Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Dealing with Typical “You’re Homeschooling?” Frustrations

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My husband and I are the first couple in our respective families to choose home education for our child. It is a decision we had come to long before we had our daughter, and one that we personally have felt convicted about ever since. Those of you who share the conviction understand how strong it can be, and yet those who look down on homeschooling can be quite passionate about their opinions on the matter as well. While we have been blessed to have families who support us (teasing and joking aside), I have had no shortage of jabs, insults, attacks, rude remarks and what I call “the look” from friends, strangers, acquaintances, etc.

I really had no idea how often it would happen until my daughter reached school age. We had done preschool at home and I have directed a homeschool choir for the past 6 years, so we were already well engrossed in the homeschooling community. Then my daughter turned five. Suddenly everywhere we went people began to ask her if she was in kindergarden. This is the question that does it. Here’s what often follows:

Acquaintance: “How old are you sweetie?”

Tabi: “Five”

Acquaintance: “And are you in kindergarden this year?”

Me: “Yes she is, although she’ll be starting first grade in about six weeks. We are home educators.”

Acquaintance: (*the look) “Oh, ok. And how is she going to be socialized?” or “Wow. You’re brave.” or “Well, I leave that to the professionals.” or “I’ve heard homeschooled students can’t get into colleges” or sometimes “Well I don’t think homeschooling is right. You don’t want your kid to grow up being different and weird do you?”

Yes! These comments are a dime a dozen. I hear these and many more constantly. Sometimes people hold their opinions and simply give “the look”, but I tell you, that look can be just as frustrating as the person who has to be reminded that not all socialization is beneficial or that colleges usually welcome homeschooled students because of their advanced study habits. It’s not easy to hear these comments or witness that “look” day after day. It’s not easy to be different. Yet, I’ve found that, while I don’t appreciate the response I get from people and wish that society as a whole were more open minded to accepting home education as a valid and fine educational choice, I have noticed that these anti-homeschooling remarks never sway my commitment to this path. I LOVE being a home educator and I know that it is the best choice for my family.

That being said, I want to share some tips on how to best deal with negative remarks towards homeschooling as a Christian and home educator:

1. Grace and Love. Remember that we are called to offer grace and love, even if we’re not getting it back. Smile. Be kind. Be gentle. Try not to let anger take over, but rather just be okay with it. Ask God to give you loving and kind words in your response.

2. Humility. Often our reaction to someone challenging our choices is pride. Homeschoolers can be very prideful about what we believe in and in a negative way. God never approves of a prideful spirit. We need to remember to put on humility and let that show in our response.

3. Facts. While speaking in love and humility, it’s okay to defend home education by sharing facts and information that the other person might not know. Try not to blast them with too much information, because that will come across as aggressive and we don’t want that. Just answer their points kindly and with information that makes sense.

4. Tolerance. This is a funny word that can be good or bad at times. While we want society to accept and respect home education, we also must be respectful and tolerant of those who have different opinions. The truth is, if people choose public school, it’s because they believe it is the best choice for their family. If we choose homeschool, it is because we believe it is the best choice. We don’t have to agree. What we do want to do is to respect one another and acknowledge that both they and us are simply doing what we think is best. I hate to see homeschoolers mocking and putting down public schooling just as much as I hate it when we are mocked. In this sense, we need to follow our convictions and respect one another.

5. Teach our kids to do the same. As often as we are confronted about home education, our kids will be confronted all the more. It is good for us to teach our children to be able to defend homeschooling in the same manner of love, humility, tolerance and with sound information like we should be doing. We don’t want to teach our kids to be prideful or judgmental, but rather to be confident, kind and loving when they are asked about their education.

I have one other bit of advice….choose your battles wisely! If I know that a certain person looks down on homeschooling and that a conversation about it is going to be pointless and frustrating, I may avoid the issue altogether. We don’t always have to be soldiers on guard to defend home education. We can choose peace over pointless conflict. It’s like the song says, “live and let live” right? haha

At the end of the day, these “looks” and remarks are going to keep happening and it probably gets worse as the kids get older. We have to try not to let it bother us and to remember that as Christians we are used to being different and standing apart. If we can reject the world to love and follow Christ, then surely, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can face challenge and even ridicule with grace and dignity, being good representatives of the homeschooling community.

God bless!

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Playing the Blame Game

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photo credit: zen via photopin cc

It’s been the way of mankind since the fall in the Garden of Eden. Man blames woman. Woman blames the serpent. It’s the blame game in full effect. Funny enough, despite efforts to “pass the buck”, all three were punished there in the Garden. All three had sinned against God indeed. Yet, when times get difficult, and we know they always do, it can be so easy to get into pointing fingers and assigning blame, and this can be a real marriage killer. I know…I’ve struggled with this one a lot over the years!

There are going to be trials and tribulations in life that are no one’s fault in particular, but we so often feel the need to blame each other and to consequently take our disappointments out on the “guilty” party. Sometimes the problem has been caused by one person’s bad choice. Instead of simply realizing that we all make mistakes and then picking up the pieces together, we come unleash our wrath and sometimes hold onto the issue far longer than what is necessary or prudent.

We had a funny example of this just the other night. We drove to a friend’s house and it was still somewhat light outside. I was driving. I parked the car, but I thought we were just running something in, so I left it at a funny angle and with the lights and everything on. We got out and were talking and our friends invited us in for a few minutes. My husband took the keys and went to roll up windows and turn off the car. We went inside, had a splendid time of fellowship, and when it was time to go we realized the car lights had been left on for the past hour or so.

