Teach Them Diligently Convention

Early bird pricing for the Teach Them Diligently Convention is going away in just a few short days. Don’t miss it!

Early-Bird-Features

And if you go to the Nashville event, you get to see Keith and Kristyn Getty in concert at no extra charge. It’s included in the price of your registration:
Gettys

What are you waiting for? Christmas? That’s over, so you can stop waiting now.

Disclosure: There are, of course, affiliate links in this post. Thanks for supporting us!

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Have a Merry Christmas

Comments are off. See you in January! Go talk to some real people until then. :-)

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Our First Term with Ambleside Online

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When I said at the beginning of the year that we were going to be using Ambleside Online for our curriculum this year, lots of readers expressed an interest in using AO, if only they could figure out how it all works. Being a newbie myself, I didn’t (and still don’t) have much in the way of tips to offer. However, I can tell you what we’ve accomplished so far, and how I see this turning out for us.

The hardest thing about getting started is the amount of reading you, the teacher, have to do. If you want a curriculum that just tells you what to do and then you do it, this is the wrong place to go. While you don’t need to read every word that Charlotte Mason ever wrote, you do need to get a good grasp of her philosophy in order to implement this curriculum. AO has all six volumes of the Charlotte Mason series for free here, or you can go download them for cheap on Amazon. I also like the Charlotte Mason Companion.

I still haven’t read all of this stuff, so don’t feel like you have to read the whole thing at once before you get started. You do, however, need to read enough to get off on the first leg of your journey with some vision for the future.

Furthermore, you’re going to want to read many of the books that your children are reading, or else they’ll think you’re an idiot when they narrate to you and you don’t know what the dickens they’re talking about. (Ask me how I know.) If you haven’t done anything like this before, read Home Education first, and then dive into the AO Introduction, where using the curriculum is made somewhat more understandable. That’s what I did, anyway, and now I’m just reading through other helpful features of the site and the other CM books as I go.

Here’s what we did, and how well it worked out:

Morning time: The first thing every day for us is family devotions, memory work, and a read-aloud, along with whatever else I can think of that I want to do day. Charlotte Mason isn’t heavy on read-alouds, but we like them. I got inspired by this Morning Basket idea, and started a little basket (well, OK, it’s more of a pile, because I am disorganized) of my own for our “together” stuff in the mornings.

Core reading: My oldest is doing Year 3, and the reading is one of his favorite things about this curriculum. No surprise there, as he has always been a good reader, but the kinds of books we’re working with do tend to put his mind to more of a workout than any of the curricula we’ve tried before. They aren’t hard, necessarily, just not dumbed-down. And there is a lot of reading, because this is a living-books approach. Textbooks are the devil! (I mean, unless you like them, I guess.)

If your kid doesn’t like to read, I would still suggest giving CM’s “living book” approach a shot. It could very well be that the reason your child hates books is that he’s never had experience with the kinds of books that don’t insult his intelligence. These are all good books. I’ve enjoyed reading them myself. The reading selections encompass Nature and Science, History, Geography (although I’m finding we fell short on this somehow, and need to work harder on it), Literature, Bible, and Poetry.

Language Arts: We do daily copywork (for both boys) and dictation (for the older one) from various selections. Sometimes I pick a passage from our reading or our Bible verses, and sometimes I use workbooks I’ve printed from Currclick. Dictation (for the oldest child) also covers spelling and grammar. I’ve also been having him do Daily Grams, but a more formal grammar course will come in a couple more years. One thing I love about Charlotte Mason’s approach is that there’s no expecting children to do composition before they actually know enough to say something. None of that silly “what I want to be when I grow up” stuff.

Handicrafts: We did sewing this term, and it was lots of fun. Just the basics, because I don’t know very much about it myself. Now we all know to some degree how to sew on buttons, sew a few kinds of stitches, and repair stuffed animals. I still have no idea where we’re going from here. (I could show you some pictures of our little drawstring bags, if only I had remembered to take some.)

Science: While there is science reading in AO’s curriculum, I really don’t feel like that’s enough. We’re going through Famous Experiments and How to Repeat Them, and Simple Kitchen Experiments, as well as having the kinds of impromptu discussions that children seem to draw out of us (well, me, anyway) in the day-to-day. Why no, we can’t make a pot of beans without talking about atmosphere and agriculture. Not in this house.

Nature: Goes with “Science,” I guess, but I think of it as a separate thing anyway. On our nature walks (which aren’t happening with the same frequency now that it’s cold outside) I sometimes have the kids take a specimen of something they want to study, then they draw it, read about it, and write a sentence or two in their nature journals for reference. I have no idea whether I do this because CM told me to, or because I like the idea. It might not be remotely CM. I don’t care. We like our journals.

Math: The boys love Life of Fred. I’m still not sure that’s enough, though, despite the insistence of many that it is, so we’re working away at Math Mammoth workbooks, too.

Foreign Language: Didn’t do it. If you’re easing into a new curriculum, especially, perfectionism is a killer. Sometimes you just have to let something (or several somethings) drop, and this was it for us. This term, we’ll be adding ASL as our foreign language, using this free online resource. My ASL accent can’t possibly be as bad as my Spanish accent. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Music (composer study, hymns, folk songs): I’m just following AO’s schedule, except for the hymns. I have my own ideas about that.

 Plutarch: Ha! Haven’t added that in yet, either. It’s not that I don’t want to, just that I forgot. OK, and I’m scared. Next year. Baby steps.

Art: Instead of following the AO schedule for artist study, I’ve been using Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolios. That’s my one splurge this year. Drawing with Children will be on our to-do list this term, as well. I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. I think it’s about time to put it to use.

Field trips: There really aren’t any field trips in AO. I just wanted you to know that we took some. They get out of the basement three times a month, whether they like it or not.

Busywork: There is none. I do not have piles of papers and crafts and “proof” that my children are learning. They are themselves the proof, though the pudding won’t be eaten for many years yet. I’ve concluded that about 75% of what people think of as “education” is just meant to keep children in their seats and give them a sense that they’ve produced something without having to go to the mess of actually letting them produce things.

Exams: Yes, exams are included in the Charlotte Mason way of education. That surprised me. If we hadn’t done the exams, I wouldn’t have really known how much was retained from all of this reading. I do believe this way of learning blows the doors off textbook “learning,” which often amounts to stuffing trivia down a child’s throat and hoping he can digest it into something meaningful later on.

So there you have it, our term in a nutshell. This is, hands down, my favorite way EVER to do school. It’s inexpensive, down-to-earth, and thorough. I think this will be the way we do school for a good, long time.

P.S. Anybody who is interested in a Charlotte Mason education should hie herself on over to the Teach Them Diligently page and register for one of the (very affordable, exciting, uplifting) conventions next year. Sonya Shafer, of Simply Charlotte Mason, gives some fantastic classes that will really help you understand what you’re doing. Her sessions were standing room only last year. Must see.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

 Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in this post. Thanks for supporting us!

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No Ebook After All

Sorry about that.

So, I wrote this (I think) pretty good thing and decided to sell it to you. Then I decided not to sell it after all, but to offer it as a free download. And now I have decided that, for the time being, it’s better if I don’t put it out there at all. My reasons for withholding it are complicated, and absolutely boring. Suffice it to say that I don’t feel good about it right now. Every time I think about actually getting it out there, I feel a little tug saying “no.” I’ve felt that tug before, and not listened, and regretted it, so for now, it’s “no.”

Later on, when I’ve slept on it a while, I might change my mind. Until then, I suspect you guys will be just fine reading something else. ;-)

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Ultimate Christmas and Advent Giveaway

Want some freebies? Rebecca, Colleen, Aurie, Kerry and I are going to start your Advent off (well, OK, just a couple of days late) with a giveaway of each of the three ebooks listed below. If you want to go ahead and buy any of them, you can use this promo code to get 50% off the price: dec13

Also, keep scrolling through the whole thing even if you don’t do giveaways. There’s a freebie down there you don’t want to miss.

 

christmas & advent giveaway  ~  ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com/giveaway

If you want to get a copy of any of them before the giveaway is over, Kerry has given me a Promo Code to let you save 50% … just for our readers. (Use Promo Code “dec13″)

Take a look at these 3 ebooks that help you keep Christ as the focus of Advent & Christmas. Click on any image to find out more.

Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study

  • If you want to study Matthew 2 to learn what the Star of Bethlehem is
  • If you have older children and you’re looking for family Bible study
  • If you want to tie together Bible and Science
  • If you want to get a BONUS item: Skies of the Cross Bible Study

Star of Bethlehem Bible Study - What is the star? ~ ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com

Then Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study (updated 2012) will be great for your family.

You can print out as many copies for your “immediate family” as necessary. Buy one book and use it with the entire family.

Here’s what others say about the
Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study

The Study is Called Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study. Not only is there a fresh focus on God’s AWESOME communication with us throughout time, but you will learn more astronomy than YEARS of study in a text!

Kerry takes you deeply into the Word of God to dig out what God has to say about stars, astronomy, astrology, and neatest of all, how God used STARS to tell about His plan for salvation through Jesus Christ!

