Polarizing Opposites: Home School and Public School

A few weeks ago when our pastor said the problem with defining identity is that we use the choices we’ve made or the groups we’ve separated from (rather than finding our identity solely in Christ), one of my first mental applications jumped to the schooling arena.

polarizingschool.jpgThere exists a sentiment among some families who have chosen public/private school that homeschool families look down on them or desire for them to feel guilty for the choices they’ve made[1]. Sure, there are some gung-ho families who say not to discount the homeschool option on a basis of tight finances or “inability” to teach… and yes, there are a passionate few who cannot fathom ever sending their child(ren) to public school. But most of us as parents know that there are often factors we can’t see in why a family makes one choice or the other. As with any hot button issue, passion exudes from those on either side of the fence.

One-size-fits-all truly cannot work in a society as diverse as ours. Some full-time working moms choose to homeschool, and some at-home moms have children who attend public school. There are pros and cons to either choice, yet many families made the decision they did based on their current life season, family priorities, and goals. Many of us (on one side of the issue or the other) can understand that our families can’t all make the same choice.

Encouragement comes when we don’t compare my family’s choices with your family’s but instead choose to discuss those choices in a neutral manner. Will I fully understand where you’re coming from? Maybe not. Will you think I’m still a little looney for the choice we’ve made? Quite possibly. But iron sharpens iron when discussions happen with sincerity and genuine interest — not when we endeavor to persuade the “opposition” to “join our side.”

How this relates to the Gospel

Research shows that the majority of homeschoolers have chosen that educational setting based on “a concern about the environment of other schools,” which includes an increasing hostility to religious education[2]. Homeschooling can be an excellent opportunity for parents to put Deuteronomy 6 into action throughout the day, but not every one of those parents has these intentions.

On the flip side, some public school parents stay on top of discipling their children and keep the communication lines open in the few hours they have together each day. They don’t expect the public school to deal with character development, and they readily shoulder that responsibility.

Each of us has a primary obligation in our role as parents, according to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:4b –

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


…bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

All the time. God’s Word should be in our hearts and on our lips as we interact with those who share our home. When God and His Word take priority in our homes, He will — by His rich grace — use both the public school families and the home school families for His glory.

The point of the Gospel is ultimately His glory. Whatever your family chooses, whether public or private or home school, do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

[1] The Buckout’s Blessings – Our Transition: Homeschool to Public School
[2] National Center for Education Statistics – Fast Facts

Your turn: Have you been on one side of this fence… or both, at some point? How were you encouraged as your family made the schooling decision?

See also: Polarizing Opposites: Home Birth & Hospital Birth

5 Minute Tasks Around the House

During that season of fatigue I experienced earlier this year, I managed to learn a few things. One of the most important things I learned was doing something, even a small something, is better than doing nothing. Were there huge tasks like laundry and dishes that kept piling and piling? You bet. Some days I woke up and headed straight to the couch to sit, overwhelmed by the enormity of just how far I’d fallen behind.

I’m in a season of comparative energy now, and there are still days I wince the huge tasks before me, wondering if I’ll ever get caught up. But I’m learning something now, too! Doing something, even a small something, is better than nothing. Wait… that sounds really familiar… Hmm. Maybe I just need to learn the same thing in two different life seasons so that it’ll actually stick regardless of the current life season. Maybe.

I’ve been brainstorming these days in an attempt to see the small, accomplishable tasks on the days I feel the weight of the large, daunting ones. And here are some of the brainstorming results:

  • Read one or two chapters of Psalms
  • Get dressed
  • Sort laundry
  • Start a load of laundry or transfer to the dryer
  • Declutter your coffee table/kitchen table/counter
  • Make the bed
  • Find a home for 2 currently-homeless items
  • Sweep the kitchen floor
  • Take out the trash
  • Wipe down the kitchen or bathroom sink
  • Clean the toilet
  • Weed the garden (even if this takes multiple 5 minute sessions… progress is progress)
  • Read a book
  • Create a shopping list (grocery or household)
  • Write down today’s (or tomorrow’s) to-do list

Distractions are everywhere. What if we focused for 5 minutes at a time, 3-5 times a day? Sure, we typically overlook these “minor” tasks, but they can help us accomplish something when we feel like we can’t accomplish anything.