We both immediately jumped to blame the other person. He blamed me because I had been the one driving. I blamed him because he had been the last person in the car. It was a funny little exchange that happened in those few seconds until my husband tried to start the car. Thank the Lord, it started without a problem! We were all relieved and even laughed later about our little blame game standoff.

This was a much lighter example than the hundreds we could discuss. Common reasons a spouse blames another include such troubling issues as: finances, child training, infertility, home maintenance and lack of family devotion time. We need to realize how damaging it is to our marriage and our family when we play the blame game. It can be quite serious. We are supposed to be on the same team. We are supposed to be cheering one another on and then comforting each other when we fall. Tearing each other down and pointing the finger only weakens ourselves. Here are some important concepts to remember next time you’re tempted to play the blame game:

1. We are all sinners and failures at some point. 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

2. We are one flesh, so blaming and tearing down our spouse is like doing it to ourselves.

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6

3. Blaming your man is not respectful.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33

4. Pointing out your husband’s failures is not loving.

And so train the young women to love their husbands and children…” Titus 2:4

5. The blame game is bad for everyone in the home, including the children. It tears the home down and makes it weaker instead of stronger.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1

 

Instead of being one of those wives who is constantly pointing out where your husband is to blame for the problems you face, why not try being his helpmeet? The perfect helper wouldn’t point out the mistakes and assign blame, but rather comes alongside and helps pick up the pieces. She makes him look better – not worse. She ministers to him when he is disappointed in himself. She shares the burden, not passes it. She edifies him with her words and actions. This is the kind of wife I long to be. Praise the Lord that He continues to teach us.

 

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An Incredible & Convicting Experience

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Something incredible happened to us tonight and I really felt it was worth sharing, so here it is. My family and I had been working late on a project, so we went out to eat a late dinner at a local restaurant. We shared the restaurant with only one other group. A few tables away was a man and two women, and I could tell from the moment we sat down that we perhaps should have chosen a different location further away.

The reason I say that is that the people were drinking quite heavily and speaking so vulgarly that it was hard to even enjoy our meal. The words out of their mouths were disgusting. The “F” word was used in every sentence and for every possible meaning. It wasn’t just the cursing but the topics of their discussions that were offensive. I wouldn’t even want to repeat what they talked about but I will say the majority was them making sexual plans as a group and so forth. They were loud about all of it, even knowing that my four year-old daughter was sitting there with us.

I tried to distract my daughter and we focused on speaking about the Lord, praying and enjoying each other. I tried not to look at their table, not wanting to catch their eye. I just prayed they would leave, and I admit that my heart was filled with judgment and disgust. I had not one ounce of compassion or grace for these people who were polluting our meal with filth. I didn’t see them as anything but a nuisance and a problem. I say this with shame and regret.

About ten minutes before we were done, they got up and left. Before leaving the man stopped and smiled at us and gave Tabitha a friendly smile. We smiled back but gave him little attention. He and his group then left and there was finally peace. We finished up and I went up to the register to ask for the check and pay. The waitress apologized for the way the people had behaved and spoken in front of our daughter. She then told me that our dinner was covered and already paid.

I was surprised. Assuming the restaurant owner had decided to bless us with a free meal because of the disturbing circumstances, I assured her that it was fine and that I was perfectly happy paying. That’s when she stopped me and told me what happened. I couldn’t believe my ears.

The man, whom I had been hating in my heart, had paid our bill and the woman with him covered the tip. I was in shock! How could this be? Why would he do that? I wasn’t kind to them or even friendly. I’m sure that the expression on my face showed clearly my feelings about their behavior and language. Why would this man decide to bless us this way?

I was moved to tears. I couldn’t even speak. My emotions were so mixed but the predominant feeling was one of conviction. I realized without a doubt that the Lord had used this man and his party, even in their sin, to convict me of my own. I felt instantly blessed and convicted all at the same time. God had spoken to me clearly and visibly because He knew my heart and loves me. My Father had corrected me with an act of kindness.

As I reflected on what had happened, I saw myself in retrospect and how cold my heart was towards these people. I looked down on them with disgust. I didn’t see them for who they really were…lost people who desperately need Jesus. They need Jesus! They are dead inside without Him! What do we expect from the world? They live their lives this way because they are empty inside and need Jesus, and I have Jesus. I have what they need, but instead of being kind, merciful, graceful and lovingly showing them Jesus, I hardened my heart. That’s why God had to break it, and He did. Tonight He broke my heart.

Being broken can hurt, but it can also be incredibly uplifting. As I sit here, still in tears over the events of this evening, I thank God that He loves me enough to have reached out to me tonight. He reminded me of who I am in Him, how He wants me to see the lost and that I never want to pass up an opportunity to shine the light and love of the Savior into the lives of hurting people who need Him. I’m so grateful and so blessed.

I don’t mind confessing these shortcomings because I know fine well that God is not finished with me yet. I am a sinner and I need Jesus every hour of every day to walk according to His ways. I know that these corrections make us stronger in the Lord and I am so very encouraged that God would bless me and my family in the very unexpected way He did tonight. Thank You Jesus and I pray now for the salvation of the man and women we encountered tonight. I pray that they will come to know you, repent and be transformed by the washing away of their sins and their new life in You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

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