If you are like me and find yourself a bit intimidated when thinking of Astronomy Studies, this is the book for you! AND…if you are looking for a great Bible Study, don’t wait!
~~Cindy Rushton, Rushton Family Ministries ~~

Christmas Celebrations: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany
Christmas Celebrations - Dozens of ideas to put Christ back into Advent, Christmas, & Epiphany ~ ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com

  • If you have young kids or older kids
  • If you want to integrate homeschooling into Christmas (it’s already done for you in this ebook)
  • If you want to learn about the Christian meaning of our Christmas symbols
  • If you want to focus on Christ during Advent
  • If you want to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas or Epiphany

Your family will find Christmas Celebrations ebook very useful. Kerry updated & expanded this ebook with an additional 30 pages of ideas. She added Homeschool Tie-Ins throughout.

To see a list of 47 ideas included in Christmas Celebrations, click here.

Christmas Around the World Unit Study

christmas around the world unit study   ~   from HowToHomeschoolMyChild.com

  • If you have elementary or junior high kids
  • If you want to learn more about the history of Christmas
  • If you want to use a scope & sequence to plan your homeschool
  • If you want to make some crafts or cook food from different areas of the world
  • If you want a list of books to read that reflect other countries’ Christmas celebrations

Christmas Around the World Unit Study will be a fun unit study for your family this year.

Your family will love studying how other countries celebrate Advent & Christmas. And we make it easy with 1-week or 2-week lesson plans.

How To Enter to Win

  1. Get Kerry’s FREE Advent Calendar & FREE Christmas workshop by clicking here.
  2. Then, fill in the form below.
  3. For maximum chances take every entry you can, and be sure to follow my girls Rebecca, Colleen, and Aurie. Each of these ladies has incredible information to share with homeschool moms.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: All of the links in this post are affiliate links. Thank you for making our Christmas a cozy one. Your commissions mean more marshmallows for our hot chocolate!

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Public Schools and Naive Kids

One of the constantly recurring, and frankly silliest, objections to homeschooling is the embarrassing  naiveté of homeschooled kids. The implication is that a child’s growth and maturity will somehow be stunted by not witnessing the full smorgasbord of sinful behaviors and moral pitfalls that popular culture has to offer. If he hasn’t had a joint offered to him in the school bathroom by the time he’s a senior, there is simply no hope that he’ll be able to say no to it when he’s twenty!

When I put it that way, of course, the hollowness of the whole objection becomes evident, even to those who will most likely still think it’s better for a child to be “educated” in the ways of the world by his peers and (God help us) D.A.R.E instructors.

Fine, you’re right: I fully intend to turn my kids out into the world with little more than a theoretical understanding of the kinds of criminality and perversion that will most likely be going on right under their noses any time they walk down a busy street. By the time they leave my nest, they’ll most likely be in the same social position I am right now; people who engage in those activities don’t even want to talk to me much, let alone invite me to their parties. So I’ve just raised my children to be the kind of bland, boring, morally upright people that the unwise, unstable, and criminal amongst us shun out of instinct. Oh, how could I be so stupid?

Like I said before, there is no way that I can keep my kids from finding out about sin, being sinners as they are. I don’t expect to. But there’s a flip side to this whole naiveté thing, and that is the fact that, when I send my naïve children off to be educated by government-employed strangers, their naiveté is a serious weakness, making them prey to unscrupulous teachers, wayward peers, and even crooked police. If I keep them either at home with me or under the tutelage of Christian teachers I know to be working toward the same goals that I am, these little ones of mine will still be naïve children, absolutely! But what else do you want children to be? Jaded? Worldly? Street smart? I thought we wanted to keep them off the streets, not familiar with them.

Where does this perverse desire to destroy childish innocence come from? Certainly not from God, who says that we must become like little children, and not the other way around, if we wish to see the kingdom of Heaven.

Several years ago, I witnessed the whole adult congregation of a church gathering around a group of teens to pray for them because of the sexual pressures and violence that they were forced to deal with every day. Now, I’m all for prayer, and I’m glad they were at least doing that much for the poor kids. But what caught me was the pastor’s words before they prayed. He said “Our children have to deal with pressures every day that we as adults would never have to face. They need God’s hand of protection on their lives in a special way.”

So we’re sending kids into these spiritual and emotional pressure cookers, even though in the “real world,” for which we are supposed to be preparing them, this stuff (bullying, sexual pressure, drug use, etc.), doesn’t happen among decent people? In the real world where grown-ups live, if these things happen there are both practical and legal steps that a grownup can take to defend himself. He can simply choose not to go there; he can prosecute wrongdoing; he can find a new job; he can find new peers. But these kids, who don’t have the benefit of years of wisdom? Meh. Just cover them in prayer and send them to learn from these people how to walk in Truth.

This little episode at church was what did it for me. It was about 8 years ago, and it was what convinced me to homeschool.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

–Proverbs 13:20

Not long ago, I witnessed a similar thing with a group of parents lamenting the sexual pressure that middle-school girls must face at such a young and inappropriate age. “Lord, help them!” they said. And they sent them back into the cesspool the very next day.

My dad is kind of a funny guy. When I was a teenager, he’d often see me doing some household task and ask “Do you need some help with that, honey?” I’d accept his offer, only to hear, “Help her, Lord!”

The difference between my dad doing that and these parents doing this is that my dad knew he was joking, and would then get up and help me.

The Bible says some things about praying and doing:

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

–James 2:15-16

Now, if we’re called not just to pray, but to do for the physical needs of our brothers and sisters, how much more does this apply to caring for the souls of our own children?

My children’s naiveté will vanish, despite the foolish concerns of naysayers, but it will recede through years of Bible training, not through the hardening effects of early exposure. My son will learn how to keep to the narrow path through the learning of Proverbs and being made aware of his own sin by God’s word, not through being slammed against locker doors because he’s the only kid that won’t get high with the rest of his social group between classes. My daughter will learn to honor her body by being around those who also honor her body, not from those who belittle and objectify her.

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.

–Luke 17:1-2

I went to a public school, so I know how that naiveté we’re so scared to see in our children gets worn away, and it is not through the maturing of a child’s spirit, but through the breaking of it. No thank you. We don’t want any of that kind of jaded “maturity” in our family.

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A Couple of Announcements

First, the big one!

You know how you get to the end of a pregnancy and you’re just sick of all of it and ready to be done, no matter how bad it might hurt? That is where I am. Not with my actual pregnancy, but with an ebook I’ve been putting together. Several of you have asked for an easy way to find the links to many of my large family and family planning posts, so I put them all together in one convenient place and wrote a few more chapters to go with them. The title is ConDeceived: Little Lies the World Tells to Keep Christian Families from Growing.

I’m still looking over the book for glaring idiocies, which are pretty much guaranteed to escape my notice, since I wrote them. Other than that I’m basically finished. Now it’s off to the tech guy (that would be Get Along Husband) for formatting and a snazzy cover, and to a few friends for their thoughts. Expect me to start trying to sell it to you sometime in December.

This week, until November 30, is your last chance (I think) to get the best deal for Teach Them Diligently. The early bird price will be going away soon, but this code (SAVE7THANKS) gets you $7 off even that. A family registration to any of the amazing locations would be a wonderful Christmas present for any homeschooling family, or any family that’s thinking about it. I wish I could go! I will be having a baby around that time, though, so maybe next time.

Newsletter_hdr_Black_Friday

Also, don’t forget that Three Decades of Fertility (reviewed here) is on sale for just $2.99 until November 30. This is the best price I’ve seen for this book. Grab it while you can:

 

Three Decades of Fertility

 

Disclosure: Affiliate links help support this site. Thank you for your purchase!

 

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Advent Activities for Little Hands

It’s almost Advent season, if you do that sort of thing. Sometimes we do.

My ten cent review of Truth in the Tinsel: I love it. Not being a crafty mom, I need all the help I can get. My little ones enjoy the activities all the more because crafts are so rare around here. All of the ideas are easy and inexpensive. Nearly everything is done with items you can scavenge from around the house, so even broke people can do this. I did have to beg for baby food jars.

Click to buy:

Advent

 

Affiliate links? Yes.

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Make the Most of Your C-Section

Make the Most of Your C-section (Giveaway)How in the world can you prepare for a good c-section?

Since I’m staring down my third c-section with this next delivery, I’m trying very hard to make peace with the idea.  I don’t like it. The idea of a planned cesarean causes me to dread what should be one of the most exciting days of my life. I’m so nearly phobic of hospitals at this point (ask me about my last c-section sometime) that if I thought I could get away with lining a box in the closet with old rags and giving birth alone, kitty-cat style, I’d do it. However, my husband and doctor are aligned against my irrational fear of competent and caring medical intervention and insist on there being no vbac–especially alone in a closet–no matter how I protest.

Since there’s no getting out of it, I am, just as the title of Mindy Brouse’s ebook says, going to have to make the most of it. There must be some upsides, right? Like not having to push, and knowing exactly which day your baby will be born? Small comfort, but better than nothing!

But this ebook isn’t just about making you feel better about your c-section. It’s about making your c-section better. I’ve heard of the idea of family-centered c-section once before, from Kimberly at Raising Olives. Make the Most of Your C-section explains both what a family-centered c-section is and how to talk to your doctor about it. Since it is a relatively new idea, some doctors may be resistant to change, but this ebook gives you the kind of information you need to be able to explain it to your doctor effectively.

There are some options mentioned, such as having the baby delivered to your chest so you can get to know him while you’re being sewn up, that I love. There are some others, like dropping the drape so you can see the baby being pulled from your belly, that I will emphatically not be doing. The whole point of spinal-block anesthesia is so mama can stay awake to meet her baby, ain’t it? That won’t be much use to me if I’m passed out from seeing people reaching into my abdomen and pulling out a baby. I’m feeling a little bit faint just thinking about it. (I swear I don’t have a weak stomach. I can stand the sight of almost anything, as long as it’s not happening to me.)

