Making Biblical Family Life Practical

Building a Family Culture – MBFLP 278

You can feel it when you walk in the door – families have a particular culture or personality! Whether intentional or not, every home will develop its own manner of living and interacting. The question is – how can you encourage a healthy family culture that will strengthen as it goes on? How can you avoid a negative, or even toxic, family life that drags everyone down?

Resources We Mentioned

Sonya Shafer at Simply Charlotte Mason

Podcast Episodes:

“Potty Mouth” – A Big Deal, or Not?“What should I do about my kids’ ‘potty mouth’?” asked a young father in our church. Learning appropriate behavior and speech patterns is part of socialization, but is there a bigger issue than being “socially acceptable”?

Encouraging More Edifying SpeechThe Bible says a lot about the power of the tongue – the question for us is, how do we train and encourage our families to speak in a more gracious and edifying way, when the culture around us grows more unkind and profane every day?

Raising Kids to Love Their SiblingsIs sibling rivalry just something to expect? Is it a foregone conclusion that our kids are going to be simmering with jealousy, rivalry, and unkindness toward one another? Or is there a way to promote friendship and affection between brothers and sisters? We have eight kids, and while they’ve had their moments of conflict, we’ve been blessed to see them grow in genuine love as they’ve matured. How can we foster this sort of relationship in the home?

Name-Calling and Why It’s ImportantSticks and stones … right? We’ve all heard that, and probably told our kids that one time or another. Yet name-calling is not only a plague of childhood, it’s actually a problem throughout life … and we adults are warned by Christ Himself to be wary of the temptation! This episode, we look at what the Bible says about a deceptively simple and “harmless” practice that can trip us up when we least expect it!

 

We Joined the Thirty-Percent Club!

We recently finished three events in Alaska (Sterling, Anchorage, and Fairbanks) and recorded this episode in a cabin between Fairbanks and Anchorage. It’s an amazing state!

Locals told us that only 30% of visitors actually get a clear view of Denali – but we did! We took this picture from Talkeetna, about sixty miles away. The day before, you couldn’t see any mountains whatsoever – the weather just covered that whole 20,000-foot peak. We consider ourselves blessed to get a sighting on our first trip – some people visit for years and never see it.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

We’ll be speaking at three major conferences in the coming weeks:

Be sure to stop by our booth and say hi!

Homeschool Conferences – and why we love them! – MBFLP 277

With the world full of resources available online, you can develop your philosophy, order your materials, and start homeschooling without ever meeting another parent-educator. That’s a blessing in many ways, especially if you live in a rural area or a foreign culture. But sometimes we think we’ve found what we need when we join the right group on Facebook and know which bloggers we want to follow and which website we like to order from. You may have found part of it, but there’s more!

 

God tells His people, in Hebrews 10:25, that we must not forsake gathering together. That command didn’t change when our grandparents heard Billy Sunday on the radio or Billy Graham on TV – those were great resources, but they weren’t substitutes for real-life people. We need more than information, we need interaction.

Homeschooling is not church, but it definitely involves spiritual warfare. It’s important to find a flesh-and-blood network to support your homeschooling and provide you with opportunities to help others, too. We’re big fans of local support groups, for just that reason.

But conventions add another dimension – the sheer energy of being in a hall with hundreds, or even thousands, of people walking the same path you’re on. You might have different plans or destinations for your students – college, career, military, home – but you’ve all set out on the path marked “Home Education,” which is one of life’s greatest adventures. And it’s exciting to meet travelers on the same road.

Don’t be shy about talking with other families. You have one little boy, and they’ve got four? Ask them how it works. They have a teenaged daughter and yours is a few years younger? Ask if they have any insights for the next step. You notice they’ve bought a curriculum you’re considering? Strike up a conversation.

Don’t be shy about authors and speakers, either. Most of us speakers are teachers and counselors at heart. We want to reach out and help people.  We expect to meet lots of folk whose opening words are, “I have a problem …” or “I was wondering …” That’s what we’re here for. And conventions are the place where you can actually get one-on-one interaction with the people who write the books and curriculum.

You can bless them, too. We love our readers who buy from the big online bookstores, too. But did you know that when you save a dollar online, the author probably earns two dollars less? If you can, please buy directly from the author or the publisher whenever you can. That helps them pay the bills so they write the next book or curriculum you’re looking forward to!

And don’t forget the people who put on the convention. Most conventions are organized by volunteers, and the proceeds support the year-round services they provide – monitoring the legislature, training support group leaders, answering questions from new homeschoolers, and talking with skeptical reporters. They’re working to promote and defend your freedom to homeschool. Let’s pitch in and support them, too!