Your turn: What tasks did I overlook? What could you add to the list at your house?

A Step of Faith

For the last few weeks, the Holy Spirit has been rousing me from my spiritual slumber. His spotlight went straight to the areas of pride and anger that I had become complacent about… The daily rigmarole that I had resigned myself to, unwilling to recognize my own weaknesses, hesitant to ask the Spirit to reveal them to me.

And it has been a spiritual battle incomparable to most of my Christian life. As I would wake up and ask God to guide me into all truth (John 16:13) that I might walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16), I became keenly aware of just how many things I overlooked on a daily basis. How many flare-ups or moments of frustration I put others through. How many moments I did not make the choice to “as much as it depends on [me], live peaceably with all men.”

I’m finishing up two books that have been key in spurring me on to continue to seek. I picked up Wrestling Prayer to reread and journal through, and it’s almost like I’ve never read it before. I love how different points apply to me in this season than when I first read it. The second book is Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst – a much easier, though just as deep, read that has challenged me on multiple points. Do I really know what faith is?

Dr. Tony Evans explains faith this way: Faith is acting like something is so, even when it is not so, in order that it might be so simply because God said so.

Asking God to change my heart orientation is not a fruitless endeavor; it may be something like an onion though. Just when I think an issue has been sufficiently dealt with, that layer is peeled back to reveal an underlying sin. The layers are many.

But I have Hope. If the God who has gently guided me through the last 7 months of counting gifts can teach me how gratitude has all kinds of applications, He can show me His ways. He can lovingly peel back each layer and, in its place, unite my heart to fear His name (Ps. 86:11). He keeps His promises.

Come join our New Every Morning link-up recounting God's mercies (Lam. 3:22-24)!Wanna join us? It’s simple. Grab a journal and start writing. What are you thankful for in this moment? What have you overlooked that He has graciously given you? Then, each Thursday, join us as we revel in His mercies! If you have a blog, we’d love for you to leave your link. If you don’t, feel free to leave your list in the comments!

Mercies to date: 753. Take a look at this week’s list:
724. Ae’s ecstasy with the beach and the waves lapping at his feet
725. one-on-one time with my [now] sister-in-law
726. plenty of food (when A thought we took too much on our trip)
728. a fun farmer’s market experience
730. God’s grace and protection
731. chat time with my mom-in-law while I made spaghetti for supper
733. solid protein intake for breakfast
734. cash in my wallet to pay for CASH ONLY parking
737. refillable water bottles and accessible water fountains
741. Ae sleeping in the car
742. grace during one of Ae’s worst fits ever (because he woke up with not-enough sleep)
745. Samaritan Ministries
746. books to read… and give
748. bulging tomato plants
750. A’s willingness to cut 2 lbs of fresh green beans to freeze
752. progress made during Ae’s 3 hour nap
753. a God who keeps His promises, even when my faith is not strong

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Polarizing Opposites: Home Birth and Hospital Birth

polarizingbirthFor some women, this is a no-brainer. Of course they will birth in the hospital! Others can’t imagine having their baby in a hospital setting. Still others have endured traumatic experiences in the hospital, so they opt for a home birth. There are many reasons we make the choice we make.

I can’t imagine giving birth without a doctor nearby.

The home birth perspective looks at the fact that women have been birthing babies for centuries. It’s not an “illness” or a “disease;” our bodies were created to do this. In 1900, less than 5% of women gave birth in hospitals. As of 1994, midwives attended 5.5% of births. [1]

For the low-risk women who want to labor and deliver with as little medical intervention as possible, home birth (or nurse-midwives in excellent hospital settings) makes the most sense. For the women who are paying for their childbirth out of pocket, home birth can be as much as 60% cheaper than even the baseline care charge at a hospital. [2]

Excellent hospitals can be diamonds in the rough. In our case, the “best” area hospitals have ridiculously high c-section and episiotomy rates… even higher than the state average (which is not a low number). I also had friends who had gone the home birth route, and their stories intrigued, challenged, and inspired me to think outside the hospital-birth box.

