Welcome to Homeschooling, America!

By Michelle Fitzpatrick Thomas

Originally published on American Thinker 3/17/20.

Here in Georgia, the mass hysteria about the coronavirus has caused the governor to declare a “public health state of emergency.” He has advised public schools and daycare centers to close for two weeks in order to curb the opportunities for the virus to spread. It’s unclear which is causing more panic in the hearts of Georgia citizens — the coronavirus, the toilet paper shortage, or the fact that parents will have to be home with their children nonstop for two weeks straight. Many other states are also closing schools, so millions of our nation’s families are suddenly experiencing a little of what it’s like to homeschool.

text on shelf

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My husband and I have been homeschooling since our first child was born. That child is now a senior in high school and will graduate in May. Thanks to Georgia’s “dual enrollment” program (which, unfortunately, has just been drastically slashed by the legislature), he will graduate with an associate’s degree in computer networking, along with completing his K-12 homeschool program. Our second child will follow suit next May, graduating with an associate’s degree also. Our younger two kids will start high school and middle school in the fall, so we trust that they will have similar success in their high school years.

One of the great benefits of living debt free –- as we detail in our book, Debt-Free Living in a Debt-Filled World — has been the opportunity to homeschool our children. My last day of full-time, outside-the-home employment was the day before our first baby was born. I worked part time from home off and on for several years after we started having kids, but I’ve brought in almost no income for nearly a decade now.

The only reason we can live on a teacher’s salary and still afford to have me home full-time to educate our three teenagers and one pre-teen at this point is because, before we even had children, we started living on only my husband’s salary. We made sacrifices to build our home debt-free and we live beneath our means, buying only used cars, couponing, shopping for sales, saving up for large purchases, and so on.

And for anyone who thinks that babies and toddlers are expensive, please brace yourselves and begin saving as early as possible, because it has been a shock to the system to experience how expensive it is to raise teenagers! When our youngest turns 13 next year, we will have four teenagers in our home. As homeschoolers, we must foot the bill for curriculum, extracurricular activities, music lessons, instruments, all meals (and teenagers eat a lot), transportation, computers, and so on. There’s no such thing as “free” anything in the homeschooling world, with the exception of taxpayer-funded dual enrollment college classes here in Georgia.

The blessings of homeschooling, however, far outweigh the sacrifices and financial costs involved. One of the biggest blessings of being a homeschooling family is that our children are growing up to be close friends. Unlike siblings who spend most waking hours away from each other in public school classrooms filled with their peers, there are immeasurable benefits to spending concentrated time truly learning to live with people of different ages and with varying personalities and abilities. This presents a myriad of opportunities to learn how to work out conflicts, celebrate victories with each other, and grow in their faith together.

Another blessing of homeschooling is being able to help guide the kids’ character development because a parent is with them at all hours of the day and night and can see everything that needs to be addressed. It might be possible to mask certain issues such as dishonesty or pride or greed or slothfulness or lack of self-control when kids are away from home most of their waking hours each weekday. Being together for concentrated times allows parents to see more and address problems as they inevitably arise.

A third benefit of homeschooling is the wonderful flexibility that it affords. We can go to music lessons in the mornings, karate at noon, or orthodontist appointments right after lunch, and get our academic work done around our activities. Our oldest son started working at his first real job a few weeks ago, so he works three full days each week and does his schoolwork during the remaining days. The possibilities are endless.

So while many people might be dreading the next few weeks, I want to encourage parents to look for the blessings that are available in this opportunity. Enjoy slowing down and spending quality time with your families. So many of us are on the go constantly with various activities and events. It is likely to be a relief not to have to rush around so much for a while. Let’s savor these days of being together. Let’s play board games, watch movies together, cook fun foods, and read good books to our kids. This forced respite from the busy-ness of life just might turn out to include some of the best memories your children will recall later in life.

I hope that many families who are thrown into the atmosphere of homeschooling during the next few weeks will recognize the myriad of blessings that come with this territory. Our children are in our homes and in our care for such a brief time, in the grand scheme of things. Let’s savor every moment and give them the very best of us, pouring love and attention and wisdom and encouragement into their lives. This coronavirus scare could very well be a sweet blessing in disguise for many American families.

