homeschooling: taking inventory for 2016

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Need to come out of the homeschooling doldrums? Here are some thoughts!

As I was growing up, my dad owned a hardware store where I worked doing everything from filling shelves and mixing paint to waiting on customers. Several weeks each January were spent taking inventory, filling out endless paperwork that reflected everything important to know about the store: how many of each item we had in stock, what products sold well during the past year, and which ones did not. When we were finished, my dad, with a renewed sense of purpose and vision, evaluated everything and made choices for the future that reflected the results of our inventory labors.

Mid-winter always seems to be a time when homeschooling families find themselves in the doldrums, often second-guessing their curriculum choices, if not their homeschooling decision, and thumbing through the pages of their fresh new calendars, wishing for summer! If this is you, maybe its time to take inventory and do some pre-spring cleaning in your lesson planner! Here are a few thoughts to jump-start the process:

Are the children enjoying the subjects and curriculum choices? Are you? Perhaps your curriculum is stale and needs a boost with supplemental materials or activities. Maybe you discovered your dislike for it months ago but felt that you had to use it because you bought it. Could it be that it no longer reflects your own worldview or convictions? Maybe your children are understandably bored with it. Set it aside for a few weeks and use something else. If you miss it, bring it back. If not, resell and move on!

Are each of your children spending at least part of their time learning in ways most suited to their individual learning styles? This approach will guarantee interest and result in success, especially if a child is struggling in some area. Have each child research a favorite subject from the material and prepare a presentation for the rest of the family, giving each one an opportunity to shine in his own way!

Are your personal goals for each child being met? Are they too ambitious or not ambitious enough? Taking inventory means being objective and realistic. Motivate them with a fun reward system. One year I made a large cardboard house and behind each shuttered and sealed window there was a secret prize they could “purchase” with points they had earned for various accomplishments. Every Friday they had the opportunity to “buy” a window of lesser value, (like an extra half hour of TV time), or to wait until they had earned more points for bigger prizes (breakfast out alone with dad). The competition and anticipation are still whispered about during family reunions!

Is there really an aversion to the curriculum or is it something else? Winter blues? Family issues that distract everyone? Events like a move, job change, or even the birth of a new baby can color everyone’s outlook on life. Try switching around the order of subjects or covering different ones on different days to see if that helps. Elicit ideas from everyone and be a good listener. Your mom radar will soon detect the problem.

Have you scheduled enough field trips or fun days? We can become so zealous to get through a certain amount of bookwork we often forget to include in our schedules real life experiences that enhance those subjects. What about planning a day to simply have fun? Invite a couple other families to your home for board games and puzzles, a “picnic” lunch on the floor of the family room, a spelling bee with words appropriate for each age level, or a movie double feature? Even something as simple as adding a walk around the block after lunch can give everyone a spark of energy.

Begin projects that can be completed outside once spring arrives. Planting seeds to nurture under grow lights now that can become a bounteous garden in a few months teaches patience as well as botany. Purchase inexpensive model rocket kits for everyone, including pre-schoolers, to assemble, paint, decorate, and launch in the spring.

Do something bigger than your own family. Winter is the perfect time to write letters to missionaries, bake goodies for shut-ins, or piece baby blankets for the crisis pregnancy center. Contact your deacons or church secretary for suggestions.

Maybe it’s you, mom! What are you doing for personal and spiritual refreshment? Make sure these are in your weekly planner as well! Plan lunch with another homeschooling mom or two and have your own “teacher’s institute day.” Head to the bookstore for a couple of hours; just the change of scenery for lesson planning will inspire you.

Homeschooling should never be static! Be a mom who is willing to change and enjoy the results!

 

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Model rockets are always fun! Clay spent a week or so working with each West Coast grandchild building rockets and these pictures are from launch day during our Thanksgiving trip to California!

 

(article written by me and originally published in Home Educating Family Magazine, 2014, Issue One)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Preparing My Heart for Christmas

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“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and moves upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.”  ~ Sigrid Undset

It began to snow again, the soft, gentle whiteness sprinkled over every twig and branch like powdered sugar. We had finished our last minute Christmas shopping, enjoying the pristine white lights that hung on each tree, the scene in our small German village quite different than the brightly colored holiday displays of our mall back in the States. Simple and lovely, the candlelight from each window spilled out into the darkness and across our path as we began our walk back to the army base. The wind picked up and I pulled my scarf more closely around my face.

