfect love and true freedom achieved, not by our own willpower or in our humanity.

I may do this. I can do this. I will do this. Amen.

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My “New Normal” Blog

When I started blogging, I was already in the middle of depression and burnout. It only got worse. It improved to tolerable, then a swift kick in the gut, brought me proverbially to my knees. I have spent the last three years recovering only to suffer great loss over the last three months.

Nine months ago, we ceased attending church. We have been meeting in our home as a temporary situation. It was at this time that I stopped surrendering in sentiment and simple chose to surrender moment by moment and believe. “If thou canst believe” kept coming back to me over the years. It was this past summer, that I saw clearly what God was getting at. I ran to the Word. I prayed verses word for word to God asking Him to make the verses real in my life. God did begin to transform me by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:1-2). Every verse I prayed, I saw God answering daily. August brought around my 36th anniversary of “asking Jesus into my heart.” For the first time, I realized I no longer doubted my salvation or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I knew I had “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Homeschooling has been a chronic struggle after I started working from home for some years. It threw off our regular routine. On the days we had work, there wasn’t time for cleaning or schooling because the work was expected to be completed ASAP. I put up with it for as long as I could. We have yet to fully recovered. Then my father passed away. Even when the business ended, I just couldn’t bounce back. I still don’t know how we got things done (God’s grace and hard-working children). We graduated the three oldest. The next two children have struggled with auditory processing issues. They needed extra help. I was barely keeping up, but with more hours needed, it pushed me further into burnout. Only God knows what all we have been through these last months. My mother’s death is only one thing that has been difficult to deal with. Daily, God shows me that He is bringing me through.

I recently decided that I want to start my own personal campaign of #morethanaconqueror. Others can find what that means in their lives, but I need to reach well beyond survival mode. After 40+ years of survival mode (through childhood, young adult life), I am ready for “abundant life.” God is working. It is happening. It is my “new normal.”

I have been sitting on this for months. I guess I was waiting to see if this “new thing” was real. It is. I am overwhelmed daily by the presence of God, His absolute nearness to me, and the continual connection that is there moment by moment.

I have been hiding in many ways over the years of my entire life that I can remember. I am done hiding. I am done just surviving. I don’t want to get back to how things were when homeschooling was going well and things were organized. So much was done by sheer willpower and wanting to prove myself good enough. I want more. I want to do all things in the Spirit of Christ. I want the excellence to be His. Like John the Baptist, Jesus must become greater, I must become less. In fact, I must count all loss (Philippians 3).

I am singing around the house again! I am dancing again. I am determined to be healthier (lose weight, strengthen my body). I am working at memorizing more Scripture. The girls’ weekly Bible Study is a great help. My husband has helped me to streamline our record keeping among other things to save time and stress. We are coming together more and more in the schooling of the children and that has helped tremendously. We are even open to finding something we can do together to better provide for our family. We don’t know what all that God is going to do or what He would have us do, but God is faithful.

I started three different blogs because I wanted to write about different things. This year, I want to bring all three together and have a blog that fully reflects me as a person. I am not just about being a wife, mom, and homeschooling. I want to write about the Lord and living a godly, holy life in this present age. I also want to encourage women to be women without the extremes that can deceive, divide, and destroy women. So, there will be more a variety of topics on this blog. I am going to be radical and write what I want to write about without limiting myself. I think this could be fun!

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Hardest Words to Say in Our Home

It is not “I love you,” though we could say it more often.  It is not hard to say “I’m sorry” (cue 80’s song by Chicago, lol).  We don’t have a hard time saying “No,” or even “Yes.”  I think it has to be “Just throw that away already!”

We live in limited space.  When even a few things are out, rooms look messy.  We have to routinely remove clutter.  I am anxious for spring cleaning, so I am starting now, by taking some time daily to discard things.  I hope my example will spur others on.

I will be practicing these hard words: “Just throw that away already!”  I will be saying that to myself every time I daily work to discard things.

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These Are the Times that Try Our Souls

Husband lost his full-time job at the beginning of last summer.

Last month, my mother passed away.  It still hasn’t fully hit me yet.

That is why my goal to blog every week has not been met.  I want to write.  I want to encourage.  I want to inform.  I want to help, if I can.

God’s Presence and help have been evident, daily.  In tangible, visible ways we see His assistance as we go through these tough times.  I tend to withdraw from Him when things get ugly.  To combat that, my husband and I have joined together to commit Psalm 119 to memory.  A verse a day.  If we reach our daily goal, we will complete the entire memorization by June 23, 2015.

Overcoming loss might seem impossible.  I saw memorizing Psalm 119 as impossible.  I am doing something impossible, because with God it is made possible.  Just as I will memorize this Psalm, by the grace of God, this same amazing grace will make overcoming the losses in our lives possible.  We will be better for accomplishing both.

God gives the victory.  He is Victory!

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Family Schedule

Closing the year, we discussed our need for a schedule to curb time-waste in the evenings.  In a family meeting, we made a plan.  This will help.

Simply utilizing a weekly schedule sheet, we started with what we knew needed to be done.  Services we have every week: Sunday morning (until we find a new church home. Goal date is the end of this month,Yay!), Wednesday prayer meeting, and Saturday service with extended prayer time.  While we had U-Nite on the calendar, other things would push it aside.  We have now scheduled specific events for the U-Nite to help spur us on to making this family night happen weekly.  Once a month, the entire family has to go outside on the first nice weather Friday of the month.  Other nights will alternate, games and movies. We alternately added a Bible study night/Free night for the women and men of the family.

Tuesday night remained.  What would we do?  Will we all agree?  It took us until the next evening to get a consensus, lol.

We will have a Family Pick.  This month is Music. Each week we will have a different event that highlights music: Free Dance night (all will have to participate–this will be hilarious), Lip Sync night (has to be planned and not seen beforehand, no last-minute entries), Guess That Song, then sing it, and Instrument night.  We will get out all the instruments we have on hand and take turns learning and playing on instruments. Next month, it might be another topic or stay the same.  We want to see how it goes.  Also, all the children are open to reading a book at night after they in bed.  We used to choose a book and I would read from the hallway.  J is willing to do the reading for his siblings.  Another of the older children mentioned listening to Sleep Sound in Jesus by Michael Card.  Others had mentioned before that they miss me singing the original lullabies I used to sing when they were little.

When we don’t have birthday celebrations,and for those who are home (not working, etc.) this will be the schedule we follow.  This family schedule will mean better management of our evening hours.  As a few of us resolve to know each other better this coming year, this is a wonderful beginning in keeping those resolutions.

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Planet Pandemonium

I had forgotten to capitalize Mercury.  I made a comment about it being a planet.  JB (6), started listing the planets…Mercury, like Jupiter and Playdoh!  Then, we were discussing how Plato was, then wasn’t, a planet.  My husband had mentioned how Pluto is one again a planet.  JB piped up: Dad, can change his mind about Pluto.  He’s the parent!

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