When moms have to work: Why homeschooling can work for working parents

In tight financial times, more homeschool moms than ever have to work part-time

Our finances are just too tight to get by on one income anymore, how in the world can I work AND homeschool my children?

It’s a question plaguing many families today, as the economy continues to flounder and the cost of homeschooling is not always cheap. Historically, homeschooling families consisted of a Dad who worked full-time, and a stay-at-home Mom who would handle the schooling, organization, and household chores. However, we know that life doesn’t always work out that smoothly!

Many moms are feeling both the pinch of finances, and the guilt that comes with the thought of them working. How can they possibly provide an adequate education and organized family life if they have to be working in between?

The most important thing to remember is the flexibility that homeschooling will allow your family. It may take some experimentation to figure out how things work most efficiently, but it certainly can be done! Remember, homeschooling does not have to take place during traditional school hours. Some families homeschool their children during the morning and afternoon hours, and some during afternoons and evenings, while others may teach in the evenings and on the weekends.

Suggestions for Working Homeschool Parents

Some homeschooling moms and dads give music lessons, tutor math, transcribe medical reports, answer customer service inquiries, run a day care, and write articles from home, in others’ homes, or in an office or other place of business. Some also try other forms of fund-raising, including crafts and baking, which can be promoted online and through your community. Many single mothers (and dads) get homeschooling help from family, friends, and child care providers.

There are also families whose children are mature and motivated enough to focus on their studies while their parents are working. Parents may ask a neighbor or family member to check in with the children, or the parents themselves may call periodically to see how the children are doing. However, you should check on your state laws, because in certain states you cannot legally leave a child alone until they reach a certain age. Also – be sure to fully assess the maturity of your child before deciding on this option.

Making it Work

Remember that you are not alone. There are MANY dual-income homeschool families, and there are tons of resources available to them and to you.

Homeschool Mom Anne Elliot sums it up with this eloquent quote:

“I know that there are NO easy answers to many of the struggles we face when we try to juggle too much. Yet for many of us, simple economics require that we help our husbands in this way. So, we figure God is going to give us the strength we need, day by day by day.”

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The difference between nice and kind—and why it matters

I’ve been distressed in recent years by so many Jesus followers who are more interested in picking a fight than making a friend. Someone told me recently that we never lead our enemies to follow Jesus, but we do lead our friends. Christians have been quick to bypass kindness and prefer to begin a shouting match, or they just talk among themselves about how awful the other side is. We have ranted before we’ve related, deeming the latter too soft on sin. Christians—and I’ve seen this especially in American Christians in recent years—have employed the strategy of winning the combative way, and it’s not working.

The “culture wars” have done little to change our society, and we’ve lost many if not all of these wars. As a result, the church too often is marginalized and mocked, and increasingly people are viewing the Bible as just as intolerable as our aggressive tactics. It’s time for a new way of living lives of radical kindness, not to be accepted but to be faithful. I’m willing to bet that if Christians leaned more into kindness and understood more its revolutionary power, the world would see a side of us that would cause many skeptical and irate folks on the other side to take notice. Our radical gestures of kindness may be rejected. They may be received. But they will not be forgotten.

By kindness, I’m not talking about when you buy a stranger coffee or when you bring in your neighbor’s trash cans or when you tell someone they have food in their teeth. These are nice random acts. But kindness is not a random act. It’s a radical life. Kindness is not limited to grandmothers or Boy Scouts. Never mistake kindness for niceness. Kindness is all over the Bible, plentiful in both Testaments. But you won’t find niceness in the Bible once—nor the word nice, for that matter. Kindness is fierce, brave and daring. It’s fearless and selfless, never to be mistaken for niceness. They’re not the same and never were. Kindness is neither timid nor frail. Niceness is kindness minus conviction. I think we should scrub “nice” from our vocabulary. We need to stop telling children to be nice and instead tell them to be kind, and then tell them the difference.