It was the first Christmas away from my parents’ home and I choked back the familiar tears of loneliness and longing. We could not afford plane tickets to Illinois so we made the best of it, decorating a small tree in our apartment and enjoying the caroling and cookie exchange on post. A plump turkey sat in the refrigerator, awaiting my first attempts at basting and roasting a whole bird without my mom’s instruction and fresh pecan pies cooled on the counter. I hurried to finish the last minute wrapping and left to play the piano for the midnight chapel service.

Christmas hymns had been such an important part of my life since I was a small child and as I had practiced that week, their words pierced my heart, bringing comfort and joy to my burdened soul. I knew my family was singing them, too, and were gathering to worship in much the same way we were. But still, I wistfully thought of exchanging gifts and opening presents that had been lovingly tucked under the cheerful tree with its family ornaments.

The post chaplain and is wife were filling cups with grape juice as I arrived and greeted me with, “Aren’t the decorations lovely this year?”

As I looked around, I was in awe of what I was seeing. Every rafter and window sill held small twinkling lights woven into fresh greenery and there were thousands of hand carved wooden ornaments carefully placed in the branches, each one catching the light and casting shapes on the walls. Small angels and forest creatures combined with stars made from straw, representing the manager in Bethlehem, dangled and danced over our heads. Miniature and detailed nativities, each one unique, graced several boughs. It was breathtaking.

“Decorating our sanctuary each year is a gift to our community from local residents,” the pastor explained. “Many of these dear people survived the war and lost loved ones during the holocaust. They do this to thank us for our service.”

People soon began to arrive, each one marveling at the beautiful ornaments. As I played and we sang and took communion, I delighted in that moment, of sharing Christmas with strangers, of receiving the gift of the ornaments. Hearing the familiar tunes sung in German as I sang in English brought me a new sense of the wideness of the body of Christ and made home seem closer. I was convicted of the simplicity of the Gospel message represented in the lovely handmade works of art, the truth my own heart desperately needed. And I was blessed by these precious believers whose lives reflected both sorrow and joy and who gave to others in spite of their own needs.

Theologian, diplomat, and hymn writer Henry van Dyke, understood the human struggle and its bearing on how we approach Christmas. He reminded us that it is only as we recognize our great need for the Savior and are willing to apply the Gospel message in our relationships to others that we can truly celebrate Christmas.

“Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weaknesses and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself if you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open? Are you willing to do these things for a day? Then you are ready to keep Christmas!” ~ Henry van Dyke

(written by me and originally published in Dear Magazine, December, 2015)

 

 

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Dwight L. Moody and children

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One evening when he was still quite young, Paul had been playing in the kitchen with a friend who had stopped by after his normal bedtime hour. His father, evangelist Dwight L. Moody, observed this and then commanded that his son go to bed. Paul Moody said: “I retreated immediately and in tears, for it was an almost unheard of thing that he should speak with such directness or give an order unaccompanied by a smile. But I had barely gotten into my little bed before he was kneeling beside it in tears and seeking my forgiveness for having spoken so harshly. He never, he said, intended to speak crossly to one of his children.”


This childhood experience remained with Paul and later he acknowledged the impact it had upon his religious life. He said “Half a century must have passed since then and while it is not the earliest of my recollections I think it is the most vivid, and I can still see that room in the twilight and that large bearded figure with the great shoulders bowed above me and hear the broken voice and the tenderness in it. I like best to think of him that way. Before then and after I saw him holding the attention of thousands of people, but asking the forgiveness of his unconsciously disobedient little boy for having spoken harshly seemed to me then and seems now a finer and a greater thing and to it I owe more that I owe to any of his sermons. For to this I am indebted for an understanding of the meaning of the Fatherhood of God and a belief in the love of God had its beginnings that night in my childish mind.” ~ from My Father: An Intimate Portrait of Dwight L. Moody by his son, Paul Moody

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teaching and admonishing with grace

 

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Teach and admonish one another.”   Colossians 3:16

When we consider our natural role as teachers and life-long mentors of our children, we recognize there are three aspects of this process that are crucial in relationship building: encouraging each other through good and bad times, challenging each other to obey Christ, and making sure everything we say and do is bathed in love. For most people, understanding how to biblically deal with conflicts is the biggest challenge. Whenever we are in relationships with others, addressing issues is always necessary. It is, in fact, the process we must go through to assure our personal and spiritual growth!

