The swimsuit incident was a small one. The lesson it taught me was profound. I need an identity firmly planted in the roots of my salvation. Anything worthy in me comes from Christ. He gave His very life so that I might know the complete acceptance of my Creator and live in relationship with Him. My identity is one of a chosen daughter of the King of the Universe, completely forgiven and loved.

When I wrap my children up in my quest for validation I put them in a no-win situation. They can never be perfect enough to make me okay. That is Jesus' job. It scares me to think I might cause them to feel responsible for something they can do. I don't want to set my children up for failure. Looking to others to validate me puts me on a path leading to the destruction of my heart and the hearts of my children.

I'm also concerned that I might miss something wonderful God has in the unique design of my children if I parent them based on other people's opinions. What if God has created my child to be the next Renoir, but I hamper her creative expression, afraid it will be questioned by my peers? What if God has chosen my child to do things that require great courage to be different, but I've trained him to be attuned to other people's opinions, instead of the Holy Spirit?

God didn't call us to home school so we could form a sub-culture of tense, cookie-cutter children, who make us look good to our peer group. He called us to raise children who are totally in love with Him and willing to follow wherever He leads.

It's time to release my children into God's plan and not worry about how it makes me look. I want my decisions to be based upon Scripture and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, even if it seems a little outside of the subculture I've chosen to immerse myself in. I need to remember that Christ's death and resurrection purchased me a new identity—solid, valid, accepted, and loved. I can live in the freedom God gave me to guide my children based upon His whisper in my heart and not the fear of the whispers behind my back.

A home schooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer loves hiking in the mountains, a good novel, and baking with her children. She's published in various magazines and offers a free weekly devotion through her website, www.soulscents.us. Her website also includes book reviews and home schooling hints.