real encouragement for real homeschool moms


Earlier this week, I happened to read two seemingly unrelated articles, back to back, that caused me to lose sleep overnight! Even a couple days later, I could not get past what I read.

The first one that repeatedly appeared in my Facebook feed was written by a British “nanny” who had a thing or two, actually five, to say about the way children are being raised today.  Let me encourage you to read it and ponder the attitude that comes through, loud and clear, in her words. I was less than impressed and my initial reaction was to see it as another one of those articles that appears from time to time where some curmudgeon laments the good old days when children were seen and not heard and the strap is a parent’s best friend. Though perhaps the suggested discipline isn’t as harsh as that, I believe the heart of the message is really the same: a graceless, parents-first mentality,  and it troubled me greatly.

The second article is about why millennials are not remaining in the church or the Christian faith. Rejecting the importance of “hip” pastors or “relevant” worship services, the study’s conclusion is that the number one factor found in those who remain faithful believers through their adult years is that they are mentored by someone older and more spiritually mature! (If you haven’t yet read The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling, I encourage you to order a copy today, as central to its message are the basic principles for becoming life-long friends and mentors to our own children, to God’s glory and to our great joy!)

I see these two articles as key to grasping what is most important in parenting, what is most important in homeschooling.

Children learn best when parents demonstrate biblical truth by how they treat others, especially their children.  It begins with not assuming an adversarial relationship, instead seeing them as our brothers and sisters in Christ. As we one another our little ones, we will look for ways to serve them, far beyond those necessary things we do for them required of moms. This often means setting aside our personal rights and desires in order to accommodate the various struggles and woes of childhood as our children pass through various stages. It means understanding them, their age of development, their particular strengths and weaknesses. It means showing them by example how to have self-control, to love and forgive each other, to be patient and kind. It means eliciting empathy from them as we dole it out to them in full measure. When we are mindful of our attitudes as well as our actions, we lay the groundwork for mentoring when they are adults.

I have mentioned before that the greatest and most influential mentor in my own life was my grandmother. I can only remember a single time when she scolded me; my cousin and I flooded her kitchen by overflowing the sink so we could go swimming! I’ll never forget how horrified she was at our behavior as she grabbed the broom and began sweeping water out the back door! Even then, she didn’t threaten me or shame me and belittle my existence. Other times when I misbehaved, she took me in her arms and hugged me and told me a better way and let me know how happy she was to know I could do it right the next time! It was my grandmother’s grace to me that made me want to obey.

Similarly, years later when we left a rigid, legalistic religious environment, I responded the same way to hearing the pastor preach on God’s grace and the sufficiency of Jesus’ work on the cross. Rather than hurling me headlong into licentiousness, it made me fall in love with Jesus every day and I wanted to obey Him.

If our goal is leading our children to Christ and enjoying a mature, one anothering relationship with them that lasts a lifetime, it must begin with a pure heart attitude toward them. It is in seeing them as  “better than ourselves” and communicating this to them in all we say and do that will draw them to us and set the stage for a lifetime of mentoring.



We have been enjoying so much fresh produce lately that I thought a nice treat would be to make homemade ice cream! I have the Cuisinart 2 Quart Ice Cream Maker and love how quickly you can prepare and freeze ice  cream without all the mess or time required with the old-fashioned type of ice cream freezers.  (Right now Amazon has this model marked down to $69.00 from $166.00! If you have Amazon Prime, the shipping is free and will be at your house in one to two days!)) Though we have made homemade ice cream for years,  my goal is to try making 31 flavors by the time we have cold weather. Here are recipes for the first four we have tried. I will be experimenting with some of my own ideas and will be back to share those….if they are as tasty as they are in my dreams!


Blackberry Ice Cream

1 1/2 – 2 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and any leaves removed

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

pinch of salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Place in pre-chilled ice cream maker bowl and churn until it reaches the soft serve stage. Place in covered container (I like to chill mine first in freezer) and place in freezer several hours until firm. 

Strawberry Ice Cream

Follow same directions as above, using  fresh strawberries.


Semi-Sweet Chocolate Heath Bar Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk

2 cups half and half

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

pinch of salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped Heath Bar candies

In sauce pan, heat, milk, egg yolks, sugar, and salt, whisking until simmering. Lower heat and cook 5 more minutes, as mixture thickens, stirring the whole time. Strain into bowl and add chips, stirring until melted. Add all the rest of the ingredients except candy and whiz in blender until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge or freezer until well-chilled. Churn in ice cream freezer until soft serve stage. Mix in the candy the last 5 minutes. (I chop candy ahead of time and store in freezer, too.)Place in covered container in freezer until well set.


Butterfinger Ice Cream

6 cups half and half

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup peanut butter

1 cup chopped Butterfinger Bar candies

Heat half and half, peanut butter, and sugar on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and peanut butter is melted and incorporated. Place in fridge or freezer until well-chilled. Churn in ice cream mixer until soft serve stage.  Place in covered container in freezer until hard.









All that was left of the homemade butter pecan ice cream in my chilled bowl at the Ariston! 


