Homeschool: God’s Best For Our Family (Part 2)

The photo to the right is our children, who are very close to one another. We were blessed, in that we experienced no sibling rivalry. We were warned about the teen years from friends who had older children. The teen years turned out to be our favorite years.

About six years ago, a Christian magazine published a negative article stereotyping homeschool families in a bad light.

The pastor, who authored the article, wrote: “Why would a family who attends a church that maintains a Christian school keep their children at home to teach them? Either the parents believe they can do a superior job in educating their children over the church or they cannot trust God to meet the financial obligations involved in paying school tuition. And what greater damage can you do to the mind of your child than to divide him away from the ministry of your church.”

Our pastor voiced his concern to us about the article and said, “They need to know about your family.” Our Pastor believed, as we did, that we are to obey the Bible and that God does not send a families’ personal mail, intended for the head of the family, to the pastor.  Our Pastor was a homeschool friendly pastor, and supported Barry making the decisions for our family, even if the decisions were a little different from what our church normally did. For example, our Pastor allowed us to not put our children in the youth group. He chose Barry to be head of the deacon board and honored my husband’s decisions for our family, even though some decisions were a little different from the norm.

We contacted the editor who ultimately apologized for the article.

The editor asked my husband: “Did you homeschool as a matter of convenience, money or conviction?”

My husband’s reply: “A conviction is something to live for. We went to the Lord in prayer, asking Him which school option was His will for our family.  God spoke in our hearts, and worked through circumstances to show us that His plan for our family was to homeschool.  We homeschooled as a matter of conviction.  For our family, homeschooling was the center of God’s will.”

The editor asked us to write our homeschool story, so we did.  Part 2 or our story~

Because parents care about their own children more than anyone else cares about them, most Christian parents make phenomenal teachers at home. They have a drive within to give their children the best education possible.

My Bible
My Bible

We found the wisdom to train up our children from the Bible.  They were disciplined and obedient, because at an early age, we loved our children as Proverbs 13:24 commands: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” After age four and five, we did not need to use the rod much at all.  After age seven, we were finished using the rod, except for very rare occasions.  Oh, happy day that was for us, the parents!  Our children were very obedient and a pleasure to be around. One of the first Scriptures they learned was, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:20 (and Ephesians 6:1-3)

God’s Word was our child training manual. At an early age, our children were taught, “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” Bad attitudes were not tolerated. We were concerned about their hearts. We taught our children to obey us, so they would have an obedient heart towards Jesus.

To balance rebuking our children, we daily praised them for Christ-like character

Mighty Man
Mighty Man

qualities we saw in them, so discouragement would not

arrows~children
arrows~children

set in.  Psalm 127:4 “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.” We are just ordinary people, but because of God’s Word, we knew He could use us in an extraordinary way to point our children in the right direction.  Children become what they are praised.

When we get to heaven, we look forward to seeing our many children because of miscarriages. The Lord blessed us with heavenly children and with three precious children on this earth; Kristen, Brandon, and Melinda. We thank the Lord and give Him all the glory, for our children have been a joy and blessing as Psalm 127:3 promises, “ Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

Our children were saved at home at extremely young ages. It was of paramount importance to get Scriptures into their hearts.  In 2 Timothy 3:15, Timothy’s mother and grandmother taught Timothy, as a child, the Holy Scriptures.  Paul was able to take Timothy under his wing as a result of Timothy’s parent and grandparent’s teaching.  Because of our children memorizing Scriptures, they learned the fear of the Lord. As our children learned to love the Word of God, they

"On Sep.20,2003, I proposed to one lovely girl, and she became my beautiful bride! This proposal took place in front of the Nottoway Plantation Home, which predates the Civil War, shown in the background. It is near Plaquemine, LA. This historic home was our destination for the first three days of our honeymoon, and where it was, on a another later visit, whispered into my ear about our first little one on the way!"
“On Sep.20,2003, I proposed to one lovely girl, and she became my beautiful bride! This proposal took place in front of the Nottoway Plantation Home, which predates the Civil War, shown in the background. It is near Plaquemine, LA. This historic home was our destination for the first three days of our honeymoon, and where it was, on a another later visit, whispered into my ear about our first little one on the way!”

learned to love the Lord God.  They wanted to obey God, because they loved Him.

