Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2009 Niche Article The Comparison Trap

The Comparison Trap

Do you ever find that you compare yourselves to other homeschooling families? I know that I certainly have!

I have several friends who manage to be all done with school by late morning (and all of them have more children than I do). I have now accepted the fact that school takes us until mid and sometimes even late afternoon, for several reasons. However, for years I struggled with how efficient they seemed to be and how lacking our family apparently was in that area.

When I walk into a homeschooling family’s home and their house is perfectly neat and orderly, even when they are not expecting company, I start feeling very insecure about my own house, which never seems to be completely clean and uncluttered all at once.

Perhaps there are completely different ways that you compare your self to other homeschooling families. My friend, Donna, gave me a completely different perspective, one I needed to hear because I had no idea! I was amazed that a clean, neat, organized homeschooling mom would feel inadequate at times, too. This is what Donna shared with me:

“I am a very clean, neat, organized house keeper. I cannot tell you how often when reading home school articles or talking to other moms that I feel I come under attack because I like my house clean. I know this must sound crazy, but even when I felt that it was right to keep my house clean I began to doubt and to believe that all of the other voices must be right! After all, they all seem to be saying the same thing. I was a failure at home educating my children if my house was clean, and the laundry was done! My priorities must not be correct if my house is in order. I have struggled with this dilemma for several years. Believe it or not I even went through a period where I purposefully let my house become a mess because I was called to a ‘higher good‘.

I can report that it did not work well for me. I could not function. School and time with my children actually fell farther down the ladder because I was unable to function in this type of environment, so I just kind of gave up on all of it!

God created some people to be very neat, clean, and organized. I can give a first hand testimony as to how listening to other people's opinions about things can really mess you up! I finally went back to cleaning. I HAVE to start my day that way. If things are not in order, I cannot function. Call it a flaw if you all want to, but my God made me this way!

As I said, this was new to me and something I really needed to hear. When I read Donna’s email, I felt convicted because I had not only envied, but perhaps inwardly judged, homeschooling moms who keep a home like the one she describes.

When I was preparing this article, I wrote several homeschooling friends and asked them about their struggles in this area. I received so much good input that I feel that I should put their names on this article, too.

One mom who is having some difficulty right now, shared her thoughts with me. This mom has children who are struggling learners and I can fully relate to her fears. She wrote, “I am fearful of their not being able to get a job or have a recognized diploma. I tend to just not be involved with other homeschool families whose children I know are excelling and mine aren't as I don't want them to feel inferior. I know God is in control and that He will direct and guide us as we wait on Him, hopefully with more faith than I am feeling right now.”

Some moms shared how the Lord helped them get past their “need” to compare themselves to other homeschooling families.

Laura Lee wrote that she has struggled because she does not have her children in nearly as many activities as other families do. However, she concluded by saying, “I pray about it and ask the Lord to show me if that is something He wants me to do with our family. If I don't hear from Him, I just take that as a no. I know I can't do everything, that God has a definite path for my family, and it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what others are doing.”

Sarah Duckstein wrote, “ I have to realize that we are not accountable to others' expectations or their own personal standards. It is God who called us to teach our children, so we are accountable to Him. Just as most of us have realized that different children have their own learning style that works well for them, I think different families have different "family styles" that shape how their homeschool works.”

Teressa Edwards wrote, “I spent many of the first years of our homeschool journey caught up in that "comparison trap." Basically, I never felt secure in what I was doing, so when I would see something other families were doing that looked better, I would switch gears and give it a try. Of course, trying new things in and of itself is not a bad thing, but I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was trying to "keep up with the Jones" more than anything else. I did not have my children’s best interests at heart. Well, there came a point when the Lord convicted me that there was no other option but homeschooling for our family. The Lord used my dear husband to make me see that I needed to do things within our homeschool that were best for our family, not what was best for someone else. It has been a hard lesson to learn, and at times I still look longingly at the stories in the homeschool magazines, or see creative things another family is doing and am tempted to veer off of my set course. Keeping my eyes heavenward, and my heart with my children helps me stay on the path.”

One of my wonderful editors, Sarah Heywood, shared quite a bit from her heart with me about comparing ourselves to others. “Probably most moms fall into this in one area or the other. It starts in the nursery when we compare the development of our babies to others'. But as we get more experience with motherhood and more children, the comparisons tend to decrease. The same thing happens in homeschooling. It's in the early years of homeschooling, when we're the most insecure at what we're doing, that we tend to compare ourselves most to other homeschool moms. Confidence and experience take care of a lot of that. But, that's not to say it completely disappears.

I also find myself comparing myself to other moms who don't homeschool. I find myself envious of their always tidy homes and the time they have to themselves once all their children are in school. Often, they return to the workplace and are financially better off than we are, as a result. That's difficult for me. Their children seem to be doing well and I find myself wondering if I am sacrificing unnecessarily.

In the early years of homeschooling I spent a lot of time watching other moms. I looked at their teenagers and knew that was what I wanted for my boys once they reached that age. Their teens seemed extra polite, able to talk easily with adults, and had an innocence about them that I didn't see in other schooled teens. So, in order to have that down the road, I studied these moms. If they made a curriculum suggestion, I checked it out. If heir kids were going to a certain activity, mine were there too. Down the road, I wanted what they had, so I felt like I needed to do what they were doing.

That wasn't a completely bad idea. Example is a powerful teacher and as a new
homeschooling mom, I needed to learn by example. But as the years went by I began to feel more comfortable in my own homeschooling skin. I learned not to feel guilty about the things I couldn't provide for my boys, knowing that I was giving them something more valuable - my time..

It's a good idea to watch other moms as we learn how to homeschool. It doesn't hurt to implement some of the same things they do. That's how we find out what works and doesn't work for our own family. It's when we think that our family, our children, and our homeschooled days need to mimic others' that we run into trouble. God has never asked that of us. He has simply asked us to obey His leading in choosing to homeschool. The Bible instructs us to ask for wisdom if we lack it. In light of that, it's a good idea to pray about things we'd like to see in our children and in our own homeschool. Ask the Lord what He would have us to do. His plan for us is individual and much greater than anything we - or somebody that we are comparing ourselves to - could ever come up with.”

No matter how much others may think we have it together, most of us moms will, at some time or another, compare ourselves to others homeschooling families. The truth, however, is that God made each family as unique as He made each individual. No two families will homeschool exactly alike. God choose our particular children to be in our particular family. And it goes without saying that God is infinitely wiser than we are.

On the flip side, we need to be very careful not to make others feel inadequate for non-sin issues. Perhaps there is an area of our homeschooling where we feel that we really have it together. While, it is wonderful that something is working so well for our family, we need avoid pushing the idea on others and making them feel that they don’t measure up because they don’t do things our way.

Obviously, if we have sin issues in our life, we need to correct them. If we are watching television or on the computer all day instead of schooling and interacting with our children, we need to make some changes. If we are grumpy towards our children all the time, we need to work on our attitude (and perhaps get more sleep!). If we are not spending time in God’s Word and seeking Him for guidance in our homeschooling, then we need to recognize that our homeschooling life would go much better if we lean on Him for direction instead of trying to do it ourselves.

Sherry Newman shared several verses with me that were very helpful in preparing this article. One was,“God has promised to equip me for what He's called me to do (There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. I Corinthians. 10:13).

While we want to avoid the comparison trip, that does not mean that we can not learn from others. Another verse was “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17” God can and does use our sisters in Christ to sharpen us. However, after we pray about it and talk it over with our husband, if we do not believe the Lord is leading us in that particular direction, we need to be content. James 3: 16 tells us, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

While I was preparing this article, my pastor, Doug DeFord, shared something in a sermon that I thought was very applicable to this article and so I quoting him as best I can remember, “There is always a place for self evaluation. However, if we focus only on our failures, we will not run the race well. We should not compare ourselves to others but only to Christ.”

I would like to conclude with something Christine Scott wrote. Christine’s husband, Jim, went to be with the Lord a few years ago and she is raising three little boys by herself. “My first thought was a quote Jim once told me, 'Comparison is the root of discontentment.' I know that when I begin to compare, I get too hard on the boys, I get easily frustrated and the atmosphere in our home in not peaceful. I move away from what God had instructed me to do and try what worked for someone else instead, I know it makes me feel like I am not good enough and this attitude passes down to the boys. Comparison is flat out dangerous for I begin to meditate on lies. And one lie leads to another and before I know it, I am ready to give up my freedom to homeschool. How I avoid it? Check with my principal, My Lord, before I try what another homeschool mom does. God hand-picked me for to be my children's teacher and God hand-picked them to be my students. Another thing I catch myself at is comparing the children to each other. Then God brings to mind an article I read about each child being a different kind of arrow in a quiver. In Ladies Bible Study, we have been studying about being vessels of honor and we learned that some of us are made to be waterpots and others delicate vases but each of us has a purpose in His divine plan. I am trying to teach the kids this too as they compare themselves too.”

May God bless you as you homeschool your children in your own unique way.

(A big thank you to all you wonderful homeschooling moms who helped me write this article!)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back to DC by Josh Stilwell

We arrived at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia, after an already long day of traveling. I was looking forward to chilling, eating supper and going to bed…I should’ve known better. That night began a crazily jam-packed, but amazing, week of TeenPact Back to DC. After the introductions and getting to know some people, the leaders informed us that sessions would begin that very night.