This is Part Two in the series on dating and courtship. You can find part one here. Let me encourage you to read through the comment section. There are always thoughtful and gracious discussions and I so appreciate the wisdom shared here!  Also, this is certainly not exhaustive and there are still several more parts coming in this series!


Why and How Parents Need to Be Involved

A while back, we had a late Sunday afternoon lunch at a small Illinois diner along the famed Route 66. Owned by the same family since it was first opened in 1924, the Ariston represents all that is charming about restaurants that have long-established standards and expectations for a great dining experience. Chilled salad plates and ice cream bowls, linen tablecloths and napkins, fresh flowers on each table, and smiling waiters in crisp white shirts and black ties took us back to the finer times our parents and grandparents often talked about. It reminded me that some things are timeless.

God’s design for the family is also timeless. He places moms and dads and brothers and sisters in relationships with each other and as He calls them individually to faith in Christ, those relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ continue to grow. While it is true that there may be situations where these relationships become strained and even broken, we should not assume that it is normal or healthy for them to be adversarial; God’s standard is that they be ones of mutual encouragement.  It is from this position we have to approach the changes that occur between parents and their children as it applies to the leaving and cleaving Scripture describes when children marry. I cannot stress enough how important it is that we begin planning for this time in our early days of parenting.

We also have to recognize that this path comes with steep ditches on either side. One of them results in parenting that is controlling and manipulative. The other finds parents abdicating responsibility and letting their children down just when they are the most needed. The goal is to find that proper place on the path and to walk it with faith and integrity.

Establish the standards for marriage in your own home. From their earliest days, little ones should witness what a God-honoring marriage involves. The home should reflect the goodness of marriage and disagreements and even heated debates between mom and dad should be resolved quickly, both mom and dad submitting to one another and loving one another. Children need to see how conflicts are righteously dealt with and what genuine confession, repentance, and forgiveness look like.

Demonstrate to your children your dependence on the Lord in marriage. Children need to see their parents praying for their own marriage, praying for their children, and especially for a child’s future spouse. I can remember, night after night, sitting beside my children when I tucked them in, praying out loud for the little girls or little boy who would one day marry our sons and daughter. Decades later we rejoiced on their wedding days that the Lord had answered those prayers, far beyond what we ever dreamed of.

Children need to know that parents trust the Lord and desire to obey His commands in marriage. They need to know that moral purity and integrity in our own lives are important. They need to see us taking steps to safeguard and protect our own marriages. Children will understand the importance of an undefiled marriage bed when they witness how important it is to you. This includes living out a pro-life and pro-child perspective.

Children need to know we aren’t marriage hypocrites. This is where our finest parenting is put to the test. As we watch people make unwise and even unbiblical choices in pursuing marriage, it is so easy to make compromises in order to keep the peace. Our children need to understand that being kind and gracious is not equal to agreeing with and encouraging all the choices of others. Many years ago we were invited to a wedding between a couple where the woman had been married twice before and there had not been a true biblical divorce. We chose to quietly not attend and explained to our children our convictions.  It gave us the opportunity to open Scripture and examine God’s standards for marriage.

They need to see us seeking counsel from our own parents and those who have been Christians for many years and who exhibit wisdom in their personal lives.  Many times in our nearly 40 years of marriage, we asked our own parents for advice or counsel on many things. Whether it was decisions about employment or large purchases like a car or a house, we knew it would be beneficial to see what they thought. (I wish we had earned this lesson much earlier on!) And it is important to differentiate between asking permission and asking for input!

What if children and parents do not have a good relationship? Here are some questions to help you evaluate reasons for any struggles you have with your children.

Is there mutual trust?

Do you feel safe with each other?

Have you offended them in any way?

Is there open communication?

How have you contributed to the problem?

Do you realize that your children are unique individuals with their own gifts and talents and that God’s goals for their lives may be quite different than your dreams for them?

How can you correct any difficulties between you and your children?

Have you repented of any sins against your adult children?

Have they genuinely forgiven you?


Coming in Part Three: Dating Choices and Lessons Learned From Our First Experience with Angry Church Mobs




You know its June when every Sunday’s scroll through your Facebook feed produces beautiful wedding photos from the day before! Glowing brides, proud parents, adorable flower girls, Pinterest-perfect receptions, its all there in Instagram loveliness.

When Julie Newmar sang “They say when you marry in June, you’re a bride all your life” back in 1954, everyone assumed it meant being a lifelong bride to the same groom. But, “as long as we both shall live” is now “as long as we both shall love” and even the lesser cynics among us refer to the “starter marriage” in everyday conversation.

Christian parents of teens and young adults wonder how their children will ever commit to marriages for a lifetime when it is so rare even within the church. In fact, I believe the body of Christ has lost much of our credibility to take a stand against homosexual arrangements because of our unwillingness to hold a truly God-honoring marriage to a high standard. It wasn’t that long ago when a young mom told me that her desire for me to mentor her was based on the fact that I “had been married to the same man for a really long time.” She knew that was hard to come by, even in her expressly conservative evangelical and Bible-teaching church. I cringed as she spoke.

