Category Archives: Parenting

Fall Fun–Seeds for Teaching Your Children

My October-November post is up at Word Explain’s Parenting Q&A page! Here’s a hint…it’s all about pumpkins!

We had a freeze the other night, so I’m rotating my green pumpkins around in my sunny back porch, hoping they’ll “orange” up for me. Hard to believe garden season is over! I coiled up the garden hose tonight, and we possibly have mowed for the last time! Oh the joy of fall!

Less work for me, may mean more time to write? I hope so!

Till next time,

Mary

Where is God in this Mess?

Q: My family is going through a ‘bankrupt time’ physically and financially. Everything I used to think assured about our future—my children’s future—is now uncertain. My older teens are making choices that are taking them away from the church. I know this is just another pothole in life’s road, but I’m stuck, and every way out seems to take too much out of me. Where is God in this mess?

A: He’s there. You are not alone. This is a story I am hearing more and more as I talk to people. I’ve been through aspects of it myself. True, you are going through many challenges at once. True, you’ve had the breath knocked out of you. But even at the bottom, there’s light if you look up.

For the rest of this article, take a virtual trip over to Word Explain’s Parenting Q&A website!

Dealing With Interruptions

Check out my June article, Dealing With Interruptions, at Parenting Q&A, hot off the press! ;O)

Here’s the question:

I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I also freelance three days a week. Balancing parenting with my writing career is more difficult than I thought it would be. We do need the extra income, and we feel strongly that we’re to be the ones raising our three children. However, I’m verging on burn-out over here and can’t get a break for all the interruptions.

Happy first day of summer, everyone!

Where Is Your Treasure?

To find out what *I* personally think your treasure should be–and it might surprise you–hop on over to Parenting Q & A for my latest article!

Here’s a hint as to what it’s not:

Not our new vehicle, or our mortgaged “house beautiful”, or anything else that a second income could buy. In light of Matthew 6:19-21, we need to turn our hearts away from earthly corruptible things, and towards God and the values He assigns.

What does this have to do with parenting? Well. Everything.

australorpsMeanwhile, here on the “chicken ranch”, things are popping! Color everywhere from my veggie garden and purple redbud trees to the newest little chicks we added to our 70 up-and-coming layers. They are black and yellow with white-tipped wings and are called Australorps! I’m told that they will be all black when full grown, with purplish-greenish sheens. And they are excellent layers of brown eggs, which is a very good thing these days, as my organic eggs are finally in great demand!

Happy Spring, friends! A post on super foods coming up!

Why Homeschool? A Christian’s perspective.

oldkitchen

This morning as I slipped and slid my way to the chicken house over ice and snow, hurrying to get my morning chores done, I realized how cool it is that I was excited to get back to the house, back to my hot cup of black currant tea and my 9 year old and her ‘highest common factors’ math worksheets.

[Even if you don’t homeschool, you can imagine with me how it might be hard to be excited about math! *wink*]

But I was. It’s my dream job, one that I never would have taken on without God’s pressuring me to do so!  Sometimes I even marvel that in His perfect plan, our finances have never allowed for us to afford private school tuitions. I’m sure I would have caved and enrolled my firstborn at the first opportunity if so. And we would have missed out on this awesome family bonding adventure! And spent so much time on the road, carpooling. Ugh.

I know some of you might be saying “Ugh” to the homeschooling lifestyle, as you read this! Never fear, I’m not here to condemn, just to reason. Please be forewarned though, the following might require a little blindfolding of our cultural prejudices and misconceptions…here is a little of what led my husband and I to choose to home educate.

As a young Christian parent, Deuteronomy 6:5-9 was unsettling to me, when I thought about trying to raise godly children according to this kind of standard. How can you (paraphrasing here) “diligently teach your children to love God with all their heart, soul and might, when you sit and when you stand, when you walk along the way, when you lie down and when you rise up…” That’s a tall order no matter what your lifestyle!

Then, too, my husband and I were surrounded by homeschooling families with bright minds, genuinely loving relationships, and sincere hearts for God. What an advertisement, right there.  God spoke to us in many ways, nudging us in the home educating direction, and I’m so glad we listened! He used scripture, videos, Christian family radio, among other things. We were surrounded by good reasons!

Now, this many years later, when I think about all the religious lies being taught in public school, it breaks my heart. Evolution IS a religion, and it IS an unproved theory. In fact, more and more tenets of evolution have been proven wrong in the last fifty years, yet it is still taught as a fact in public schools, in museums, in zoos, etc.  Wasn’t it Hitler that said, “The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it?”

What bothers me the most about this, is that if you lined up the basic teachings of evolution with what is taught in God’s word, they are complete opposites. Satan at work, no doubt. It takes a lot more faith to believe that we all came from rocks than to believe that there’s a significantly intelligent engineer behind this universe. In fact, if you really want to be scientific about it, the proof is all over the place. Maybe I’ll go into that in another post.

