No white appliances

I have a confession to make…in the evenings while Kerry puts the boys down for bed I sit at my computer to work (I teach online) and have the TV on in the background. My two default channels are HGTV and the Food Network. The more time I’ve spent watching, the more disgusted I get.
Now, I like watching renovations or watching people search for the perfect family home as much as anyone, but they’re starting to make me sick. I see these couples or families (rarely with more than 1 child and certainly not 4+) looking at homes that have 3500+ sq ft. And you know what they say? “It’s too small!” or “We would never be able to fit all of our stuff in here.” My thought tends to be…Maybe you have too much stuff!!
It drives me crazy to hear women say “Well I don’t cook, but I still want a pretty kitchen.” or “I don’t like the white appliances…they look so dated!” It disappoints me to hear them say “But it only had one sink in the bathroom and I don’t want to share a sink with him.” I’m sitting there thinking…well you married him didn’t  you?
And I think, more often than not, one of two things…The first is “please don’t let my boys marry a woman like that” and the second is “please don’t let me raise my boys to think that white appliances and one sink is the worst thing that a house could have…please let me raise them to be content. Please let me be content.”
I think what it comes down to is the materialism of it all that disappoints me. The fact that we fail to see the hurt and the need around us…in our own backyards and we ignore it all. We shut out the need with our triple car garages and gigantic master en-suite bathrooms and our two sinks.
I want so much more for the world around me and my children. I want for them to not care about white appliances and double sinks. I want them to care about people around them…the things that matter. Sure…I like nice things, I enjoy a home with 3 1/2 bathrooms (they all have one sink) and more space than we need (we are blessed to live in the church parsonage). In our current home, each of my boys could have their own room if they wanted, but they don’t. All four, and soon to be five, share a room.  But you know what else? All this space…it doesn’t do much good unless I’m willing to be hospitable to my neighbor and open my home to those around me. As a follower of Christ, I am called to be hospitable. And that doesn’t just mean to people I know…the word actually means to open your home to strangers…complete strangers! Gasp!
I want for myself and my children, to look past the “stuff” and to people. To see needs and meet them, not to be hesitant when reaching out to others. We take for granted that we have clean water on demand, we can buy fresh food, we have flush toilets and in general we don’t have to worry about our safety…we can sleep soundly at night without fear of being attacked, victimized or homeless the next day.
As a mother, I struggle to keep this in perspective for myself and for our children. Kerry and I both work to teach them to keep things in perspective and to look around, to be grateful for the blessings we have. But sometimes we wonder if we’re doing enough.
So how do we do this as parents? How does this goal of breaking down materialism and consumerism culture change our conversations, our actions and our thinking? We’re still learning and refining what goes on in our home, but we are implementing some changes in our family to help our boys (and us) think about more than just ourselves, to think about how we can bless others and to be in a position to be used by God.
Because life and service is about more than white appliances and double sinks.

Family Vision — Humble

Teaching humility is tough. It’s tough to learn, even as adults.
In our house the definition of humility is “Remembering God is responsible for our successes and achievements and not being prideful or arrogant in my attitude or behavior.”

Being humble means being willing to serve others, being willing to submit to their will, but also being willing to do things for other people WITHOUT recognition. Most of us like to be told how great we are, how helpful we are and how much we are needed. In reality though, being humble means we still work our hardest for God and those around us without recognition. We do it simply to glorify our God. Not ourselves.

Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us: 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

We’re saved by grace through faith and not our works. Our works, the good stuff we do, comes out of a desire to be obedient and show our love for Christ, not because it is what saves us. If what brought us into heaven was the stuff we did here on earth…1. none of us would get there because we can’t ever be “good” enough and 2. God wouldn’t get the glory. So one of the reasons we teach humility in our home is to remember that without God we can never achieve the standard high enough to “earn” our way into heaven.