The virtue of kindness is rooted in Scripture, forged on sound Christian theology and modeled over the centuries by followers of Jesus. Since the early church, disciples have walked the risky and sometimes dangerous road of kindness. Kindness is a radical way of living biblically. It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit on Paul’s short list in Galatians 5. It’s not a duty or an act. It’s an imperative. It’s the natural outcome of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. We exhale kindness after we inhale what’s been breathed into us by the Spirit. Kindness radiates when we’re earnest about living the way of Christ, the way of the Spirit. Kindness displays the wonder of Christ’s love through us.

Niceness may be pleasant, but it lacks conviction. It has no soul. Niceness trims its sails to prevailing cultural winds and wanders aimlessly, standing for nothing and thereby falling for everything. Kindness is certainly not aggression, but it’s also not niceness. Niceness is cosmetic. It’s bland. Niceness is keeping an employee in the job, knowing he’s no longer the right fit therefore failing him and the company because you don’t have the courage to do the kind thing. Kindness calls you to tell him he’s not the person for the position and then dignify him in the transition.

Kindness is a dimension of God’s common grace through us. It’s a civility grounded in gentleness and respect. At the same time, kindness is neither milquetoast nor weak. It is fierce and passionate. The God-authored spirit of kindness in us has the power to upend the enemy and season the world around us for the good. Kindness as Jesus lived it presents the highest hope for a renewal of Christian civility, a renewal needed now more than ever.

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How you should respond when your parents hurt you

As sinners, we all make mistakes. Parenting is no exception. As young people, there will likely come a time when we realize some of our parents’ faults are having a negative effect on our lives, and that fact can cause resentment and anger.

We’ve all likely had a moment in which we vowed, “When I have kids, I will never do that to them. I will never say this to them, I will never let them feel that way.”

And perhaps we won’t, but our kids, too, will (or are) being affected by our own set of faults, whether these are the same or different than those of our parents.

Jared Vogt in his article for Relevant Magazine titled “So, Your Parents Let You Down. Now What?” addresses this issue of how to deal with having been hurt by your parents and how to work toward healing possible strained relationships.

Vogt first acknowledges point blank that our parents will mess us up. “They have. They did. They will. There is no such thing as perfect people. There has only ever been one perfect person, and they aren’t Him.”

Vogt also wants you to know if you have felt hurt by your parents (and we all have at some point), that hurt is valid. Your pain is real and should be acknowledged.

But that’s not where it ends. You are your own person who has been gifted with freewill by God and you get to choose how to respond to what life circumstances have dealt you. Deciding to remain a victim or to harbor unforgiveness really just hurts yourself.

Vogt talks about unforgiveness this way: “It’s like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”

“There are no other alternatives: which will you choose: forgiveness or unforgiveness?” he continues.

Forgiveness is the first step to healing a broken relationship. And truly, we don’t even have it in us to take that first step without the Lord’s help. But through Christ, we can be granted the grace to forgive.

Forgiveness paves the way for reconciliation. Although forgiveness can be undertaken in the quietness of your own heart, reconciliation requires two (or three) people. Because of this, if your parents are unwilling to also acknowledge their sinfulness and failures, and to take a stance of humility and offer grace, reconciliation may not be possible, but God still requires us to attempt it: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all,” says Romans 12:18.

This whole process will assuredly require a great commitment to prayer. But trust that God can heal what is broken, and that forgiveness is the best path, whatever the outcome.

It’s also important, writes Vogt, that once a relationship is restored, you set boundaries. It’s okay to agree not to talk about a topic that tends to lead to argument or to avoid situations that make it easier for old patterns of behavior to emerge again.

God desires that we have a loving relationship with our parents and that we are thankful for them, no matter what. And while a complete reconciliation of a broken relationship may not be possible, God still requires us to let go of bitterness and to have grace.

“Your parents weren’t trained in parenting. They aren’t professionals. Don’t be only a ‘taker’ in this relationship. If you sincerely desire to follow Jesus, you will have to look for ways to minister to your parents in their brokenness, because that is what the Gospel does: It changes us all,” writes Vogt.

How can you begin mending a strained or broken relationship with your parents? How can you rely on God to help you do so?