Kristen, our eldest daughter is now married to Dr. Dwayne Piper.  The Lord called Dwayne to the ministry. He is a pastor of a local church and our daughter serves as a pastor’s wife.

Kristen and Dwayne
Kristen and Dwayne

Kristen and Dwayne had a special courtship.  Their choice of purity is such a testimony for young people.

They never kissed another.

Their first touch and kiss were at the marriage altar.

Kristen’s sweet countenance has been noticed over the years.  She is easy going, yet she is strong willed when it comes to doing what is right and good.  Kristen was blessed with a beautiful singing voice and cheerfully sang around our home as she cleaned the house. She enjoyed showing hospitality. Kristen was very missed when she got married, but the goal is to send our children forth as arrows for the Lord.  The parents decrease and the new spouse increases.

At an early age, Kristen was taught to be a good example to her siblings because she was the eldest, and she took this responsibility very seriously. Before she married, Kristen served as Sunday School teacher, church pianist, and helped with music specials in our local church.

Her life verse is Joshua 1:8.  “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

All three of our children desire to homeschool their own children in the future.

To be continued in the next post~

Homeschool: God’s Best For Our Family (Part 1)

The photo to the right was our last professional family picture before Kristen married.

Note: About six years ago, a Christian magazine published a negative article about homeschooling, stereotyping the parents and students in a bad light.  Our pastor, who homeschooled, voiced his concern to us about the article and said, “They need to know about you and your family.” We contacted the editor who apologized for the negative article and asked us to write about our homeschool, so we did. This will probably be a 5 part post, because it was a lengthy article. Plus, I want to give you the unedited version. Here it is:

Homeschooling is not for everyone, but homeschooling was God’s perfect will for our family, and He blessed all the way.  Because we followed the Lord’s will and His Word, our children did not go through teen rebellion, succumb to negative siblingspeer pressure, or sibling rivalry. Instead, our son and daughters honored us as parents, were able to “stand alone” for right, and treated their siblings with respect. We give the Lord all the glory and honor! Humbly, we are reminded in Psalm 127:1a, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” We are just ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God.

Having our children’s hearts was the best benefit of homeschooling; obedience naturally followed. “My son, give me thine heart.” Proverbs 23:26a. It was easier to know what was going on with our children when we were with them much of the time; thus, by the grace of God, we were able to guard and keep our children’s hearts.  When our children returned from being away from us, they wanted to immediately share what happened. We kept communication lines open and were on top of things. Spending quality time and quantity time, (which homeschooling afforded) with each child was essential.

A few times a week, their mother, Linda Diane spent individual time with our son and daughters building a good relationship with them.  She felt encouraged by the example of Suzanna Wesley, mother of Charles and John Wesley.  Mrs. Wesley had eighteen children and spent individual time with each child every week.

During this “Special Time with Mom,” Linda Diane asked each child good Melinda and Momquestions to find out what was on their minds.  She also asked if she as a mother could do something better, apologized if needed, encouraged them to do right in life, to be Godly, to have a dynamic walk with the Lord and prayed with them. “I didn’t want them to think that growing up in our home was all about rules. I wanted them to know that it is the close relationship that matters most.”

“Special Time with Mom” took planning and effort, but it was well worth it.  Our children looked forward to “Special Time with Mom.”

Even though, the recliner might be the place Dad felt drawn to after work, he

Melinda was baptized by her Dad~
Melinda was baptized by her Dad~

chose to play with the children and spend enjoyable time with them making memories. “I played with the children, planning something fun to do with them after coming home from work.  I got the children involved in sports. We also played games, camped, hiked, biked and built good memories while building good relationships. Aside from playing, teaching the children to work hard was important in building good character.”

More to come~

Mom, Come Apart, So You Don’t Come Apart

Two times a day we need to have time set apart from others:

1. Quiet Time

2. Rest Time.

This post is about Rest Time. Coming apart daily to rest awhile refreshes us, so we can cheerfully do the good works God has planned for us to do.  It is healthy for the entire family to have that alone time to rest, daily.

