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What I learned from a little boy named Drew

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I taught a Bible study at church recently on Dorcas. Yes, I can see your eyes glaze over at the thought of an hour-long  study done on a rather small passage about an obscure lady.   Talk about being nervous.  I’m frankly a pretty lame public speaker anyway, and  I assure you everyone’s eyes would glaze over whenever I’d mention Dorcas.

After all, when we meet her she’s dead.

We find out she’s noted for good works.   A praying church sends for Peter, and a praying Peter prays.

It doesn’t seem to have much to sink your teeth into, does it?
Well, in the course of my study for this teaching, I was reminded of a lesson the Lord had taught me this summer through a little boy named Drew.
Drew is the grandson of a lady I went to college with and he has fought a long hard battle with leukemia and the effects of the treatment. I’d followed the updates on him and prayed for him. This summer when he was just two treatments from completion, he got very sick with a virulent infection.

Urgent calls for prayer went out.
People prayed. From all over the world, people prayed. He progressed from sick to sicker and beyond, eventually ending up in the ICU on a ventilator for way too long. The calls for prayer were urgent. The situation was deadly serious. The pictures from the ICU were heartbreaking.  Thousands of people were praying for him including me…. for awhile. You see somewhere in all that suffering, I decided that this situation was so dire, the suffering so bad that God’s answer must be “no”, and I didn’t persevere in prayer. I continued to pray for the people involved, but I stopped asking for healing.

To God’s glory and my shame…. I was wrong.

God’s answer this time was “yes” and it excites me to say that Drew is an increasingly healthy little boy who has completed his treatments. His family is enjoying an especially blessed Christmas season this year.
So, you may ask…. What does this have to do with Dorcas?

When Peter prayed, Dorcas was raised from the dead. What an audacious thing to ask for and have answered. I’m afraid it wouldn’t have even occurred to me to ask.  The lesson here was a reminder that God’s people are to ask for and keep on asking for audacious things.

Perseverance matters.

Today I’m thankful for a little boy named Drew, who reminded this lady how important it is to persevere in prayer.

Have a Blessed Christmas Everyone!!

Homeschooling: A Typical Day…the rest of the story.

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I hear the question often….

“What does your day look like? or..

” What’s a typical day at your house like?”  or even..

“How do you do it?”

I understand the question, and on a certain level the question is a  good and useful one.  Iron sharpens iron.  We learn from one another.  I get that.

But… It is also a dangerous question.

It really doesn’t matter what a day at my house looks like.  Some days if you had visited my house you would have seen me with beautiful scrubbed children sitting peacefully in a circle working on a craft or listening to a story.  Well,  maybe in my dreams you would have seen that.  Other days if you had visited us,  you could have helped me try to corral the inmates and scrape cheese puffs off the floor.  Then we could arbitrate a dispute between the puppy and the toddler over who’s toy it really was,  all while teaching algebra and reading.  I assure you the reality far exceeded the dream.

A mom with young children recently shared with me that she really wanted to be “good at this”.   I hear her heart.  I think it’s every mom’s heart cry and most especially that of every homeschool mom.  It’s a fearful thing to pull your child from education run by experts and to take that task on yourself.

If you mess up there’s no one else to blame.

It’s a sobering reality.

That is why I took a humorous look at the whole issue in my first “typical day” post last year.  It’s important to know that everyone has those days, and those moments.  Moments that are so bad the word ridiculous doesn’t quite cover it. While my post was intentionally funny, my point was not.  You are primarily a family.

 

If your third grader must concentrate while the toddler hammers on his chair legs, understand that the concentration he learns is a “forever skill” that God can use.   All that comes with learning in a family environment contributes to the richness of the masterpiece God is painting into the life of your children.

I have 28 years of perspective to draw from here.  I have seen all kinds of homeschool families; families with all different methods, styles, and life experiences.  There were many hardworking moms whose educational philosophies and styles I frankly thought wouldn’t work.

And you know what?  Thankfully, I was wrong.

God prospered all of them.

Now none of this is said to excuse any of us from the necessary organization, planning, or child training God calls us to.

It is merely a reminder that while you must work your very best;  it is God who prospers your work.

So what does a typical day look like?

It looks like hard work.

It looks like crazy family life.