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When you think you’re not good enough

I remember it like it was yesterday. I’m twelve, maybe thirteen. I sit behind a desk with a handful of other students. The teacher holds in her hand a high stack of tests and starts passing them around the room, one by one. In a stern tone, she says, “Put all your personal belongings under your desk. Keep only your pencil out. You will have two hours to complete this test. Make sure to fill in your answers completely.”

My stomach starts to churn. The teacher eyes the clock on the wall. It glares at me with a threatening look. “Okay. And your time starts now.” The sound of papers rustling echoes throughout the room. I sweat nervously. There’s no way around it. I do not like taking tests.

Even though we were homeschooled, Mom made us take standardized tests every year. She wanted an outside assessment of how we were doing. Also, hoping we would get scholarships to college, she and Dad wanted to make sure we were exposed to testing.

While sports came naturally to me, I struggled to read. When I was young, my parents determined I was dyslexic, which simply means I process things differently. I had a hard time reading books, writing essays, and taking timed tests. I would get frustrated easily. Why can’t I just pick up a book and read it like everyone else? Why does it have to take me hours and hours? Going into high school, I wondered if I’d pass algebra or be able to take the SATs, let alone make it through college.

If you had told me when I was young that I’d not only graduate college but also maintain a 3.7 GPA, I’d have laughed in your face. I am so grateful for Susan Vanderlinde, my tutor growing up, whose knowledge and compassion made the learning process so much easier. She was a blessing!

Back to the testing day, I sat beside a kid from church. He was picked on mercilessly for being short (by church kids no less!). As I leaned over the exam, slowly reading question after question, from the corner of my eye I noticed him zooming through each page. At the halfway mark, he put his pencil down. He was finished. Wow! People may have poked fun at this kid for his small stature, but he was a genius. Turns out, he received a nearly perfect score, while I had many wrong answers and barely finished in time.

Every one of us struggles with something. And that struggle can all too quickly influence us to think we’re not good enough. I could have easily walked away from that classroom thinking, I’ll never be good enough at tests. And that kid could have walked away from church many times thinking, I’ll never be good enough to fit in.

If you struggle with not feeling good enough, know this: God knew about you even before you were born! When you came into existence, He gave you what it takes to fulfill a unique purpose. You may not be the quarterback of a team, a famous rock star, an award-winning actress, or an Olympic gymnast, but you have a special ability. And with God, that’s always more than enough.

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How to get unstuck from indecision

In high school I wanted to flirt with a group of cute cheerleaders. But to infiltrate the sea of pompoms I needed to traverse a low hanging rope. It dangled in front of me, and, under normal circumstances, seemed simple enough to overcome. “Would I jump over the rope or simply step over it?”, I asked myself. My thoughts were like scrambled eggs. Inevitably, I didn’t choose. Without warning, my legs were entangled and SMACK! I ate the ground hard—a high schooler’s worst nightmare!

My indecision was embarrassing and certainly humorous. Not so funny, however, is the paralysis we often face in making life’s biggest choices. For example, are you stuck deciding whether to spend thousands of dollars studying accounting, art or engineering? Or, do you feel knee deep in mud, struggling to choose between accepting a job near your parents or in another state?

Then there are the indomitable relationship questions. Should I ask out that acquaintance or try online dating? And if you enter a relationship, how would you know he or she is “the one?”

Left untreated, indecision becomes a veritable disease. It camps us at a crossroads when it should only be a short stay. Life is too short to dwell at intersections. We move forward by choosing wisely, not indefinitely.

How can we do this?

First, any questions that contain moral components must align with Scripture. Indeed, God gives us a big yard to play within but it’s guarded by His moral fence. Much wisdom in decision making is found by engaging daily with God’s Word. But what happens when we don’t receive a specific answer from the Lord?

In other words, when all options in front of us are godly, how do we choose?

There’s Always Healthy Pain in Choosing

At the heart of indecision is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). FOMO is a part of us that desires to keep every option available at all times. It’s based upon the fallacy that if we simply wait long enough then that perfect person, place, or thing will arise.

