An Uncertain Sound…

“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” 1 Corinthians 14:8

My heart was drawn to this text this morning. While in context, this portion is speaking about speaking in tongues, I was drawn in my thinking to look at the battle ahead. My thoughts went to the three angels’ messages and how if we are not prepared, how will we be able to share the messages. As we raise up our children, are we not to train them up for the battle ahead?

There is an important work to be finished in the last days. We know it, we claim it, but do we live it? Are we living to prepare ourselves, and our children, for these events on the horizon? As homeschooling parents, do we have this battle in mind as we go through our days? Are we preparing them in their education to face this battle? Are we giving them the tools? Are we teaching them knowledge that they can use to share the message of Jesus with others? Are we helping them develop a character that is worthy to declare the messages that Jesus is coming soon?

Or rather, are we a trumpet with an uncertain sound? Are we jumping from program to program? Are we continually looking for the next best curriculum that is fancy and colorful to get their attention? Where are our attentions? Are they on our children? Or are they on visiting social media to find the next best thing out there? Are we so busy that we don’t have time to prepare and rather just survive each day doing the minimum possible just to check it off our list so we can get to other fun stuff in our days?

There are many good things out there, but often times we get so busy with the fun, new, exciting things, that we forget our calling to prepare our children for the battle ahead. Is your focus clear? Is your battle plan understandable? Do you know what trumpet sound you need to prepare your children for? How much of our focus is on this soon coming event?

This verse today, really spoke to me. Am I being a clear sounding trumpet to my children? Am I understandable? Am I declaring the Lord’s messages to my children, all day long, so they are prepared for the times ahead? Am I focusing on their character? Am I giving them knowledge so that they may be better prepared for this season? Or am I spending too much time bumping shoulders with others that I forget the vision the Lord has put in front of me? Do my educational methods prepare my children with understanding that they can stand alone (without my guidance) and do the work of the Lord?

This verse certainly brought a lot of thoughts to my mind. Did it strike a cord with you? “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” 1 Corinthians 14:8

On Thursdays, we will begin to focus on preparation, here at The Adventist Home Educator. It’s a perfect day, as it is preparation day, and a perfect day to not only prepare for the Sabbath, but to do a little self-check and see how we are doing with our battle plans. May we keep in mind the fight that is before us.

Cut It Off: Pinch!

      All I had to do was pinch off the growing tip. Just the top few leaves. Should I do it? I looked carefully at my newly transplanted jalapeno plant.  I could see it had the beginnings of tiny blossoms at the very top. I didn’t want to pinch it, but it was clear the spindly, barely six-inch tall plant was not strong enough to start properly producing peppers. Once it blossomed, my jalapeno plant would put the majority of its’ energy into growing fruit, thus reducing its’ chances of becoming a bushy, sturdy-stemmed plant. My plant needed to become stronger so that it could successfully produce fruit. With that thought in mind, I quickly pinched off the growing tip.

      My jalapeno plant may have suffered a day or two from the shock of being pinched. But within a few days, I could see the positive results of my work. Two weeks later, my jalapeno plant is noticeably bushier and has doubled in girth. I look forward to a pepper plant full of jalapenos!

jalapeno      God looks over my heart-garden and sees ‘plants’ that need pinching as well. God’s desire is for me to live up to my potential, making the most of the talents He has given me. The pinching and pruning that God does in my life causes me shock just like my pepper plant, but the end result is a richer, fuller walk with Christ and a more Christ-like character.

      “The human mind is represented by the rich soil of a garden. Unless it shall receive proper cultivation, it will be overgrown with the weeds and briers of ignorance. The mind and heart need culture daily, and neglect will be productive of evil…The mind must not remain dormant. If it is not exercised in the acquisition of knowledge, there will be a sinking into ignorance, superstition, and fancy. If the intellectual faculties are not cultivated as they should be to glorify God, they will become powerful aids in leading to perdition. ” ~ Gospel Workers, 135.

      I want to bear fruit for Christ. I want to be the wife, homeschooling mother and woman that God intends for me to be. I want to be a strong, sturdy-stemmed plant in God’s garden. Because of that desire, I MUST let Christ pinch off what does not represent Him.

Cut It Off: “Where’s Mom?”

mom backHave you ever had so much to do that you cringed when you heard a voice holler, “Where’s Mom?” Did you find yourself trying to quickly put a meal together so you could get back to finishing up the plans for the next health meeting at church, or maybe it was to plan that craft for VBS, or possibly organizing the ladies to have a ladies night out that is extra special?

As homeschool moms, we crave time for something other than homeschooling. We need an outlet. However, sometimes our perceived needs take us far away from our families. Maybe not in distance, but in reality our ability to serve our own families can be diminished.

