Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Time To Learn

As one year comes to a close and a new year dawns, I am struck by just how much God has taught our little family in 2009.

We have learned, through the experience of my husband's time of unemployment, that God seeks an attitude of humble gratitude from us on a daily basis. Realizing that our provision truly comes from Him and Him alone--accepting little, blank envelopes of unexpected blessing, with nobody to thank but God--set us on our heals, and made us realize that we still have so far to go in our recognition of our dependence upon Him.

We lost a long time friend and his teenage son in a plane crash this summer. During the weeks that followed, heaven and eternity seemed to be closer than ever, worship became more honest and meaningful, and our view of God's care for the fatherless and the widow changed forever.

Before I became a mom, I used to think that as God blessed us with children, we would teach them things. I have since learned that the Lord more often than not, uses our children to teach us. There is nothing more refining than being a parent, and nothing makes my shortcomings more glaringly obvious than teaching and training up children.

As parents--and especially as home educators--we need to be constantly learning.

  • What plans do you have for reading this year? Do you have a plan for Bible reading? What about other worthy books? In 2010, I plan to read/finish reading:

  1. Family Driven Faith by Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr.
  2. When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling by R.C. Sproul
  3. Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacey McDonald
  4. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R.C. Sproul
  5. Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade
  6. Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

  • For auditory learners, what do you plan to listen to? My MP3 player has become my new best friend in 2009. A few resources that I access frequently are:

  1. -- I download and listen to sermons from pastors all over the country from this website--all for free
  2. -- This is Vision Forum's download site for audio and visual media. If you are interested in their materials, this is less expensive than buying the CDs and DVDs from their website. Additionally, they give away two free MP3 downloads daily to everyone who has an account with them. An excellent resource!
  3. -- A great place to find Christian ebooks and other audio materials. They give away a free ebook each month, so be sure to sign up for their newsletter.
  4. -- The National Center for Family Integrated Churches has an extensive download library of free audio and visual materials of interest to Christian home educating families.
Hoping that your new year is filled with God's richest blessings!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Do You Mean, "Unsocialized?"

Earlier this week, Mr. J. Michael Smith, president of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), wrote a Washington Times Op-Ed about the "socialization" of home educated students. I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to read his piece yourself:

In the article, Mr. Smith cites recently concluded, long-term research, that proves what homeschooling parents have long known to be true:

Home educated children grow up to be well adjusted, economically productive, community minded, responsible adults.

The study measured issues such as gainful employment, satisfaction with having been homeschooled, participating in community activities, and voting.

While these findings are important, and I appreciate Mr. Smith's article, I don't think it is going to silence the critics who are screaming,

"But what about socialization?!"

This is because, when the critics play the "socialization" card, they are not talking about well adjusted, economically productive, community minded, responsible adults.

Not at all!

What they really mean when they question the "socialization" of homeschooled children, is that they don't have the opportunity to have their attitudes and behavior affected by the "herd mentality" of their peers.

In other words, they don't act like kids their own age.

To clarify, the socialization contingent is worried that homeschooled children will not:

  • Have the chance to tease or be teased, bully or be bullied,
  • Learn to dress, talk, or act in ways that make them "cool" to other kids,
  • Make choices based on what "everybody else" is doing,
  • Go through a stage where their parents are "stupid" and "just don't get it",
  • Be exposed to popular media that their parents might find offensive,
  • Become tolerant of bad behavior and faulty ideas in the name of "diversity",
  • Learn to believe that their parents' religious and/or political views are "narrow minded",
  • Spend large portions of their time involved in competitive sports,
  • Become obsessed with members of the opposite sex, date, and go to the prom,
  • Have their hearts broken, or worse, a few times, because, "it's just part of growing up",
  • Learn to accept mediocrity and become dependent upon others for their identity and self-worth.
I could go on, but I think you get my point.

If you don't believe me, next time someone asks you the dreaded "socialization" question, ask them to clarify,

"What exactly are you worried about?"

Chances are, they will mention these very things.

