Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I labeled this post "Determined" for an important reason. I was and still am determined to bring my utility bill down. I feel we pay entirely too much on our utility bills and there had to be something we, as a family effort, could do about it.


I first had to make sure this would be something the whole family would be able to do and do consistently. I didn’t want to overwhelm any of us with a drastic change that would not last long.


Secondly, I called the water department and the electric system. I inquired about how to determine the gallons of water used and the amount of electricity used daily, weekly, and monthly. The folks at both places were more than willing to help me figure out ways of saving. They were full of helpful advice on checking to make sure I am not wasting water in various places.


Next, I started reading my water meter daily. Actually, I read my meter before and after I done anything in the house that used water. I read it before and after showers, laundry, dishes, supper, ect. Thanks to Beverly at the water department I finally figured out how to read my meter correctly. I determined what used the most water and ways of cutting back. Instead of constantly running the water to rinse dishes, I filled a small tub about half way to rinse the dishes in. I am saving about 20 gallons on each sink full of dishes. Instead of my little boy taking a shower, he now takes a bath. Believe me, he could stay in the shower quiet some time and none of us would even realize he’d been in so long.


I then focused on my power bill. I automatically knew several ways in which I could save in that area. But, there were things that I had to think about before I started this endeavor. When I was growing up, we had no dryer. I was the eldest of three and had the chore of hanging out clothes. I don’t think there was ever a time that I went to the clothesline and failed to tell myself, “I will never have a clothesline. I will have a dryer. I hate doing laundry. Why don’t they just buy a dryer? I will have a dryer…I will have a dryer… I will have a dryer…” Needless to say, I failed to realize that the reason we had no dryer is because it was the main way of running ones electric bill to an outrageous price for absolutely no reason. I am beyond that now. I still love the ways clothes smell when fresh from the dryer. However, I am also beyond that. I do not use my dryer anymore. I do still have it, but I don’t put it to use. It sits in my laundry room as a folding table and I enjoy saving money by using it as a table instead of a dryer. It has also challenged me to keep my laundry done up daily instead of having a couple laundry days a week. My clothesline is actually draped from pole to pole in the carport, one on each side. I don’t have much space, so that is the reason I must do one load of laundry each day. I do hang my clothes in my room on a rack to keep the freshness of the fabric softener in them.
Surprisingly, as an adult, I love to do laundry. I also love saving my family money.


Finally, I realized that my a/c could possible be turned up a few degrees and we’d probably never notice. We do have ceiling fans and that is the way we’ve been staying cool. I turned the a/c up to about 79 to 80 degrees. We have only had a few sweltering day that I wished I had left the thermostat alone. However, since my windows are usually up and the doors are normally open there is always a nice breeze blowing through the house. It reminds me of my Nanny’s house when I was small.


Are you are ready for me to tell you how much money we saved on our bills? Our power bill went from $193.00 last month to $137.00 this month. That’s a savings of $56.00 in only 3 ½ weeks. I could have saved a few more dollars if I had started a week earlier. Our water bill has gone from $80.00 to $58.00. That’s a savings of $22.00. I do plan to keep on and save even more next month.


I didn’t mentioned the savings we are getting on our phone bill by disconnecting the caller id, the internet by lowering our package, and Direct TV by having it disconnected. I also raised our deductible on our homeowners insurance from $500.00 to $1000.00 and that gave us a savings of $70.00 a month. We have a total monthly savings of $268.00. Now that’s a great job!! I love my sweet hubby and I enjoy making his hard earned money go much further. Oh, we won’t even talk about the money I saved by canning and freezing a ton of produce this summer. That’s for another post.


Gotta get goin’!!

I don’t want ya’ll (my internet friends) to cause me to get behind on my chores.




Thursday, May 29, 2008

Our Homemade BBQ Pit

This is the fire pit we came up with while we were camping.
I needed something with sides and a top to keep some of the heat.
I was cooking homemade barbeque.
Boy was it delicious.


Do you see it?
You don't see it, yet?
Look closer.
It's a beautiful blue damselfly.
It may be a little hard to see.
I took it from a distance.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Camping Again :)

Nick posing by a tree.

CJ posing by a tree.

CJ and Nick on the top of the truck.

Daddy taking a break from hunting and hauling firewood.

We had a great time (like always.) We actually took the kids camping this weekend for our daughter's birthday. She got the pink digital camera she has been dreaming of.
When my children look back at all of our pictures, I hope they realize I am (ALWAYS) the one behind the camera.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Our Latest Camping Trip to David Crockett State Park

David Crockett State Part,

Lawrenceburg, Tennessee

After 2 1/2 years of praying, God finally blessed us with a camper. Not just any camper, but the exact camper we were praying for. We love to be together as a family, we love the outdoors, and we love to camp. We can still enjoy the great outdoors, but with the conveniences as well.
So, we went camping last weekend for the second time in our new camper. We had a great time. Our camping neighbors were Christian and very kind folks. I have heard many people talk about campers being the nicest people in the world. Well, that has proven to be true.
We had a few problems since we are new to the camper part of camping. Our neighbors were so helpful (from 25 years of camping.)

Here we are having problems figuring out how to work the awning.

Here is our little fire bug.

CJ and Nick playing UNO with our camping neighbors.

CJ counting the leaves on the new flower she found.

Nick picked flowers for me on the trail walk. He even pushed the limits to lean to the edge of the water to get that special one (while Daddy cautiously watched on.)

CJ carving her name in the tree.

Nick looking at the small waterfall.

This is an unusual plant we found while walking on a trail.


Saturday night, the family sat by the campfire and Daddy read scriptures to us. Luckily we had our own church service then, because we missed church the next morning. :)


Amanda Gowan

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I Met God in the Morning
by Ralph Cushman
I met God in the morning
When the day was at its best,
And His presence came like glory
Of the sunrise in my breast.
All day long the Presence lingered,
All day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O'er a very troubled sea.
Other ships were blown and battered,
Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them,
Brought to us a peace and rest.
Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I took, had loosed the moorings
With the Presence left behind.
And I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way:
You must seek God in the morning
If you want Him through the day.
(Taken from The Home by John R. Rice - Page 250)

Why Dress Modestly??

Thoughts on Modest Dress

If a young lady wishes to marry one day the man she always dreamed of, she might be willing to change the way she dresses in order to keep herself pure for him (Proverbs 31:12). If a young lady has chosen to save herself for one man on the whole earth, he must be the sort of man who is honorable, able to be fully trusted, one you could pour your whole heart out to and know your secrets won’t ever leave him. This sort of man would have made a covenant with his eyes not to look on a woman to lust after her beauty. He would be a man who would be keeping himself pure for the one whom he would some day meet and marry for life. He would be looking for a young woman who does not give every man who sees her hope for a relationship with her (Proverbs 11:22;

Ecclesiastes 7:25-29; Proverbs 31:30).

You see, the way a girl dresses speaks of what is in her heart. If she loves her Savior, Jesus, she will dress to please Him. How does she know what clothes Jesus likes? By knowing Jesus and in careful study of His words we can know what He desires for us. The Holy Spirit will make us feel uneasy about wearing clothes that are too revealing. A young woman who desires to please her Savior will wear clothing that would draw a person’s eyes to her face, where shines the beauty of her heart (Matthew 6:22-23). You can tell a lot from looking at a person’s eyes. The face of one who lives in the presence of God shines with the glory of God (Exodus 34:29, Ecclesiastes 8:1; Matthew 17:2). A life of sin wears a face of shame and darkness is in the eyes.