“And he (Jesus) said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while…” Mark 6:31. The disciples were tired from spending time with the people, so Jesus encouraged them to get away by themselves to a desert place to rest.

When I was about eight years old, I can remember visiting my Uncle J.  He was probably a teen at the time.  Uncle J was my favorite uncle, because he spent time with me.  He rode me around the yard on his shoulders.  He let me play in his room. Uncle J had fantastic penmanship and allowed me to sit by him and copy the way he penned fancy cursive letters. He and my Mother were big influences in my life to desire a pretty handwriting. Another thing I fondly remember, was helping Uncle J gather eggs at the two long hen houses…at least I thought I was helping.

I now realize that Uncle J needed time apart from his 8 year old niece who wanted to spend every second with him. At the time, I had no clue.  Uncle J was patient and kind.  He would never say, “Bug off, kid.”

Instead, Uncle J gave me projects to do. “How about finding me a four leaf clover?”

Off I ran to find my favorite uncle a four leaf clover.  I was back in a flash, smiling, holding out a four leaf clover for my favorite uncle.

Because I found the four leaf clover so quickly, Uncle J had another project in mind. “How about finding me a five leaf clover?”

Off I ran to look for a five leaf clover.  It took a little longer, but I actually found a clover wreathfive leaf clover.  Running back to my Uncle J, I presented him with the five leaf clover.  Surprised that I had found a five leaf clover, my Uncle laughed and laughed. He then asked me to make him a clover wreath.  Uncle J needed to have time apart, and didn’t know how to tell me.

Busy Moms and little children do not understand their need for rest in the middle of the day.

We all need to schedule Rest Time; a time during the day apart from everyone. Jesus said it! For me to be the best Mom possible, daily, I had a one hour slot planned in the afternoon for younger children to take a nap and for the older children to read silently to themselves.  It is good for children to have rest time, even if they object. I rested too. Sometimes I napped, but sometimes after the children were resting, I just propped my feet up for a needed break of silence.

When I homeschooled our children, I rose up before everyone in the family to have my Quiet Time with the Lord.  I also had at least an hour of “Rest Time” set aside in the afternoon for the children and myself.  After Rest Time, it was like starting another day feeling refreshed and vigorous. When family members are tired, they cannot be their best and do their best. We must come apart so we don’t come apart.

Growing up, our daughter, Kristen, had a friend named Natasha.  Our family even went on a mission

Chris & Natasha Hall and family
Chris & Natasha Hall and family

trip with Natasha and her family.

Natasha is now married with four precious children. Natasha says this about Victoria, her eldest daughter: “God has blessed us tremendously with Victoria and her love of The Lord. It is incredibly unusual and humbling how deep her devotion is to Him and His word. She has such an ‘old soul’!”

One day, Natasha found a creative place to get alone with God.

“I was sitting alone on top of my kid’s treehouse (cease laughter) spending time Hall treehousetalking to God about some current burdens. I happened upon this beautiful treasure. I’m so grateful that I have a child that thirsts after God and loves Him when no one else is around. What an encouragement this was to me just when I needed it!”

Natasha received a God Hug!

Mom, take care of yourself by taking time to refresh your heart during the day. Schedule two “Come Apart” Times daily, so you don’t come apart. Plan to have a Quiet Time and a Rest Time… and be on the lookout for “God hugs.”

Drugs! Not My Child! (A Mother’s Story)

I wanted to pass on this helpful advice from a precious mother:

Did you know that the usual signs parents look for ‘before’ their children are on drugs may not be there anymore? You would think that the normal progression would be: smoking, alcohol, rapid weight gain or rapid weight loss. This is not so, anymore.

Parents, who have been relatively strict with their children may think their child is not involved in those things, when in fact, their child may be good at concealing what they are doing. It’s amazing how they quickly learn the “talk” just to appease you and mislead you.

