Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 3rd Grade :)

Training for Victory

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus. Hebrew 12:1

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:36

Winning a race requires dedication and discipline. At times we can be tempted to lose heart in this homeschool marathon when victory seems no where in sight. Let’s face it, there are days that can be grueling for homeschooling moms–the discipline we need in order to accomplish a day’s duty in dishes, laundry, child training, gardening, house cleaning, lessons, nature study, meal prep, planning, organizing, errands, etc. requires every ounce of our strength. What would we do without the Lord’s grace and mercy on our lives? Thank God that by the essential disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship, we can actually run our race, with stamina and vigor.

My family is going into our fifth year of homeschooling, and although I have always been excited about our calling, and still am, I sense that I now also need endurance to stay in the will of God, that we may receive what He has promised our family. I need to keep doing what I am doing and not become mentally tired. After all, my oldest is only the ripe old age of 7, and my youngest hasn’t even started school yet. Oh my, the lesson plans still to be written. I sigh to think of it, but I know they are the single greatest earthly factor of our homeschool successes each month, so I press on.

“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” –Bishop Carl Smith

Those words from my beloved former Pastor keep reminding me lately that the planning I do is important. Likewise, at church on Sunday Pastor Dave preached on perseverance (Striking Arrows), and again I was encouraged. As he spoke on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul’s analogy of training like an athlete to win a prize, my mind went to the ‘next level training’ my husband and I have been discussing for the children this school year. I was encouraged by his message that the Lord’s vigorous training process for us will indeed feel hard and unpleasurable at times because training to win requires hard work, self denial, and even grueling preparation. I sure do want to be in it to win it.

“Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body (I beat my body) like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

As Christians called to win the race, and as Christians with the privilege of educating our own children in the race, we dear friends, have been called to a life that demands the very best of what we have to offer. With the right training and discipline, victory is ahead; without the right training and discipline, victory will always be out of reach.

Lord, train us to win.

Give us a whiff of the victory ahead, and the strength to sprint towards Your eternal prize.

As He directs our steps, the Lord will bring more purpose and clarity into our family lives, but with it, discipline will be required to succeed hour by hour in the daily marathon at home. In many areas, perseverance is simply all we need– to keep doing what we are already doing, and in other areas He may be prompting us to posture ourselves for stricter training.

Here are a few areas our Father is challenging our family to step up into the next level of training: our schedule, our Bible study, family club meetings, and our prayer life.

.

Our Schedule

Here is a peek at our schedule for this school year. With the way I feel about schedules, keeping this schedule will be a lot like me “striking a blow at my body to make it my slave.” (1 Cor. 9:27 NIV)

 

IMG_0221

 

Discipline has been a weak area for me most of my life, so me and schedules don’t often groove. I freely admit that I love somewhat unstructured homeschool days where school starts at 10 or 11 in the morning. Me staying up too late at night, Olympian sized breakfasts, plenty of chores, and long devotions here make for late mornings. I remember structured school days that always started at 9 am when Tayler, our little next door neighbor girl, met with us for school back in Noah’s preschool days. So having a more structured schedule shouldn’t be impossible to have again!

I realize that in order to realistically spread a Charlotte Mason feast of broad and generous knowledge, we need to try to implement more schedule into our day, which is going to take some training on my part. My lack of structure this past year would sometimes result in paring down to the “basics” for lack of time, which makes for blander school days. However, when we carefully guard designated times for the more beautiful elements of an education–picture study, composer study, poetry study, nature study, and handicrafts–homeschool is a richer, more enjoyable experience for both teacher and students. Our schedule this school year includes my goal to start school early, while allowing time to make our mornings beautiful.

I really prioritize lengthy uninterrupted play times for my 7, 5, and 2 year old because I think play is as important as lessons are for children, so we intentionally stay home to play most afternoons. I notice the more my kids play, the more creative they are. I hate to see that drained away in children by over scheduling their lives. That being said, we find afternoon activities like exercise, tea with neighbors, time with friends, and handicrafts are also important, but they are a less regular part of our life than good old fashioned sibling playtime.

We also try to schedule time to be in nature and learning out and about at various places on Fun Fridays. Our untraditional school adventures are my lifeline; we all love Fun Fridays!