1 Peter 5:5 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

Humility also involves being subject to those around us. When we are humble, nothing is “beneath” us when it comes to serving others. I often think of this when I’m teaching my nursing students. There are some in the healthcare community that think once they become a nurse, EMT or doctor they don’t have to provide certain care to their patients because it is “beneath” them. I’ve heard more than one nurse say “I didn’t go to nursing school to give baths all day” or doctors say “I didn’t go to medical school to hold a puke bucket”. As a nurse, mother and wife, I never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t be willing to do myself. It shouldn’t matter what we’re doing when we’re serving, if we’re humble nothing is beneath us. We will willingly serve, without recognition, without disgust and with joy.

The second reason we teach humility in our home is tied closely with the “serving” part of our family vision. In a family, and in society, we need to be willing to humble ourselves and serve others. Nothing is beneath us. We are never too good to serve others. So often today, people want to just throw money or a program at a problem instead of getting their hands dirty. Sometimes we just need to hold a hand, clean a wound, or give a hug. It’s so much more personal and humbling to touch. Jesus didn’t shy away from the “untouchables” in His day. He dined with them. He touched them to heal them. Very few times did Jesus not humble himself enough to touch the person in front of Him. He is to be our example.

Luke 22:27 27 For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

So how do we teach humility? It looks very similar to how we teach our children to serve. We do it. We demonstrate it. Something we do often when we go out to eat is clean up our floor around our table when we’ve finished. Even mom and dad will help pick up food the baby has spilled or napkins that have been dropped. We encourage big brothers to help little brothers put on shoes and socks or jackets. Opening doors (a lost art these days) is one of the first things we teach our sons to do for others. They learn to let others go first even if it means they have to stand in the wind, they learn to be last. They learn humility.
Lest you think we don’t praise them for anything, there is a lot of praise that happens at our house. But I doubt it looks like the praise we see on TV or even in society most of the time. We praise them for being willing to serve, we praise them for character not performance.

Philippians 2: 3-8
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Family Vision — Holiness

We desire for our family and our children to pursue holiness and purity. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says
15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.””
How do we teach holy behavior in our families? First we have to define the word holy and what it means for us as believers. One definition of holy is to be “dedicated or devoted to the service of God” we are “set apart” for God when we are holy.
As believers we are to be different from the world around us. Often times the question  asked by those in the world and even in the church is “What can I still get away with and be a Christian?” rather than “How holy can I be?”
Romans 12: 1-2 says “1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
It’s not only about our behavior though, it’s about what is in our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us that we are to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life”. If our hearts are either pure or corrupt, so will the rest of our lives be as well.
We try to teach our sons to guard their eyes and their hearts at all times. We work to contrast the Biblical standard with the worlds standard for living. What God says vs what the world says. An example would be for dress. Even though we haven’t been blessed with daughters, we teach our boys what is acceptable dress for both men and women. We have a code word in our family that anyone can say when there is something inappropriate in the line of sight. Someone can call out “Nike” (which means victory in Greek) and we will all look at our shoes or avert our eyes. When the coast is clear someone will say “all clear”.
I can’t tell you how often as a mother I have been thankful we’ve taught our young boys this practice. Whether it be a magazine cover (I wish they had isles in the store without magazines in them) or a girl walking down the street with immodest clothing on, I have been thankful that we are able to teach our boys to guard their eyes and their hearts. We don’t use it to judge those around us, but to set ourselves apart from the world. What the world sees as acceptable and right is not in line with God’s standard.
We carefully screen the videos, games and other media that comes into our home. I have been disappointed at how much is snuck into games or TV programs that doesn’t align with God’s word while still being seemingly “innocent”. An example would be a popular TV show on public television. It depicts a young girl as a super hero. It’s educational, it’s engaging, but she lies to her parents. Or a movie that doesn’t have profanity or nudity, but a character uses God’s name in vain. A movie our family recently watched was based on a popular children’s book. In the opening minutes it depicts a sister and brother fighting, a mother engaging in an extramarital affair and a young boy being disobedient and disrespectful to his mother. Out the movie went and into the trash. We talked with our boys about how, while we enjoy the children’s book, the movie contradicts the biblical standard God has for our family.
Philippians 4:8 is a verse we have memorized and have hanging in our kitchen to remind us “8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Being holy and pure before God isn’t about comparing ourselves and elevating ourselves above those around us with our pious behavior. It’s about living in such a way that we are different in thought, in word, and in deed from the world that contradicts biblical teaching. Being holy and pure is about being striving to be more like the God to whom we belong.
Read my other family vision posts here