Our choice is will we trust the Lord Jesus to choose our husband for us, or will we continue to try our best to allure men by the way we dress, that we are humans, prone to sin, might find the honorable mate?

A man who is looking for a mate who is pure in her heart and serving God with her life would be drawn to one who dresses with modesty in mind. Her clothes would not draw attention to her chest or her buttocks or her legs, because the young woman who chooses clothes to please the Lord wants to direct others to Jesus and His love. Our faces are to be the focal point in what we wear. Some heave found scarves to be great tools for drawing attention to the face. They allow you to use lots of creativity in the choice of colors and the way you tie them around the neck. Of course, scarves would not be appropriate for every occasion. A short necklace can also be the perfect piece to complete an outfit. There is an array of broaches and pins for sale today, which can be used with a dressy outfit or a casual one. You would wear these pieces near your face. If they, or any other eye-catching accessory, is worn some place other than near the face, it will cause people’s eyes to be drawn away from your face. Keeping this in mind, you can see how patterned hose, or excessive decorations on shoes can be distracting to the eyes. Even wearing clothing that is too loose or too tight will work against the testimony a young woman can have among the people around her.

So, now check out your wardrobe at home. Does it reflect that of one who has dedicated herself to a life of purity to Christ? Adjust some outfits to make them modest. Throw away others, which cannot be made better. Add those garments, which would help build a more Christ-like testimony to your wardrobe. Ask the Lord to guide you and provide clothes that would honor Him. He will bless your efforts.

If you would like to have an outfit sewn for you, the Lord has given me a special ministry to ladies who have chosen to dress modestly. I will sew from your purchased home-sewing pattern, or from a sketch of an outfit you create, or you are welcome to choose from my collection of patterns. I put together an idea catalog with several blouses and skirts and a couple of dresses to spark your own creativity. You can request one of these free catalogs by writing to: handmaid@utmost-way.com or by regular mail:

Handmaid of the Lord

107A East Kolstad Street

Palestine, TX 75801

You can also call us at 903-729-6282.

May God “grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages….” (Ephesians 3:16-21).

The What & Why of Modesty & Feminine Apparel

The What & Why
of Modesty

Feminine Apparel

What is Modesty and why is it so important for the Christian woman to understand, dress & behave modestly? Modesty is the voluntary personal responsibility to behave & dress in such a manner as to not purposely draw attention to oneself, to not think proudly of oneself and it's a decision to protect from purposeful or "unintended" enticement in inappropriate ways & places. This is crucial for a Christian woman; first and foremost because we're representatives of the LORD Jesus Christ and secondly, if we're married, we're a reflection of our husband.

It's critical to pay attention to the message and the signal our clothing is sending and to make sure, very sure, that the message is in line with the Word of God. If style & type of clothing is something you're wrestling over in your mind, or if you're feeling convicted about dress, and what in this world should a Christian woman be wearing, then pray, discuss these things with your husband. Many will have ideas and convictions about what *you* should wear, but what matters most is what the LORD is directing and what your husband prefers.

Pray together & examine
what you're wearing each day and why!

"That Which Becometh Women Professing Godliness"
By Jennifer M. McBride
Aug 9, 2005 - 10:33:00 AM

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. ~ I Timothy 2:9,10

Under the influence of the culture surrounding us, it is easy for the lines of distinction between Christians and the world to be blurred if we are not on guard. That thing that seemed so shocking at first glance now doesn't look so bad, and before we know it, we are participating in it quite cheerfully! This can happen to all of us in a myriad of ways. Since this is such a real and present danger (a danger which grows all the deadlier as our culture grows ever more evil and races faster and farther from anything remotely resembling Scriptural principles) it is vitally important that we exhort and encourage each other to continually examine ourselves, and our lives, in the light of God's Word.

Immodesty and cross-dressing are not new. Even a brief look at fashion history shows that, when people and nations reject God's standards, their "fashions" tend toward exploitation or gender-neutral designs. Truly, "there is nothing new under the sun."

For women, especially young women, clothing is one such area that can be greatly affected by our culture. As the world around us grows bolder and barer in its fashions, we can begin to lose perspective as to what is appropriate and what is not. Over the last several years, I have watched with increasing dismay as the clothing of many young Christian women has become more and more immodest, revealing, and like that of the world. This is an issue of a deeply serious nature, since it goes beyond just clothing and affects the area of purity as well; both our own and others'. As a young woman myself and as your sister in Christ, this causes me great concern for you. With a husband, a young son, a father, and five brothers, I also have a deep concern for the stumbling block immodest clothing can be to our brethren. Thus, I feel the need, as your sister in Christ, to take keyboard in hand (with a very wriggly baby on my lap!) to exhort and encourage my younger sisters in this most serious area.

While there are many reasons for dressing modestly, I am going to focus on the four most vitally important. First and most importantly, the Lord has a Standard that does not change for every area of our lives, and He has given us these standards in His Word. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17 KJV).

The world, on the other hand, has no set standard but is constantly changing and given over to every whim of whatever is popular. As Christians, we can't use the world as our measuring stick. Not only is the world undependable and unsteady, but in James 4:4 we read, "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." In Romans 12:2, the Lord also tells us, "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Therefore, we need to look to God's Holy Word as our guide and measure everything by it alone.

Throughout Scripture we see a pattern for covering our bodies. God says in His Word that we are to cover our nakedness, and He does define what constitutes "nakedness." After Adam and Eve sinned, the Bible says, "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons" (Genesis 3:7). Adam and Eve immediately covered their private parts, believing this would hide their "shame" from the Lord. But what did God do with these coverings? "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (3:21). The fig-leaf "aprons" fashioned by our first parents were not enough. God made them coats to cover their bodies. This presents us with an important truth that goes beyond clothing. Our feeble works cannot cover our sins; God has to cover us in His way. When Adam and Eve covered their private parts, God replaced their inadequate coverings with coats to completely clothe their bodies. This is a beautiful picture of the covering of Christ’s atoning blood, which completely hides our sins rather than putting a patch over the "old man" here and there. "In other words," writes Jeff Pollard, "God did not give a fur bikini to represent our righteousness and salvation." [1]

When applied specifically to clothing, we learn that our own ideas about what constitutes modest clothing must be governed by God’s infallible Standard. If we refuse to let God’s perfect Word guide us in the area of dress, we are foolish, unsubmissive rebels. And even if we insist upon a "cultural" interpretation of the modesty and dress passages, if the idolatrous cities of Corinth and Rome called for Christian modesty, does not our modern culture with its rampant pornography, prostitution, and other abuses of women make the call even more urgent and timely?

I Timothy 2:9 tells us, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety." And what exactly is modesty? While it is a word that encompasses many meanings, all can be applied to the issue of clothing. Jeff Pollard, author of Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America, sums it up this way:

Christian modesty is the inner self-government, rooted in a proper understanding of one's self before God, which outwardly displays itself in humility and purity from a genuine love for Jesus Christ, rather than in self-glorification or self-advertisement. Christian modesty then will not publicly expose itself in sinful nakedness. [2]

And what is “shamefacedness and sobriety?”