All of the speeches that week were very good. They diffidently made us think. Christopher Stio did the first session on the real nature of politics. He talked about the presidential campaign between Johnson and Goldwater. He stated that being right in and of itself does not guarantee victory or change. The second session followed right after that. We had some really deep discussions about the purpose of the law and other issues. It was really amazing, but it didn’t take long before I was ready for bed.

I was a part of the group that has to stay at a hotel rather than the dorms at the Leadership Institute. Thought this meant we got a little less sleep, it turned out to be a great experience. Traveling in Metro with all these amazing guys and girls turned out to be some of the best and more memorable parts of the week.

The week was very intense. After getting to bed around midnight, we were up at 6:00 am and enthusiastic to start the day…at least that’s what we told people. Right after breakfast, we began our tour of the D.C. area. We assigned into different travel groups. I was in Group 1 (we had very original titles for our groups) and Jonathan Showman was our fearless leader.

We were able to see the Supreme Court Building - with the Ten Commandments engraved in stone on the walls. We then got a tour of the Capital Building. That was a lot of the fun. We oohed and aahed at the statues and painting of our nation’s leader and scenes from our history. Our guide told us that there were several paintings above several doors in the building. When the original artist painted them, he knew that America’s history was not yet over. Therefore, he left some blank. Some still remain blank to this day. It got be think about what will be put in those empty frames.

Next, we went to the Library of Congress. It was an amazing place. You could feel the history that was in that building. I don’t see how anyone going into the Library could deny our nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage. Mosaic architecture was everywhere. Pictures of angels guarded the building.

We returned to LI to begin our campaign activities. After being told some the fine points of campaigning, we read the biographies of five candidates. We were all assigned a candidate and charged with trying to get that person elected. I was assigned to Congressman Edward Edwards (his name’s so nice you gotta say it twice.)

The biography said that Edwards was veteran, a pro-life activist and an advocate of gun control. It was actually kind of fun getting to play devil’s advocate on some of the issues. We had an awesome campaign team. We all worked really well together and got to build relationships as we campaigned.

We had a blast coming up with slogans, writing speeches (I was the speechwriter), making press releases and the like. One of our team members couldn’t make it for part of it because he wasn’t feeling too good. But that was no big deal. Yet.

After a wonderful supper, we learned a little bit about public speaking and communication. We then studied the Lincoln Four Step system of targeting voters. We learned how to connect with and affect voters.

I believe that some of the best parts of TeenPact are not on the schedule. For me, one of the most enjoyable parts of the week was hanging out with all the people who stayed at the hotel. Because there wasn’t enough room at LI’s dorms, some of us had to stay at a hotel about 45 minutes away.

It was so much fun just hanging out with those guys and girls. One night, while waiting for a shuttle to the hotel, two of the guys treated us to some brake dancing. We would talk and swap stories at the Metro stops. Because we were dodging crazy Washington taxi drivers, Lydia Shanks established a no-death policy for the week. We strictly prohibited from dying.

Friday was particularly special because we got to spend all day at the Family Research Council’s Value Voters Summit. We got to hear some amazing speakers, including Governor Mike Huckabee, Cerrie Prejean, Major Blackwell, Star Parker and others. Then, on Saturday morning, we got to listen to even more speakers. These included Mitt Romney and Lila Rose.

After listen to all those amazing communicators, I was ready to jump out of my seat and take action. It was very motivational for me. We also got to hear from conservative filmmakers and veterans. It was fascinating to hear their opinions on their particular field.

We spent Saturday clad in our newly issued Back to DC t-shirts, which featured the caption, “We came. We saw. We walked. A lot.” That was a very accurate statement. After listening to some more wonderful speakers, we got to go on a monument tours.

That night was very emotional for me. Maybe it was just because I was so tired, but the beauty of those monuments hit home with me. We first went the Washington Monument. I was actually separated from my group on the way over. They claim it was my fault, but it was clearly theirs. Obviously.

At the Washington Monument, we took part in tradition by kissing the monument while everyone sang kiiisss the monument. We then linked arms and created a giant ring around the monument. It’s one thing to see pictures of the Washington Monument, but to be at its base and staring up at it is pretty special. Before leaving all of us mounted the marble benches and simultaneously jumped off as cameras clicked.

Then we went to the World War II Monument. For me, this is when the emotions started to hit home. It was a beautiful setting. The sun was just now setting. The white pillars stood there as a reminder of those who had died for my freedom. I found the Iowa pillar and just got me thinking about all the young men - people my age - who had died for this nation.

One of the intern girls reminded me that these monuments were built for a reason. Just like when the Israelites built the stone monument after crossing the Jordan, these structures were built so that the next generation would never forget what had happened.

Then we all marched over to the Korean War memorial. By that point, the sun had set and darkness had encompassed the monument. When we turned the corner, a silence gripped the group. Ghostly white figures of soldiers frozen in time met us. Their faces were filled with emotion as they stood amongst green shrubbery and tiny points of light.

Beside the ghostly figures was a small pound guarded by dark walls. The scene was both peaceful and haunting. Everyone started speaking in whispers. I just stood there, trying to take it all in. then we got to a sign, which pointed out the fact that these men had died for a country they did not know and people they had never met. It took me a moment to grasp the magnitude of that statement.

As I pondered those words, the Lord began to speak to me. I realized that as amazing at that was - and it is very awe inspiring - it was nothing compared to what Christ did. He died for His enemies. He died for me. At that point, I was overwhelmed. I literally got on my knees and thanked God for all that He had done for me.

Next, we went to the Lincoln Memorial. Our friends from the south relished the fact that the profile of Robert E. Lee could be seen on the back of Lincoln’s head. One the coolest parts of the night was getting to go the lawn outside the monument and have a worship service there. That night was defenently a highlight of my week.
Sunday we were treated to a special “home church service.” There was a special worship service. The last song we sang touched on the holiness of our God. This was followed up by a brief devotional from Lydia Shanks. She read from Isaiah 1 and stressed the importance of having a proper focus on bringing God glory as appose to ourselves. I found it very convicting.

Jonathan Showman gave the main devotional. It was on the subject of temptation. He brought out a lot of very good points. After he was done, he had us each write down some verses and then go to the rooftop to study them.

After I had finished studying those verses, I got out my notebook and wrote down all the things that my God had been teaching me during Back to DC. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget all that the Lord was going in my life.

We then divided up into groups based on which sites we had selected to see. I was with the group that went to the Holocaust Museum. One of the wonderful things about touring Washington with a group of TeenPacters was that we did everything from a Biblical worldview. Before we event left the Leadership Institute, we all gathered around and had a discussion on the sovereignty of God.

Visiting the Holocaust Museum was, of course, a very sobering experience. The magnitude of the onslaught against God’s people was shocking to the point of breath taking, even for those of us who had studied the Holocaust before. However, one girl in our group described the whole experience as an honor. And, in a way, it was. As we left the museum, the last thing we saw was a sign, which read, “Think About What You Just Saw.” We did.

After we left the Holocaust Museum, we had some slightly more upbeat adventures. We briefly visited the Smithsonian of American History. Though we only got to stay a few minutes (fifteen to be exact), the visit was memorable in its own respect.

When we returned to LI, we got busy on our campaigns. The elections were that night and we had a lot of work to do. There was going to be a two-hour debate that night and we still had letters to write and voters to interview. And an unexpected twist complicated things further.

Our candidate became very ill. He wanted to go through with it, but the rest of us decided that it was wasn’t a good idea. Therefore, we took some time to pray and then went to as the program director, Aaron Watson, if we could get a substitute. Aaron came back with an evil glimmer in his idea.

Grinning like a kid who had just been given fireworks, Aaron laid out a strategy for us. He said that we should hold a press conference and announce that Edward Edwards had tragically died and that his widow would now run in his place.

Naturally, we all loved the idea, but we had to move fast. The press conference would be in just a few minutes and we had to select a “Mrs. Edwards”, write the press announcement, put together a new biography and write a speech for our new candidate. This was harder because we were understaffed. Two of our people we sick and another had to leave early.

However, we managed to get it all together. We were still writing notes as the press conference began. Of course, our announcement woke everyone up. We were informed amidst the laughter that we had just made Back to DC history.

Our “Mrs. Edwards” did a wonderful job in the debate - as did all the candidates. The questions asked were not easy. There were times when I certainly didn’t pity the people who had to give answers. But everyone held their own and it was fun to watch.

Of course, the hour came when we learned how had won the election. Unfortunately, we did not win. But that didn’t really seem to matter to anyone. We had had a great time building our campaign.

After the excitement of the elections, things began to cool down as they gave us airport instructions. We then made our final trek to the hotel. When got there all the guys gathered in one of the rooms and we prayed for each other. We prayed that the decisions made that week would be long lasting. We prayed the fire that had been lit would never die. And we prayed that our God would be glorified through it all.

We woke up the next morning bright and early (which was no longer a big deal to us) and headed back to the Leadership Institute for the last time. From there a shuttle would pick us up and take us to the airport. At LI we ate breakfast amidst a stream of goodbyes. The morning basically consisted of hugging this person, shaking this person’s hand and promising to keep in touch with this other person.

It was so great getting to me all those wonderful people. And later that morning, Aaron gave us an excuse to tell everyone just that. We all taped pieces of paper to our backs and wrote each other notes on them. This was all done under the stipulation that we couldn’t read them until after we got on the plane.

Before long, it was time for my group to head out to the airport, but only after a stop at Starbucks. I had fun fellowshipping one last time with the people in the van. Before we knew it, we were on the plane. After a brief delay in Chicago we made back home…and into the real world. Now it’s my responsibility to act upon everything I learned.

