Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Way They Should Go

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

That verse is definitely one of the most quoted by homeschooling parents.  It's a verse for all parents. So, the obvious question is, "what is the way they should go?"

I believe this verse has two obvious applications.

First, the way all children should "go" is down the path of faith, obedience, righteousness, and holy living. This encompasses honesty, integrity, morality, wisdom, and virtue (anything you consider a virtue, especially based on the character of Christ). Any parent, when looking into the future, hopes for their child to grow up to be wise, good, honest, hard-working, loyal, moral, ethical, generous, respectful, faithful, loving, serving, merciful, compassionate, and so on.

So how do we do that? It's simple. If you homeschool, put God first in your curriculum line-up, and link all your other subjects to God. We made a solemn pact in our homeschool that learning God comes first. So before we do any other subjects, we do devotion, memory work (whole passages, folks, such as The Lord's Prayer, Psalm 1, 23, 37, 91, 100, The Ten Commandments, Isaiah 61, Apostles Creed, and more, and as you're learning it break it down verse by verse for devotion), and Bible history. The example of this alone is powerful. It teaches your children to put God first as a rule.

Then, homeschooling or not, simply exhort your children all day long, whether work, school, or play, to do all things as unto The Lord. (There's a verse for everything,). For example, working diligently or neatly because it pleases God, cleaning and organizing to be a good steward, being selfless, compassionate, and kind when playing, etc.

In addition, make a habit of teaching them to bring their thoughts and behaviors "captive" to Christ.  For example, for each lesson, story, movie, situation, or song, discuss what is good and virtuous, and evaluate for foolishness or evil. Practice discernment. Teach them to identify foolish behavior and avoid it.

Remind them continually, as the opportunity presents, of the Ten Commandments and other commands, along with the blessings, promises, or consequences related. When faced with a character or behavior issue, use a concordance to look up relevant verses and use them for devotions, paragraph writing, note taking, outlines, and memory work. For example, if a little one is dishonest, look up ten verses on lying and study one a day for ten days. You can address things like obedience, coveting,  greed, morality, laziness, quietness, listening, studying, being creative... ... Yeah. Anything your child may need to work on. It's in  there.

Now, the second application of this verse I believe has to do with discovering the unique gifts and interests God gave each child that are unique to him/her, and by developing them will honor God and fulfill God's purpose in their life.

Sometimes this is obvious. Sometimes it is not. Your job is to be in tune and always on the lookout for clues. And when there are no clues or clear leading, teach them to be led by the Spirit to make wise decisions , and each step will take them one step closer to where God has planned for them to go.

Take for example, my now 20-year-old.  When he was 15 and starting college-level classes, he really did not know yet what he wanted to do other than knowing in general he wanted to be married one day and have a family. After prayer, we decided the wisest course of college study for a young man in this situation would be a BSBA in General Management, considering that could apply toward any field and help with a family supporting job. Lo and behold, his first college level class was financial accounting. He fell in love. He knew immediately that  he would be happy doing accounting every day (yeah, I didn't see it coming and was like, "Whaaaaaaaa? Really? Whatever knocks your socks off, boy!). So we finished the BSBA in general management, and added the extra 30 credit hours in accounting needed for a CPA license.  He is now 20, a college graduate (plus the extra 30 credits), 
and is happily working as an accountant at Chipotle regional HQ, contentedly preparing to put himself in a position to marry, with a career, house down payment, engagement ring fund, and additional savings.  By the way he is also  a  pianist and plays for hours a day just for fun.  All through college, he would "study 20 minutes, play 20 minutes."

His nameplate at the Chipotle Regional  Office.  My husband joked that it was a  Chipotle fail that they didn't use a  picture of a black bean for  "bean counter!"
And then there's my six-year-old.  He is a gymnast, and an author. He said so very confidently, "Yes. That's what I am. An author. I know it for real." And he is. The greater portion of every day he spends writing and illustrating books (see below). And he could jump before he could walk. I  signed him up for beginning gymnastics at age five and  within  two  months had skipped up  two levels  to  advanced.  I know which way he should go.

A  couple of pages from today's work in progress. His books are usually  20-30 pages  each,  fully illustrated, with well-developed plots and  lots of writing on each page  (well, lots for a  6yo). The above text reads phonetically, "The mommy wolf got back from howling." 

 My five-year-old very confidently stated one day, "when I grow up, I am going to be a boss."  Leadership.  He is also by far the most gifted piano player, and loves it the most. His piano teacher was beyond thrilled at his interest, dedication, and skill. He is committed to practice  and  precision. And, as an aside,  we  learned very early on that he HATES poetry (yes, we sent this clip to AFV. We usually  learn  nursery rhymes while potty training.  He thought that was torture.)

And then there's the three-year-old. So far we have only joked that he will be the next world dictator. But I'm always on the lookout for clues.  Well,  and  then  he  can  do this. Yes. Literally. He is climbing the walls.

The 9yo loves math, science, geography, and "facts." He is gifted in logic and reasoning. He instantly finds fallacies in anything he reads. Even C.S. Lewis. He corrects all his textbooks. How will this develop? Detective? Lawyer? Forensics? Scientist? We will just have to nurture his gifts and interests and see how it plays out.

