Welcome to The Character Building for Families Blog!

Hi! I’m Lee Ann Rubsam, author of Character Building for Families. My husband and I are former homeschoolers. (Our children are grown now.) We started homeschooling back in the pioneer days of the homeschooling movement, before many people knew what homeschooling was. Our daughters were with us at home for their entire elementary and high school education. We had a blast together!

Character Building for Families is the character curriculum which I wrote for them many years ago, because I saw a need in our family for an organized approach to character training, rather than teaching it in a hit-or-miss fashion. (I was concerned about the “miss” part.)

I hope you will visit our Character Building for Families website to see what our books have to offer. They are totally Bible-based, easy to use, are a great way for the entire family to grow together in Christ-like character qualities, and your kids will love them.

Volume1     Volume2

We have quite a bit of free info for you at the Character Building for Families website, some which is specifically geared toward homeschooling families and some which is just plain encouraging for all Christians!  You may want to check out our The Names of God page, which alphabetically lists over 600 of God’s names and titles, as recorded in the KJV Bible.

We have other books for you as well, including River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus, which is a study geared toward high schoolers and adults, and Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God. For a full listing of our books, please visit our website, Full Gospel Family Publications.

So, that’s the website, but what about this blog? Our goal is to talk about various homeschool topics, especially character education from a homeschool perspective. I will post a few of our older articles to begin with, but you will also find fresh material showing up here on a regular basis. If you don’t want to miss a thing, in the right-hand column of this page, you will find an option to subscribe via e-mail.

Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 2)

Leah drawingIn the last post, I laid some foundations concerning God’s purpose for the family. We saw that God clearly stated the family’s mandate in Genesis 1:26-28. We also noted that the family’s critical importance in God’s plan continued to be revealed as a thread throughout the Old Testament. God brought — and is still bringing — His redemptive plan for the earth to fulfillment through Jesus our Lord. Isn’t it interesting that He chose to do that by having Jesus be born into a family! He didn’t have to do that. He could have had Him arrive on the scene in a myriad of other ways, but He chose family as His vehicle. God stays true to His principles and patterns.

How does God’s mandate for families affect us today? How can we fulfill His plan for building His kingdom through our families? Let’s go back to Matthew 28:19, 20, where we started in our last post:

Go therefore, and teach [disciple] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

In our eagerness to evangelize lost people throughout the world, the Church has sometimes neglected to realize that God’s plans generally start at home and move outward — a ripple effect, if you will. In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples, “But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit comes upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Their witness was to start at home and spread outward from there. While we’ve been zealous at times to bring the Good News to all nations, we’ve often forgotten to disciple our own families. We have not done well at following God’s pattern.

Furthermore, in 1 Timothy 5:8, the apostle Paul said, “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” He was speaking of providing materially, but I think we could carry the principle into the realm of the spiritual as well. Many of us have made the mistake of neglecting the spiritual needs of our immediate family for the sake of ministry outside the home. In doing so, we have stepped outside of God’s order. Whenever we fudge on His order, the fruit of our labors is also compromised. The results do not reach the level of excellence which God intended.

So, in discipling all nations and teaching them to observe the Lord’s commands, we must begin at home. It is just as vital to have the Kingdom populated with our own sons and daughters as it is to fill it with converts from outside our families. This is why Paul exhorted the older women to “teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, so that the word of God is not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4, 5). We don’t want our children to eventually become reprobates who blaspheme the word of God. Neither do we want nonbelievers blaspheming, due to seeing that our families are a mess. Our families are meant to be a testimony to the greatness of God, just as the family of Israel was meant to show forth His glory in Old Testament times.

That idea of expanding the Kingdom by filling it (in part) with our children has become foreign to our American way of thinking. We’ve been brainwashed for decades into thinking responsible stewardship of the earth means we must play our role in population control. Having more than two children has become exceedingly frowned upon. However, God told Adam and Eve to replenish (fill) the earth (Genesis 1:28). He also said that “children are a heritage of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is His reward” (Psalm 127:3).