October 2009 Niche Article

Lessons Learned While Camping

Recently, my family spend twenty-four hours camping at Lake Aquabi near Indianola. While we were technically not “doing school,” God taught us so many lessons over that brief period of time that I almost thought I should be able to count it as a school day!

Lesson #1: “Remember there are still chicks in our nest even when one chick is missing.”

At first I did not want to go camping because Joshua, our oldest son who is seventeen, was in Washington DC for a TeenPact event. I knew it would not be the same without the whole family there with us. However, the Lord gently reminded me that I had four more children who would enjoy the family time together. He also reminded me that my oldest is now a young man and as he goes to Bible College, and even eventually gets married, he will no longer be part of many of our family activities. Josh believes the Lord has called him to be a pastor and, as a mom, it is my job to step back and encourage him to pursue the goal God has given him. As it turned out, we all missed him very much on our camping trip, but we had a very nice time with our younger four children. It was also exciting to see Joseph and Josiah rise up and help their Dad with many of the things that Josh would have normally helped Jeff do, such as put up the tent and gather firewood.

My five children will not always be in our home. Someday God may give them homes and families of their own. As they leave our nest, I need to learn to adjust and to remember that I need to continue mothering the children still in our home and trust to the Lord those He has led elsewhere.

Lesson #2: “Trust God when scary things happen.”

We had no sooner packed our van, pulled out of our driveway and gone half a block when my worst nightmare occurred. My husband Jeff very calmly said, “The brakes just gave out.”

Since Jeff has quite the sense of humor at times, I thought he surely must be joking so I asked incredulously, “Are you serious?”

His clipped “Yes” and the look on his face told me that he was very serious indeed.

The next minute or two, until Jeff was able to maneuver the van to a stop, was one of the scariest of my life. The children in the back seat were scared, too, but thankful they stayed silent as we all prayed. Praise the Lord that no other vehicles came through the two intersections we went through and that no child ran out in front of us. As frightening as it was, though, throughout the whole thing, I had peace that God was in control.

We still ended up going camping. We took another vehicle and managed to arrive safely at Lake Aquabi only three hours after we originally anticipated arriving.

Lesson # 3: “Just because we go on vacation doesn’t mean we leave our sinful nature home.”

Even though we had a lovely time together at Lake Aquabi, there were moments when our sinful natures reared their ugly heads. Two of my children argued several times while we were on our camping trip I wanted to just overlook it and distract them instead of dealing with their hearts on the issue. After all, we were on vacation, even it if was a twenty-four hour one! But then I realized that just because we were on vacation did not mean we could overlook and ignore our children’s sins.

Likewise, I struggled with my own sinful nature several times over the weekend. I became impatient with different member of my family more than once. I nagged my husband (more on that later). I ate s’mores to the point of gluttony. Several times I found myself needing to pause to ask the Lord’s forgiveness.

Lesson #4: “We can be nice and show respect to others even if they don’t treat us the same way.”

We had to have had the nosiest camping neighbors in the whole place! They laughed and talked loudly long into the night. Even when the DNR came at 11:50 PM and asked them to quiet down, they continued to be loud, oblivious to all those sleeping in tents just a few feet away from them, including us. At one point I turned to my husband on the air mattress next to me and told him, “I want to go home” and, at that moment, I meant it with all my heart. I was ready to take down our tent, pack up and head home in the middle of the night. They were very loud into the wee hours of the morning.

The next day, we had several opportunities to interact with these camping neighbors. We chatted several times and shared sharpened sticks with them (for roasting marshmallows). Our children learned the valuable lesson that just because someone annoys or irritates us, that is not a reason to be unkind to them. It was basically an opportunity to 'return good for evil,' although "evil" seems like too strong of word to use for their lack of consideration for us

Lesson #5: “Hiking is a lot like life.”

I almost subtitled this lesson “Contrary to popular belief, Iowa is not flat.” On Saturday morning, the six of us walked around Lake Aquabi. The hike itself was only a little over three miles long. However, keep in mind that the trail went up and down steep hills. The trail was also uneven and had many roots and stones along the way. Towards the end, Jennifer, our youngest, and I were getting really tired. The last mile felt like it would go on forever…and ever!! But we had to get back to our tent and so we had no choice but to keep going. Even though we were tired, Jennifer and I encouraged each other along.

Joseph, Josiah, Jessica and our dog Pooch enjoyed running ahead and they were back at the tent resting by the time we arrived. Jeff went much slower than he needed to because he made sure that Jennifer and I were always in his sight. He looked back often to make sure we were okay and often dropped back to walk with us. Jeff jogs several times a week and could have easily been the first one back at the tent. However, he chose to stay with the slowest ones in our little group to make sure we got back safely.

Life is like that, too. Often the trail of life gets long or steep or bumpy or narrow and we want to give up. Yet we, as Christians, can and should encourage each other to keep going when the trail gets extra tough. The faster, more “fit” Christians can edify and encourage the younger or more “out of shape” Christians along life’s often difficult road.

Lesson #6: “Nagging my husband puts a wedge in our relationship.”

Sigh! I try hard not to nag my husband but sometimes that part of my sinful nature rears its ugly head. When we arrived at our campsite, it was warm and I had my window down. I forgot to roll it up before Jeff turned the vehicle off. When I noticed this, I became concerned that a raccoon or some other critter would get into our station wagon in the night and into our food supply. Since Jeff had the only key, I wanted Jeff to turn on the car again so I could roll up the window but every time I asked him, he said he would do it later. I asked him at least ten times throughout the afternoon. Looking back, my timing was often terrible. I kept asking him when he was busy putting up the tent or gathering firewood or some other needful activity. Eventually, he himself rolled up the window but I put a temporary wedge in our relationship, however small it might have been. It is very hard for a husband to feel very loving towards a wife who is constantly nagging him to do something that he just can’t or doesn’t want to do at that moment.

When I am tempted to nag my husband, I try to ask myself, “What is the worst case scenario?” Usually, it is not nearly bad enough to justify my nagging. In this case, the worst case scenario, if the car window had not been rolled up, would have been that a critter could have gotten into our food and we would have had a bit of a mess to clean up and we would have had to go into the nearby town to buy more food. Neither of those things are worth me becoming a nagging wife.

Lesson #7: “God’s creation is amazing!”

Since we love nature, we truly enjoyed the fact that most of the weekend, we were outdoors. The whole weekend we marveled at God’s creation. What human being could possibly come up with so many shapes and sizes of trees? And who could imagine that there would be so many shades of green? The wild flowers were abundant and colorful. The lake was beautiful, especially in the morning when a light fog drifted across it. There were so many different kinds of birds. The chorus, “What a Mighty God We Serve” kept going through my head as we looked around at God’s creation. If, for no other reason, the camping trip was worth it just to be able to admire the beautiful world God made and to stand in awe of our Creator.


I could include a few more lessons like not bringing one’s dog on a camping trip and watching out for tent stakes sticking out of the ground but since those don’t necessarily have spiritual applications, I decided to leave those out. I am thankful for the opportunity our family had to go camping and for the lessons we learned, or were at least reminded of while we were camping. I praise the Lord that He is faithful to teach us these things as we go through life, even on a family camping trip

Friday, September 18, 2009

Family Update

Dear Friends and Family,

The children are packing to go camping. I am glad they all old enough to do their own packing. We plan to leave shortly after lunch. We will probably go to Lake Ahquabi but are also considering Yellowbanks and the Ledges. Nothing like making last minute decisions. :-)

Josh won't be going camping with us because he is in Washington DC! He has wanted to go as long as I can remember. The Lord provided the money in a very special way and he was able to go with Teenpact. They will be at a conference, do sight seeing, spend some time on Capitol Hill and more. Yesterday we received an email from Senator Harkin for Josh talking about his contact with him. Since Sen. Harkin and our family are on opposite ends of political spectrum, the conversation must have been interesting. Sen Harkin referred to "your views and concerns regarding the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child" in such a way that I am quite sure that Josh told him exactly what he thinks of it (respectfully, I am sure). I remember someone telling me (when Josh was about 12) that carrying on a conversation with Josh was like pulling teeth because he was so shy. I think we can safely say that Josh is no longer shy. :-) Apparently, he is now confronting Senators on Capitol Hill. The Lord has really used Teenpact to help him overcome his shyness.

Soccer season started a few weeks ago and, as usual, all of us are enjoying it very much. The children love both the playing and the social aspect of it. Jeff likes coaching the 14 to 18 year old teen boys. I enjoy visiting with the other homeschool soccer moms. It is interesting to hear the conversations on the way home. The boys talk about the score and who made a great pass and who made a goal, etc. The girls talk about what their friends said and did. Who said God didn't make boys and girls different?? :-)

The girls have started taking piano lessons with Alissa DeFord. They are really enjoying their lessons and dearly love their teacher. So far they are practicing diligently without any reminding on my part.

After a year of agonizing, praying, sleepless nights and struggling, Jeff and I made the decision for our family to start attending Bethany Baptist Church. We have complete peace about going to Bethany but leaving Altoona Baptist was the hardest decision we have ever made in our lives. Leaving the people we have fellowhsipped with and worshipped with for twenty-two years was heartbreaking. We still have many dear friends at Altoona Baptist and will always hold the church near and dear to our hearts. We are really enjoying getting to know the people at Bethany and really believe it is a good fit for our family.

Off to pack for our camping trip. I hope all of you have a good weekend.