Family Vision — Homeschooling


Deuteronomy 6:4-9

4 Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

We absolutely believe that the best place to teach our children is at home. We are to love the Lord our God with all that we have, we are to teach our children the commandments which God has given us in His holy word. We are to teach them when we sit, walk, lie down and when we rise up. For our family, we believe that the only way we can teach our children diligently is to teach them at home. We believe it’s difficult to do those things if we send our children out of our home to be educated by someone else 8 hours a day.

Before I get too deep into this discussion, I have to first say we come from a family of public educators. In our family, you’re either a nurse or an educator and we have lots of both. Secondly, my husband and I were public schooled and thirdly I think public teachers have very difficult jobs. My goal is not to tell someone why we’re right and they’re wrong in their educational choices, but to tell you why it’s so important to us that it’s become part of our family vision statement.

If our most important goal is that our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren for many generations come to know God, then we should be teaching them as such. My husband and I went to a small public school in Kansas. We were both raised in the church and we went to school with most of the same kids in our youth group, yet the 2 environments were not in unison. We were taught ideas, theories and standards in public school that were contrary to the Christian faith ideas we were being taught at home, Sunday morning and Wednesday night. We were tested and drilled on those ideas, they were presented as fact and were treated as such. When the issue of faith was brought up with was quickly quelled with “separation of church and state” talk or the “I have to teach this to you” argument and it wasn’t discussed. There was no place for reconciliation, no place for harmony.


When our oldest was ready for kindergarten we sent him to a small Christian school that used to operate in our church. It closed half way through the year and we brought him home to learn. We had read the statistics about how homeschoolers did better on tests and academically than their public schooled counterparts. There are several studies from independent sources that support this, and we thought “well that’s good enough for us”. However, through God’s grace He began to show us that homeschooling is more than just teaching our children at home, but it’s an opportunity for discipleship with our children. It’s an opportunity to come along side them and learn together as a family, teach them our family values and give them the best start possible both academically and spiritually.

Discipleship is modeling and teaching Christians, and our children, the precepts of the Bible; mainly prayer, doctrine, Christian living, and worship. We build these concepts into our daily education with our children. We spend time with them discussing how the principles we’re learning in school apply to biblical principles in life. We integrate it into our studies, our lives and our home.

Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It comes down to goals for your children. What are your goals for when they are old? What kinds of things are you and do you want to train them to do and be? Because what you teach them now will stick around, it will be what they carry with them later. And children will believe what they hear the most often and the loudest. For many those are the messages they get when they’re sitting in a classroom, for some it is the message they receive at home during the school day and for others it’s the message they get watching TV. I assure you though, that they are getting a message.

If you count up the time that is spent in school, let’s say 8 hours a day 5 days a week for 30 weeks a year = 1200 hours of instruction in the public school system per year. Take those 1200 hours x 13 years of school (k-12) means that children are spending just under 16,000 hours under the instruction of someone else (teachers, coaches and peers) other than their parents. That’s 16,000 hours over the course of 18 years that we’re missing the opportunity to disciple them.

If we continue to look at how the rest of the 16 hours a day is spent. The average school aged child gets 9 hours of sleep a day. So now we’re down to 7 hours for the remainder of our time with our children. The average child has between 5 and 7 hours of screen time (computer, TV, phone etc). So that leave about 2 hours per day that the average parent would have to disciple their child if they’re sending them to public school, if that child doesn’t participate in outside activities such as music lessons or sports. It’s difficult to overcome the messages our children are getting with only 2 hours or less a day to disciple our children.

It comes back to what we feel God has called us as parent to teach our children. We have a very serious responsibility to educate the children God has blessed us with. Educating your children is the most important thing you will ever do as a parent. I would encourage you to ask yourself and pray about the following questions:

What are the most important things that you want your children to learn? How do you go about teaching those things? Are you willing to trust that someone else will want your children to learn those same lessons?

