Ma and Pa Ingalls are my hero’s. If I could be Ma Ingalls then I would know in my heart that I am doing my very best as a mother. My daughter and I checked out the Little House on the Prairie, Season One DVD series at the library during November 2009. We were looking for something good to watch on TV. with a homey feel that we could snuggle up with, and we had loved the books by Laura Ingalls. My son, who was thirteen at the time, watched with us occasionally, but pretty soon he was starting to protest when it was time to turn it off. “Just one more episode Mama, please!” was his request. Finally, my husband became a permanent fixture to our “Little House” party, soaking up that good, old-fashioned, Christian parenting example. We loved it, and we were sad when we finished all of the episodes, so we started watching it all over again.
For those of you who have read my post on the Duggar’s, you might be noticing a trend of our TV. viewing pleasures. While the Duggar’s show was the final example that God gave to us, revealing that it was indeed possible to live the Christian lifestyle that we yearned for, it was Little House on the Prairie that started these cravings to begin with. Pa Ingalls was a good father and in the book series he was a kind and even-tempered man who loved his family, however, watching Pa Ingalls in the television series is a much different experience altogether. Michael Landon plays the character and while I loved his later work as an actor, I truly believe that he was born to play Charles Ingalls. He gave grace and humbleness to the role, as well as relatable human-like qualities that are hard to overcome, such as temper, envy and doubt. Rumor is, he played himself, because he was every bit as warm, loving, and honorable as the man he played. The good Lord himself only knows how many people Michael Landon has touched with this ministry/show he wrote, produced, and directed. If you haven’t seen it before, or were just a kid the last time you watched it, check it out of the library, it is life-changing. We home school because these two shows started a fire within my husband and I, one that longed to take back our kids, to teach them, nurture them, and show them that to be worldly is not the life they should strive for, but a humble God-centered life.
Funny thing though, I actually didn’t feel the magnitude of a Christian education until I had been homeschooling my kids for a while. Sure, I knew that they needed a more structured Bible curriculum, correction, they needed a Bible curriculum, but I didn’t think past the learning part. The only Bible teaching they received was from Sunday School, and their teachings were sporadic at best. All other things pertaining to God, Christ, and the Christian way of living was discussed around the dinner table, on car rides, and when a question arose. So, when I started looking for a structured curriculum, my focus was on good quality, something easy to understand, and one that was sequential, Old Testament to New. I didn’t realize that there was so much more to it than that, so much that I had been missing.
The products geared toward Christian homeschoolers is something that I never even knew existed, or that my family even needed. Although I am not 100% sure about how the Christian Schools work, and that any daily Bible class and Chapel time is beneficial, I am absolutely sure that nothing can compare to the amazing things that happen when a family prays, learns, and worships together. The more I researched and purchased, the louder God spoke to me. Until eventually, I was not only able to provide my kids with a way to learn the Bible, but a way to glorify God in almost every single thing that they do. I had a new parental purpose, one that had less to do with academics and more to do with my children’s salvation. Wow….. Can you imagine? If you had asked me 3 years ago, I would have looked at you like you were a “Bible Beater” (the fact that I used to have that term in my Brain Housing Group is embarrassing). Yet now, I wonder how we could have lived without it for so long.
On my quest for materials here are some of the things that I came to realize about a true Christian education:
1. God will not ask your child’s teacher, “Why did you not teach this child the way to Me?”, He will ask YOU. He entrusted your children to you, and He holds you accountable. If you are the father of the children, it really falls on your head. Ephesians 6:4 reads: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Teach your children the Word, have family devotions, pray with them. If you believe that it is as necessary as air and food, they will also believe that it is necessary. If you do not believe that it is, then they might not either, and that misstep will fall to you on your day of judgment (yeah, I am not looking forward to the day when I have to give an account to God on why I did not do this from the time my children were old enough to understand. Good thing we have a forgiving God, and my husband and I didn‘t miss the boat entirely!)
2. You must walk the walk and talk the talk. Your children are watching you, listening to you, and mimicking you. If you cuss like a sailor, drink like a fish, and smoke like a chimney…… you get the picture. This was hard for my husband and I. We didn’t have the drinking and smoking problem, but we did have potty mouths. As children from the 70′s and 80′s, we could use the excuse that “everybody our age cusses”, but that would be exactly what we would be doing, making excuses. It is really hard to raise children who will love and serve the Lord, if every other word out of your mouth is something that should be bleeped or causes you to put a quarter in the cuss jar.