(This article first appeared in The Homeschool Minute, a publication of The Old Schoolhouse magazine)

UPCOMING EVENTS

We’ll be speaking at four major conferences in the coming weeks:

Be sure to stop by our booth and say hi!

Homeschooling with Unsupportive Family – MBFLP 276

 

If God has called you to teach your children at home, that’s what you need to do! But it’s easier if everyone around you is cheering you on. What do you do if your parents or in-laws or extended family are skeptical? How do you and your family keep on the path when there are headwinds? How do you handle questions, criticisms, or other opposition? And what can you do to find the encouragement you’re not getting from the family?

LINKS OF INTEREST

Census data shows the number of families homeschooling doubled during the pandemic (from 5.4% to 11.1%) and among African-American families, increased from 3.3% to 16.1%

Census Bureau: “Survey shows significant increase in homeschooling rates in Fall 2020” – 3/22/21

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)

Search by ZIP code to find support groups (state and local) 

DEALING WITH FAMILY SKEPTICS

Assume concern is well-intended unless proved otherwise!

Figure out where their concern is focused, then address it with facts and experience

Go ahead and commit to a period of time, like a full school year. That gives kids a more stable educational experience, and it gives both parents and students a chance to adjust to a new way to “do school.” It reduces the temptation of constant second-guessing, too.

Go to a conference! It’s a great way to encourage yourself, and it’s an eye-opener for skeptical family. Even a small conference is likely to be much larger than your family has pictured. And invite grandparents to activities when your kids are involved – whether it’s homeschool sports, a science fair, a talent show – whatever your family is connected to.

Think ahead about “difficult” people – the ones who want to argue with your decision, or the ones who want to interrogate your kids. Coach your kids on the obvious, likely questions – “What grade are you in?” (which is really more like, “How old are you?”) – “What do you like about homeschooling?” – “Do you like to read?” – “What are you learning now?” – “What’s your favorite subject?” Kids sometimes go blank when an adult throws an unexpected question – go head, coach the witness!

Remember, you don’t have to argue and convince everybody (whether homeschool skeptics, or homeschoolers who are taking a different path than you!). Smile, be polite, but be confident. It’s your family, and your kids – not theirs!

More content …

 

SPEAKING OF CONVENTIONS … Come see us at one of these great events!


If you’d like to have us speak at your church, conference, or other group, CLICK HERE to find out more! 

Church Online – Yea or Nay? – MBFLP 275

One of the unexpected results of the pandemic has been the expansion of online-church opportunities. Even small churches like our own were able to use inexpensive tools and software to broadcast streaming worship services – without a technical crew! But is this a useful expansion to the church’s ministry and outreach – or a distraction, or even an enemy, to real worship and fellowship?

Join us for this discussion as we seek a Biblical balance about church broadcasts of all sort – and how to make the best use of them!

Passages of Interest

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Acts 2:42, 46-47 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. … So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.

Mention of believers gathering as churches in private homes:

Romans 16:3,5 – Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, … Likewise greet the church that is in their house

1 Corinthians 16:19 – Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

Colossians 4:15 – Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.

Philemon 1:1,2 – To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, … and to the church in your house:

Upcoming Events

We’ll be speaking at several conferences and events this year … here’s a partial list:

If you’d like to have us speak at your church, conference, or other group, CLICK HERE to find out more! 

Homeschooling and the Holidays – MBFLP 274

How do you balance everything, between your commitments to church programs, holiday recitals, shopping and cooking and cleaning for the family … and providing a quality home education for your children? Is it even possible? Should it be? This episode, we’re talking about how we learned to manage it with eight kids … no cape or phone booth needed!

We’re celebrating our 26th Christmas while homeschooling! You can do this! Just maybe not all of it at once … 

Gift Giving in a Big Family – MBFLP 273

This week we’re talking about gift giving – it’s Biblical, you know!  But how do you manage it without being immersed in the commercialism of a secular holiday, while glorifying God and having fun together? We’ve found that being more intentional and deliberate in choosing gifts and even in how we open them together, and encouraging our children to think of people rather than stuff at Christmas, has great benefits!

Biblical Passages We Mentioned

The wise men who brought gifts to Jesus – Matthew 2:1-11

The people feasted and shared with each other over joy in God’s word – Nehemiah 8:9-10 – And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God … Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

How Our Family Christmas List is Structured

We described how our family keeps up with everyone’s “wish list” – not just at Christmas, but all year long! Here’s the basic framework – each person’s section of the family list is divided into price brackets, and it’s the responsibility of each person to keep their list up to date. And when the shopping happens, gift-givers quietly delete items so others don’t duplicate their gift!

