Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 3rd Grade :)

Discipling Our Children at HOME Sweet HOME

on November 18, 2014

God’s Design for Family:

Family is the cornerstone, the basic building block of Christ’s kingdom here on earth. Parents following God’s design must diligently teach their children the things of God at all times, in all places and in all ways (Deut.6:4-7). This builds Christ’s kingdom here on earth. Christian worship, teaching, & ministry is primarily a function of the family. This is God’s design for family.

I love to blog here about how discipleship with our children is a relational process that God designed to happen best at home with parents who can do it better than anyone or anything else. As everyone I know seems to be so sincerely concerned about giving their child every opportunity through various after school activities, and families just seem to keep getting busier outside the home, today I would like to put a plug in for……..staying HOME! I will share what God is showing me about building up our homes–the living breathing God given places for discipleship to occur–for the highest purpose of reaching and influencing other families for God.

Books written by the wonderful authors, Sally and Clay Clarkson, wisely speak on building a home according to God’s design. If you were only going to buy one homeschool book, ever, I would tell you to get Educating the Whole Hearted Child, by the Clarksons, as it is a foundational book for any Christian homeschool. It has all encompassing information on how to set up a Christian homeschool, but is also filled with the most heartfelt and wise words of mentorship from a family whose grasp on God’s design for the family is amazing. I have been engrossed in its very meaty content for months now. Sally, who coaches younger mothers in the calling of motherhood, also has a few different books that teach how mothers build their homes as homemakers. In her book, the Mission of Motherhood, she exhorts, “the task of building our homes into places of beauty and life that will feed the hearts, souls, and minds of our children is the most comprehensive task to which God has called us as mothers. We are called quite literally to be “home makers.” When we homemakers think “build up our homes,” we can think of lovingly and daily building it with our own hands and words.

HomeMakers Beautify Their Homes, and Beautiful Homes Nurture Children’s Spirits

Lately, when I think of our own home, I think of cozy candle light, afternoon or evening tea times, always homemade food, the aroma of apple cider or popcorn, daddy’s Bible drills and Saturday morning omelette specialties, hearts joining over family reads like Heaven is For Real, hearing bare feet running up and down the hall, craft time extravaganzas, nature park collections lighting up the mantel and tables with seasonal decor, and intensely celebrated movie nights and game nights. It hasn’t always been this way. When we were first married, we lived in a barren one bedroom apartment and had almost no traditions. Home has come a long way for us, but it hasn’t happened overnight. As He so masterfully does, God pulled on our hearts, and is centering us on home and the building up a strong sense of family, and we are delighted with His increasing creative expression of beauty in our home. Having a home that is welcoming and beautiful happens to be a Cravalho family core value, and little by little the walls of our home reverberate more with the life of God. As Sally Clarkson says, “God is a God of creativity and dimension, and so He is pleased when we we co-create beauty in our own realm, through the power of His Spirit. It was a profound realization when I understood that I could become an artist with my very life.” As homemakers, we can make our home interesting, captivating, colorful, creative, and full of life.

The activities and traditions that we have at home are not just fun family “things to do”, they are the platform for ministry to our children, as a real life tangible expression of the life of God. As our children’s 5 senses are nurtured at home through these types of cozy sights, sounds, and experiences, their soul’s need for joy and delight is satisfied, which opens the door for their spirit to be reached. All that is done at home–from tea time to decorating to holiday traditions– is for the purpose of nurturing the life of God into the souls of our children, so that they want to know and follow Him. An inviting home provides access to our children’s spirits, and is therefore a strong foundation for discipleship. A home is a cistern from which our children may willingly choose to quench their thirst, rather than anywhere else in the world, if it is indeed a fountain of life.

We can give our children reasons to always think of home as the best place to be. Working hard to make home as fun as possible helps form strong family ties (rather than friends houses or outside activities being the greater draw). Rich family literature, family movie nights, game nights, tea times, traditions, and special homemade foods all help to enrich home and family life. When we make our homes vibrant and warm, we are nurturing our children’s spirits and winning their hearts.

A Home is Perfectly Designed to Reach the Lost

Families need to be together on several levels: at home as a faithful family, fellowshipping at church with other faithful families, and ministering to the world as a faithful family. I really want me and my family to be used by God. Yet, I always feel like my time is too tied up with small children to be of any use to the ministry of my church. However, as a Christian, I feel the never ceasing pull of the call of the Great Commission. My predicament knaws away at me because I was heart and soul involved in church ministry before children. Ideally, I know that now with children, I would want to serve in some way that would directly feed into the discipleship process of my children, but I can’t find any church ministry that can be done very easily side by side with a 1, 4, and 5 year old! Why is finding time to serve at church and wholeheartedly raising a house full of children always at such odds with each other? Must I choose one or the other? Hello, home based family driven ministry! God can use the building up that is occuring in our home through homeschool and various family practices, the very things we have our hands and hearts tied up in anyway, to be a main source of ministry–ministry that is easy and natural to do in this season of life because its at home, not church.