Shamefacedness describes "a moral revulsion from all that is unseemly, a rejection of even the appearance of the overstepping of the limits of womanly reserve." Sobriety "stands for that inner judgment produced in the believer by the Scripture and the Spirit of God, that provides a restraint on every merely physical or human appetite." [3]

Scripture also tells us that women are to be "discreet and chaste" (Titus 2:5KJV)--meaning caution, prudence and purity--and that we are to adorn ourselves with the "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit" (1 Peter 3:4 KJV). Girls, when you wear tight, form-fitting, low-cut, see-through, attention-grabbing, revealing clothing and carelessly (or deliberately) expose your body, this is dressing in direct opposition to the guidelines given to us in God's Holy Word!

Secondly, as Christian women we must remember that we are representatives of our Lord Jesus Christ. "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1Corinthians 6:20). When people look at us, do they see something pure, holy, and different? Do they see something about us that marks us as belonging to the Lord? Or are we dressed like the scantily clad majority, wearing clothing that looks more like the "attire of an harlot" spoken of in Proverbs 7 than that becoming a woman of God? What we wear either brings glory to the Lord or shames Him. When we wear clothing that is immodest and revealing of our bodies, not only are we not drawing people to Christ; we could be enticing them to sin.

Thirdly, we are to keep our bodies private and covered. Our bodies are not to be on free display for all. Did you know that, in addition to belonging the Lord, your body also belongs to your future husband? "God designed man to enjoy and appreciate a woman’s body -- more specifically, his wife’s body. The Song of Solomon is a breathtaking tribute to the beauties of human love and the gifts of femininity and masculinity. Proverbs exhorts a husband to enjoy his wife’s body, which is his own and belongs to the gaze of no other man (Proverbs 5:19). When you wear low-cut necklines, you are offering to the public what belongs to your husband alone to enjoy. Will your husband be happy to know that countless men before him have enjoyed beauties that should 'ravish' him alone?" [4]

Let's imagine for a moment that a family has entrusted a banker with a box full of beautiful, expensive jewels. They have been in the family for generations and are priceless and irreplaceable. Now imagine that, rather than quietly locking those jewels in the bank's vault, the banker puts them out in the middle of the bank's main lobby in a glass case with no lock on the door. He takes great pains to display them very attractively and put up colorful signs that draw the attention of all who walk by. Would that be wise? Do you think that the owners of those jewels would appreciate it? I think that we would all certainly agree that that would be the height of foolishness and that the owners of the jewels would be horrified.

Can you see the parallels between those jewels and you? Do you realize that those jewels represent your body? Your jewels also belong to another and should be kept safely locked up for him. Would your future husband wish you to be careless with these treasures? Would he enjoy knowing how many other men had seen, been attracted to, and enjoyed gazing at them; to know how many other men had dreamed of owning what was rightfully his alone; to know of the potential risk to the safety of his jewels? I think we can safely answer all of these questions with a resounding "no."

Proverbs 31 asks "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her ... She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." Let us be such women, whose "price is far above rubies!" Let us not present ourselves as being cheap and of little worth, but rather as those who have been bought with a great price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Protect the treasures that belong to your husband, so that his heart may safely trust in you. Do your husband good all the days of your life; even now, before you know who he might be.

Finally, by dressing in an immodest fashion, we can create a serious stumbling block to our brothers in Christ, causing them to lust. This is not a light matter. While men are most certainly responsible to guard their eyes and their hearts, we are also responsible if we dress in such a way that causes them to stumble. It is a real struggle for our brothers in this day and age in which scantily clad women are around every corner (and lining the highways and byways!). As women, we do not even begin to realize the magnitude of this struggle. It is extremely grieving that our brothers cannot even have a respite from this battle when they gather together with other Christians to remember the Lord. How can a man truly focus on simply worshiping his Savior when he is constantly having to avert his eyes and be careful where he looks, lest he see something that could entice him to sin?

Do you also realize that while your Christian brothers may be battling lust, the majority of men in the world would think it was silly to even put up a fight? You have no idea what thoughts you may be inciting in the many men you pass as you walk through the mall. I have a feeling that you would be appalled. At best, you are allowing yourself to possibly be used as an object of lust by any man who sees you, and, at worst, you could be putting your very safety at stake.

Think again of the analogy of the jewels. Most likely the majority of the people passing by those unguarded jewels in the bank lobby would not be thieves; but more than likely most people would be drooling at the thought of owning those jewels! They would be dreaming of what they could do if only those jewels belonged to them; they would feel tempted by how easily within reach those jewels were; they might start to imagine how they could actually go about taking those jewels and how much they would enjoy owning them. Many would stand and stare at the jewels, admiring and enjoying their beauty. Most people would not actually take the jewels, but many would entertain thoughts of "what if." Perhaps, eventually, a man who had never really thought he would steal something would be overcome by just how easily in reach those jewels were and would give in to the temptation to steal one. "Surely it would not be wrong to take one; they must really not be all that valuable--after all, they are sitting here out on display and unguarded!" Or, perhaps a professional jewelry thief was passing by and, with no qualms of conscience, simply stole them all.

Do you know that when you dress in a revealing, sensual way, you are treating your jewels as carelessly as that banker treated those entrusted to him? You are sending the message that your jewels really aren't all that valuable and are free for the taking; you could even be catching the eye of a jewel thief.

Please think about your clothing; perhaps you have not realized that it is immodest. Examine your wardrobe. Try on your clothing in front of a full-length mirror and put it through some rigorous, prayerful testing! What can you see when you bend over, when you lift your arms, when you sit down? If your clothing is revealing parts of your body that should not be seen by the general public; if your clothing is revealing your undergarments; if your clothing is form-fitting and so tight that very little is left to the imagination as to what your body is shaped like; if your shirts are low cut, open and cleavage-baring, if your skirts and dresses are so short that when you sit down it is likely that the person across from you will see what they should not, then please realize that this is not the attire befitting a woman of God.

You owe it to the Lord who has bought you with a great price to dress as though you belong to Him and not to the Enemy. You owe it to yourself to dress as though you are not cheap and free for the taking, but are a valuable child of God. You owe it to your future husband to save yourself for him in every way.

There is such joy and beauty to be found in doing things the Lord's way! Let's not fall for the lies that Satan would have us believe. Let us seek the Lord in all that we do, whether it is popular or not. Let's seek the path of purity and godly womanhood. The blessings that the Lord has for those that follow Him are rich and plentiful. "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord" (Psalm 119:1). "Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in His ways" (Psalm 128:1). "For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11).

Jennifer McBride is a homeschool graduate and a very happy wife and mother. She and her husband have been blessed with four small children (ages 4,3,2 and ten months) and operate Old Paths, a website dedicated to encouraging a return to the "old paths" of Scripture and the Biblical pattern for raising a godly family.