It’s a lie.

In fact, the words “decide” and “incise” actually originate from the Latin word, “caedere”, which means “to cut”. Making choices cuts off other possibilities. It hurts when doors close. This is normal.

After graduating college, I searched for my first ‘real job’ for almost a half year. When a less-than-thrilling IT position arose, I had to choose whether to commit to this organization or wait for a better fit elsewhere. My student debt loomed over me like a dark cloud. The organization needed an answer soon and the practical part of my brain was incredulous that I was considering turning down a steady paycheck! Eventually I said “no” but an emotional weight was lifted.

It’s healthy for us to make a habit of removing choices. Why? Making decisions is emotionally taxing. “Decision fatigue” is a new psychology term that describes the condition when our brains become overloaded with too many decisions, complex decisions, or prolonged analysis. It’s easy for our minds to suffer an incur paralysis of analysis when we have seemingly endless options.

Over time, I believe the feeling of relief in making decisions replaces any feeling of regret. It was painful (and risky) when I closed the professional door I mentioned. Months later, however, God gave me the perfect job to begin my career.

Use A.I.R.E.S.

As we mature spiritually, it can appear the Lord pulls away from us from time to time to let us decide certain things. Often He wants to speak through a blend of our experiences, His Word and others. In these cases, the acronym of A.I.R.E.S. can help navigate the discernment process—a concept I learned from my late mentor, Dr. Timothy Nelson.

Authority
Who or what is your authority? What person or what knowledge do you rely upon to help you make decisions? What information holds the most credence in your life?

Intuition
Your intuition is your gut feeling. Some people hold a deep, intrinsic knowledge that a certain decision is the right one. I believe the Holy Spirit can certainly work through our intuition, but we must be careful not to confuse Him with misguided emotionalism.

Reason
Reason is logic, but, more than that, it’s a thoughtful consideration of the path ahead. Read Proverbs 4:26.

Experience
How do your past events inform your future? What has life taught you from your good and bad decisions? What trends do you see in your life?

Sages
It’s important to invite outside wisdom into your life — those with similar experiences or those who have walked beside you for a while. Proverbs 15:22 states, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Use this acronym as you tackle big decisions. As you work through the steps, pray and look for strands of commonality among each letter. If necessary, repeat the process as many times as needed.

Faith is Required

Whatever you end up choosing, any decision will require some faith (and likely some risk). The Bible states that “Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Also, forget about perfect outcomes because imperfect ones are life’s norm. There is no perfect person, or job or area to live. If you make a choice that doesn’t quite work out, even after exercising wisdom, rest assured God will redeem it. In fact, much wisdom is gained from making wrong decisions.

Finally, use tools like A.I.R.E.S, and don’t forget to deal with the emotional loss of making an important decision. “Buyer’s remorse” is a part of life. But oftentimes, the relief and satisfaction in making a choice is greater than any regret.

So, stop flying in circles and unparalyze yourself. Instead, take a godly risk and land the plane. And don’t allow indecisiveness to cause you to crash land in front of a group of cheerleaders.

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When it gets tough

Life has it ups and downs like everything else. We get used to the everyday downs. We learn to discipline a disobedient child, and give comfort to our child with a cold. We can put together a meal for a friend in need and deal with a schedule change.

But what happens when after months of dealing with the same issue, another is added, and then another? What happens when “things” completely outside your control happen to you and to those you love in rapid succession? Whether the issues are learning glitches, disobedience, schedule upsets, church family problems, extended family problems, health challenges, livelihood difficulties, etc., when these “things” come and stay–or grow in severity–it’s easy to be discouraged.

You may remember intellectually that God is working all things for good for you, and maybe you can even see the good–but it’s still hard. You are hurting. You feel as though you have been wounded in battle.

Recently this happened to me. I felt totally discouraged. Every family member was facing yet another challenge that seemed insurmountable.

As I cried out for help, the Lord answered with the phone call from a friend. She quickly picked up the fact that I was battle weary and said, “Since you are on the ground anyway, go all the way down and just worship Jesus.”

