Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘family’

For Better or Worse

Warning: Abrasive tone and dark sarcasm ahead.

Allt hat you are is all that I'll ever need - Ed Sheeran

Umm … no pressure. I’m not even all that I need.

Your role, should you choose to accept it, is to spend the rest of your life in service to Mr X. You will ensure that, at the very least, your dishes and laundry are always done. Wherever possible, you will do his as well. You may not leave any laundry or dishes lying around the house – EVER. And you must clear away yours and his whenever you notice them. Be vigilant!

You will plan and prepare all meals – and don’t forget that you’ll need to do the shopping, too. Oh, and of course, you’ll have to earn the money for that shopping … you ARE and independent woman after all, aren’t you?

You’ll have to do “your share” when it comes to raising the kids – and it’s very important that you always agree on every aspect of parenting. This means that getting them dressed, clean, fed, educated, loved, cared for, and played with rests every bit as firmly on your shoulders as it does on his. And so does discipline. This is all about equality, after all – so you both get to do everything. All. The. Time.

But wait – there’s more! You need to listen to him: his plans, and hopes, and dreams – and don’t you dare dash a single one! Just listen. You need to listen to his fears, and irritations, and the things that make him MAD. And remember: he’s just venting. None of this is aimed at you. No matter how angry and hurtful it all sounds, just listen. All he wants is to get it out. He will want to ponder the big questions of life with you, so mae sure your philosophy is up to date. And he’ll have some pretty serious emotional damage (who doesn’t?!), so better brush off that psychology degree. Sometimes you’ll drive him crazy – for no good reason. When that happens, he’ll need to talk to you about it, so be calm and compassionate. Listen patiently, and try to see how you were wrong, and how you can improve and do better next time.

He needs a buddy: go bowling with him. Or watch the sport he loves. Or play that video game that keeps him up all weekend. He needs companionship, and that’s what marriage is all about. Make sure you go fishing with him, and takes those long walks he loves. Never mind your allergies or your bad back – this is for the greater good. It’s important. Oh – and so is your “Me Time” – so don’t neglect yourself. Be sure to fit in some self-care time. Shave. Exercise. Stay in shape … you don’t want to turn him off with the way you’ve let yourself go, do you?

Since you’ll be sharing the cooking duties, you need to be sure your skills are current. Be a good chef! And remember to put all the dishes away WHERE THEY GO when you wash up every day. After all, that’s what he would do.

You’ll need to make the bed if you’re the last one to leave it. And take out the trash, of course. Really, that’s all anyone’s asking of you – surely that’s not so hard, is it? Oh wait – and you need to keep your car serviced and running properly. His too, come to that.

Now that he’s married you, he really doesn’t need anyone else. You’re there for him. You listen. You’re his confidante and his sounding board. You GET him. That’s what you’re there for, after all. Right? So make sure you’re objective and can see all the sides of the situation all the time (no matter the day or week or month you’ve had). But also don’t forget to be on his side all the time. He needs your complete support, trust, and understanding. No matter how crazy or hormonal or emotional or irrational he sounds.

After all, without getting absolutely everything he needs from you, he can never – EVER – be truly happy. And you just don’t have the right to take his happiness from him. That’s very selfish.

I know this is had, but it’s meant to be tongue in cheek. Over the last two years, I’ve been working on my perspective of the things that frustrate me in my life, trying to see how I can see things more clearly and thus become more content with the way they are. It’s been my experience that we lie to ourselves and make our lives seem worse than they are, and then allow those beliefs to sap all our joy and happiness from our lives.

This piece, then, is actually the expectations we (or at least me) tend to place on our menfolk. I’ve written it as if they expect this from us, just to show how very extreme our demands are. No self-respecting woman would ever accept a job like this, no matter how much we loved someone. And we’d probably also never admit – to ourselves or anyone else – that we expected this much from anyone, let alone our one true love.

And yet, when I chat to my girlfriends, and even more when I consider my own frustrations, all of these things have come up. We do expect the men we marry to work and provide, and of course maintain cars and home. But we also expect them to do at least as much inside the home as we do … and then we trivialise what they do, and pick on them for not doing it our way (the right way, obviously!).

And on top of all of that, we expect them to meet every emotional, psychological, physical, social, and ambitious need we have. All the time. We call it “being there for me”. But really it’s more like we’re some kind of giant emotional parasite sapping an already depleted source.