Family Bible Study

“Family Nights,” as shown on our schedule, happen every night here– its the time of day daddy is home to disciple our children. We desire for many of our children’s most meaningful spiritual experiences to occur at home, and for many to occur during the daily diet of a father led Family Bible Hour. In the context of special family discipleship relationships, and through a father regularly touching his children’s hearts with the gospel message, children grow in a faith that is not easily walked away from once grown up. The calling of a father is indispensable to our children’s training.

Since Noah was little we have been interested in training up our children into Christian manhood/womanhood by 12 or 13 years old with a rite of passage ceremony, and creating a list of training objectives to complete by the time of the ceremony. I remember being really amazed at the time Noah graduated preschool that we had 8 years of training time left …… and now we have 5 years!! The child training period may be shorter than we realize. It is important for us all to recognize the gravity of the moment with each new school year.

In light of these things, we plan to set Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights aside for Family Bible Study time, which will include Bible readings, 1 Verse Bible Studies, and a rotation through other supplemental activities such as prayer with our prayer wall, worship on my guitar, and reading character shaping books like YWAM’s Christian Hero’s Then and Now series.

1 Verse Bible Study is a new idea birthed this summer as God is growing us into using basic Bible study methods. It should help us and our children learn to meditate on scripture, listen in to the Holy Spirit’s voice, apply scripture to our personal lives, and remember what we’ve learned. Its easy enough for a 2nd grader and kindergardener to do, but also really effective for receiving revelation from the Lord for all ages.

Its quite simple and quick. Someone picks a verse and reads it aloud several times, we all highlight it in our Bibles, then we quietly think about it and pray it. We may journal our thoughts and pictures in our prayer journals if we wish. We encourage the kids to ask God and themselves questions about the verse as they meditate. Then we have a discussion in which we each take a turn to share out what the Holy Spirit showed us. Each person shares at least one idea or one question, and everyone can help shed light on the questions that come up. I love that everyone gets to participate, and we are having some of our best Bible related discussions this way. Plus, learning to hear the Holy Spirit through the Word is a skill that our children can take into adulthood for their personal Bible study and for leading Bible studies.

IMG_0259

When we meditate quietly, we may close our eyes and try to visualize the verse in order to receive revelation, as I did with Psalm 119:105 – my 1 verse Bible Study with the kids the other day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

.

.

.

.

Family Club Meetings

Besides Bible Study, we desire to hold Club Meetings ever so often on Family Nights, for fun and for training our children to maturity. We found the Keepers/Contenders of the Faith program handbooks will help us achieve a family club where Moms can teach daughters, fathers can teach sons, and we can foster close relationships between us all as we learn fun skills together. We plan to hold Family Club Meetings in our living room every other Monday night. It is a brand new program for us this year, but we hope Keepers and Contenders will serve as a family scouting experience for us, and a fun way to earn badges for all kinds of handicrafts and a host of other wonderful skills. We have the Contenders of the Faith handbook for boys and the Keepers of the Faith handbook for girls to help guide our badge work. This amazingly thorough list of life skills from Keepers/Contenders can help prepare our children to someday manage a home, lead a family, and be a Christian witness–while helping to build a special family unity here in the few short years we have them. Our meeting agendas will be something simple such as:

  1. Prayer
  2. Song or HymnImage result for contenders of the faith club
  3. Words of Encouragement Image result for keeper of the faith club
  4. Pledge of Allegiance
  5. Recite Memory Work
  6. Game
  7. Check on Badge Work Progress; Discuss Badge Work Goals to Accomplish Before our Next Meeting
  8. Badge Work

 

 

.

Our Prayer Wall

IMG_0172

.

I am pleased to have finished our “Prayer Wall” this summer, to support us in moving progressively towards a stronger understanding of prayer and prayer strategy (while still remaining Spirit led of course). We use our prayer wall during morning devotions and also at night once we start up Family Bible Study with daddy this fall. PRAYER is our little makeshift acronym to remind us how to pray, as we grow in understanding…….Praise God for who He is, Really thank Him, Ask for forgiveness, Your needs, Everyone else’s needs, Release seed. Seed is the Word of God, and we are learning to plant scriptures related to our needs, and others, whenever we pray so that there may be a harvest in due time (a good little devotional for teaching this principle pictured below).

.

