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

Sheltering and books

LIT’ERATURE, n. [L. literatura.] Learning; acquaintance with letters or books. Literature comprehends a knowledge of the ancient languages, denominated classical, history, grammar, rhetoric, logic, geography, &c. as well as of the sciences. A knowledge of the world and good breeding give luster to literature.

Webster’s 1828

There seem to be two camps concerning literature:  those who think you should shelter your children and those who think that difficult books are a tool for discussion. Of course older children can handle things that younger children cannot. And difficult discussions on slavery, racial slurs, abuse, etc. do need to happen. I think for me it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”

I have heard both sides of the argument and they both have merit.  I think I come down on the side of caution. My children count on me to keep them safe. The mind is the most. I do not ever want to allow them to put something there that they are not ready for. I believe literature (true literature) is a terrific way to introduce difficult topics in their natural settings. Books can open casual doors for conversations that might seem contrived otherwise. Then Biblical Principles can be introduced/applied where they fit.

And then there are some books that I do not believe qualify as literature, are salacious or are otherwise twaddle. Those don’t make the cut. But important works are worth reading and discussing together. Because we are “living” with the books and their characters, I want to make sure we are “acquainting” ourselves for a specific reason and not just to have something to read or because it was recommended by someone else.

Where do you fall in the book sheltering debate?

The lost art of listening

There is no shortage of noise today. In fact, it’s hard to get away from noise at all. And when we do, often the awkward silence makes us uncomfortable. We want to fill every moment with talking, with music, with anything. What are we trying to avoid? What are we pushing away in the cacophony?

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.  

1 Kings 19:11, 12 The Message

We hear things all day long–car horns, children talking, phones ringing, TV, radio, music, you name it. Even in our prayer time the tendency is to do all the talking. In this passage Elijah hears God speaking in a still, small voice. You can’t hear that kind of conversation if your mouth is open.

Listening is an acquired skill, an art. It is more than just hearing; it’s actively taking in, processing. It is alert, quiet expectation. It is straining for the input, for the voice at the other end of the line.

Prayer is just as much about listening as it is about talking. You cannot have a conversation without two parties engaging. Next time you have a time of prayer, I encourage you to be aware of how much you talk and how much you listen. God is just waiting for you to ask what He has to say to you.

Why pray as a family?

With  the busy pace of today’s life why should we take time to pray regularly as a family? There are many reasons.

Unity. People who pray together grow closer.

Teaching. It’s a great opportunity to teach your child (and learn yourself) how to hear from God.

Obedience. We are commanded to “pray without ceasing.”

Altruism. We think of the needs of others and not our own.

Peace. We know we have taken our needs to God and He is taking care of things in His time.

Perspective. We are concerned with what God is doing all over the earth, not just in our own backyard.

Contentment. It brings satisfaction and lessens our need for “stuff” and allows us to just “be.”

The weight of legacy

As home educators we feel a special kind of pressure that I don’t think parents of schooled children do. We are in a unique place because we are so personally invested in our children’s futures. We want to make sure that our children carry on after we are gone in an even more successful way. Their success or failure in life rests on our shoulders—or does it?

If you believe that your success is based on the success of your children, beware. That’s a lot of pressure for you both and it will lead to burnout, or at least frustration. It’s akin to stage moms and sports moms. They are nothing if their children aren’t successful. I found myself falling into this dangerous pattern. I put so much pressure on myself to make sure my children would be successful that I found myself totally empty and discouraged. I had bumped God right out off the throne and put myself there instead. Bad idea. I do not make a good God. I had to realize and give God His rightful place again.

As a Christian, I believe the success of my children ultimately rests with God. I can facilitate but He alone can bring the fruit.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. 1 Cor. 3:6 The Message

God makes things grow. In BPA we are all about planting seeds but we need to make sure that we stick to our job description. If we remember our place then we can shake off that weight of legacy and embrace the here and now, trusting God with the future.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.           Heb 12:1,2 KJV

The Case for Excellence part 1

In American society today there  seems to be an allergy to excellence, at least to the Christian idea of excellence. On the one hand you have children afraid to look “smart” in front of their peers. and on the other we have the Martha Stewarts working hard to convince us that perfection is possible. Kids are texting and losing what little grammar skills they may have once possessed while they try hard to be “gangsta.” The excellent is, for the most part, not valued or praised or even seen as something to strive toward.

What is the Christian idea of excellence? I submit that it is not simply getting good grades. It is your internal character and not your “book smarts” that make a person excellent. For example, Daniel in the Bible was described as having an excellent spirit in Daniel 6:3. This fueled hatred among the leaders of the land and that’s how he ended up in the lion’s den. He was not excellent because he was the smartest. He was excellent because of his character.

Christians should set the standard in education. American Christians are blessed beyond measure. We enjoy liberty in every area. Nothing has been held back from us. We have to most to be thankful for—and the most responsibility. We should always strive to work toward excellence. God’s idea of excellence. As we become more and more excellent on the inside, our outward fruit will be excellent as well. We will work harder, be more diligent and make more of an effort to be a good example to others, in word and in deed (Col. 3:17).

The point is not knowledge but wisdom and fear of the Lord. As a Christian my goal is not simply to fill my children with facts until they are ready to pop. They must be able to correctly apply knowledge in real life.

My next post will finish up by discussing the process of excellence and applying scripture to our educational goals.

praying for our kids

As parents we are to lift our children up in prayer daily. (Sometimes hourly!) But in the business at times I found myself struggling to focus my mind, so I kept praying the same basic things every day. Then someone gave me a new tool to make my prayer time more effective.