The words “teaching” “admonishing” and “instructing” are all facets of the same gem. Whereas teaching often implies instructing and explaining with an exhortive bent, admonishment more often involves a warning or pointing out pitfalls and the natural consequences of taking a dangerous course of action.

Admonishment comes with very clear prerequisites for the one doing it. In addressing his Roman brothers and sisters, Paul stated: And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another (Romans 15:14). In other words, to be qualified to admonish someone else, you must be a spirit-filled and spirit-directed believer who understands the specific area that needs to be addressed. He goes on to say: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted“(Galatians 6:1). Admonishment is never done in a way that humiliates another but rather is approached with kindness and gentleness and its end goal is always restoration.

In the past year, I have seen repeated examples of parents who thought it was wise to publicly shame and punish their children, using social media to do so. One couple paraded their young son around a department store wearing a sandwich board declaring him to be a “thief.” Another mother forced her teenage daughters to stand along a busy street holding poster board that revealed their lack of respect for their dad. Advertising these “discipline” methods on their Facebook pages, their actions were met, for the most part, with admiration and encouragement, even among Christians who gladly republished these stories. Every time I see this, I cannot help but think of how much different Jesus was in His approach to those who sinned. Though He was direct and truthful, He was never unkind or harsh. He did not seek to expose another’s sin in order to shame them into obedience.

If we are harsh in our approach to others, we are demonstrating that we are not qualified to admonish anyone because it shows our lack of spiritual maturity. The opposite of harshness is the spirit of gentleness, which in the Greek means “with humility,” lest we also be tempted. If we look at this verse in terms of relating to our children, we have to ask how we can be tempted. I think it could be when we forget that we are sinners, too, and that we, ourselves, are overtaken daily in trespasses. When we reject a humble, gentle attitude toward our children, we are tempted to mistreat them, physically and verbally. We can either build up and restore a child by our words and actions or we can tear down and lord it over them, showing no spirit of humility whatsoever. We, too, are sinners in need of a Savior, and are still a work in progress ourselves. How we respond to sin in the lives of our children will have lasting consequences and if we are harsh might even cause them to give up altogether.

 

~ from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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homeschooling means sacrifice

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“During the War of 1812, the harbor of Baltimore became a prime target for British ships determined to shut down commerce between England and the fledgling United States. Nearly bankrupt from years spent struggling for independence, there was little money to support a military defense of this strategic target. However, the citizens of Baltimore who understood what was at risk banded together and lined up their own vessels, small and large, and sank them, creating an underwater barrier deterring the British armada. They willingly sacrificed all they had, their own financial resources and even their very lives, to defeat the enemy that threatened the lives and the futures of their families. 

Agape love calls for this kind of sacrifice and homeschooling is most successful when this sacrificial relationship becomes the cornerstone of everything else we do. As our children witness our commitment to them through homeschooling, their view of who we are in their lives is shaped in a powerful way. One time our eight-year-old son overheard us talking about the homeschooling conference we had attended and the training we had received. In astonishment, he asked, “Wow, you did all that for us?”

Choosing to homeschool our children over our personal interests, hobbies, and even financial gain opens and prepares the soil of their hearts to receive the Word. The fruits of obeying the love one another commands will be seen and shared not only in the here and now in our homes, but will be experienced far and wide and even into future generations. Not only will it alter the course of many lives lived on earth but it will have eternal consequences.” ~ from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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Join me! FREE and ONLINE Not Back to School Summit

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Come and join me at the FREE and ONLINE Not Back to School Summit!!

Throughout the month of September, Home Education Council of America is hosting a series of more than 65 incredible workshops with 30 influential speakers – all online, all for FREE!

Topics will address everything from age 0 to graduation!! Register and get insight on philosophies and methods, encouragement, hands-on workshops and training, special needs, homeschooling many, scheduling and planning, and much more. Get unstuck, get motivated, get organized. There is certain to be a topic and a speaker for everyone!

Simply visit the HECOA website today and register to get your all-access pass to the entire month, from the comfort of your home. There will be replays for a limited time – in case you have to miss one (just be sure to attend mine live though – it’s going to be extra special!)

 

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the Bible’s plan for discipling our children

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“Eyes, Grandma, eyes?” she questioned, motioning back and forth between the eyeliner in my hand and her eyelid. “Eyes, Grandma!  Eyes, Jenny!” This time she insisted, so I carefully touched the top of her eye, pretending to make a line. She was so pleased.