Family Vision – Debt Free

I’ve been discussing how our family vision guides the decisions we make for our lives. You can read those posts here. A few years ago our family was in a mess financially. While Kerry and I have always paid our bills on time, our move here to Pueblo had us living outside of our means for a bit. Once we started using credit cards to pay for our groceries we knew we were up a creek without a paddle. We took out a debt consolidation loan (big mistake) and were in over our heads. We had seen some friends of ours posting on Facebook (of all places) about going through Dave Ramey’s Financial Peace University. We took the course online and it changed our lives. You can view Dave’s website here.
As we studied and prayed about the principles we were being taught in the class we began to feel that living debt free was a biblical mandate for our family. The Bible says “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” Proverbs 22:7. The first time Dave quoted this Proverb we looked at each other and said “duh!” It makes total sense that if we’re working to pay bills and lines of credit that we owe to someone else, we’re not really working for ourselves so we can serve Christ, we are slaves to the bank!

We’ve come a long way in paying off some (not all) of our debt. We have several more years to go to climb out of the hole we got ourselves into. We have paid off all of our cars and our credit cards. The only debt we have left is our student loans and the home we still own in Goessel. We didn’t set out to become debt free so that we could become wealthy, we set out to become debt free so that we could truly be free from being slaves to the lenders we borrowed from and so we could serve God.

Matthew 6:20-24 says 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.    22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

As a follower of Christ we shouldn’t put anyone or anything above Him. We should be seeking to serve Him, not the debt collectors and companies who hold the loans we take out to buy stuff we don’t need. Think of what we could do as a church if those who were in it were debt free. What kind of income would that free up to give to those in need and to serve others in the name of Christ? Or think about the time we wouldn’t have to work and we would have free to serve.

There are really about 2 main reasons that people go into debt. The first is often the most common, but the one that is least likely to be admitted (especially by those in the church), and that’s greed and discontentment. We are willing to go into debt because we WANT (not need) something. We WANT a new car, we WANT a bigger house, we WANT new furniture, we WANT to keep up with the people in the pew behind us. It’s hard to admit that we’re filled with greed and that we desire things of this world. We have a hard time telling that little 2 year old inside us screaming “Gimme Gimme Gimme!”….No instead of giving in to the WANT. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been guilty of being that 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum because we couldn’t afford the things that I WANTed rather than what I needed. When we were first married I was much more contentious about the things I WANTED. I would take every chance I could to bring up the thing I WANTED to my husband. I would use it as a tool to remind him that we didn’t have as much money as I wanted us to. I would pout about it, I would complain to others about it and I would remind him all.the.time. I wasn’t being content, I was behaving like a 2 year old crying for a toy in the store. Through God’s grace I have “grown up” and out of that stage and things are much more peaceful at home.

I Timothy 6:8 says “If we have food and covering, with these things we shall be content.” It sounds extreme in this world we live in, but are we willing to be content with the food and shelter we have and nothing else? If we’re so worried about getting more stuff it’s almost impossible for us to ever be satisfied with what we have. We’re so worried about working harder to get more more more that we’re willing to become slaves to get it. In a lot of ways, your checkbook says a great deal about what is important to you.

We are reminded again in Matthew 6: 25-34

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The second reason that people go into debt is because they’re poor stewards of what God has given them. They fail to make a plan for their money. Instead, they either don’t have a budget or don’t stick to it. Dave Ramsey says “If you don’t tell your money where to go, you’ll wonder where it went.” God blesses us with whatever income and possessions we have. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of those things. We are to spend responsibly, invest responsibly and when necessary exercise self-control when we are presented with a WANT instead of a need.

