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Monday, March 21, 2011

Ramblings, books I am reading, things I am learning.

Well I am in the midst of reading a few different books.

Educating the Wholehearted Child -Clay and Sally Clarkson  I wrote a few things about this the other day on Knowing Your Purpose. (Anyway, the reason for the post is mainly that as I write it I keep a journal of what grabs me and what I glean as important. (For my own notes.)

Teach Your Own by John Holt -Now I must say this book is really different-because John's educational philosophy leans more toward "Unschooling." (But I can glean things from him as well, even though I may not totally feel confident in that approach.)

You Are Not What You Weigh-Lisa Bevere- This is a really good book, and I am learning a lot here. I hope to share more in the next few days.

Daniel by Beth Moore (I am still in the middle of this Bible study we are presently in Chapter 9.)

Experiencing God -I am beginning to doubt I will ever finish this book.

Lord Change My Attitude-James McDonald (This I have set down until Summer break,  when I plan to work on this.)

  So from Educating the Wholehearted Child, today I was reading about Priorities. Of course this isn't too terribly hard. I am task oriented after all, I always have a list, a schedule, etc.  Over the past few weeks I have really been sensing something different. I am more aware now that Peyton will be in 6th grade next year. (Wow, Jr. High ) I only have 3 years to get him ready for High School. We (Gary and I ) only have 7 more years to really influence him, to help him become the man of God, that God wants him to be. I only have 7 more years of "being able to really have a say in that time". Now is my opportunity, and If I don't take it, I will miss it. Now is the time for relationship, now is the time for board games, now is the time to read with him, now is the opportunity to impart to him what I have learned from God. It is the time to teach him that life's simple pleasures are the best, and to begin to focus his time on what is most important. It is great to try many things. I love to do many things, but truthfully I am only good at a few things. If I had taken the time to work at one thing more diligently I would be great at something and still okay at many other things.

  Before every new semester I always re-evaluate where we are, where we need to be going. These things just came fresh on my mind. What are the most important things I want him to know, and am I doing the things I need to do to help him go in that direction. I really think one of those major things is teaching him to come before God, teaching him to pray. More importantly than "what you know" is "Who you know". Of course that doesn't mean we don't take care of the what you know, but knowing God has to be the foremost goal. A recent thread on one of our home-school forums asked this. "What do you want your child to know by the time they finish school, or by the time they are ready to be on their own?" This was one of the answers from a friend on the forum. The advice is spiritual. But I really loved that it was put into concrete words.

I'd want them to know.... how to discern the Lord's will.
I'd want them to be able.... to learn about anything they want to on their own.
I'd want them to have read.... the Bible through several times.
I'd want them to have experienced... life on the mission field.

So to add to this, I would say I also want my children to know that prayer matters. That prayer is a 2 way conversation.  I want them to know how to hear God's voice-thus being able to determine His will and direction.  I want them to discern the presence of the Lord. I also want them to learn to be "still. "This is a hard thing in today's culture. I also believe it is one of the enemy's greatest tools. (Keeping us so busy, we don't take time for God, we don't take time for relationship. We focus way to much on ourselves and all the things that seem like such worthy causes." Martha had a list of them, but Mary chose more wisely."

So as I focus energies on these things, I first have to come before God myself. How can I pour God into my children if he is void in me? How do I teach them to pray and come into His presence if I never show them. This is another important reason we do devotions, and singing in the mornings. We open ourselves up to God, to hear from Him, to ask for His priorities in our day. To lift others before Him. If I am on the run all the time, I can't do this, I would also be physically spent.  And truthfully, this time isn't really for God, as much as it is for "us".

When we come into His presence we are changed, we are moved, we are transformed, we gain direction and insight, we gain strength and refreshment, we see things differently because we have sought the heart of God. When we don't take time to get before God we try to do all these things in our flesh and we fail miserably. We lack joy, we turn to false idols and things for fulfillment.

I set down some things this semester. I decided not to return to our home-school co-op. While we enjoyed the fellowship of other families I do have to admit that I felt pressed all week to try to make up the day we missed at home with our own studies and routine. So I had to decide which fit our priorities more. I know it was a move in the right direction for us. I limited each child to one  (sport) and church activities.  I also had to be careful to not allow other things to come in and fill our schedule now that our schedule was eased.

It is important to show our children how to set priorities. We cannot possibly do it all, we never will be able to."  Neither will they.  It is important to seek God about what to say yes, and no too. They have to learn this too. How will they determine if we have never set priorities ourselves. Opportunities will always be there calling us to come. In some seasons there are more opportunities than others. They all look like such worthy opportunities, and we just don't want our child to miss out. The truth is when we say yes to something we are also saying no to something else. So saying yes to being much more busy in our schedules, means less time with God and with family, and with learning the simple pleasures of life. How can we learn to "Be still" if we never are? How can we have real joy, if we never spend time with the Joy giver?

I remember as a child telling my parents "I am bored". I woke early every day, went to school, came home, had homework, had chores, then I might have had a little time for play, then it was time for dinner and the bedtime routine. My whole day was ordered, by the American institution of "school". I remember always feeling restless when I didn't have something fun planned. I could hardly stand a Saturday at home.  After I came to the Lord all that began to change. I learned to "Be Still". I remember spending hours in silence. No TV, maybe a little soft music, not even reading. Just basking in the presence of God. I must admit, I don't get that much time anymore. I am glad I had it when I did though. There are seasons I get more time with God and it helps to sustain me in the seasons where I don't. Lately however, the seasons where I don't get the time with God, turn out to be trying, and much less joyful. So what is the point in all the running and activity, when we only run ourselves ragged?

It's funny, because I am never bored now. Never. I also don't feel the need to run the roads, or go here and there. I am content "being still", "being at home" and I am glad that I can enjoy the simple pleasures in life, without feeling I am missing something, without feeling I am doing my children an injustice, because I have decided to limit our activities. She mentions keeping the mentality "This one thing I do".  So I allow the children to follow their interests, but at the same time, they must keep reasonable priorities that can fit for our whole family. (Which must be considered -First.) The children and their activities/interests don't come first. The family comes first, and then we decide which things would benefit the one child and do we really feel God saying this is something that would be worthwhile to pursue-and would not put an unnecessary strain on the family as a whole.

In the world of homeschooling, many times we have a tendency to try to overcompensate for what our children might be "missing" from not being able to be involved in public school activities. Not that I have really felt that way. I really feel like my children are gaining something much more valuable. Learning to walk in peace, not striving, not living overly busy lives, learning to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and family. I hope that as my children grow they will learn that "relationships" are the where you need to be more than a "place" is. So many people run to and fro trying to go and do things so they can enjoy life, so they can have joy, so they can find peace and fulfillment. But LIFE and Joy is in HIM and thankfully we don't have to go anywhere to find Him.