Where are the grown ups?

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1 Cor. 13:11 NKJV

This video from Paul Washer got me thinking. Back in the “good old days” children couldn’t wait to grow up. They looked up to parents and other adults. They longed to share their responsibilities and respected their position as elders. And adults had great expectations of children. They took on responsibilities at a young age (partly because of the short life span). Not so today.

These days many adults don’t want to be grown up. They want to be hip and cool, accepted by the teens and children they know. Instead of setting the bar for adolescents in their lives, they allow the child to set it for them. Children decide what’s cool, what’s acceptable.

But not only that. Adults want to play. A lot. Online games, video games, chatting, messaging, farming, you name it. Adults flock to sites children think are cool and to products children have approved. How do we have time to study God’s Word, minister to our neighbor or train our children if we are always striving for entertainment?

So If the children aren’t the grown ups, and the adults aren’t the grown ups, who is doing the hard work? Who is striving and growing and mentoring and training and encouraging? Who will the next generation follow if we are following them?

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Matthew 16:24 NIV

What if we tried as hard to lead as we do to fit in? What if we put as much effort into shaping the next generation, into blazing a trail for them to follow, as we do to update the meaningless details of our lives?

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

1 Cor. 11:1 NKJV

What if we looked up, stood up and grew up, not only for ourselves but for those who are depending on us? We need to follow Christ and take up our cross daily. Not take up our smart phones and laptops and game controllers. If we don’t make the tough decisions and stand for hard Truth who will the next generation look to? No one will take the Gospel to peoples in the jungle, where disease and wild animals could take you out. No one will work three jobs to provide for their family. No one will cross oceans to live in a country they have never visited to love the people and open a medical clinic to save lives and souls. No one will suffer in prison for preaching the illegal Gospel to their fellow countrymen, enduring untold abuses with quiet faith.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.

1 Peter 2:21 NKJV

Thermometers and thermostats

Thermometers and thermostats seem similar on the surface. Both deal with environmental temperature. Both use numbers. But inside they are very different.

Thermometers simply tell you the temperature of the area. They offer a reading of the local temperature. This is handy but not life changing. It cannot to anything to change the environment, it only reflects it.

A thermostat, on the other hand, does not tell you what the temperature is. It tells you what someone wants the temperature to be. Thermometers are read, thermostats are set. Thermometers tell you the current state of things. thermostats tell you what things could be.

I want to be a thermostat. I want my character to set the tone from the inside out. I do not simply want to reflect the mood of the room—or the society. I don’t want to be relative, reflective. 

The Christian Educator from the position of God’s Word must subdue the environment rather than submit to it. In teaching students his use of the environment should emphasize the internal demands of conscience as causative of behavior and action and the external environment as effect.

Slater, R. J., & Hall, V. M. (1975). Teaching and learning America’s Christian history (American Revolution Bicentennial ed.) (95). San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education.

God please help me to live life from the inside out. Help me not to simply reflect culture but to shape it. Help me to listen to your voice and to do the hard things.

Patience in the waiting

I am waiting. I am in a waiting season. I don’t like it much because I’m not very good at it, which is probably one reason for the waiting. Patience is a fruit that needs to abound in my life and there’s much to be said for letting patience have its “perfect work.”

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.

Is. 40:31 The Message

This waiting isn’t a sitting around kind; it’s the restaurant kind. We wait by waiting: serving, working, cleaning, doing. But if you are like me you get your eyes off what you are waiting for and onto what you are doing. Then it becomes all about works and busyness and just plain old doing. That’s not what God intended for us. That’s not His best.

A dear friend explained waiting this way:

When you take your children on a trip and they are asking “are we there yet?” over and over, they don’t understand the process. So you give then something to do while you take them where you are going. God does that with us. We are not saved in the activity. The activity doesn’t get us there faster or differently. It’s simply keeping us busy as we wait for God to get us there.