Jeff, Kim, Joshua (17), Joseph (14), Josiah (12), Jessica (10) and Jennifer (8) Stilwell
"Failure is not final; it is merely the opportunity to start over again wiser than before."
Author Unknown

Monday, August 24, 2009

September Niche Article...Confessions of a Non-Perfectionist

If you know me at all, you know that I am not a perfectionist.

The bottom of my children’s socks are stained. I am not going to spend hours scrubbing socks when few people see the bottom of them. (Okay, I admit that I have been embarrassed a few times when they went to the chiropractor with stained socks!)

I don’t panic if there are a few bread crumbs in the jelly. In addition to this, our silverware is always mismatched. (In fact it amazes me that anyone even notices when their silverware is not matched or that there are a few crumbs in the jelly jar.)

Where I store something in the kitchen cupboards all depends on where I can make it fit.

My philosophy on both interior decorating and fashion is, “Hey, it doesn’t clash!”

If you stop by my home, unannounced, on any given afternoon, you will probably find me on the couch reading to the children, completely ignoring several stacks of paper and clutter on the piano and bookshelf that should be taking my time and attention. There will probably also be a basketful of laundry sitting on the floor that hasn’t quite made it downstairs to the laundry room yet. I know those messes need my time and attention, too, but I just can't be bothered when I have more important things to do!"

Though it used to bother me greatly that I did not do things as well as other people, it no longer does. In fact, I am thankful that my personality does not stress over having everything perfect. While I greatly admire homeschooling moms who manage to run their homes so perfectly, I, personally, don’t think I could live like that. Having said that, however, there are some areas where I try very hard to be a perfectionist. Some things are too important to leave undone. Here are a few of them:

Scripture Memory: Hiding God’s Word in our hearts is top priority at our house. How many times have you been tempted to sin and a verse came to your mind, pricked your heart and you made the wise decision not to indulge in that sin? How many times has a passage of Scripture comforted you in your darkest hour? How many times has the Lord brought a particular verse to your mind when you were faced with a difficult decision. If we do not have Scripture passages memorized, they can not help us in these situations.

We begin every school day in prayer and going over memory verses. It is amazing how many verses you can learn in one year if you repeat them two or three times every morning. Jeff, my husband, has always encouraged me to make the Bible the top priority in our daily routine. Occasionally, math, reading and other subjects do not get done for various reasons but we try very hard to begin every day by memorizing God’s Word.

Godly Character: They say confession is good for the soul but bad for the reputation. Perhaps I am putting my reputation at risk when I admit that I am not as much a perfectionist in the area of my children’s character as I should be. There are times when there will be three or four squabbles in one morning between the same two children before I actually do something about it. There are times when I am so busy with daily life that it is easy to overlook a bad attitude. And, much to my shame, I admit that I have occasionally even allowed my children to treat me with disrespect.

However, I am constantly seeking ways to improve in this area because it is very important to me that my children have a Godly character. I often tell my children that they represent our family, homeschooling and most of all our Savior. I remind them that if they behave in a selfish, ungodly way it will make our family, homeschooling and Christianity look bad.

One of the best ways to build Godly character in our children is to read God’s Word to them, help them memorize Scripture and constantly pray for them. Something else that is very important is to have consequences for ungodly behavior. If the consequence for negative behavior outweighs what ever satisfaction the child receives as a result of their sin, they will think twice about doing it over and over again.

We have one child who struggled with a bad attitude during school time. One thing this child did is what I call “playing dumb.” Though I knew this child understood the material perfectly, they would pretend not to get it. After praying about it and talking it over with Jeff, I settled on an approach. The next time this child didn’t “get it,” I said, “Oh, I am so sorry that you are not understanding it. To make sure that you understand it better, we’d better do extra math problems today.” After doing this three or four times, this child suddenly began to understand it the first time. The negative consequence was worse than the satisfaction of trying to get out of school work.

Praise is also very important. I think that many of us parents neglect this. We are always after our children for their sinful behavior but fail to praise them for their Godly choices and behavior. Proverbs tells us to give honor where honor is due. When we praise our children and say things like, “I saw the way you were nice to the boy at church after he called you a bad name. It pleases me so much that you chose to return good for evil. And even more importantly it pleases God” it will encourage them to make Godly choices in the future.

Family and Personal Devotions: I am so thankful to be married to a husband who makes having family devotions a top priority. If you call our home between 7:00 and 7:30 each evening, you will nearly always get our voice mail because during that time our family is having our family devotions. We read the Bible, read Bible stores, pray and sing. I realize that not every husband takes the time to do this with his family and that can be very frustrating to the wife. However, instead of “nagging” her husband, which will probably not do any good anyway and will only cause tension in the home, a mom can still take the time to read the Bible and pray with her children every day, even if her husband is not involved.

Jeff is also a wonderful example to our family of someone who spends time in God’s Word on a daily basis. It is a very rare day that Jeff does not spend time praying and studying God’s Word. I confess that I have struggled with this more than Jeff, but over the past couple of years, I have learned to make my private time alone with God very, very high on my priority list.

Personal Bible reading time and prayer for each child is written right into our daily schedule. They may choose what part of the Bible to read and they may choose how long to spend in Bible reading and prayer, but I know they are in God’s Word each day and that is very important to both Jeff and me.

Conclusion: As you begin this school year, try not to worry about the little things. Life will go on if your child goes out in public wearing one blue sock and one white sock. If you wonder why there are fifteen glasses between meals when there are only five in your family, perhaps you need some sort of system, but don’t have a nervous breakdown over it. If your pastor’s wife stops by when your living room is cluttered, life as you know it won’t come to an end. If you don’t manage to get science and history done that day, don’t panic, your child will not grow up uneducated.

However, if your child grows up and does not have God’s Word hidden in his heart to call upon when needed, that will be a true tragedy. If your child does not make spending time in God’s Word a top priority, they will not be able to live a truly Spirit filled life. If your child is selfish and mean spirited, that is truly a heartbreak.

So, while I don’t normally encourage people to try to be a perfectionist, in these particular areas, I encourage you to strive for perfection. May God bless you as you become a “perfectionist” in what is truly important to help your child become more like Christ.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Latest Happenings in the Stilwell Gang

--Jeff’s brother David’s family spent five days with us in June. We really enjoyed the time with them. Both David and Kandie helped us with a lot of things on our “need to do list,” both inside and outside the house. The children had fun with their cousins. We missed Ben and Rebekah, the older two kids, who were taking a module at FBBC.

--Jeff’s brother Jon and his family arrived from Peru for their year of furlough. Jeff picked them up at the airport and we were able to spend a couple of hours together before they traveled to their home (for the year) in Creston, which is a little over an hour from us. It has not worked out to get together again…hopefully soon.

--My sister Kara and her three daughters, my sweet nieces Gwinna (8), Miranda (6) and Anna (3) came for a brief but fun-packed and busy visit. We went swimming, we took the five girls (Kara’s three and my two) to Build-a-Bear at the mall where each girl got to make her own stuffed animal, we got lost and took the scenic way home from the mall, we shopped, we stayed up late talking and just had a great time together. On Saturday we all got together in Omaha at Mom and Fred’s home and enjoyed an afternoon together, including Fred’s wonderful steaks.

--Jeff’s parents have come to the USA for a few weeks. They arrived late the evening of July 3 and left mid morning on July 4th but it was nice to get to see them for a few hours. They are in Ohio and Indiana right now but they will be back this coming week. They will be here (I think) until we all go to a Stilwell family reunion in Minnesota at the end of July. Martha will arrive in the middle of the month. We are looking forward to spending time with all of them.

--Josiah, Jessica and Jennifer are taking swimming lessons this week and next week. The girls love it, Josiah tolerates it but is liking it a little more each day. I really like their teacher…a young man in about his late teens/early twenties, who challenges them in a patient and kind yet firm way. The three kids and I bike to their lessons and back each day…three mile round trip. We are getting our exercise. Today I had to make the trip twice (long story..the kids only made the trip there and back once) and so I am rather sore tonight.

--Our lives have been consumed lately with our bathroom. Perhaps I should explain. We had a huge black mold issue in our bathroom. Jeff had to completely “gut” the bathroom, including the floor and walls. It has been a very frustrating process as complications and problems have seemed to arise every step of the way. I admire Jeff’s patience and perseverance so much! In spite of the project taking far more time, energy and money than we anticipated, I have not seen him upset even once (a bit frustrated a time or two, perhaps). The Lord sent help along the way through Jeff’s cousin Daniel, Jeff’s brother David and Ron Harris (a plumber in our church).

--Joseph will be fourteen on Monday!! I can’t believe he is that old. He is very pleased with the fact that he is now taller than Josh. We are seeing him grow and mature in many ways lately. He is a blessing in our lives. We will wait and celebrate his birthday on Thursday (July 16) evening when Grandpa and Grandma Stilwell and Aunt Martha will be here.

--I could have written a whole blog update on getting lost with my sister and on why I had to make an extra trip to and from the swimming pool on my bike today. I may just do that one of these days…but I will spare you for now.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Joshua's report about TeenPact National Convention

National Convention Report

Anticipation outweighing weariness, I staggered out of bed at 3:00 am on May, 27th. I ate a quick breakfast and did some last minute packing. Next thing I knew, I was on my way to Des Moines International Airport. From there I would fly to Milwaukee and than to Atlanta. From there I would be shuttled to Fort Bluff Camp in Dayton, Tennessee. This would be the sight of TeenPact Leadership School’s 2009 National Convention.