This doesn’t mean that it is more spiritual or blessed to have a large family than a small one. Many of us have not been given large families. Jacob’s son Joseph had only two sons, and yet Genesis 39:21 tells us, “The LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor.” The point is that we must see children as a blessing, not a liability, and that having children who grow up with a passion for the Lord is an excellent way to build God’s kingdom.

More on this subject next time.

 Previous: Part 1

Character Building for Families

Character Building for Families

Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 1)

Leah drawingIf you are a believer in Jesus, you are probably familiar with Matthew 28:19, 20, commonly called “the Great Commission”:

Go therefore, and teach [disciple] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

Sadly, while we have often exhorted one another to evangelize and disciple people outside of our immediate families, the Church has not done a great job of helping parents to view their own children as their first mission field.  Leading our sons and daughters into the kingdom of heaven and keeping them there, teaching them how to continually deepen their relationship with Jesus, and imparting to them the ongoing vision of expanding Christ’s influence  — this is a weighty calling for parents, not to be minimized or delegated elsewhere. We need to be fervent in fulfilling this God-given, God-blessed responsibility.

The family is a primary tool in God’s hands for carrying out His purposes in the earth. Because this is so, we have regularly seen Satan attack the family, through the legalization of abortion, the ease and acceptance of divorce, the gradual disapproval of our society toward large families, and government’s desire to parent through the education system. Satan’s latest onslaught is the push to redefine marriage to include any and all deviations from the biblical definition of one man and one woman who are joined together in covenant before the Lord.

God laid out His purpose for family on the first day of man’s existence. Genesis 1:26-28 states it clearly:

And God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion … over all the earth ….” So God created man in His own image … male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, and multiply; replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

After the worldwide flood, God repeated His original mandate to Noah and his family: “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth'” (Genesis 9:1).

God’s plan for families has remained the same down through history: be fruitful; multiply; replenish, subdue, and have dominion in the earth.

In Hebrew, the word translated “replenish” in the KJV means to “fill, accomplish, confirm, consecrate, gather (selves, together), flow in fullness, and fence.” I am intrigued by the idea that families were meant to bring consecration to the earth, and to fence it (provide godly boundaries to what goes on there), along with accomplishing God’s purposes and gathering people together – perhaps unto the Lord.

“Dominion” means to “tread down, subjugate, prevail against, rule, reign, and take.” It sounds like what a conquering army would do, doesn’t it? Although everything was perfect at the time of creation, God already knew that man would rebel, thereby  bringing upon the world great evil and dragging mankind into the universal spiritual conflict. Truly, we would have to prevail against our own sinful natures and against the devil. We would have to learn to rule and reign in the face of much opposition. God built into mankind the purpose of spiritual warfare, and He called it forth in the original family, Adam and Eve, before sin had yet entered their world.

The mandate for the family continued as a thread throughout Old Testament history. God called forth a people peculiarly His own through Abraham, and then defined that family more specifically through Isaac and his son Jacob, who became Israel. At each step of the way, hindrances arose to the purposes of family being fulfilled, for Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren, and so was Isaac’s wife Rebekah. Only through prayer and divine intervention were the obstacles removed, so that God’s chosen family could accomplish His redemptive plan. God promised blessing to all the people of the earth through Abraham, which was fulfilled through Abraham’s “seed” — Messiah Jesus (Galatians 3:8-16). The earth was eventually to be “consecrated” (one of the meanings in that word “replenish”) through Jesus, Abraham’s descendant. We will see the final consecration take place when Jesus returns to earth to restore all things.

Throughout Old Testament times, the people of Israel understood that their purpose was to be a living testimony to God’s reality and faithfulness. They knew that He had said to Abraham, “In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). Furthermore, He had instructed them to welcome the stranger and give him a place in the land — the understanding being that the stranger would embrace the Israelites’ God and the way in which He was to be worshiped. They did not yet understand the details of how that would all unfold through the Messiah, but they did have the concept of their family being used by God to bring others to know Him.

I have been laying foundation to establish the importance of family, from the very beginning, in the heart of God. Next time, we’ll talk about how we can apply these truths in our time, so that we and our families can fulfill our God-given mandate.