Most importantly it looks like line upon line… precept upon precept…

As your children get to walk life and learning with you each day, they learn more than how to read and how to do fractions.  They learn what to do with unexpected interruptions.  They learn to interact across all ages and generations.  They learn that their relationship with God is their foundation, and that it will impact every area of their life.

They learn how to live for Jesus.

You beloved, are an amazing lady doing a great work.    I know it is hard some days when toddlers behave like tyrants, teenagers like toddlers, and math looms like a giant determined to defeat you.

Everyone has those days.  It’s ok.   Just be faithful.   Do what comes next.

God will prosper your work. 

Homeschooling: Hunting Season

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Hurrah!  It’s hunting season.  I frankly love this time of year.  It’s finally time to get out your catalogs, sign up for state convention and purchase next year’s curriculum.

When I began homeschooling in the ’80’s very little was available to us. It made the hunt easier in some ways, and frustrating in others. If you wanted anatomy for your high schooler, it simply wasn’t available. However, it also wasn’t necessary to sift through mountains of material to find a reading program.  It can be pretty overwhelming to search through everything currently available to find those special books that are going to help you captivate your student.

With that thought, here are some hopefully helpful principles from a long time curriculum hunter, as I sit out the hunt for the first time in….27 years.

 

Curriculum is your servant, you are not its slave.
It’s hard to wrap your mind around this truth. Educating your child at home is a sobering responsibility, and we all feel inadequate to the task. It becomes very easy  to enslave yourself to your curriculum. Remember your purpose is education and mastery. It is not the completion of the book, the video or the worksheet. It is not doing every problem, or project. Choose freedom, use curriculum to accomplish the goal.  Do not allow your curriculum to become a dictator that you serve.  Remember it is just a tool that you choose to use to help you and your child accomplish educational goals.

 

Don’t limit your children by your choices.
Avoid curriculum decisions that will limit your children’s future opportunities. Do not assume that you or your child  know what they will need or use in the future. The future is a big place. Give them everything that you can; so that they have the tools they need to do whatever God calls them to do. You cannot tell at 14 what they will want or need at 24. Don’t decide to limit their math or science because you don’t think they’re inclined that way.  Ignore the whine as best you can and insist.  At the finish line, you will both be grateful for every subject studied and every experience embraced.

 

Feed the spark.
Look for every opportunity to enrich and encourage those things that fascinate your child.   Let them love to learn.  It is a wonderful benefit of homeschooling that it takes so much less time to teach one student a skill, than it does to teach a whole classroom the same skill.   Consequently, your student will have extra hours in their day.  Fill some of that time with with what Greg Harris calls “delight directed study”.  All that means is that you encourage extra learning in those areas that pique your child’s interest.  Use the library, the internet, purchase extra books, take field trips and do some fun projects.

 

 

Don’t forget the fun.

It’s easy to get so caught up in the academics that you forget the experiences that make learning in a family fun.  Include games, crafts, read alouds, field trips, and nature exploration.  Plan for those things, that way they are more likely to happen.  In this area especially it’s so easy to have good intentions; but when school actually starts, your schedule overruns you, and the fun disappears.  If you plan fun into your curriculum it’s easier to make it happen.

 

Remember the goal.

While it is of course essential that you educate your child, make sure in doing so that you win their heart.  You want them to love God and embrace the values that your family holds.  To do that you must win them.  Don’t get lost in endless worksheets and projects.  Have spontaneous picnics.  Read aloud under a favorite tree.  Talk to them about everything.  Share your heart, and most importantly let them share theirs.  Point them to Jesus.

 

Praying you have a fruitful and blessed hunting season.

 

 

Homeschooling: Remembering Bread…..really?

 

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Opposition is uncomfortable, but in the end it makes you stronger and more determined.

Distractions however are deadly.

If you really want to destroy something, distract it.

Turn it from its original purpose.

Give it something else to be focused on and passionate about.

It’s especially insidious and effective if it’s a “good thing”.

Homeschooling’s greatest enemy is found in that very principle.

I won’t touch any of the current distractions I see dancing around on social media sites, at homeschool conventions, and in homeschool mom conversations.  Instead I’ll travel back to the 90’s to something that’s no longer in vogue to make my point.  If you weren’t homeschooling back then it’s probably hard to believe that this is true, or even imagine how strong the pressure was.  I’m sure it will even seem silly, but to the homeschool community of the 90’s along came militant bread baking.   I’m sure the idea that you could turn hard-working already stretched moms into militant anything is ludicrous to you, but I assure you it happened.