Guess what God had to say about evolution and public schools, way back in the early church age?

“They did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” Romans 1:28

Well, in 1963, God was no longer welcome in public schools. And evolution moved right on in.  Interesting that as a result, in the 30 years following this switch off, there was a 500% increase in violent crimes, 400% increase in the divorce rate, 400% increase in illegitimate births, 300% increase in single parent homes, 200% increase in teenage suicides, and a 75% drop in SAT scores.  (Heritage Foundations 1993)

Even more scary, is that studies are now relaying the appalling news that75% of all children raised in Christian homes who attend public school will reject the Christian faith by their 1st year of college.

Excuse me? NOT on my watch! God forbid.

2 Thessalonians 2:11 says,

“God will send them strong delusion, that they shall believe a lie.”

[For instance, believing we came from a big bang, billions of years ago?]

Some more heart-sick things to consider…from opposite poles of humanity so to speak:

“I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.” –Martin Luther

“Let me control the textbooks and I will control the state.” –Adolph Hitler

I know this is hard stuff, remember, I said you might have to shed some prejudices to get through this with me…

If you are still here…bless you, I hope you get where I’m coming from.

I know many people who say that they could never homeschool their children. That’s true for some, yes, but not true for the majority of Americans. Yes, it has to be a husband-wife-God decision, but even single moms have pulled it off. I even know of a single mom with cancer who kept homeschooling through it all. Homeschooling is a passionate movement, and yes, it takes dedication.

I haven’t always wanted to hurry inside and snuggle on the couch over math problems with my 9 year old. Every good thing is going to come under attack by the enemy. Nothing worth doing is  easy. Yes we’ve had our struggles, but God has been so faithful in all the ways that really matter.

If I can ever be of assistance to you on the subject of homeschooling, drop me a line!

Feel free to air your honest and respectful thoughts in comments. :O)

Parenting Q & A Column

funny_road_signDoesn’t this sign capture the sad hilarity of what many people believe is the inevitably bumpy road of parenting?

Let’s face it, there really is a crush of godless parenting advice out there, and sometimes I think the devil just brainstormed up every parenting lie possible that completely opposes  scripture and like Hitler’s cronies, we buy the outrageous lies with no questions asked. And the fine print on the price tag demands our children’s souls.

A biblical worldview is crucial to raising godly children in this culture. This simply means putting on your “God lenses”, becoming familiar with His words, seeking His will for every facet of your life. It may be old-fashioned and unpopular, but it’s obedience! God tells us in His word to “come out from them and be separate” yet how is this done exactly?

I’m ever so thankful for my Christian upbringing by loving parents, and for the several older and wiser couples along the way who weren’t afraid to stop alongside and share what God had shown them about this great adventure of parenting. It’s so easy to get discouraged, confused, off-track and just plain exhausted when it comes to raising kids with a Biblical world-view, a heart for others and that genuinely want to obey and respect God and their elders. I do firmly believe it is possible, yes, even in 2010, to accomplish this because in spite of many failures on my part, I’m seeing the sweet fruit in my children every day. We’re not talking perfection, ha. But parenting by the “Book” does reap radical rewards.

I love opportunities to encourage other moms to take to heart the Biblical direction found in Titus 2 to “…love their husbands and to love their children…” and to “Train up a child in the way he should go…” so I was excited when a pastor friend asked me to contribute to the Parenting Q & A portion of his website, WordExplain.com. So far I’ve contributed two articles, the most recent one is titled, “When Life is Not Fair.” If you have any questions you’d like addressed in the column, please email  Mary[@]homesteepedhope.com–without the brackets, and I’ll do my best to share the bottom line of what’s worked for our family. If you do take time to stop by his site, I want to add that there are many more parenting articles archived there covering a variety of subjects.

“What God is to the world, parents are to their children.”

–Philo

It’s a big responsibility, but let me ask this…what in the world are we doing for God’s sake? If you’re a parent, there’s your answer.

May Day is Tomorrow!

maydaybasketI’m over at Writer…Interrupted today! Come on over and read my post, “The Crafting of a Life.” It’s a sneak peek into the obsessive-compulsive life of a writer and how important it is to actively engage in real life every now and then. ;O)

By the way, some exciting changes are happening at Writer…Interrupted! We’re in the process of going to a monthly magazine format with something for everyone. I’ll keep you posted as it progresses.

Head’s Up! Tomorrow is May Day–and as the tradition goes, imaydaybasket1t’s a great day to put a basket together and leave it on your neighbor’s doorstep…how sneaky can you be?

Our favorite ideas for baskets:

  • dishtowels
  • bedding plants
  • garden gloves
  • seed packets
  • homemade cookies
  • mini-loaves of bread w/a jar of jam

Have a great day!