In addition to the very good information about the family-centered approach, Mindy also provides tons of useful advice for preparing yourself and your family for a surgical birth and recovery. Even if you plan on having a natural birth, this book could be very helpful for those who end up in an emergency c-section.

Buy: You can buy a copy of Make the Most of Your C-Section for $7.97

Win: One Get Along Home reader will win a digital copy of Make the Most of Your C-Section

How to enter: Just leave a comment.

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, November 27, 2013. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this ebook for review. There are no affiliate links in this post, nor will I be compensated in any other way. Here’s your mommy blogger grain of salt.

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Multiple C-Sections: When Is It Time To Quit?

Are some risks too great?

A reader (who has had five c-sections herself) emailed me a while back with a few thoughts and a question about c-sections. As someone with lots more experience than I have, I suspect she already knows what she thinks. But I’m glad she asked, anyhow.

I think the biggest question from moms (or at least the ones I get) are what to do when the OB says {your uterus is} too thin for another pregnancy. We know that God is the ultimate physician, but do we treat a {thin} uterus the same as any health problem that would need medical attention?

The short answer is, yes, I do think of a thinning or scarred uterus as a medical problem to be treated or avoided. If someone has a very weak heart, we don’t expect him to run a marathon that will kill him, even if it’s a marathon for a very good cause. Even if his God is a God of miracles. As I’ve said before, I believe that there is a moral difference between deciding not to make babies, and having that possibility taken from you by illness or infirmity. I addressed that at length in a post entitled Blessings and Curses:

What about those hard cases, though? The ones where a woman has a pretty near certainty that carrying another child would be detrimental to her health? Well, they are hard cases! My insistence that children are a blessing isn’t a refusal on my part to face “reality”, as some have said. I am simply enabled by the Holy Spirit to distinguish between blessings and curses—a distinction that isn’t so easy for the natural mind to make, sometimes.

Children are a blessing. Death, disease, and suffering of all kinds are a curse. In fact, they are THE Curse, and I believe we have license to do many things to try to mitigate the effects of the curse–within the boundaries of grateful acceptance of the blessings, of course.

Often, people who are advocating a weak point will run right to the hard cases to protect the easy ones from scrutiny. But “I don’t want to have any more children because it would interfere with My American Dream” is a far cry from “I can’t have any more children because my uterus is mangled.” This, of course, applies to many situations other than c-section, as well. While I’m extremely uncomfortable with the idea that children are a choice to be made, rather than a gift to be received, I am equally uncomfortable with the idea that women’s lives are expendable in the service of procreation. Not every risk we can take is an honorable one. Sometimes it may be foolhardy or even heartless, depending on the circumstances.

In speaking with my husband about it last week, I likened the situation to that of a soldier. A woman’s valor in childbirth is certainly comparable to that of a soldier in battle, and her necessity to the survival of her people is just as clear. The potential for grief is great. Childbirth is scary, painful, messy, smelly, bloody and dangerous. There is often cursing and violence involved. (Sorry, Jess.) It is also good and necessary. We’d think very poorly indeed of an able-bodied young man who was needed to defend his nation from an enemy, but who refused to do so.

(Of course, this metaphor falls apart when we start to think about all the unnecessary wars that our truly brave and valuable young men are fighting right now. Bring them home! We need them here! That’s the trouble with metaphors; even the best of them will turn on you and bite if you push them far enough. Anyhow…)

At some point, depending on the health and circumstances of the woman, she can certainly become wounded and unable to return to the battlefield, just as a wounded soldier can. Sure, even a crippled soldier could probably hobble back out there with just half of one leg and one eye, and many would be glad to do so if they could. But not only would our wounded soldier be unlikely to do any good for his cause, he’d be a liability to the other men who’d have to cover and care for him. So we salute his valor, honor his sacrifice, and keep him out of the fighting from now on. We revere him as a hero, despite his inability to continue. This is true whether he was wounded in his first battle or his twentieth.

Likewise, I could (and want to!) get right back into the “battle” and try making a new baby. But if my uterus is extremely thin (or some other complication arises), trying to have more children would probably result not only in my or the baby’s death or disability, but in the rest of the family suffering for it, too. I trust God in all things, including pregnancy. I also trust my doctor and the understanding God gave him to help me figure out when my body is failing.

As for my own impending c-section, I still have no idea how things are going to turn out. I am praying and preparing for a good birth, good news about the condition of my uterus, and the all-clear to go back into battle if the Lord sees fit. Given the risk of hysterectomy, thinning, and placenta problems with each subsequent c-section, I am also trying (with limited success) to emotionally prepare myself for the bad news that my child-bearing days are over.

Six kids is a wonderful family, and I’ll be happy with whatever God provides me. But seven is also a lovely number, and I’d be ecstatic to find myself in this position again two years from now. I do not want it to be over, and I certainly won’t be making that decision for myself based on nothing more than statistical risks. There are women who have had six c-sections, and are in wonderful health! I pray with every cup of raspberry leaf tea that I will be equally blessed with, as my emailer put it “a uterus as thick as a steak”.

You all pray for me, too, OK?

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Thanksgiving is Coming!

Just thought you might like to know.

If you’re like me, it only occurred to you after you noticed all the Christmas candy at the grocery store and thought “Wait a minute…isn’t there supposed to be something holiday-ish happening this month? Something involving gratitude and turkey?”

Yeah. I’m not prepared, either.

thanksgiving-ebook-cover3

If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this year, you should take a look at Tara Ziegmont’s ebook, Your BEST Thanksgiving Ever! It is super helpful, and manages to both lower your own outrageous expectations of the perfect family gathering and prepare you to impress your kinfolk and friends! I reviewed it here, if you’d like to know more.

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Pulling Punches in the Name of “Peace”

In many of my posts dealing with homeschooling, public schools, family “planning”, and a dozen other things, I’ve had the gall to say “this is right, and this is wrong.” I then try to back my thinking up with something like a rational, Biblical argument. I do this because I believe some things, and this blog helps me work out those things, while also encouraging others who may have the same ideas. Blogging has the added advantage of comment sections where these things can be further hashed out and knocked about by passersby. I like that. I assume you (to some extent) appreciate that, too, or you wouldn’t be here.

There is one kind of comment I get, though, that adds nothing to the conversation, but reveals much about the way people–mostly women–think about these things. I won’t quote anybody specific, out of respect for their obvious aversion to argument, but the song and dance goes something like this:

I completely agree with what you’re saying. You’re RIGHT. But you need to shut up, because nobody will ever listen to you as long as you’re making it so plain. You’re too blunt. You’re too sure of yourself. I don’t like you very much when you lay it right out there like that. Even though you’re right.

Now, this kind of reaction from people who disagree with me, I would kind of expect. (Except for the part about me being right, of course.) When you either don’t have an argument, or can’t stand the thought of trying to make one, hurling a “shut up” and then running away is probably a very emotionally satisfying experience. But from people who say they agree, I can only think of two possible reasons for it. Either you are a) a coward, or b) a manipulative person who prefers to try to trick people into coming around to seeing things her way. A third option might be that you don’t care very much about the issue, but then, why try to shut me up, instead of just shrugging and moving on?

Readers, especially those of you who disagree with me, or who do, but wish I wouldn’t say this stuff out loud, I need you to know some things:

I tell what I think is the truth because I respect you. Unlike my occasional wishy-washy correspondent paraphrased above, I believe that, if what I am saying is the truth, you can handle it. Not only do I believe that you can handle hearing the other side of something we disagree on, I believe that you have the brains and gumption to figure out what to do with it, should you become convinced of my point of view.

I will not try to manipulate you (as I’ve seen many homeschool bloggers do) by reiterating ad nauseum in every hard-hitting blog post that I write how I think it is perfectly ok for you to ignore what I say, or that I’m sure that what you’re doing is right “for your family,” so please don’t be mad at me for believing some things. *sniff*

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:5-6

I trust that you are grown up enough to understand that I can think that you are wrong without also thinking that you’re any worse a person, parent, or Christian than I am. It would be cowardice for me to never try to convince you to see my point of view because I’d rather get comments about how awesome and wonderful a person I am. But worse than that, it would be an insult to your intelligence. You. Can. Handle. Disagreement.

You can! How condescending these people are, who think that they are so special to have grasped this truth, but that you should be sheltered from it for the sake of your fragile ego!

Reader, I respect you enough to believe that, if we were to meet on the street, you would be able to separate our disagreements from your personal feelings toward me, as reasonable adults who talk about important things ought to be able to do. For those of you who are also in Christ, I respect you enough to say what I think our faith demands of us, and I trust that you will know that I believe that we are still fully brothers in spite of any disagreements.

My friends, many of whom very much disagree with me, know what I think about these things, read this blog, and still love me and know that I love them. This is in spite of the fact that I think that what our nation does with its children–from pre-conception to graduation– is a big mistake, and that they are participating in this mistake.