End Notes:

1. Pollard, Jeff. Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America.
Vision Forum.com
2. Ibid
3. Allen, J. What the Bible Teaches/ 1 Timothy
4. Chancey, Jennie.
"Modesty and the Christian Woman"

© Copyright 2002-2008 by LAF/BeautifulWomanhood.org

Developing Standards of Modesty in Children
By Sarah Eppes
Dec 2, 2005 - 9:03:00 PM

It is everywhere…the visual assault upon one’s eyes. One cannot drive down a highway without seeing billboards decked out with women in scanty clothes, advertising everything from restaurants named after owls to flooring with suggestive names. (It is not fun to answer an 11 year old boy's question about what kind of food they serve at the owl restaurant!) The checkout lanes at stores are saturated with magazines that promote filth and women in seductive positions with racy headlines. And every time our family faces one of these items, we avert our eyes.

“I made a covenant with mine eyes…” Job 31:1a

Far too often, we are faced not only with averting our eyes from the yuck displayed on inanimate objects such as magazines and billboards, but we are also faced with the yuck paraded in the name of fashion on various people we encounter. It is quite a feat to learn to “keep your eyes on their eyes” when talking to someone dressed immodestly.

As a parent, it could be easy to become discouraged with the state of undress in America. However, my husband and I have been pleasantly surprised at how the Lord has led our family in combating the immodest society in which we live. In the face of a society running rampant with immodesty, as we have turned to the Word, our children have learned volumes about God’s standards, and His desire for their behavior and dress.

It is not uncommon for one of my sons to tell his brothers and sisters to avert their eyes, quietly urging “Look down!” While I admit that my husband and I have giggled at our oldest son’s orders to his siblings, we have found that it is a joy to have children who are seeking to honor the Lord in this area of their lives.

Recently, when I was in a retail store purchasing a few gifts for my youngest daughter’s first birthday. My seven-year-old daughter and I saw a box containing a china teacup in it with the word “Princess” on the box. We peeked at the teacup and stood there debating about whether or not to purchase it. I hesitated because the colors used to paint the princess on the cup were a bit bold, and not to my taste. It was my seven-year-old daughter, however, who cast the deciding vote. She shook her head and gently said, “I don’t like the princess, Mommy, because her dress shows too much of her chest. She doesn’t look modest!” I smiled when I heard my daughter’s words and gave her a huge hug. She had once again discovered immodest dress in daily life.

It is not unusual for this daughter to turn her head or boldly declare (in private) that she does not like an outfit because it reveals too much skin. Although her father and I have never given out exacting rules about standards of dress, we have consistently provided her with “modest” clothes. We also have frequent family discussions about what is “immodest” in our society. Unfortunately, there is much to talk about!

“Modest” is defined in the American College Dictionary as “having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one’s merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions; free from ostentation or showy extravagance; moderate; having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress, etc.; decent.” In contrast, “immodest” is defined as “not modest in conduct, utterance, etc.; indecent; shameless; not modest in assertion or pretension; forward; impudent.”

These terms are further exemplified in abundance throughout the book of Proverbs. As a family, we started the habit several years ago of reading one book of Proverbs per day (one for each numerical day of the month). Proverbs 1:1-6 declares that it's purpose is to instruct in wisdom and teach discretion:

"The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings."

In reading Proverbs regularly, our children speedily learned the definition of a “loose woman,” and my daughter set her sights on never being caught in a situation in which she would be considered “loose!” Our sons, as well, determined to live a life pleasing to the Lord in action, speech and dress.

When our children were little, dress standards were easy--we bought their clothes and they wore them without comment because they were too young to know any differently! As our children have matured, we as parents could have simply dictated personal standards to them. However, we never faced that situation. Our children have never wanted to look like the world! To be sure, as a family, we are still working on these areas of our lives and need an abundance of the Lord’s grace, but we are learning! It has been wonderful to see our children develop these standards as a result of their love for the Lord and His Word. Truly, His Word is sharper than any two-edge sword and will not return void!

If you are attempting to train your children in righteousness, I encourage you to prayerfully consider dress standards in the light of the Word. Then, when making changes and attempting to influence the hearts of your children, read them the Word itself!

It is a beautiful thing to see your young daughter desire to wear modest, yet attractive clothes that allow the love of the Lord to shine through her life, and to see your sons seeking to protect the eyes of their sisters and brothers by warning of immodesty!

The Lord has been so faithful to lead our family in this area as we have turned to the Word. It truly is amazing to see the Lord do the work of influencing little hearts and minds for Him.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" 2 Timothy 3:16

Best Friends by Jessie Wilcox Smith

© Copyright 2002-2008 by LAF/BeautifulWomanhood.org

Motherhood is a Full-Time Job
By Teresa Farah
Aug 5, 2004 - 1:47:00 PM

A neighbor gave birth to a baby late last April and had maternity leave/vacation until the end of June. The newest neighbors on the block were very proud to show off their son. Asked if she would return to work now that little Emily had a brother, Christine responded, “If there were something intellectually challenging, I’d consider it. I would rather return to work in the absence of that kind of challenge at home.”

Forty years of feminism, and women no longer find child rearing a challenge. I contend it is--but not the challenge career-minded women conceptualize after toiling at a four-year college. Changing a smelly diaper hasn’t moved anyone up a corporate ladder, but when the baby stops crying and Mom sighs in peace, the baby is gratefully aware of her presence. And everyone else rests easier, too. Day care employees do not receive the same peace of mind-–it’s on to the next diaper of someone else’s child. There will never be the tug of heartstrings when a child experiences discomfort or joy, hurt or playful delight.

Children were not born to intellectually stimulate or entertain adults. That is not their purpose. On a small scale, there is challenge in the management of our time as a mother. “Husbands don’t understand that accomplishing the simplest project with a tiny baby in tote is an enormous task,” Jamie lamented. “One day, I had all I could do to keep Veronica quiet,” I agreed. “Todd came home, and I told him what I did that day-–it was one thing that would normally have taken an hour or less, and I needed the entire day. He looked at me and said, ‘Good for you.’”

There is a true effort to complete daily tasks at work. But imagine the constant effort at home while working around interruptions from a baby that cannot grasp reasoning. Wiping up a spill on the floor is not important to a screaming baby wanting to be held. But spills and screams aren't what motherhood is about. Moms are easily distracted by the small details and lose sight of the big picture: Moms raise humanity. Raising our future to be respectful and responsible is genuinely difficult. To leave this in the hands of overworked and underpaid child care workers who "care" at a maximum capacity for the children of strangers... Well, I would be willing to bet the children get the short end of the deal.

“Where’s my mommy? She’s usually here by now. I don’t understand why she’s not here yet. Do you know where she is?” Jenna’s sad, blue eyes looked up at me, glassy with tears. Her voice was softly urgent. It was 4:25 p.m., five minutes from the end of my shift at Kinder Care, and I was seven months pregnant. I was temping at the Kinder Care, not wanting a full-time job that I would have to quit when I came due. “She may be stuck in traffic, sweetie. Or maybe she had to get one thing at the grocery store. I’m sorry it feels like you’ve been left behind, but I bet anything your mom is on her way now.” I tried to be genuinely positive without sounding patronizing.