Homemaking: Teaching our Daughters

Came across a great post today that really affirms all we do as mothers, and equally important, how important it is that we teach our daughters all they need to know to equip them to run their own homes some day. I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s at the Girl Talk blog, and titled, Homemaking IGirl Sewing in an Interiornternship.

Even if your daughters are preschool aged, it’s never too early to start. At 3, 4 and 5, they’re still full of enthusiasm when it comes to helping around the house. For instance…my four year old responds eagerly when I call, “Oh Laundry Girl…where oh where is my Laundry Girl?” *smile* She can transfer wet clothes into the dryer, adjust the dials, toss a dryer sheet in and get the load going with no help from mom.  She’s pretty happy about it too.

However, I know there are MANY areas of improvement in our home when it comes to my passing along the baton of homemaking. So this post was a blessing and a great reminder to me that my time is short with my girls…and homemaking is definitely part of a well-rounded education, if you consider how crucial it can be not only for our living environments but also to maintaining healthy marriages, children and bank accounts!

What homemaking skills do you think are important, that maybe you feel you wish you’d known more about when you got married?

Mothers and Dresses

Madame Monet and Her SonSo the other day my eleven year old daughter comes up, hugs me hard and long and says, “You are just so lovable when you wear dresses!”

Hmm. I began to wonder if wearing dresses produced a similar magic to that of apron wearing, which never fails to make me want to bake bread and clean house. Not a bad thing.

I’ve always loved the femininity of dresses and skirts, and even once did a “dresses only” experiment on myself for about a year’s time, at the end of which I decided it was being taken wrong by certain family members. Long story. Anyway, my husband always preferred me in jeans, etc, but he’s even come around to saying that he appreciates a certain femininity in a woman that is lacking when they’re never seen in a dress or skirt.

Well, the cute part of this story began with my daughter’s hug and has not ended yet. That same day as I went to prepare supper, I started finding little pink “I love you” notes in out-of-the-way, yet strategically appointed  spots.

  • In the microwave next to the thawed hamburger for the night’s meal.
  • In the silverware drawer, next to the forks, a pink square stating: “Super Mom!”
  • At the top of the black pepper grinder, beneath the clear plastic lid: “I (heart) you”…
  • In the bathroom shower, folded compactly, beneath the lid on the conditioner bottle. *Smile*

Yes, my oldest daughter was supposedly making Valentines for her friends with her little sisters in the kitchen, but must have been wanting to love me instead!

I think I need to wear dresses at home more often!

Have you ever thought of the impact our choice of clothing has on not only us, but those around us?

Drum roll…your thoughts, please!

Exploring Biblical Hospitality, Part 1

We’ve had some sickness this past week. Head colds. The blahs. Last weekend, after a particularly whiny and complaint-filled morning, my dh decided to make “complaining” the subject of a “here and now” home Bible study. Using the appendix in the back of his Bible, he quickly looked up several scriptures and read them to us…and this one from 1 Peter really spurred an interesting conversation!

1 Peter 4:9,”Be hospitable without complaint”…

Sure, at first read-through, taking this verse at face value simply verifies what we all know: Christians should practice hospitality. But the “without complaint” part deserves equal consideration!

Practicing Hospitality With Strangers

My Unger’s Bible Dictionary makes the interesting point that Biblical hospitality focuses largely on reaching out to the strangers among us. Read the following in light of 1 Peter 4:9, “Practice hospitality without complaint.”

Luke 14:12-14, “And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'”

Job 31:32, “”The alien has not lodged outside, for I have opened my doors to the traveler.”

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Matthew 25:35-36

Hebrew 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

I don’t know about you, but it somewhat daunts me, considering the times we live in, this idea of welcoming strangers in my home. However, the flip side is that kind acts by strangers are not soon forgotten. I’ll forever remember the time our small town librarian introduced me to another homeschooling mom browsing in the library. Five minutes of chatting later, I found myself promptly invited over for grilled cheese and Campbell’s soup–that same day!

My brother shared recently what he calls a “God Appointment”. He stopped to help a family stranded by the roadside. The car’s owner said at the outset, “This is God’s car and it’s in His hands”…to which my brother replied, “That’s great if you access God’s car through His Son Jesus Christ!”

This family ended up being a homeschooling family, the father is a prison chaplain, and they spent two or three days hanging out with my brother and his wife and kids (who also homeschool), having a great time while the car was in the repair shop. And my brother just about didn’t stop to help them. Ultimately, he felt convicted that if it had been his family, he’d have wanted someone to help them. Well, strangers they may have been, but it was family…brothers and sisters in Christ!

Hospitality is more than just opening your home up to others. It’s opening up your heart. We should do this everywhere. In the line at Wal-mart. At the park. On vacation. At church. We may do it with trepidation but we’ve got to do it without pride, without prejudice, without expectations, without complaint.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself…” Pretty straight-forward stuff.

Part 2 on Monday… Practicing Hospitality Within Your Family

Our family pow-wow about “practicing hospitality without complaining” brought about some Divine changes!