Land of the Free

This sentence should be familiar to all: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Two hundred and thirty years ago, our country’s founding fathers penned these famous words in the Declaration of Independence. That statement was their vision for the future of the United States of America. The path was set. Men would stain that path with their blood as they walked down it through the years to preserve those rights.

What can we learn from the vision that our Founding Fathers gave our country? I present two possibilities for consideration. First, that a vision is powerful and shapes those for whom it is intended. Second, that we need to be very careful what vision is presented because we will reap what we have sown.

I think few would argue with the fact that our country owns the vision of freedom and pursuit of happiness. The Founding Fathers’ words have had the power to impact the direction of a nation for over two hundred years.

What if the vision had been simply the pursuit of the Creator, Jesus Christ, and living for Him? How different our country would be today. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:16). Instead of a pleasure-seeking, me-first, don’t-impede-my-freedom society, we would have one that is much closer to what the Bible presents as the way life should be.

The Creator, Who is acknowledged by our Founding Fathers to be the Source of these rights and blessings, is now being thrown out of every aspect of our nation. “Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). Even in churches, we hear the cry of “freedom in Christ” as the emphasis instead of servants of Christ. The focus is entertaining the “saints” rather than reaching a lost and dying world. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

Dads, where are you leading your family? What is the roadmap on which you base your decisions? Some might say they base their family vision on the Bible and biblical principles. That is good, but it would be beneficial to condense your biblical vision down to something that is concise and understandable by the family. When you board an airplane and take your seat, they will soon announce the city where the plane is headed. We need to do that for our family so they have a clear picture of where they are going.

I have found a written vision statement to be important in staying on course. Times can be hectic with circumstances changing frequently. Having my vision for my family written down is much like having a roadmap with the route highlighted on it. Then when I find a road closed, we can detour around it and still keep our destination in sight. There have been times when I have inadvertently strayed from the path I have announced. Soon however, there were some in the family bringing the change to my attention and asking if we have a new direction. It wasn’t too difficult to realize that we were straying off course. Having the family in tune with the direction is a great help in following the right path.

A written vision for the family is good, but we must also make sure that the decisions that are being made are consistent with that vision. If decisions are contrary to Dad’s written vision, that is an indication that Dad’s true vision for the family is actually different from what is written down. Sadly, we encounter families with a great written or spoken vision, but the implemented vision is leading the family toward disaster. The family hears Dad say one thing, but in practice the opposite is true.

Either we will make choices that are consistent with a stated vision or contrary to it. If we are consistently making decisions contrary to our vision, the family sees us as a hypocrite. For a dad to lead a family in hypocrisy is dangerous to the souls of his children. R.A. Torrey had a comment on that which is worth including here.

“One of the most noted infidels of modern times claimed that it was the inconsistent living of his own father, who was a Baptist preacher, that first led him into infidelity. Whether his picture of his father’s character is true or not, or whether to defend his own infidelity he was guilty of gross misrepresentation of his own father, as I have heard it alleged that he was, I cannot say, but this I do know, that beyond a question in many instances the inconsistencies of professedly Christian parents have led their children into utter infidelity. Misrepresentation of Christianity by its professed disciples in their teachings, and especially in their lives, has done more to manufacture infidels than all the writings and speeches that all the Paines and Voltaires and Ingersolls ever gave to the world” (Torrey, R. A.. Talks to men about the Bible and the Christ of the Bible. [New York: F. H. Revell Co., 1904], Page 115).

Do we have a vision for our families that is consistent with the Bible, and are we living it out? We only have twenty years or so to disciple our children, and we must make those years count. A vision directs us as we disciple our children.

A word of caution is in order. The Holy Spirit is our guide as we follow the Lord Jesus in obedience to His Word. A vision isn’t a set of rules that we religiously follow. It is just an overview of the direction we are headed. It isn’t about following rules, standards, and principles, but following Jesus. He will lead us in harmony with His Word.

A family vision is powerful. Dads, what sort of vision have you given your family? Are you leading them consistently with it?

