The Gray Family: Jake, a paramedic/firefighter, and I, a Suzuki violin instructor, have been married for thirteen years and part of the East Mountain community since childhood. We currently have three children at home (ages 10, 9,and 7) and are in the process of adopting a one-year-old little boy from India. Jake and I enjoy using an eclectic approach in educating our children, who attend an online charter school and select classes at a local private school. Ultimately, our goal is to raise children who love the Lord and love people.
We look back at our own upbringing for clues as to how we might raise our children well. Or, in some cases, how we will do things differently. Jake was raised in a Christian home; I was not. Even with this significant difference. Our childhoods share a pervasive theme, though: loneliness. Relational conflicts weren’t resolved. Friends and churches were set aside repeatedly.
How can we grow from the experience? As a family, we purposefully seek to build relationships with believers and non-believers. We commit to being part of a church family. We cannot dispose of relationships. Our flesh will get uncomfortable at times, but we repeat the Gray Family Mantra:
“Relationships are hard work. Relationships are worth the effort.”
We hold close these scriptures:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…
3 Endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
15 Speak the truth in love…
Bear with one another, and forgive one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
And we ask the Holy Spirit to help us handle relationships in a way that we cannot on our own.
When my son and daughter speak rudely to each other, we challenge them:
“You saw other siblings act that way and were appalled! Do you know you are doing the same? Do you know that you are being selfish? Take a moment. Ask God to help you behave as He would, then apologize and try again.”
When the neighbor kid across the street wants to play, but makes up stories that aren’t true, our children say, “Ugh. I can’t BELIEVE what a liar she is! I can’t stand her!”
Our response is:
“Lying is wrong and it’s frustrating to be lied to. She needs Jesus just like us, doesn’t she? Let’s have her over for a short and pleasant visit. Try not to take her stories too seriously, look for things to appreciate about her, and let’s ask God for opportunities to share His love with her.”
When we are in a new crowd and our daughter thinks no one is being friendly, we encourage her:
Our response is:
“Look around. Is there anyone else who is feeling left out? Can you show yourself friendly? Act toward her the way you want someone to act toward you.”
Relationships are hard, but God will use them to grow each of us. How are you teaching, encouraging and challenging your children to grow through life experiences?
(photos by Jasmine Mostrom)
The Sticky Life: Part Two
So glad you joined us for this Part Two of The Sticky Life as MCC member Ashley Procter shares her family’s perspective on living out the sticky life. Part One was posted yesterday and you can find it in our previous post!
Pastor Jonathan Parnell states that a disciple of Jesus Christ is a worshiper, a servant, and a witness. On Day 1, we discussed a few ways we live as worshipers with our kids as we attend public school. Here are some ways we live the sticky life…the one that clings to Jesus…as servants and witnesses.
A servant puts on a towel and washes feet.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” – Philippians 2:3-4
Public school is a great place to highlight contrast between the ways of the world and the ways of Jesus. “Every man for himself” is the typical modus operandi you’ll find there (and I find in myself).
Jesus’ m.o. is far different. Pastor Jonathan Parnell says to Christians, “Go low in acts of love, even when it’s an inconvenience to yourself.” Go low.
- We play with our kids on the playground, and we invite the ones that seem isolated. It’s fun and it builds compassion and connections.
- We have the kids who aren’t so much like us over for play dates. We attend their birthday parties. We make friends with their parents. Jesus died for them…they’re worth our willingness to bend.
- We pray for ways to serve the kids who are less than nice to us. We step out in obedience when the opportunity arises. We pray together that God will cause us to believe that His ways are better than ours.
- We show up when kids, parents, or teachers are hurting or in need, whether they’re Christians or not.
A witness serves as evidence of the truth of God.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” – 2 Corinthians 2:14
As Christians, we are imperfect people being transformed into the image of Christ. Our inner man is being renewed day by day through Him. Every day that we spend growing in Him, we fit in less in the world. We stand out more. It is this standing out…this being set apart…that manifests the truth to the outside world.
- We confess and apologize when we hurt others. I spoke poorly about a teacher behind her back. It was wrong of me to do. The Lord allowed the opportunity to confess, which I did, and then had the privilege of sharing the gospel with her.
- We make the kids accountable to God, as we are. We can’t see their hearts; and even if we could, we don’t have the power to change them. The Lord is able to reach them Himself, as well as make us aware of when there’s a problem we need to address. Andy made a mistake that cost another child a good grade. He tried to just let it ride, but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let him go. He confessed and worked with the teacher to help the student get the grade he deserved. We didn’t have to say a word.
- We make deliberate choices to be separate.
- We pray for those who are hurting, and we tell them that we’re doing so.
