Help for Creating a Family Mission Statement

There’s a new website to help families create their Family Mission Statement. It is engagefamily.com. This is a Christian site that will help your family find the words to express the purpose of your family and then put it in an attractive form on a magnet that you can display on your refrigerator where the whole family can see it every day. They are fulfilling an important role in supporting families. I believe that this practice is vital in pulling a family together and helping them to seek the Lord together to find out what His purpose is for their family and the message He wants them to convey to the world.

We started doing this years ago after I read the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey.

I wrote about our family’s mission statement here.

One thing that Stephen Covey said in his book that really encouraged me was that we should not expect perfection or get frustrated when we miss the mark. He said that setting these goals would at least give us something to shoot for. If we are aiming at nothing, that’s what we’ll get. But if we have a target, we are more likely to do better than we would if there was no target at all. There would be something that our family could rally around, a plan that would promote unity and define what kind of family we are and what we’re all about.

Several months ago, we were assessing how we’ve been doing in living out the mission statement we came up with, and I realized that we had become that family that I was hoping and dreaming that we would become. It’s all by the grace of God. He is strengthening our family, and I pray that something I share here will help someone else strengthen and build a loving, godly family that will be able to make it through any storm or trial.

What Does Noah's Ark Have to Do With Going to the Moon?

(Post originally written Nov. 17, 2007)

We’ve been studying Genesis, but we’re not moving through it very fast. We keep going back to Noah and the Flood! I don’t know why exactly. I just keep finding resources about it, and they’re too good to not share with my children.

We’ve read these books:

The Secret on Ararat

by Tim LaHaye and Bob Phillips

The Heavens Before by Kacy Barnett-Gramckow

Sequel to The Heavens Before – about Nimrod and the Tower of Babel – He Who Lifts the Skies

A Rift in Time by Michael Phillips.

I had the kids watch the video In Search of Noah’s Ark.

It had the same information that was in The Secret on Ararat.

There have been so many people through the years who have seen the Ark on Ararat and have even gone onto the Ark, that it’s hard to believe that we’ve been so deceived to believe that it’s not even there.

The kids loved reading The Secret on Ararat because it was full of action and suspense. They were begging me to read more chapters. They are also loving The Heavens Before. We have really been immersed in what it must have been like in the Days of Noah. It was awful when every man’s thoughts were evil continually. It’s hard to imagine everybody in the world, except one family, being evil. How God must have grieved. And how sad and frustrated Noah must have felt to be preaching and warning all the time for 120 years and not having any converts, except perhaps for 3 women who became his daughters-in-law. Talk about an unsuccessful man! Or was he unsuccessful? I’d say he was the most successful man of his time! He sure came out on top in the end. He was the only one who survived. And he became the father and grandfather of everybody on Earth. What is the measure of your success? Obedience to what God has told me to do. That’s the measure of my success.

There are so many lessons to learn from these stories in the Old Testament. I’m amazed at the way God leads our studies. Because of our studies of Noah’s Ark, I started reading about the astronaut James Irwin. He led expeditions to Ararat to look for the Ark because of the spiritual experience he had while spending time on the moon. He felt God’s presence there with him on the moon. He came back to Earth with a new mission: to tell everyone that God is real and He loves us and we should be so thankful for this wonderful home He gave us to live on. He felt at home everywhere he went on Earth after his time on the moon.

I wonder if he felt a bit like Noah, though. I think he was pretty well-received in the churches he went to, but I wonder how the scientific world received his message. As skeptical and humanistic as the scientific establishment is, I doubt if they gave him a very warm reception. No matter that he knew as much as they did and more, having been an astronaut, and having been on the moon; they still reject his message and deny the existence of God.

Science was started by Christians. I pray that Christians can take back the ground they have lost and get the funding and the platform they need to make a difference in what is taught in public schools and in the media.

Let the Children Come… At Their Own Pace

I keep reading posts by homeschooling mothers talking about all of these learning problems that their children have. I was a first grade teacher in public school before I became a homeschooler. I wanted to do the things they taught me about in college when I started teaching in the classroom, because they made sense to me. But I couldn’t because the school had a system. They used textbooks. Everybody used the same books, and rushed every student through these books page by page. There was no time for anybody to have a learning difference. The ones who weren’t ready to read got held back in first grade. Then they suffered that stigma of “failing” first grade. I hated that. But it had to be done. That’s how the system worked. If they couldn’t handle the second grade books and program, I couldn’t send them on to suffer even more failure.