Now don’t misunderstand me.  I love homemade bread. I have a daughter who enjoys making it, and I relish every loaf she shares. I’m not even slightly bashing bread or bakers.   This is just an easy example because this particular cause doesn’t have the following or draw that it once did.

The 90’s bread baking revolution wasn’t just a gathering of souls who loved the smell of homemade loaves, and enjoyed the process.  No, this was a  movement that avidly researched the various grains of wheat, and the best ratios for the richest gluten flours.  They gave classes on the timetables for grinding to baking and the benefits to your colon.  Pre-ground wheat was useless.  White flour was akin to poison.  Every homeschool convention had classes on wheat grinding and bread making.  Next to the newest reading program would be a vendor showing enlarged pictures of your family’s squeaky clean pink colons brought about by eating homemade home ground wheat bread using their superior grinding system.

 Their booth was packed.

Their classes were full.

If you fed your kids Wonder Bread, you didn’t mention it.

The health benefits touted were huge. Grinding your own wheat and baking your own bread would cure everything from learning disabilities to deadly disease.  It prevented every ill, and testimonials abounded to its curative powers. You were a substandard mom, if you didn’t get on the train with everyone else and at least lust after and save for the Lexus of wheat grinders.  Not knowing what a wheat berry was made you unenlightened and in need of evangelizing.

Moms that before would have discussed how to raise their families, educate their children, and focus them more firmly on what mattered, were now clustered together discussing how to find time to grind and bake.  Understand me.  These moms were passionate and sincere about their family’s health.  Their motives were the best.  They only meant good.  A tremendous amount of each finite mom’s energy went to the cause.  Many could not keep up and had to choose.  It’s a measure of how powerful these deceptions can be that the choice was a hard one, rather than an obvious one.

Recently a popular homeschool speaker shared his privileged visit at the deathbed of a dear saint. She was a beloved, well-known homeschool mom, and he asked her what she would have done differently if she had it to do over.  She considered, and very wisely said,

I would have baked less bread“.

Amen sister.  In the light of eternity… Well said.

Health and nutrition are good things, but homeschooling is a better thing, and raising godly children is the ultimate thing.

In the end the body is merely the bag you lived in.  Your children are the eternal souls you are entrusted to raise.

That’s the focus.

That’s the call.

That’s the thing to never waver or be distracted from.

I could have chosen many “good things” to focus this post on.  Homeschooling had only been known about for a few years, before the distractions starting hitting the movement, and hitting it hard.  These distractions were always “good things” or at least appeared as “good things”.

If you want to destroy something, distract it from its purpose.

 

Nehemiah said it best when his enemies called him from his wall building for a meeting.  He was not fooled and replied,

” I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.  Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Neh.6:3)  Four times his enemies came to him and four times they received the same reply.  “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.”

Moms, don’t let the good things and the interesting things distract you from the one thing.

Homeschooling your children is a God-given privilege and purpose.  I won’t list distractions for you.  Everyone has their own, and the movement itself always has any number vying for your attention. They always look like “good things”, but they take your energy and focus from the “best things”.

Avoid them.

Ignore the clamor.

Evaluate your focus.

Remember the goal.

You are raising mighty men and women for the Lord.

Bread is irrelevant.

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Why Does it Matter?

Today is Resurrection Day.  We celebrate an empty tomb after a gruesome crucifixion.

The significance begs to be understood; it is life changing.

  Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius,etc….they all died.

They are all still dead.  You can visit their tombs;

They are in them.

Jesus said He was the very Son of God.  His tomb is empty, because He is.

Jesus said He was the way to the Father.  His tomb is empty, because He is.

Jesus said that He gives eternal life to all who believe in Him.  His tomb is empty, because it is true.

The resurrection is real.

  The very men who fled in fear at His arrest, died martyr’s deaths declaring Jesus alive and risen.

If you’ve never read what Jesus actually had to say…. take some time this day, this month, this year and read for yourself.  Remember His words are validated by an empty tomb.  Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John in the New Testament for yourself.

Jesus is alive.  The tomb is empty.

He offers forgiveness and eternal life to all who would believe.

Read it for yourself and believe.

Happy Resurrection Day!

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