IMG_0248

Image result for over the edge devotional

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The top chalkboard on our Prayer Wall lists current short term needs, and the cups contain long term prayer focuses for Our Family, Loved ones, and the World. We have stood on God’s promises for our children and ourselves for many years, but they were scattered in different journals and binders and Bibles. Now the scriptures are organized in one place and easily accessible by all! Praise the Lord! The ‘Family’ cup has slips of paper with a topic such as ‘Godly Friendships’ or ‘Health’ on one side and our corresponding promise from the Word on the other. The ‘World’ cup has slips of paper with people groups, nations, and general world needs (natural disasters, government, missions, churches, etc.). The kids can use the map to locate the nation named on their slip of paper. They can also use our Window on the World book to get prayer points and background on a nation or people group. The ‘Loved Ones’ cup has slips of paper with the names of all the family and friends our kids could think of (they sounded out and wrote the names themselves).

 

God is growing all of us in different ways according to our needs! How is He challenging you to run your race well this year?

With our vision written plain, our running shoes on, and our faces set like a flint, we will keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and we will press on to receive all that he has promised. Thank you for praying for our family, let me know how we can be praying for yours.

Victory is ours!

Our Sweet Summer Memories

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_0311

Breakfast at the Cravalhos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_0038

Faith found a frog in our backyard!

IMG_0284

Now we have two!

IMG_0281

We started doing The Lord’s Table this summer as a family

a camper?

Is it a camper?

Noah's first batch of pancakes--with his own touch on top

Noah’s first batch of pancakes–with his own touch on top

Constant fort building

Constant fort building all summer

IMG_1111

Shine Worship Festival 2016 at The Lord’s Land (1 Verse Bible Study spawned from this trip)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1413

Hiking at Mitchell Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1422

BF’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1185

Noah dreamed big this summer, one dream was to paint a train backdrop for our 4th of July Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1201

Faithy’s playhouse decorated for the 4th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1216

The most adorable 4th of July Show ever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0063

We were pleased with the finished backdrop for the stage

IMG_1436

Cousins stayed over for a few days

 

IMG_0765

Clean up training for little Daniel has been rough

IMG_0771

All Cozy for Family Movie Night

IMG_0808

Little Mommy

IMG_1394

A fun Ride in a Really Big Dump truck at Daddy’s Work

IMG_1074

Happy Father’s Day Daddy–just what you always wanted!

IMG_1411

Hiking to the falls at Sunol Regional Wilderness

IMG_1047

Thankful for inspiration to capture precious moments (right before she lost her two front teeth)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment »

Discipling Our Children at HOME Sweet HOME

God’s Design for Family:

Family is the cornerstone, the basic building block of Christ’s kingdom here on earth. Parents following God’s design must diligently teach their children the things of God at all times, in all places and in all ways (Deut.6:4-7). This builds Christ’s kingdom here on earth. Christian worship, teaching, & ministry is primarily a function of the family. This is God’s design for family.

I love to blog here about how discipleship with our children is a relational process that God designed to happen best at home with parents who can do it better than anyone or anything else. As everyone I know seems to be so sincerely concerned about giving their child every opportunity through various after school activities, and families just seem to keep getting busier outside the home, today I would like to put a plug in for……..staying HOME! I will share what God is showing me about building up our homes–the living breathing God given places for discipleship to occur–for the highest purpose of reaching and influencing other families for God.

Books written by the wonderful authors, Sally and Clay Clarkson, wisely speak on building a home according to God’s design. If you were only going to buy one homeschool book, ever, I would tell you to get Educating the Whole Hearted Child, by the Clarksons, as it is a foundational book for any Christian homeschool. It has all encompassing information on how to set up a Christian homeschool, but is also filled with the most heartfelt and wise words of mentorship from a family whose grasp on God’s design for the family is amazing. I have been engrossed in its very meaty content for months now. Sally, who coaches younger mothers in the calling of motherhood, also has a few different books that teach how mothers build their homes as homemakers. In her book, the Mission of Motherhood, she exhorts, “the task of building our homes into places of beauty and life that will feed the hearts, souls, and minds of our children is the most comprehensive task to which God has called us as mothers. We are called quite literally to be “home makers.” When we homemakers think “build up our homes,” we can think of lovingly and daily building it with our own hands and words.