 

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Modesty is Beautiful; The Super Bowl Stripper Show was Just Gross

by Michelle Fitzpatrick Thomas

Controversy has been swirling the last couple of weeks about the Super Bowl half-dressed, I mean half-time, show. I didn’t watch the show live—I never do because it’s usually quite hedonistic and disgusting—but I’ve seen pictures that I wish I could wash off of my eyeballs.

I’m not sure what the NFL was thinking when they decided to feature skanky women shaking their behinds, grabbing their crotches, and dancing on a stripper pole in the half-time show of the biggest football game of the entire year. But as they say, “Sex sells,” so they were likely thinking about dollar signs as they were salivating over the “entertainment.”

american sports

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When my husband Trevor and I married 22 years ago, he was a high school teacher in his 20s, surrounded by beautiful young things who often wore less than sufficient clothing, as teenagers are prone to do. I was often jealous and insecure and didn’t know how to deal with my feelings, and unfortunately, it became a vicious cycle of mistrust and fear and arguments and tears.

Eventually something clicked in my spirit, and I knew that I couldn’t go on the way I was. My fears and insecurities were out of control. I was miserable, and I was making life difficult for my young husband.

I got some help from Christian friends at work who had been married many years longer than I and who had struggled with some of the same issues, as I now know is common for women—likely because of the airbrushed “role models” to which we compare ourselves as teens and young women. God slowly began to heal my heart and deliver me from many of my insecurities. I’m thankful that after years of choosing to trust the Lord with my husband and praying Scripture over him, I rarely struggle with fear or insecurities in that area of my life any more. However, when too much flesh is on display in public, it can still make things difficult for both of us.

I’m sure this is common knowledge, but men are visually stimulated, much more so than are women. And even if females don’t know this intellectually—or refuse to admit it—they know well that it gets the attention of males when they fail to cover their bodies adequately.

There are various standards of modesty, even within the Christian community. Some believers think that women should wear only long dresses, while others are okay with Daisy Dukes and spaghetti straps and bikinis.

As part of the declining moral fiber of our nation, modesty is sadly going by the wayside. Maybe understanding the importance of modest dress will help to strengthen our resolve to honor the Lord with our bodies and to teach our daughters to do the same.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines modesty as “the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention.” This doesn’t mean dressing like a frump or in out-of-date, unattractive clothing. It simply means covering our bodies sufficiently so as not to attract sexual attention. Modest dressers can be stylish and classy; they attract the right kinds of attention and show respect for themselves and others.

God gave clothing to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after sin entered the picture because sin taints things. Their eyes were opened, and innocence was lost. We are to cover our bodies adequately because of sin.

When men (and teenage boys) see short shorts combined with long, tanned legs, they have a really hard time thinking godly thoughts. Add to that cleavage or skin-tight clothes that leave little to the imagination, and we’re talking about leading men—even godly men—down a slippery slope directly into sin. Jesus told us in Matthew 5:28 that “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

I don’t know many reputable women who want the guilt on our consciences of leading men into sin. Our Heavenly Father highly values pure thoughts (“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8), and I have a strong suspicion that it displeases Him when His sons struggle with impure thoughts or worse because of females’ immodest dress.

Elisabeth Elliott once said, “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.” I love that. As Christians, we are to be in the world but not of it (1 John 2:15-17), so we certainly shouldn’t take our fashion cues from Hollywood harlots or our moral instructions from gyrating floozies.

My encouragement to my fellow females is let’s commit to dress like ladies. Let’s show respect for ourselves by covering our bodies, which will help our brothers in Christ to maintain godly thoughts when they are around us. And let’s dress our girls in clothing that teaches them the same. We are daughters of The King of Kings, so we should dress like the princesses that we are. I truly believe that a pure heart that manifests in modest dress pleases the Father.

And remember ladies, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion” (Proverbs 11:22).

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Snow!

by Michelle Fitzpatrick Thomas

In honor of the beautiful snow that blanketed part of the Southeast today, I wanted to share some thoughts. Snow is a very rare occurrence here in Georgia, so when it happens it’s a major event. We just aren’t used to it or prepared for much of it, so schools, businesses, and government buildings close when we have wintry weather. You Northerners can make fun of us all you’d like, but we would rather be safe than sorry around here.

Maybe I’m a bit odd, but I love snow. It’s possible that I wouldn’t love it if we had more of it, but to me it’s a beautiful reminder of God’s creativity and it helps us to take notice of the magnificence of His creation more than usual. We are forced to slow down when it snows. We stay home and spend time with our loved ones while the roads are dangerous. We build snowmen and drink hot chocolate. I adore it.