How can you stand having the nurses check on you all the time?

Some hospitals willingly accommodate expectant moms in an effort to give them a great experience. Some hospitals don’t require the patient to sign a “blanket consent,” where she basically allows the staff to do whatever they deem necessary for her care and the care of her baby. Some hospitals are mother and baby friendly, which is awesome.

Some moms need additional care. Some moms encounter unforeseen complications. In these situations, the advantage of the hospital is unparalleled. (And in these situations, a knowledgeable and caring home birth midwife would transfer the mom/baby without hesitation.) And the truth is… some moms love their hospital birth experience.

How this relates to the Gospel

Our birth choices can become a stumbling block when we become so impassioned about our “side” or against the other side that we cannot see the forest for the trees. Apostle Paul told the Christians at Rome (and us):

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. [3]

Are my word choices exemplary of this kind of behavior? Even if I disagree with a sister in Christ’s reasoning for choosing a home/hospital birth, can I still love her as my sister?

Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. [4]

Do I prize the choice my family has made above the unity of the Body of Christ? Am I so sure that we made an appropriate choice for us that I cannot understand why anyone would make a choice to the contrary?

Friends, in the Big Picture, Christ died for sinners. He redeemed us from the curse of the law. He redeemed sinners who choose home birth, and He redeemed sinners who choose hospital birth. For eternity, we will worship Him alongside many, many women who made different choices than we did. That is so cool!

And [the living creatures and elders] sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” [5]


[1] The History of Midwifery and Childbirth – A Time Line

[2] American Pregnancy Association on Home Birth

[3] Romans 12:10, NKJV

[4] Romans 12:16, NKJV

[5] Revelation 5:9, NKJV

Sun Exposure and Our Skin

If you scroll on down, you’ll find something… unusual on my list. Ok, well, I guess water bottles and disappointment are kind of unusual things to be grateful for, too, so maybe I’m just starting a pattern of anomalies? It looks something like this:

715. sun exposure and our skin

You see, we’re enjoying the beach this week. A’s oldest brother is getting married tomorrow, so we hopped a plane to join the celebration. As we were in the process of gathering the items we need, I blanked on sunscreen. We have some that we purchased last year, but since we chose to pack in carry-on bags only, we had to limit the size to 3 oz. I’ve also become more aware of the gargantuan list of chemicals used to make sunscreen. So I asked some blog friends what they do instead. How do you avoid chemical-laden sunscreen and manage to not get burned?

They provided me with some great, thought-provoking articles. I read through them and contemplated what they said, discussed it with A, and then we decided it was worth trying. Here are some of those articles:

Our skin is an amazing organ, but we can easily rob it of its opportunity to work properly without even realizing it. We steadily increased our time outside from the beginning of May until now. Last week, we were at the pool in constant sun for an hour and a half, and none of us burned. Four months ago, I didn’t think that was possible. I love learning new things!

We still have sunscreen; I haven’t tossed it to the curb entirely. But I’m a lot less anxious to use it. If our first trip into the sun is an extended one, you’d better believe we’ll be using sunscreen! Ideally, though, we’ll build up sun exposure over time. God knew what He was doing when He designed our bodies the way He did. :)

Come join our New Every Morning link-up recounting God's mercies (Lam. 3:22-24)!Wanna join us? It’s simple. Grab a journal and start writing. What are you thankful for in this moment? What have you overlooked that He has graciously given you? Then, each Thursday, join us as we revel in His mercies! If you have a blog, we’d love for you to leave your link. If you don’t, feel free to leave your list in the comments!