“Cheek, Grandma cheek?” she then asked, gently patting her perfect little face. “Cheek, Jenny?” I lightly dusted the powder with the brush, making a soft pink circle.

“Lips, Grandma, lips!” Smoothing her finger across her lower lip, she stood perfectly still as I ever-so-lightly dotted her mouth with the shiny pink gloss.

“All done!” she exclaimed as she reached out her two-year-old arms for me to set her down from the counter. “Hug, Grandma, hug!!” she hollered, squeezing me tightly before darting out the bathroom door, tossing her purse over her shoulder in an eerily familiar fashion.

Children are the great imitators; it is part of God’s plan for teaching and training; it is His divine method for discipling little ones for His own glory! This is what humbles us and calls us to continual circumspection as we raise children.

The Apostle Paul, himself, boldly declared this reality to the church in his letters to the Thessalonians. “We came in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate,”(2 Thess. 2:9) he said, placing into our hands several truths that demonstrate what it looks like to practice model-worthy discipleship:

We are to have pure hearts as we disciple our children. 

“For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.  You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else.”

Homeschooling has become almost trendy in both the secular and Christian worlds and some people dabble in it, perhaps thinking it will give them a more righteous standing before the Lord or that they will be more accepted within their peer groups. Paul assured the Thessalonians that he and Timothy had not chosen to disciple them because it would make them look good or that it would please anyone else but God. He made sure they knew that it was not for personal gain and reminded them that it is the Lord God who sees and knows and thoroughly examines motives of the heart!

Why are you homeschooling? What are the motives of your heart? Is it out of a sincere love for your children and do they know that?

Having pure hearts leads to a blameless life.

“Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. “

Paul’s goal for those he mentored would be that they walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls us into His own kingdom and glory.  Paul wanted the spiritual best for these dear spiritual children and we want the same for ours. We must purpose to walk in an upright manner ourselves and disciple our children through exhorting, encouraging, and imploring them to walk worthy, too! It means that we set aside our own agendas and preferences, our own pride, our own sense of importance for the very sake of the Gospel. It means we confess our sins and seek forgiveness when we sin, especially when it’s against our children.

Do your children see in you someone who is willing to sacrifice for them,  someone wanting to live an upright life?? Have you learned to repent to them of wrongful attitudes and actions as their example? If they sin, do they know they will be shown grace by you?

 

Grace rather than law should be our priority. 

As apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

Paul told the Thessalonians that he could have chosen to exert authority over them. Instead he chose two examples that showed no agenda for power and control. First he says they were like children, hearkening back to the command Jesus gave that we are to be as little children in order to enter His kingdom. Then he says they were as gentle and tender, as a nursing mother. What an amazing word picture he painted! There is such perfect rest and peace in those precious moments of nursing a baby, a tenderness and compassion that Paul, even as a man, knew is at the heart of the discipling process. We need to ask ourselves if we consider parenting from an adversarial perspective or with a kind, “coming alongside our children” approach. That attitude makes all the difference in the world!

Are you as gentle with each of them as you are with a nursing baby? Is your home filled with grace rather than law?

 

Being a Christian often means suffering and mistreatment.

You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.”

Paul assured those he was discipling that being a Christian is not easy; he was transparent with them, candidly talking of his own experiences in prison. He wanted to assure them that he knew life was difficult and that boldness is required, even in the midst of daily life as believers. Our children need to hear the stories of our own struggles and sometimes all we can offer them is the truth that life is hard but that God is always good!

Do your children know that being a Christian means that there will be difficult times? Do they see in you a real, transparent, and living faith in God’s sovereignty?

 

Those we disciple must know how much we love them. 

“Because we loved you so much.”

There is one important truth that we often miss as we set out to disciple our children. Popular homeschooling teachers often talk about “having the hearts of our children” before we can train them. The truth that we should be most concerned about is whether or not our children have our hearts! There are so many, many things that often hold us, that divide our affections.  I love how Ephesians 5:1 so clearly shows the order in which these things properly happen.  “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us.” It is the assurance that we are beloved children, that we were bought with a great price, that enables us to imitate God!  It is this same truth our children must embrace before they can be discipled, that they are loved, truly loved, by both God and us!

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missionaries in the guest room ~ bringing home the whole world

 

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My earliest memories of missionaries all come along with those of white-gloved church ladies, potluck casserole suppers, and a noisy slide projector streaming foreign wonders on a crooked Silver Flyer screen! My six-year-old mind reeled as I soaked in the photos of men holding spears and ladies modeling fascinating beaded jewelry. I marveled at the men and women describing each slide, sharing their stories and making another country come alive right there in our fellowship hall.