I recall a time when I was very busy at church. I did daycare at home. I homeschooled the older kids. I felt I needed something to focus on that wasn’t just kids. I dove into ministry. I was the Health Ministry Leader. I taught Sabbath School. I did the church newsletter. I was the Pathfinder Leader. All at the same time! I took every spare moment I could find and filled it with ministry. And it blossomed. God blessed those ministries, despite my poor choices. Often times, my kids worked alongside of me. They helped me prepare food for our cooking schools, set up chairs and tables for our monthly health outreach, etc… but this was the time that I focused on big people things, not the kids. It wasn’t that the kids were ignored, they were well adjusted and pleasant to be around, which gave me more reason to continue the fast paced life. I did read my Bible; I usually had to prepare a lesson, so my devotions became my lesson preparation time. I did pray often; I prayed for strength, for time, for the kids. I think I really relied on God to get me through that busyness. However, I wasn’t listening very well. I was so busy, I kept on with my own plans, rather than seeing that God was trying to slow me down to get me to pay attention to some neglected areas in my life.

I was often so busy that the kids or my husband were asking on a regular basis, “Where’s Mom?” Was I out shopping for craft supplies for the VBS? Was I out getting some gold lining to help with an object lesson that week in Sabbath School? Was I busy upstairs creating a sign-up sheet for the Health Ministry? Where ever I was, I wasn’t available to my family. Not when they needed me.

After a couple full years, I realized that I was too busy. It caught up with me. You can be too busy doing good things for the Lord! As you look over the life of Eli, he was doing good things, but he neglected his own family in service for the Lord. We need to watch carefully that we do not do the same. Are outside interests okay, absolutely! However, if they affect how you relate to your family and your family is showing signs that things are not alright, it is time to back off the outside interests and make things right at home. Is it worth it to say, I did a great job on the church newsletter only to find that you’ve lost the hearts of your children? I think not.

Are you too busy? Do you need to step back to focus on the needs at home instead of always looking for greener pastures elsewhere? Maybe you simply need to drop one job to allow things to settle down once again. But be open to the possibility that you may need to step down from more. I am all for church ministry. I believe in it! I believe our kids should be involved in it, as well. But I don’t think it should consume us to the point that our families feel that ache from Mom being too busy.

“For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them.” 1 Samuel 3:13

Cut It Off: Gadgets

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Gadgets.I like them. I have many gadgets in my kitchen. They help me prepare food faster. They help me prepare a wider variety of food, as well. They are tools that I appreciate having.

But sometimes, gadgets can be addicting. A lot of us reason out a good logical reason as to why we should purchase an item. We pray over it, we feel it won’t conflict with anything, and we find many blessings to be had by purchasing it. However, sometime later, we find out the blessings also have curses attached to them.

For Mother’s Day a few years ago, my husband bought me one of the first Kindle e-readers. He was hoping it would reduce the amount of books in our home by having an e-reader. That didn’t exactly work that way, however I did slow down on my purchases of real books. The next year, he got me a Nook Color so I could get picture books for the kids. It also came with some nook apps (specially designed apps for the nook, but they weren’t android or apple based apps and were very limited.) I found my kids liked games more than reading books on the Nook Color. A few years later, as my Nook Color is getting phased out, we find a great deal on a Nook Tablet that is android based, which would now open up more App possibilities for our family. (We still hadn’t stepped into the smart phones, yet). We heard great things about different learning Apps and felt that technology was growing and we should follow it as well, to keep our kids and us up to date. We were going to use it responsibly, though. (Always good intentions).

However, as we dug into this new technology… we found ourselves looking for the newest Apps. We were searching often to see what we might be missing. Someone mentioned something and we downloaded that App to our tablet. Pretty soon our tablet was full of Apps and we were spending a lot of time just trying to keep everyone off the tablet as we found learning games can be really fun! We were consumed, the kids were consumed, and every free moment, someone wanted to grab the tablet. It no longer was a helpful gadget, it was an addictive one.

My husband saw the over-consumption, however he didn’t want to take it away, after all, everyone uses it and the kids weren’t doing “bad things” or making poor choices, not really. I saw it, and as I tried to limit it… you know, “20 minutes and then you get off,” didn’t often work well, because they would hand it to the next sibling and then watch them play for their 20 minutes.

I began to pray for an answer, but I honestly felt overwhelmed with the choice I had. One choice was to go through all the Apps and delete the ones that were duplicates and simply reduce the amount of items on it, to reduce the draw, but still make it functional. The time to do this was simply exhausting for me to even think about, so I delayed, even though I still prayed for help. Well, one day we went on a day trip. On the car ride, my kids would take the tablets and play a game or read a book… My four year old happened to have the tablet last. For some reason, we didn’t use the tablet for the next week. When I finally went to retrieve it, I found that it was wiped clean. The SD card was taken out and it was completely reset. We don’t know where the SD card went; it wasn’t in the car, so that possibly had been taken out prior to that, without erasing things. However, my four year old is pretty good at getting into menus that she shouldn’t get into… and her big sister let her onto my user page (the administrative page) instead of to her own page. That choice allowed my four year old the ability to get into the settings and reset the tablet, at least that’s what we think happened.

So here I sat, with the tablet… like brand new, with nothing on it. I knew the Apps that I wanted to have, that were really helpful for homeschooling and for personal growth. I was able to download the less than 20 Apps very quickly and reload the books via a Kindle App and less than a half hour later, our tablet was no longer addictive, but again back to being useful. What I couldn’t do for myself or for my family, God provided a way for an unexpected loss to be a great blessing to our entire family.

In keeping with the theme this month, when you can’t “cut it off”, ask God to move mountains for you (the mountains in your life). He will do it, if you have even a little faith.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20