NAME

Updated: (be sure to make a note here when you make changes to your list!) 

  • $1-$5 Gifts: Your categories may differ, depending on the ages in your family and your personal budgets. We have to consider young children, teenagers, college students, and adults of all sorts.
  • $5-$15 Gifts: If you have specific items in mind, you might include links to places these might be found. Many in our families are avid readers, so we often have lists of books here – and links to Amazon.com or Thriftbooks.com to make it easy
  • $15-$30 Gifts:  Grown-up level
  • Big Gifts: Because you never know when someone might find a great deal, or several people collaborate
  • Crafts, Work, and Services: Busy people may appreciate help with a particular hard-to-schedule need. One of Hal’s hopes last year was for help replacing our garage door – and two of our adult sons came over and made a weekend project of it!

Help! My Son Cries About Every Little Thing! – MBFLP 272

A member of our Facebook community asked, “What about boys crying?” There have been people who said it’s unmanly to cry, and discouraged or even disciplined their sons for crying – ever. On the other hand, some say it’s less than human to hold back the tears – so we should allow or encourage our sons to freely express everything. But what’s the Biblical balance here? Does the Scripture have anything to say about men who cry? And how should that inform our parenting toward our sons?

Scriptures We Referenced

Isaiah 8:20 – To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Examples of Strong Godly Men Who Cried

John 11:35 – Jesus wept.

Matthew 26:74-75 – Then [Peter] began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

Philippians 3:17-19 – Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. (The apostle Paul)

Reminders There are Times for Both Weeping and Restraint

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 – To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. … A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance … 

Nehemiah 8:9-10 – And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Romans 12:15 – Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Proverbs 25:28 – Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.


Holiday Stress – and What We Do About It! – MBFLP 271

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” the song says … and one of the busiest and most stressful, too! What can we do to maintain the spirit of celebration while the season’s demands pile on top of our already-full lives? What practical steps can we take to lighten the load and get the really important things done? As the homeschooling parents of eight kids, starting and running a business from home at the same time, trust us – we’ve been there. Join us in this special edition where we talk about the realities of homeschooling, home business, and the holidays!

Holidays are Opportunities

The Bible has some holidays which were commandments, at least to the Israelites. God gave the ceremonies of Passover and told the people that when they came to the promised land, “you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever.” (Exodus 12:24) Why was that? “It shall be as a sign to you … and as a memorial …” (Exodus 13:9). There are questions and answers expected so the elders pass on their faith to the younger generations –

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you …” (Deuteronomy 32:7)

Even though we don’t have a Biblical commandment to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, they are opportunities to connect our families — and ourselves — with the goodness of God in His provision for life now and life hereafter!

[For good measure, consider when the exiles returned to rebuild Jerusalem and celebrated the recovery of the Law. After a marathon reading of the Word of God, the governor Nehemiah told the people, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)]

The challenge to us is to be sure to focus on the message, and not be overwhelmed by the daily responsibilities and the seasonal additions!

(continued …)

Think About Priorities

Have you seen the illustration of loading rocks and gravel into a big container? The only way to maximize what fits is to load the biggest things first, then smaller ones to fill in the gaps. Your daily (weekly, monthly) plan is the same way – you need to consider the most important, top-priority matters first, and fit them into your schedule before the secondary things.

And in a season when you need to be sure your children and your family hear the good news of the Messiah’s birth and really think about God’s mercies and provision over the past year … maybe it’s not as critical to do every single worksheet in the curriculum every day. Sometimes you can bring holiday-related subjects into the schoolwork (baking and cooking is a great way to work on weights and measures and fractions; Charles Dickens and George MacDonald can provide reading materials; personalized greeting cards are good handwriting practice!)

Listen in for more thoughts and ideas that can make your holiday season less anxious and more joyful this year!

Helping Kids Deal with Stress – MBFLP 270

We adults may feel like we’re under stress all the time, but we can’t overlook the fact that our kids are suffering, too! Last episode we talked about how we respond when we’re confronted with uncertainty and unpleasant news. How can we help our kids deal with the disruptions of life on their level?

Lest We Forget

Parents have had to make a lot of adjustments the past two years. Our kids are dealing with some of the same issues, from their own perspective. That may be school closures or other changes in their educational routines. It may be uncertainty over adult issues, like lost of employment, quarantines, or restrictions on travel or social gatherings. Even if everything comes from the same root cause, like the pandemic, its impact will be felt differently from one family to the next — and from one family member to the next.