So what should you be looking for? Here are some tips:

teen girlIf you start finding little bits of scrunched up pieces of foil, if you are missing your socket wrenches and other small tools, if your child is in a great mood one day and the next is completely irrational and mean, you may have a child with a drug problem. In some ways, drugs are easier for a minor to get than alcohol or cigarettes.

If you are like most, thinking the signs I mentioned such as smoking, alcohol or the other signs, should be present before your child is on drugs, you may go into denial.

What do you do if you know your child is on drugs? Beat the child until they say they’ll never touch the stuff again? Do you take everything away from them? Do you narrow their freedoms even more? While these things may work for a short time, it will not change their heart for a victorious future.

What if you have a child that is so strong willed and so determined that they don’t care if you take their freedoms away, because they’ll just climb out of their window without caring if they get caught by you or the police.

Here, in Florida, youth have a curfew of 11pm.  Let me tell you, the police enforce it! That is definitely a deterrent for most, but not for all. If you have a child who has a high tolerance for pain and a good old fashioned southern whooping, you’re wasting your energy. They might actually beat YOU!

Most mothers I know, love, nurture, teach and coach their children. Why mother daughteron earth do people want to blame mothers for a failing youth, I’ll never know. I know I used to. There it is, I’ve admitted it. I used to have an answer for everything… not so that I could point to the speck in my friend’s eye, but I honestly wanted to see them overcome, grow in love, mature and have long lasting family ties.

I wish I had seen those drug signs before or had even known of them. Drugs are becoming so addictive that for some, all it takes is one try. Ignorance is not always bliss.

All it might take is for your child to have a bad day and their “friend” to say, “Here, try this. It’s not really addictive and it’ll make you feel better today. Nothing wrong with feeling good. This is natural and comes from a flower. I use it all the time and I still think clearly… Even think better actually.”

I may not have many answers right now, but I do know this:

I wish that I had not assumed my children to be more mature than they really were and protected them better.

I wish I would not have allowed anyone to discourage me from staying active in church.

I wish I had prayed more for wisdom.

I wish I had endured pain better.

peer pressure

 

I wish I had been more alert to who my children were around.

 

 

On Mother’s Day, I will be especially praying that you, loving moms, will be able to see the signs of drug addictions early. I pray that you will never have to visit your child in rehab, prison or roseyouth work camp. I pray for you to have beautiful, loving, lasting relationship with your family for three generations (or even more).

 

How to be Truly Happy (Part 2)

Have we wasted our God given day, because we had hopes for happiness, but things did not go our way?

What a terrible night.  Mom is tired, because she had to get up twice with the baby (moaning in self pity).  She didn’t get to see hubby before he went to work, because she slept in…(guilt).  There is no time for Morning Devotions…(more guilt sets in). Mom gets breakfast on the table (in a grouchy manner).  She is thinking that the kids are wild this morning…in reality, they are laughing and happy, but they seem loud to mom (she is on edge). Mom does not feel like going to the grocery store…(fuss at the kids.)  Now, everyone is unhappy, but everyone is dressed and ready to go to the store.

babyThings may be taking a turn for the better. New hopes for happiness; baby on shoulder, outside… and blahhhhhh….baby throws up all over mom. Now to get everyone out of the car seats and back inside the house, so mom can redress and change baby. Now, off to the store wearing a long face and spit-up scented perfume on her neck. Can you relate to this mom?  I can…I know this story way too well.

The quest for happiness that day seemed way out of reach for this mom. What could this mother have done differently to be happier in her circumstances instead of wasting her day?

The “goodness of the Lord” was sprinkled throughout that entire day…but I (this happinessmother) missed it, because she was not looking for it. Ask the Lord right now to give you eyes to see the “goodness of the Lord” in this “not so perfect” today.I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

Happiness is not something you rush toward. True happiness comes from constantly and steadily doing what God has called us to do and savoring the sweet moments of the here and now.

True happiness is not dependent on my circumstances or people. Happiness is the Lord. Happiness is seeing the blessings of the day in our circumstances and enjoying them. When the baby spit up all over me, I should have been able to laugh about it and rejoice in the fact I had a baby. Learning to laugh at oneself is so beneficial.  My baby is a gift to me personally from the Lord and certainly, the “goodness of the Lord” to me. This brings me to the next point, which is True Happiness.