But the theories and methods I learned about in college were more about letting children do things that helped them get ready to read. The big thing at that time was whole language. We learned that we should use real books instead of textbooks. We learned that we should let them be creative instead of making them use workbooks. We were taught that we should immerse them in a topic by using unit studies, and by connecting new learning to knowledge and experience they had already attained.

I couldn’t figure out how to do any of that with all the workbooks I had to get the class through and the rigid system that was already in place. I had to do things the way all the other teachers did them. I’m sure I wouldn’t have had a job as long as I did if I had tried to stray too far from the norm. I did a few of the things that Ruth Beechick recommends long before I ever heard of her. We made lists of words that start with the same letter or have the same spelling pattern. We wrote stories together as a class. I even had them do some copywork. But mostly I had to try to rush the children through all of the books and hope they could pick it up by the end of the school year.

Now that I’m homeschooling my own children, I can do what I wanted to do all along – what I was trained to do in my education classes. I can do all kinds of pre-reading activities with my children. I can read aloud to them and take them places and point out things in nature. I can fill them up with all kinds of experiences and knowledge before I ever ask them to write anything down. I can give them something to write about, to think about, to wonder about. They can make connections in their own minds in their own time. They can look at books on their own and make the knowledge their own. I’m available to them when they want to come and share what they’ve been learning through reading or being read to or through watching a video or even sometimes through playing a video game. I’m not concerned about dyslexia or dysgraphia or any other dys- somebody might come up with next. Each of my kids is learning at his own rate and in the way the Lord wants him to, because I’m letting Him lead. I’m giving them time to grow and develop in the way He made them to. I’m so glad I don’t have to force my children to perform according to an arbitrary schedule or system set in place by people who don’t even know my children and most likely don’t know God, either. I would rather get my wisdom from my Creator than from administrators and professional educators.

I was so excited to find Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s book For the Children’s Sake when my first child was just a toddler. Her description of Charlotte Mason’s methods sounded like the ideal way to educate children. Then I read more about Charlotte Mason and became even more convinced that God was telling me to use real, living books and to let them learn a lot from nature. I also believe in short lessons and lots of time to play. When I read Teaching Children which is like a companion book to For the Children’s Sake, I knew I was home.

I have loved our homeschooling journey. We have learned so much together as a family. And each of my children has learned so much on his own as he delves into what interests him. We use the Sonlight reading list to pick out so many very good books that have drawn us even closer together as a family as we read them together. Recently, I have discovered Cindy Rushton who has helped me pull together lots of things I couldn’t seem to figure out on my own. Notebooking has helped in our organization and in getting something on paper, so that our learning is set in place by the act of processing the information by narrating and writing about what we’ve read and learned. And even more recently I discovered Heart of Wisdom, and finally got the revelation that the Bible really is the most important thing for us to study. I used to say it was, but I didn’t know how to incorporate it into our homeschool plan. Robin Sampson has convinced me of its importance and shown me how to teach it in a way that my children will be excited about it and will really learn it because they want to. She and Cindy both encourage us to pray and find out God’s will for every detail of our homeschooling. I’m grateful for these mentors who are helping so many of us to teach our children well and love them well. And their devotion to the Lord and His Word and His will inspire me to press in and read His Word more and pray and seek His will for each of my children’s lives. Their example has helped me to set goals and define the things that are important to me and that will improve our family life.

Another author who influenced my thinking was Dr. Raymond Moore. His book, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, helped me to see that giving children real things to do, projects and tasks to accomplish, would produce the best learning. He believed in giving children time to mature before asking them to do academic work. He did research that showed that eye muscle development and fine motor skills develop later than 5 or 6 years old. He encouraged parents to wait and let the child’s readiness signal when to start academic work.

Pushing children to read when they’re six years old or younger, pushing them to write on the lines and make it look nice before they’re physically or mentally ready is doing those children a great disservice. And then to call this immaturity a learning problem or learning disability and to try every kind of curriculum to find the one that works for this child seems to me to be a waste of money and time, not to mention the stress and worry that this kind of thinking engenders. I just want to encourage mothers who are afraid their child may be behind to realize that there is no “behind”. All children are different, and 6 years old is not the magic age that every child should be ready to learn to read. Don’t stress. Don’t worry. Don’t fear. If you truly believe in Ruth Beechick’s teachings, Charlotte Mason’s method, Cindy Rushton and Robin Sampson’s approaches, then give your children some freedom to learn and grow and develop according to their bents, the way God made them. Relax and let God have the wheel. He knows the way.