If you start talking about economic independence, stable, happy marriages, making responsible choices, being involved in community and church activities, having respect for authority figures, or voting, they will probably look at you like you are speaking Martian.

For them, it has never been about whether or not you will raise well-educated, responsible adults

It has always been about whether or not your kids will act in the same silly, cliquey, immature way that every other "normal" kid they know acts.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Real or Pretend?

Try playing this game with your little ones...

Tell me, children, which of these stories are real and which are pretend?

  • God sent a great flood to destroy all life on earth, but kept Noah and his family, as well as two of every kind of animal, safe on a big boat called The Ark. 
  • A poor young lady named Cinderella was transformed into a beautiful princess by her fairy godmother, and went to the palace to dance with the price, riding in a pumpkin coach. 
  • When Moses and the children of Israel were trapped by the Red Sea and being chased by Pharoah's army, Moses raised his staff and God parted the waters, allowing the Israelites to cross over on dry land.
  • When you lose a tooth, you should put your tooth under your pillow. If you do, in the middle of the night, the tooth fairy will come, take your tooth, and give you a present in it's place!
  • Wise men, from the east, saw a bright, shining star in the sky. The star meant that a new king had been born. The wise men journeyed from their faraway land, all the way to Bethlehem, where they saw the Baby Jesus, worshiped Him, and gave Him gifts.
  • On Christmas Eve, a jolly man in a red suit named Santa Claus travels from his home at the North Pole in a sleigh pulled by flying Reindeer, and visits all the children on the earth. He lands on the roof tops, slides down the chimneys, and leaves behind presents for them to open on Christmas day.
Did you do it? How did your kids do?

If your kids are young, chances are they had a hard time discerning which stories were real, and which were pretend. This is because little children, by nature, are not good at telling the difference between fantasy and reality. Children generally believe what adults tell them--especially people they trust--and one miraculous sounding story doesn't sound much different from the next. Unless, of course, we as parents tell them, "This story is true--it really happened!" or, "This story is pretend. It's just a fun story."

As a mother, one calling that I take seriously is to teach my children discernment. I am admonished to lead them to Jesus, and to not do anything that would cause them to turn away from faith in Christ.

"And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 
But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, 'Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 
'Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.'
And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them."
Mark 10:13-16 NASB

Childlike faith--it's what makes it easy for little ones to believe the message of the Gospel. It is also what makes it so easy for them to be deceived.

"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."
Matthew 18:6

In our family, these truths have lead my husband and I to make the decision to be honest with our children about Santa Claus.

From the very beginning, they know he is not real. 

We aren't scrooges about it, and we don't attempt to cut off all exposure they might have to the concept. We simply tell them the truth. Santa Claus is just a fun, pretend story. Not real. St. Nicholas, to be sure, was a real person who lived long ago--and we tell that story!--but the North Pole? Flying reindeer? Sliding down chimneys? Nope. Not real.

We read our children the Word of God. We want desperately for our children to believe the wonderful, miraculous, hard-to-believe truths of the Bible. We have seen that inauthentic faith and unsound doctrine is often linked to a rejection of the more "supernatural" portions of the Scriptures. Therefore, we think it unwise to lead our children to believe that Santa is real, only to tell them otherwise at some later point in their childhood. We don't want them to assume, after we've burst the Santa Claus bubble, that Jesus--the reason we celebrate Christmas!!--is also not real.

This decision seems so obvious and logical to me, that I've almost gotten myself in trouble a couple of times with other children's parents. Once again, I am dumbfounded by Christian parents who seem to have a vested interest in having their children believe that Santa Claus is real.

I completely understand it from non-Christian families--for them, the "pretend story" of Santa Claus is far more fun than the "pretend story" of a baby being born on a cold, dark night in Bethlehem and being laid to sleep in a feeding trough.

But, from Christians? What could the possible benefit be for believing parents to have children who believe in Santa Claus just as strongly--if not more so!--as they believe in Jesus Christ?

While I haven't done any definitive research on the subject, I can think of a couple possible reasons:

"We don't want to rob them of childhood."