But I am not talking simply about the willy-nilly approach that has been taken toward any unbibical divorce and remarriage in the church. (Long-time readers here know I differentiate between genuine biblical and unbiblical standards for this.) I am also talking about things like the unwillingness for church leaders to intercede for women who are being abused by husbands, refusal for churches to practice church discipline when there is obvious unbiblical divorce, and serial adulterers whose behaviors everyone is supposed to “forgive and forget.” It’s a mess out there. Is it any wonder parents often enter into this arena with either blinders on or swords drawn?

I recognize this is one of those topics that is really touchy but also really important. So today I am launching a discussion on preparing children, older youth, young adults, and parents for marriage. What should we consider is important along this path? What should be a conviction, what should be a preference? What should we teach our children? How much involvement should a parent have in the process? Are there non-optional standards for believers? Where is the Bible clear and where is there room for making individual choices? What can the body of Christ do differently to prepare people for marriage? What can it do to build up both individual marriages and the institution itself?

This will be a multi-part series so it will be easier to follow some of the topics and not be too overwhelming! And for now, I still have comment moderation enabled. As always, I look forward to the input of my readers. We have a variety of ages and a variety of experience in getting and being married and raising children so I think we can have great discussion! I am looking forward to it.


The Necessary Parent

When we attended Bill Gothard’s IBLP Basic Seminar back in the mid-80s, one of the topics he covered was dating. This was before he had moved into his courtship teachings and even before anyone we knew of had started discussing things like courtship and betrothal. In fact, courtship, to us, was how our grandparents and sometimes even our parents would refer to meeting, getting to know, and preparing to marry each other. In fact, they didn’t often refer to relationships with the opposite sex outside of the goal of being married one day.

Our grandparents on both sides had been in “til-death-to-us-part” marriages and each of our parents were close to celebrating golden wedding anniversaries. We made the same commitment and we knew that, as parents, we wanted to encourage our own children to do the same. But we also knew we had not always chosen wisely along the way and hoped to see our children avoid some of the bumps in the road we had encountered.

Isn’t it interesting that often parents will do this with children when it comes to making career or educational choices, involvement in extracurricular activities, and financial decisions but it is hands off when it comes to dating and marriage?

So we began listening to the many voices of instruction and took away one really important truth that, I believe, is central to the whole discussion of dating, courtship, marriage, and our children.

Parents need to be involved.

In The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home, a central theme I discussed is the importance of relationship building beginning before birth so that mentoring our children through the big decisions of life will be a natural, organic process. Too often we believe that once children reach a certain age, we are supposed to sit on the sidelines and watch them makes choices, for good or for bad, without giving them any input. This is folly. Scripture commands us to practice the one anothers of Scripture with our brothers and sisters in Christ, beginning with our precious children! As they become adults, we approach them just as we do other believers, admonishing, exhorting, bearing their burdens, forgiving, etc., all aspects of the dating, courting, and marriage years.

So I am beginning with the premise that parents are and should be involved and with that, will continue on to Part Two!





“For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain,  but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.”  ~ 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-2


“Paul’s past experiences had prepared him well to minister to the Thessalonian church. He had traveled from Philippi where, even though a Roman citizen, he had been stripped naked, publicly beaten, humiliated, and thrown into the darkest chambers of the local prison where he was kept in stocks. As he arrived in Thessalonica, the wounds on his back were still fresh and his scars, both on the inside and out, were tender. Yet Paul was ready and willing to take on this next season of his missionary work, in part because he had experienced the power of God at work even in the face of adversity.

Remembering how the Philippian jailer had come to Christ for salvation as a result of God bearing witness through something as simple as an earthquake, he recognized that the boldness needed to present the Gospel and make disciples did not come from within himself but from God. In fact, he immediately declared this truth as he reminded the Thessalonians of his past trials. Paul struggled with both outward persecutions and inward doubts as he came to those the Lord gave him to mentor; yet he recognized that his faith in God was his only sure hope.

As we take on the task of mentoring our children, we, like Paul, must realize that ministry often means pain and suffering, heartache and opposition. Too often we are criticized by family members, ostracized by our neighbors and mocked by fellow believers. Even our children are often resistant to us, balking at learning the basic subjects and many times even the Gospel message itself. Combined with the stress of everyday life as a homemaker and teacher, we can easily become discouraged when we see little to no fruit for our efforts.

The Greek word Paul chooses to use for “opposition” is interesting. “Agon” literally means “putting forth intense exertion in the face of conflict” and was typically used in the context of a sporting event where opponents fought to the death. We get our word “agony” from this word, hence the popular phrase from ABC’s Wide World of Sports: “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.” How often do we fall into bed at night, knowing all too well the agony of defeat?

Paul reminded his beloved Thessalonians that he was willing to do spiritual battle on their behalf, assuring them that being a Christian is not easy. He was transparent with them as he shared his past experiences and painted no picture of a perfect Christian life. Just imagine Paul showing his scars to the wide-eyed believers, making sure they understood what embracing Christ could look like up close and personal!