I’ve been involved with TeenPact in some way or another since I was six. And almost since that time, people have been telling me that I needed to attend National Convention. However, for various reasons I was unable to go until this year. Needless to say, I was very excited. I arrived at the Des Moines airport where I met up with my traveling buddies.

From Des Moines, we flew to Milwaukee. At Milwaukee, we had our first noteworthy experience. I was wondering around the airport to check on my baggage. I had left my carryon with my friends. Being the intelligent fellow that I am, I unwittingly wandered passed a security point. I was not allowed to get to the other side - and to my gate - without my boarding pass, which I had left in my carryon.

Therefore, with ten minutes until boarding, I rushed over to the ticket counter, showed them my ID and quickly got another boarding pass. Then, I raced over to security. As I was being checked in, I heard my name announced over the pager. With my plain about to board and the hallways nearly empty, I began sprinting through the Milwaukee airport. The airport staff began cheering me on and man with a microphone practically gave a play-by-play of my indoor dash. However, I made to the plane and everything went well from there.

When we arrived at Atlanta, we wondered about trying to find the baggage claim. I’d been to the Atlanta airport before, but had forgotten how huge it was. After introductions, we drove out to Fort Bluff Camp. On the way there, we got to know the people in our van. We arrived at the camp and were greeted by the people there. I got to see some people hadn’t seen for a while. It was absolutely amazing.

After registration and dinner, we were treated to our first speaker. His name was Justin Neal, a former TeenPact student who currently sits on the board of directors. He had a lot of enthusiasm and humor, but at the same time was very convicting.

The next day we started our tradition NC routine. At 9:00, we had our first session. Will Simpson gave various announcements. Harrison Lloyd also became a hit when he modified several pop culture songs to advertise for other alumni events.

We also had an amazing worship service that was followed by our guest speaker, though in all reality he was hardly a guest. His name is Aaron Watson. He had been a student, an intern and is currently working at the national office. Aaron talked a lot about apologetics and the best way to defend our faith.

After Aaron’s speech, we had our first small group breakouts. The students had all been divided into groups, each beginning with the prefix ‘un’. My group was called Unfazed. In these groups we discussed what we had learned in our personal devotions earlier that morning. It was incredible to hear how God had been working in other people’s lives.

Directly after was lunch, which was in turn followed by the afternoon session. The afternoon session consisted of worship, announcements and than the primary election. I had signed up to run for representative kind of on a whim. There’s a good chance that this will be my only year to get to go to NC, so I wanted to make the most of it. For someone who used to be incredibility shy, I’m fairly comfortable speaking in public. However, I still get those butterflies directly before I open my mouth. Praise be to God, once I started speaking I felt okay. I was told later that, despite my nervousness, I looked natural, which was largely my goal. However, I had to wait until the end of the day to hear the results.

Next we had some free time. During that period, the first rounds of the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament were held. While I did not participate, a lot of my friends did, so it was loads of fun to watch. During this free time I got to meet a lot of new people and become reacquainted with people I hadn’t seen in years.

After supper, we had another worship service and another speaker. This time it was Chad Warren from Summit. He talked about being an ordinary Christian that is, living as a “little-Christ” every day, all the time. He also described historical stories about the early church. The told how they would crawl through the dung piles to save unwanted children who had been left there to day. Mr. Warren related those events to the kind of unglamorous work required to end abortion and other modern evils.

That night we were treated to TeenPact News - TPN. Two of the interns acted as the news anchors and they recounted some memorable primary moments, showed some humorous “commercials” and gave the primary results. Nice representatives made it out of each party. Now, I had not put a lot of stock in winning or even making it out of primaries.

As the announced the names I clapped for each of the winners. My claps varied from polite, to passionate, to elated, depending on how well I knew the candidate. About half way through a polite clap, I stopped, realizing that it was my name I was applauding.

On Friday, I was beginning to feel the wear and tear of the week. One of the complaints about NC is that it’s only four days long. However, if they had packed any more into the week I probably would have killed myself. In addition, the beds were - nicely put - a little less than comfortable. And the bright, glowing red exit sign above my bed didn’t help matters. Naturally, the ladies had better lodging arrangements. We would tease them about requesting room service and needing to fix their elevators.

Friday’s morning speaker was Woody Robertson from CollegePlus. Mr. Robertson stated that teenagers need to become more involved. During this speech I learned that high school is a relatively new concept. It used to be that people would go straight from grade school to college. As a result, young people became more involved in their culture at an earlier age. He had several good points about the steps necessary for my generation to take if we are to impact society.

At this time I want to mention one of my favorite parts of the week. During the morning session we would brake out and have a time of personal Bible reading. It was wonderful to get to keep up with my personal devotions. One of the things that the Lord really spoke to me about that week was humility. After being surrounded by God’s creation and being influenced by some of the most passionate and devoted Christians I’ve ever met, I couldn’t help but stand in awe. God just really showed me how great He is and how undeserving I am to even be called His child.

That afternoon, we had the open forum for the remaining candidates. When I stood up with the rest of the representative candidates, I had no idea what I was going to say or do. As each of us gave our 30-second speech, I just prayed that I would say the right thing. When I got up, I told everyone that I liked to keep things sort and sweet but that I just wanted to encourage them to redeem the time and make the most of every opportunity God has given them.

One of Friday’s highlights was our guest speaker, Lila Rose. Lila Rose was involved in an infamous project in which she would go undercover to Planned Parenthood and pretend to be a 13 year old girl who was pregnant. While being interviewed by the Planned Parenthood employee, Lila Rose would make a point of saying that her supposed boyfriend was over eighteen. Because this qualifies as statutory rape, Planned Parenthood is obligated to report it to the authorities. Every time she went on one of the undercover operations, Planned Parenthood did not report the incident.

Lila Rose has a lot of passion and enthusiasm. She got all of us to start thinking about what we could do in this area. At the end of the speech, Mr. Echols decided to take up an improvised offering. Frisbees were passed around and we raised almost 3,000 dollars.

That night we had some more TPN. One of the themes that they had been playing was the supposed protest of parents who wanted the right to vote. On two big screens, parents were shown holding up signs and singing equality-themed songs. Later they had another clip in which the now former TeenPact president and intern, Adam Martin, held a “press conference.” In that press conference he declared that his last act as president would be to give parents the right to vote. And vote they did…

The next day, polls opened bright and early at 7:00 am. People were waking up hours ahead of time to ensure that they would get to vote before the polls closed at 9:00. I got there at 7:30 (I had no intention of waking up at 6:00 to vote in a mock election) and found that there was already a massive line. A little begrudgingly, I meandered through the line, talking with people and hoping that the line did in fact end eventually.

This year the voting took place electronically. We all get a special ID number and voted on the computer. After I voted, I wondered over to the dining hall and got breakfast. As I was taking with the others at my table, one of the interns came and announced that the computers had crashed and all the votes had been lost. At first we thought he was joking. But, come to find out, all of our votes had indeed been lost. So, we unenthusiastically got back in line to vote again. Though we weren’t too happy about it at the time, it did give us some unique bragging rights. I mean, who else can say they voted twice for the same candidate in the same election?

About the same time the polls closed, we had another guest speaker. His name was Steve Crum, a senior pastor from Indiana. Mr. Crum is also a Guest Director for TeenPact. He had come to Iowa many times, including last year. It was a lot of fun to get to see him again.

That day during free time, a bunch of us got together a played a game called sign. It was a great way to get to know people from all over the country. It’s amazing to meet some many different people from different backgrounds. Sometimes, it seemed like the only thing we had in common was our faith in Christ. The cool thing was that that was all we needed.

That night we had the general election results, complete with TPN, news anchors, big screens, electoral maps and loads of excitement. The senate and representative races were decided by popular vote. However, the presidential race was determined by electoral votes. Each state was assigned a number of electoral votes based on how many people attended the state class.

All three of the presidential candidates - Mark Minyard, Mike McGee and Tom Radcliffe - stood a good chance of winning. The news anchors would announce the votes from each individual state with the help of a color coded map. Iowa went to Mark Minyard. Senate and representative races were also shown on the screens.

At one point, there were some technical difficulties and the anchors had to do about twenty minutes of improvisation, calling up “quests” and making various observations. Finally, the screens came back up and things proceeded. When all the votes came in Mark had the popular vote. However, the electoral vote was a lot closer. Mike McGee had 42 electoral votes and Mark Minyard and Tom Radcliffe were tied at 46 apiece. To break the tie, last year’s congress was called up. Six were present and the votes were split four to two. Tom Radcliffe was the new president of the TeenPact student body.

A lot of people have asked how I did in the elections. Well, I lost. However, the night was hardly a disappointment. A lot of people I new won and I was very happy for them. By the end of the night we were all exhausted. By the time we got to be, it was tomorrow morning. As a result, we were all a little slow at getting to breakfast at 8:00 am.

It was Sunday, so things were a little different that day. Mr. Echols, who happens to be an ordained minister, led the service that morning. In addiction the usually music and preaching, they had a communion service. Mr. Echols talked about coming to God with a pure heart.

Since it was our last full day, Sunday was rather conclusive. We had our final small group discussion. There were a lot of neat people in my group and we all got our picture taken together at the end of the meeting. Our last speaker was Jeff Myers. He has a great since of humor, which he used to illustrate a lot of really good and practical points.