I have had this prayer calendar for a long time and thought I’d pass it along.  It will help you pray for your children about something different each day.

Praying for Our Children Calendar

If you would like to, please leave a note about how you pray for your children. Also see my previous posts on prayer. I did a series a while back on family prayer.

The little flock in my care (3 of 3)

The Lord is my Shepherd…He makes me…He leads me…He guides me… (Ps. 23)

A shepherd is always on call. Day or night, he must be prepared to lead his sheep to food and water or away from danger. Sheep are not good at finding their own sustenance and must be led. I cannot leave my children to fend for themselves. God gave them to me and I am responsible for them. I need His guidance to in turn guide them. I must keep my spirit sensitive to God so that I can lead them as I should.

For a sheep to follow, he must be sure it’s the right voice. He must trust the shepherd by what he hears. As long as I get my direction from the Lord, I can rest assured that my guidance comes from Him. Also I must train them to hear God’s voice for themselves. The home is the ideal place to learn to hear God’s voice. It is (or should be) a safe training ground where children can pray, hear God’s voice and test it with God’s Word to see if it really is the Lord. What a privilege to guide my children as they hear from God for themselves!

Sheep must also trust that the shepherd knows what is best. They believe that he has their best interest at heart and that he would never lead them “astray.” I must check my attitudes, my habits and my behavior. Are they misbehaving, or are they simply imitating me, being led astray by my poor example? My children have to trust that I am always concerned with their well-being. It is my job to make sure they are protected from all that is evil and exposed to all that is godly.

Sometimes guiding the sheep means correcting. Some sheep don’t want to stay in their fence. They want to wander into pasture they see on the other side. They must be corrected with a gentle but firm voice and sometimes moved to prevent them from hurting themselves. How often do we see our children longing for the pasture on the other side, even if their pasture is better? We must lovingly correct and steer them back to what is best for them.

As a mother shepherdess, I am always on the lookout for the very best pasture. There they can eat to their fill and rest contented that I won’t let anything happen to them. 

Review: “The Mother at Home”

I have been reading through a book online and was so pleased with it that I have ordered a copy from Amazon. The Mother at Home; or the Principles of Maternal Duty by the Rev. John S.C. Abbott is wonderful. You can see it all online here.
Flip through it and enjoy his instruction.

It is full of practical help and insight into the role and importance of the mother in the home (as our first sphere of government, right?).

Here is a quote concerning Washington that gives all mothers cause for pause:

The mother of Washington is entitled to a nation’s gratitude. She taught her boy the principles of obedience, and moral courage, and virtue. She, in a great measure, formed the virtue of the hero, and the statesman. It was by her own fire-side that she taught her playful boy to govern himself; and thus he was prepared for the brilliant career of usefulness which he afterward pursued. We are indebted to God for the gift of Washington; but we are no less indebted to him for the gift of his intestimable mother. Had she been a weak, and indulgent, and unfaithful parent, the unchecked energies of Washington might have elevated him to the throne of a tyrant; or youthful disobedience might have prepared the way for a life of crime and a dishonored grave.

 I love the language of liberty in this description. We should all keep in mind what Ms. Dang referred to as “the power of one.” Mrs. Washington understood this principle and a nation was born as a result.

This also reminds me of a passage in T&L by Rev. S. Phillips: “‘…when there is a Sarah in the house, there will be an Isaac in the cradle; wherever there is a Eunice teaching a Timothy the scriptures from a child, there will be a Timothy teaching the Gospel to the rest of mankind….'” (p. 11)

I cannot wait to get my copy to mark up and highlight!

Sharing and the language of liberty

Do you make your kids share? That’s the polite thing to do, no? It keeps us from feeling embarrassed around other parents and it makes us feel like we are doing a good thing, raising “giving” children. (We spend a lot of time concerned with feelings, don’t we?…)

Katherine Dang has a lot to say about liberty. Sharing is no exception.  She challenged the idea of making your child share his belongings at the conference I attended. Her take is this: never force your child to give up their property. You are raising a child with the idea of biblical liberty. Our three inalienable rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property). As a parent teaching liberty, you do not force a child to surrender their property to another (socialism). You ask them to voluntarily allow another to play with or use their belongings.

Liberty is natural. Even a toddler instinctively knows there are things that belong to him and it goes against his law of nature to “share.” We remove that notion, with the best of intentions, when we force them against their will to share. If it is not done  voluntarily with reasoning and accounting for consequences, they should not be asked to do so.

So what other options are there, you think. Well, before a friend comes over, have your child put the things away that they would not like to be played with. Then all that’s left is happily volunteered.

There is a language of liberty, which doesn’t include sharing. Ever. “Would you let Jane play with your doll?” Let the child think about it. Discuss possible outcomes, like a broken toy, with both children. Let the owner make the decision. If it is yes, then make sure the lender has a time frame and will treat the toy like her own. If owner says no, then you say, “Susan, Jane says no. You will need to find another toy to play with right now.”

I said this idea may challenge you. You may think you will raise a selfish child if you do not force them to share. Is that God’s kingdom way? Forcing love, or compassion, or generosity? No, His way is always by choice, always motivated by love. If you respect your child’s property and their choices, they will be happier children and better citizens, understanding the liberty (and the responsibility) of private property. And we can raise a generation that will not be so quick to relenquish their rights as this one seems to be.