Family Mission Statement

I think it’s important to develop a family mission statement for your family. I gathered the kids together and we came up with a family mission statement several years ago. I did this after reading Seven habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey.

One thing that Stephen Covey said in his book that really encouraged me was that we should not expect perfection or get frustrated when we miss the mark. He said that setting these goals would at least give us something to shoot for. If we are aiming at nothing, that’s what we’ll get. But if we have a target, we are more likely to do better than we would if there was no target at all. There would be something that our family could rally around, a plan that would promote unity and define what kind of family we are and what we’re all about.

Here is our family mission statement:

1. To live out the kind of life that God wants Christian families to live.

2. To teach other families how to live together in love and kindness, with God as the center of all we do.

3. To glorify God in all that we say and do.

Let the Lord build your house. Ps. 127:1

These are some of our basic beliefs about how God designed family.

We believe that children are important spiritually.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior. Ps. 127:4

They shall speak with their enemies in the gate. Ps 127:5


You train them and point them in the right direction, then send them out. Or even better, they find their own place in the family and the family unit stays together, even into the second generation (and beyond!).

Children increase your family’s spiritual power when you all pray together. When a family prays about their purpose and goals as a family, each member feels important and necessary. When a family does spiritual warfare together, the power of agreement and the dynamic of corporate prayer is added. The parents don’t carry the full burden of fighting for the family or hearing the voice of the Lord, finding out His will for the family in difficult situations.

When children have been trained to pray in this way, they may choose to gather around their parents and pray for them when they feel burdened. They can lift them up and carry them when they’re weak. When children hear parents arguing, they can pray together for them.

They can join with their parents and speak with their enemies in the gate. In this way, children know that they have a purpose and an important role in their family. Because you’re all in the same family, you have the same intensity of desire (and hopefully intensity of prayer) because whatever happens affects all of you. You automatically increase your prayer power through numbers and through agreement and unity.

They learn from the family how the family of God is supposed to live together and interact with each other.

Comparison and competition should be discouraged. Children should be encouraged to love their brothers and sisters. To be happy and rejoice with one who has something good happen. Instead of being selfish and jealous, they should be pointed toward the loving, giving way to react. They should be encouraged to help each other, to protect each other, to be nicer to each other than they are to non-family-members, instead of vice versa. The older ones should help take care of the younger ones. In this way, they begin to learn how to be good parents and how to be patient with others. These attributes will help them in dealing with people outside of the family – people in the household of faith and people in the world. The children in a warm, close family learn how to build strong, honest, loving relationships with others.

They learn how to handle stress and conflict in a loving way in a warm, supportive environment. Positive peer pressure can come into play when one child is misbehaving, and the others want peace to be restored. The whole family can express disapproval of the behavior and exert pressure on the renegade to line up with the will of the majority. Older children should be made to recognize their leadership roles. They are role models to younger children by virtue of being older. They should be encouraged to embrace that position and use it in a positive way. They should be rewarded and given positive reinforcement for setting a good example and for interacting lovingly with their siblings.

I recently read these goals to the family and asked their thoughts about how we’re doing as far as fulfilling these goals. The consensus was that we’re doing pretty well. We talked about areas we need to improve in. I asked if anybody thought we needed to change or add anything. Shawn mentioned that we need to make sure that people know how important it is to never show favoritism. We have seen families where one parent takes one of the children as their pet and the other parent takes another child as their pet. We think this is really bad. I think each one of my kids feels equally loved by me and by Gary. We have tried to be fair with each of them and give them attention and affection as equally as possible. Some need more attention or affection than others, and when they need it, all they have to do is come to us.

Another theme that seems important to us is developing personal relationships with God. It wasn’t going to church every Sunday that made a difference in my husband’s spiritual life, or in mine, really. It was developing our own personal relationships with the Lord in our prayer time and especially during struggles and trials. Our kids haven’t gone to church every Sunday. We haven’t found a church that could handle all of us. But we have been praying and studying the Word together, and my children are in good shape spiritually. I know they are.

Katie added that people who don’t spend much time at home but are busy running around all the time don’t seem to get close to each other and have a harder time getting along with each other.

Shawn’s closing statement was: A family should grow closer to God together. It should be a continual progression – an unbroken fellowship.