Teach your Boys (or any child you love!)

Boys

Hi, I realized the other day that I am not typing in all the blogs I am writing in my head lately. I have reacted to the political hotbed, the gorilla, the attacks on US soil, the crocodiles and so many other topics. However, I have not been able to get responses completed and produced.

Okay, that is only partly true. Really, I also don’t know that I have the ability or the maturity to react to all that is going on around us with enough grace or wisdom to respond lovingly.

What I have been thinking about is teaching my boys. Yes, we home educate them and yes we are teaching them skills other than “school” skills like gardening, cooking, and taking care of animals. But, I have been thinking about teaching them what is even more important than that: the Lord. With things as they are and are moving toward, I am not sure how much longer I will be able to teach my children at home. I am not sure how much longer I will be able to openly train them in God’s ways.

So, I am feeling a real burden to teach them the things of God NOW. Not waiting. Right now. Yes, I am busy. Yes, I get stressed. Yes, I have a very long to-do list. But, isn’t one of Satan’s greatest tools a “too busy mom?” Think about it. She has to do so much work to keep her family moving in the right direction and then has outside pressures. She is busy, busy, busy. Sometimes she is just keeping up with the neighbor getting her son into another sport. Sometimes she is keeping up with a Facebook friend and adding a new item to her menu or exercise plan or reading list. Sometimes she is keeping up with Pinterest and adding new decorations to her home. Sometimes though it is just the laundry, dishes, and life of living with a family that keeps us so busy. None of these things are bad. They are just busy.

This past school year we started going through a study from Not Consumed  that is called Foundations of Faith. Find the link to the study here if you like. (I am not getting anything from your buying this item should you choose to do so.) It doesn’t give a lot of doctrine but it asks a lot of questions. It starts with ones like “Who is God?” and “Why am I here?” The author lists some verses you might want to check out and then there is space to add in lots of the verses you find yourself. She also brings up judging and discernment and how they are different.

She moves on later in the study to matters of “What we Believe,” and  purity, dress, media, alcohol, and money as well as other topics come up here. She doesn’t tell you what to teach your children. She just asks about what your family believes and gives you questions to think about and discuss with your children. This opens the door to talk to your children about your family’s beliefs from scripture. My favorite part is that it forces me to think about what my husband and I believe (Sometimes I even have to ask him!) and to see if those are Biblical beliefs or just a tradition that we grew up with in our homes.

Do you know what you believe about modesty, media, marriage, or money? Do your children know what you believe? Do you know why you believe those things? Do you know what scripture says about those topics and do your children? This is a wonderful study about the things that really matter. In a world where so many people are telling us what to believe and why, our children should know what we believe as Godly parents who are seeking the TRUTH and where we find that in scripture.

So, what do you do if you begin to study scripture and what you believe (or thought you believed) doesn’t line up with the Word of God? Well, this is where the toilet meets the floor. You know–that wet dirty ring around the bottom of your toilet? Come on, you know what I am talking about! I can just see some of you looking away like I can actually see you. Others are now thinking about the last time they gave that area a swipe with a disinfectant. If you have boys, that ring is often yellow and smelly! That is the gross place where reality lives. Stay with me here. (Okay, if you must go and clean, do so. I’ll wait for you. ) You have to get in the Word and find out if your thoughts, your beliefs, your reality is really God’s. If it isn’t, well, you’ll have to decide what to do then yourself. Do you really want to go against God? My suggestion is that when we find those things that don’t line up, that WE CHANGE (gasp!). Yes, we move our thinking to align with God’s.

And, if you don’t know where you stand on some of these topics, it might be a time to study a bit more yourself or with your spouse. If you don’t know what you believe, how will your children know? They are going to get their belief systems, ideas, morals, and reality from somewhere. Adults, media, friends, and teachers are all too happy to share their ideas, but your children need the Word of God. They need a sure grounding in the one place that never changes, that never moves away from what is right and good and pure. God’s Word is that place.

Teach your boys (and all your children!) God’s Word and your belief in it. Someone else will gladly teach them something else, if not.

Love your boys and teach them!

New Year’s Resolutions?

bad day turtle2016 is already here! Where is time going? “Slow down, Time!” Each year as time goes by, I have decided not to do a New Year’s resolution. Why? Because I don’t want to fail. I have enough stress, enough struggles, enough loss, and enough pain that I never think about setting another goal which I might not reach.

