Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Correcting the Errors of False Nostalgia in Godly Homes



After reading the newly released "Pioneer Girl," Jennifer Grant in an article in Christianity Today online concludes:
And, so as delicious as it’s been to bask in feelings of (false) nostalgia about Laura Ingalls’s childhood, Pioneer Girl oddly emboldens me to face the brokenness of the present and no longer to pine for a time that, in fact, never actually was.[1]
I am afraid many ultra-conservative Christians are guilty of living their lives in a separatist fashion striving to create a world for their children based on false assumptions about how good it used to be in America. I was one of those, and I can tell you from experience it is better to "face the brokenness of the present" than to "pine for a time that...never actually was.

There is a false assumption that America was somehow more holy than it is today. Yet, the truth is we have only "sought out many inventions" for acting out what has always been in the hearts of all of mankind. Furthermore, not only do we have fewer restraints and more opportunities than our forefathers, we also live in a time when the Gospel influence is at a very low ebb.

Consequently, when we were rearing our children, we did all we could to protect them from the influences of "the world." While that is a sober responsibility of Christian parents, there must be some point at which our children will see the world they live in. Our job is to not only establish standards of holy living in our homes, but to also instruct our children in the right way to view those who do not adopt those standards.

First of all, our own children need to see themselves as being in no wise "better than they." (Romans 3:9) This is the greatest danger to our children's souls when striving to establish a godly home. They begin to see themselves as being somewhat in better standing with God than their "worldly" counterparts. If they are ever to come to Christ in reality, they must first see the sinfulness of their own hearts and how justly God must condemn them outside of Christ as He does those who are not reared in Christ-honoring homes. They must be taught that self-righteousness is as filthy in God's eyes as any sin of debauchery.

Consequently, how we parents react to those who are immodestly dressed or who are indulging in fleshly lusts can unfortunately be the very planting of the seeds of self-righteousness in the hearts of our children. Thus, if we want our children to have a right view of the world in which they live and a right view of their own souls, we must first have that right view in our own hearts. Compassion rather than condemnation must be what they hear from us, and pity for their souls the predominant emotion.

For instance, when a child notices a person who is being immodest, their natural reaction might be one of condemnation. But, a wise parent will respond with compassion that perhaps the person was not taught by loving parents to keep their bodies covered. Some parents could even share with the child that they used to dress that way before they knew Jesus.

It is a huge mistake to take a posture of offense against that person. Directing ourselves and our children to how Christ Himself responded to people who were acting in an ungodly manner should help us get a better perspective. Only those who are without sin may cast stones. (John 8:7) Loving compassion is a more profitable response both for our children and the world in which they must live and with which they must interact. It is imperative, therefore, that parents continually remind their children of their own need of Christ as well as those who live in the world around them.

The answer, therefore, is not to hide, but to THRIVE! We must let our lights shine even brighter to our lost and dying world. And I don't mean by appearing at Walmart in our "modest apparel." How can we be effective in sharing Christ when we are hidden out somewhere trembling in fear of "the world?" This is something we must all seriously consider.

[1] Jennifer Grant, "'Pioneer Girl' Laura Ingalls Wilder's Real Memoir Overturns Our False Nostalgia," Christianity Today, March 9, 2015, accessed March 18, 2015, http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2015/march/pioneer-girl-our-false-nostalgia-over-laura-ingalls-wilder.html?start=1.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Finding Hope in the Home School Empty Nest


I was encouraged after reading the blog post "Is There Life After Homeschooling" on the Tea Time With Annie Kate blog. She tells about a woman she met who had gone through a terrible time of depression when her homeschooling abruptly ended when her children went to high school.

I am right there when it comes to the empty nest. We graduated our youngest in 2010, but our last one at home just got married in May of last year. I thought I would be useful in caring for my aging mother who moved in with us two years ago, but then she passed away a year ago last December, only making my empty nest more grievous.

Our beautiful children (youngest to oldest):
Andrew, Lydia, Sam, and Jonathan
So, here I am alone. It's been very hard. It doesn't help that three of our four children now live a thousand miles away. Thankfully, our oldest son and his family are close and attend our church. But the absence of people who were not only my family but also some of my dearest friends, has left a gaping hole in my heart. The quiet is deafening.

However, in my loneliness and grief, I have found the time to actually think about who I am and what I am made to do. I've been studying the concept of vocation these past few months, and it has given me a hope beyond what I have already accomplished.

Vocation is not necessarily what you do for money. It is more an expression of your God-given gifts and talents -- your own personal calling -- for the blessing of others.

Therefore, just because I home educated our children it doesn't mean that is my life's calling. For some, homeschooling may only be a conviction which leads them to invest their lives in education only for that time. For instance, the woman mentioned in the blog post I gave above who was excited to be free of the obligations of homeschooling in order to begin a crafting business is most likely called to do that work. She just didn't have the time to do it until her children were grown. There's nothing wrong with that. In this way, each must discern what her next contribution will be through discovering her calling.

Then, how does one discern her calling? It has been suggested to begin by trying to recall what you enjoyed doing when you were a small child, perhaps even before you went to grade school. My earliest memories are of writing books and being The Teacher over my younger siblings playing school.

I may conclude then that my calling runs along the lines of one who informs or teaches. I have always loved reading and learning and sharing what I've read and learned. Therefore, I hope to spend at least some portion of what life is left in me to doing something along those lines. Knowing my calling gives me hope and helps me not to wallow in self-pity.

If you are in the empty nest or heading into it, let me encourage you to begin to prayerfully contemplate your calling. As long as you are living, there is some contribution you can make to the Kingdom of Christ, both in your own family and among God's people.

We must not let this rich chapter of our lives go to waste for one moment in self-pity or despair. God is able to make all grace abound as we seek His face for the guidance in every step of our life's journey for the glory of God and for the good of others.

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." ~ Proverbs 3:6



Thursday, February 5, 2015

How To Save Photos From Facebook


"Big Red" lighthouse, Holland, MI
Your daughter-in-law shares the most awesome pictures of the out-of-state grandchildren. You finally get to see pictures from that wedding you were unable to attend. There is a rare heirloom portrait posted on a family group page you would love to frame and hang on your wall. The only problem is these are all only available on Facebook.

Facebook, like any other online social network is as unstable as a house of cards and liable to fall with the slightest online breeze. There are no guarantees you will be able to view or access those same photos even in the next minute. Your account could be cancelled, there could be a terrorist hacker, or Facebook could go belly up. It happens all...the...time. So how can you retrieve those precious moments available only on Facebook?

Here is a method I have used numerous times:

1. Click on the photo so it appears in the viewer mode.

2. Right click and choose "Open photo in a new tab."

3. Right click on the photo which pops up in the new tab and choose "Save photo as," type in a name for it (making sure it is in a folder where you want it on your computer or can easily find it later), then click Save.

I have even had downloaded pictures developed on websites like Walgreens Photo and Snapfish to make photo calendars for great-grandparents and send prints to out-of-state relatives. This also works for saving photos of recipes people post which you want to save and pictures you've uploaded from your phone.

With the volatility of online social media you never know when all those precious memories could be lost. Download them today!

Of course, as with any online photos, be sure to get permission where it is obvious you should.