- We speak up. When the Big Bang theory is taught in class, we discuss facts with cool heads. We’ve been doing so together as a family since Andy was 3. The fact that people believe differently than we do is not a shock to the kids, and their faith is not threatened by science….it’s enhanced by it.
- We discuss worldview. We speak with compassion because Jesus loves these people. We squash any notion of superiority, reminding the kids that we do not deserve to know Jesus. We have not earned His favor, His salvation, His hope. He has given it as a gift.
- We go out to tell the world. We pray for opportunities to speak of the saving power of Christ at school, and He has brought them. We fumble, we mis-speak, we mess it up all the time. But through our participation in school, we have built relationships that have opened doors to speak about our faith.
Though we may fumble with the words, though we model it imperfectly, our friends and acquaintances at school have experienced our faith just by hanging out with us. If they’ve hung out long enough, they’ve even seen us change, as Jesus is constantly transforming us from glory to glory. What a privilege it is to live the sticky life!
How does your family live the sticky life?
(photos by Jasmine Mostrom)
The Sticky Life: Part One
Matt and Ashley Procter have attended Mountain Christian Church for 30 years and 14 years, respectively. They are raising 3 boys, 2 of whom attend San Antonito Elementary in Cedar Crest.
Disciple: One who adheres to the teachings of another.
The word “adhere” sounds sticky. Like glue or tape. Do you ever wish for divine super glue that would cause your kids to adhere to Jesus? It’s not that you’re a control freak; rather, you’ve tasted what the world has to offer and have found that what Jesus offers your soul is far superior. You know that everything your kids will search for…meaning, belonging, security, comfort, peace, and joy…is found in Jesus Christ.
But we can’t force them to stick to Him, can we? Oh sure, we can force outward obedience while they’re under our care, but we can’t cause their hearts to cling to Him; to adhere to His ways.
Instead, we can live as disciples and teach them what it means…what is theirs…if they trust in Jesus Christ as their savior and take up their crosses to follow Him. We give them a taste of the sweet, sticky life that clings to Him for life and breath. Knowing this, when they sample the deceiving delicacies the world has to offer, their bitter taste will be less enticing than the rich fare they’d enjoyed earlier in life.
What comprises a sticky life? Pastor Jonathan Parnell says that a disciple of Jesus Christ is a worshiper, a servant, and a witness. In the Procter house, as in many of yours, we live as worshipers, servants, and witnesses together as our kids attend public school. Here is a little bit about how that works out in our family.
A worshiper reflects back to God the radiance of His worth.
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” – Colossians 3:17
- We invite God into every aspect of our school experience. We pray over homework, over bullies, over teachers, over attitudes. We pray that God will remind the kids that He’s with them…that He would interrupt them with His presence throughout the day. We encourage the kids to speak to Him all day long. We do these things because God is present, He is a good Father, and He listens when we speak to Him.
- We encourage the kids to do their best academically, and we don’t expect perfection. We do this because we are working for the Lord…not for men. We encourage the kids to lean hard into God’s strength when they struggle, knowing that the points where they fail are the places where they will find their need for Him.
- We don’t solve every problem for them. This is hard, and we are a work in progress. We have seen our faith and that of our kids grow immensely when we have lifted up matters to God and simply left them in His hands. We do this because God is mighty, wise and faithful to His character; and His ways are far above our comprehension.
- We thank God for the things we love about school…recess, P.E., science, and good buddies. We do this because God is a good Father, and the giver of all good gifts.
- We begin every day with an open Bible at the breakfast table. Some days, our discussions are insightful and rich. Many days, though, everyone struggles to pay attention and we end up reading the same passage all week. That’s ok. We do this because God is holy, His word is powerful, and He is worthy of having the first word in our day.
Since God is present in every part of our day, we can meet Him on the playground, in the classroom, and during our math tests. We reflect His glory when the truth of His character becomes the motivation for the way we live at home, at school, and everywhere else.
Join us again tomorrow for Part Two of The Sticky Life by Ashley Procter!
(photos by Jasmine Mostrom)
What's in a Family Creed?
We moved to the East Mountains in 2004 as part of a military move. While we never thought we would stay here our church family has truly become part of our family and we now call New Mexico home. Each year we pray and seek the Lord's wisdom and guidance regarding the schooling our two girls (Molly & Zoe) and thus far He has led us to homeschool. Homeschooling has been a journey in many ways and has grown us in ways only the Lord can do.
Several years ago we were encouraged by some friends to create a Family Creed. We thought, what a cool idea and immediately decided our family needed one and set about writing it! You might wonder, what is a family creed? For us, it is our family's statement of principles, faith and beliefs. Our family creed helps us stay focused on what our family believes and keeps God in the forefront of our lives.
