Guarding Hearts–A Real-Life Situation

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).

Last week we went to our favorite zoo, which is located in Omaha. It is a special day for everyone, and even our young adults will take a day off work to go with us. This trip was especially a close time as we were in the process of losing our ninth child to miscarriage.

At the end of a wonderful day, we were dropping off the wheelchair that I borrowed to push Teri around. I noticed two documentary videos on Mount Everest in the gift shop. I have a special interest in mountain climbing and thought this would be an excellent addition to our educational video library. It also turned out that one of them was the same footage as was being shown in the Imax Theater. After a little hesitation, I decided to go ahead and purchase them.

When the little ones were in bed, I chose to preview the videos, so we carried the TV and VCR out of the downstairs closet. To my amazement, the opening scene began in a temple where one of the climbers was lighting candles. Ugh! My heart then began to twinge a bit under conviction, and that should have been enough to stop it right there. However, the mental excuses and gymnastics began as I thought of the thirty dollars I had paid for this one. Besides, there probably wouldn’t be any more problems with the video (Sure!).

The story unfolded with occasional remarks about his god, temple footage, and other Eastern religion information. To my shame, I didn’t turn it off, but continued watching it with the three oldest children. I failed those children! I should have stopped it right then and said, “No more, we must turn it off. This isn’t worth compromising our hearts.” However, I wanted to watch it! Therefore, we finished the first video, and we started the second tape. This one was about high-altitude effects on the body. By this time I was feeling quite convicted. Then, out of the blue, the guy being interviewed cursed. That was enough to push me over the edge and turn it off. Why hadn’t I chosen to stop watching it earlier?

In the last few Dad’s Corners, I emphasized the fact that God places all the responsibility for everything that goes on in the home on “dear ole Dad.” The sad thing is that I am often the cause of the problems. When I’m struggling with self-control, I can expect to see lack of self-control in my children. We are the shepherds guarding the access to the sheep pen. It is true that every evil imagination, which is similar to improper appetites, does come from the heart. However, we then can guard whether these appetites are fed or not.

The sad fact was, if I had chosen to stop watching the video earlier, my older children would have seen that their father was very careful to guard his heart and their hearts. They would have seen that, even in a situation where Dad wants to continue, he is man enough to deny himself. That was one of those rare opportunities that don’t come around often. We are teaching our children in everything we do. I showed them that if it is something that interests you, it is okay to continue. I failed!

Life is so full of opportunities to train our children in the way of righteousness. We must see that as our responsibility. We should protect our heart first, and then our children’s. Otherwise we teach them that once you are old enough to be in control, you can use that control for selfish purposes and choose to “enjoy” evil at the expense of righteousness. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Grace in the Time of Sorrow

In March, we shared with you our joy over another pregnancy and baby that was due early in November. Now we share with you our sorrow over the miscarriage we experienced this week. We have not had a miscarriage before, and each of us has had to turn to the Lord during this time of sorrow and grief. The first night we had signs of the baby’s loss Steve said, “It is pretty hard to put three little boys to bed who are all crying.” As these issues of life and death affect our family, I would like to share some thoughts that I see relate to our homeschooling.

First, the Lord has abundantly poured out His grace in my life. I think that some of my close friends have grieved our loss as much as, or more than, I have. Not that my heart hasn’t felt sorrow upon sorrow, but the Lord is comforting me through it. This reminds me that 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “. . . My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. . . .”

I imagine you have heard, or maybe even said yourself, “I could never homeschool. I am just not cut out for it!” I have had similar thoughts about a miscarriage, “I could never handle the grief of losing a baby.” When I was not facing a miscarriage myself, the Lord’s grace was not there for me. I did not need it. However, in my time of need, God’s grace was there, and it was sufficient. In the same way, when He calls us to homeschool, He is giving us the grace to do what He has called us to do, even in our weakness.

That first night when we were aware of the miscarriage beginning, it was very difficult to go to bed. I felt like I would cry all night long. As I settled down, though, my mind began to praise the Lord, just focusing on Him. In addition, I remembered another friend who had recently miscarried and was pregnant again, due soon after I would have been. I prayed for that other little baby in his mother’s womb. With my thoughts off my own sorrow, I actually fell asleep.

How like our daily homeschooling problems this should be. But is it? What is your reaction to an attitude difficulty with a child that is ongoing, or an educational hurdle that doesn’t appear to be surmountable? My reaction is often to murmur about it, to seek for an immediate solution, and to feel discouraged by it. I would be so much better off to take it to my Lord, leave it with Him, praise Him for Who He is, and focus my prayer on the need or another need altogether. My worry and my discouragement do nothing to change a situation. However, Jesus Christ can and will work on it. I wonder how often I am hindering Him by my own solutions or my anxiety over it.

Lastly, this time of grief has brought to remembrance again of the preciousness and value of each child the Lord has already given us. We watched Tim’s family walk through the final months of his battle with brain cancer. We saw Larry and Wendy love Tim through those difficult last weeks with a patience and gentleness that touched all of our hearts. They allowed us to love Tim, too, during those days. Wendy shared how special that year of homeschooling had been because of the extra time it had given her with Tim.

After a loss, it is too late to express all we would like to express to that loved one. I am grateful that I had prayed for this baby’s safety, that I had thanked and praised the Lord for giving him to us, and that I had prayed for each stage of his few weeks of development. In the same way, as we homeschool, we have the opportunity minute by minute and day by day to love, encourage, and praise our children. This is one of the greatest benefits of having them home with us all day. However, all too easily, we become caught up in, and focused on, the negatives of our children’s behavior. Sometimes we even have trouble finding anything to praise and encourage a child about. May this never be! May our heartfelt drive be as intense to thank, praise, reward, and encourage as it is to teach, instruct, train, discipline, and correct. May we make sure that when we do teach and correct, our attitudes are sweet and pleasant. We want to truly seek our child’s good, and not our own convenience!

I challenge each of us to keep our focus on our Lord and on what He has called us to do. Let’s not become so wrapped up in the educational pursuits of our homes that we forget the ministry the Lord has given each of us of loving and cherishing our family members. May we delight in the grace the Lord gives us for each mountain and valley He walks us through!