That was the championship for the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. Though I had not participated in the tournament, I had followed it closely. The final game was between Sunshine and Seattle’s Best. Snacks and drinks were setup outside and the game took place under massive stadium lights. Fatigue, adrenaline and sugar were all combined. We talked, sang and did all sorts of crazy things as we cheered our team on. The Iowans got together and made a human pyramid. It was an amazing sendoff for the week.

The next morning, I got up and said my goodbyes. Then we all loaded up into our various shuttles. Mr. Echols was my driver. It was a lot of fun talking to him and listening to his stories. As we drove into Atlanta, he gave us a little highway-view tour of the city. After a long wait in Atlanta and another long wait in Milwaukee, we were finally home. Before we drove home, those of us who had made the journey together found a corner and thanked the Lord for all He had done for us that week.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Children Who Learn Differently/Struggling Learner Niche Workshop

Children Who Learn Differently

Thank you for coming today. If you have chosen to attend this workshop, you probably have a child who learns differently. This workshop is not going to have a lot of specific methods in helping learning disabled children. Every struggling learner is different and I have no sure-fire answers for each individual child. I have included some reference pages where my family and others parents who have struggling learners have received some help. I hope you will find the resources listed there to be very helpful. However, the main purpose of this workshop is to encourage you. If you leave this workshop feeling encouraged that you can indeed homeschool your struggling learner, than my goal will have been accomplished.

Let me begin by saying that I do not care for the term “learning disabled.” I much prefer the term “children who learn differently.” However, for the sake of simplicity and because the term “learning disabled” and “struggling learner” rolls off of my tongue more easily than “children who learn differently” you will hear me use them in this workshop.

The Lord, in His great wisdom and sovereignty, has seen fit to give my husband and me some children with learning difficulties. I would like to share several things that have helped me in educating my children who learn differently. First, though, I’d like to tell you our story.

When it was time to begin homeschooling our oldest son, everything went exactly as it should. He was eager to learn and he learned to read fairly quickly. He struggled in one or two areas, like most children do, but over all he was, and is a very good student.

Of course this gave me confidence as a homeschooling Mom and I was sure there would not be any trouble homeschooling the rest of my children.

My second son was eager to learn to read like his big brother. I felt that he needed an extra year of maturity, so we waited until he was six years old to start Kindergarten. The first day of school I dutifully began to teach him the vowel sounds. The problem was that after a month of working on them, he could not remember a single one. I decided that it must be that the curriculum did not work for him so I reluctantly spent the money and ordered a program that was supposed to work wonders with children who struggled with phonics. Six months later, he knew ten letter sounds and had yet to be able to combine them to form them into a word. He had a few words memorized but even sight words were difficult for him. He had also gone from being eager to learn to read to hating every minute of it. It broke my heart.

To make a long story short, it took two long years for him to learn his letter sounds and at least that long to form them into words. Once he could finally read three letter, one vowel words and four letter long vowel words, he had to painfully sound out each word. Now, after eight years of tears, frustration, prayer, research, and even outside help, he is reading at about a third grade level.

I was sure our next three children would do just fine in school. After all, many families have one child who struggles in school. Well, though they do not struggle to the extent that our second son does, all three of our younger children also have learning disabilities from very mild to fairly severe.

For years, I struggled with the fact that some of my children are not academically “normal” children. I would hear other homeschooling moms talk about how intelligent and advanced their homeschooled children were. I would wonder what was wrong with our family, most of all, what was wrong with me as a teacher. When 80% of the students have varying degrees of learning disabilities, surely it is the teacher’s fault! I knew that their academic struggles were certainly not from lack of trying on my part, but was I doing it wrong?

Gradually, for I am a slow learner myself sometimes, the Lord has taught me that my job is to be faithful. God has called me to homeschool my children. My job is to teach them with the best of my ability. The outcome is not in my hands, but in the hands of our Savior. That brings me more comfort and confidence than I can possibly express.

Over the years, the Lord has taught me many things concerning my children who learn differently. Here are some of them:

The first and most important thing I have learned is to pray, pray, pray! I cannot rely on my own strength and wisdom to help my child. I need wisdom from my Heavenly Father. So many times I have been SURE I should teach my child a certain way. Then, after prayer, the Lord has led me in a completely different direction which turned out to be the best one for my child. It is important to be open to the Lord’s leading, even if it goes against what we may think is best.

I have even learned to pray through out the day. In moments of frustration, I silently pause for a moment to ask the Lord for wisdom. Occasionally, when one of my children is upset or frustrated, I will take them by their hand and pray for them outloud.

Secondly, I learned to not worry about well meaning homeschooling moms who have completely “normal” children and are sure that if you homeschooled their way, your children would not have any academic struggles. They really are not trying to be arrogant. They truly do want to help. I have learned to look at their hearts instead of the words that used to hurt me.

No one can completely understand something they have not been through. I have a friend whose husband was deployed for a year. I could sympathize and pray for her, but I could not truly understand what it is like to have a husband gone for a year, especially being in such a dangerous situation. Likewise, parents who do not have children who struggle in school cannot understand what it is like. They can sympathize and pray for us, and I treasure friends who do this. However, unless they have walked in our shoes, they do not fully understand.

So when another homeschooling mom or a grandma or anyone else, comes to you with the perfect answer for your child’s struggles (more often than not, it will be something you have already tried) just smile and thank them for their concern. Usually a polite “I am really glad that works for your family.” is all that is needed. I have learned not to go home and stew about it. I remind myself that they have struggles in their life that I can’t possibly understand.

Third, while I love to read homeschooling books and magazines, I have learned that certain homeschooling magazine articles can do me more harm than good. I don’t know how many times I have read stories about the “light bulb” experience. The story will tell about a child who struggled to learn to read and then one day he could suddenly read huge chapter books. That truly does happen. In fact, it has happened in my own household. One of my children went from haltingly reading first grade readers to reading chapter books in a two week period.

However, many children never will have that “light bulb” moment. Instead of a light bulb, it will be more like a slow-moving tortoise going up a slippery, muddy hill that slides back two feet for every three feet it goes forward. We waited for years for my son, who struggles so much, to magically get that “light bulb” experience. It has not yet happened.

Gradually and reluctantly, I have come to accept the fact that my son may never will have that “light bulb” experience. He will probably always struggle with reading to some extent. He will probably never be able to have a job that requires a lot of reading. It has been a hard pill for me to swallow but a necessary and important thing for me to accept.

A forth important lesson I learned is to rejoice in each little victory. I remember the first time my son read the word “of.” He was ten years old. He had struggled with this particular word from age six when we first began his long, difficult up-hill reading endeavor. I had shown him flashcards with this word. I had read him chapter books and had him read this word every time we came to it. He had rolled out this word with play dough. He had written it in sand and in salt. We had cut that word out of newspapers and magazines in many different fonts. Still, every time he came to that word in the books he would read aloud to me, he would not know it.

One day, after four years of working on this word, he was reading a story to me in his usual painfully halting and slow way. He got to the word “of” and he read it!! I held my breath waiting to see if it was a fluke. Sure enough, he got to the word “of” further in the story and read it again. I got so excited and I said to him, “Did you know that you just read the word ‘of’ twice!” He grinned and was as excited as I was. He saw my excitement and heard my praise, but what he didn’t know was that after he finished the story, I went to my room, shut the door and cried. I was thinking, “I can’t believe I am crying tears of joy because my ten year old can read the word “of.” But if you have a child who struggles so much, those little things mean the world to you.

I should tell the rest of the story. The next day, he could not read the word “of.” I didn’t say anything to him, but I was inwardly heartbroken. However, over the next few days and weeks, he read it more often than not, and eventually was able to read the word correctly every single time he saw it. That is what I mean about a tortoise going up a slippery, muddy hill.

Each new word that my struggling learners learn to read and spell brings me joy. Every new concept that they grasp is a cause for celebration.

This brings me to my fifth point. As homeschoolers, we tend to avoid outside help. However, with my son, my husband and I came to the point where we knew we needed it.

In the reference pages of the handout, you will see the names, telephone numbers and websites of the places where you might be able to find help for your struggling learner.

I would like to talk specifically about some places we received the most help with our son. The first one was from Lynne Popp, who works out of Omaha. She tested our son and was able to give us curriculum ideas and other tips that have greatly helped him. Lynne Popp helped me realize that my son did not have any phonemic awareness. This has nothing to do with phonics. Phonemic awareness is the ability for one to be able to depict and distinguish the different sounds in the spoken language. It is a step before phonics that happens naturally for most children but did not happen for our son. Lynne Popp taught a two day class that has helped me in teaching our son phonemic awareness. I have also used these principles with our daughters and we have seen great benefits from implementing many of her suggestions.

Lynne Popp introduced us to a great program that has really helped our son and both daughters to have phonemic awareness. You will find it listed on the reference sheet. It is called Lindamood Phonemic Awareness Program. It takes the parents about two weeks of studying this program for about one hour a day to fully grasp it, but if your child has a phonemic awareness issue, it is well worth your time.

The second place we received help for our son was from Dianne Craft. I watched two of her lectures on DVD. They are listed in the handout. I have also purchased curriculum and curriculum supplements from her that have greatly benefited my struggling learners. One example of her material would be these phonics flashcards. Most phonics flashcards have the sound on the back of the picture or down in the corner. However, many children, especially right brain children, often remember the sound much better if the sound is imposed over the actual picture. These cards have helped some of my children learn specific phonics blends that they were not able to learn in other ways. I have brought a few more of her materials and you are welcome to look at them after the workshop.