As I began to thank the Lord for all He has given me through Jesus, the discouragement gave way to hope. I became more aware that faith in God is not based on circumstances or what He does for us, but it is based on who He is and His truth.

While my circumstances have not changed, I am no longer discouraged. God is happy to fight my battles for me. I can trust His care and praise Him from the battlefield.

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me…My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” Psalm 57:1-2, 7

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Taking responsibility for yourself

Over the past couple of years, I have been troubled, and at times perturbed, at the degradation of a lot of things in our society—family values, public trust, integrity, etc. However, my current soapbox theme has to be personal responsibility, or seemingly the lack of it.

We are constantly exposed to the negative exploits of public figures, celebrities and even “common folks” through the media. As a result of this barrage of public wrongdoing, the world has accepted, as commonplace, the universal retort of denying any accusation immediately and then rationalizing why the actions are not worthy of condemnation, nor any of their own doing.

We have almost become conditioned to hear the response, “I am not responsible (for what I did) because I was born this way, it’s a result of a past experience or it’s someone else’s fault.”

I have even caught myself dabbling with this behavior.

On (very rare) occasion, I sometimes (slightly) exceed the speed limit. During those moments of lapsed judgment (and if I should happen to pass a police officer), my instant reaction (besides prayer for grace and non-detection) is to come up with reasons “why” I had to be going that fast (in the event I get pulled over).

Likewise, every once in a blue moon I get asked for something I was assigned to complete (which I had inadvertently procrastinated on) and my first thought is to consider a compelling explanation which kept me from accomplishing it.

Is it just me or do we no longer take (immediate) responsibility for what we do (or don’t do) or the mistakes we make?

I guess we can blame it all on Adam, who set an early tone on what (not) to do.

The LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:9-12).

Adam taught us to run and hide from our accuser and blame our actions on someone else, in this case God himself. If we take notice of how common it is these days to shirk responsibility, many would mistake this as the Great Commission—“Go into all the world and avoid any and all personal accountability for your actions.”

Adam wasn’t our only example either.

Knowing Cain had killed his brother earlier, “the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ And he said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Genesis 4:9).

Cain claimed he “had no knowledge of what happened.” How often do we hear of a similar situation in the media only to find out later the person was responsible all along?

Upon Moses’ return from Mount Sinai, he questioned Aaron, “‘what did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?’ Aaron said, ‘Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil.”(Exodus 32:21-22).

Aaron didn’t stand up to the Israelites in support of Moses when he was delayed in returning from the mountain nor did he do what was right in the sight of God, instead Aaron went along with the wishes of the people, then blamed his actions on them.

Following Jesus’ arrest, Peter followed closely behind and was recognized by a servant girl. “‘Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.’ But he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about!’ Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, ‘Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times” (Mark 14:70-72).

How far will you go to avert responsibility for your knowledge, actions and values in the face of shame, embarrassment, personal safety or negative public opinion? Will you stand up for your beliefs or admit your wrongdoings, or will you run, hide and blame others for your situation or transgressions?

I sometimes hear people say, “If it wasn’t for so and so, I would be married and happy” or “If such and such didn’t happen, I would be in a much better place” or “It’s not my fault because….” Okay, maybe there are some unique circumstances in your case where someone or something can be attributed to having had a negative impact on a portion of your life, but that is now history.

It’s time we stop blaming some past event or person on our actions or state of affairs and begin taking the necessary steps toward where we want to be and what God created us for. If we are ever going to make a difference in this world as believers, we need to take responsibility for ourselves now, no matter the consequence.

Winston Churchill once said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”

God blessed us with the power to make our own choices—the choice to receive him, to follow his Word, to love others, to forgive others, to forgive ourselves, to learn from mistakes, to live for a greater purpose, etc.

We can choose to accept responsibility for who we are, what we do and where we are going or continually make excuses for why we are not where we “say” we should be.

