Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is My Home a Haven?

Home. It's the place we live. The place we rest, eat, work, play, learn. For some of my children, home is the place they were born.

The word "home" is such a comforting word for me. In 1828, Noah Webster defined home as, "a close place, or place of rest." I think the word, "haven" goes hand in hand with "home". Webster defines "haven" as, "a shelter; a place of safety." Is my home a haven? A place of rest and safety? Or, have I invited the world into our home? As a home school mom and as a Christian, I have a desire and a duty to protect my kids from worldly influences. Those things that take our minds away from God and encourage idolatry. Those things that can harm, cause pain or stress.

In many ways, my children have not been introduced to things as early as I was growing up. Going to public school and having regular television influenced me greatly. I was taught wrong from right, but being surrounded by this culture as much as I was shaped my character. I always thought of myself as sensitive to anything that was not pleasing to the Lord, but after time, I began to relax my convictions. It wasn't popular to be that sensitive and I also was very good at rationalizing why certain things were okay to watch or to listen to. When God started blessing us with our own children, He began restoring those sensitivities again. He gave me discernment about things that I once thought were acceptable and taught me just how unprofitable or even how dangerous it was to invite the culture into our home.

My husband and I paid for cable for a few short years. We enjoyed some very good programs from time to time, some not so good, and some that were just a waste of time. I remember one evening when we were flipping through channels. My husband was trying to figure out what a particular show was and the next thing I remember, a robotic car began gunning down a man right in front of my little ones! We had two children at the time. Of course, I jumped in front of the television before they saw very much, but I was so angry and sad at the same time. There was no warning and I prayed that they wouldn't understand what little they did see. Programming that wasn't violent, but had subtle and unbiblical messages were just as bad. After much prayer, we cancelled our cable. We couldn't afford the extra expense, but more importantly, we couldn't afford what the television was doing to our family. Not only were the programs and commercials depraved, but they were taking precious time away from us. Time we'd never get back.

Getting rid of the cable was a wise decision, but we still have our videos. We still have our music collection. We still have internet. Simply having those things is not wrong, but the Lord has been convicting me in this area of what I allow into my home. There are definitely things I do not want our children to listen to or to view. These things may not be evil, but are still too mature for the kids. My husband and I do need to be aware of current events in the news. We need to listen to sermons that are geared more for our ears, but are we truly being wise in what we allow for ourselves? Is what we are listening to and viewing bringing about the righteousness of God in our home? Everything we do should be done in the light of God's Word. If it is found to be antithetical to what we know is true and right, what are we going to do about it? We have favorite movies. Some are just fine, but there are those that we find hysterical and yet are not pleasing to our Lord. "Why am I laughing at that?", I ask myself. In both movies and music, we are praying that God will show us what needs to go and what can stay.

Our home should be a haven, a place of safety and rest. A place where we can collect our thoughts, pray for and encourage one another. A place to shut out the evil and the darkness of this world. Our home should be open to others outside of our family. We need to be salt and light and pray for every person who comes through our doors, but we don't need to invite this godless culture into our everyday home life. We must not stop with our videos and music either. I question those "harmless" catalogs that encourage covetousness and discontent. The toy catalogs, LL Bean, and even the home school catalogs(gasp!) that promise fun, beauty and enrichment for our home and children. We need to shrug off "selfish ambition"(Phil.2:3) and "complaining"(Phil.2:14). We need to continue to dwell on "whatever is true, noble, right, pure..."(Phil.4:8). We need to meditate on and memorize God's Word. We need to "sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord"(Eph.5:19).

I am praying that God will continue to work in our hearts and show us the areas we've invited into our home that have no place here. I'm praying that He will make our home a haven. A haven of rest.