As we look to another school year we thought it would be good to intentionally compare our schooling against our creed to see if we were still in line with The Palfery Family Creed. Here goes:
We, the Palfery's, will worship the triune God of the Holy Bible, which is His Word of Truth. (Math. 22:36-38, John 17:17)
We teach our children from a biblical worldview. We use God's own Word to learn about Him in our daily school activities. God's Word is the centerpiece or "hub" of our school wheel & everything we learn about is from Him - including Math!
We will worship Him through our work and education - utilizing our talents to create good just as the Father created the Earth. (Gen. 2:1-2, Rom. 12:1-8)
When schooling at home it's easy to become occupied with...well home and we are certainly capable of falling into this trap. To be diligent and to ensure we are honoring him with our gifts, we have dedicated a room to schooling and attempt to conduct school at a particular time, every day. We want our children to learn to glorify God through their talents and to be diligent in that work.
We will worship Him with our thoughts - being thankful for all things, humbly acknowledging our sins, and obeying the Spirit's will for us. (Eph. 6:10-20, Prov. 4:23)
Schooling your own children every day can be tiresome and frustrating, especially when sin in our relationships with our children goes unacknowledged and unforgiven. We make a daily practice in our home of repenting to one another and giving grace to one another, both to our children and to us as parents. It looks messy on most days because we are fleshly creatures who need reminding, but it brings an unbelievable unity in our home when we can all learn from one another's mistakes, pray for each other as we struggle and hold one another accountable to God's Word. Our family is ultimately stronger because of this daily relationship with one another.
We will worship Him through our relationships - honoring, respecting, forgiving, and loving as Christ did. (Eph. 5-6, Math. 22:39)
In homeschooling, it is easy to get caught up in home and our own relationships. We try to be actively involved outside the home. We go to the library, the athletic fields, museums and the like because we want to actively seek our community and build relationships. We take opportunities to be part of our larger community to practice worship in this way. Our kids attend bible club at a public school, volunteer with Shine Club (as part of their school day), play competitive soccer and swim year round and take part in music lessons to engage the community and love as Christ did. We interact with our neighbors on a daily basis and school year-round which allows for ample opportunities to engage our community and culture in both our daily activities (i.e. going to the library) as well as our not-so-daily activities (i.e. going to the dentist).
Through our actions, we will proclaim God's greatness and grace, the Spirit's power, and the forgiveness of sin that Christ brings to those who believe. (1Cor. 9:24-27, John 3:16).
Ultimately our words mean nothing without evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. So as we embark on another year of schooling, we aim to be intentional whether at home or out and about seeking God's will and giving each other grace as we go about His work.
Well there you go! We would encourage you to pray about the vision that God has for your family this coming school year. Consider sitting down with your kids and writing it down so that everyone is pressing forward together. You'll go into the new school year unified & heading in the direction the Spirit leads!
So, what will be the cornerstones of your Family Creed?
("family photo" by Jasmine Mostrom)
Growing Our Family's Faith in the Public School System
We moved our family to the East Mountains two and a half years ago. After living on the west side of Albuquerque for our entire married life, moving here meant coming back home for me. Raising our 2 boys, Caleb 10 and Joshua 7, where I grew up is such a blessing. David and I thank the Lord daily for the blessing of living on the mountain!
I am currently an art teacher in APS. In addition, having worked in public schools for nine years and taught Christian preschool for four years, I have an insider’s view to the public school system, students in public school and the unique challenges and opportunities available there.
Deciding on public school for the boy’s education was not an easy choice for our family. You see, I have seen the good and bad of public school. But, I am continually reminded that we are called to be light and salt in the world. In Mathew 5:13-16 we are told,
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
We’ve found, as a family, that the best way for our us to do that is through our children and I being in the public school system.
As we walk side by side with believers and non-believers, learn to serve and love everyone, even if they don’t share our beliefs, and are challenged by different viewpoints; we dig deep in our faith and lean on God for understanding. We encourage our boys to come to us with their questions and struggles. Through the boy’s school experience we have come to understand that there really isn't a perfect solution to schooling, a reminder that we live in an imperfect and fallen world.
However, we have hope in the fact that the Lord proves Himself perfect through the imperfect.
So as we prepare for another school year, we pray for our children's teachers and classmates. Our children are learning how to be a light in their community and with their peers. The boys learn to talk to and pray for kids that they interact with at school. David and I intentionally raise our children in the Lord by praying with them daily, discussing life's events through a biblical perspective and doing family Bible studies. Our prayer is that they will have the faith and tools to effectively minister to their generation as they grow in Christ.
Whether home school, private school or public school, as Christ's followers we are in this together. So how are you preparing for children for school this year?