Years ago, when villages were strong and families and friends all lived in close proximity, sharing chores and labour and child-rearing between them all, these expectations were less common. We had mothers and sisters and friends and daughters and fathers and uncles and village elders and mystics and cousins and grandparents and pastors and priests to guide us. We had midwives and farm managers with decades of life under the belt, to answer our questions.

We had companions on every hand – people to help with the cooking and the cleaning and the kids, people to share jokes with and discuss ideas with and get advice from. And they weren’t all one poor, hapless soul who had the misfortune to fall in love with us.

I’ve just started reading Liz Gilbert’s book, Committed. In the early pages she talks about the Hmong tribe in Vietnam, and their very ancient, village-like living arrangements. Lots of people living together in small spaces; women doing women’s work while me do men’s work. Your friends were the women folk who shared your daily chores. Your advisors were the elders of the village. Your husband was a protector and a provider and a progenitor … and yes, maybe even a friend. But not necessarily a confidante and counsellor and business partner.

And I really don’t think that was ever the plan. Surely that’s too much to ask of one person!

I know I wouldn’t be okay with it.

Just some food for thought.


When things don’t go according to plan

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to stumble across this post on Proverbs31.org, talking about being a bad mama, and how we judge ourselves so harshly for what really is, at the heart of it, a universal condition.

In the related resources section there’s a link to a book titled, “I need some help here: when things don’t go according to plan”.

It resonated with me this week.

Just two days ago I was doing a quick life review, and smiling wryly to myself about the “old days”, back when we thought Cystic Fibrosis was the only glitch on our radar, and everything else would be plain sailing if we could avoid that obstacle.

Thank God, we did.

I am grateful every single day that the spectre of CF doesn’t loom large over our lives, and every time either of the girls runs the slightest fever, battles to take a breath, is constipated for more than a day or a kiss on a sweaty forehead leaves a trace of salt on my lips, my blood pressure rises, my heart races, and in seconds flat I’m back in the darkness of that “worst case”. And as I talk myself down from the edge of the cliff and remind myself we’re not riding the thermals above that particular abyss, a fresh wave of gratitude washes over me and I am so very thankful for the health challenges we don’t face.

But things have not gone according to plan.

I look back and laugh at the young and innocent me, with her high hopes and crazy ideals. At what I thought would be my life. That audacious young woman for whom no task was too hard. That lady who was part of a team, a partnership against the trials of this world, characterised by open, honest communication and bucket-loads of laughter. That disciplined adult who saved and invested and lived within her means, always providing for her family’s needs. That tiger mama with her bold cubs and their infinite resourcefulness. Those irrepressible learners I knew I’d breed, who loved reading and maths and acquiring knowledge, and who could instinctively see how all the bits fit together and why it matters.

Sometimes I miss that silly, bright-eyed girl.

(In fact, to my surprise, I saw her again the other  day. I glanced into her eyes and couldn’t place her at all. She was in the mirror, grinning at me with a kind mischief all over her wrinkle-free face. I have no idea how she got there, and it took me a few minutes to remember who she was).

But mostly, I’m too busy with the task at hand to think much about the fun I thought I’d be having. When we imagined CF in our future, we had no compassion for challenged learners. ADD didn’t frighten me. I knew my kids would never have it, and if they did I’d be ready to guide them through it. Dyslexia? Nah. Autism spectrum? No chance. Our problems were potentially much bigger, I reasoned. Or non-existent. There was no middle ground.

I guess motherhood is a great leveller and a teacher of compassion and perspective. And for that, I am grateful.

I now know how even a mild sniffle, if it arrives on the wrong day, can be a burden you hardly feel able to bear. I also know that, surprisingly, you can bear it. It’s possible to survive and even thrive in the midst of the trails – maybe even because of them.

Yes, definitely because of them.

Those hard times that we all face (and we all do) lend an ethereal beauty to even the most mundane aspects of every day, and make our lives precious and beautiful things indeed.

I am so infinitely grateful.


Want To vs Ought To

Sometimes, I just don't want to.

Sometimes, I just don’t want to.

As you know, Papa Bear and I are working through our Church’s RU programme. Now, a large part of the effectiveness of the programme lies in habitually getting into the Word, studying it, meditating on it, and considering it from angles that may be new to you. The programme uses a series of challenges to motivate you to keep at it. These challenges earn you points, and for my results-motivated, check-box-driven, performance-addicted brain, it’s really an ideal way to progress. And it works!