Joyce Meyer says patience is not just biding time but keeping a good attitude while you are waiting. Patience really is a virtue. It’s going to sustain me in the waiting. So I will keep busy writing and praying and growing and learning and loving. My life doesn’t stop in the waiting, but it doesn’t change the process either. It’s a bonus that He uses even the waiting time for my good.

Not the same old resolutions

This time of year is always exciting to me. Like a yard full of fresh, untrodden snow, the year lays before me pristine and full of promise. So I get out my thinking cap and start in on my goals for the new year.

I heard someone offer an alternative to resolutions that really resonated with me. Instead of losing weight, saving money or other typical task-oriented resolutions, why not try a new angle. Decide how you can become a better person this year.

You are many people: mother, wife, neighbor, sister, etc. Why not decide to make these better people over the course of 2008. How can you be a better neighbor? Friend? Wife and mother? Church member? Christian? Even if you fall short of your ideal, you will still be better off than if you had never tried at all. And so will the people you touch in every day life.

The power of choice

Choice is a powerful thing. I have the ability to shape my life (with God’s help) with the decisions I make. If I am unhappy with my life, it is because my choices have brought me here. If I am happy, the cause is the same.

Internal attitudes determine outward behaviors and what results is, well, life. This is what is meant by thinking governmentally, thinking about who or what is directing controlling restraining my life. Who I am governed by internally is what will demonstrate outwardly. If the Holy Spirit is leading, I should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. If my emotions are in charge, you will see a lack of self-control and a surge of frustration.

I see with new eyes the control I have over my schedule and my home. I choose when and how things are done (with help from God and my DH of course). The choices are mine to make and I am not at the mercy of a schedule or a clock. I have dominion. If I am doing a task I don’t enjoy, I have to smile because no one “made me do it.” I chose to do that task at that time. That is very liberating. I believe women who choose to be keepers at home are the most liberated of all women. We are free to do as we choose, and that can be squandered or savored. Our choices bring big results, whatever that may be.

I have the choice to be truly happy. I have the choice to have a clean home, well-nourished children and a loving marriage. As far as it lies with me, I endeavor to make the choices that will result in a better life for me and my family.

Finishing strong

As we approach the close of another year of home education, I thought I’d share some ideas to prevent “fade out”–you know, when your school year sort of fizzles out until you one day you just don’t have school anymore. Kids love big finishes, so here are some ways to go out with a bang.

Say a  prayer. This is first on my list because to me it’s the most important. You always need direction from God, especially when you feel dry or tired.

Shake things up. vary your routine and/or your setting. Grab your stuff and head to the park. Or the backyard. Or the museum. Have school in the evening on the trampoline or Sunday afternoon cuddled up in bed together. Who says we home educators can’t take our act on the road?

Take stock. This time of year is a natural time to re-evaluate things. Do you really have to finish that book? Are you behind on something? Review and see what’s really important to finish and what can be left behind, what can continue on and what can be finished. Set new goals just for the end of the year to make your last few weeks your most productive.

Find your passion. If you are feeling a little burned out, try studying something your kids are really excited about. It doesn’t have to be a major unit study, but adding something your kids love to learn about will make the other things a little more palatable.

Be a show off. Hold an open house for friends and family. Let the kids give a presentation on something they learned this year. Fix a few simple snacks. Display notebooks and artwork and let the kids shine.

Take five. Find a way to work in a few days of rest and relaxation. A little time in the sunshine and fresh air (even in your own backyard), then you will all be ready to make that final push.

We have a winner! Some families may like to offer some kind of reward for finishing strong. The rewards can be monetary, material or even privileges. The ideas here are endless, so just let your mind wander.

A sacrifice of thankfulness

Some think that thankfulness is part of your natural ability, like being able to sing or being a good writer–either you have it or you don’t. I don’t belong to that group. Others think it is something you catch, like a cold. I don’t happen to belong to that group either. I believe that gratitute is a learned behavior, a lifestyle that takes a lot of effort to maintain.