Next: Part 2

Character Building for Families

Character Building for Families

Considering God’s Creation (Curriculum Review)

Considering_Gods_Creation_SetI’d like to share with you a favorite science program out of our homeschooling past — Considering God’s Creation. Authored by sisters Susan Mortimer and Betty Smith, who homeschooled their own children and were themselves homeschooled on the mission field, Considering God’s Creation is a multi-grade level (teach all the kids at once from the same curriculum), semi-hands-on approach to earth and life science.

Like many “written for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers” programs, it is easy to work with, because the authors understand the homeschool lifestyle from personal experience.

Considering God’s Creation is advertised as being suitable for 2nd-7th grade. In my estimation, the ideal age for use is 3rd – 4th grade, but using the “Digging Deeper” suggestions in each lesson for further research projects could extend its usefulness to the older grades as well.

The materials consist of a teacher’s manual with instructions and lecture material in print form, a music CD with songs which correlate with the lessons, and a 270-page PDF student workbook. Because the workbook is delivered as a PDF, you can print as many workbooks as you need for your family. That’s a lot of time, ink, and wear on the printer, but at least you avoid shipping charges. (Tip: Get ink for a fraction of the cost on eBay.)

Rock_thumbThe workbook can be collected into a three-ring binder, and makes a very nice science keepsake notebook when complete. My daughter loved to look through her completed pages again and again, frequently crawling up into her daddy’s lap to share her science book — all without any prompting from Mom!

Twenty-two topics are presented, which will take you one to three years to  cover, if you work through them thoroughly. We needed about two years to complete the curriculum. We enjoyed spending extra time on some of our favorite topics, supplementing with additional materials from the library. (Why hurry, when you’re having fun learning?)

Topics include creation, the universe, earth, light, sound, wind, weather, clouds, rocks, the plant and animal kingdoms, food chains, reproduction and genetics, and human and animal anatomy/physiology.

The materials are decidedly Christian in emphasis, come from a young earth creationist viewpoint, and are full of very well researched information. I was impressed with how comprehensive the lessons were.

I really liked the nice balance between instructional information (lecture material) and hands-on activities. There were no failed experiments  and no turning the kitchen into a science laboratory, where the  countertop is overrun with aquariums and terrariums full of who-knows-what kinds of disgusting creatures and their by-products! The hands-on projects are simple enough for Mom and interesting enough for the kids, so everyone keeps smiling.

Many of the worksheet pages are simple color, cut, and paste activities, or pages to record observations, rather than actual experiments.

I thoroughly liked this program. So did my daughter. We were both a little sad when it was all done.

To sum up, this is an exceptionally well-done science curriculum, easy to use, presenting a worldview which will be acceptable to most Christians, with minimal lesson preparation time for Mom. Parents and their children are both going to like working with Considering God’s Creation.

Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 3)

Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet John 13:5Last time, we began talking about character qualities of good leaders and how to instill them into our children. Here are a few more:

Leaders take initiative. They see where a job needs doing, and they do it. Learning to go ahead and meet the needs before being asked is a huge leadership skill. Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Foursquare Church, used to watch for upcoming leaders by leaving crumpled bits of paper lying around and then waiting to see who would notice and pick them up. Learning to take initiative precedes acquiring the skill of delegation.

Leaders inspire others to go higher. Teach your children to encourage others. Start by making a conscious effort to first encourage them. It is easy to miss seeing the things they do right, while consistently pointing out what needs to improve, because we want to put the necessary changes in motion. However, we need to praise them for doing well even more than we correct them. That is not natural to our human nature. The only way to accomplish this shift in our parenting is by persistently asking the Holy Spirit to give us His perspective on our children. “Lord, help me to see them through Your lenses, and open my eyes to what they are doing well.”

We can also inspire our children to go higher by challenging them to tasks or levels of accomplishment which are a little above what they feel capable of. This takes wisdom from the Lord, so as not to expect so much from them that they become overly frustrated. Keep a watchful eye, and be ready to step in and assist them if the task you have assigned to them seems to be stressing them out.

Give your older ones the opportunity to teach younger siblings skills which they have already mastered. Remind them to coach and cheerlead their little brothers and sisters onward. This is a great way to stretch them and help them mature.

Leadership does not involve bullying, tyrannizing, intimidating, manipulating, heavy-handedness, or expecting others to bow down to us.