So, today is Saturday. My sister’s birthday breakfast at the Market (which was awesome), has been and gone, and theoretically the day stretches before us: unhurried and unplanned. What shall we do?

In a flurry of Pavlovian-eagerness, Red Riding Hood rattles out her nine-times-table, feeds her dog and her bird, and begs to be allowed to play on the computer (times tables and chores are the price for computer time). Shortly afterwards Goldilocks follows suit, and I have two happily engaged daughters frying their eyeballs by gluing them to Star Stables.

I decide that it’s the perfect time to have my Quiet Time, do all the RU challenges I can do easily (get them out of the way, ya know?), get some housework done and then tackle my To Do list for work. Awesome! I’m amped and motivated and ready to be fed, and to write something brilliant (or at least acceptable).

Papa Bear asks me how I’d like to spend my day, and I say I think it’s a great time to catch up on challenges for RU. (He’s a book-and-a-half behind me, so it would be even better for him 😉 ). He says, “Hmm, I don’t know what I’d like to do today.”

I actually laughed out loud.

What I’d like to do? The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. How could I think about things I’d like to do, when there was so much I have to do still outstanding?

I was struck by the thought.

Do we do what we do because we want to, or because we should? Does it matter? Is one motivation less valid, less noble than another?

Should I want to do the things I have to do? Would that make me a better person?

To be honest, I don’t have a feeling about it either way. I do what needs to be done. Isn’t that how it goes? Now that I’ve been thinking about it, I do want to do the things that need to be done … because then they’re done. And then I don’t need to do them any more. Because they’re done. So I want to do them.

Also, I love God and spending time with Him. I love my children and I really enjoy teaching them. I love my work and really enjoy doing it, and learning how to do it better. So I guess from that perspective, I am doing what I want to do.

But I’m not learning to speak French, or play the ‘cello. I’m not reading Kierkegaard or watching Walter Lewin teach physics on YouTube. I’m not doing cross-fit or walking the dogs or painting or writing words that will impact generations. So I guess from that perspective, I’m not doing what I want to do.

I simply hadn’t considered it before.

I am now. … just as soon as I get these articles written and those social media profiles maintained …

Movie Magic? hmmm…

We don’t watch a lot of TV. In fact, as far as regularly scheduled viewing goes, we watch none at all. What we watch is a few favourite series, and movies. We do watch a lot of those. In fairness, most of the movie watching happens after the kids go to bed, and we use it to keep us awake. The background noise, interspersed with moments of humour or action, works well to fight off the yawns at 11PM, when deadlines are looming and sleep seems so very appealing – and so very taboo.

In general, watching movies makes us more productive, if you measure productivity by the number of hours you spend working each day. Which we don’t. However, there are some things that just can’t be done when a movie is on. Movies use up my “Words Brain”, so that I can focus my “Pictures Brain” on creating websites. But when the work I need to do is strategy or writing work, movies are no jolly help at all. In fact, at those times it’s easy to believe that movies are designed to enslave us and squash both creativity and productivity.

With time, I have developed such a strong association between late night working and late night watching that it’s hard to do one without the other. This impacts both our family time, which typically sees me enslaved in thoughts, conversations and executions of work, and my work time, which tends to be randomly focused and easily distracted. In fact, I recently wrote an entire article without actually knowing what I was saying. (I really shouldn’t advertise that fact, and the article actually turned out really well, reinforcing my suspicion that the words I write have very little to do with me: I’m just some kind of business-wired conduit for content. I’m not sure whether or not this is a good thing).

Movies are a very affordable solution  to date night on a shoestring: we simply cook (or order curry – yummm), and cuddle up on the couch for a night of box office bliss. It’s cosy, safer than braving the streets at night, cheaper (and better for my paranoia) than hiring a babysitter, and of course the risk of allergic reaction to restaurant food is significantly reduced. But is it really connecting? I wonder.

We use movies and TV series as part of our school curriculum, too. When we were studying Arthur and Merlin, the BBC TV series Merlin gave us some great insight into both the story itself and life in those times. The White Queen, too violent and X-rated for my kids, nonetheless gave me some valuable background insights into how the 1400s in England may have been, and made it easier to convey that during our reading and discussion on the subject. There are many more examples I could give, but suffice it to say that movies make up a large part of our family time together. With our diverse learning styles and processing challenges, we seem to have found common ground huddled around a little box.