Human nature is to be ego-centric. We naturally care about ourselves and not much else. Most other things we care about only because they affect us in some way. It takes a lot of work to pull ourselves out of the “ego-centrifugal force” and into a new orbit. 

in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Cor. 5:18

Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.

Psalm 107:21, 22

The work, the sacrifice of putting to death the flesh and living a thankful life, pulls us into another orbit. If we live in a thankful orbit, we will be more thankful all day, every day. We will seek out His Providence at work in our lives. We will be sensitized to it.

It is not enough to live thankful lives ourselves. How do we raise thankful children? We make it a habit they can see. We make every effort to demonstrate thankfulness as we go through our day. Some easy ways to do that are:

  • Be an example of a life full of thanksgiving. 
  • Create a thankfulness box. Write one thing on a slip of paper each day and at Thanksgiving read the year’s thankful notes.
  • Start a thankfulness journal. Make it available to the whole family. Write in it each day.
  • Start your day with praise and thanksgiving.
  • Memorize thankfulness scriptures.
  • Make a list of things your are thankful for. Add to it each day, eventually taping papers together into a long, long scroll.
  • Create a thankfulness tree. Write things on paper leaves or ornaments and add to the tree.
  • Think of things you are thankful for using all the letters of the alphabet.
  • Write letters for gifts received before the gift can be used.
  • Pray together regularly. Always begin your prayers with praise and thanksgiving
  • Help others in need. You will be thankful for what you have.
  • Pray that your children’s eyes will be opened to their blessings and that a grateful attitude will become a part of their Christian character.
  • Pare down their belongings. Sometimes less really is more.
  • Acknowledge their thankful ways.

We must pull our children into orbit around the Son, where He is the center of everything. When they are in the right place, thankfulness will come more easily because their eyes are fixed on the one Who gives to all liberally.

Step 8: principle 3—America’s heritage of Christian character

The highest example of Christian self-government is, of course, Jesus. Of course He is our model and who we strive to pattern our lives after, hence the “Christian” descriptor.

To be self-governed, we must have the character to sustain it. And to do that we must have these seven principles demonstrated in our lives. To me, this principle should be listed last and be the sum of all the other principles. It encapsulates your life as you put into practice the other 5, with the first (individuality) as the basis.

The expressly peculiar stamp, mark, or character of Christ engraved upon the individual is causative. An effect is a history and heritage of those individuals whose Christian faith and life endured both external and internal conflict and trials. (p. 39)

The source of Christian Character is the Bible, a perfect combination of the Power of the Gospel and the Virtues of Christ. We need look no where else for instruction in righteousness. There is no other text that will so completely and succinctly train you to develop Christian character.

Educational application is sorely needed in today’s culture. There is a tremendous lack of true Christian self-government in America today. Some ways this principle can be applied:

  • provide curriculum “that reveals and teaches Christian character, or the lack of it.” (p. 42)
  • ensure that each subject is “rooted and grounded” in God’s Word so the student sees the standard for righteous living
  • as an educator, lead by example (ouch!!)
  • teach models of Christian character
  • provide lessons and tests that challenge and strengthen the student with reasoning, relating and recording (essays, projects, etc.) instead of fill-in-the-blank, rote memory and multiple choice.
  • afford students the opportunity to exercise authority and self-government in all subjects
  • enable the student to to take responsibility for one’s own character, instead of passing blame. They must accept responsibility for their success or failure.

Why are we so concerned with teaching this principle? Ms. Slater states

This is why it is so vital to explain to new teachers and those who are uncomfortable with thinking governmentally that “while it might look as if we were dealing with the subject of Christian government–actually, we are teaching principles which are basic to every Christian in every area of life. For what constitutes the Constitution is what constitutes the life and character of the people.” Hence, the conclusion that “The qualities of a good ruler (effect) are also the qualities of those who are governed (cause) in a republic.” (T&L, 247)