Each generation pays close attention to societal values the previous holds dear, regardless of whether the values are agreed upon or not. Our children watch very carefully how we treat the defenseless, regardless of age. The young, set aside while we pursue intellectual challenges, will also grow to neglect raising their children. If this is so, imagine what they will do to aging parents if we ever come between them and intellectual pursuit.

“I quit breastfeeding after the first week. I couldn’t wait to get back to work. Sam is in the best day care around. I am so happy to be back at work teaching a fresh new crop. I am so looking forward to the new school year; I cleaned the cobwebs out of my lesson plan while on maternity leave.” Kelly was, in addition, glowing over her fortune having the entire summer to adjust to the newness of being a mom. Sam came along at the end of April, cutting short what she hoped to accomplish in the final quarter. I never mustered the courage to ask what Sam’s reaction would be when he learned mom was institutionalizing him in day care to teach 20+ children she didn’t know. As I give the situation more consideration, I regret with every breath I take that I didn’t dare ask-–for Sam’s sake.

Recently, Dr. Laura Schlessinger was the guest on a popular talk show. A talk radio host herself, "Dr. Laura" advocates moms staying home with their children, among other things. As she expected, she got a lot of dissenting and very pointed questions about the necessity of a woman being home. She turned the table and asked how many in the audience, when children, preferred the day care system over the care of their own mothers. No one raise a hand. In her bestseller, Parenthood by Proxy, she cites a letter written by the director of the National Foundation for Family and Education, Dr. Mark Genius:

"Our latest analysis examined over 25,000 children in studies covering from 1957 through to 1996. Numerous considerations were made regarding the year of the study, quality of study, and so forth. The bottom line appears to be that regular separation for more than approximately twenty hours per week places young children at significant risk of impaired development in areas of bonding, cognitive development, behavioral development and social development."

This is our future, a future we claim to depend upon. And how much forethought have we put into investing wisely? We want what we want – NOW. Gloria Steinem stated years ago, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Well, we'd better get training wheels; these fish need to start peddling. Men are dependent on women all of their lives, rugged as they are. They are brought into this world by women, raised by them and, when the time comes, men marry them. It is not about helpless women being dependent on men to get by. They share a joint venture in which labor is divided and the load is shared. There is no unequal yoke here. Men can slay dragons, but women can motivate them to see that it’s worth their effort.

Men today have grown accustomed to the Women’s Movement rhetoric, and women are paralyzed by it. There was a time when a man never considered starting a family unless he was financially/physically capable. If he accidentally got his girlfriend pregnant, there was a shotgun wedding. Now shotguns are going the way of the wild west and the horse and carriage. Thanks to the sexual revolution and, subsequently, Roe vs. Wade, there is no longer an obligation to be responsible for the creation of life. There is abortion; occasionally a man is even required to cover some of the expense.

I am saddened as I listen to women who, on the one hand, try but become too impatient with the crying, screaming, and stress to stay at home with the children they voluntarily conceived and brought into this world. Alternatively, those who need intellectual fulfillment don’t question leaving dependent children only weeks old at institutions filled to capacity as they dash off to work. Mom caring for her children developmentally and spiritually is an afterthought somewhere between work and bedtime. It doesn’t occur to new parents today to consider the responsibility or the necessary expense tied to these bundles.

Once, I rescued a pet from the Humane Society. When they asked me to sign off on my ability to care for it, they wanted to know if I realized how much the minimum yearly cost for a pet was. I was baffled. I anticipated minimal care but was earnestly lectured about medical expense, care for the animal if I was traveling or if it was sick, etc. The only difference between this and having children was that no one ever put forth such questions prior to my daughter’s conception. No warning labels, nothing. Do we not have our priorities out of order in our postmodern society?

Even today, I still catch myself saying that I am "just a mom" when instead I should be saying, “I am Mom; hear me roar!” A news article in the weekend edition of the Star Tribune focused on the up and coming GenXers now moving into management. This is the next generation, and they are replacing entrenched Baby Boomers, who are preparing to retire. An interesting and very subtle point I picked up on was that this is the first round of young people to come out of the day care setting from parents who never questioned the necessity of day care for their children as they continued careers. That has had an impact on the GenX perspective on work. They do not see the career as a necessity and are not as power driven because of it. They put in their forty hours and go home to their family and friends. I thought it was almost a sad reflection on their experience, but at the same time, I am hopeful that this means a change in the way the next generation thinks of children and family. Our future depends upon our treatment of our children.

© Copyright 2002-2008 by LAF/BeautifulWomanhood.org

Homemaking: An Art to Be Learned
By Kristen Rodgers
Dec 20, 2004 - 11:36:00 AM

Warm cookies on the stove send a wonderful aroma throughout the house. Handmade lace curtains frame a squeaky clean window, through which a sleeping winter garden is visible. Mrs. Sally Smith smiles as she glances out the window, then turns back to the intricate doily she is tatting. The door bursts open, and five children, ages three, five, eight, twelve, and fifteen come quickly in. Neatly leaving their boots at the door, they shrug off their coats and immediately hang them up. Mrs. Smith gets up and serves the children their warm gingerbread cookies, beautifully decorated, and homemade hot chocolate. At this opportune moment, the baby wakes up, and Mrs. Smith lightly crosses to the bedroom to get the one-year-old boy up. Little David approvingly coos at the happy commotion.

Three-year-old Abigail and five-year-old Esther, in their matching, hand-sewn dresses finish their snack, then go to pull out their miniature sewing baskets to finish their Christmas gifts for Grandma and Grandpa--three weeks ahead of schedule. The middle boys, John and Samuel, stack their dishes in the sink, then go to finish shoveling the walk, without a reminder from Mother. Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth begins folding a snow-white load of laundry before starting supper’s dessert. Mrs. Smith, meanwhile, has put the baby on the floor, and has begun leisurely filling out next week’s meal menu with a cookbook. Peace reigns over the house.

One of a young girl’s favorite dreams is the former scenario. An impeccable house, lovely children, boundless time and talent. Yet the misconception often made by both mothers and daughters is that the skills needed to create at least part of that dream are absorbed by osmosis. But in reality, the following scene is more often created:

Mrs. Sally Smith hurriedly glances at the clock. The children were going to come in any minute: it was cold outside, and she just had to get these overdue birthday cards out. She turns her attention back to the task, but then the door bursts open. Five children, ages three, five, eight, twelve, and fifteen come in. The two boys come in first, shoving each other. “Where’s the food?” John asks impatiently. “I bought a box of sugar cookies three weeks ago. It’s somewhere in the cupboard.” Mrs. Smith says, annoyed. She then turns her attention to little Abigail, who is bawling because she fell in the mud. At that moment, the baby begins screaming in the bedroom. “Can you change her please, Beth?” she asks as she runs to the bedroom. Elizabeth reluctantly takes her in hand. Just then, Samuel teasingly snatches a cookie from Esther, who drops her other cookie. John, then steps on it, and Esther starts crying. Mrs. Smith hurries out, trying to calm the teething baby, but is stopped by a yell. “Mom! There aren’t any clean clothes for her!” Elizabeth shouts. “Is too! In the...stop that John! In the closet..give it back Samuel! That dress I got for two dollars from Goodwill! Get that out of your mouth David !” Mrs. Smith yells back. “What’s for dinner, Mommy?” Esther asks sweetly. “I have no idea. Stop stepping in the mashed potatoes, John.” “Well, what are they there for?” “I don’t know. Maybe I don’t have time to clean?!! Stop stepping in them!”