An awesome champion for families and author of Family Driven Faith, Voddie Baucham Jr., describes how the love that grows in a home following God’s pattern for family, produces an exquisitely attractive expression of ministry. He says, “Our homes must be rife with the aroma of love. Those who visit us should notice immediately that they have left the world of self-serving, egocentric narcissism and have entered a safe harbor where people value and esteem others above themselves. Outsiders should enter our homes and never want to leave. Our neighbors should find excuses to visit us just to get another whiff of the fragrant aroma of love. The brokenhearted should long to be near us. The downtrodden and the abused should seek us out. Families on the brink of disaster should point to us and say, “Why can’t our home be like that?” A home made beautiful by its inhabitants and their infectious love for each other and Jesus, is how God designed families to effectively and powerfully live out Jesus’ Great Commission.

Sally Clarkson likes to share personal “In Our Home” snippets that bring her family lifestyle to life for the reader. She explains how her family purposely sets apart some time to meet with the Lord during an evening of fellowship with visiting guests, and how that simple act of ministry has served as an instrumental form of discipleship in her children’s lives. Sally shares, “There is always the challenge to balance fun and faith, but we regularly have other families over and dedicate part of our evening to talking about the Lord, sharing testimonies, singing hymns and praise songs, and praying together. Even if we keep the time short, it still creates an indelible mark on our children’s spirits. Even now that they are older, they still remember times of significant spiritual fellowship, if only because such times are becoming more rare in our isolated culture.” Her words have stayed with me for months. The way that the Clarkson’s use their home to reach out to others really makes perfect sense to me. They embody true family ministry, and the higher purpose that God designs families for. Ministry doesn’t have to involve running around in separate directions all the time if we think of the home as the major source of outreach, rather than the church. Families can simply live a vibrant life rich in God, making their home life an irresistable fragrant aroma, and then invite people in to experience the sweet reality of God present in their family driven faith– all so that other families may “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

From a good old fashioned book of Acts house meeting rounded out with food and fun, to an intimate little family gathering with grandparents, any type of gathering can be used to glorify God in our homes. Our personal new family goal for gatherings is to bring everyone before God in some meaningful way, no matter who comes over–family, friends, or strangers. If the things Sally described as part of her family culture, aren’t a regular part of our family ways, then it would be an awkward effort to try to drum such a thing up for company. However, if its just what we always do at our house anyway, then replicating it will provide a natural, authentic, and wonderful experience for our unsaved (or saved!) guests to taste and see the life of God that flows in our home. And no need to worry or strive– “demonstrating God” to outsiders can be very simple. We just begin with whatever we normally do together as a family. For example, since our family is currently reading Heaven is For Real, we can include our guests in our after dinner chapter read aloud; we could read from the Bible as we usually do in the evening, or pick a slip of paper out of our Giving Jar–because its what we do in the evening together anyway. Whatever naturally flows out of the life we have built up together in this season is what we can share. What an easy way to share our faith! If we didn’t normally and regularly do the things Sally mentioned in our home at night as a family, then it won’t likely transpire with any authenticity when guests are visiting. I believe that a gathering without any Jesus time should be considered a shame, since inviting people to share in the life of God that flows in the unique way that it does at your house or my house, is the easiest and most powerfully effective witness that a family has.

Being able to minister to others as a family all starts with holding regular family worship/devotions. Pastor Voddie explains the importance of family worship, “Reading and memorizing Scripture and the catechisms of the church [as a family together at home] results in incredible development of children, both spiritually and intellectually. What families regard as important is evidenced by the manner in which they spend their time. Therefore, regular family worship shows the children that their parents believe that Jesus Christ is central to all of life. This practice leaves a legacy that will benefit thousands in generations to come.” If we share with people the natural ouflow of our homeschool gleanings and family life of worship, we are using what God has given us for His glory, and will experience the exquisite joy of being a family that can ministers to others together. I believe that ministering through our homes, together with our children, will be the most instrumental of discipleship experiences that we can offer our children.

Home Discipleship is Awesome!