Especially as single adults, who are we to blame for what happens in our lives? Do we fault our parents, the “system,” our friends, our jobs or our locations? Or are we taking the necessary steps to grow, learn and live in a godly manner?

If we spend our whole life responding “I didn’t do it, it’s not me—it’s someone else,” it won’t be when an opportunity does present itself.

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10 things your teen loves to hear

1. I love you no matter what.

In an effort to encourage our kids to do their best, we can inadvertently communicate that we’d love them more if they got better grades, cleaned their rooms, or worked harder. Our teens need to hear, “I love you. I will love you even if you leave the kitchen a mess, fail your test, wreck the car, or lose your job.”

Our kids face challenges, and they need the security of parents who love them no matter what. So let’s say, “I love you” often.

2. I’m proud of you.

Many young people have told me the words, “I’m proud of you,” mean the world to them. Our teens desperately want to know we’re pleased with them. No matter what struggles she’s navigating or mistakes she’s made, look for your teen’s positive qualities and talents. As well as telling her specific accomplishments that make you proud, let her know you’re proud of the person she’s becoming.

3. I love _________ about you.

Your teen is God’s handiwork, fearfully and wonderfully crafted. Yet many voices in the world can tear him down — thoughtless comments by peers or teachers, bullying, or social media slamming. Remember you as a parent are the most powerful force in helping your teen build a positive self-esteem. Your opinion about him matters more to your teen than anyone else’s, and you can help him combat the negative voices he might hear in the world.

Tell him often what you like about him. “I love your optimism.” “I appreciate how you played with the kids at the party.” “You’ve got a great sense of humor.”

4. You are beautiful.

Adolescents often wrestle insecurity or low self-esteem, and today’s teens face more social pressure than previous generations because of social media. Just the other day, my daughter, who happens to be beautiful, received this hate message on Instagram: “You’re way too ugly to post selfies.” It crushed her. I could barely get my mind around the fact that she believed that message even for a minute, yet she needed reassurance.

Girls have a deep need to know they’re beautiful, inside and out. Guys also need to know they’re handsome, beautiful people.

5. What do you think?

Our teens want to know we value their opinions. Let’s ask what they think about the news, politics, and social issues. This lets them know we believe they have important things to say and contribute. It can also encourage them to think for themselves instead of going along with the crowd.

Teens also appreciate having a voice in family decisions. Even though parents carry the ultimate responsibility for decision-making, we need to honor our kids’ growing sense of autonomy by asking for and considering their opinions.

6. I’m ready to listen.

Teens will experience many crises as they ride the hormonal roller coaster, navigate social pressure, and struggle with their studies. As parents, our first urge is to try to fix their problems. Sometimes we do have helpful suggestions they hadn’t considered, but perhaps most of all teens need us to listen long and well, even if it means staying up past our bedtimes.

Here’s our chance to practice James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

7. I believe in you.

Our young people want to know we have confidence in them and their abilities. They yearn for the encouragement that comes from hearing things like this:

“I know you have what it takes for this project.”

“It may be hard, but keep working! You’ve got this.”

“You’d make a great engineer/nurse/therapist/entrepreneur.”

“Maybe you didn’t get the grade you wanted, but this doesn’t define you. You have a lot going for you.”

8. I can’t wait to see what your future holds.

As he gets older, your teen will face stressful choices regarding his future. Reassure him that he can relax instead of worry. Scripture tells us why: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

This promise reminds our kids their future doesn’t depend only on them. They can be confident that God will open the right doors for them. They don’t have to fear making the wrong decision about where to go to college or what to study. If a decision doesn’t work out, they can always change it later. As they follow God step by step, He will bless them.

9. I enjoy you.

You can build your teen’s self-esteem by letting her know you enjoy not only being with her, but you also enjoy her as a person. Express delight in her creativity, her wit, or her hard work. Laugh often when you’re together. Let her know you have fun talking and spending time together.

10. Can we do something fun together?

The thing about teenagers is we need to love and enjoy them as best we can because we don’t have many years left with them at home. Every opportunity is golden. Whether it’s watching a favorite TV series, walking to the ice cream shop, going out to dinner, or taking a road trip, time together enhances our relationships and builds fun into our family culture.