This is the model Scripture places before us.”

from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling  ~  when the one anothers come home




“Many years ago I sat in a church service and watched as a homeschooling father corralled his lineup of sweet boys in the pew across the aisle from me. The spunky one who was about three caught my eye and I winked at him, eliciting a shy grin. Not realizing I was tempting this small boy to “sin,” the father saw our exchange and inflicted a long, tight pinch to the child’s inner thigh and gave him a contorted facial expression we both knew meant “You are in trouble now!” The little one’s lower lip trembled as the man’s grip of skin between his fingers held fast for what seemed like an eternity, and tears flowed down the small pink cheeks. He sat perfectly still and faced forward through the rest of the service and, regrettably, so did I.

After that experience, I often watched this family, sometimes getting a bird’s eye view from the front of the sanctuary where I sat on the piano bench. Not once did I see the dad smile at his children or put his arm around them in a loving manner. “Worship” for this man was rigid and controlled and demanded perfection from the oldest to the youngest in his household. I have often wondered what happened to the children in this home as they grew older. Obviously this father was in charge but most likely his home was one of spiritual weakness. We are instructed that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) and the absence of that joy zaps believers of any real strength in their personal lives and in their relationships with others.” ~ from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home


One of my favorite pictures of my parents and my grandma.


My house is quiet. The guys have gone to get Clay a new charcoal grill for Father’s Day and I am baking a carrot-craisin-pecan cake to celebrate tomorrow. Along with burgers, our favorite baked beans, a couple striped polo shirts and a Three Stooges DVD he doesn’t already own, it looks like Clay’s day is shaping up nicely.

I have been thinking about my own dad all day; I can’t believe he has been gone more than 20 years. I remember seeing him for the last time in the hospital as we thought he was recovering from a stroke; he was leafing through the Burpee Seed Catalog and jotting down gardening plans in the small lined notebook by his bed.  He looked small and old and just plain tired of living. I remember thinking that I didn’t think I could go on when he died, that I didn’t want to be without my dad. I couldn’t bear to think about it. And now, both he and my mom are gone and I am still here and God is still good.

My dad was not a great man in the way people usually think of greatness but he was a great dad. A carpenter by trade, my earliest memories are of staying up late at night, watching him as he built cabinets in our garage, his ever-patient face smiling and nodding as I chatted nonstop. I cannot smell sawdust without being taken back to those nights, falling asleep in the lawn chair to the sound of the saw and hammer, being carried into the house and tucked into bed by his scratchy but gentle hands.

My dad loved gardening, dogs, poetry, and me; he was the kindest person I have ever known. I can only remember being spanked by him one time, though I am sure I was a pretty naughty little girl. My mom once told me that when the adoption agency called to say I had been born, he fretted because he hadn’t finished the terrace and worried it wouldn’t be done by the time I could ride a tricycle.  One of my best memories is of the rings he would make for me from old earrings soldered to twisted wire. Oh, how elegant I felt and how easily charmed by me he was!

My dad was a deacon in the church for many years and there wasn’t a widow who hadn’t seen him walk in her door with his toolbox or paintbrush. He took me to Sunday school and church and always let me drink the leftover grape juice from communion. He walked me down the aisle and loved Clay almost as much as I did. And when the grandchildren came along, he walked a bit taller and smiled all the time.

Certainly, of all the gifts God has ever given to me, my dad was one of the best. Heaven is a bit sweeter and beckons to me a bit more because he is there.






As my dad eased into retirement, he ran an appliance repair business from his home.  It was always a beehive of activity, especially when my children were there, rooting through his parts bins and hovering at his elbows as he dissected one project after another. I can’t ever remember him being angry with them for their exuberance, or even very annoyed for that matter, and usually he tried to include them in whatever he was doing.

The UPS man stopped at the door nearly every day with some part or another, a fact that intrigued our 4 year old, Sam. Hearing the delivery truck pull into the driveway, Sam always made a dash to greet the man at the door, his face belying his admiration, his dancing eyes revealing ever-turning wheels inside his cute, round head.

Initially, I thought Sam was intrigued by the truck, itself, then I thought it was simply the delight of another friendly face who enjoyed his little boy exuberance as much as the rest of us did. And then one day he told me, “Mom, that man in the brown truck saw Jesus!”

Now this puzzled me. None of us had seen any interaction with this man other than a shout out from the other side of the screen door. “What do you mean?” I asked him.

“Mom, that man saw Jesus!” he insisted, his little face, so sincere and awestruck. “You know, that is the ‘Nited Apostle Service!  He had remembered that Clay had explained to him what an apostle was and he figured out that this driver must certainly have been part of a select few in Bible history!

I often think of that story when faced with times of doubt and uncertainty, when following Christ brings hardships and criticisms.

Jesus told his disciples: “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4)

We are not meant to have it all figured out, to count on our intellect or esteemed education or knowledge to understand the simple truth that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Rather, we are called to have the simple faith of a child, believing with pure hearts, taking God at His word.

Lord, help me today to trust you with a simple, child-like faith.  Amen.