  1. My soul in sad exile was out on life’s sea,
    So burdened with sin and distressed,
    Till I heard a sweet voice, saying, “Make Me your choice”;
    And I entered the “Haven of Rest”!
    • Refrain:
      I’ve anchored my soul in the “Haven of Rest,”
      I’ll sail the wide seas no more;
      The tempest may sweep over wild, stormy, deep,
      In Jesus I’m safe evermore.
  2. I yielded myself to His tender embrace,
    In faith taking hold of the Word,
    My fetters fell off, and I anchored my soul;
    The “Haven of Rest” is my Lord.
  3. The song of my soul, since the Lord made me whole,
    Has been the old story so blest,
    Of Jesus, who’ll save whosoever will have
    A home in the “Haven of Rest.”
  4. How precious the thought that we all may recline,
    Like John, the beloved so blest,
    On Jesus’ strong arm, where no tempest can harm,
    Secure in the “Haven of Rest.”
  5. Oh, come to the Savior, He patiently waits
    To save by His power divine;
    Come, anchor your soul in the “Haven of Rest,”
    And say, “My Beloved is mine.”

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Quest for the Clean Organized Home

So, here we are in the middle of our summer school. A little math. A little reading. Wonderful read-alouds about Eli Whitney and the ship "Old Ironsides". We continue to read in the Psalms every morning, watch our Picture Proverbs, and study from our character training book,(the current trait being "contentment"). My big plans to begin our book on Botany have not happened yet. Instead, we have been watching "Forces of God's Creation" from Vision Forum covering topics on volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. Library videos on Thomas Edison, raising sheep, and the ancient Inca culture have offered a nice variety as well. Better yet has been watching another caterpillar munching on leaves in a little home we prepared for him and then, making his chrysalis. We are hoping that we can witness the moment he comes out as a butterfly. It's a laid back schedule, but we are learning.

However, there is one very important task I've been putting off the entire summer and that has been to get my house back in order. With sick animals, the addition of a puppy, out of town company, day trips and the daily responsibilities, I have just not found the time or the motivation to do the extra cleaning and organizing that our home needs. And, honestly, when I think about it, I realize this job never ends. Just when I finish one room, another one is waiting to be cleaned and on my return to the "clean" room, I find it's in disarray again. Such is the home of a mom with young children. Lots of laughter, but lots of toys, books, papers, rocks, wrappers and let's not forget the fingerprints on the windows!

I do find myself claiming the martyr title from time to time, complaining about how the older kids and how even the husband just "doesn't get it". "Why does he leave his dirty clothes on the floor? The hamper is a few feet away!" How about that counter in the kitchen that we have named, "Daddy's Junk Counter?" The barn? I won't even touch that one, except when I go out there to look for my gloves or rose trimmers and I'm tripping on everything! And, then, I hear my thoughts and my words and realize that I'm not acting as his loving wife and being grateful for the hard worker he is. Now, really? Is it going to kill me to pick up his clothes? No. The junk counter? He'll get to it. It's not in my way. The barn? Have I forgotten just how many times, he has to make room in there to fix a car or the tractor? Have I forgotten the pressure he's under at work, the last minute business trips which require quite a bit of time away?

The kids? Well, yes, they do need to do their part. They need to be responsible with their chores. They need discipline. But, is it loving discipline to gripe about how many times I have to empty their bathroom trash or wash their clothes? Should they be thankful that their mom feeds them, makes sure they have clothes to wear and cleans the places where they sleep and play? Yes, but I cannot control their hearts. I will pray for attitudes of thankfulness and a willingness to help and to be of service. I will teach them, but I need to forgive them when they are neglectful, praise them when they do a good job and I should be a loving and Godly example to them in my words and actions.

"And, Dawne...what are you doing to clean up your little messes?", I ask myself. My bedroom has become the room where the home school books and papers get dumped when it's dinner time and I don't have time to sort them. Mail and toys with no homes get stashed there, too. How about that big bag of clothes that needs to be washed by hand? The school room? Yikes! I mostly use that room to store the kids' work and past and future curriculum and books. We like to use the chalkboard when it's required, but lately, that's impossible. We can't even walk in there! Now, granted, I did not make most of the mess, but I did allow it.