I was driving down the road the other day as the Christian radio announcer spoke out the alarming number: 8%. Of those who set New Year’s resolutions, 8% are able to fulfill them. Really? Really! Why is it that such a small number of people will achieve their goals? I think it comes down to the fact that we are sinners. We sin. We fail. We try to depend on ourselves; we strive for perfection; we try to do it alone, instead of looking to the Lord for strength, hope, love, peace, joy. Those who do not know Christ have no power over sin and failure, loss and then shame.

Shame and failure: that may be the real reason that I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions normally. Last year, I just set a goal to be joyful. Yep, you guessed it. I was NOT one of the 8% and felt shame that I did not achieve that “simple” goal. I had given myself no grace and no “half-way.” I either had to be joyful each day or I was a failure. I didn’t even write about my year and what I was reading. I stopped reading the encouraging book. I relied on myself and I failed. I have not set resolutions in the past, because when I did, I knew I would fail.

However, the first week of January of 2016, I decided that one who does not set some sort of goal, she will never achieve anything! Maybe I needed to rely on God for the outcome, get over my perfectionist tendencies (at least some), and set a goal to work toward.  Thinking about what I would like to achieve, I realized I wanted to be healthier, in better shape, more focused on my boys and the Lord, more learned. In a word, I wanted to move toward perfection. EEK! It sounded like failure just thinking through all those things. But, after some prayer, here is what I have decided.

  1.  I know. I know. You are thinking FLOSS! Her goal is to floss? Well, yes it is. Our teeth and gum health will reflect our total health. I had a dentist who used to jokingly warn me, “Only floss the ones you want to keep.”  So, my first goal is floss, but notice that I did not write floss daily or floss 3 times a week. Grace, dear friends. I will floss when I think about it and let me confide in you, I have already flossed more this month than all last year (though it has not been daily)! I am already in that 8%. 🙂
  2. Copy Scripture. This could get really big and almost ugly if I let it. But instead, I looked at the books of Ephesians and Philippians, and they both had the same number of verses in the books. I love both those books in the New Testament, written by the Apostle Paul. So, I started copying 4 or 5 verses a day and reading what I had written before that day. I am finishing the first chapter of Philippians today. When I finish the book, I will start on Ephesians. When I complete that, I will start with Philippians. No stress. Just copywork for the spiritual heart and mind! 🙂
  3. Move more. Again, how can I go wrong, right? 🙂 Yet, I want to be intentional about moving–park and walk to the store, run around with the boys, work out in the evening, move around while teaching or cooking, dance in the kitchen. But, I don’t have to do this daily or a certain number of times each week. I just want to intentionally move more. This month I added to my calendar that this goal might look like “lifting 2 times/week.” Each month I may decide to do a mini goal but maybe not. I have not been able to lift twice this week, and I don’t want the shame of not accomplishing it. I might have to do that before I go to sleep…or I may just give myself grace to do it tomorrow.
  4. Be intentional about the boys is my last goal. I am learning that it is the little things that matter. I was becoming annoyed that the boys’ clothes were all over their rooms, not in drawers. WHY? After some time I realized that they believed the clothes would not all fit into the drawers. At the change of the seasons, I put all the clothing into the drawers so I knew they all fit. How then is it that after a couple of week the clothes no longer fit?! Parent Realization #309: The boys did not know how to properly fold their clothing so the clothes turned out too wrinkled and “large” to all fit. Each week, I wash the boys’ clothes in separate loads, and they fold their own clothing and put it away in their rooms. Last week the boys each had their loads, and I went through folding lessons again (ahem). Showing them again how to fold jeans and long sleeved shirts. Paying attention to the details really does make a huge difference. And guess what? All the clothing fit in the drawers!

As this month moves into the next and the next, I hope to be flossing, moving, copying, and paying attention to the details of my boys’ lives. But no matter how many goals I am meeting for myself (or not), I pray that I will continue to be leaning heavily on the arms of my Saviour and Lord: Jesus Christ. If I am in His arms, I cannot go wrong. And maybe that was the trouble with the past, the shame and feelings of failure. I wasn’t resting in His arms and His love. I am His child and He loves me just as I love my children, unconditionally (flossed teeth of not).

Love your boys. Love your family. It will be what they remember & is a goal worth achieving!

Who we are NOW…

I feel like I need to update everyone on photos and information about us! I looked back and it had been two years…eek. Sorry. So here are the new photos. Thanks to Jada Houk who took all the photos published here. She is not only a wonderful photographer but a wonderful person! She makes the boys feel so calm and like they are doing a great job modeling.They always have such fun with her. Thanks, Jada!

Without further ado…

Here is The Engineer: He is now 11 and will enter middle school…um, yes, Mom, he has arrived!