3. You must give God back what is God’s, for if God did not give it to you, you would not have it to give back in the first place…..whew! Most Christians know that God commands us to give our best 10% back to Him in the form of tithing. What I found most interesting and exciting, is that God doesn’t just command us, He challenges us to do so. Its like He is saying to us, “Just watch what I can do!”. Malachi 3:8-10 reads: Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows?” There are two ways in which to tithe:
A. Money: To us, this is a big one. Learning how to live on one income, after having two for most of our marriage, is one of the most difficult things about our homeschooling journey, and tithing 10% of that income is even harder. I will admit, buying what I want when I want, made me pretty happy for a while, until my cravings for new things came back again, and again, and again. My husband liked having a shiny car in the driveway, and a huge, sleek, black flat screen television sitting in the living room. Even my children struggled with not having all the right clothes, all the latest gadgets, and getting to be entertained whenever they wanted at the movies, theme parks, etc. We were not good at budgets, so it was nice that my husband could just work an extra shift or I could pick up an extra job if we wanted to do or buy something special. Now, all extra money goes to our new budget, and that is mostly just bills. To top it off, now we have to give 10% back to God, when we could use it as a bill payment (or blow it on some sort of entertainment, which to tell you the truth, is what we would have done with it). Yet much to our amazement, we always have enough…….always. Bills may be late sometimes, and there is some stress of not knowing how something will be paid, but the money always turns up (a few times from very strange sources….so we know it is God). Having a good plan is helpful, and a good book or program about budgeting is helpful too.
B. Time. It is not just money that we must give back to it’s rightful owner, it is time. In fact, time is more precious because we never know how much of it we will have. With enough discipline, hard work, and education on the subject, we can all acquire some degree of wealth, even if it’s just a humble savings account for a rainy day. None of us, however, can deposit extra time in our Life Bank Account. Only God knows how long we will be here, so make it count. Give the most precious thing that you have and He will reward you. Volunteer with your church, the old man down the street, the widow in the newspaper, and the children who are orphaned. Do not neglect your own family, give to them generously and they will in turn give to you.
4. If you start in the middle with your children, meaning that you took back your kids when they were preteens or teenagers, you must have a huge refrigerator full of humble pie and a large pantry full of forgiveness……..because your going to need it! They will buck you, rebel, and generally be revolted by your new lifestyle. Some things will be readily acceptable, like not being rejected and judged by their peers, but other things like censoring the music they listen to, the TV. they watch, and how to dress in a way that is pleasing to God….not so much. My daughter had an utter melt down when I started listening to Christian Hymns and music because she thought I was going off the deep end, and I thought she was going to stage a coo when I outlawed two-piece bathing suits and tank tops! Now, the family has evened out and peace has been restored, but it took a lot of time, tears, and effort. Here are some hints that will hopefully make it a little easier for you:
A. Time: Show the kids that even though you are implementing lots of new rules, policies, and guidelines, you will give them the time to adjust to them and the consideration to explain, explain again, and yet again.
B. Love: Although my children must say “Yes Sir, No Sir, etc.” we give them the freedom (at first) to tell us how they feel. Of course, we do not allow them to cuss, but we do allow them to pour out all of the negative feelings that they have been harboring during these changes. Some of these feeling might sting a little for a sensitive parent, or one who is completely on board with this awesome new way of life and wants everyone to feel as strongly and passionately about it as they do. Your kids will adjust, they will see the goodness of the plan, and God will speak to them and let them know that they are on the right path, it just takes time (see above). Once they have been living this way for a while and no longer feel that they have moved to an alien planet or on the set of some old-fashioned movie, then we required that they censor themselves when they are angry. My children never took advantage of these “free fights” because the atmosphere in which they took place was a calm one, and we (the parents) were genuinely interested in their opinions and concerns. Although we could not bend on our beliefs and family rules, we could bend our hearts towards theirs when they struggled excepting these new things.
C. Family Devotions: This will be your best friend, your best defense, and your best tool. I have mentioned it several times, but I cannot stress it enough. If you are afraid that you will not know what to say, you do not know enough about the Bible yourself, or you will feel foolish, then despair no more! There is an awesome program for family devotions by a company named Pearables (it is misspelled on purpose). If you look at the bottom of my home page there is a link for the 4 books to purchase. They are prefect for kids from preschool to high school, and they are extremely easy to use. However, be prepared, you will learn a lot as well. If you need some encouragement, there is also a family who has a CD set for homeschoolers. They are amazing, so much so that I have written a whole post devoted to them. The set is called: Encouragement for the Homeschool Family by Steven and Teri Maxwell, which you can order from their website http://www.titus2.com
D. Patience: Not so much for your children, but for you, the parent. Be kind to yourselves and your spouses. Give yourselves time to adjust to living your life the way God intended for you to live. You will make mistakes, you will break good habits and form bad ones, you will stray from the path from time to time, but in some cases you are undoing years of an old lifestyle. Give yourself a break, because God does. He knows that you are trying, after all, where do you think this new-found strength has come from to throw caution to the wind and just do it? God! So trust Him, be patient with yourselves, and soon you will know the incredible peace and blessings that comes with Taking Back Your Kids!