So now, I'm getting somewhere. "Admitting you have a problem is the first step"... Yes, I need to have more order in this home and I'm part of the problem. Last week, I had a very valid reason to be motivated to get busy. An old friend from my teenage years was coming for a visit! Unfortunately, I panicked. I began shouting orders to the kids right and left, heart pounding, the anger rising when they weren't quick enough. Some of it was good for them, well, not the shouting part, but when I had a precise plan of action and told them how important it was for everyone to pitch in, it was quite effective. The three oldest cleaned their bedrooms and the big playroom in the basement, picking up every piece of trash and even getting out the big Shop Vac to make it super clean. My friend was bringing her two children and my kids wanted it nice for them. I did get a lot done, but I still had so much more to do. I was tired from working hard for two solid days, trying to fit in some school and managing the house without David,(yes, he was on one of those long business trips). I just decided to relax with the kids during dinner and we'd finish the most important things the next morning before she arrived. Then, the phone rang. It was my friend having to cancel the visit. Her little boy was fighting a bad infection and needed some down time at home. "Well, there goes that! But, wait! Daddy will be home tomorrow night and look at what we've accomplished!", I told the kids. We were disappointed about the cancelled visit, but we planned to reschedule it and were sure happy that we cleaned up for Daddy!

I do have some very helpful resources to aid me in this "Quest for the Clean Organized Home". Now, if only I could find them...Oh wait. Here are a few:

"Help for the Harried Homeschooler" by Christine Field, specifically Chapter 2: "Chaos Control, Getting and Staying Organized". The entire book is so refreshing and encouraging, but I especially could relate to this chapter.

"101 Ways to Clean Out the Clutter" by Emilie Barnes. A very short, but practical book that I'm beginning to utilize.

"Managers of Their Homes-A Practical Guide to Daily Scheduling for Christian Homeschool Families" by Steven and Teri Maxwell. I really appreciate this book and plan to start working on our schedule for the coming year. This is a wonderful site. I don't read it everyday, but I have read some very helpful hints to help me on my quest.

Above all else, the Word of God is what I need. I am comforted in knowing that the Lord understands my hectic days and He continues to remind me what's important. Hearts turned toward Him.

Titus 2:3-4: "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the Word of God."

Proverbs 31:25-28, 30: "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her...Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

As a wife and home school mom, but more important as a child of God, I have decided to continue on this quest to organize our home. I desire for a home that runs smoother and with a little less bickering about lost items and things that trip us, but most of all, I desire to work hard at the job God has called me to. Every room I clean, every paper I file, every load of laundry I wash is for His glory. Who knows? He may have some work for me to do in my eternal home. This is the training ground. And, with that, it's time for bed. Another big day tomorrow!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Just When I Was Enjoying Our Little Break!

My calendar says that tomorrow is our first day of summer school. I'm planning on keeping the next four weeks simple before our vacation. Our routine really won't be any different except we will be throwing school subjects in with the diaper changes, the naps, the toddler patrol and the nursing infant. Oh, I almost forgot the new puppy, too. She takes a bit of time as well.

We're already not getting a very good start. Everyone went to bed later than usual. We were busy watching old home videos and rearranging pictures on the walls. Now, that Esther has joined the family, we've found that the wall dedicated to pictures of the children is getting smaller and smaller. So, as of tonight, we've upgraded the pictures to the big wall in the living room.

Did I mention that I don't even know what subjects we're covering? I have thought of a few things to study, but I realize it's going to be a challenge to give them work to keep them sharp and yet keeping it simple. I'm thinking a little Bible, Math-U-See, reading, character training, Botany and some history mixed in and I think we have a plan! Of course, I'm also praying that God will direct me during this month and we will cover what we need to cover.

And, so it begins. But, it never really ended. We've been learning a lot this summer. We learned about what it means to grieve when a dear pet dies. We are learning how to take care of a precious new puppy. We've picked blueberries and learned to freeze them and bake yummy recipes with them. We're gardening and continuing to take care of our other animals. We've had field trips to the zoo, the science center and Amish country. We were encouraged during our annual home school conference. The older ones are helping take care of the younger ones. We've had many opportunities of practicing our conflict/resolution skills in this family and as always, we are reading God's Word.

I was enjoying our little break, but I am going to enjoy a few weeks of more directed study. More than that, I will continue to be thankful for the freedom to disciple and teach our children at home. I will be thankful for all seven of these "little blessings" and I will be thankful for however long I have to serve my Lord on this Earth.

"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20