Wives, I would caution you here to think seriously about presenting your husband with your “needs” and wants. Sometimes we can make do with what we have and save our family a few dollars here and there. Or be wise with where and how you shop. I know a family where the wife never pays attention to sales, prices of food or does comparison shopping. She just buys what she wants (often using the credit card to pay). Her family is not wealthy. Her husband works hard and they are in a large amount of debt. Imagine the stress she could take off her husband’s shoulders if she would work harder to shop wisely when she buys food. Do you really need a new washing machine or bookshelf when you could make do with what you have? I would love to have a new stand mixer with a bigger bowl. But does it work? Yep. Can I use it to mix stuff just like a new one? Yep. Do I harp on my husband about it? Nope. In fact, until he reads this blog I don’t think he’ll even know it’s something I’d *LIKE* to have. There are so many other places we can spend our money wisely than buying a new mixer or whatever it is that I might be *wanting*.  Sometimes we have to be willing to be content with what we have so that we can be better stewards of the blessings God has given us.

It is important for our family to be debt free so that we can be free to serve Christ in whatever capacity He calls us. When we decided for me to quit my job and Kerry to look for full time employment we were and are bound by the debt we still owe. We are thankful for the employment Kerry now has and we know that God will provide for us. BUT…. but the stress of finding a job (or two or three) that would support our family would have been so much less if only we had been good stewards and made wise decisions from the start. We would love someday to have enough money to buy a home in the country and raise our family, but is that our priority and our main reason for working diligently to become debt free? No. Our goal is to be FREE from slavery so that we can be FREE to serve Christ.

Family Vision — Serve Others

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been writing about our family vision. and the most important part of that vision.
Please keep in mind that in the points that I’ll be including in the coming weeks don’t really occur in a particular order. They are what we feel God has lead us to believe is important for our family. I would encourage you as I write about our family vision to pray about and discuss with your spouse what you family vision should be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say what you want, but also why and be sure to explain why to your children.
It is our desire for our children and our family members to learn how to serve others. We want them to learn to serve God first, their siblings, us as parents, and those around them.

Image from
Joshua 22:5
5 Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
We remind our boys often that we are called to serve God. He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins. His son paid the penalty that we all deserve as a result of our sin. We deserve death and life away from God. God can not bear to be in the presence of sin, He hates it. Nothing we can do will “earn” our way back to Him, there is no way we can ever be good enough. But God loves us. So He sent Jesus to pay the penalty of our sin. Once we believe in Him and trust Him as our savior we are assured eternal life in Heaven with our God. Because of this we should want to serve Him.
Serving God means we are obedient to Him and what He has called us to do. It means that we honor one another, we seek to do God’s will and seek to bring glory Him in all we do. Some ways that we teach our boys to serve God include things like
  • Prayerfully considering decisions when it comes to how we spend our money and our time
  • Seek His will before we agree to do something
  • Give God credit for the blessings, talents and abilities He has given us. They are gifts from God.
I was blessed as a mother to see this in action a year ago in my children. Our AWANA club is sponsoring another club in Nepal. The kids are bringing money to send over to the other club to help support their activities and teaching God’s word. One of my children had been eyeing a book about Legos in the store for several weeks. Every time we would go into the store he would walk past the book, slow down, pick it up and sigh. He didn’t quite have enough money to spend on the book. He was saving his money for that book each week, but then we started our adopt-a-club in AWANA. One morning during our devotions, he said “Mom, I really want that book, but I also want to give to adopt-a-club”. We told him he could give his regular giving money (we ask our boys to divide their commissions into give, save, spend) to the club in Nepal, but he wasn’t quite satisfied. “Mom, I really want that book, but I could give my money ($20.00) to adopt-a-club instead…I don’t know what to do”. I told him to pray for discernment about what God would want him to do and to do what he felt led. He prayed everyday that week for guidance. He chose ultimately to give his saved money to Nepal. He chose to serve God with his money rather than himself. It was a big sacrifice for a little boy, but I was pleased he listened to God’s prompting.
Serving others, especially siblings, requires a lot of humility. Our family’s character definition of humility is “RememberingGod is responsible for our successes and achievements and not being prideful orarrogant in my attitude or behavior.” This is tough, even for adults to master. It means that we have to put our own needs aside for the needs of others. We have to be willing to not be prideful.