Maybe it stems from watching Miracle on 34th Street too many times, but in our culture, a child who does not believe that Santa Claus is real is seen as having been deprived of something. Most of us grew up believing in Santa Claus. Admittedly, one of the reasons I am able to soundly reject the notion of deceiving my children in this way is because my parents had similar sentiments when I was a young child. 

Now, this is not to say that we never pretended about Santa Claus. We certainly did! We watched the classic television programs like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. We put out cookies and milk "for Santa", but I was pretty sure that Dad ate them. There were always a few presents under the tree that were labeled "from Santa"--but "Santa Claus" obviously had grandma's handwriting! Nonetheless, I always knew it was pretend.

In our home, my husband and I do a lot less pretending about Santa Claus than I did growing up. There are many who would argue that pretending about Santa Claus at all detracts from the celebration of the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ--and frankly, I lean in that direction most of the time myself--but we do accept the fact that Santa Claus is ubiquitous and therefore allow our children some exposure to the stories, songs, and poetry about Santa.

Santa Claus as a Reason for Children to Behave

Sing it with me,

"Oh, you'd better watch out,
You'd better not cry!
You'd better not pout!
I'm telling you why,
Santa Claus is coming to town!"

There are plenty of parents who use the impending arrival of Santa Claus as a reason for their children to be on their best behavior. Most deplorably, some parents will actually tell their children that, if they don't really believe in Santa Claus, he won't bring them presents.

While I will be the first to admit that raising well-behaved children is difficult, I am not allowed the luxury of  inventing stories to manipulate my little ones. Moreover, my children are commanded to obey me as unto the LORD, not as unto Santa Claus.

Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.
HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise),
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:1-4

My children are to obey their father and I because God commands them to, not because they may or may not be brought gifts on Christmas Eve. If I need to use Santa Claus as an incentive for my children to obey me, then I probably need to re-evaluate what I am doing as a parent to win the hearts and attention of my children.


Additionally, I can think of more than one example of children who were "provoked to anger" when they discovered--through one method or another--that their parents had been lying to them about Santa (and the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc.) for all these years.

From the parents' perspective, it was harmless fun. From the children's perspective, it was nothing more than a bold-faced lie.

How long will it take for those parents to win their credibility back with their children? More disturbingly, will those children ever look at the real stories of Christmas and Easter with anything but doubt ever again?

"He sees you when you're sleeping,
He knows when you're awake,
He knows if you've been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!"

Don't we tell our children similar things about God? Why should we assume that they will not lose their confidence in Him--and in us--when they realize that we have not been honest with them?

When it finally comes down to it, more children in America worship--yes, I said WORSHIP--Santa Claus than worship The Lord Jesus Christ.

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen.
Romans 1:25

Dear friends, let us be careful with the hearts of our little ones this Christmas. St. Nicholas was a real man who lived long ago and loved and worshiped Jesus Christ. He was even imprisoned for his faith. The good that he did during his life was for and because of Jesus.

We can have all sorts of fun with pretend stories, but the modern day insistence of parents on telling their children that Santa Claus is a real, magical being, smacks of idolatry.

So, the next time you see a man in a Santa Suit, please, please, tell your little ones that he is just "A nice old man with whiskers."...

And remind them that our Lord Jesus Christ, who is Emmanuel, God with us, as preached to us by the Holy Scriptures, is the reason that we celebrate Christmas.

And He is very real indeed.

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About Me

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

My Writing Elsewhere...

Fixing Your Heart on Titus 2

Did you pray for your
husband today?
Monday--His Work
Tuesday--His Integrity
Wednesday--His Mind
Thursday--His Purpose
Friday--His Health
Saturday--His Protection
Sunday--His Faith

Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling
Features God Made, Home Grown

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

2009 Nominee!

2010 Nominee!

My Wired Style

My Wired Style
Success is not learned. It is discovered and nurtured. What was your child born to do?

Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

Disciple Like Jesus

Disciple Like Jesus

Raising Homemakers

Raising Homemakers

Quiverfull Family

The Modest Mom


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