Having said that, I find my own creativity and productivity seem to be hampered by over exposure to television and movies. I write less, and what I write has less value. I hardly draw at all, and I create nothing but websites: no dolls, clothes, crafts or works of art. Not even a little garden. I have been known to stay up after I’ve finished my work, to see what happens next in whatever I was watching to try and stay awake in the first place. As someone who is already reaping the health rewards of being chronically sleep-deprived, this is a luxury I really can’t afford.

So the question is, is there value to be had in obsessive consumption of visual entertainment? And the answer is, yes – perhaps. In moderation. To see the full benefit of corporate viewing, we should always watch what our kids are watching – and watch it with them – to make sure their heads aren’t being stuffed with fluff, and to answer their questions as they arise. It’s important to get enough exercise in between all the couch-potatoing, and of course, focus on healthy snacks and balanced meals so as not to exacerbate a potential health-threatening situation. Finally, don’t sit in silence. Discuss what you’re watching, and what you’ve watched. Use it to spark interesting conversations and lively debates. Never allow values and morals to be presented without question. Whether you agree with the sentiment expressed, or fundamentally oppose it, never let it go unchallenged. Encourage discussion and critical thinking, while always teaching sound values and imparting a firm moral compass. This will go a long way towards solving many of the purported evils of too much television. Done correctly, this approach could even reverse the negatives altogether by the teaching of a reasoned response to opposing views.

Do you watch too much TV? Or too little? Do you just absorb what’s coming at you like a sponge, or do you prefer to challenge yourself, to question the logic and even use the premise of a move as an opportunity to grow? I’d love to know.

Chores made simple

Our Family Chore Chart

Our Family Chore Chart

Hard work matters

I believe in the value of hard work. It seems to me that the mystical “work ethic” of ages past is becoming a rarer and rarer commodity. As we strive so hard to inculcate a sense of self-esteem into the next generation, we are missing the mark and, instead, creating a culture of entitlement and laziness.

Parents have a duty to teach their children the value of hard work, and to equip them with the practical skills needed to perform the work. Not only that, studies show that when we have work to do, and the work is valued and achievable, our sense of self worth actually increases. In other words, while we cosset our little ones and “protect” them from the hardship of “real life”, with all it’s responsibilities, demands and work, in a misguided attempt to improve their sense of self esteem, we are in fact doing the very opposite, and creating a vacuum of meaning in their lives.


Chores provide the perfect opportunity to develop a good work ethic. Certain things need to be done every single day in order for a family to function efficiently. If these things are left undone, chaos ensues. If all of these things are done by just one or two people, chaos ensues, and so does burn out and family feuding. But if each person has a job to do, and everyone contributes equally to the smooth running of the home, and is fairly rewarded for their contribution, the result is bliss. A sense of teamwork, harmony and mutual dependency develops which results in everyone feeling like they matter; like they belong.

The problems with chores are fairness and consistency. I usually find that I forget who is supposed to do what, I forget to check up on whether or not it’s been done, and in the end it seems so much simpler for me just to do it all. Until I burn out, of course.

Making it practical

This year, we’re trying something new (although I’m sure all of you already have this brilliant plan in place!). I’ve devised a chore chart. It’s a table broken into 9 columns, and in each row is the name of a chore that needed to be done each day. At the start of every week, we sit with the list and each of us chooses 7 or 8 chores to take of in the week ahead. Our names are written in the columns next to the chores we’ve chosen, and the seven blocks to the right of our names represent the days of the week. Each day, once we’ve completed a chore, we tick it off.


Every weekend we go to the Farmers’ Market. Anyone who has done all their chores all week long gets R50 pocket money to spend on themselves at the market. If they’ve done more than their fair share, they get an extra R5 per additional chore they’ve done, provided they’ve done it all week long. We are all expected to tithe 10% of that, and to save 10% of that. But the rest is ours to spend as we please, or to save if we prefer. This means that the girls get a great grounding in the basics of money management, not to mention a fairly concrete maths lesson each week.

So that’s the economics taken of. However, I also want to foster a sense of teamwork, kindness and generosity. I absolutely don’t think that working for money and money alone will ever create that. Instead, no one will do anything unless they’re paid to do it. So while I believe in the value of earning your keep, and being paid for a job well done, it needs to go beyond that.

Every evening with supper, we either chat, read stories, play board games or, most often, watch movies. Now what we do is vote for the person ho was most kind and generous in a particular day. Each nominee has to make a case for their election (see: a debate lesson), and then the vote is cast. The winner chooses the evening’s entertainment.