I Peter 5:5 says “5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

We encourage serving others, especially siblings, by having the older and younger boys work together at tasks. When a younger brother is having difficulty completing a task, we ask an older brother to help. They don’t take over, they don’t complete the task alone, but they do it alongside one another. This is beneficial in a number of ways in our family. It teaches us to watch for when someone else needs help, it teaches us to jump in and be ready to help as best we can whenever we can, and it demonstrates team work and cooperation. Often times, the older brother will be able to show the younger an easier or more efficient way to complete a task.
Our 2 youngest serving the family by emptying our dryer
One of the things we often have the boys do is go on recon missions for dirty laundry, lost toys, shoes and whatever else we might be looking for. They go in teams and work together. If a little can’t carry his armful of laundry, the big brother can help by picking it up. They get the job done completely and serve together. They’re not only serving each other, but are also serving our family by helping with the laundry. We have a similar system for putting laundry away. A big and little go together to hang up shirts, often the big brother helping re-hang a shirt if it falls of the hanger but they serve together.
Sometime serving means giving rides in the laundry basket
Many mornings the older boys will help by making a younger brother toast or pouring milk on a little guy’s cereal. It’s not always a huge thing, but it helps keep us humble and helps maintain a servant attitude.
Making toast together
Learning how to serve takes time. We can’t just have one lesson in it during our school day and expect it to take hold. It’s something we have to cultivate every day and every moment we’re together. Teaching your children how to serve can be as simple as helping them learn to hold doors open for those around them. It teaches them to be aware of the needs of others and meet those needs. We do it when we don’t want to, when we’re grumpy and when we’re already frustrated. But…we are called to do it. We do it because God asks us to. And as we serve others, we find that we’re blessed as well.
1 Peter 4: 10-11 As each one hasreceived a special gift, employ it in serving oneanother as good stewards of themanifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is todo so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through JesusChrist, to whom belongs theglory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.


If teaching your children how to serve is fairly new to your family, I encourage you to start with small things. Tell them why serving is important. Have them help bring in groceries and then praise them for serving their family. Start by teaching them how to sort laundry into piles, then praise them for helping. Often times I’ll say “I’m so thankful you were willing to serve our family, look how helpful you have been!” or “Wow! Daddy did you see how so and so served our family by doing such and such? I’m so blessed to have someone so helpful!”
Another great way to teach you children to serve, is to serve others yourself. Let your kids see you help others and do things for those around you. Let them go with you or even help make a meal for someone in your church. Tell them that you’re making a meal for this family because they could use a little extra help. When you go out to eat as a family, encourage your children to help you clean the table and floor around where you sat. A family with little kids can make quite a mess. Tell them you’re helping clean up because you  don’t want to make more work for someone else or because you want to make the waitress’s job a little easier. We remind our children to leave a place in better condition than what we found it.
In serving others, we are serving God.

Family Vision — Most important

Last week I talked a bit about how our family has developed a vision. Something we are working towards, something that guides our decisions, something that will help us build a legacy for future generations. I encouraged you to start thinking of your vision for your family. What is your purpose as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or child? How will you impact your family and the generations you will never meet? What is your vision?

The first thing I would tell you in developing a vision is pray. Pray for God’s wisdom, His guidance and His grace and mercy to fill in the gaps where you fall short.  Make it a habit to pray daily for your family, your children and their spouses (even if your kids are still in diapers…they will grow up someday), pray for your grandchildren and their grandchildren. Start to think and pray for beyond what happens this week or next, pray for your future generations.

For our family, the most important thing we want our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to do is know God and have a relationship with Him. We feel that their coming to know Christ is/should be our first priority. It’s part of the reason we have decided to home school them. We can’t save them, we can’t cajole them into loving God or wanting a relationship with Him. God has to draw them to Himself. It’s a work He does within their hearts…BUT…we can give them the foundation. We can be His tools to plant the seeds, water them, protect them and give them the spiritual food they need to grow. We can’t make our children “sprout” in faith, but we can make sure the soil is ready. It is our number one priority and responsibility as parents. If we succeed in every other area, but fail here it is all for naught.