At the ruling of its presbytery, Reformation Church OPC in Elizabeth, Colorado, whose pastor is well-known family integrated church apologist, Kevin Swanson, has removed its name from the National Center for Family Integrated Churches confession. Reformation OPC has removed all references to the NCFIC on their website which means that Reformation is no longer willing to be publicly identified with the NCFIC as it has done since at least 2006. 

At the April, 2014 meeting of the Presbytery of the Dakotas of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a complaint was upheld against Reformation OPC for signing an NCFIC family integrated church confession that has “the effect of charging our own congregations, and many others of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, of error without employing the process prescribed in our Book of Discipline and thereby introducing schism into our broader Church.”

The Presbytery’s decision meant that Reformation OPC was required to remove their name from the list and within a week after the ruling, their name was quietly removed from the NCFIC confession. Specifically, it stated that “The Presbytery requested the Reformation session to act expeditiously to remove its name from the NCFIC website until the problems in the NCFIC ‘Biblical Confession for Uniting Church and Family’ are corrected.” That confession included two articles that were offered as evidence:

Article VII: “We deny/reject the modern trend embraced by many churches to undermine the purpose and government of both family and church, by substituting family-fragmenting, age-segregated, peer-oriented, youth driven, and special-interest programs, which may prevent rather than promote family unity, church unity and inter-generational relationships.”

Article XI, comprised of these statements: “We afrm that there is no scriptural pattern for comprehensive age segregated discipleship, and that age segregated practices are based on unbiblical, evolutionary and secular thinking which have invaded the church (Deut. 16:9-14; Josh. 8:34-35; Ezra 10:1; 2 Chr.20:13; Nehemiah 12:43; Joel 2:15-16; Acts 20:7; Eph. 6:1-4). We deny/reject that corporate worship, discipleship and evangelism should be systematically segregated by age, and that it has been an effective method for making disciples.”

The complaint itself was made by a sister church from the Presbytery, a judicial and ecclesiastical body of regional churches in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. Another church had also brought similar concerns to their attention. Initially, the sister church, over a reasonable amount of time, tried to convince Reformation OPC to remove their name from the confession. Eventually, the church brought a complaint, which is similar to a charge or accusation. Reformation denied the complaint as legitimate, thus, it went to the Presbytery to decide upon a pressing issue between sister churches.

Both sides were given 30 minutes to defend their respective positions with their pastors as spokespersons. The church that brought the complaint highlighted the negative affects of the NCFIC position, offering prima facia evidence of the wording of the confession.The body of ruling elders and pastors of the Presbytery were then given time to ask questions and debate the complaint.

Reformation’s denial of the complaint rested on various grounds including the existence of other Reformed churches on the list, the fact that 80-90% of the confession is agreeable, the equivocal nature of the points of contention, and that using the confession has helped them contact families as an outreach. Surprisingly, part of the evidence brought forward by Reformation was from the NCFIC itself. Scott Brown told Reformation in a meeting that they polled the churches on their directory and discovered that 25% of them use Sunday schools. (It is unknown if the Sunday schools are age-segregated or not.)

Reformation also had a long-standing statement on the church and family that was offered as evidence of having exceptions to the NCFIC but that has since been removed. This statement never had an explicit and unequivocal denial of the two NCFIC articles in question.

During the hearing, Swanson was asked directly if he had both feet planted in the OPC or if his allegiance was divided–would he leave the OPC over this issue? He responded in no uncertain terms that he has both feet firmly planted in the OPC and “one little finger” in the NCFIC. He was also asked if he believed practicing age-segregated Sunday school was a sin. He unequivocally denied it was sin. Later, he was asked if such Sunday schools were “unwise or in error” as opposed to being in sin. He responded with an unclear answer to the effect that he could not answer the questions without knowing the particular churches in question.

The NCFIC confession also had other offensive elements that had been brought to the attention of Reformation OPC by other sister churches. The opening introduction declares:

“Our fervent prayer is that our God will raise up Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, family-integrated assemblies from the ashes of our man-centered, family fragmenting churches.” And the last article asserts: “We deny that the church should continue as she has and delay dramatic reformations, or that she will escape the wrath of God for the disintegration and destruction of the family by ignoring or taking lightly biblical roles and responsibilities.”

Supposedly, churches that signed this confession agree with these statements. The issue was not about signing confessions but specifically signing this confession given its de facto effect of “charging [sister] congregations…of error” without confronting them in accordance to Matthew 18.

Although Reformation removed its name under a vote from a higher judicatory body, other churches have removed their names for various other reasons, some after the concern was first brought to their attention. Still others were convinced after listening to Pastor Shawn Mathis’ well-received lecture at the Presbytery of the Midwest,  A Pastoral Perspective on the Family Integrated Church Movement. 

Though Swanson’s views on family integrated churches were not properly the issue before the Presbytery, the extent of his involvement with FIC movement is seen in his public defense of it, his endorsement of the NCFIC’s flagship book, endorsement of the movie, multiple interviews with NCFIC president Scott Brown, as well as intimate participation in and endorsement of many NCFIC conferences over many years. In a 2012 interview with Brown, Swanson declared:

“Scott, your [NCFIC] conferences are busting out…This thing is growing. This movement is growing. I mean I see this thing expanding. God may be reforming His church even as we speak…It’s exciting. It’s a reformed experience…they are asking the right question, they are looking to the right words for the solutions…getting back to the sufficiency of scripture. And certainly rooting themselves in a Reformed way of looking at the Word of God. That it is the only sole authority…in church, youth ministry.”