The third place that we have received great help for our son has been from Dr. Paul Moss. He is a chiropractor in Ankeny. Dr Moss has treated our son with adjustments, supplements and nutrition. He has been treating our son for several months and we have seen improvement in his ability to read, reason and articulate his thoughts.

I should caution though, that outside help, however good it may be, may not remove our child’s learning struggles. Outside sources are often a great benefit in helping our child reach his full potential, but most of the time, they will not remove the child’s learning struggles completely.

My sixth point is that in our desire to help our child academically that we need to be careful not to neglect something even more important and that is to help them grow spiritually. Sometimes we get so bogged down in the academic struggles of our children, that we forget about helping them to grow to be more like Christ. It occurred to me once a few years ago, when my son was struggling greatly with a particular sin, that I should be far more concerned about his sin than I should be about the fact that he could not yet read. Yes, learning to read is crucial, but more importantly still, we need to keep eternal values in view.

Sometimes we are tempted to overlook behavioral issues with our learning disabled child. Life is already tough for them and we don’t want to add to their burdens. Yet, sin is still sin, no matter what their disabilities may be. We still need to help them grow and become more Christ like with each passing year. We do not do our leaning disabled children any favors if we overlook their sins.

Along the same vein, we should be careful not to pity our child who is a struggling learner. We can encourage and help them to achieve the best of their ability. We can sympathize with them when they are discouraged, yes. But never pity them. It will cause them to grow up with a “Woe is me, the world is against me and life is so unfair” attitude, and that will not help them in any way, shape or form.

The seventh important thing that I learned is not to hold any of my children back from learning because they cannot read well. They can still learn so much about science, history, literature and most of all, God’s Word. I read to my children constantly. It is one of my favorite things to do. I read the Bible, great works of literature, science and history textbooks, character building books and just plain fun books to them. Often my non-strugglers will listen, too, even though they could read the material on their own.

They can also learn in other ways. They can still memorize Scripture if I help them orally. It may take my struggling learners longer to learn verses but they can still do it. We also do science experiments, take family nature hikes and do art projects.

My eighth point is that over the years, I have learned that the whole world does not need to know about my children’s learning struggles. I have learned not to talk about it except with people that I really trust because it opens up my child for criticism and the possibility of being pre-judged. Plus, as I have mentioned before, I have come to realize that most people do not truly understand unless they have gone through it.

Our personal family choice has been to not put specific public labels on our children. My husband and I do not want our children to be mainly known as the child who has Sensory Integration dysfunction or dyslexia or what ever the case may be though I should add, that personal knowledge about our children’s specific struggles can be helpful because then we can research ways to help them reach their full potential. However, this is a decision that each family has to make and there is really no “right” or “wrong.”

Since my children’s learning struggles are something that is utmost on my mind, it is easy to want to talk about it to every new friend I make, especially if they homeschool. But I know that I would not appreciate my husband going to work and talking to his coworkers about my struggles. Just as I want him to respect my privacy, I should respect my children’s privacy.

I talk about my children’s learning disabilities on a “need to know” basis only. For example, if they are promoting to a new Sunday School class, I will let the teacher know so that they will not ask my child to read something outloud that they are not capable of reading. I also have a couple very close friends that I talk to about my children’s struggles on a regular basis. I know they love my children very much and they will keep what I say confidential.

My next point is one that is hard for me to admit because it shows that I am less than spiritually perfect in my trust in God’s sovereignty. I found that I did go through a grieving process about my children’s learning struggles, much like what I went through after each of my eight miscarriages. I went through denial, sadness, anger and finally acceptance. It is difficult to see one’s child struggle in any way and it is normal for most of us who have children who struggle academically to grieve because of it.

The important thing to remember is something that a good friend of mine said after she went through an unimaginably difficult time in her life, “Run to Jesus, run to Jesus, run to Jesus.” There is nothing sinful about grieving or the Bible would not tell us to weep with those who weep. It is comforting to know that we can run to the arms of our Savior and He is waiting and ready to comfort us. Through this journey of teaching children who learn differently, I have cried out many times to the Lord in tears and He heard my prayers and brought me comfort in many ways. He brought me hope and comfort through the encouraging words of friends and family, through passages of Scripture, and just from knowing that He cares about my children, and understands my children and loves my children even more than I do.

My tenth and final point is that it is very important to accept our children the way God made them. Each of our children are a blessing from God, even if they don’t fit the world’s idea of “normal.” And, really, who defines “normal” anyway. They may struggle in ways that most children do not, but they are still precious children created in the image of God. If they get even a sense that they are a disappointment to us, it can leave scars that may last a lifetime. God created our children the way He wanted them to be. As hard is it may be to believe this, God loves our precious children more than we do. No matter what their struggles may be, they can be used of God and they can live a life that glorifies God.

Our children who learn differently have their own unique talents and strengths. We should help them develop those gifts to the best of their ability. My son who struggles so much with reading has a tender heart, is very good at crafts, is fascinated by medieval weapons, and wants to be an inventor some day. I have learned to really appreciate his gifts and to focus on those instead of worrying so much about what he can’t do.

Sometimes it may be hard to see their gifts. I have a difficult time with this with one of my struggling learners. I will always remember the day she looked up at me and said, with a tearful voice, “I am not smart. I am not good at anything.” That day I began to fervently pray that God would show me her gifts and talents so I could help her develop them. The Lord showed me that she has the gift of a compassionate and tender heart. She has been able to reach out to others and encourage them when they go through difficult times by baking for them, writing sweet notes and things like that. I am still praying that God will show me other strengths she has so that we can develop those as well. We can pray and ask God to show us our children’s strengths so that in turn, we can encourage our child with the knowledge of these special abilities and help foster that talent or gift in their life.

Like my daughter, some children really struggle with the fact that they have learning disabilities. It is hard for them when they are not able to accomplish everything their peers accomplish…or at least not able to accomplish it as quickly as other children. However, it is important to teach our children that our main purpose in life is to glorify God. How ever God created them is how God knew our child could most glorify Him. Our child’s job, like ours, is simply to be faithful and to do their best according to the ability that God has given them.

A friend of mine uses the following example and I have shared it with my children. A butterfly struggles to come out of it’s cocoon but the struggle strengthens it to fly. In the same way, our child’s struggles, whether it be learning disabilities or something else… strengthen them so they can soar spiritually.

In closing I’d like to share something another friend of mine said to me. I was sharing some of my son’s struggles with this close friend once. She said something that I always remember. She said basically this, “I am kind of jealous. If God feels you can handle a son with these learning disabilities, you are very blessed.” I have always remembered those words and God often brings them to my mind when I am discouraged.

It is also very important to remember that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Teaching our struggling learners often seems overwhelming from the human perspective. I have often thought, “Lord, I can’t do this one more day.“ That is exactly the time when I must run to the loving Arms of our Heavenly Father and ask Him for strength, mercy and wisdom to help my children.

May God bless you as you homeschool your children, whatever their strengths and their struggles may be.

Notes for Struggling Learner Workshop

Helping Your Struggling Learner

1. Pray, Pray, Pray!

2. Try not to worry about what others may think. This is much easier said than done!

3. Avoid homeschooling articles that may discourage you.

4. Rejoice in every little victory.

5. Seek outside help if necessary.

6. In the desire to help our child academically we need to be careful not to neglect their spiritual condition.

7. Even if our child can not read well, he or she can still learn.

8. We need to be discerning when we talk about our child’s learning struggles.

9. Many of us will go through a grieving process because of our child’s learning struggles.

10. We need to accept our child the way God made him or her.

Kim Stilwell
Family blog:

Reference pages for Struggling Learner Workshop

Curriculum that may be Helpful for Children Who Learn Differently

Scaredy Cat Phonics (

Handwriting Without Tears (

Math U See (

Mastering Math Essentials by Richard Fisher, 20 minutes a day workbook

Right Brain Phonics Reading Book by Dianne Craft
( )

“Right Brain Phonics Flashcards” by Dianne Craft

“Sight Word Cards” by Dianne Craft

“Right Brain Multiplication Cards” by Dianne Craft

Wise Owl Math Worksheets

Lindamood Phonemic Awareness Program

Passport Learning, LLC (

Daily Grams (

Easy Grammar (

Hooked on Phonics (

Explode the Code (

Resources that Parents of Children Who Learn Differently may find Helpful

“Teaching the Right Brain Child” DVD by Dianne Craft

“Understanding and Helping the Struggling Learner” DVD by Dianne Craft

NATHHAN National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network

The Out of Sync Child by Karen Stock Kranowitz

Homeschool Legal Defense Association

*The IEP Manual: Individual Education Planning by Jim and Debby Mills
supplies goals, skill lists, and ideas for planning your child's program.
Available from

*LinguiSystems has many professional authored resources for writing IEPs.
Available at

*The New Language of Toys; Teaching Communication Skill to Children with
Special Needs by Sue Schwartz lists developmental milestones and contains
charts to record your child's progress. Available through

*The Student Education Plan (SEP): A Preparation Guide by Judith Munday
walks parents through the SEP process. Available from

*Teaching Your Special Needs Student: Strategies and Tools That Really Work
by Judith Munday provide evaluation information, scoring rubrics, graphic
organizers, and more. Available from

*HSLDA members can also contact their special needs coordinator.

*Joyce Herzog has Luke's Life List (and Luke's School List) that would
beneficial in helping parents to see they are making progress and to help
avoid discouragement. They, along with other resources, are available at

*They were from an article by Andrea Longbottom in the March/April 2009 issue of "The Home School Court Report".