I tell what I think is the truth because I respect the truth. I cannot say what I believe to be true while also saying “but if you don’t believe this, that is totally ok, and I hope you’ll continue in your error because that is obviously what makes you happy.” This is what my detractors would have me do, not because it makes any sense whatsoever, but because they don’t want anybody to be mad at them. They want me to believe that you can simultaneously lull people to sleep with comforting words and somehow still convince them that they need to make a course correction–the kind of correction that is often uncomfortable, inconvenient, and unpopular.

If you get mad at me, I do not like it. I’m not a sociopath. I don’t like it when people don’t like me. But I care what the truth is more. Your good will is not more important to me than the truth. I didn’t start this blog to make friends. I started it to refine and spread my ideas.

(Oh, wait. I started this blog because I snagged a really cool domain name, and it just sort of snowballed from there. But you get what I mean.)

I won’t pull punches just because the person on the other side of things might not like it. Whether you agree or disagree, you are welcome here, but not at the expense of honest discussion.

I tell what I think is the truth because I want to know better what the truth is. While I don’t spend a whole lot of time hemming and hawing about what I think, I’m aware that I don’t know everything. That is another reason that I need to say exactly what I think, without regard to a reader’s likely reaction to it. How in the world can you challenge me, if I’m always defending, not my point, but my image? How can iron sharpen iron if we’re always scared of clashing?

And finally, I tell what I think is the truth because I love you as fellow believers and fellow Americans. I believe that what the commenters who provoked this post are often saying is that disagreement is too uncomfortable, so let’s just all have our own idea of what the truth is. They’d be happy to let everybody else go to hell in a hand-basket if that’s what they feel like doing. Maybe the result won’t be so good for those who disagree with us, but at least they’ll think we like them!

Well, I do like you. I like you enough to warn you about the path you’re on. I love you enough to make you mad if necessary.

When I see people continuing to make the same mistakes that our society has been making for generations–mistakes that have led us to what nearly all of us agree is a sorry condition for both nation and Church to be in–it would be emotionally easier for me to just let it roll off my back and ignore it all. It would be natural for me to put my head down and try not to rock the boat. After all, this is just the way things are for most people. I’m the minority. I’m the vulnerable one, frankly, not you who disagree.

But I love you, and I want you to understand the mistakes that have been made. We’ve been trained to believe a lot of wrong things, and there is simply no way I can help correct that wrong thinking without also upsetting the people whose lives are built on it.

Much harm comes from not being corrected. Children who should be here–millions of them–don’t exist, either never conceived or murdered, because of what we’ve been taught about birth control and the meaning of human life. The children of Christians are growing up under the tutelage of the secular state, instead of their loving parents and churches. Our nation is in one of the darkest, scariest financial times it has ever seen. While we are still comfortable on borrowed money, there’s a horrific crash coming, and it is directly related to the way we think about these things.

I don’t believe that it is too late to change our course, but it certainly would be if I (and others who do the same thing I’m doing) refused to speak up because we’re more interested in making people like us than telling the truth.

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The Well-Planned Day Sale Reminder

Only a week left to take advantage of the 40% off code for a copy of the prettiest little planner I ever saw. You know you want it. Clicky, clicky:

That’s an affiliate link, btw. Thanks for your purchase!

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You Want a Christian Nation?

Stop letting the government raise your children.

Remember way back when President Obama declared that “America is no longer a Christian nation.”? The chatter in Christian circles was, for the most part, indignant. How could he say such a thing? Of course America is a Christian nation! Aren’t we here?

The headlines should have read “Obama Tells First Truth of Political Career”, or “Christians Outraged at Unexpected Truthfulness from Politician”. Instead, on right-leaning websites, I recall (if my memory serves me) article after article insisting on the historical and current Christianity of the citizens of our nation.  But, as Jesus said, you will know His followers by their fruits, and the fruit of this nation is 4,000 unborn killed every day, unjust wars, an ever-expanding debt, lurid entertainment raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, yearly celebrations of death, and sexual immorality of all kinds, while the only known public moral code is “Whatever, man. No right to judge.”

Could these things happen in a Christian nation?

Given the evidence, I’d say this nation is about as far from being a Christian one as Saudi Arabia is, despite its ridiculous percentage of professing Christians. If something like 80% of people in a country profess the faith, and yet it has this kind of fruit, what we have is not a Christian nation, but a Hypocrite one.

“These people draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

Where do you suppose this confusion comes from? How can a religion have so many “followers”, yet so little impact? The answer is in the upbringing of these so-called Christians. While their parents dutifully drag them to church once a week (more or less), they send them to secular schools every week day, and then spend weekends and evenings consuming godless entertainment. Their lifestyles and leisure pursuits suggest to me that, even among the sincere, they don’t even know what Christianity is, and that is a failure of education.

A while back, I wrote a post called “Homeschooling to Change…What Exactly?”, pinning most of the blame for our nation’s backslidden ways on parents abandoning their children to the authority of the state.

Sending Christian kids to public schools is, in fact, making them culturally powerless, and the reason why is very simple: It doesn’t matter which children your precious ones hang out with or surreptitiously witness to on the playground. What matters is whose authority all of the children are under.

Are we bringing the world under the authority of Christ by sending our children to public schools as mission-minded parents suggest? Or are we bringing Christian children under the authority of the world? I think there’s ample evidence that the latter, and not the former, is true.

When we speak about Christian children, we’re actually speaking about two different categories of people: Children who have been converted and baptized and believe in Christ with their whole hearts, and, more generally, the children of converted and baptized believers who are not yet themselves fully believing Christians. It’s important to make that distinction, because when we speak about education, we speak about raising up societies full of both kinds of people. If you want a Christian society, you need a Christian worldview even in the people who aren’t believers. In today’s America, we have the exact opposite: a humanist, godless, nihilistic worldview, even in believers.

As far as I know, I have five little unregenerate people running around my Christian home right now. While my children have the worldview of believers, none of them has yet made a strong profession of faith. I see my little ones attracted to the truth, though, and know that God their Shepherd is leading them toward it. If my little ones were in public school, there would be no one available throughout the better part of the day to catch those moments of interest and guide them to the truth. Instead, they’d be in an environment designed from the very beginning to squelch that truth.

Because they are under my authority, I can see to it that they have my worldview.  Because I place myself under Christ’s authority, that is the only worldview that my children can even imagine right now. That is how a Christian nation is built.

Christian public school parents, your children are not under your authority. If you think they are, try walking into their classrooms unannounced and directing them to do jumping-jacks all the way out the door to the car. Not only would you be escorted from the premises for disrupting class, your child herself would look at you as if you were insane, and then she would disobey you. Instead, she’d look to her teacher to get her out of this crazy situation. This would happen not because you’re insane, but because she recognizes the authority of the state above your own. (Though you obviously are insane. I mean, really. Jumping jacks, mom? But you’re still her parent, and she is still sinning when she disobeys you.)

But let’s have a less absurd example. Just go try to withdraw your child from school for a month of doing whatever you want to do. No explanation, no doctor’s note, no emergency. You just want to be with your child this month. See what the principal says about that. The very fact that you have to ask permission from a stranger who has no moral right to tell you what to do with your own child, rather than being able to politely and quickly retrieve your child, ought to tell you all you need to know.

Why do you think that putting your children under the teaching of the secular state for the “smaller” truths—the three r’s, health and PE, history—can be done safely and in such a way that they can still recognize the moral and spiritual authority of Christ in their day-to-day walk, when they can’t even recognize the authority of their own parents anymore?

Your children, when they go to public school, are not yours. So, then, whose are they? I know a lot of Christians are going to pipe up and say, “They’re Jesus’s!” But are they? I know from examining the last couple of generations’ fruit that most of them are emphatically not. They have no thought of Jesus, except as a little god in their pocket that they can pull out whenever they get out of class. You know, if they need him.  He is, by the very nature of the public school lifestyle, peripheral and private.

And Americans, even those of you who call yourselves Christian, he is peripheral and private to you, as well. If he weren’t, our nation would not—could not possibly—bear the rotten and bitter fruit that it has. You’ve been trained by your secular upbringing to subordinate Christ to every other area of life.

And you’re so well-trained that you don’t even know that you’re doing it. I look forward to the indignant comments that prove it.

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Just Ask the Wemmicks: Help! I’m Lonely!

just ask the wemmicksThis week’s JATW question comes from a homeschooling mom who is, as I’m sure many of us are, looking for some friendships that go beyond friendly acquaintance.:

I’m looking for wisdom in maintaining friendships for myself while homeschooling. What kind of schedule have other women found works best for them and their families? Over the past few years, I’ve found my friendships with other women to be dwindling, and I’ve been getting lonely. But with homeschooling during the day, napping babes in the afternoon, and trying to have family time with daddy in the evening, I’m just not sure how to fit my friends into our schedule. We’re in a bimonthly co-op and attend church, but now I feel like I have tons of happy acquaintances and no close friendsships. Any ideas for solutions?…

I do not have an answer for this week’s question, beyond my sense that real, honest-to-goodness female friendships are rather hard to come by. If you find someone who is able and willing to invest herself in you as a friend, then you should move Heaven and Earth to keep that woman in your life. And you can only do that by being just as willing to invest yourself in her life, even to the point of sacrifice. I don’t mean to sacrifice your family’s time or needs, of course, but if somebody is important to you, you’ll find a way to be there for them.

That is the extent of my “wisdom”, because I am busier than the proverbial one-legged man. (I wonder if he had any friends.)  Fear not, though! Some of the other Wemmicks have got real answers right here:

Visionary Womanhood

Counter-cultural Mom

E-Homebody

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Does Your Homeschool Need a Little Boost?