For those unfamiliar with Swanson’s FIC teachings, here is some more information:



You can also watch the entire movie Divided to see what Kevin Swanson has said about the FIC movement.


What is my take away from this turn of events?


~ The fact that a well-respected denomination would challenge the NCFIC’s doctrinal positions is monumental and, I believe, signals a crack in the dike of the FIC separatist movement.  Until now, to my recollection, no other denomination or church has taken a public stand in a way that actually challenges the faulty doctrines coming from the NCFIC.

~ Kevin Swanson’s turn about on at least his level of support for the NCFIC itself is pretty amazing. It appears that his church website has undergone a good scrubbing and right on the heels of some statements he has recently made regarding the patriarchy movement itself. I am still waiting for a podcast or two explaining this to his minions.

~ I am now watching and wondering if any others who have insisted the family integrated church is the only biblical way of church life will also acquiesce. Perhaps other denominations will now see the doctrinal error and follow suit. I don’t expect anything similar from those churches who see the FIC model as one of their pillars. But it does make you wonder if the same relationships will continue, i.e., via family camps, conferences, their speaking engagements, etc.

~ It is so encouraging to see an example of a church court functioning properly, a rarity in my experience. I so appreciate the work of those who have pursued this with integrity. I have no doubt that Pastor Shawn Mathis, who has been our podcast guest on this very subject, was instrumental in introducing this difficult subject to his peers to lay the groundwork.

~ I have long contended that the entire body of Christ needs homeschooling families and we need them. Perhaps this will be a start in bringing that awareness to more congregations.



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"In today's homeschooling world, you can find all sorts of formulas and prescriptions. If you just follow the correct method, your children will grow up to live godly lives, and they will always make family (including you) their priority. In this book, Karen Campbell gives you the real story. Homeschooling and parenting are not about formulas and prescriptions. They are about relationships. Weaving together Scripture, her own successes and failures, and her observations of the homeschooling world, Karen provides a wealth of wisdom for the homeschooling parent. If you want a formula, this book is not for you. If you want honest wisdom that will aid you in your homeschooling journey, this book is exactly what you are looking for!" – Dr. Jay Wile, PhD, speaker and author of the popular "Exploring Creation with" series of textbooks.

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Family Integrated Church podcasts

The Family Integrated Church ~ Are you frustrated in your search for a church home? Are you considering a family integrated church? The podcast series on the FIC movement is just for you! This series includes Pastor Shawn Mathis who explains the "theological basis" for the movement, Pastor Steve Doyle, who was once an FIC pastor and left the movement, and Bible scholar and author, Jon Zens, who looks at the underlying doctrines that permeate many FIC churches. The series concludes with thatmom's encouragement to homeschooling families as they seek to be part of the entire body of Christ. You will also want to read the series of articles on the pros and cons of the FIC and my exhortation to homeschooling families who are looking for a church home!

thatmom’s thoughts on curriculum

And you can learn about my thoughts on developing your own philosophy of education as well as finding the methods of homeschooling that work best for you and your children by

looking for my presentations on the Home Educating Family media site!

Three Cheers……..


truth from the Word

"Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73: 25-26

Phillip E. Johnson says:

“When pressed in interviews to name my heroes, I have spontaneously responded that they are homeschooling mothers! To me, the heroic mothers who nurture the next generation of faithful Christians are among the leaders of the church.” ~ Phillip E. Johnson

John Stonestreet says:

“C.S. Lewis said that for every new book we read, we ought to read three old ones. But I think for every latest, greatest new homeschooling book you read, go find three old homeschooling moms and ask them what happened and what worked.” ~ John Stonestreet

Oswald Chambers says:

"If we simply preach the effects of redemption in the human life instead of the revealed, divine truth regarding Jesus Himself, the result is not new birth in those who listen. The result is a refined religious lifestyle, and the Spirit of God cannot witness to it because such preaching is in a realm other than His." ~ Oswald Chambers

Carolyn Custis James says:

“The power of our theology comes alive when we take the truth personally. Holding God at arm’s length—no matter how much theology we think we know—will never make us great theologians. We have to learn to write our own names into the plot. God will always be the subject of our theological sentences but our sentences are incomplete until we make ourselves the direct objects of his attributes…..Simply knowing a lot of theological ideas, no matter how orthodox and sound they are, will never turn us into great theologians. Theology isn’t really theology for us until we live it. Not until we learn to make explicit connections between what we know about God and the race we are running will we taste the transforming power of our theology. Fixing our eyes on Jesus means reminding ourselves of all that He is to us now. He brings meaning to our routines and energizes us to tackle the difficult tasks at hand. Fixing our eyes on Jesus gives us hope to offer disheartened husbands and hurting friends, and the wisdom we need to raise children who will fix their eyes on Him, too.” ~ from Carolyn Custis James in When Life and Beliefs Collide

William Carey says:

"Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."

