Raising Our Children to be Like Jesus

    by Renee Miller

Image by Stephen C. Weber.

Image by Stephen C. Weber.

One aspect I love most about Classical and Christian Education is introducing our children to the greatest minds of history and the heroes of the faith. Jesus says in Luke 6:40: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

I believe this scripture is saying that no one is above Jesus, the ultimate teacher. It is my job as a parent and homeschooler to lead my children to be like Jesus.

The Bible instructs us to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord as we stand up, sit down, and live our lives. This gives me great motivation to continue to grow and learn myself. But it also worries me that I might be limiting my children. So as a humble mother who lives in a small rural town, I try to connect my children with both mentors as well as men and women throughout history who have walked with God and, “it was counted unto them as righteousness.” I’m constantly on the lookout for other mentors who can help my children be more like Jesus.

I find it interesting that who is teaching our children is given so little thought in our current culture. In a study done by the Barna Group Research Institute, upwards of 75% of children will leave the faith of their parents as adults. Is there a connection between who mentors/teaches them throughout their childhood and whether or not they stay faithful? I think so.

I’ve known a number of parents who haven’t left their children with even a babysitter until they turn five. Then they leave their vulnerable child with an adult they don’t even know for 40 hours, five days a week for the next 13 years. Somehow our culture has convinced us this is normal–even desirable–and to question this puts you out of the norm. And, honestly, most kindergarten teachers I know are lovely people, so it seems so reasonable at first.

This leads me to reflecting on comments I heard recently in a lecture by Voddie Baucham. He recounts how people always ask the same questions when they realize he homeschools his children. First, there is always the socialization question. (My answer: “I’m not sending them to school to become a socialist.”) The next question: Is it legal or approved by the government? (“Of course it’s legal and who made it the government’s job to teach my children?”) What struck him was the sameness of the objections. I’ve experienced these questions, too.

When the majority have been schooled by the government, we really do think more the same than we realize. This is in stark contrast to my experience working with our children. They rarely ask the same questions about anything. In contrast to the 75% of children raised in Christian homes but who attend government schools, 95% of homeschooled children will remain in the faith. These are the children who have grown up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, steeped in Biblical wisdom, and nourished by the great men and women of history.

It’s worth noting that the verse before Luke 6:40 reads, “[Jesus] told them this parable: ‘Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?’” Great mentors and teachers are to be found everywhere: in Scripture, in classic literature, in your community, in your home. These teachers will encourage our children to not only “keep the faith,” but to lead our children to be like Jesus.


    Renee is the founder and director of The Garden School and Cornerstone Classical School (as well as “The Miller Family School”). Though trained in the public school model–she has taught everything from first grade to junior high science–Renee’s first foray away from this system resulted in The Garden School. Renee holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning from Point Loma Nazarene College. She is a strong advocate for classical Christian education and an accomplished public speaker. The Millers currently live in a busy multi-generational household immersed in classical and Christian ideals and a whole lot of love.


On Being in Community



    By Renee Miller

Over the years many unique and interesting families have been a part of our community: Christian, non-Christian, gifted children, special needs children, above average children, below average children, families with means, families who sacrifice to pay tuition–the list goes on. With so much diversity, how do we handle so many people as they come into our communities? How do we even create community? For those of us who feel passionately called to Christian education–both at home and in the private school setting–one of the most difficult areas in which to find balance is between family and community.

Where is the healthy balance? After many years of homeschooling and private schooling, I can assure you that I do not have the answer. However, I think a continuing dialogue is important.

As we cast about for a vision of Christian community and Christian education, it will likely emphasize rebuilding paradigms around healthy families, raising abysmally low educational standards, and promoting Christian ideals in dress, courtship, and basic civility. Creating this kind of culture is a full-scale battle. So how are families approaching this community-building?

On one extreme, I’ve observed families who focus entirely on their own children’s gifts and talents, and see the community as a threat to raising Godly progeny. These families can be quite critical of the areas where community falls short. Somehow, the community never measures up theologically, behaviorally, socially or otherwise. They tend to have unreachable and naïve expectations of what can be accomplished with a group of sinful, fallen people awash in the sewage of our generation. Jesus can transform us all in amazing ways, but it is hard work on everyone’s part.