Troubleshooting your lame-o homeschool year. (This post will be absolutely stuffed with affiliate links. Read it anyway.)

For me, the scariest thing about October is not Halloween. It’s the realization, after 6 or 8 weeks of lessons, that I wasn’t quite as ready for our school year as I thought I was. This year, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find myself mostly pleased with our workload and accomplishments, but there are always a few tweaks to be made. This year, it’s mostly my morning routine that needs adjusting.

The first trimester of a pregnancy always puts the kibosh on my early-morning prayer and Bible sessions. Instead of getting up and praying, I’ve been lying abed until 7 or even 8 a.m., wishing someone else could come be mommy for an hour or two. Thankfully, those sleepy, sick weeks are short, and I’m almost back to normal! But all that lazing about has gotten me out of many of the good habits that I’d built. OK, I’m not exactly lazing about, over here. But my results have been strikingly similar to a lazy person’s. Oddly, my floors don’t know the difference between a tired mama who hasn’t mopped and a negligent mama who hasn’t mopped. Life. Is. Not. Fair.

Did you remember to pray?

The first thing I need to do to get things back to normal is, of course, pray more regularly. It’s the first thing you need to do, too. While I do usually find a few moments in the afternoon quiet time to sneak off and pray, I find that the early morning hours are still the best time for it. My friend Rebecca has written an ebook, The Homeschool Mother’s Prayer Journal. It’s the perfect reminder and guide to praying through your new(ish) school year.

If things haven’t gotten off on the right foot (or even if they have) prayer is the best tool you’ve got for getting it all done. There’s no calender or schedule here, so the journal won’t mind one bit if you’ve been schooling for eight weeks without it. Now is a great time to get started!

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Did you plan adequately?

Or, if you’re already good in the prayer department, maybe it’s your planning that’s let you down. The Well-Planned Day is an excellent way to remedy that. Procrastinators sometimes find themselves in possession of a better worm than that pitiful, emaciated, goes-out-early-to-jog worm that the early bird picked up. Enter the code NEVERTOOLATE at checkout for 40% off the best planner I’ve laid eyes on. (Unless you count the one I make for myself every year because I’m cheap and set in my ways. You could do that, but it wouldn’t be nearly as pretty.)

 

 The Student Planners from HEDUA are still my favorite thing about this new school year. We are finding them incredibly helpful! (Find my review here.)

Are you really applying yourself to the “home” part of “homeschool”?

If school is going just swimmingly, chances are that the housework is not. (Seriously, do NOT look behind my trash can right now.) It’s OK. Nobody is perfect. But Amy, of Raising Arrows comes close! She wrote The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule a while back, and I–lacking a perfect schedule of my own–completely forgot to tell you about it. I’ve read it, though, and found it very helpful!

The-Homemakers-Guide-to-Creating-the-Perfect-Schedule

Do you need some encouragement?

Maybe your problem is a little bit of everything. Maybe you’ve got sickness in the family or money trouble or just a rotten, stinking attitude problem. Motherhood is hard. Sometimes it feels too hard. I get it, believe me. You are NOT alone! Kelly Crawford’s little book, When Motherhood Feels Too Hard, is always a good thing to have around. Just lay it beside your Bible and prayer journal and read one sweet page of encouragement a day. You will find your attitude changing within a few days, I’m certain.

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Do you need a spectacular finish to look forward to?

And, finally, maybe you need a little something to look forward to. By the end of this school year, you will be ready for some encouragement and refreshment, as well as a vacation! Teach Them Diligently is going to be in four locations next year, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Except having a baby, which I will be doing right about then. But you can go! Early bird registration for the whole family is just $45. Don’t miss it!

Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention 2014

Disclosure: I’ve found these to be a few helpful resources for getting things back on track after the usual autumn derailment. I hope you will, too! That is partly because I want to be helpful, but also because I stand to make affiliate commissions from most of the links in this post. Thank you for supporting our site!

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Worship of God Conference (Giveaway!)

Long-time readers at Get Along Home will already know how important I think it is that kids attend worship services with their parents. While we don’t go to a church that bills itself as “family-integrated”, I don’t let that stop me from bringing my little trouble-makers right into the sanctuary with me, and neither do many of the other families there. We were made to worship as a unified body, and that includes children. The ministry of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches is devoted to teaching the modern church about Biblical worship, and helping families find a place to worship where they will feel welcome bringing their little bundles of energy right inside the service with the rest of the Christians.

I am SUPER excited to have been offered the opportunity to attend the Worship of God Conference in beautiful Asheville, NC October 31-November 2!

Conference_Giveaway

This is a pretty big conference, with a lot of topics, and a lot of great speakers.  The ones I’m most interested in are Singing as Worship, Why not use images in worship?, Why church worship should not be divided by age, and The feminizing influence of modern church music. These are all topics I have occasionally touched on here at GAH!, and I can’t wait to see what some actually smart people think.

Win: Not only do I get to go myself, but I get to take one of you with me! (Don’t worry. You don’t have to rub elbows with me if you don’t want to. *sniff*) This prize includes the conference registration ($449 value), plus lodging for a family of up to 6 ($110 value). Room upgrades are available for larger families. If you can’t quite make the trip to Asheville, that’s OK. If you can’t attend, you’ll receive the recordings of all the talks as your prize! That’s a $250 value, and you don’t even have to pack a bag to get it, so don’t go away without entering, even if you aren’t up to traveling right now.

How to enter: To enter, first sign up for the NCFIC email list (and giveaway) here. Then leave a comment letting me know you’d like to attend the conference! (Or receive the audio. But really, you need to go to the mountains in October. It’s lovely this time of year.)

Extra entries: 

  • Tell your pastor, worship leader, or other church leader. For yet another chance to win, call or email someone in your church or community who might be interested in this conference and let them know about this giveaway. Don’t forget to come back and let me know you did so in the comments!
  • Share. For one more entry, help spread the word by sharing via your favorite social media sites. Just use the buttons at the bottom of this post. Let me know you did by leaving a comment with the link to your share.

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, October 9, 2013. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment. The prize does not include food or transportation expenses. Good luck!

 Disclosure: I have been offered a free registration and lodging for my family, or the option of receiving the audio if I can’t attend. Other than that, I’m receiving no compensation from NCFIC.

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Sore Thumb Syndrome

What to do when you stick out like a sore thumb…

I go everywhere with my five (going on six) children. This is mostly because I like going places with them, but also because they’re still too young to leave at home by themselves. When we go out in public, whether it is for shopping, recreation, or a quick library stop, I’ll often look up for a moment from whatever task I had been focusing on and find myself confronted with the unsettling (because I’m really rather shy) sight of someone staring at me. Just staring.

Many times, what I see is a look of pleasant interest. Often, I have seen looks of disgust. Other times, it has been pity or simply blank incomprehension. Sometimes it’s just plain amusement. It’s OK! I think we’re funny, too. People usually don’t seem to know that their thoughts are plainly written on their faces, and for the most part, they are simply reacting normally. Most people have very little experience with large families, and so I don’t blame them for wondering. Still, it requires a thickening of the skin to grow a large family–or, for that matter, to be different in any other way.

My children and I are well-behaved, civilized people–or so we think, at least. There is no public nose-picking or loud cursing or otherwise uncouth behavior in our ranks. (Well, alright. The nose-picking thing might be a problem for some of our younger ones. But the rest of us are fairly presentable.) Our clothes are whole, clean, and covering all the right body parts. We’re usually not even getting in anybody’s way! Even in Walmart, where being courteous enough to try not to block the middle of the aisle makes us even more of a rarity, we try to make sure that we’re not a nuisance.

“What’s the big deal?” I used to wonder.

Fortunately (for my curiosity’s sake, if not for that of my peace of mind) many of these individuals, upon noticing my noticing them noticing me, have pulled their faces back into a semblance of politeness and taken the time to tell me what it is that has them so shocked.

It is my brazen display of fertility!

I don’t mean to give the impression that we’re in danger of being stoned and left for dead every time we go to the library. Most people are, in fact, kind and sweet and accepting! Once even the most unguarded observer has picked his chin up from the floor and put on his company manners, he will still treat us as an oddity, but a harmless or even enjoyable one. Real hostility is rare, thank God! However, scattered amongst the harmless and amusing comments and smiles, there are always those scandalized few who are all too happy to let me know that what I’m doing is not at all socially acceptable:

“Doesn’t your husband know how this keeps happening?” (As if I’d somehow duped him into this.)

“Slow learner, huh?” (Spoken directly to my husband with a humiliating sidelong glance at my very-pregnant belly.)

“You poor thing! I’d go crazy!” (Um, my children have ears and they can HEAR you!)

“That’s too many! You can stop now.”

“Last one, I hope!”

Or, when spoken a certain way, the words that mean “you poor idiot” in the South: “Bless your heart!”

These are, thankfully, extreme examples, (hand-picked for their egregious rudeness). I try very hard not to lump them in with the well-meaning individuals who are just remarking out of surprise or interest.

But it is at times difficult to know how to respond, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but when I go grocery shopping, I don’t think I should have to talk about birth control with random men who don’t know me. People who are addressing you expect a response, and I was raised to offer one, so it puts me in kind of a bind.

What does one do, when one is weary of the whole discussion? 