When I became a parent, I knew I wanted my own children to have the valuable exposure to foreign missions I had experienced. Our bookshelves were filled with missionary biographies and the large atlas on our coffee table was rarely closed. We volunteered to help with the missions conferences in our church and I wrote a series of skits based on some of our favorite characters from missionary history for them to dramatize. I will never forget my 12-year-old son dressed as Hudson Taylor and my daughter as Rosalind Goforth, both knowing much more about China than I had ever learned in any geography class!

However, our greatest experience was hosting missionary families in our home and having the privilege of getting to know many people whose life stories enriched our lives in ways book studies alone would never have done! Though the thought of welcoming a family of strangers into your home for a meal or even an extended period of time might initially seem daunting, it will leave a lasting impression on your children and build everyone’s faith!

Here are a few tips for making your missionary hosting experience a great one:

Learn as much as possible about the country where your missionaries serve and encourage your children to ask lots of questions! I recently chatted with a homeschooling mom whose family just returned after 8 years as missionaries in Burma. She told me one thing she really loves is when people ask them real questions about their work and she assured me it ever gets old! Be sure to ask thoughtful questions yourself. Not long ago I asked a missionary stationed in a fairly primitive area how they find the balance between making Bible translation and Gospel preaching a priority and addressing physical needs. It opened up a great discussion and we all learned so much.

Get other families involved! Invite another family or two for dessert in your home and ask your missionary to share more informally and personally. One afternoon a lovely older retired missionary set out a display of carved animals and jewelry she had brought home from Kenya, allowing our group to touch everything and she even gave each child small treasures to keep. Another time we participated in a School of Missions where each family studied a particular country, prepared native foods, wore authentic clothing, and shared what they learned with each other. We quickly found out that the best way to learn something is to teach it!

Encourage your missionaries to tell as many real life stories as possible while in your home! Missionary stories are the best stories! One of our favorite missionaries is Tom Randall, the best man at our wedding and long time missionary to the Philippines with World Harvest. I will never forget the wide-eyed expressions on our children’s faces as he told them hair-raising tales of God’s provision for him through both natural calamities and at the hands of evil men. His life story continues to build our faith to this day and my thirty-something children still vividly remember his amazing stories!

Remember that your missionaries may come to you with very real physical, emotional, and spiritual needs! One time, we were asked to host a missionary family who, unbeknownst to anyone else, was really struggling with whether or not to return overseas. I soon learned that their financial support had dwindled and the wife, especially, was struggling with fear and bitterness. Since they came from a hot, arid climate to the Midwest at the end of October, they had no cold weather clothes. We were able to find some things for them to wear until they could unpack their stored boxes but I didn’t realize how truly needy they were until I discovered the man had left a terribly threadbare t-shirt in the guest room. My heart ached at how much more I could have done for them and I was much better prepared in the future.

Keep in touch with your missionaries once they are gone and plan to see them again! Encourage your children to become pen pals with missionary children. Send care packages, letters, and emails and plan to Skype when possible. Pray specifically for missionaries by name and keep a prayer journal to record how God is working! Become missionaries to your missionaries and bring the whole world home!

This article was written by me and was originally published in Family Magazine, Issue 3, 2015

 

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bearing our children’s burdens

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“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”   Galatians 6:2

In the middle of one July with Midwestern temperatures soaring into the high 90s and humidity registering about the same, my three little preschoolers came down with the chicken pox. Their creamy Scottish complexions combined with the intense heat left them with nearly every square inch of their little bodies covered in the itchy, painful rash. For three weeks I spent most of my days taking them in and out of baking soda baths and feeding them popsicles and pudding. We camped out on the hide-a-bed watching Little House on the Prairie reruns and reading until my voice was hoarse. When Clay came home from work, he took over as only a daddy can do, and in the night we took shifts.

Every mom has similar stories of bearing the burdens of her family, some much more difficult than our chicken pox saga. I have friends who have children with physical struggles, others who care for little ones with learning disabilities. In reality, all of us have burdens and live with children who do, too. We live in a fallen world where physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual burdens are continually part of the ebb and flow of life. If this is true and burdensome for us, how must it be for children who do not have the context for understanding their woes or the maturity to face them?