That scene is generally not what we envision when we think of our lives as future homemakers. But it is very likely to happen, without proper instruction. So what should Mrs. Sally Smith have learned when she was younger? There are several basic points: sewing, cooking, cleaning, baking, laundry, and scheduling. Now, while the first scenario is not very likely to be achieved in most ladies’ daily lives, a better situation can be put into practice through these areas. For example, if Mrs. Smith had learned how to sew, she would not have had such a problem with clothes. A sturdily-crafted pinafore can eliminate many stains and spills that little girls are apt to have. And they always look very cute! Of course, sewing doesn’t automatically make things clean, but being able to make your own clothes and aprons does help. Knowing how to sew can also save a lot of money by altering growing children’s clothes.

If Mrs. Sally Smith had learned to do the laundry, she would not have had barely any clean clothes, but since she did not learn this till she was married, she only does a load or two whenever she absolutely has to. She much prefers to go and buy something cheap at the closest store. Abigail generally has eleven dresses in the dirty clothes hamper and one or two in her closet.

Cooking is also essential. Mrs. Smith never learned to cook or bake, so the latest special at Kentucky Fried Chicken is generally what is for dinner. A squabble by starving children is not unusual, because Mrs. Smith hardly ever has any snacks on hand. They’re too much trouble. As for cleaning, Mrs. Smith sometimes does a house-clean monthly, but generally bimonthly. She never learned how to clean regularly and efficiently, so she wastes a lot of energy and time each month.

As far as scheduling is concerned, Mrs. Sally Smith never really heard the word. It seems like too much of a regimented lifestyle to her, with the result that not much ever gets done in her haphazard household.

So you see, being taught home economics is very important. There are many good home economics courses in the stores today. One very good one is
Christian Light’s Home Economics course. Such courses as these cover a wide range of topics that come up in the daily homemaker’s life, with emphasis on cooking and sewing. If you prefer to teach your daughter yourself, try forming a club, with rewards for learning how to do a particular skill. Or schedule a Mother-Daughter time each week, where you can work together. Remember to treat it as importantly as any other engagement. Your daughter will learn from your attitude whether home economics is really important or not.

For you girls, if your mother is not interested in home economics, was never taught any of the skills herself, or is just too busy, take initiative! Ask her to consider purchasing a good home economics course. Many of them you can use to teach yourself, and I’m sure she would enjoy learning with you if she doesn’t know some things! If the money is just not available, then shadow your mother as she goes around. Good cookbooks like Betty Crocker’s, or sewing books like the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (all available at your local library) can also be used to self-teach. Whatever you do, don’t give up!

Two topics that are usually not covered in home economics courses and are often forgotten when a mother is teaching her daughter, are cleaning and scheduling. Cleaning is an important lesson, however unenjoyable it may be. Make sure you can at least do each job, and do it once or twice. Mothers, try to make it fun. Teach the chores to your daughter like adventurous preparation, not another chore. Teach them that everything can be done to the glory of God, even vacuuming or washing dishes. One very good book on cleaning is Don Aslett's Is There Life After Housework? It is a very helpful resource for both current and future homemakers.

Learning to schedule is also very important. Without scheduling, many hours are likely to be wasted in a week. Scheduling helps you to get done the things you need to and want to. Get on
Titus 2 for some great books and other resources. But you can learn to schedule even without a book. Daughters, try to make your own mini schedule. I schedule my mornings with help from Mom, because that’s when I’m usually slow. Having a schedule helps me be productive.

Home economics: It’s a very important subject, yet it is often neglected. Collect your resources, and start learning the art of homemaking today. Then this scene is more likely:

Mrs. Sally Smith carefully consults her schedule. “Good. I’ve got a lot of things done. I think I’ll go get out the cookies I made yesterday. The children will be here soon,” she says to herself. But first, she crosses to the bedroom and wakes the baby up. If he doesn’t get up now, he won’t go to sleep tonight anyway. Then, after settling him in the playpen, she gets out the cookies and hot chocolate. The door bursts open and the five children come in. “Please hang up your coats and take your boots off,” she reminds the children. They quickly obey, then sit down to eat their snack, except Abigail, who is crying because she fell in a mud puddle. “Come, Abby,” Mrs. Smith says cheerily, and quickly changes her into a fresh pinafore. Now happy, Abigail sits down to eat. “Elizabeth, I need you to fold the laundry in fifteen minutes, please. Boys, I need you to shovel the walk in an hour. Girls, why don’t you start on your Christmas projects?” Mrs. Smith directs patiently. They nod, and Esther looks up. “Will you sew with me?” “Of course,” she says, “But first, I need to put in tonight’s stew.” They all scatter to their various tasks, and peace reigns.

Mama's Hands
By Jennifer Selin
May 7, 2005 - 9:21:00 AM

Forever imprinted in my mind-
Tasks of every sort and kind,
Monotonous and mundane,
Come sun, snow, or rain-
Mama's hands.

Caressing my feverish brow,
Showing me what to do and how,
Wiping away my tears,
Preparing meals over the years-
Mama's hands.

Holding my hand "just because,"
Running over my sweater to pick off the fuzz,
Showing me how to write
As well as how to tie my shoe tight-
Mama's hands.

Always willing to comfort
When I am hurt,
Forever offering a tender touch
That says, "I love you wo very much"-
Mama's hands.

Helping Your Family Love Being At Home
By Glenys Robyn Hicks
Oct 17, 2006 - 5:14:00 PM

There is no place on earth like home. Here in our sanctuary, we live out our daily lives and let our hair down, becoming who we really are. And sometimes who we are at home can be anything but who we are in public. We all know how to put on the charm when we are in the presence of others. In fact, we often cultivate a public persona: those outside the home and family often see that which we wish to be seen as perfect, affable, and socially acceptable. But when we finally get home where it's just our husband and children, we often strip off that persona like a mask and relax our standards. Often this is anything but attractive.

I believe that, of all places, the home should be where we strive to be the sweetest and most loving--to our husbands and then to our children. How sad it is when we give our best to those outside the home to the detriment and dismay of our family! For home is where we tend and keep vibrant our most precious relationship after Christ: our marriage! Home is where we bear and bring up the blessings of our marriage, our children! What they and your husband see is speaking volumes to them about how they feel about the home.

If home is filled with tension or perpetually in disorder, it will breed an aversion to being there. Often with the mess, untidiness, and tension with the screaming of the mother, the crying of the kids, the arguments and so forth, a husband will delay his homecoming because he really isn't all that keen to be there. Home for him is not his castle. He may not even be aware of this avoidance, but I am sure that his wife would be! This can often add to the tension or cause unnecessary problems like alcoholism from too much time with drinking after work, or gambling to wile away the hours until he thinks it may be safe to come home. And, yes, these things can happen in a Christian home, too.