To operate and grow in all 3 levels of togetherness–at home as a faithful family, fellowshipping at church with other faithful families, and ministering to the world as a faithful family–obviously takes much time spent together! Building a home of family driven faith requires spending considerable time at home. Does our current schedule, choices, and priorities allow for these 3 levels to become a reality in our lives? Do we find ourselves saying, “I don’t have time!” Lets be careful of the “good things” we are involved in that may be eating up our time, and taking up the place of “better things.” I challenge us all to bring our children home more, for deeper and more regular strategic discipleship influence. If you don’t feel convinced yet, just pick up a copy of Educating the Wholehearted Child and read chapter 3, Home Nurture; or chapter 10, Discipleship Studies Methods: The Study of the Bible. Those two chapters especially opened my eyes to see just how big this job of discipling is! Just to skim the surface of what is discussed, let me list some of the areas that God can use us to disciple our children:

  • hold regular family devotions
  • help our children form personal devotion habits
  • train them in the gift of grace by ministering hospitality to neighbors together
  • train them how to listen for God’s voice in the Word and in prayer
  • teach them how to search the scriptures using Bible study helps (commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias, concordances, etc.)
  • engage the family in dinner table talks surrounding Biblical topics
  • create a fun home Bible club or weekly scripture memory challenge/drill
  • read inspiring biographies about heroes of the faith together
  • create and practice our own list of family values
  • get involved in a regular service project together
  • volunteer as a family for a church ministry
  • make care packages or write pen pals to get involved in world missions
  • give to the needy

Awesome (and time consuming!) responsibility moms and dads!!! Just envision how much God can do through our families when we decide to make the time to go deeper. Help us to go there Jesus!

As I study the words of family coaches like the Clarksons and Pastor Voddie, I envision a home with an atmosphere of great drawing power–both on our children and anyone in our life who may need Jesus. I am realizing how a family that spends a lot of time together at home is able to better tend and nurture the children’s spirits, as well as win their hearts for the purpose of discipleship. I am realizing how important a strong home is in order to disciple children, as well as reach out to others. I am realizing that the nature and extent of parents’ commitment to nurture, disciple, and educate their children will dramatically effect their view of home, how much time they spend at home, and how they choose to spend their time at home.

Home is where the heart is, and home is where we can best reach our children. It is our homes that give God the most undistracted access to our children’s hearts and minds. The home is a God designed dynamic learning environment for children. Therefore, we as a family commit to being at home, together, a lot, in order to build our home. We desire a slower paced environment and atmosphere in our home, where our children can soak and drink deeply of God, rather than us always rushing in and out, building up much of our lives outside of home, and separately. With some intentional thought, we can make our home a place that our children prefer over any other place. With the holidays coming, it might just be the right time for all of us to slow down and cozy up together at home, work on beautifying and warming up the atmosphere, open up our homes to minister through hospitality, while seeking God to expand our vision of home discipleship.

Love you.

Picking Popcorn at Ardenwood Historic Farm

Picking Popcorn at Ardenwood Historic Farm

Happy Harvest

Happy Harvest

Nature Boy

Nature Boy

Happy 4th Birthday Faithy!

Happy 4th Birthday Faithy!

Big Boy

Big Boy

Good Daddy

Good Daddy

I Want to be a Diver When I Grow Up (and an astronaut)

I Want to be a Diver When I Grow Up (and an astronaut)

Learning how to spell and sound out "space"

Learning how to spell and sound out “space”

Noah's Pyramid Idea

Noah’s Pyramid Idea

Daniel's Praying Hands

Daniel’s Praying Hands

Do I Have to Mommy?

Must I Mommy?

Noah's Block Pyramid Idea

Noah’s Block Pyramid Idea

Craft Extravaganzas, My Favorite Moments

Craft Extravaganzas, My Favorite Moments

A Kid Inspired Project

A Kid Inspired Project

Putting Some Blessings Together for Our Neighbors

Putting Some Blessings Together for Our Neighbors

All Ready!

All Ready to Go!

Sweet Karla Invited Us to Play on Her Putting Green

Sweet Neighbor Karla Invited Us to Play on Her Backyard Putting Green

Astronaut Faith

Astronaut Noah at the Chabot Space and Science Center

Astronaut Noah

Astronaut Faith

In the Mercury Capsule

In the Mercury Capsule

At the Nature Park on a Rainy Day

At the Nature Park on a Rainy Day

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The Creek is Flowing Again!

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Free Play is Wonderful!

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This is Pretty Much How We Look at the End of the Day

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Costumed Cuties and Our Giant Homegrown Pumpkin

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Blasting Off in Our Cardboard Rocket

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Three in a Row!

Daniel at School

Daniel at School

What Can I Say?

“What Can I Say?”

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Adventures in Nature

Golf at the Nature Park

Golf at the Nature Park

Fall Finds

Fall Finds are Gorgeous

Faith and Mommy's Leaf Turkey

Faith and Mommy’s Leaf Turkey

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My Beautiful Mother on Her 70th Birthday

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Noah’s Tree Study in his Nature Journal

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My Nature Journal in Progress

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Awesome Rocket Art

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Dinner and Stories with Neighbor Doris

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Daniel’s Finally Starting to Walk!

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Noah’s Number Arrangements for 6, 7, & 8 (a design with combinations, which enable you to quickly determine what number it is)

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Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Decides to Make a Play Dough Megalith

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So sweet how Faith brushes Daniel’s hair every morning, and he loves it.

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King and …..Queen??? History is Getting Weird.

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Shape Puzzles Were the Perfect Math Challenge for Faith


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