I’ve given a name to this uneasy, unhelpful feeling I carry with me to Walmart: Sore Thumb Syndrome. Try as I might to ignore the fact, we stick out, and people notice, and sometimes what they say hurts. The temptation after a few painful encounters is to protect and defend, not engage. That’s natural! But defensiveness is almost never appropriate because most people aren’t trying to be hurtful.

I’m a pretty introverted person, and when I speak to people about things that matter, I don’t want it to be in the middle of the dairy aisle. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to do it anyway:

Be patient. My children haven’t taught me nearly as much patience as have the strangers who like to remark on the amount of patience I must have. I have to remind myself that this is a completely different person than the last person who said the exact same thing to me. Yes, I am tired of hearing “You’ve got your hands full.” But this lady doesn’t know that. I have to remember that the person in line behind me is not to be held responsible for the fact that I’ve already heard (and answered) that particular comment one hundred and thirty times. She gets my standard “Yes, ma’am, they keep me busy.” It’s not witty, but…well, I do have my hands full. I don’t have time to be witty!

Pay attention. Sometimes “bless your heart” is just a random comment. Sometimes it’s a door to a real conversation. Last month, a dear lady said that to me, and it did sound at first as if she were feeling sorry for me. But I stopped to talk with her for a minute, and found out that she’d had one child who (as she put it) “lived as a vegetable for eleven years” after a complicated delivery. After that, she was barren for ten years. Her second child was a wonderful blessing to her, and she wanted to talk to me about how blessed she was to have him. Her interest in my number of children was a chance for me to meet a kindred spirit, and a sister in Christ. It was her chance to talk about something that she probably didn’t have a lot of chances to talk about–her sacrificial love for her children. Her story ministered to me, and I hope I was able to minister to her in my response to it, as well. If I’d ignored her as I was tempted to do, I’d have missed a blessing! This sort of thing happens pretty frequently, so I’ve learned to never assume that there’s nothing new to learn from the same old remark.

Know that this is just small talk. Typically, people who like to do small talk will pick whatever topic first springs to mind. Forget about the weather. When you have five children hanging off your cart, they are what is going to come to mind first. Unfortunately, the fact that I hate small talk is not going to stop the people around me from loving it. “Introvert” is not the same thing as “rude”, so I’ve accepted that I’m going to have to suck it up and be the topic of conversation for a minute. It’ll be over in thirty seconds. I can handle thirty seconds of small talk.

Smile. The very last thing I ever want to do when asked about my very busy life is give the impression that I’m not enjoying it. That’s pretty tough to accomplish some days, not because I’m not enjoying it (I am!), but because the conversation itself is not pleasant. It is hard to smile and respond graciously when I’m told how much someone would hate to be in my shoes. This is an insult to my children! But I will not have my children thinking that our critics (and yes, some percentage of these people are critics, rather than just curious bystanders) must have a point because Mama is such a crankypants when she talks about it. Each one of these little people is a blessing in his own way. I can enjoy telling others about that, even if I don’t enjoy the way the conversation started.

Witness. You’ve got a conversation starter. Use it! As my mother-in-law reminded me recently, we are a peculiar people. Following Christ has led us to a very unusual lifestyle, and we must expect to be treated as oddballs. Christ sustains us, nurtures us, and yes, blesses us through our families! Never miss an opportunity to praise God for what he has done in your family. Children are a blessing!

As long as we’ve got this conversation going, though, let’s try very hard not make it all about the kids. See if you can find something out about the person to whom you’re speaking, as well, and minister in whatever small way you can. I certainly don’t do this every time, but there’s a nudge that the Holy Spirit gives when a little bit more than a smile and a nod is required. Go with that nudge.

Shamefully, I’ve been given to complain about the number of comments and questions I’ve gotten over the last few years. It is hard sometimes, and I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting it. But we need to be positive in our interactions with others, and complaining is a very bad thing to do. Jesus said so. We large-family parents are human, though, and this kind of attention (especially the cruel or unthinking kind) requires practice to handle gracefully. This is doubly true for those of us who prefer to go through life receiving very little attention at all.

Just as I’ve learned to thank God for the hard work of motherhood because the time that I’ll have these miracles in my home is so short, I’m certain that there will be a day when I miss even the strangest of comments, because the silence means that I’ve run out of ducklings to waddle behind me. Even the pettiest comments will fade away from my memory one day, but God will require an account of my response to each one.

35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

If I’ve learned one thing, it is this: Make your answers good. The person to whom you’re responding may need more than an empty, canned response.

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How to Choose the Perfect Names

For your dust bunnies.

just ask the wemmicks

This month’s Just Ask the Wemmicks question is a variation on a question that I’ve gotten a number of times from moms who feel like they’re just barely squeaking by. I think readers might sometimes get the impression that because my blog is well-edited, my life must be, also. I think this post ought to put that notion to rest for once and for all.

The reader question:

How do I teach each child their lessons AND cook 3 nutritious meals a day AND nurse the baby AND keep everyone in clean clothes AND keep the dust bunnies at bay, all on very little sleep?! Did I mention that right now I’m only teaching 3 out of my 6 and we are focusing just on phonics and math?

So let’s talk about how I do all that for a moment, and then I’ll send you on your way to some mothers who (hopefully) have more helpful input to offer. I’m afraid my sole purpose in this life might be to give other mothers a feeling of comparative accomplishment.

Just get them reading. This might sound too simple to a more hands-on, buttoned-up kind of mom, but once my kids know how to read, I put most of the work off onto them. Now the teaching is up to them, and facilitating their self-teaching is my job. I assign quite a bit of independent work to my readers, but until a child is reading, phonics and math is enough. Let me repeat that: It is enough. You’ve got this already! Of course we do sciencey stuff together, and field trips, and handicrafts, and life skills, but the only regular mom-sits-down-with-one-kid-at-a-time things are math and phonics.

Healthy meals. Keep it as simple (read: lazy) as possible. Have a meal plan, but not an ambitious one. The crock pot is my best friend. As for health…well, there are a lot of health nuts who would rather die than belly up to our table, I’m sure. I buy sandwich bread at Walmart, and my kids have never heard of kombucha. We eat like hillbillies, frankly. Beans and taters, cornbread, and biscuits and gravy are common fare. When lunchtime rolls around and we’re in the middle of something, I am not ashamed to plunk down some hotdogs and call the pickle relish a vegetable. It’s fast, it fills their tummies, they like it, and shut up.

I also cook large batches of whatever is for dinner and have leftovers for lunch frequently. Beans are the gift that keep on giving. (In many, many ways. Toot!) Even a large family can get several meals out of two pounds of pintos. We eat them straight up one night with macaroni and cheese and a vegetable, then with rice and salsa for lunch the next day, then make beef and bean burritos another night, then the dregs go into the slow-cooker in a vegetable soup another night. Just stick with simple, familiar foods, get fast with a chef’s knife, and buy those labor-intensive tortillas pre-made like normal people do.

Nursing the baby. This is the one thing (for me) for which all else must stop. Since everyone in the family knows that, we have all learned a measure of patience.

Clean clothes. I really can’t over-emphasize how important it is to me to have a routine and stick to it with laundry. I hate laundry so much that if I didn’t have a schedule, I’d never do it. For us, it’s two loads a day, every week day. I fold and put away right after lunch. (OK, unless I’ve got pregnancy fatigue. The last couple of weeks, I’ve washed every day and then folded and put away every other day. Gotta have those naps.)

Dust bunnies. Learn to love them. I’ve named some of my bigger ones. We think they’re cute.

Sleep. Here is, I think, a clue as to why this mama feels like she’s not doing well enough. I suspect that she’s doing a fantastic job, but that sleep deprivation is coloring her perceptions a little bit. Moms, get enough sleep. You owe yourself and your family a well-rested mama. During the newborn months, I co-sleep, so there’s not a lot of waking up at night. If you move baby to a crib after a while (and I do), or if you don’t co-sleep at all, you probably can’t expect to always be well-rested until baby figures out how to sleep alone. I know that. It’s just a little while, and then you’ll have good sleep again. In the meantime, muddle on through. There really isn’t much to be done for it at these times.

But we moms do sabotage ourselves sometimes, don’t we?  I have caught myself sitting up until 11:30 when baby was asleep by 8:00. I could have been sleeping, like a responsible person! I stay up and read or write because it’s my time to wind down and not have anybody need me. It seems like a good thing to do, until I wake up at 6:00 a.m. and have to do all that on less sleep than I need. So go to bed! I certainly don’t always go to bed early enough (working on that), but my tiredness is often due to my own choices, not my children’s needs.

And now, I will send you on your way to some ladies who most likely have more helpful things to say than I do. Be sure to click through and pay all the Wemmicks a visit!

In The Nursery of the Nation

Walking Redeemed

E-Homebody

Mom’s Many Lessons

Visionary Womanhood

Generation Cedar

Pssst! There’s an affiliate link in this post. Here’s your mommy blogger grain of salt.

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Lilla Rose Giveaway

Readers of GAH! probably already know by now what a fan I am of Lilla Rose Flexi Clips. They’re a lovely, easy way to get hair out of the way. Even someone who is as sadly inept at doin’ up hairs as I am can use these things with only a little practice.

My little girl loves wearing them, too, if we could just stop her from losing them. We’re on her second set of two, and no, I don’t learn my lesson. I’m just going to be very, very careful this time. And she’s still going to lose them. But it will be nice for a little while.