In the other extreme, parents rely on and continually seek other people to do the job for them. These families hope that the parenting thing will not be too costly or time-consuming. They are often more consumer-oriented, on board as long as it is working well for their children. Their commitment can be short and fun, and like our general consumer culture they move quickly on to the next bigger or better thing. They’re glad to benefit from other people’s hard work and investment yet very reluctant to sacrifice for someone else.

All families need people who will come alongside them and help create safe havens of community where they can be challenged and nurtured. Families need for us to not simply say we don’t have the expertise, money, or experience to deal with their difficult situations. We are keenly aware of the millstone around the neck story and the incredible challenge to bless children and not irrevocably harm them. So we need to be careful to not whisk by in our minivans with fish on the back and leave families lying bruised by the roadside.

Working with people and being in community is hard but rewarding. It is the very practical side of learning to work with people we can’t stand, who are merely reflections back to us of all the miserable things we don’t like about ourselves. It is about modeling for our children how to resolve conflict and develop the discernment to know what is of eternal significance.

Fortunately, we are mercifully in possession of God’s Word, which has the wisdom to help us navigate the rocky roads of relationships creatively–and sometimes miraculously! It’s in the Word that we can find solutions to the problems that come to us.

Our triune God exists in community. He calls us into community. He calls us into families. When we get it right, however fleeting the moment, it reflects the character of God to the world in a way that few other things can.

You are Invited to Respond: What’s a situation you’ve been in where you’ve seen a true community at work?


    Renee is the founder and director of The Garden School and Cornerstone Classical School (as well as “The Miller Family School”). Though trained in the public school model–she has taught everything from first grade to junior high science–Renee’s first foray away from this system resulted in The Garden School. Renee holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning from Point Loma Nazarene College. She is a strong advocate for classical Christian education and an accomplished public speaker. The Millers currently live in a busy multi-generational household immersed in classical and Christian ideals and a whole lot of love.

Selling Your Kids

    By Patrick Koschak

sales-success1[1]Sales training of all kinds will tell you that sales is not about giving your prospective client your carefully prepared spiel. It is not about lecturing them on your product or service. It is not about demanding a sale every time you see them. This is how a lot of “salespeople” approach the selling process, but the fact is most salespeople are not very good at their jobs.

When I started out in sales, I have to admit I was not very good at it. I did a lot of those things I am criticizing now. I wanted to bowl over my prospects with impeccable logic, and if I could have, I would have dove over their desk and throttled them until they gave me the sale I was chasing. I was overly aggressive, and nearly bulldozed some clients into giving me an order. Looking back, some of them probably gave me orders just to get me out of their offices.

The irony is that the lessons we learn usually apply to more than just one part of our lives, don’t they? Yeah, life is kind of integrated that way. For instance, I found that a lot of sales concepts readily applied themselves to being a parent. Sales are actually about connecting with people, and the best sales are about building relationships. A parent is “selling” their kids on something every day, aren’t they?

Let me throw a couple of these “sales rules” past you and see what you think.

“Always get a customer talking about themselves.”

The idea is to express interest in them as human beings and to encourage them to open up. You don’t try to pry it out of them, but you do want to engage them where they are. You get a person to begin talking about something they enjoy, and before you know it, an hour has passed. They get enthused and maybe even excited.

The hard part of doing this requires you to “let go of the reins” in a conversation and let your customer take the lead. With your kids, this means you have to refrain from always telling them about your opinions or what you like to do. Maybe you will have to engage them in a chat over a video game they enjoy, or a new craft project, or something that you don’t find very interesting at first. I would bet that you will actually begin to catch their excitement if you give it a chance.

“Ask a lot of questions and listen.”

This is related to the above since sometimes you have to prime the pump for more open conversation. Questions are how you can get them to that point so you can let go of those reins. This works the best when you are not trying to follow a particular agenda apart from just getting to know them. If you are, it will most likely dissolve into an interrogation. Do not feel that you have to come to some kind of resolution with every question. Do not answer your own questions.

