I have been thinking a lot about castles.
I am what some call Generation X (some toss me in with Millennials). I grew up with Disney princesses before they were called “Disney Princesses,” Ninja Turtles before TMNT, and Legos that didn’t come with instructions. Castles were for magical maidens, stories, and cartoons; movies were filled with brave heroines; and no matter how deep the moat or how thick the walls, the threat was never really a threat. Tom and Jerry never really hurt each other, and that anvil never permanently stopped that Wile E. Coyote.
Since I’m grown and have a world of my own and a castle of my own (my house), this juvenile idea of the beautiful world and all the beautiful people in it has been changed a bit. My rose-colored glasses have come off, and I see now why castles have moats — why they have draw-bridges, and walls made of thick stone.
In the Bible you can find a similar structure — a castle fit for a King — Solomon’s temple. Not only did Solomon build the temple to certain specifications, he dedicated it to God. Some culture and Bible scholars theorize that the outer walls of the temple were as thick as a man’s body is long. That is some intense security. The walls were high and thick, the space dedicated to God Himself. And the man who built the temple? Solomon built the temple that his father, David, had planned, because David was a man of war, and God wanted a man of peace to build his temple (1 Chronicles 22:8). It doesn’t matter how high the walls are, how well-constructed, or how well-guarded. If we don’t have a heart of peace, can we build a peaceful castle? Can it keep the war out?
Who Builds Your Castle?
God has given us a special job as parents. We are to raise these kiddos with compassion, love, discipline, and God’s guidance. There’s an invisible umbrella image always in my mind: God’s the fabric that keeps the wind and rain off, my husband is the stick that is constantly holding that fabric up, and me and the kids are safely underneath (and the kids are hiding under my coat and warm in my embrace). See it? Our castle is like this — with Christ as the cornerstone. You can’t just throw wood and nails at the foundation and make a house. You have to carefully place joists, measure angles, and sand down edges. You have to have a vision and a plan in place. Don’t let outside influences build your castle, plan your homeschool program, or replace the education you envision for your family.
Who Is Allowed In?
As homeschoolers, we love programs — Adventurers, Pathfinders, Sabbath School, co-op, conservation programs, summer camps, and more. Most of these programs have leaders and staffers that have thorough background checks and training programs, but that doesn’t mean we can be absent. Be involved! Meet the leaders, the staff. Volunteer! Host an outing or get-together. Get to know who your kids know, and make sure it’s a good fit. If you try out church school extra curricular groups, children’s ministry clubs, or homeschool co-op groups, and it just doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to go. If there isn’t a group for you, start your own! Many of us are picky about the electronics we use (movies, games, apps), but we forget the doors and windows (the guests we allow in), or vice versa. Be careful to guard your whole castle.
Though a house is built, and walls, windows, and doors keep the outside world out, someone has to take care of it on the inside. Windows can become broken. Doors can become damaged and let cold air seep inside. Walls can deteriorate. Garbage can pile up. The air can become dusky. Bacteria can grow, and health issues can crop up. It doesn’t matter who builds our castle, or who we let in or out if we don’t maintain the inside. THIS is a problem in our house. We need a chore chart — a routine! We need all hands on deck! STAT! I think many homeschool families probably have this problem too. It’s close quarters, it’s 24/7, and dishes, laundry, and baths must be done.
Take Action: Evaluate the people and things in your life regularly. As often as you check the batteries in your smoke detector or complete your spring cleaning checklist, you should take a look at who and what is participating in your life.