Our lovely model is wearing a Soaring Butterfly mini clip. (Please forgive the shoddy pic. I’m having camera difficulties. Even more than usual, I mean.)

Win 2 Lilla Rose Flexi clips!

I also have a Divinely Framed Jewel mini (pictured below). I’m saving that for her stocking at Christmas. Win two Lilla Rose Flexi Clips!

 

There was a time when I thought Flexi-clips were a little bit expensive just for hair clips, but then I started using them, and I’ve bought a few for myself as well as my daughter. They are worth the money! I have some sensory issues, so wearing my hair up usually makes me very cranky. It pulls and it hurts and it just makes me want to murder somebody. Flexis don’t do that to me. It’s nice to be able to put my hair up like the pretty girls do sometimes. 

Connect: You can stay informed about the latest deals and designs at Libby Odegaard’s Lilla Rose Facebook page.

Buy: You can shop for flexi clips now at the Lilla Rose online store. Libby is also offering a special! To buy one flexi-clip and get the second one half price, just email Libby with your order instead of ordering straight from the shop.

Win: One Get Along Home reader will win TWO Lilla Rose Flexi Clips of her (or his, I guess) choice!

How to enter:  Same as always. Just drop me a comment.

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, September 13, 2013. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment. Good luck!

Disclosure: I was given two flexi-clips so I could blog about them. Other than that, this is an uncompensated review. I did it for the clips. Yes, I’m a cheap date. Here’s your mommy blogger grain of salt.

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A Wee Little Announcement

There’s a reason I’m not blogging much, and it ain’t homeschooling. Well, I mean it is, but it’s also the fact that I’m too sick and tired to get anything done beyond meals and lessons. Sick and tired is good, though, because of  the reason for it. God willing, Little Baby #6 will be joining us in April!

If you follow along on Facebook or Twitter, you probably already know that. If you don’t, then…well, why not? You should be doing that.

I’ve got a Lilla Rose (yay!) giveaway and a Titus 2 Tuesday coming up in the next couple of weeks. Other than that, I have no plans at all for this blog for several weeks. I’m just too sick. I’ve never been so wiped out with a pregnancy. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe I’m lacking some vital nutrients, or maybe this means it’s a girl (my girl was way harder on me than my boys), or maybe it’s twins (that seems unlikely, but the doctor thought he might have seen two heartbeats, but it could have been a shadow. 10% chance, he says. So really unlikely.), or maybe I’ve just become a wimp since the last pregnancy. Whatever it the cause, I need naps. Lots and lots of naps. Not blog posts. Naps. 

That doesn’t mean there won’t be any blog posts, of course. Classic underachiever that I am, as soon as the pressure to JUST WRITE SOMETHING is off, I’ll probably crank out half a dozen great posts. Or maybe I’ll take another nap. Time will tell.

(P.S. I will not be doing those adorable week-by-week belly shots that some moms do for the simple reason that I am not adorable. I’d like to keep my subscribers if at all possible, and belly shots just wouldn’t further that goal. But Bambi is that adorable. You should read In the Nursery of the Nation. She’s blogging right through all of it, photos and everything. Makin’ me look bad, is what.)

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Back to School with a Chromebook

I don’t know about you, but my students don’t really use the internet much. They’re very wee, after all, and I like to keep screen time short. Their mother does use the internet a lot, though, and she has gotten mighty tired of lugging around her cumbersome (once-boss, now beat-up) HP Pavilion laptop. That thing is HEAVY. Don’t feel sorry for me, though. Staples just sent me a sweet little HP Pavilion 14″ Chromebook to ease my burden.

While the label on the box touts it as “the first full-sized Chromebook”, it is still closer to a netbook in size. It is very small compared to the other thing I’ve been using, and comes with the added charm of not having a three-inch wide black spot in the bottom-middle of the screen where somebody stuck a very interested little finger in it a bit too hard. (Not me. A kid. Honest.) Besides this obvious advantage, I’m finding it to be a very good little machine to use for blogging and web-browsing. The hardware itself is better than I would have expected for the $299 price tag. Satisfying keyboard-click, pleasantly bumpy trackpad, great battery life, and seriously good speakers. If your student likes to listen to music while “researching” things on the internet, this is the laptop for him.

This being Chrome OS, it’s pretty much all browser, so I will definitely not be replacing my work horse with it entirely. You can download plenty of apps, but there are a number of programs I need that there are no Chrome apps to replace. Besides, I’m too old  (or lazy) to learn new tricks. For someone whose sole use for computers is browsing, buying, and printing, this is a pretty good choice. It will be my go-to machine for travel, and I’d think it would be perfect for a student headed to college. (Update: Due to an unexpected financial need, I will be selling the netbook instead of using it myself. It’s a sad day, but dentists like to be paid. They’re weird like that.)

Staples was also kind enough to send my son an Access Backpack which, as far as I know, has no bugs or glitches. David loves it, because it’s huge and it has hidey-holes. I like it, too, because now I don’t have to buy him one for several years. It’s sturdy.

Now I’m turning the keyboard over to Jesse so he can give you a more technical review. I know Chromebooks are still an uncertain thing for most of us, so I thought it might be fun to let a technical guy run it through its paces and tell you what a real geek thinks.

The Husband:

I am a big fan of this machine.  The speakers are phenomenal, the screen is great, and the speed and responsiveness of the OS is absolutely worth the money.  I’m also pleasantly surprised by the touchpad; usually these aren’t great netbooks, but this one has great action.

Chrome OS is pretty much a browser, and that’s it.  For the vast majority of users, that’s perfectly acceptable; in fact, I’d really like to get one of these for my Mom; see, with just a browser, you’re not running an OS that’s too complicated for you to understand, and easy to break due to pops up, spyware, etc.  Don’t gloss over that; if you run Windows or Mac OS, and you feel like your machine is getting slower and slower on you, then without going into details, I’m telling you that this machine won’t do that; it should be just as zippy the day you replace it as it was the day you bought it.

I’ve used the machine for Spotify, Netflix, and an audio/video streaming package called Subsonic that I run at home, and they work quite well; the machine is great for streaming media consumption.  I’m writing this post with the machine, so if you’re using a blog, or the Google Docs services, it’ll work well there as well.

My lap isn’t on fire, and that’s great!  The fan is very quiet, so much so that I had to put my ear right up against the chassis to make sure that it even had one.

I’m not really all that thrilled with the keyboard; it’s passable, but the tactile response is a little too soft.  I type all day every day, so I’m picky.  Of course, you can always pop your favorite USB keyboard into one of the three USB slots and use it instead when you’re deskbound.

If you’re going to buy one of these, then you need to remember that if you’re using Windows or Mac OS, and if you use applications, you’re not taking them with you.  Google does run a remote access app to let you use your PC from the box, though, so if you keep your machine on all the time, you can get to it from the outside world.

As a tech, I have very particular needs, so I wouldn’t be able to use one of these; it’s a shame, because I really like the machine .

If you aren’t like me, then I’d absolutely recommend one for you.

Disclosure: Staples.com sent me a Chromebook and a backpack to review and keep, and of course, that’s something like compensation. But no money changed hands, and my opinions are, for whatever they are worth, my own. Here’s your mommy blogger grain of salt

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For the first few years of homeschooling, I’ve kept most of my lesson plans to myself and just guided the kids through our day. They were little, after all. As they’ve gotten older, though, and more numerous, I’ve found that I just can’t keep up with all that stuff by myself. And besides, why should I? It’s not my education! I have three students (along with two not-students) to keep track of this year, so anything that puts more responsibility into the hands of the child and less into my own very full hands is much appreciated.

 

We’ve been using The Well-Planned Day Student Planner for the past few weeks, and I’m very pleased with it. It has a very simple, easy-to-use layout, so it’s good for fairly young students. There’s a high school version, as well, for the older set.

Every Sunday night, David (who struggles with his handwriting, so this doubles as copywork!) transcribes his reading list and other assignments for the week from my big planner to his little one. He is thriving on the increased independence that comes with choosing his own pace and checking off his own assignments. Checking off his boxes one by one gives him a sense of accomplishment in a way that my constant nagging just doesn’t. Nobody likes a nag, right?

I love he has taken ownership of his own learning! Because this book is his, he’s able to do his lessons in his own time and order, so we’re no longer butting heads over getting things done in a timely manner. I LOVE not having to remind him to read his lessons or do his math! I’ll probably be buying this for each of my students from now on.

Freebie! Before I tell you how to win a copy of a student planner of your own, click over grab a free ebook full of tips for getting your school year started right: Well Planned Homeschool: Ages & Stages. I think that ebook will be available for free until August 28.

Buy: The Well-Planned Day Student Planner comes in two designs: tech and floral. While it goes very nicely with The Well-Planned Day planner, it also stands alone quite well if you’re not using it. (Psst. You can buy all that stuff together as a bundle, too.)

Win: One Get Along Home reader will win a copy of The Well-Planned Day Student Planner in your choice of design.

How to enter: Just leave a comment and your name will be in the drawing.

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, August 29, 2013. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment. Good luck!

Disclosure: I have been given a copy of the planner to use for the purpose of this review. This post is also chock full of affiliate links. If you buy, I get paid a percentage of your purchase at no extra cost to you. I do appreciate it when you buy something through affiliate links. Here’s your mommy blogger grain of salt.

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Why does Jesse Have So Many Children?