Posted in: Dad's Corner

Individual Time with Our Children

As homeschooling moms we sometimes wonder how we are to have individual time with a particular child. Our days are filled with “togetherness,” which is exactly what we have chosen with our homeschooling. Family interactions and fellowship are of vital importance and top priority in our homes. However, I also desire to build relationships with each child individually, and I see that these relationships are nurtured not only through family time, but also through one-on-one time. I want to share some ways I have found time to spend with a child in the midst of a busy, homeschooling family of ten.

For the bulk of my homeschool day, I accomplish school with one child at a time. I go over his math and English lessons, dictate spelling words, go through his current writing project, and whatever else he might need mom-teacher help concerning. Not only do we have concentrated school time, but this is also an opportunity to have individual time with a particular child. We sit side by side on the sofa, allowing me to put my arm around the child, pat his back, or rub his neck.

I like to have one child scheduled with me to be my meal helper. Just like school meetings with a child, meal-helper time has multiple purposes. Through it I am teaching my child to work, gaining the benefit of help, and experiencing the joy of fellowship with him. The minutes spent together in the kitchen are ones where we can talk with each other for an extended period of time on a regular basis.

Another vehicle for me to have individual time with a child has been to have one child scheduled to spend a half hour with me each afternoon. With our five younger children, that meant that each child had a half hour a week of personal time with me that wasn’t kitchen or school time. I would start on Monday with the oldest child, working to Friday afternoon for the youngest.

When running errands or grocery shopping, I make a point to invite a child to join me. If I rotate children, then on a regular basis each child has an outing with Mom that includes the opportunity for personal, private conversation between us.

For several years, I have taken my oldest daughter for a monthly date. We go out to eat and then to WalMart. To make sure this is an appointment that I am committed to remembering and keeping, I have set it for the first Monday of the month. During the two to three hours we are away from home alone together, we are able to talk and cultivate our relationship, which is important to both of us.

As my younger girls are approaching the age where I began the monthly dates with my older daughter, I am asking the Lord for creativity on how to do this with them as well. Perhaps I will have a monthly date with each of them on another week of the month. Maybe I will have them take turns on a date night.

Being involved in mentoring relationships with other Christian women, I realized the importance of my first-priority mentoring being with my own daughters. These were one-on-one friendships and studies with a focus on discipleship. To begin this with my daughter, when Sarah was about fourteen, I would meet with her for a personal spiritual study time twice a week in the evening after the younger children had gone to bed.

This evening meeting with my daughter was another opportunity for individual time with a child. It also allowed me to pursue my personal goals for our relationship. We used DoorPost’s Polished Cornerstones as a basis for our studies. Meeting in the evening after the younger children were in bed didn’t take me away from time with them. Even though it was set for later in the evening, it didn’t require much physical energy.

Right now, I have two girls whom I pray with and put to bed at night. They share a bedroom with their older sister. While this evening routine isn’t individual time with one child, it is different from our time together as a family. These two girls and I usually have several minutes to share with each other every night in addition to the knitting of hearts that takes place as we pray together.

Perhaps the best one-on-one attention I can give happens spontaneously when a child comes with a desire to talk. I know from experience that this is almost always when I am involved in a thought-demanding project. I also know from experience—and I think the children know as well—that I can appear to be listening but really not be at all. It is imperative that I value my relationship with that child more than accomplishing whatever it is that I am involved in doing.

I want to capture those relationship moments by stopping what I am doing, facing my child, looking intently at him, and paying close attention to what he is saying. Jesus tells us, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). When my treasure of time is invested in a child, then my heart is with him as well. That is also a key starting point for the keeping of our children’s hearts.

We can invest individually in our children’s lives through written communication as well. Almost two years ago, I began writing my children personal notes of encouragement—one child per week. While I am not talking face-to-face with that child, those written words of affirmation give him my undivided one-on-one attention via a medium he will have available to read over and over if he chooses to do so. I have an article on that subject.

As we look for ways to build a relationship with each of our children, we can ask the Lord Jesus to provide us with time and creativity. Then we implement what He shows us to do. We can purpose to have a mindset to take advantage of the spur-of-the-moment individual time that will occur in the midst of our days at home with our children. May we be mommies who nurture relationships with our children in family settings and also with each child individually.