Let’s face it: our teens may take more interest in spending time with their friends than with us. Still, if parents seek out opportunities to spend time together, they’ll usually respond. When we make time for fun together, our teens know we enjoy them, and we have a chance to tell them what they need to hear from us.

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5 things people don’t know about the pain of divorce

“Is there someone else?” I directly asked my husband.

“There could be,” He replied.

“What do you mean, ‘there could be’? It’s either yes or no. TELL ME!” I raged.

“Yes,” he whispered.

Those words were spoken 30 years ago. That was the day my marriage died. An extramarital affair bludgeoned it to death. I can still remember how his response was like a razor to my frightened heart.

Even with divorce being so common today, people who haven’t lived it, typically don’t understand.

I’ve spent more than 25 years ministering to the brokenhearted who have been traumatized by divorce. For the most part, they are men and women who didn’t want to be divorced. They wanted their marriage to survive. It may not have been an affair that killed their union. But they had a spouse who didn’t love them, their kids, or God, enough to keep the marriage alive.

Before I’m bombarded with emails from Bible scholars accusing me of being, “soft on divorce,” let me share that nothing could be further from the truth. My parents’ divorce nearly killed me as a kid, and I seriously pondered suicide during my own divorce 20 years later. So let me clearly state, I hate divorce. I love divorced people. Why? Jesus loves them.

And what this injured group of people wishes others understood is:

Divorce is a Death

Regardless of the circumstances, divorces signifies the demise of the marriage. It’s a relationship fatality. It’s the death of the dream, the death of the vow, and the death of, “what should have been.”

Divorce is Betrayal at a Soul Level

When “I do” becomes “I don’t,” the gut response is excruciatingly painful. It’s a rejection like no other. The person that you thought would be your lifetime partner, your soft place to fall during the hard times, the one person you could trust when the rest of the world turns its back, says, “You aren’t worth it.”

Divorce is a Soul Deep Accuser

Night and day spousal rejection hauntingly whispers, “You are a loser. You are unlovable. You are a failure. You deserve to be alone. Life is over. You will never be loved again.”

This is true even if your spouse didn’t have an affair. The declarations lurk even when he or she chooses drugs, alcohol, pornography, abuse, or toxic habits over you. When a spouse decides those things are more cherished than the vow they made, when they refuse to stop destroying the marriage—it’s devastating.

Divorce Becomes an Identity

After my divorce, one of the most humiliating tasks was marking “divorced” rather than “married” on a form. It was a label I hated. When I was single, that term didn’t bother me. But divorce left me with an imaginary huge red “D” stamped on my forehead for the world to see—and judge.

It took a long time, some great friends, and a terrific church to help me recognize that divorce was something I experienced. It was not my identity.

Divorce Strengthened and Weakened My Faith

On one hand, I knew Jesus was the only one who could carry me through the pain. I had nothing and no one else to lean on. I contemplated suicide often and my life was hanging by a thread. I was certain that He alone could rescue me.

On the other hand, feelings of failure and shame tempted me to run from the Holy One. The world called me to numb my agony with choices that had sufficed before I knew Christ. I was on a precipice of running to Him and away from Him at the same time.

Fortunately, my Father knows my heart and He loves me. He worked overtime to woo me back into His loving embrace. He became the faithful Husband I lost. He declared, “I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19-20 NLT)

I totally understand that divorce is a difficult subject for the church. We don’t want to minimize or ignore God’s commands or give the impression that marriage is temporary commitment. Divorce has long term consequences. No one knows that better than I do.

However, it’s important to keep the perfect balance between grace and truth when approaching the subject. We can become so dogmatic about divorce that we wound the very ones God loves. But it is possible to love the brokenhearted and not condone divorce.

Legalism is always easier than authentic faith. Loving like Christ takes time, patience and work.