When the weather forecast calls for snow a day or two ahead, it’s almost like Christmas is coming. People rush out for milk and bread, in case we are stuck at home for several days, so the grocery stores and roads are often packed. The excitement in the air is palpable.

Even though I love having snow, I get antsy after being stuck at home for two or three days and by that time I’m ready for a thaw. So, it’s a good thing I live in Georgia and our winter storms are usually short lived.

I helped one of my kids do some research about snowflakes while it was snowing a few years ago. Did you know that there are over 35 distinct types of snowflakes, according to SnowCrystals.com’s “Guide to Snowflakes”? Pretty amazing stuff, right? What strikes me is that these shapes don’t happen just by chance. They aren’t simply blobs of ice stuck together; they have definite geometrical patterns and shapes. They are amazingly intricate and uniquely beautiful—just like us.

Check out the graphic below from Ken Libbrecht’s Guide to Snowflakes (Used by permission):

snowflake picture

If God takes that much care in designing each different snowflake, just think how carefully He crafts you and me. He doesn’t make mistakes.

I wonder sometimes about God’s purpose in making me. I have many, many faults; I struggle with paralyzing fears. I know that I disappoint Him sometimes, just like I disappoint my loved ones here on earth. I’m not perfect, by any means.

At those times when I’m feeling especially insignificant, I can remember the Psalmist’s prayer in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

I love what Bob and Larry tell us at the end of each Veggie Tales episode, “God made you special, and He loves you very much.” Thank you, Lord, for snow!

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

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I Understand Why Pelosi Tore the Speech

by Michelle Fitzpatrick Thomas

white and red flag

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For some reason, my husband Trevor doesn’t care for watching presidential speeches live. He prefers to check out the commentary from the pundits after the fact. So since he had been at work all day on Tuesday and at his second job in the evening, he earned the right to control the TV programming. I enjoy hearing President Trump speak, so I sat on my loveseat watching the State of the Union address Tuesday night on my laptop. I delivered my own commentary during the address to various children or Trevor, as needed. One such example that warranted commentary and many tears was the precious part when the military family was reunited. I cried along with Amy Williams as she stood in shock at the sight of her husband, back from his fourth deployment. I absolutely love watching military family reunions, and I think it was awesome that President Trump included that in his annual address.

There were many other praiseworthy moments Tuesday night, including when Rush Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the introduction of the precious baby girl born at 21 weeks, the honoring of the 100-year-old Tuskegee airman, and the recognition of Kelli and Gage Hake, whose husband/father was killed in action in Iraq several years ago. It was a powerful and touching night that honored our country and highlighted many of the outstanding accomplishments of President Trump’s first three years in office.

When President Trump finished speaking and Nancy Pelosi stood up—for one of the first times that evening—and began to tear the speech in half, I started screaming to whomever would listen, “She’s tearing up his speech! I can’t believe this! She’s tearing up his speech!”

I watched in shock and horror as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives stood behind the President of the United States at the State of the Union address, and like a toddler throwing a tantrum, ripped page after page of his speech in front of the entire world. I felt anger and disgust and embarrassment all rolled into one. How could a woman at her age and with all that she has accomplished possibly behave like a spoiled brat on national television? If anyone needed to be taken out behind the woodshed as a kid for a good, old fashioned spanking to teach her that such behavior is wrong, it was her.

As I’ve had time for my thoughts to simmer since Tuesday, I now understand Pelosi’s actions much better. I tried to put myself in her shoes, and I imagined how I would have felt having to endure sitting behind Barack Obama at any one of his State of the Union addresses. I could never stand to watch him speak for any length of time, because I disagreed so vehemently with everything that he said and stood for. If I had been required to sit behind him and behave myself during an hour-and-a-half speech on national television, it would have been pure torture.

As I mentioned recently, our church is going through a Bible study this year called Wisdom 2020. Our assigned chapter for today was Proverbs 29. In verse 11, it says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man [or woman] keeps himself [or herself] under control.” What I took away from that verse this morning is that it’s perfectly okay to be angry. It’s fine to disagree with a person’s politics or the way that he conducts himself, but to act on that anger in a destructive or hurtful way is what separates the wise from fools.

