Thursday, June 17, 2010

Choices...and growth

Today I am going to speak about our life choices as we try to improve ourselves for the Lord each day. Our life, like everyone else's is a personal journey, and the more I realize that, the harder it can be to be very harshly judgmental of others. And I am glad because I wouldn't like them being harshly judgemental of my life as I strive to be pleasing to God. But you will never please everyone with your choices so i try to only worry about what God will think. Just remember, your choices will not likely be ours, and if they are, it may not be for the same reasons, and that is OK! That is the great thing about freedom to choose. You get to choose your path, your family's path. As for us, as Christians we just try to measure all we do, say, wear, read, engage in, and so forth, by what would be pleasing to God. We find out what He expects of us through study of scripture, and prayer, seeking His will for us.
We have made some non-mainstream choices in our family.
First, we have more than 2 kids. We have 5. Two were planned and the others sent at God's timing. And while we do not expect any more, the possibility is there. they are, after all, a blessing and gift from God, who will provide for us.
We have chosen to live on one income. That can be challenging because you quickly learn to live within your means and rearrange your priorities. But not living the social norm has many benefits. The house payment is the biggest challenge for us, because it is larger than I would prefer, but it forces us to make better choices in other areas. We always give to church first, though. Then you just learn to do without the things you can't pay for, unless it is an absolute emergency. So we rarely eat out, mostly rent movies from the free library, bowl only with free coupons, have birthdays at home or the park, etc. Good choices to be sure.
We have chosen to homeschool the children. this has as much to do with concentrating on Christian character as it does with allowing self paced learning and free exploration. It has been a blessing. Many do not understand it, but it is a fabulous choice for us, and if others would only seek out knowledge about it they would surely see it as a wonderful option, even if it is not for them.
For outside activities, the cost in dollars and time can be astronomical. So that has to be limited. Any activity the kids are in can not take away heavily from family evenings, and should not make us feel like we are always running. We have found a few good fits, but often have to rotate our activities. Not eveyone gets to participate in something at all times. We always have to weigh the time cost, and the monetary cost, against what is best for family unity. If family unity isn't promoted, but rather peer dependency, it is not good for us, and that applies to church activities too. I would rather pay for a week of bible study and fellowship at Christian camp that a Six Flags trip. Team sports are fun, but they have been a real strain on family life for us. Right now we have 3 in theater classes that are once a week and end before supper. We have two in homeschool gymnastics that we attend only twice a month and we all go to support (except dad who is at work) and it is in the afternoons. One wants to join cub scouts ina few months, but we will have to weigh the cost before deciding for sure. And we are very involved in the Christian based homeschool co-op which is 8 half days each semester of fun and learning together. We do productive activites with church like helping others, devos, VBS, teaching, Leadership Training, outreach, but skip most of the fun-only stuff.
We have chosen to eat mostly homemade foods. Oh, sure, we buy corn dogs and mozzarella sticks from time to time, but mostly we eat whole wheat items, fresh and fresh frozen fruits and veggies, water, real cheese and dairy products, and homemade baked goods. We aren't perfect. We buy the meat at Sam's. It is not ideal, but it is affordable. Affordable is key for us. I try to have a great balance of healthy and affordable. But it requires effort and preplanning and actual cooking every single day, often 3 times a day. But that is ok. It is good. In fact it is the best home and family living class available for the homeschooler!
Lately we have also chosen to make several homemade cleaners from vinegar, peroxide, baking soda, and essential oils. Non toxic is great for family cleaning. i still use cheap detergent from Sam's and use half the amount, but it is cheap. The eco friendly cleaners work nicely, too, and save money, but most importantly it saves our health from bad fumes and toxins. That being said we rely more on vitamins, probiotics and colloidal silver that medicines. but we do still venture to the doc for meds when needed. Lately we have been seriously scrutinizing vaccines, though. We decided to only vaccinate for the more serious diseases like polio and mumps and pertussis, and on a different scale than the recommendations. We think there are too many given at too close intervals, but that is our choice based on our learning.
We choose to buy new clothes for the adults in the house, but only at a discount (and occasionally sew them or buy secondhand), and rely on used, handed down, home sewn and thrift store clothes for the kids--mostly. We do sometimes buy shoes and undergarments and occasional sale items for the kids at places like Payless or WalMart or Ross if we find a great deal and/or really have a need. it really saves. People think it costs a ton to raise kids--and it can, if you buy all the trendy food they want, sign them up for everything under the sun, buy them too much stuff, and clothe them at department stores. But it doesn't have to be that way. Parents are the ones in charge of all that, and it just takes the power of making different choices.
We have tv, and a clearplay dvd player, and vcr player, and internet. But we limit their use. We have almost the lowest cable package, and block all but about 20 channels. What I wouldn't give to have a $1 per channel, choose your channels, option! We would have some great stuff for under $20/month! TV is off most of the time, and is heavily monitored for inappropriate content (hence the limited viewing).We are VERY picky about movie content. Another media area we monitor is internet. It can be used on certain days for certain time ranges by certain people. And can only be used on certain sites approved by the adults. No IM chatting or anything for kids under age ????? -- haven't crossed that bridge yet. No cell phones for people who aren't out driving (why do they need it?) which leaves no texting or unauthorized web surfing. And no secular music without approval. No kids own an mp3 player/ipod yet, though we do have a cd player from this past Christmas. We download and burn songs we approve of. None of that is available in our vehicles either. I guess old cars are a plus! The kids own 2 ds lites and a few games, but that is limited usage too. Just like computer games. We have a family tv and one upstairs for videos. None are allowed in rooms, and neither are computers. That is just inviting addictions. No gaming systems other than the DS either. On the other hand, we are overrun by books and are a family of voracious readers (yes, we monitor that content too!). We probably should have a wing of the library named after us for the fines we sometimes incur! But that falls under money management.....
Anyway, we are a family that starts each day with devotional time, regularly memorizes scripture, believes in serving others, and constantly reinforces how to live life pleasing to God. We are FAR from perfect, and are growing, learning, changing every day. I am so thankful for His grace to cover our multitude of transgressions as we daily seek to walk in His paths. But He has a plan for us and is growing us toward His will each day, I believe. If we do nothing else in this life we hope to pass on Godly living skills to our children and others. Reading and math are important, but if you miss the loving obedience to God's word, you have failed. Failure is not an option........
love to all :)

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

GREAT post, Brandee!! Its so surprising how many people just dont get some of the things you've listed. (Like choices about what not to spend money on and putting restrictions of activities and tv viewing and such)