- cross walk

3 ways to maintain balance

Sabbath in the 21st Century Workplace

Growing up, my dad left the house at 7:45 every morning on his way to work as an engineer. He took a lunch break at noon, sometimes coming home to eat lunch or sometimes grabbing a bite at a café. At 5:00, he left the office and was usually home around 5:15. I can probably count on my fingers the number of times he worked in the evenings or on weekends. Whatever was going on, work was generally confined to 8:00-5:00, Monday through Friday.

For many of us, 5:00 is no longer a hard-and-fast boundary between work time and family time. Our culture emphasizes a connection to work even when we’re not physically “at” work. We might check our email during the evening or try to catch up on the weekend. There is a pervasive ideology of busy-ness, where we fill our time with more than we can accomplish in the hours that we have.  The result is the balance between work and other activities is harder for us to maintain than it might have been in previous generations.

You might not think God has much to say about when we leave work, but he cares a great deal about how we use our time.  When we’re working, God does expect us to work hard (1 Thessalonians 5:14).  But he also expects us to rest from that work.  It’s really a question of balance.

Our Need for Sabbath

Isn’t it interesting that the first mention of work in the Bible is God resting from His work? Look at Genesis 2:1-3: “By the seventh day, God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all his work.” God didn’t need to rest. He has infinite power, infinite time, infinite ability to get stuff accomplished. He couldn’t have been tired. So why rest? First, God shows us work is temporary. It’s easy to get so caught up in the busy-ness of our world that we lose track of what’s temporary and what’s eternal. Second, God sets an example for us.  We don’t have the infinite reserves of energy He has. Taking time off can be beneficial, mentally and physically—God didn’t design your body to work every waking hour.

In 2012, Wright Thompson wrote an article for ESPN the Magazine about a coach who learned the hard way to balance work and non-work time.  After the 2009 college football season, Florida coach Urban Meyer retired.  He reached a breaking point, losing 35 pounds during the season because of the tremendous pressure of chasing success. His life was out of balance.  He spent the next year reflecting on what was important. When Meyer came out of retirement to coach at Ohio State, his family wanted a promise he would maintain the balance they’d found together. So Meyer made a series of promises, some of which included:

“My family will always come first.”

“I will not go more than nine hours a day at the office.”

“I will sleep with my cellphone on silent.”

“I will trust God’s plan and not be overanxious.”

Could you make those same promises?

Time “On the Clock”: The Other Side of Balance

God calls us to a life of balancing work obligations and time away from those obligations. A big part of that is time worshipping Him and time with family and community. But in between those outside-of-work commitments, there’s an important point: God calls us to use our time at work wisely.

Sometimes, it’s daydreaming at your desk, taking a long lunch break, or having someone else clock you in early. Other times, it’s checking personal email accounts, Facebook, or YouTube. There are lots of things we can do in our work time that really have nothing to do with work. If you aren’t paid by the hour, maybe it’s a gray area as to whether those things are really wrong. But if someone was working for you, would you want them distracted at work?

Three Ideas for Maintaining Balance

So how do we maintain balance in our work and non-work time?  Here are three steps that may help:

1. When you are worshiping God, serving others, or spending time with your family, be fully present in those activities. Perhaps that means leaving your cell phone in the other room. Maybe it warrants an out-of-office message on your email after hours. Whatever it takes, try to be fully engaged in each activity.  There’s plenty of time for work later. Because…

2. When you are at work, shut out distractions. Resist the urge to daydream about an upcoming vacation. Stay off of personal social media. Just like you need to be fully present in other areas of your life during time that is not devoted to work, you need to be focused on work during work time.

3. Make time for relationships. There is more and more of an isolation that comes from busy-ness. How do you push back against that? When that friend comes to talk to you, listen without rushing the conversation. When you focus on relationships at work, you resist the ideology of busy-ness and indifference to others.

I have to admit those steps are still works in progress for me. Where is God calling you to greater balance? Are you a “workaholic,” staying late at the office or constantly tied to your smart phone? Or maybe you need to focus on work more in your job and shut out distractions. How you spend your time matters to God, and He calls you to balance.

- cross walk

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