Tim Keller says:

"God’s love and forgiveness can pardon and restore any and every kind of sin or wrongdoing. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you’ve deliberately oppressed or even murdered people, or how much you’ve abused yourself… There is no evil that the Father’s love cannot pardon and cover, there is no sin that is a match for his grace." ~ Tim Keller

Tim Keller also says:

“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.” ! Tim Keller in The Reason for God.

Anne Ortlund says:

“So what do we do to encourage them to grow inwardly, to become resourceful and creative, to think, to meditate, to lay the foundation for growing up well? Don’t push, but affirm them! Give them the sense that all is well, that their rate of progress is acceptable to you, that you like them just the way they are…..Guide them but be delighted in them. Let them know that life is to be reached for and drunk of deeply…..Enthusiastic, that’s how you want them to grow up! The word comes from “en Theo,” or “in God.” Support them with words of faith, hope, and love, and in that framework “in God,” they’ll be ready to tackle everything. Fears and cautions are built in at an early age but so is courage! Tomorrow’s world will be different if your child has been released to experiment, to risk, to lead others, to pursue righteousness, to be an affecter for good in society, to go courageously after God.” ~ Anne Ortlund in Children Are Wet Cement

J.C Ryle says:

"Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys, these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily, these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart." ~ J. C. Ryle in The Upper Room

Kathy Thile says:

"I say this gently, as the parent of grown kids, knowing *insert parenting guru* is also the parent of grown kids: we have wonderful children — he does, I’m sure — and so do I. But without even knowing his children I can know this about them: they are not perfect. They hurt. They make mistakes. They struggle. They are prideful and overly simplistic at times; and crippled by shame and hesitancy at others. Yes — they are beautiful examples of human beings, his children (I assume), and mine (I know.) But they are not perfect. If they were, they would not be human. If it were possible to raise children to perfection, then God would have sent a parenting method, not Jesus. Our marching orders are not to raise our children by a method to be like *insert parenting guru* children. Our marching orders are to be Christians to and with our children." ~ Kathy Thile

Clay Clarkson says:

“Many Christian parents, myself included, tend to speak to children as though they were Pharisees. We can speak harshly and with judgment, implying by our manner that their hearts are hard and resistant. But this attitude is not justified by Scripture. There is no record of Jesus ever speaking to a a child in a harsh tone. When the Gospels record Him speaking to a child, it is always with gentleness. Our children are not our adversaries. Though our children’s hearts are corrupted by sin, they are not hardened sinners who have made conscious choices to reject the Savior. Our children are simply immature and childish. That’s why children need love and compassion, not harshness and guilt.” ~ Clay Clarkson in Heartfelt Discipline

Tim Kimmel says:

“Grace can’t be some abstract concept that you talk about in your home. It has to be a real-time action that ultimately imprints itself in your children’s hearts. To talk about grace, sing about grace, and have our children memorize verses about grace – but not give them specific gifts of grace – is to undermine God’s words of grace in their hearts. Grace means that God not only loves them but that He loves them uniquely and specially. The primary way to give our children grace is to offer it in place of our selfish preferences.” ~ Tim Kimmel in Grace-Based Parenting

Chuck Swindoll says:

"You want to mess up the minds of your children? Here's how - guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality. Fake your faith. Sneak around and pretend your spirituality. Train your children to do the same. Embrace a long list of do's and don'ts publicly but hypocritically practice them privately...yet never own up to the fact that its hypocrisy. Act one way but live another. And you can count on it - emotional and spiritual damage will occur. "

Anna Quindlen says:

“The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less." ~ Anna Quindlen

Winston Churchill says:

“My education was interrupted only by my schooling." ~ Winston Churchill

John Taylor Gatto says:

"The shocking possibility that dumb people don’t exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn’t real." ~ John Taylor Gatto

Fred Rogers say:

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” ~ Fred Rogers

thatmom says

"The truth is that the way a marriage becomes truly heavenly is for each husband and each wife to pursue, really pursue, a relationship with Jesus Christ, to commit to obey the Word of God, to set aside each of their own agendas and paradigms, and then as they walk in the Holy Spirit, as they are sanctified, a little at a time each day, they will grow closer to one another. Godly wisdom will manifest itself in purity, peace, gentleness, mercy, a willingness to submit to one another, the fruits of the spirit, and no role-playing (the true meaning of hypocrisy). (James 3:17)" ~ thatmom

thatmom says:

"We need to approach our children not as character projects, but rather, we must see them with hearts of sympathy, with compassion and understanding, and with ears that listen. You see, homeschooling is not about lesson plans and research papers and standardized tests. Homeschooling is about building a relationship with our children, friendships that will last our entire lives on earth and clear into eternity. Homeschooling is merely the tool whereby we build those relationships." ~ thatmom

thatmom knows:

As a homeschooling mom, I have realized that everything, ultimately, is outside of my own control. I have learned that the unique circumstances that happen in my family have occurred because God’s plan is so much bigger than my own. It is knowing this truth about God and in experiencing that truth with those in my home that has enabled us to face past challenges and that will prepare us for all those difficulties that still lie before us.