So while I certainly understand Nancy Pelosi’s actions in pouting through President Trump’s speech, refusing to honor our nation’s heroes by sitting still while others gave them standing ovations, and tearing his speech into pieces at the end, I believe if she had the wisdom of the Lord guiding her, she would have made better, more productive choices. But then again, if she had the wisdom of the Lord guiding her, she likely wouldn’t be in the Democrat party at all.

There’s a standard of conduct that is required and expected in order to represent this nation as a man or woman in the United States Congress. Nancy Pelosi fell far short of that standard this week. She owes the president and this nation an apology. But like insolent children who have been indulged too much and who think the world revolves around them, she probably will never humble herself enough to offer that apology. Shame on her. I pray that she will learn the wisdom of Proverbs so she can turn from her wicked and foolish ways and make better choices with the powerful platform she has been given.

The lesson I learned from Nancy Pelosi’s behavior this week was that we will all be faced with super difficult situations from time to time for the rest of our lives. We can choose to behave in ways that please the Lord or we can do things that dishonor Him. It is our “choice.” That’s a word that’s popular these days, isn’t it? It’s essential that we pray fervently, stay in The Word every day, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with His power constantly so that we display the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) in those tough situations instead of the rotten fruit of the devil.

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1

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Wisdom 2020

by Michelle Fitzpatrick Thomas

Our church is going through a study of God’s Word together in 2020 called “Wisdom: Seeing Life Clearly Through the Lens of Scripture.” Today’s reading is Proverbs chapter 17. My favorite verse in that chapter, and one that I committed to memory years ago says,

close up photo of owl

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“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (v. 28).

I know….it’s weird that that’s my favorite verse of the chapter, but as an introvert, it has always been easy for me to keep silent. I guess that verse makes me feel okay about being such a quiet person. It has always been hard for me to meet new people or speak in public or be a leader.

It’s so interesting to me that an owl is often used as a symbol for wisdom, and one reason for this is because owls can see in the dark.  As we seek the Lord and His wisdom, He equips us to “see” in the darkness of this world with spiritual eyes and to be His light to those who are sick and hurting and lost.

I think what the Lord showed me specifically this morning is that there is great power in our words….for good or evil, for life or death. We desperately need His wisdom moment by moment of every day so that we use our words to build others up instead of causing harm. It’s so easy to lash out in anger or frustration with our kids or spouses, but once our words are spoken, there’s no going back. We can be forgiven for hurtful words, but we certainly don’t want to cause lasting pain to those around us.

There are numerous verses in Scripture that caution us about the words that we use. Here are a few examples:

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2)

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

“Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.” (Proverbs 20:15)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praising and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10)

Whether we talk a lot or a little, God wants us to use wise, life-giving words. I want to commit to be more careful with my words and ask God for His wisdom before I speak. Will you join me? 🙂

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RIP: A Prophet Who Predicted the Mess We’re in Now

Published on American Thinker 8/11/2019.

If you remember the late, great financial teacher Larry Burkett, your life is likely the better for it. I worked with Larry for several years in his Gainesville, Georgia headquarters of Christian Financial Concepts (and continued to work for the organization from home for many years after my children started coming along). In my mind, he ranks right up there with some of our Founding Fathers in his wisdom, love for this country, and amazing foresight in economic and political issues. He even left this world on the same patriotic day as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe—on Independence Day, 2003, at the young age of 63. His teachings, which were straight from Scripture, changed my life and bent the twig for my children and hopefully future generations.

The department in which I worked was tasked with answering constituents’ financial questions, so I had to be quite the student of Larry Burkett. In preparation for answering a certain e-mail, I had the opportunity to skim through the pages of Larry’s 1991 best seller, The Coming Economic Earthquake. The book was updated in 1994 to reflect the happenings of the Clinton era, and it’s amazing how accurate Larry was in his foresight of what was coming for our economy and for the nation, in general. He touched on many topics in the book, but some jumped out at me as especially relevant for today.

In light of the battles over the Common Core agenda that is being shoved down the nation’s collective throat, Larry said, “Check out the curriculum being taught in your local schools and see if it is anti-free-market. It would shock most Americans to realize that a great deal of the economic information being fed their children in elementary schools, high schools, and especially state universities is blatantly socialistic, if not openly communistic.”