People That May Be Helpful to Your Child Who Learns Differently

Dr Paul Moss
1932 SW 3rd Street, Suite 6
Ankeny, Iowa
(515) 964-9114

Lynne Popp
Omaha, Nebraska
Tel: (402) 498-8708
Fax: (402) 445-0433

Dianne Craft

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Giggling Girls and Funny Boys (copy of family letter)

Hi Everyone,

The past two weeks have been really busy but it has been a fun kind of busy. Two weeks ago, Jeff's brother David's family came to visit. We had a really nice time. We stayed up late chatting with David and Kandie. Kandie and I managed to make a Starbucks run one evening. And I love watching my children and their cousins spend time together and establish close friendships. This is something I did not have with my cousins and I am thankful that my children and their cousins will probably be life-long friends. We enjoyed going to Ankeny Baptist that Sunday night and hearing David's presentation.

The Thursday before Jennifer's birthday we had visitors. Christine Scott and her three JEMS (Jacob, Elijah and Moses Scott) came to visit us for the afternoon and evening. I enjoyed the time with Christine so much. She is a kindred spirit. She brought me the neatest book/journal for those who are grieving over the loss of a loved one. It has been very helpful. (Christine is all too familiar with grief herself because her husband died in a car crash a little over three years ago.) Sometimes I feel guilty about how much I am grieving for Barb because she was "only" a friend and not a spouse or child or parent of mine. This book has been very helpful as I work through my sadness and draw closer to the Lord because of it

The next weekend Jennifer had a sleepover for her birthday. She invited four of her little friends. There was a lot of giggling and fun going on. They decorated cupcakes, played dress up, had a scavenger hunt, watched a movie (Gus). Jennifer enjoyed opening her gifts...stuffed animals and dolls...right up her alley. The minor hitch was that the meal was not "little girl friendly" since Jennifer had chosen shepherd pie so we had tons of left overs. They filled up on popcorn while watching the movie so I don't think anyone went to bed hungry. They also actually did some sleeping. I admit I bribed them. I told them if I didn't hear any noise after 11:00pm I would give them all a candybar. Unbelievably, it worked! :-) They were all sound asleep by then.

The next day (May 9) our church had a Mother/Daughter Brunch which was really nice. (Yes, I managed to get six little girls ready!!) The teenage girls modeled wedding dresses that had been worn by some of the ladies in the church.

Mother's Day was extra special this year because it was also Jennifer's eighth birthday. We shared a fun day together. Jeff had the day off so he was able to go to church with us on Sunday morning. We stopped on the way home and picked fried chicken at Walmart so we could accomplish the double goal of me not cooking but also not waiting for ever to be seated at a crowded restaurant. At lunch Jennifer and I opened our gifts and enjoyed the afternoon with the family.

The next Friday (May 15) was Joshua's birthday. (It is always a bit traumatic for me when my firstborn and my "baby" each get a year older, only five days apart from each other.) Josh invited six of his friends. The original plan was that they would go to a nearby park and play Capture the Flag and then come back here for the meal and a movie. However, it rained all day so they ended up staying here and playing Axis and Allies. It was loud and it was funny. This group of boys really "connect" and they feed off each other's jokes and comments. (I kept cracking up in the kitchen as their jokes and funny comments drifted up the stairs from the basement.) After they played A&A, they ate the meal while they watched Flyboys. Josh didn't want to do the singing and opening gifts in front of everything thing (which was Jennifer's favorite part of her party... I guess that is the difference between an extroverted eight year old girl and an introverted seventeen year old boy). He opened his gifts after his friends left and was delighted with what they had chosen. They all obviously know Josh well and know what he likes, which is one step ahead of his mother because I never know what to get him! :-) I should add that at Josh's party we did NOT have leftovers. :-) He chose lasagna and cheesecake for dessert.

Today was the Niche homeschool graduation. We received several invitations and it was special to go see these kids graduate. There were 100 graduates and we probably knew about 1/4 of them (more by name). I admit to tearing up when they marched in. I remember when some of these kids were born!! Tim Newman and Zachary Thompson were two of the graduates that some of you might know. It was also really fun to see old friends after the graduation. I met up with one friend that I had not seen in probably 15+ years (Sara Norris Thompson). It was fun to meet her two little boys, too.

Softball is going fine. It has not been the greatest season as far as winning. Well, Jennifer has won all her games but the other four kids have not won since the first day. But everyone is having a great time. Jeff enjoys coaching, the kids enjoy seeing their friend and I enjoy the adult conversation.

I am including some of you that I do not normally include in my family letters. If you would like to receive them or continue receiving them, let me know. I am making a new list. If you are family or close friends, don't worry about getting back to me. I will assume, rightly or wrongly, :-) that you still want to get these.

I thought some of you might be interested in the blog addresses of Jeff's family members. It is interesting/fun to follow their lives as missionaries in Peru. I compiled them for a friend today and I thought I would paste it here as well. Sarah, I have my in-laws link now.

Steve and Evelyn--
David and Kandie--
Jon and Julie--
Steve and Molly--

My heart is heavy tonight for a man that attends Jeff's brothers families sending church. His wife and two young children died in a fire last night. Please pray for him as the Lord brings him to your mind.

I hope all of you are doing well. Have a good Sunday.


Jeff, Kim, Joshua (17), Joseph (13), Josiah (11), Jessica (10) and Jennifer (8) Stilwell
"Failure is not final; it is merely the opportunity to start over again wiser than before."
Author Unknown
Family blog : Updated last on April 27, 2009
Joshua's website on Godly Young Manhood:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

May Niche Article--Gossiping About Our Children

Gossiping about our Children

During the past year or so, I have been very convicted about gossiping about my children. Some of you can probably relate. You are talking with another mom, or group of moms when something someone says makes you think about a struggle you are having with one of your own children and next thing you know you are telling them about Johnny’s anger problem or his inability to tie his shoes at age seven. I have done this often. After all, what Mom doesn’t love talking about her children?

I would be horrified if Jeff went to work and told his co-workers, "Kim has such a gluttony problem. And can you believe she burned supper tonight? Here we have been married for 21 years and she still burns supper sometimes. And you should see how long it takes her to get dressed some mornings! Why, the other day she was still in her PJs at 10:00 in the morning!" (I should hasten to add that Jeff would never dream of talking that way about me to his co-workers.) Yet I have talked like that about my children.

Several things happened in the past few months to convict me that I should not be saying negative things to others about my children. I shared with one friend that I have a child who sometimes has anger issues. I notice that the next time she and her children were at my home, she treated that child differently than she had before. She was not as kind and friendly towards my child. She also seemed to want to keep her children away from this particular child of mine even though my child had never expressed anger towards her children. Since this friend was well liked by all my children, I felt badly that I had put a wedge in their relationship. I have noticed in other situations, as well, that when I say negative things about a particular child, he or she is treated differently.

Another thing that convicted me about gossiping about my children was that a couple of times (that I know of) they have overheard me. I could tell by the look on their faces that they were hurt. In talking to them later, I learned that they felt I had betrayed their trust. Even though I apologized to them and they forgave me, it did not take away from the fact that they knew their mom had shared something very personal about them.

The third thing that convicted me about this was when word “got around” that one of my children was afraid of the dark. I had “only” told a couple of people and the next thing I knew, several people knew and my child was teased about it by other children.

Shortly after these things took place, I was reading in James 3: 5-12 in my private devotions. Verses eight and nine especially spoke to me.

But to the tongue can no man tame, it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father, therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

That sure was convicting to me. Did I really want my tongue to be “deadly poison” to my children? Did I want to “curse” them, my dear children who made in the image of God.

We are to bless others with our tongue. Our children are not the exception clause. It does not edify either our child or the person we are speaking to when we tell others about our children’s faults and failures.

I try to be very careful not to gossip or speak badly of others. Yet, I was willing to tell even casual acquaintances about sins and struggles in my children’s lives.

There are times when I still visit with other moms, because it is helpful to talk about the not so fun parts of parenting with others who can relate, but I am more vague. Instead of naming a specific child and going into detail about something, I will say things like “I can sure relate, we have had a similar issue at our house” or “Yes, one of my children went through that, too.”

There are a couple of exceptions when I believe it is okay to talk about our children’s struggles. The main one, of course, is our husband. As the head of our family, Jeff should certainly know what is going on in our children’s lives. Since I spend more hours with them, I often see these things before he does and it is important that I keep him abreast of what is going on in our home.

I also have two very dear friends who edify and encourage me and who pray for me regularly. I do share my burdens relating to my children with them and they share theirs with me. I know they will pray for my child and for me and that they will still love my child even if they know of his or her struggles (as I will for their children). I also know they will never tell anyone else about my concerns, except for perhaps their husbands. I have also occasionally needed to talk to Sunday School teachers and others who have been in leadership positions over my children about behavior issues or learning disabilities though I make sure to make it clear that I want it to stay between us.

We want to avoid the opposite extreme as well. While there is nothing wrong with sharing our children’s accomplishments, we need to do it in a humble manner. Most of us have met parents who constantly brag about their children. You came away thinking that their children must be the only children on the earth who could possibly be that intelligent and well behaved. I have been guilty of bragging about my children as well, although, sadly, I usually err on the side of being critical. (Of course there is an exception clause to this and that is Grandparents. You can brag about your children all you want to them and not only will it not bother them. they will love it!)

I would like to close with a verse that has been both convicting and encouraging to me.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

God bless you as you edify your children.