Several years ago, I shared with you in a Mom’s Corner something that always hurts my heart. When I walk in the mornings, I pass by several day-care homes. I watch mommies and daddies take little children and babies from their car seats, carrying them into a house to spend the day while they go to work. My mind quickly imagines my own little ones snug in their beds, soon to wake and spend their whole day with their mommy and family. My heart fills with sadness for those day-care children and gratitude for my own children’s circumstances.

Remembering these scenes is good for me when I am tempted to complain or murmur about my situation. If I consider the alternatives to what I am doing, I know there isn’t anything in the world I would rather be doing. I also don’t feel there is anything else in the world of greater importance.

So why do I get discouraged? I let my thoughts dwell on the negative parts of my circumstances rather than keeping them fixed on gratefulness for them. If each time my little one’s fussing began getting to me, I were to think, “Lord, I am so grateful that this child is here with me and not spending each day with someone else,” rather than, “Will this child ever stop crying?”–wouldn’t that give me a different perspective on the difficulty?

I can truthfully tell you I know this principle in my mind, but putting it into practice isn’t something that comes naturally. As a matter of fact, I am selfish and will think “poor me” thoughts if the situation lends itself to such thoughts. I have had to see my discouragement as displeasing to my Lord and confess it as sin. In God’s time, as I cry out to Him to strengthen me in this area of weakness, He has been giving me the grace to think the right thoughts in what are naturally discouraging circumstances to me. It is a process He is still taking me through.

How much am I walking consistently, day by day, in gratefulness? When was the last time I thanked my husband for his hard work out of the home that allows me to stay home? Am I regularly expressing my gratefulness to my children for being able to be home so I can homeschool them? These thoughts need to be in my mind and then shared with my family.

Last year, I would tell one of my children that my school time with him was one of the very best parts of my day. Almost every day, he would reply that it wasn’t good for him. I continued day after day and eventually the closeness and expressed love for our time together overcame his dislike of the school material. He eventually stopped his negative remarks, reaching over for my hand and giving me a big smile when I shared my happiness over our school time.

Will my family think I am a content wife and mother if what they see and hear is discouragement and complaining? I can know in my heart that I am content and happy, but those around me want to hear me say it in words. Frequently, I will find if I am happy they are happy. My spirit and attitude is conveyed and transferred to them.

May we as homeschooling mothers remember to have grateful hearts for our tremendous privilege of being at home with our children. May we know that the investment of our lives in our families will count for eternity instead of being burned up as wood, hay, and stubble in an outside job. May our attitudes and faces convey to our family the contentment we find in our role as wife, mother, and teacher.

Posted in: Mom's Corner

The Cost of Training Our Children

What does it cost you to train your children? If asked that, I imagine we would most often think of what our curriculum costs us per year. Certainly, there is a financial aspect to home education, but I’m wondering how much we dads are investing personally in our children. If money is our main investment, will our influence be any greater than a dad whose children go to the government schools? Might our children turn out as bankrupt in character and training as most children these days who are educated outside the home?

In my work, I will encounter many fathers who love their children and yet send them off to school. They feel that is the American way; the job of the schools is to educate the children; dads provide the money and the home. Unfortunately, even if the school is successful in teaching the children facts, that is a far cry from preparing them for life.

Will the memorization of facts prepare a person for life and parenting? I think we would agree it wouldn’t. That is where training comes in, first teaching pertinent facts and then practicing them. We dads have many opportunities to work with our children to reinforce, by practice, the application of what they are learning.

However, all of that takes time. Most of us have heard others recite the popular, self-consoling lie, “I have to give my children quality time, since my job doesn’t allow quantity time.” From what I’ve observed, additional work hours are usually a result of the dad’s desire to get ahead. The extra time is not required. It also can be that there is trouble at home, and it is a convenient escape for Dad to bury himself in his work. It is a matter of priority. Is the proper training of the children most important to the dad, or is it his job? If the job is so demanding on its own, then it’s time to get a new job. God will bless proper priorities, and wrong ones won’t be blessed. Simple!*

Jesus said in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” That is a constant challenge to me. As the shepherd of my family, am I laying aside my pleasures for the needs of my family? Am I willing to sacrifice my time for myself if there are needs in the family that haven’t been met yet? Do I set the example for my wife in serving my family? For most, work is the easy part, but serving at home and working on character issues are much harder.

I am ashamed of how often I fail regarding the right response to the above questions. However, I serve a God Who daily gives grace. May we be like the Lord Jesus and daily lay down our lives for our families.

*(I’m not referring to families where the dad has to work longer hours just so the mom can stay at home and teach the children. These are families who are content to live in a modest home and drive old cars for the sake of right priorities. I’m referring to others who have made wrong choices with what money they have. Often they drive new cars and buy new homes. I want to differentiate between those who make bad choices and those who are truly in need.)

Posted in: Dad's Corner