  • Teach your children to be advocates for one another and for others. Use Jesus, the Elder Brother, as their example. “… We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). An advocate is a champion, supporter, and defender for someone else.
  • Teach them not to boss each other. This can be a task which requires great vigilance!
  • Teach them to give to others with no strings attached.

Instill in your children the concept of sonship. In a properly functioning family, one child is not loved more than another by the parents. So it is in the Kingdom of God. There are no “haves” versus “have-nots.” God does not have favorite children. We are all His favorites. There are no second-class sons and daughters in His family. Some of us are closer to our heavenly Father than others of us, but it is not because He has a love for one more than for another. It is our choice. He gives us equal opportunity for intimate relationship with Him.

Now, I know. The Church has not done very well with the sonship concept. We’ve developed a caste system in our midst, giving preeminence to those more outwardly talented or beautiful, and implying that ministry function determines value of the individual person. Let me just say that this is a problem stemming from our fallen nature. It is not the heart of our Father in heaven.

Someone has to reform the whole mess, and I can’t think of a better way than by  teaching our children where we went wrong and how to operate differently. As we raise up our future leaders in truth, they will influence others for change.

Perhaps the task of raising up a new generation of leaders from within your family seems daunting. Yes, it is — and we can’t accomplish it on our own. I’ve tried to give you a vision for what can be, along with some practical steps to get there. But, as with all our attempts to parent well, the way to success is through leaning on the Holy Spirit for guidance. We can’t possibly form Christ-like character in our children without His insight to help us. Ultimately, even if we are the best parents in the world, He is also the One Who must do the work in our children’s hearts.

So, depend on Him, and follow His leading to the best of your ability. If you do, He will see to producing the fruit in your children.

Previous: Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 2)  

 

Character Building for Families

 

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids — Update

HSPrayerKids400A few months ago, we released our e-book,  The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids as a Kindle book, exclusively at Amazon. We’re delighted to have expanded its availability to other e-book retailers as well. You can get your copy at:

Apple iBooks
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Kobo
Flipkart
Smashwords

Coming soon to Oyster and Scribd.

One of our main goals as Christian homeschooling parents is to help our children come into a vibrant relationship with Jesus. We want to give them the tools to help them stand strong in an increasingly wicked society. The key is to help them become prayerful people who hold the truths of God’s Word deeply in their hearts. But, how do we get them there?

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids presents a simple, step-by-step plan for developing lifelong, consistent prayer and Bible reading habits in your children. From her own experience, Lee Ann Rubsam shares the details of how to lead your children into intimate communion with God through prayer and the Word. If you have the desire to teach your children to pray, but have felt unsure of how to make it a reality in your home, this short book is for you.

E-book only, $1.49 USD

 

Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 2)

YertleI have always loved Dr. Seuss’s story, Yertle the Turtle. In it, he tells of an arrogant turtle-king who aspires to be above everyone and everything else. Yertle oppresses all the other turtles, thinking they exist only to exalt him to an ever-higher position. It resonates, doesn’t it? I’ll bet you have had some experience with Yertles in your own life. I know I have!

The funny thing is, although none of us want to be trampled by Yertles, most of us feel naturally inclined to be one — if we can only get away with it. It’s that old fallen nature we deal with. And, if we don’t put some concentrated effort into discipling the Yertle out of our kids, it is what they automatically gravitate toward.

Jesus had to teach His disciples not to strive for the top position. You no doubt are familiar with the story, found in Mark 10:35-45, of James and John asking if they could be the guys who were second in command, once Jesus came into His glory. When the other disciples heard about it, they were quite offended (probably mostly because they also wanted to be at the top of the heap!) Jesus sat them down and corrected their wrong attitude: “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you …” (vs. 42, 43). He went on to explain that those who desire to be great must become servants to everyone else, and that He Himself came to serve and to sacrifice Himself.

It’s a hard concept to get into our noggins. Jesus had to repeat the message more than once, and the disciples never did quite get it until He had empowered them with the indwelling Holy Spirit, after His resurrection and ascension. Even at the last supper, with Jesus telling them that He was soon to die, “there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22:24). Once again, He patiently went through the whole talk about serving, rather than lording it over one another. That tells me that we have to diligently teach, and frequently re-teach, this concept to our children.