Over the years, we’ve had a share of uncertainty and unhappy events — medical emergencies, job changes, relocations, disrupted plans. With a large family, and one that travels with us most of the time, we had to realize that we couldn’t hide much from the kids. It seemed better to us to share our concerns, in child-sized portions, so they could understand why things were “wrong” right then.

Our kids are not clones

We need to remember that our kids are individuals – maybe with a lot of commonalities, but still with their own approach to the world around them. A quiet child may be full of turmoil inside, while the noisy one may actually be calmer after venting all his drama. Consider that, as you answer and counsel the outspoken child, other siblings may be listening and learning without asking. Just don’t overlook the ones who aren’t “in your face”!

Younger kids need reassurance. Are Mom and Dad going to be here for me? Do they have a plan to deal with things? Are they safely in charge still?

Teenagers can often step into some adult roles. We found that in moments of crisis, our teens were able to pick up some of their parents’ concerns — running errands, doing more household tasks, taking more responsibility for themselves and their younger brothers and sisters.

Watch out for the middle kids, though. Often they are old enough to understand some of the needs, but too young to do much to help. It can be very frustrating for them! Look for tasks they can do, even if they’re not major burdens to the adults. Your middle school kids are likely to be much more capable than you think (check out our book No Longer Little for more ideas and encouragement!).

(continued)

But what about the conclusion?

What happens when the pressure’s relieved? Count on it – family members which have “held it together” for the team while the crisis is underway, will often come unglued when the emergency is over. It’s best to plan on some time to re-adjust to “normal” when you’ve been through a time of stress. Give yourself and everyone around you an extra measure of grace – a heaping serving of it, in fact. If you expect there to be a time of transition, you can move into it with some care – rather than experiencing “explosive decompression” that causes problems for everyone!

Passages We Referenced

Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Matthew 10:29-31 (Jesus)“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Galatians 6:2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

James 1:2-4My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Resources You Might Appreciate

No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope by Hal and Melanie Young

Eleanor Porter’s Pollyanna and Pollyanna Grows Up – audiobooks narrated by Melanie Young

 

 


 

A Special Thank You to Our Network Sponsor:  Courageous Movie

 

From the Kendrick Brothers, creators of the No. 1 box-office movie WAR ROOM and OVERCOMER, comes the remastered re-release of COURAGEOUS Legacy, in theaters September 24. Celebrating 10 years of impact on families and fathers, this updated version of the film includes new scenes and an enhanced look and sound.

Filled with action-packed drama, COURAGEOUS Legacy will once again have viewers laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That’s courageous.

Check out the trailer here!


Dealing with Stressful News – MBFLP 269

Some things are unquestionable, life-changing moments – an unexpected death in the family, a natural disaster, a major accident. But what about things which just show up and disrupt everything? The smaller emergencies which aren’t big enough to awaken heroism, but are big enough to bring out all our doubts, fears, frustrations, and temper? The “breaking news” which could be really unpleasant, but you can’t be sure?

We’ve dealt with this – frequently, and even recently! So this episode, we’re talking about some practical ways to meet stressful news with calmness and faith … even if it takes a few minutes to make the adjustment!

Passages We Referenced

Matthew 10:29-31 (Jesus): “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Philippians 4:6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God

Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 

Books We Mentioned

Judith Viorst, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney. This is a great children’s book about remembering the good things in the middle of sad times. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the stress of the moment, and forget that happiness is real just like sorrow – and life will have some of both.

Eleanor H. Porter, Pollyanna – check out the audiobook version narrated by Melanie! The book is much better than the Disney version (more clearly Biblical, for one thing), and funny as well as thought-provoking. Even our teenaged sons enjoyed it, though the main character is a young girl at the time. Important lessons about always finding a reason to rejoice, even in difficulty.

NEXT TIME

Helping your kids through stressful times …

UPDATE –

We mentioned that our van broke down on a speaking trip in July, and at the time of recording, had been in the shop for several weeks waiting on an engine replacement. We’re glad to say that the van is now repaired and back home – thank you for your prayers and support!

 

 


 

A Special Thank You to Our Network Sponsor:  Courageous Movie

 

From the Kendrick Brothers, creators of the No. 1 box-office movie WAR ROOM and OVERCOMER, comes the remastered re-release of COURAGEOUS Legacy, in theaters September 24. Celebrating 10 years of impact on families and fathers, this updated version of the film includes new scenes and an enhanced look and sound.

Filled with action-packed drama, COURAGEOUS Legacy will once again have viewers laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That’s courageous.

Check out the trailer here!