Children and teens are quick to pick up on tension and will often develop a revulsion to being home, preferring to stay at friends' homes until as long as possible, or delaying coming home from school--even making excuses to be missing. This is tragic because it is avoidable. If a home is reasonably clean and organised, if meals are on time, if there is a sense of peace and relaxation and love, I believe the family will delight to be there. As the wife and as the mother, we do indeed set the temper of the home. We can build our house or we can tear it down with our own hands: it is up to us; we can have it either way.

By taking reasonable steps to be loving wives, mothers, and good homemakers, we can influence how our family relates to their own home. By providing a relaxing, clean environment with care taken to provide wholesome and interesting meals, we can foster a love for the home in our family. By trying to promote a sense of peace in the home with minimal arguments and conflicts, we can create a desire to spend time at home. This is important, for home is the cradle of civilisation and the first meeting place of God. Don't ever underestimate your influence on your family--you are the heart of the home and the light that lights the path to God through your example. Let's all be someone our family loves to come home to. And let us look afresh at the home and encourage our family to be home with us. The results will be everlasting and will be passed on down the generations.

© Copyright 2002-2008 by LAF/BeautifulWomanhood.org

Keeper at Home

You are loved and lovely, your work, your life as a homemaker and being a keeper at home is precious work. Never ever let anyone or anything persuade you otherwise and never allow the enemy to come in and flood your thoughts out of your home and wash away your commitment to improve and be strengthened in your role as the wife: helper to your husband, the keeper of the home, the mother of children and the light and joy of the family. You're worth it. Be an excellent homemaker. Your family is worth it! Do good things daily... that the Word of God be not blasphemed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Home Education: It’s God’s Idea

Philip Lancaster

There are many excellent reasons for choosing to teach your own children at home. First, there is now incontestable evidence that on average children who are home schooled fare better academically than children of either public or private schools. This is not surprising since tutoring has always been recognized to be the best method of education.

Second, home educated children are spared the corrupting environment of the peer-oriented classroom and thus are benefited socially. A common myth of our society is that children need to be with other children for extended periods of time to be properly socialized, but this is the exact opposite of the truth. Much time in a peer culture is damaging to children. Socialization is one of the best reasons to home school.

Third, any home schooling family will tell you that one of the greatest benefits of the process is the way that family bonds are strengthened. Parents and children grow closer through the shared hours of each day. Siblings develop a new love and respect for one another as they live and learn and work together day by day. These families can overcome the family-fragmenting forces of modern life. They just plain have more time together; and love is spelled t-i-m-e.

Fourth, home educating families prosper spiritually. Parents are able to guide their charges in godly paths as they protect them from the immorality and falsehood so prevalent in public schools and teach them the Bible and its application to life. The very process of discipling one’s own child results in character growth in both the child and the parent.

As good as all these reasons are, however, the very best reason to choose home education has not been listed yet. But to appreciate the force of this last reason you must first agree to a vitally important premise. So let me run that by you first.

The premise is simply this: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3;16,17). Or, put another way: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (2 Pet. 1:3). Or, finally: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Ps. 119:105). In other words, in our Lord Jesus and his Word, the Bible, we have all we need for spiritual and moral direction in life. The Scripture is our wholly sufficient guide for what to believe and how to live in ways that please God.

Do you believe that? Do you agree that what is written in the Bible is written to tell us how to live; that when the Word of God addresses any particular aspect of life, it is giving us wisdom to be followed carefully; and that God has good reason for all that he reveals in his Word? If you do, then you are ready to hear the final point.

The best reason for choosing home education is that it is God’s revealed plan for raising our children. The Bible knows no other system of education. God did not prescribe schools for his people; these were invented by others. The pages of Scripture espouse, by precept and example, a process that closely resembles what we call home education.

To grasp God’s plan for the raising of children we need to consider what the Scripture says about four important elements of the educational process: the teachers, the method, the content, and the goal.

The Teachers

Throughout the Word it is the parents who are assigned the role of teaching their own children. The primary responsibility rests on the father. God said of Abraham, "I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him" (Gen. 18:19). Paul gave this guidance under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration: "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).

Of course, as the man’s helper (Gen. 2:20-23), his wife is also a teacher of the children. "Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching" (Prov. 1:8; cf. 6:20). Even the grandparents are to share in the teaching task: speaking of God’s commandments, Moses said to God’s people, "Teach them to your children and to their children after them" (Deut. 4:9).

Home education by the parents is highlighted at the very apex of Old Testament revelation. Israel has just heard Moses pronounce the sacred Name: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one" (Deut. 6:4). This is followed immediately by the commandment which Jesus called the "greatest commandment" (Matt. 22:38): "Love the LORD your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deut. 6:5). Then comes the climactic charge to the people: "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (6:6,7). Parents have a solemn obligation to learn God’s Word and teach it to their children.

The mandate for parents to teach their offspring is a perpetual one. "He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children" (Ps. 78:5,6). Each generation should be raised with the expectation of teaching the next.

Beyond the parents, the priests and Levites had a teaching role in the holy community; but even they did not teach children directly apart from the parents. They taught "the men, women and others who could understand" when gathered as a group (Neh. 8:3,7,8).

The Bible, through command and example, presents the parents (and grandparents) as the only teachers of children. While it might seem at least possible, as an exercise of parental prerogative, to delegate the teaching responsibility to others, there is no instance of this in Scripture. (Gal. 4:2 speaks of a child being subject to "guardians and trustees until the time set by his father." This may have been the practice in the affluent strata of the pagan society which was the cultural backdrop of the Galatian converts. It is not presented as a positive practice in this context, a context which is not addressing how parents should raise children.) Although the bare teaching function might be delegated, the parent-child relationship cannot be delegated. No one can successfully replace the parents as the child's teacher because no one else is the parent, and it is this special relationship that is central to the success of the educational process—which leads us to the second element of that process.

The Method

Scripture does not even use the word "education" to describe the process of training children for adulthood. That word, as we use it, is freighted with connotations of schooling, academics, and training of the mind—a very narrow Greek/Western concept of training (rationalism views man’s mind as his primary faculty).

Those who are properly informed by a biblical/Hebrew perspective would say that true "education" is discipleship. It is a process of training the whole person, not just the mind. The goal is not a mind stuffed with facts; the goal is a changed person.

The heart is the most important part of a person "for it is the wellspring of life" (Prov. 4:23). The purpose of life is to love God with the whole heart (Deut. 6:5); and this purpose is realized in children as parents have God’s Word in their own hearts and then impress it on their children (6:6,7). Fathers are to say to their sons, "Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live" (Prov. 4:4).

God’s method of education is revealed in Deuteronomy 6:7-9. Speaking of God’s commandments it says, "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." True education occurs any place ("home and road") and any time ("lie down and get up"). The parents are to be the constant companions of their children, teaching them God’s view of life at every opportunity. Every child of a godly family will live unceasingly in an environment that is saturated by God’s Word, and his parents will be creating that environment.

Since the purpose of education is to love God with the whole heart and to have his commandments lodged in the heart, the method must be one which reaches the heart. Discipleship—along-the-road living with the two people to whom the child is closest (his parents)—is God’s method for reaching the heart of children.

The method is seen also in Jesus’ relationship with the Twelve. He did not enroll them in a classroom course and address only their minds. He chose them "that they might be with him" (Mk. 3:14); and they talked, worked, walked, ate, and slept together for over three years. They were his apprentices. They learned by watching, listening, doing, as Jesus taught them about and modeled for them the life they were to live.