The first part of our family vision statement reads, we have scriptural references for each point and I will include them as well. :
Every member become a believer saved by gracethrough faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-10)

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which Godprepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
So if our priority is that our children and future generations is that they come to know God, what does that look like? It’s not enough to go to church every Sunday and send them to VBS every summer. That might be part of it, but it won’t give them fertile soil in which to grow.

We open every day at our house after breakfast by reading our Proverb of the day. There are 31 Proverbs, we read whatever number Proverb corresponds to the day on the calendar. Proverbs is a book of wisdom. We discuss the things we’re learning as we read, we talk about how to discern wise vs foolish, how to pick a wife, how to be obedient. We’ve been doing this for some time, and I assure you it never gets boring. We always learn something, no matter how many times we’ve read it. We have the attitude, and have often said…”if you don’t have time for devotions you don’t have time for much else”.

Something we’ve been doing that is relatively “new” to our day is we’re memorizing scripture together as a family. We usually do a whole chapter over the course of several weeks.  We make up actions to go with the verses so they’re easier to remember. Zeke and Titus sit and recite or do the actions they can remember with us. We usually add a new verse every day. We’ll recite what we already know with the actions, we’ll learn the new verse and come up with actions for that verse and repeat it several times. Then we’ll recite the whole passage again ending with our new verse for the day. When you get towards the end of a chapter, it takes a bit to recited the whole thing twice, but it really helps cement it in your brain.

After our Proverb and memory passage, we study a character trait and it’s definition. We study the same trait everyday during that week reciting the definition and talking about what that character trait looks like. There are lots of lists of character traits out there, some are biblically based and some are not. I made a list for our family that we feel incorporates both behaviors and heart attitudes that we want our children to learn. You can view our list here.

Then we pray as a family. Each member takes turns and prays for whatever is on our heart. We pray for the children we sponsor from World Vision and Compassion International. We pray for our family, our brothers and sometimes our dog.

We end our day usually with Daddy reading from the Bible (we’re currently studying James). We also pray as a family at the close of the day. Some evenings we’ll sing…I can plink out the melody for most hymns and it’s fun to hear the boy’s voices raised in praise.
We’re not perfect and don’t have all the answers. This is what we’ve found works for our family and helps us develop the foundation we desire for our children.

But you know what I think…what happens between the bookend Bible reading to our day is just as important. Between our Bible times we strive to LIVE what we’re learning. We try to incorporate our character traits, our Bible passages and their principles into our everyday life. For example, in Matthew 18 it talks about how to appeal to a brother. When the boys are fighting and they come tattle to mom…rather than jumping right in to solve it…I ask them “how are we to appeal to a brother?” They reply “go to him first and talk to him”…”did you do that”…”no”…”why don’t you try that first and then we’ll see what happens”. 9 times out of 10 I don’t hear another peep about “Mom! So and so did this”. Instead I hear the boys talking about how they are going to solve their problem. We talk about forgiveness and practice it (at lot).

It’s not enough to just throw water and fertilizer on the soil, but we have to work it up, we have to get our hands dirty and feel it. It’s the same with our kids. It’s not enough to just “throw” God’s word at them and hope it sticks…we have to practice it. We have to live it out. It’s not enough to have a family vision…but we have to work for it.


Many businesses and organizations have a vision statement to help outline their goals and “vision” for the future. I wonder though, do you have a vision for the most important organization you belong to? Your family. What are your goals for your family, your children, or your home? What are you working toward each day? Some parents would say “I want my kids to grow up have a good job and be happy”, but is that really the most important goal (should it be)?

A couple of years ago Kerry and I decided to develop a vision statement for our family. We felt like it was necessary to have a clear direction and spell out where we felt God was leading us. Our family vision helps guide our decisions and remind us of our priorities. We have also used our family vision to explain the “why” question behind what we do and the choices we make for our family and children. In the next few weeks I’ll share a piece of our family vision statement and the scripture that we use to support each point. I’ll share how we try to incorporate it into our learning and everyday life. I would encourage you to begin thinking about what your goals are for your marriage, your family and your children. Is it enough to just want them to be happy and have a good job? And think seriously about how you’re going to accomplish those goals, purpose to clearly define the steps you will take. Pray about them, pray for God’s direction and leading, pray for wisdom.