He went on,

The only place that communism still seems to flourish is in the American classroom. It is often labeled ‘socialism’ but, in reality, it is the same doctrine that was taught in the Soviet Union prior to the communism collapse: Government is the protector of the downtrodden; capitalism is inherently evil; people deserve decent incomes, regardless of their desire to work or not; and last, the government is a better purveyor of the nation’s resources than the wage earners are.

Sound familiar? The very issues that Larry saw as major problems 25 years ago have escalated at an alarming rate.

The government takeover of health care that was attempted during the Clinton administration was delayed only a few years until Obama came into power and had the political backing to force it onto the nation. Larry had great wisdom and forethought in this matter: “Let me say that if the federal government is allowed to take control of health care, which represents approximately 14 percent of our total economy, it will be the stake in the heart of our free enterprise system. The government cannot solve our health care problems—it is the problem!”

He continued,

Only twelve cents of every government dollar spent on health care now actually reaches a patient. It is a grossly inefficient system. There are two old sayings in Washington that describe what will happen to health care as soon as the political system gains control of that area too: ‘A camel is a horse designed by a government committee,’ and ‘An elephant is a mouse designed to government specifications.’

Wow. If only we had heeded his warning, maybe we wouldn’t be facing the disastrous effects of the government hijacking of our health care system.

Regarding abortion coverage, Larry said, “I rather suspect that, if abortion is accepted as a ‘necessary benefit,’ there would be heavy pressure put on those who oppose abortion to participate or be subjected to financial penalties.” Isn’t this exactly what we’re seeing today? Ministries and faith-based companies (Hobby Lobby and James Dobson’s Family Talk are some of the most recognizable) have been forced to sue the federal government over the abortion mandate in Obamacare. Larry added,

Christians will have to take a stand on this issue, regardless of the consequences. We should have acted with one voice when the Supreme Court decided that somehow an unborn human has no rights. Once abortion is funded through a national health care plan, the number of abortions will likely escalate. God’s people must wake up to this offense now! There is no nation that will survive God’s wrath for long, if and when it decides to kill its young (and old).

When writing The Coming Economic Earthquake, Larry reported that at the current rate of growth, the national debt would swell to $8.7 trillion by the year 2004. Even Larry couldn’t anticipate the rate of reckless spending by the most liberal president in the history of our nation. I believe Larry would be utterly shocked to know that the national debt is now nearly three times his predicted 2004 level, and it is higher than the Gross Domestic Product of our entire nation.

Writing about the forecasted 2004 national debt of $8.7 trillion, Larry said,

There has never been anything approaching this level of debt funding in the history of mankind in so short a period of time, even on a percentage basis. The effects of this will be felt throughout the U.S. and ultimately the world’s economies…..Either the government will take the necessary steps to control the budget and reduce the deficits drastically, or they will resort to monetizing the debt by printing massive amounts of new currency.

We know which option our leaders chose.

Larry went on to say that,

Logic and common sense seem to play small parts in our present society….The answer [to these and all other issues] is found in God’s Word. All of these things are but symptoms. The real problem is that we have removed God from the decision-making process in America today. When any nation does this, evil will prosper. This is not the fault of the politicians; they are responding to the wishes of the most vocal groups. It is that the unprincipled people around us seem to be more committed to their agenda than the true ‘moral majority’ is to theirs.

Larry urged us to get involved in the political process and the issues of the day so that we could make a difference for the better. I would add that if we want to leave this great nation intact for our children and grandchildren, we have no choice but to hold our leaders accountable for their foolish decisions and force them to make changes that will lead us back to the founding principles that made us exceptional.

Some wise thoughts that Larry left us:

The one certainty is that God is still in control no matter what happens….However, knowing that God is in control does not remove our responsibility to do everything possible to change what is happening or to prepare ourselves for some difficult times. As Proverbs 16:9 says, ‘The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.’

We are to witness to those around us that God is sufficient in all things….God desires followers who will serve Him regardless of the costs. Adversity seems to strengthen us, whereas prosperity tends to weaken us. As the Prophet said in Proverbs 30:8-9, ‘Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, lest I be full and deny Thee and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.’

Larry Burkett left this earth entirely too soon. We need his wisdom now more than ever.

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Motherhood

A new friend just sent this quote by G.K. Chesterton to me. I hope it blesses you mamas who might be feeling insignificant today! You are exactly what your children need. You’re enough!


GK Chesterton quote

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