HomeMakers Beautify Their Homes, and Beautiful Homes Nurture Children’s Spirits

Lately, when I think of our own home, I think of cozy candle light, afternoon or evening tea times, always homemade food, the aroma of apple cider or popcorn, daddy’s Bible drills and Saturday morning omelette specialties, hearts joining over family reads like Heaven is For Real, hearing bare feet running up and down the hall, craft time extravaganzas, nature park collections lighting up the mantel and tables with seasonal decor, and intensely celebrated movie nights and game nights. It hasn’t always been this way. When we were first married, we lived in a barren one bedroom apartment and had almost no traditions. Home has come a long way for us, but it hasn’t happened overnight. As He so masterfully does, God pulled on our hearts, and is centering us on home and the building up a strong sense of family, and we are delighted with His increasing creative expression of beauty in our home. Having a home that is welcoming and beautiful happens to be a Cravalho family core value, and little by little the walls of our home reverberate more with the life of God. As Sally Clarkson says, “God is a God of creativity and dimension, and so He is pleased when we we co-create beauty in our own realm, through the power of His Spirit. It was a profound realization when I understood that I could become an artist with my very life.” As homemakers, we can make our home interesting, captivating, colorful, creative, and full of life.

The activities and traditions that we have at home are not just fun family “things to do”, they are the platform for ministry to our children, as a real life tangible expression of the life of God. As our children’s 5 senses are nurtured at home through these types of cozy sights, sounds, and experiences, their soul’s need for joy and delight is satisfied, which opens the door for their spirit to be reached. All that is done at home–from tea time to decorating to holiday traditions– is for the purpose of nurturing the life of God into the souls of our children, so that they want to know and follow Him. An inviting home provides access to our children’s spirits, and is therefore a strong foundation for discipleship. A home is a cistern from which our children may willingly choose to quench their thirst, rather than anywhere else in the world, if it is indeed a fountain of life.

We can give our children reasons to always think of home as the best place to be. Working hard to make home as fun as possible helps form strong family ties (rather than friends houses or outside activities being the greater draw). Rich family literature, family movie nights, game nights, tea times, traditions, and special homemade foods all help to enrich home and family life. When we make our homes vibrant and warm, we are nurturing our children’s spirits and winning their hearts.

A Home is Perfectly Designed to Reach the Lost

Families need to be together on several levels: at home as a faithful family, fellowshipping at church with other faithful families, and ministering to the world as a faithful family. I really want me and my family to be used by God. Yet, I always feel like my time is too tied up with small children to be of any use to the ministry of my church. However, as a Christian, I feel the never ceasing pull of the call of the Great Commission. My predicament knaws away at me because I was heart and soul involved in church ministry before children. Ideally, I know that now with children, I would want to serve in some way that would directly feed into the discipleship process of my children, but I can’t find any church ministry that can be done very easily side by side with a 1, 4, and 5 year old! Why is finding time to serve at church and wholeheartedly raising a house full of children always at such odds with each other? Must I choose one or the other? Hello, home based family driven ministry! God can use the building up that is occuring in our home through homeschool and various family practices, the very things we have our hands and hearts tied up in anyway, to be a main source of ministry–ministry that is easy and natural to do in this season of life because its at home, not church.

An awesome champion for families and author of Family Driven Faith, Voddie Baucham Jr., describes how the love that grows in a home following God’s pattern for family, produces an exquisitely attractive expression of ministry. He says, “Our homes must be rife with the aroma of love. Those who visit us should notice immediately that they have left the world of self-serving, egocentric narcissism and have entered a safe harbor where people value and esteem others above themselves. Outsiders should enter our homes and never want to leave. Our neighbors should find excuses to visit us just to get another whiff of the fragrant aroma of love. The brokenhearted should long to be near us. The downtrodden and the abused should seek us out. Families on the brink of disaster should point to us and say, “Why can’t our home be like that?” A home made beautiful by its inhabitants and their infectious love for each other and Jesus, is how God designed families to effectively and powerfully live out Jesus’ Great Commission.