“Show a client you are interested in their success, not just your own.”

father_daughter_telescope[1]You will really struggle with this one if you have not done the previous two. The reason is that if you are not listening or encouraging their open interaction with you, you will most likely just impose your own desires, hobbies, or definitions of success onto your kids without knowing it. You will try to mold an idol in your own image, and not necessarily into what God has chosen for them.

Being captivated by God’s plan for them might mean helping them to pursue a calling that you yourself do not enjoy or honor. You might be helping to build up a painter, engineer, banker, video game designer, author, homemaker, professor, graphic artist, athlete, politician, preacher, or even a salesperson. The point is to honestly show your kids that you are sold out for their dreams and not yours.

“Always consider the long-term.”

Are you in it for the quick sale? Is it all about getting them to obey right now? Do you think your job is done when they turn 18 or when they are done with college or when they get married? Where have you drawn your finish line? When are you aiming for?

All of our interactions with our kids should be with eternity in mind. Just like the best sales relationships are long-term, our parental relationships should be life-long endeavors between friends. If we are too preoccupied with today, and lose track of the long tomorrow, it is more likely this relationship will not be very fruitful.

So tell me; when was the last time you tried to sell your kids?


    Patrick K.Patrick Koschak has enjoyed more than 15 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart, Rachael, and they share three children, ages 9-13. Patrick studied Biblical Studies and Greek at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon.

    Mr. Koschak has been teaching Humanities since 2008 at the Garden School, where he is affectionately known as “Mr. K.” Mr. K’s teaching is occasionally unorthodox, often cerebral, but always heartfelt.

    “Teaching has been one of the deep joys of my life. I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to influence and inspire these young leaders. I am very blessed.” – Mr. K

Of Hope and Hope Chests

    By Dave Miller

For this special Father’s Day blog, I would like to start with a big hypothetical high 5 to all the dads out there who are doing what you’re called to do. And, if you’re not getting it done as a dad, fix it! After all, you’re a dad—that’s what we do: fix things!

I will also spare you the usual platitudes about being a father–leave that to the Hallmark cards you’ll hopefully get next Sunday. And I’m not going to tell you how wonderful you are or how rotten you are. You probably have a pretty good idea where you stand anyway. Instead, if you have been blessed with a daughter or two (or in my case, six!), I have one practical piece of wisdom to impart: By the time she’s thirteen or so, be sure your daughter gets a hope chest.

You may not even know what one is. I didn’t really until my wife Renee told me about them and, “Didn’t I want my daughters to each have one”? (She’s good with ideas like that.) I learned that hope chests are a special place where my daughters can start secreting away the things they will need one day to start their own families. Things like bedding, china and silverware; books, diaries, and family photos; and the mementoes of their growing up years. Hope chests are usually lined with aromatic cedar to discourage moths. This gives it that distinctive scent whenever it’s opened.

You can Google “hope chest” and find many examples in all different price ranges. I paid a friend of mine to make my daughter Kellie’s hope chest. It came out beautiful. Better yet, if you have the skills, make it yourself. Your daughter will treasure it forever.

A hope chest casts a vision for your daughter. It says to her, “Your mom and I have great hopes for your life. You’ll be out on your own soon, maybe even starting a family of your own. These are the things you will need and want.” This is such a positive message to give our daughters as they begin to think about their future apart from us.

Moms: What would you suggest your daughter puts in her hope chest? If you had a hope chest, what did you keep in it?


    A professional educator since earning his teaching credentials at San Diego State in 1985, Dave’s 26-year teaching career has been both challenging and rewarding, often in the same day. He and wife Renee have lived and taught in San Diego, Germany, and Colorado, traveled to dozens of countries and are still raising six great kids. Along with his role as Guidance Counselor at The Garden School, Dave has been reinventing himself as a work-at-home dad and recently promoted to Vice President at Lightyear Wireless. Now he gets to teach people how to live the life of their dreams.