3. True happiness is not something you chase after. Everyone has within, a “true happiness void,” and this void is only filled with what is dependable, unchanging and constant. Can a husband fill that true happiness void? No, because no husband can make a wife happy all the time. No child can make a mother happy all the time. Are circumstances steady? No, so we cannot rely on circumstances to fill that True Happiness void. So, many people fill that happiness void with all kinds of wrong things: Drugs, alcohol, extravagant spending etc.

Who is dependable, unchanging and constant? 

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”  Hebrews 13:8

True happiness comes from knowing there is an empty spot in my life that can only be completed by allowing the Lord to fill that spot.True happiness is both dependent on my outlook on life and my uplook. Do I see the blessings of the Lord in my circumstances?  True happiness is not “all about me.” True happiness is not dependent on people or on my circumstances.

That missing puzzle pieceis why true happiness is a choice. Just like the hollow in a missing puzzle, the missing puzzle piece of happiness in our life is Jesus Christ filling that empty spot. Nothing else in that empty spot will fill my life with true happiness. The Source of true happiness is within. The true Light within me, lights me up with happiness in my present circumstances.

God says that Christians can be happy in their present circumstances, not because of their present circumstances. Now, of course, there are seasons we go through where we mourn, or grieve or have heartache.  God comforts us, as we draw near, during those times. There are seasons of life and circumstances of life that are hard, but if we allow God to work, He will make something beautiful and good out of those hard times.

To be content and happy with life, I must view hurts, trials and problems as learning opportunities. I have learned to cope better in life by daily expecting the unexpected. We can either allow situations to overwhelm and overpower us or grow and develop us. Happiness is having a Godly outlook on life’s challenges.

While Paul was in prison, he told the leader that he thought himself to be I think myself happyhappy.  Were his circumstances happy ones? No, indeed! Prison circumstances, back in those days, were atrocious. Picture yourself in gloom, filth and amongst rats.

If Paul can think himself happy in spite of his awful circumstances, God will empower us, by His grace, to do the same in spite of our circumstances. Even when facing death by persecution, Paul thought himself happy by thinking on his blessings, on the Lord and allowing the Lord to fill that happy void.  “I think myself happy…” Acts 26:2

This is a helpful hint to keep us moving throughout the day with a happy attitude. When a new day comes expect people, especially family, to irritate you. Expect to have problems. If we prepare ourselves ahead of time to expect these things, we will not react to the irritations and fall apart over the problems. Then, when a day ends and there have been no irritations or problems, we will be pleasantly surprised. Problems and irritations are just part of life on this earth.  Irritations from people plus circumstantial problems can make us better people, if we choose to allow God to change us through them.

Happiness is the Lord.  To fill that happiness void, before we make purchases, take up bad habits, eat that colossal dessert, make big changes, let us go to God. We need to be sure when we are down, we do not try to fill our “happiness spot in our lives,” with something other than God. Go to God first. Tell Him all about it.  He is your best friend on earth. Walk with God daily!

God has planned fulfilling work for you to do each day.  You will be happily fulfilled and content as you steadily do  the work God has planned for you to do. There may be problems attached, but with the right outlook and up-look on life, problems will make us better and not bitter.

happyWhen you walk with the Lord, you find your happiness in the Lord! You view life’s problems from His perspective. Get “lit up” because You have the Source of true Happiness living within you. Tap into the Source.
Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.”  Psalm 144:15  Being happy in our circumstances is important to God. He said it twice in this Scripture. How can we be happy in our circumstances? Make Him LORD!

Happiness is not about what is around us. Happiness is in us. Are you content and happy in the Lord? If not, what positive changes need to be made? Remember in Part 1, Mr. Bailiff’s question every morning? What would your response be to Mr. Bailiff if you told him, “Good morning”  and he responded, “What’s so good about it?” Today, let us tell our children, “Good morning,” and also let us tell them what’s so good about it.