Jesus said, "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher" (Lk. 6:40). That is the discipleship method: on-the-job, real-life training until the student is like the teacher. And that is the only method of education that results in the changed lives that God is seeking.

Biblical education/discipleship cannot be accomplished within the confines of a classroom. A small part of it could occur there, but it’s main features require involvement in the real world with real people doing real things. It requires doing work and ministry. It demands character training and learning life skills. It requires spontaneity as well as structure. Teaching can occur in a school, but discipleship can only occur in the context of real life.

Our educational method must reflect a biblical understanding of truth and life. The Greek/Western worldview sees truth as ideas that can be reduced to printed pages and considered in abstraction in a classroom. In the biblical/Hebrew worldview truth is personal (Jesus said, "I am...the truth." Jn. 14:6); and while it can be expressed in the statements of Scripture, it is always connected to life and conduct ("speaking the truth in love," Eph. 4:15). Truth is not only something we can know, it is also something we can and must "do" (1 Jn. 1:6). God’s truth is only communicated truly in the context of relationship. God did not just give us the written Word of truth, he gave us his Son and fills us with himself ("If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God."—1 Jn. 4:15).

God wants truth to fill our children’s minds, but he wants much more. He wants the One whose name is Truth to fill their hearts and shape their lives. That is what discipleship is all about.

In a thoroughly biblical approach to education, the method is as important as the content.

The Content

Most discussions about education dwell upon the content of the curriculum; and whereas the importance of method is often minimized, we should not, in our attempt to balance the discussion, minimize content. It is absolutely critical. Truth has content, and part of education is passing on that content to our children.

What exactly is the content of education for Christian children? Psalm 78 puts it this way: "We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children..." (vv. 4,5). The Word of God and the works of God are the content of a godly education.

All education should focus upon the Lord God: who he is, what he has said, and what he has done. Fathers are instructed concerning children to "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). Not the instruction of the world or of mere men, but "of the Lord."

Study of the Word of God itself is the foundation for all learning since the Word is the source of all wisdom. That is why parents are given the task of impressing God’s commandments on their children at every opportunity (Deut. 6:7-9). In the psalm quoted above, fathers are commanded to teach God’s "statutes" to their children, referring again to the written Word.

Obviously, the very words and passages of Scripture and the history and doctrine they contain must be taught diligently and systematically. The Book of books itself must be studied as a worthy object of attention in its own right.

But that is not the only use of the Scriptures. Psalm 119:105 presents one of the broader purposes of the Bible: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." God’s Word is intended to illuminate the world we live in so that we can walk pleasing to God. The purpose of a light is to shine on an object so that it can be discerned more clearly. Similarly, the Bible is meant to "shine" on anything we encounter in the world so that we can understand it from God’s perspective. This means that beyond studying the Bible itself, we should use the Bible as our lens through which to view any other subject in life.

The second component of study in a godly education is what Psalm 78 calls "the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done" (v. 4). To study these works of God we must, of course, begin with the Bible itself which reveals his mighty works of creation and redemption. But this study will lead us beyond the pages of Scripture to the whole wide world that God made and sustains by his power. History, science, geography, law, art, music, mathematics, language—any subject area is a study of the works of God since it is he who created this world and guides the history of men in their scientific, cultural, and civil endeavors.

Each of these subject areas must be approached in the "light" of the Word, if it is to be properly understood. The Bible should not only be a subject in the curriculum, its truths should permeate every other area of study, providing God’s perspective on every subject.

Also, each field of study must be viewed in relationship to the others since creation and history are a seamless fabric of overlapping influences—all under God’s sovereign control. Life in God’s world does not unfold in neat categories. The traditional approach to education which presents a student with a collection of unrelated disciplines is a caricature of the real world. All realms of study find their unity in our Creator and Savior. The best education will present any particular subject in its relationship to other subjects and to the God of truth who gives them all meaning.

That is why many home educators abandon the traditional school-subject approach to teaching in favor of a "unit study" approach which takes into account the inter-relationship of the disciplines. Children thus engage in academic study in the same manner in which they experience the rest of the world—encountering the connectedness of the various elements of life. Such an approach not only respects the nature of the content of education, it also is most compatible with the discipleship method of teaching: learning from real life as it is encountered "along the road" every day.

The Goal

Each of the other elements of the educational process—the teachers, the method, and the content—combine to achieve one essential end. God’s goal for us is to raise children who know, love, and obey Jesus Christ.

The aim of education is a part of the great aim of this age: to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19). For anyone who is a parent, the discipleship mandate begins in the home. He must make disciples of his own children.

Education ought not to be seen as an end in itself. Nor should it be viewed in terms of mere academic or social preparation for life. Knowledge, by itself, is nothing and leads only to pride ("Knowledge puffs up"; 1 Cor. 8:1). We could give our children the very best academic preparation in the world, and only end up making them more effective instruments in the devil’s hands. No, God has something higher in mind.

God did not say: "train a child in what he should know, and when he is old he will not forget it." He said, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Prov. 22:6). Education is not just about what a child knows; it is primarily about how he lives.

Understood in its broadest terms, education is character training. God is in the business of transforming people; and he is creating a people who have a living relationship with himself. The beginning of the process is simply to take God seriously in everything—or, as Scripture has it: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 9:10). The end of the process is mature people who know God; and who, knowing him, love him; and who, loving him, obey him in all things.

Christian parents should desire for their children what Paul, imitating the Lord’s own yearnings, wanted for his children in the faith: "My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you..." (Gal. 4:19). The great object of education must be Christ-like men and women.

All the elements of the Bible’s plan for child-training combine to achieve this goal; and each ingredient of the plan is crucial to the outcome.

Replace the parents with strangers or even godly fellow-believers as teachers, and you disrupt the parent-child bond which is God’s chosen channel of grace and influence.

If you choose a sterile classroom full of age peers instead of the rich home-based community environment with its natural variety of ages and conditions; if you choose mass teaching focused on the mind instead of face-to-face discipleship along the path of real life experiences—then you bypass God’s chosen means of reaching the heart of a child.

If you choose teaching which presents academic subject areas in isolation and without a biblical reference point instead of the unity of all truth based on the God of truth and his Word, then you eliminate the means of providing a coherent Christian worldview from which the child can engage the false ideas of the day.

Tamper with any of the facets of God’s revealed plan, and you decrease the prospects that your children will turn out to be godly men and women. Scripture gives us a promise in Proverbs 22:6: our children will not depart from God’s way if we faithfully raise them according to it. Modern Christians have come to doubt the truth of this verse because they are seeing their children fall off the path in such great numbers. But the problem is not God’s plan or his faithfulness. The problem is that we have abandoned his plan in so many ways.

We are back to our foundational premise: the Scripture is our wholly sufficient guide for how to live. Since, by precept and example, it presents a pattern for the process of raising our children, wisdom dictates that we follow that pattern.

The path of safety and blessing is always that which adheres most closely to the revealed will of God. Home education as we practice it today falls short of the perfect pattern set forth in the Scriptures, but it is certainly a big step in the right direction—because home education is God’s idea.

---by Philip Lancaster