People ask me, “Jesse,” they ask, “why aren’t you getting a vasectomy?”

Wow.

I thought I’d take a moment, this one time, here and now, to respond to that question about me and my testicles. I will create a QR Code, and have it emblazoned on a button, and I’ll wear it for just such occasions.

I don’t usually respond honestly. It’s not a simple answer, and I generally want to be polite. That said, the question itself, in its sheer belligerence, gives me the sense that, when the questioner thinks of what I come home to, they picture starving orphans clustered around flaming garbage cans, wearing fingerless gloves and asking timidly for more…

Let me answer with a question; what are you doing to advance your beliefs, your ideals, and your politics?

Everybody has something. After all, we were  taught to try and leave the world a better place than we found it, right? Some recycle, some preach, some stump, and some lobby. Some make art, some raise dogs, some do community work.  Some do charities, and still others don’t sweat it too much; they just try to be decent people.

There are many choices, and and for every one of those choices, you can bet that there are vicious, ugly-minded troll-like beings that disagree, and are quick to tell you why your choice is not only wrong, but actually helping to destroy the world rather than to help it. It’s a slightly free country; they are for the moment entitled to their disagreement. Just know that whatever choice it is that you’re making has its share of dissent. And probably has a forum of people devoted to hating it.

For my part, I have children.

You see, I don’t have to make you agree with my politics or my faith. I probably can’t, and it simply takes too much effort. No, I don’t have to convince you; I just have to outnumber you.

I am blessed with a certain standard of living; while others may foster a lifestyle suited to their desires in such straits, I give up those extras; the vacations, the nicer clothes, the spiffy toys. (Well, most of the spiffy toys.) I use that money instead to house, clothe, and feed more people. People that I’m raising as I, not the state, not my neighbors, choose to raise them. I’m raising them to be people that believe what I believe. As Lenin once said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Of course, he was shamelessly ripping off Proverbs 22:6 : “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” When Lenin wasn’t restating biblical truths, he was busy committing genocide, so you have to be careful about quoting him. Thankfully, I get to teach my kids about what a monster he, and his ideas were.

Will all of my children follow the instruction I’ve given them? Maybe not. But I’m betting the majority will. And that majority will vote. And that majority will reproduce. You see, as an added bonus, I’m not only teaching them my religious and political ideas. No, I’m also teaching them my ideas on reproduction. So I am fairly certain that my children will have lots of children, as will their children, and so on, and so on..

I’m playing the long game, friend. So while I may be something of a minority in some of my points of view, that’s OK.

All I have to do is wait.

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Losing Our Kids to the World

A few months ago I was talking with a dear friend of mine, and we got onto the topic of homeschoolers losing their grown children to the world. These are not just run-of-the-mill unbelievers, either, but the kind of prodigals who are actively, vocally opposed to Christian homeschooling. The internet is teeming with this sort of article by what seems to be a whole generation of children raised by religious zealots who won’t even let them out of the basement for fear of being contaminated by the world.

“Rebecca,” I said. “We have to find out why this is happening! What are these parents doing? What can we do to keep our own generation from making the same mistakes? We have to figure this out. I don’t want to lose my kids!” (Her answer was characteristically wise, and I suggest you go get to know her blog as soon as you finish reading this post.)

My mommy-heart faints at the idea of my children turning on me because I gave them Jesus as I know Him. And in such a public way! For shame! That’s the kind of thing that keeps a Christian homeschooling mom up at night, isn’t it, Dear Reader? What if I ruin my kids, and bring dishonor to the name of Christ?  And yet, Jesus is all I can give them. He’s all I hold dear!

Since that conversation with Rebecca, I have read many articles about the grown non-Christian (or worldly-Christian) children of “fundamentalist” Christian homeschoolers. Not one of them contains any evidence beyond the say-so of the unbelieving child, and not one of them is even-handed enough to actually give the accused parents a chance to defend themselves. (Here is another example.) These aren’t news items, but gossipy hit pieces. But they’re useful hit pieces, for all that. Though they are most likely only half true in their descriptions of their homes, I think that these parents are, in fact, making some major mistakes that every Christian ought to know better than to make. And lest you start to feel too anxious, Christian homeschoolers (because that’s a whole ‘nother post, and I don’t want to keep you in suspense), what I’ve figured out is that having been raised on a steady diet of Jesus is not the problem with these prodigal children.

Don’t get too comfortable with that conclusion just yet, though. The truth is a heavy burden, and I’m about to lay it on you the way it’s been laid on me.

Look at the way Jesse and I are raising our children. We’re not as far out as some, but the non-Christian world would certainly call us radical. The first thing I do with my children every day is pray at breakfast. Then we clean up, and then we pray some more during our family devotions. And then we read the Bible, after which we do scripture memorization. When we walk outdoors, we talk about how God made things, and we thank Him for those things. I quote scripture to my children all day long. We sing hymns. Not all of our curriculum is written by Christians, but our worldview colors everything. Even in math, Christ is King, for he ordered the universe in this marvelous way! When the day is over, we pray again, and then I pray for them all before I go to bed. Our whole life is a prayer!

And this, according to scripture, is how it should be:

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
–Colossians 3:16-17

There are in addition to these constant prayers and hymns, many other things that we do (or don’t do) that set us very much apart even from the average Christian family. I won’t go into those here because they are personal convictions of the sort that God leads His children to in His own time, and for His own purposes, and I don’t want to be seen setting down rules that aren’t really rules.

We do this stuff because Mommy and Daddy love Jesus. We love Him, and we want our children to love Him, and so we teach them what we know of Him. Suppose these families simply did what we’re doing, and their children are twisting the truth about their upbringing to justify their own unbelief? Do we really think that these parents whose children so malign them are so different from ourselves?

Now, I don’t want to be taken to be saying that I know that there are no legalists out there who have decided that Biblical living stopped in the nineteenth century, and so they stuff their girl children into ankle-length Little House on the Prairie dresses and make them churn butter and watch their mother’s children all day because that’s all girls can do.

But even while admitting that those people might be out there, and condemning, at the very least, the kind of Phariseeism that could bring these reactions about, I can’t fail to notice that, in appearance at least, I’m doing a lot of the same things that these supposedly horrible parents are. If you’re a homeschooler, chances are that you are doing a lot of these things, too. Having more than the usual number of babies, or screening your curriculum for evolutionary beliefs, or wearing skirts—these are all the kinds of things that come under the scrutiny of the world when we let our children out into it. When you strip away the complaints about skirt-wearing, fuddy-duddy dress codes, the expectation of homemaking for mothers, and all the other things that many, many Christians believe not out of a desire to earn their salvation through works, but out of a worldview drawn from the scriptures we so love, what is left is this one complaint:

Too much Jesus. Not enough me.

The threat in these articles is clear: Christians who raise their children at home with Jesus as the first, last, and only purpose of their lives will lose their children. The world is coming to rescue them from us because the Bible is drawing us toward all sorts of unpopular conclusions that just won’t stand up in our scientific, feminist age. And do you know what keeps me up at night, praying for wisdom and mercy and courage to continue on the path of the Cross?

These people aren’t entirely wrong.

If my children leave my home without hearts that have been changed by the Gospel, I will lose them in the same spectacular way that these parents have. If my children find themselves identifying strongly with the world when I release them into it (and this goes for non-homeschooling Christian parents as well), they are going to think of me in the same hateful way, because I am human, and I stumble. I give the Accuser ammunition to use against me daily. Every time I get mad over spilled milk instead of smiling and wiping it up cheerfully, I give my future grown children tales to tell, not just against me, but against Christ himself.

This reaction, as much as I’d like to think I could prevent it through some action of my own, won’t have a thing in the world to do with the convictions with which Jesse and I raise our children, but with the condition of their hearts. I know this, because I was once a bitter child of good, Christian parents, and I said similar things about them. I called them hypocrites. (What a filthy liar I was!) I said they didn’t really love me, and that all they cared about was their stupid religion. I said they just wanted me to be good for the sake of my dad’s ministry, not because my soul mattered to them.

I slandered my own parents, not because they’d done me wrong, but because they represented Jesus and I didn’t want anything to do with the real Jesus. (Note also that I was not homeschooled.) And I know others who were just like me, and still slander their parents in this way.

Knowing that my children may resent me for it someday, I must now take up that lonely Cross, just as my parents did. This is what Jesus meant when He said

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”

–Luke 14:26

He meant that we must be prepared to lose even those people we hold dearest. And, for the majority of us who still battle the idol of Self, this also means being willing to be maligned by our own children for the Gospel. Even if it were a certainty that my children would judge me so harshly and so publicly when they are grown, I could do no other than I am doing now. This is the way of the Cross, rejecting the world, even if the world is the child your heart breaks over every time you close your eyes in prayer.

Moms and dads, this doesn’t let us off the hook. We are responsible for our choices. We are responsible for everything we do in the name of the Lord. We are responsible for our words. We are–listen carefully–responsible for loving our children to the Lord, without imposing harsh legalisms born of our own self-righteousness.

But we are not responsible for our outcomes. GOD is responsible for our outcomes. And I rest in that, just as much as I tremble over the uncertainty of it and cry out to Him for mercy for my babies. I can’t love Jesus for my kids. I can only love Him in front of them. My convictions come from Love, not Law, but the world—the world that my children could leave me for someday–doesn’t know the difference. All they see when they see Christ is hate, because they hate Christ.

That’s a risk I have to take.

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