Engineer 2015

Next is Farmer, Jr. He still wants to be a farmer like Dad! He is now 9.

Farmer, Jr

The Cowboy is just now 8 and may be moving toward Farmer, Jr Jr 🙂 and away from being a Cowboy. Though he was dressed up and playing cowboys just today…so you never know.

The Cowboy 2015

Finally, Our Dancer is 3 and still dancing and singing up a storm!

The Dancer 2015

We sure love our boys and we are enjoying our time with them! More to come soon on what we have been doing lately. 🙂

Love your boys and enjoy the end of the summer!

Raising Men…but not yet.

I want my boys to grow up to be strong men who are loyal and hard-working, honest and kind. We work toward this daily with our training and teaching, as well as our discipline and work. It is not an easy job because we will not know how it turns out for some time now. I want to keep the perspective though.They are still young boys and not yet men.

thru the lens

I want them to envision what type of job and responsibilities they will have. Sometimes I talk to them about their wives and future families. I want them to think about and discern the type of wife and mother of their children they hope to marry. I want them to create an imagine of themselves as independent men and caring, loving husbands. Mostly, I want them to see themselves as Men of God, standing for His Word and loving those who need Him. But they are not there yet.

Recently we have visited many friends and family as well as local libraries and stores. I have repeatedly heard folks, both men and women, asking other children if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend. I have heard teasing about children “dating” and if they are holding others’ hands or kissing. Mostly the children being asked are embarrassed and giggle. But, each time we talk to children about more adult or mature topics, we are encouraging them toward that end.

According to the US Dept of Heath for Adolescent Health, in 2013 there were 26.6 births out of 1000 in the US to teen moms (15-19) and for 1/6th of those, it was NOT their first birth.  89% of those births occurred outside of marriage, according to the notes. On the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies website, in 2013 there were over a quarter of a million (274,641) teen births. This is saying nothing of the terminated pregnancies, just births. The site also notes that teen pregnancies have declined in the last decades; however, it still states that a staggering $9.4 was spent in 2013 on childbearing for teens. They also noted that even though the rate is down, 3/10 girls will become pregnant before they is 20 years old.

Now, I know that statistics can be arranged to look good and bad as the reporter would like, so I often do not put too much stock into them.  When I wanted to know about the US National teen pregnancy rate, I did what all educated folks do today, I googled it! 😉  But joking aside, as you well know, teen pregnancy is something that affects all of us. We don’t need statistics to tell us that it is alive and well all around us. We all know young women who became pregnant before they were ready to be.

So, what am I really talking about today? I am talking about the adults in the lives of children speaking life and love and perspective into their lives. Speak respect and truth. I am talking about adults NOT asking a kindergartner if he has not been holding a girl’s hand. I am encouraging parents not to tease fourth graders about not “going with” someone. I am begging parents not to put clothes on a little girl which draws sexual attention to her body. I am praying that family will not laugh at my boys when they don’t have girlfriends in the 8th grade. I am talking about adults allowing children to be children.

Recently, I have come across Facebook posts with photos that make me want to say, “Get some perspective! Let them be children!” One was of two first graders, one kissing the other on the cheek while they held hands. The caption said, “First Loves.” Another post was of two tween/teens wearing “I am his” and “I am her” t-shirts. The kids had interlaced arms and big grins. Another still showed little girls going off to school with parental comments noting that their “style” will really draw some (boy) attention. I know that we often joke and tease and think it is cute for children who seem to be doing adult things, but if we encourage our kindergartner to dress like a 25 year old, our first grader to hold hands, our third graders to kiss, our sixth graders to be “claimed” by someone else, how long will it be before they are moving forward to more mature and adult activities: the activities of marriage?

Why not let them be children? Why not encourage them to be kind to others and to play and run? Why not encourage them to work their bodies hard and respect themselves? Why not love them and teach them about marriage IN THE FUTURE?

If you ask my boys about girlfriends, I hope they will (politely, ahem) tell you that they are not old enough to support a wife.This might sound odd in today’s standards, but I want my boys to think about attachment with intimacy connected to permanence and marriage. I don’t want it to be thrown out when the t-shirt is too small to wear anymore.

We, as the adults, are where it starts.Talk to your boys about being good husbands and dads. Share stories of men doing just that. Show them examples and work on skills with them. Build up women as ones to be loved and cherished, protected and honored. Keep intimacy for marriage and forms of pre-intimacy to closer to marriage.  The sooner they start on the path, the sooner they will arrive at it.

Love your boys! They will one day be men…but not yet!