And my 15-year-old daughter has no clear vision as of yet. She plays piano several hours a day, but for fun. She is not really committed to performance perfect playing, even though she can now play any music she likes.  She sang in one of the top children's choirs in the country for three years, singing with the Columbus symphony orchestra in Carmina Burana, Carmen, and Pops concerts, toured Spain, sang on ESPN for NASCAR, and won a bronze medal in the world choir games. She can sight-sing any piece of music and her range is phenomenal. But she is no longer challenged and does not want to direct. She played "Marian" in a children's production of The Music Man, (she  was 11  in  this  video),  and she was amazing. She does want to try more theater. She wants to try acapella. She wants to take dance in case she decides to audition as a Disney Princess or do more musical theater (Les Miserables, Peter Pan, and Christine in Phantom of the Opera are dream roles of hers). She is an amazing artist--sketching, colored pencil, Copic markers. She spends as much time drawing as she does playing piano.  She will perform anywhere at anytime without reservation. The concept of "stage fright" is completely foreign to her. She loves to sew and crochet. And, she loves to cook. She even imagines competing on Chopped or Cupcake Wars. She did a Cupcake Wars birthday party last year and the results were definitely Food Network-worthy. So, lots of clues. But no clear direction. We will just cultivate her interests one day at a time, putting God first and making the wisest choice possible based on what we know and observe, and she will end up on the way she should go.

And the babe? At nine months, her laid back, easygoing personality is apparent. But that's not much of a clue yet. Oh, and she can play jumpy swing soccer. And she's probably a lefty--like me and her big sister (but none of her brothers).

How about you? How have you helped your children find the way they should go? Leave a comment, or leave a link and share your story!

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Year to LIVE!

2014 was not a year to live. I spent a good portion of that at death's door, and the rest trying to get the nerve to drag myself out of the valley of the shadow of death and dare to start living again. It is now time to do that.

Our family has been through a difficult chapter. Although we feel happy and blessed, the past 12 years have mainly been defined by financial hardship and serious health problems. About a year ago I  stated getting that restless, discontent feeling that signaled God was getting ready to make a change, and He has. We are starting a new chapter. I became a new person. All things have become new.

The biggest new thing is my faith. You don't stare death in the face as much as I have without finalizing your beliefs. Most of my teen and adult life, I have fervently and steadily pursued God and His truth, longing to put to rest all my doctrinal questions, and longing to know exactly how to belong to Him fully, worship Him in a way that most pleases Him, and come to rest in obedience, submission, and mercy. And He has done that. I no longer feel I'm seeking or striving to discover more truth. Now I feel settled fully in His truth. Surrounded by it. Upheld continually by it. It is now in me and all around me, and I just have to sit back, relax, and let it wash over me, lead me, teach me, and grow me.

Hence, the new blog name for a new chapter. For over ten years I have blogged at "Growing in Truth," (first on the original homeschoolblogger!), which I always felt was the perfect defining phrase for my life. It is no longer perfect. Now, I will confidently say "Surrounded by Truth." The chapter that begins with me finally feeling spiritually at rest, complete in my soul, and full in my heart.  It is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me! It really is peace like a river, flowing steadily and continually deep down in my soul.

How about another big new thing? My husband exchanging his small-town job in rural Ohio with a struggling company that couldn't always pay him fully or on time, for an executive position in bustling, beautiful, sunny Jacksonville, Florida. Not to mention the blessing of knowing God hand-picked this job, and my husband, who started this week, LOVES it. He loves the company and the people and the location and the hours and the dress code. But most importantly, he really loves the work. He finds it thoroughly interesting and even a bit fun!

Not to mention selling our blessed little homesteader farm and replacing it with a beachside home. Yeah. That's big.

And here's to a new chapter in health. I am going into this new year with a diagnosis I had been lacking, and a treatment that seems to be working. I am going to dare to throw off the fear of ending up in ICU at any given moment. I'm going to quit worrying about getting over-tired. I'm going to walk again, run again, build muscle, play, and go do things. No more hiding away from germs or being paranoid of overdoing it.

It is time to LIVE.  Hence, my "word" of the year. I want to wake up each morning, claim God's mercy, restoration, and healing, and then glorify Him in good works using the health He has restored to me. I'm going to love, cherish and support my husband, train my children for Him with joy and passion. I'm going to experience, fellowship, serve, give, relish, do, try, go.

 This is what I read just before planning this post, and it is perfect:

 "But this every one is sure of that worships Thee, that his life, if it be under trial, shall be crowned; and if it be under tribulation, it shall be delivered: and if it be under correction, it shall be allowed to come to thy mercy. For thou art not delighted in our being lost, because after a storm thou makest a calm, and after tears and weeping, thou pourest in joyfulness." 

"Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us and let us grow old both together in health."

Tobias 3:21-22, 8:10
Two prayers of Sarah, the wife of Tobias.

And in closing, how about this? Our precious blessing, Millie Jewel, now nearly nine months old, survived the first few months of her life without her mommy, but it blesses me to know that my new chapter is her FIRST chapter! What's the title for the 2015 chapter of your life? I'd live to hear it! Yes. I just caught that typo. It's appropriate. I'm leaving it that way! I will live to hear it! 

Yes, she IS a Florida  girl!