I would also suggest thinking about your grandchildren, great grandchildren and children you will never meet when developing your goals. How will the choices you make now affect those generations to come after you and what impact  could you have on them?

2 hours undone

So I’m just going to brain dump again just a bit…I’ve been pondering lately the junk that people are putting in their brains and how they seem to think it isn’t going to affect their daily lives. Junk in…junk out.
What has really been on my mind lately is the idea of discipleship and family vision.  A vision isn’t just a “plan” for the next 50 years or so of our lives. But a vision for the family is looking into the future and saying “This. This is where I want my kids, grandkids and family to be in 10, 20, 50, 100 or 200 years” And then going about that vision with intentionality. You  must identify the steps or at least the habits that you’re going to take to get there. The morals and values you want to instill, the training and education you will provide and the growth that will take place.
Every family has a vision. Whether it’s put into words or if the family even knows it, the vision is there. Some families go about it intentionally, others figure someone else will do it for them, or they just lack forsight to even see the importance of having a vision. The vision you have for your family has the ability to change your family tree, it has the ability to direct the paths of your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Some families appear to have a handle on this vision. They have a plan, they certainly have an idea of where they’d like their family to be, but unfortunately they don’t take the necessary steps to get there or they grossly underestimate the amount of time it takes to actually cultivate that vision in their family.
I recently read a statistic that 80% of the kids raised in a “Christian” home and church, leave the church by the end of their freshman year in college. Wow. Does that shock any of my Christian friends and parents out there? It should.
I think there are several things that play into this statistic and the reason behind kids leaving the church. One of them is that my generation wants a genuine faith, not just a “because it’s the right thing to do” kind of faith, but a genuine “love you with the love of Christ” kind of faith. (But that’s a different blog post entirely).
Another equally important reason kids are leaving the church, in my opinion, is that their parents and grandparents lacked a family vision. They were lulled into thinking that 2 hours in a church on Sunday morning and maybe an hour or two during the week would “undo” the junk that goes into their kids minds during the week. Now I know this is going to ruffle some feathers, but I really believe it’s true. Church isn’t going to replace parenting, church isn’t going to be able to erase the curse words, immoral behavior, and other trash kids are exposed to during the week. It’s not meant to.
We’ve had a lot of questions about why we homeschool. We view homeschooling not as a way to “shelter” and “control” our kids, but as a way to disciple them. It’s part of our family vision. We don’t expect church to do something that we as parents should be doing. We believe that 40 hours a week in a government school isn’t going to get us to our family vision. It’s putting our kids, our faith and their salvation at risk. I’m not saying that if a family doesn’t homeschool their kids, they’re going to end up as mass murders or that they’re headed straight for the depths of hell (although without the grace of God we all are). But I certainly think it warrants a serious look by believing families. Would you freely trust those who are teaching your kids with your check book or your house? If not, I would pose the question to you then how much more valuable are your children?
Please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against public education or public educators. We have many great ones in our family and friends. But as believers we feel we are mandated by scripture to disciple our children, and that is difficult to do when they are spending 40 hours a week in a government school.
What concerns me most is not that kids are going to public school, but that their parents aren’t actively discipling them. And that is really the key. It is the job of the parent, not the church, to disciple children. Unfortunately, most parents are unaware, ill equipped, and unaccountable for this task. Do I think the church has a role in discipleship? Absolutely. The church is there to support and hold families accountable, but not to serve as a substitute for the responsibility God has given to parents.
What world view do you hold? What world view do you want your children to hold? What world view are they getting 40 hours a week vs the world view they’re getting in church every Sunday?
I didn’t post this to start a debate or hurt feelings, but to express our views and part of our vision for our family. We want to start the thought process for why you’re doing what you’re doing with your family. What is the vision you hold for your family? How are you going to get there?
A much more exhaustive and in-depth study of family vision, purposeful parenting and discipleship has been written by Dr. Voddie Baucham in Family Driven Faith. It’s a great read and study of Deuteronomy 6.