So far it’s going very well. The house runs smoothly(ish), and everyone has a sense of participation in that success. We have far fewer grumbles about doing chores, and I have more times for things other than washing the dishes. All-in-all, I’m very satisfied with the results so far.

What about you? Do you use chore charts? How do you incentivise the system, and what works in your house? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Who’s the grown up, anyway?

This is a post that has been festering in my mind for some time. It’s one of those rant-posts in which bloggers sometimes indulge, where weeks and months of pent-up frustration spurts out onto the screen like a giant, electronic ink blot on an otherwise clean, tidy page.

Defining the issue

Joy on a Shoestring's Manifesto for grown-ups

Joy on a Shoestring’s Manifesto for grown-ups

Adults ought to behave like adults unless they have a physiological impairment that prevents them from doing so. That might seem obvious to some, but based on the interactions I observe between individuals of all ages (including my own fits of pique), it’s clearly not as self-evident as one would hope. In the interests of clarity, let’s be clear about what I mean when I say adults should behave like adults. How does an adult behave?

Here’s a simplified definition:

  • A grown-up shows restraint.
  • A grown-up waits until she has all the facts before reacting.
  • A grown-up bases her reactions on the truth.
  • A grown-up listens.
  • A grown-up is wise.
  • A grown-up considers the source of a communication.
  • A grown-up behaves discreetly and with respect.
  • A grown-up is patient with those who have not grown up as far as he has.
  • A grown-up is hard to offend.
  • A grown-up is quick to forgive.
  • A grown-up seeks the growth of others.
  • A grown-up is not petty, small-minded, easily swayed or weak.
  • A grown-up laughs it off.
  • A grown-up is kind.

Adults behave like spoilt children

I heard of a lady once whose two-year-old grandchild refused to greet her. The child’s parents had taught it that no physical interaction should ever be forced, and that it is always okay to say no to too much touching. The lady was innocent of malice, but also inclined to be overwhelmingly “huggy”. When the child refused to engage, the lady became so angry that she stormed off and left the event – her grandchild’s birthday party. I was astonished. How can a two-year-old child offend anybody? Surely anyone can see that the chid means no harm, and surely no offence can ever be taken in the absence of intent? In other words, the child didn’t mean it. How can a two-year-old ever be offensive? A mature adult would realise that the source of the “confrontation” was innocent, and would therefore not take it personally. If anything, an adult would laugh it off. It doesn’t take much of a perspective-shift to see the funny side of that interaction: an over-ebullient granny imposing one too many kisses on a frazzled toddler; the toddler, with great dignity, rebuffing the affection. Truth be told, it was hilarious. (Interestingly, in later years it has transpired that the toddler in question has a mild form of Asperger’s Syndrome, and struggles with social occasions of any kind, not to mention overwhelming attention).

Parents expect too much from their children

Not just their children, in fact. Poorly adjusted adults expect too much from everyone – and very little indeed from themselves. These are the people who expect their young children to clean up after themselves, while they themselves do not. Or, if they do clean up after themselves, they haven’t patiently taught their little ones to do the same, and stand in astonishment when the untrained children leave a mess, having absolutely no tools with which to remedy the situation.

be strong - you're inspiringThese so-called adults complain about their sick bodies, yet take no steps to fix the situation. Perhaps they make poor eating choices, neglect exercise, or poison their bodies in any of the myriad legal avenues available to the subconsciously self-destructive today. They fail to see that each moment of sickness is a moment of health stolen by force from those who love them. The irony is lost on them altogether when they berate their children for not finishing a “healthy” lunch (which included sweets, crisps and that cleverly disguised pack of chemicals and sugars the shop euphemistically labels ‘yoghurt’), when they themselves make astoundingly poor meal choices day after day. Where will you children learn the principles of hygiene, home making and healthy living if not from you? Yes, they can acquire these skills later in life, with effort and motivation. But how much more of a gift is it for parents to train their children in the way they should go? When they’re older, they will find it so much easier to revert to what they know, so what they know needs to be what they need. Their every day experience becomes their baseline for what lies ahead. That’s why it is vital that their every day experience consists of the very best we can hope to offer, and not the very worst of what we are. When we lazily and selfishly default to that, we create a rotten foundation for our children and make it hard for them to be the best they can be. They deserve better!