So, what should we teach them about leadership?

Real leaders are first and foremost servants. Jesus, although He truly was Lord of the whole universe, “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant …” (Philippians 2:7). At our house, we thoroughly memorized Philippians 2:3-15. It nails the nitty-gritty details of humility, putting others’ interests before our own, not clawing for position, and generally acting as sons and daughters of God ought to.

Servant leadership is even catching on in the secular business world, with some of America’s most prominent and successful corporations now shifting in this direction. Why? Because they found out it works. When people are treated well by management, production is better because morale is better.

Leaders care about the people whom they lead. Unlike the corporate servant leadership model, in the Jesus model, leaders don’t serve so that they can squeeze more production out of people by boosting morale. They serve because they love. Besides using Philippians 2 to teach this concept, we incorporated memorization and detailed discussion of 1 Corinthians 13, especially verses 1-7 and 13, to get the message firmly planted in our children’s hearts.

Leaders rejoice in the successes of others, rather than feeling threatened by them. Reading and discussing 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 is a great way to instill this idea. To begin with, try narrowing it down to immediate family for easy application, and expand outward from there to the local church and beyond:

In our family, we all belong to each other. We are one.  Just like when your stomach hurts, none of the rest of your body feels well, when one part of our family is hurting, all the rest of us feel it, and when one of us has happy things happen to him, we are all glad together.

Some of you are older, and you can be stronger, like the shoulders or legs, while little brothers and sisters are the weaker, more tender parts, who need more protection. We take care of each other and are not jealous of each other.

It would be silly for you to stamp on your own fingers with your foot, or for your finger to feel jealous of your eyeball, wouldn’t it? We work together as a family unit, just as all the body parts work in unity, and we are meant to share each others’ joys and sorrows.

(Etc. You get the idea.)

We’ll continue next time with a few more qualities of leaders, and ideas for how we can build them into our children.

Previous: Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 1)
Next: Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 3) 

 

Character Building for Families

 

Raising Our Children to Be Leaders

EmmausIn the last couple of posts, I talked about why the homeschool environment is a natural place to birth leaders, and why raising our children to lead is important. But you may be thinking, “How do I go about teaching them the leadership skills they will need?”

Learning to be a good follower is a prerequisite for being a good leader. Successful leadership requires an understanding of how authority works, and where one fits into the chain of command. Even the secular world grasps this concept. Most companies require management employees to go through a training process, which often involves coming up through the ranks. When they don’t, problems with discontent often flare up among the workers. The Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant commented, “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Luke 7:8).

Throughout the Bible, we see seasoned men of God training up future leaders by first giving them opportunity to follow and serve in everyday ways. Elisha served Elijah for many years before he came into his own prophetic ministry. Jesus said, “Follow me” to His disciples long before He sent them out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and have authority over unclean spirits. Those same disciples eventually raised up others to be leaders through a process of helping them first learn to follow: Paul with Timothy, Peter with Mark, John with Polycarp.

Paul encouraged whole churches who were under his care to follow him:

Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. — 1 Corinthians 11:1

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them who walk like unto us, whom you have for an example. — Philippians 3:17

So that’s where we can get our children started — by teaching them to follow us. In the process of following, they will learn two things:

  1. How leaders should treat their followers — because they become acquainted firsthand with how it feels to be in submission to someone else.
  2. How to lead by watching someone else model it for them.

We learn how to treat people, and how not to treat them, based not only on specific instruction given to us, but also on both the good and bad things we have experienced at the hands of others. As your children learn to follow you, they will see both the good and not-so-good ways you handle leadership. And they will make mental notes of how they will do things the same or differently when they become parents. It happens with every generation.

Obviously, our goal is to lead in the very best, Christ-like way possible. But even when we don’t, the Lord’s grace is there to help our children learn humility and submission.

Next time, we’ll begin looking at hallmark qualities of a good leader, and practical ways we can instill them into our children.

Previous — Homeschool: Incubator of Leaders (Part 2)
Next — Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 2)

 

Character Building for Families