Bearing the burdens of others, especially of our children, involves both sympathy and empathy. As Christians, we are called to come alongside others, sympathizing with them, even if we do not understand the struggles or the pain. As mothers, we have experienced so much of what our children face that we need to recall our own experiences as part of empathizing with them, thus helping them carry their burdens. Ultimately, we become a living example for them to see how Jesus bears our burdens and calls us to do the same for others.

In our parenting zeal, we often forget what it was like to be a child. They are shorter than adults and closer to the ground so they see things we miss. Everything is new to them and they want to examine and explore. Their concept of time is measured by events rather than a schedule. When they have teething pain they have no idea why. When they wake up alone in a dark quiet room, they are scared and just want to be with somebody else. Their little bodies do not comprehend a menu plan, they just know they are uncomfortable and eating makes them feel better. Bearing the burdens of our children is no mystery, it is meeting needs they have simply because they are children; it is seeing each one as someone in need of an advocate rather than as an adversary.

Scripture talks about bearing the burdens of each other in terms of a weight that prohibits someone from being able to function, that presses down on them or around them. Sometimes we can see that burden, like chicken pox or a swollen gum hiding a new tooth. Other times there are hidden needs, an emotional or a spiritual burden. As children walk through their teen years, in particular, it is natural for them to struggle in ways we cannot see. But if we have purposed to carry those burdens we do see, being free of judgment and full of tender mercies toward them, our children will be more likely to allow us to carry the heavier burdens they bear as they grow up. And we cannot pick and choose what we will bear; we are called to bear all things (1 Corinthians 13:7)! And what is the result of bearing the burdens of our children? We fulfill the law of Christ, to adequately complete our service, literally “to fill in” as in filling an empty ditch to overflowing!

In John Bunyan’s famous allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian, the protagonist, makes his way along the path to the Celestial City but falls into a miry swamp, “such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.” Christian struggles to near exhaustion when a friend named Help comes along and, looking from a different vantage point, is able to see steps that come up out of the bog. He shows them to Christian, who is then able to get free of the entanglements of the slough and they both go on their way.[2]

I believe this has a particular message for parents as we mentor our children. We, ourselves, are further down the path than our little ones. We know the dangers and the trials associated with sin as well as life’s struggles; we, too, have wallowed in the Slough of Despond. So when our precious children fall and are tempted to despair, we can come alongside them and are able to give them steps to returning back to the path! What a privilege it is to be called to such a glorious ministry of encouragement in their lives!

What burdens do your children carry at the stages of life they are currently in? What are some ways you can carry those burdens for them? How is God kind to you? In what ways can you show more kindness to your children?

from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home   Available at Rainbow Resource and on Amazon!

 

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no eye has seen

ben and girls

 

“Through the years I have met many moms who were just beginning this wonderful journey, this adventure called “homeschooling.” I must admit that they always made me feel a little wistful as my days of actually schooling my own children were slipping by so quickly. It was as though I was turning the pages in a really amazing book and knew that the last chapter was coming. I was sad and some days wished I could go back. But even better yet has been the sequel, the next book of my life that God has written! 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV) holds a promise for us that stirs up great anticipation in my heart. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” We cannot begin to know how wonderful the next chapter is…whether it is the moving from kindergarten to first grade, graduating the last child, welcoming a new baby, a husband’s job change…whatever it may be, we know that it is for our good if we love God.

Recently, a new friend shared this story with me. She told me how, many years ago, she struggled with a rebellious son who had come through the public school system. At the urging of friends, she and her husband decided to bring home the other children and begin homeschooling. As they attended their first homeschooling conference, a new world opened up to them, a world beyond anything they had ever imagined. As they came out of the conference center at the end of the day, walking in front of this couple was a mother with her teen-aged son towering above her. As they walked, spontaneously and without embarrassment or reservation, the boy leaned over and kissed his mom on the cheek. At that moment, my friend told me that she was so stunned and overwhelmed by their relationship that in her heart she cried out to the Lord, saying, ‘This is what I want for my family!'”

They brought their children home and began schooling them and as the years went by, they were amazed at all the Lord was doing in their lives. Then, at the end of her story she told me this: Just the other day she and her husband went to a family movie with their youngest child who is almost ready to graduate. As they were walking along, the boy, now a man, was in between the two of them, and he reached out and placed his arms around both parents and hugged them as they walked. Her mind raced back to that day so many years ago when she had cried out to the Lord to give her good and godly relationships with her family. When we love God with all our hearts and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength, we cannot begin to imagine all that He has prepared for us!

from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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