We placate ourselves with words, telling ourselves that our children need to realise that their parents are only human, reassuring ourselves that children are resilient; they will survive. Really? Yes, we’re human. But they can learn from us that it is possible to strive daily to be the best version of human we can be, and sometimes even to achieve that. Yes, they are resilient, but do you really want your children to survive their childhood? Is it not far better for them to thrive in their formative years? Childhood should not be some kind of concentration camp from which we’re lucky to escape intact. Childhood should be a breeding ground for genius, for contagious creativity and boundless innovation.

We expect too little from ourselves

As much as we expect our children and are fellow man to be more than they are, we expect too little from ourselves. We give up too easily. Often, we get off the track before we’ve even started the race. We don’t stare down danger, we cower under a duvet and hope it won’t find us. And when we have no choice but to weather the trials, do we respond with grace and dignity? Oh no! We moan and wail. We wallow in an ocean of self-pity and make sure the world sees just how hard done by we are. We are being watched. We are lighting ways. Be strong! Acquire dignity, gentleness and peace.

A better way

children are great imitators so give them something great to imitateThere is a better ay to achieve adulthood. First of all, we need to acknowledge that it can and should be achieved. I may not be responsible for any cognitively healthy adult other than myself, but I am responsible for myself. I need to draw a line in the sand and say, that is who I was. This is who I choose to be now. Itemise the differences between who you are and who you would like to be, then make small, consistent changes each and every day to become that person. People have said for years that positive thinking can change lives. The Bible clearly commands us to renew our minds. Now, science shows that we can reprogramme our neural pathways to default to new ways of thinking. If we can, we should! If we can be better than we are, what’s stopping us?

Let’s take active steps right now, this minute, to become the grown-up version of ourselves, fixed, whole, and contributing.

  1. Commit to honesty. Mark Twain has famously been credited with saying that the beauty of honesty is never having to remember what you’ve said. Be clear with those closest to you: you will speak the truth. You will keep your promises, or not make promises at all. You will admit your fears and your failings. You will humbly apologise and ask to be forgiven. No more passive-aggressive mind games for you. The truth will indeed set you free.
  2. Agree to approach the situation with gentleness. Make a verbal and mental commitment that, no matter how angry, astonished or hurt you may feel, you will always respond gently and kindly. There is always more to a situation than we realise. Only sociopaths actively do horrible things with the express intention of hurting others. The people in your life are not sociopaths. They don’t mean to hurt, annoy or anger you, so bear that in mind when you react and be calm until you know the whole story. By that time, your anger will have dissipated anyway, and you will be able to resolve your differences in love.
  3. Be rational. Look at point two again. If someone you love has hurt you, they didn’t mean to. Even when we hurt others, they don’t always try to hurt us back, so simply assume the best, and act on that assumption. You may be wrong. You may be taken for a ride by someone who sees you as a soft touch. But wouldn’t you rather be wrong when you’ve behaved well, with dignity, honour and grace, than be wrong when you’ve behaved appallingly, shouting insults and hurling abuse? No one can be ashamed of having taken the high road, no matter the outcome. So take it.
  4. Be a grown up. Easy peasy. Stop being a child. No matter what has happened to you, unless you have a serious physiological impairment, you have no excuse for selfish behaviour, so stop behaving selfishly. The simple act of putting others first is enough to begin a radical transformation in every part of your life. Let the power of that transformation take hold in your life, and transform you into a wellspring of blessing in every life your life touches.

The power of partnership

Papa Bear and I have a relationship that makes me feel blessed on a regular basis. It’s true that we have our differences – some serious. There are times when we’ve had enough of each other and times when we can’t recall how we came together in the first place. Some days I’m sure each of us wonders if we’ll be able to last through the tough times, or if walking away from it all is the better part of valour.

But we never do walk away. Our partnership is based on our faith, first and foremost, and that is what makes it strong. It really isn’t about us, at all. I know that I am very lucky to have a man who loves to read, who gets my jokes (and makes his own), who laughs at life’s trials with me, and who adores our children. He is supportive and involved. I am very lucky indeed, but even without all of those things, I believe God hates divorce, and that keeps me with my man in the tough times.

More than that, we can parent as a team, and that is also based on our shared faith. We’re pulling together. Ultimately, our goals for parenting and educating our children have very little to do with how much Shakespeare they can recite, or how fast their mental arithmetic is. For us, what matters most is raising children who are firmly rooted and grounded in the Word of God, saved and able to make wise choices. We care about their discernment, their understanding of biblical precepts, and their unwavering faith. Everything else comes second and so, no matter what route we take in any area of their lives or our own, we pull together, because we share our faith.

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