thatmom says:

"Real books from the library, a tub of art supplies, being read stories rich in vocabulary, a variety of good music, the daily discussion of God’s Word and how it relates to the world around him, and the attention of a loving parent who includes him in all the activities of real life are the secrets to a great learning experience for children." ~ thatmom

thatmom realizes:

If I think about nearly 40 years of marriage, times the number of loads of laundry I have done for 2 parents, 6 children and 1 grandma, I am amazed to know that I have washed, dried, folded, (sometimes ironed) and put away roughly 27,526 loads of laundry. That is over 215,000 socks! Or, in that same amount of time, provided 38,324 meals for a family and sometimes guests. Or that I have overseen nearly 21,500 hours of education of one sort or another during that time. Just thinking of these numbers takes my breath away. ~ thatmom

thatmom says:

"Being a mom is sort of like being all the people who crowd into a basketball arena all at once. Sometimes we are the players, the ones who are responsible for everything that is going on and our presence is front and center. Sometimes we are the coaches, giving comfort and encouragement, instructing with a clipboard in hand. Other times we are the referees, no striped shirts required but whistles are a must to break up the disputes when the game isn’t played as per the rules. Still other times we are the fans, cheering wildly from the stands, shouting from a distance but not from the floor. And then there are the days when we are the cheerleaders, the ones who scream 'Yeah, you can do it.' " ~ thatmom

thatmom says:

“The beauty of homeschooling is building relationships within our families and inspiring our children to become lifelong learners, gently leading them into the truth of Scripture and trusting that the work we have begun will be brought to completion by a sovereign God who has a plan for building His heavenly kingdom.” ~ thatmom

thatmom also says:

“After parenting for 36 years, I have come to realize that all paradigms are basically a list of do’s and don’ts that someone has created. Instead of embracing a list, I have discovered that it is best for me to run all ideas, philosophies, and paradigms through my “one-anothering hopper.” I ask myself if the suggestions or ideas I am hearing will serve to build my relationships or will serve to tear them down; will they reflect the one-anothering commands of Scripture? I ask if they are a picture of Christ and His relationship with me as His needy daughter. If not, I am not interested, no matter how much appeal they might have for any number of reasons.” ~ thatmom

thatmom says this, too:

“The word wisdom is used in Exodus to describe the knowledge that the Lord gave to the skilled artisans so they could make Aaron’s garments for worship. We are told that these workers “were given wisdom and understanding in knowledge and all manner of workmanship.” I have never had to sew any garments for a priest to wear for worship. I have not had to sew any draperies or build any walls or prepare any inner sanctuary as per the Lord’s instructions. But I have been called to give all I can toward the goal of building up children in the faith, preparing children for life outside my home, children whose bodies, we are told, are called the very temple of the Holy Spirit, children whose job it is to worship in spirit and in truth." ~ thatmom

what does thatmom believe?

" What is thy only comfort in life and death? "That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with His precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him." ~ Heidelberg Catechism

What does it mean to be a Christian?

1.We must acknowledge that we are all sinners. “For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6) and “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

2.We are all accountable for our own sins before God. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

3.There is only one way to be forgiven of these sins and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. “Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

4.If we confess our sin to the Lord and repent of it (not allow it to rule in our lives) we can be forgiven and be in right standing with God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousenss.” (1 John 1:9)

5.Genuine salvation will result in living lives of good works but none of those works contribute in any way to our standing before God which is based solely and completely on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 10:12) and “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5) and “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

6.We all, men and women, boys and girls, have direct access to the throne of grace because everyone who is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ is called a “priest and king” in God’s economy. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)

I believe that many of the false teachings within the patriocentric movement are in direct contrast to these Scriptures and I would encourage each of us to first examine what we believe about Jesus and His work on the cross, its implications and its marvelous power.

Secondly, I would challenge anyone reading here to examine your own heart and ask yourself whether you have been trusting in good works….baptism, homeschooling, church attendance, modest dress, the list goes on and on, or if you have placed ALL your faith and hope in Jesus’ blood and righteousness alone.

And finally, I would challenge you to examine the teachings within your own church system, whether it is Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, etc. Ask yourself what your church teaches about ecclesiastical authority and family authority. Does it line up with the Word of God? It is a top down system that requires certain works in exchange for a relationship with Jesus Christ or do you have the assurance that you are saved for eternity by His death on the cross in your stead? Does it teach that the fruits of the spirit and obedience to all the one anothers is what our lives will demonstrate or is there a list of man made rules?

If you desire to talk with me about this, please send me a note to My desire is that no one who visits this website will leave without knowing the glorious truth that we can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and can enjoy a life filled with His goodness and grace!



Adoration of the Home was painted by regional artist, Grant Wood. The original hangs in the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Ben Campbell and Lon Eldridge deserve extra cookies for writing, performing, recording, and mixing Mom’s Prairie Song for the podcast intro and outro. Great job, guys. Garrison Keillor would be proud.

Copyright © 2014 ~ ~ Karen Campbell ~ All Rights Reserved.