Dear Pearls,

It’s finally happening. I’m having fun with our kids. We faithfully trained them, but I began to feel like we were doing more damage control than heart training. Then, a few months ago, I relaxed one day, got into their kiddy pool with them, and genuinely had fun. A few more times of totally enjoying them, and I was transformed, “hooked” on the pleasure of playing with my children. I feel like a teen again, babysitting someone else’s kids and having such a good time. I smile more; they smile more, and they respond to me so much better. I feel like we’re more of a unit or team now, rather than Daddy and Mamma against three individual kids, stressing ourselves in the attempt to “get” joyful, obedient children.

It has also resulted in my husband and I enjoying each other more. All this has made for a happier, more fun wife who is remembering how to play with and have more fun with my man, too. He sure loves it. Debi’s book has been a wonderful means of convicting me and getting me back on that important track.
Family life for all of us is fun right now. I want our kids to remember a happy, energetic, laughing, singing, dancing mamma who knows how to have fun. And you’ve helped me begin making those memories for them. Thank you.

Having fun, Rose

Michael Answers:
I can’t pass up this opportunity to comment on this letter. It is letters like this that puts the joy in our No Greater Joy Ministry. Rose has stated it in such a fresh and direct manner.

Just this morning, Deb and I were sitting at the breakfast table discussing a family that we know. Their children grew up at the same time as ours, in another state far from here. They showed great promise when their children were young and into their teens, but the years have somehow spoiled the fruit. Their young daughter hung around the house, growing older and “well protected”, until one day she met a “hoodlum” at a public place. In time and against her parents’ wishes, she married him. I won’t depress you with the stories of her seven brothers and sisters, or the continuing sadness of the parents, but it grieves us to see them suffer so. At one time, they were well-known, shining examples of the ideal homeschool family with a patriarchal head. Enough said.

joyoftraining3

Deb and I sat over our dirty dishes and wondered how it could happen. We recalled another Christian family that came along at the same time, but did not show such promise. They were more worldly and far less disciplined, neither taking vows of chastity nor parental headship. But their children turned out well—happy, emotionally secure, and with a high sense of self-respect. They have all married well and begun their Christian families, seemingly on good footing. It almost seems unjust. From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like the righteous do suffer while the sinner is blessed. But years of experience and the Word of God have given Deb and me a good measure of wisdom in matters like these.

We know that the sad family gave much attention to the externals. They were anxious to do everything right and to look right, as well. But they were overly busy with well-doing, such as providing their children music lessons, special math classes, etc. While they dutifully instilled Christian principles and protected their children, there was a constant sense of anxiety about maintaining their image of a “good family”.

The joyful family was more relaxed and happy, with standards noticeably lower, but they were not defined by condemnation. They had a larger circle of families to fellowship with and a bigger pool to swim in. The parents were not “trying so hard”; they were just living a life of joy and peace, loving each other, and jumping in the kiddy pool like Rose in the letter above.

Rules and principles make good fences for a family, but not good glue. Joy is the best family glue on the market. A carnal family with joy will produce better kids than a “spiritual” family with tight-lipped, rigid, or stern-browed legalism.
strong in spirit
It doesn’t have to be either/or. The absolute best approach is joyful, disciplined spirituality founded on the solid principles of the Word of God and separation from the world. Now, my whole point is this: Take out the first word from the description above―“joyful”―and you have a recipe for a classic ship jumping, or a sad and dispirited family at best.

Joy is attractive and contagious. You would do well to watch our DVD, “The Joy of Training”, and read the book Jumping Ship, and you’ll make the same discovery that Rose made.  Jump into the pool with your kids now, and they won’t jump out later without you.