Mercies to date: 722. Take a look at this week’s list:
708. a package from Mom that included all kinds of goodies
709. friends who have the same Mommy experiences… like it might be normal or something :)
710. the pitter-patter of bare feet on cement running after Daddy’s car as he leaves for work
711….and the accompanying “Wuv wu, BYE!” or “Ross on!” (rock on!) farewell exclamations
713. a conversation over lunch with Ae about “wo-wo” (worship)
714. freedom, within budgetary boundaries
715. sun exposure and our
717. a pair of jeans for FREE at a garage sale… to finish a skirt project
718. working with others who are more skilled that I am in certain areas of creativity
719. sleep
722. Hope Heals

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Polarizing Opposites

Last year, I posted a series of Confessions. These confessions aimed to present our family’s reasoning behind some of the choices we’ve made — because we’ve made plenty of non-conformist-type choices. These were some of my most popular posts in 2013, and I really enjoyed interacting with you all, my readers, about large families, wearing skirts, and living on one income. Perhaps some things just confused you more… But the goal was to help you understand.

Those posts were very much identity based. I defined myself as a “cloth diaper momma” or an “baby-wearing momma” or a “home-birther.” I’m learning, though, that by accepting such labels, I am truly defining my identity by what I “oppose,” what I separate myself/my family from. And I’m aiming to stop that.

I realize that these labels, groups, cliques that many of us participate in can have some polarizing views. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? To home school or utilize public school? To eat mostly real foods or to “do what you can”? As Christians, though, these truly are “peripheral.” God is still good; the gospel is still true; and the Holy Spirit is still at work in me and all around me, regardless of where you or I stand on these issues.

polarizingSo, over the next few weeks, each Tuesday will be a new installment in the Polarizing Opposites series. I plan to examine each issue from a couple of different angles and then point us back to the Gospel, with the end goal being a mutual understanding of those on each “side” of the issue and how we can defer our preferences for the sake of unity within in the Body. Our world has enough dividing lines; to accurately portray the unity of Christ and His Body, we can’t have divisions among ourselves. Why would anyone on the “outside” desire something that looks like what they already have?

Your turn: Help me out! What are some topics/issues you’d like to see covered in “Polarizing Opposites?”

{image by phostezel}

What I Should’ve Studied in High School

I’ve found that weeding the garden is a perfect opportunity to think. As I pulled up this piece of crab grass or that stalk of polk, I began to ponder all the things I’ve learned in the last 3-4 years. If I could go back to high school, what do I wish I had spent my time studying?

I quickly came up with several: money/finances, gardening/homesteading, cooking/baking. At first glance, these sound noble — especially considering my current “occupation.” Yes, they would’ve been helpful to study. As I thought about it though, I realized that thorough preparation in these areas could have had a drastic impact on my “now.” “How so?” you ask.

  • Money/finances – I had a basic idea before I went to college. Of course, I wanted to cash flow college and graduate with no debt. My senior year of high school, I took Consumer Math to begin to get a grasp on budgeting, interest, and expenses. HOWEVER… if I had the knowledge of money then that I have now, I might not have married A. We have grown together as we have sought out various sources to learn about money, because we’ve had to determine where we stand on it. I am grateful A is teachable in this (and other areas).
  • Gardening/homesteading – Oh the time I could have saved myself if I had researched and learned how to garden and preserve veggies! Or so it appears. If I had been super “crunchy granola,” intending to live on a farm someday in order to be more self-sufficient, A might not have married me! My gradually increasing interest in how to garden and can veggies is a much more tolerable pace for my sweetheart. He’s even taken an interest and learned a little, too. Another opportunity to grow together.
  • Cooking/baking – If I had learned proper techniques or all the best nutrition advice in high school, our current grocery budget would not suffice. Our somewhat minimalist kitchen would quickly be overrun with gadgets and things that are perfectly okay to have — but that we don’t have the space to maintain.

The more I considered these, the more I realized that I don’t regret not studying them in high school. That period of my life was heavily invested in the Deaf community – an investment I simply cannot make during this season. THIS is the season for me(us) to study money, gardening, and baking. This is the season where I grow in these areas.

To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under heaven.
Ecc. 3:1

Your turn: What did you study in high school/college that you could not study now? What are you learning now that you couldn’t have learned then?