Sites I used:

http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/reproductive-health/teen-pregnancy/trends.html

http://thenationalcampaign.org/data/landing

Our Choice for our Boys: home education

The boys

I have often heard of others who talk of how they want their children to return to school after a break, how they cannot wait to have “their homes back” when their children get on the bus after a snow day (or several), how they could never do what I do and don’t have the patience or the education or the time…the list goes on… to be with their children more than they already are now.

Stop.

Before you comment with mean things about why you think it is okay that you send your children to school, let me say it: it is okay that you send your children to school. But, may I also say, it is okay that I keep my children at home to educate them because it is NOT about me.  It is also not through my own power that I do it.  The boys miss each other and enjoy each other during the day. The Dancer could get used to the boys being gone, only seeing them for a bit after school (and homework and lessons) before bed. But why?  We want the boys to be friends with one another and love one another first, after God.

Let me say it though for all to hear read:

I do not have enough patience.

I am not educated enough: though I have a Bachelor of Arts in high school and middle school English Education and reading (read former high school and middle school English teacher), I do not know so many things the boys ask about daily.  My boys were the first I ever taught to read or count or add.  I feel I have a lack of knowledge on a regular basis.

I do not have time to myself  to read or go potty without interruption (Yes, this is an issue for me. Yes, it is a big deal. And yes, I know I mentioned it before), or write when I want, or even pray when I want to most days.

My days are currently dictated by others.  But, in many ways, is that not the definition of motherhood? We lay down our lives for our children every day. Moms whose children are educated outside the home do this too, but home educating moms do it to a greater extent because they are always WITH their children.  We give up our freedom, so that we can love these little men that the Lord has blessed us with for such a short season.  It is a blessing and a responsibility, and it truly is for such a short season.  The Lord will bless this time that I give to my sons to train, support, teach, and lead them.  But I know that it is not really me but Him. He is the trainer, support system, teacher, and leader they need. And, I need Him, too. He gives me the patience, the knowledge, the desire to learn, everything.  I can only educate my children at home because He gives me the strength to do it.

The Farmer and I chose to home educate our boys for academic reasons as well as other reasons. While we do not feel mandated by God to home educate our children, we do believe that He will bless this time we spend with them teaching and instructing them. This week alone we have been able to read the gospel accounts to the boys about Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.  Their handwriting work has been passages that we read from those gospels.  We have also been able to work with them on memory work which included the three characteristics of light, the list of coordinating conjunctions, the commutative laws of addition & multiplication, and the geography of Central and south Central Americas. (Did I mention my oldest isn’t ten yet?! I never learned some of the things they are learning until I started teaching them.)  That isn’t even all of it that we did with Classical Conversations! (But that will have to be another post.)  We are choosing to classically educate our children at home, with the Lord’s help, because we believe it is the right thing to do.  It is our choice for our boys.  And, it is okay if it is not your choice for your boys.  Let me say it again, it is our choice, but it does not have to be your choice.

Not all families choose to home educate their children, but as parents, we have to stick together and not judge one another.  We have to respect the choices of others for the sake of our boys. When home educating parents see a family dropping off children at school or putting children on the bus, the home educating mom does not pull over to a stop and ask the other mom why she is doing so.  She does not ask a mom in the store where her children are and what they are learning at school that day.  She does not think poorly about the family that sends their children to school. Could the courtesy go both ways? Could a mom who sees a home educating family at Sam’s Club NOT ask why the children are there? Could she NOT ask what they are learning today? Could she NOT question them about the presidents or their math facts? We love all love our boys and are working to give them the best lives possible, in a school outside our home or in our living room. Let’s pray for one another and build one another up; we will all be stronger for the decision.

So the next time you see a passel of boys out while you are getting lunch in the middle of the day, it just might be us on a field trip. Instead of thinking, “Why are those boys out of school?”  Could you think instead, “I wonder what those boys are learning today?  I wonder what great things the Lord is teaching them through that mom right there (who does look a bit tired and sometimes a bit frazzled)?  Let me pray for her and her job of educating those men of tomorrow.”

I am taking time to pray for you and your family today. Please take a minute and pray for that mom and those boys or that family hanging out with the monsters.  😉  We all need it!

What do you think, could you do it?  Mikeandthefamily

Love your boys.

In the beginning…

Welcome!  ImageI am starting this blog to record our life with boys! 🙂  We have four sons, all of which are 9 or under. Life gets crazy around here sometimes but I do love our boys.  We live on a farm and we home school classically.  These topics and many more will be added to the site as well, I hope, as encouraging things that we are learning from God’s word.  And so begins the blog! 🙂