Sally Clarkson likes to share personal “In Our Home” snippets that bring her family lifestyle to life for the reader. She explains how her family purposely sets apart some time to meet with the Lord during an evening of fellowship with visiting guests, and how that simple act of ministry has served as an instrumental form of discipleship in her children’s lives. Sally shares, “There is always the challenge to balance fun and faith, but we regularly have other families over and dedicate part of our evening to talking about the Lord, sharing testimonies, singing hymns and praise songs, and praying together. Even if we keep the time short, it still creates an indelible mark on our children’s spirits. Even now that they are older, they still remember times of significant spiritual fellowship, if only because such times are becoming more rare in our isolated culture.” Her words have stayed with me for months. The way that the Clarkson’s use their home to reach out to others really makes perfect sense to me. They embody true family ministry, and the higher purpose that God designs families for. Ministry doesn’t have to involve running around in separate directions all the time if we think of the home as the major source of outreach, rather than the church. Families can simply live a vibrant life rich in God, making their home life an irresistable fragrant aroma, and then invite people in to experience the sweet reality of God present in their family driven faith– all so that other families may “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

From a good old fashioned book of Acts house meeting rounded out with food and fun, to an intimate little family gathering with grandparents, any type of gathering can be used to glorify God in our homes. Our personal new family goal for gatherings is to bring everyone before God in some meaningful way, no matter who comes over–family, friends, or strangers. If the things Sally described as part of her family culture, aren’t a regular part of our family ways, then it would be an awkward effort to try to drum such a thing up for company. However, if its just what we always do at our house anyway, then replicating it will provide a natural, authentic, and wonderful experience for our unsaved (or saved!) guests to taste and see the life of God that flows in our home. And no need to worry or strive– “demonstrating God” to outsiders can be very simple. We just begin with whatever we normally do together as a family. For example, since our family is currently reading Heaven is For Real, we can include our guests in our after dinner chapter read aloud; we could read from the Bible as we usually do in the evening, or pick a slip of paper out of our Giving Jar–because its what we do in the evening together anyway. Whatever naturally flows out of the life we have built up together in this season is what we can share. What an easy way to share our faith! If we didn’t normally and regularly do the things Sally mentioned in our home at night as a family, then it won’t likely transpire with any authenticity when guests are visiting. I believe that a gathering without any Jesus time should be considered a shame, since inviting people to share in the life of God that flows in the unique way that it does at your house or my house, is the easiest and most powerfully effective witness that a family has.

Being able to minister to others as a family all starts with holding regular family worship/devotions. Pastor Voddie explains the importance of family worship, “Reading and memorizing Scripture and the catechisms of the church [as a family together at home] results in incredible development of children, both spiritually and intellectually. What families regard as important is evidenced by the manner in which they spend their time. Therefore, regular family worship shows the children that their parents believe that Jesus Christ is central to all of life. This practice leaves a legacy that will benefit thousands in generations to come.” If we share with people the natural ouflow of our homeschool gleanings and family life of worship, we are using what God has given us for His glory, and will experience the exquisite joy of being a family that can ministers to others together. I believe that ministering through our homes, together with our children, will be the most instrumental of discipleship experiences that we can offer our children.

Home Discipleship is Awesome!

To operate and grow in all 3 levels of togetherness–at home as a faithful family, fellowshipping at church with other faithful families, and ministering to the world as a faithful family–obviously takes much time spent together! Building a home of family driven faith requires spending considerable time at home. Does our current schedule, choices, and priorities allow for these 3 levels to become a reality in our lives? Do we find ourselves saying, “I don’t have time!” Lets be careful of the “good things” we are involved in that may be eating up our time, and taking up the place of “better things.” I challenge us all to bring our children home more, for deeper and more regular strategic discipleship influence. If you don’t feel convinced yet, just pick up a copy of Educating the Wholehearted Child and read chapter 3, Home Nurture; or chapter 10, Discipleship Studies Methods: The Study of the Bible. Those two chapters especially opened my eyes to see just how big this job of discipling is! Just to skim the surface of what is discussed, let me list some of the areas that God can use us to disciple our children:

  • hold regular family devotions
  • help our children form personal devotion habits
  • train them in the gift of grace by ministering hospitality to neighbors together
  • train them how to listen for God’s voice in the Word and in prayer
  • teach them how to search the scriptures using Bible study helps (commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias, concordances, etc.)
  • engage the family in dinner table talks surrounding Biblical topics
  • create a fun home Bible club or weekly scripture memory challenge/drill
  • read inspiring biographies about heroes of the faith together
  • create and practice our own list of family values
  • get involved in a regular service project together
  • volunteer as a family for a church ministry
  • make care packages or write pen pals to get involved in world missions
  • give to the needy

Awesome (and time consuming!) responsibility moms and dads!!! Just envision how much God can do through our families when we decide to make the time to go deeper. Help us to go there Jesus!

As I study the words of family coaches like the Clarksons and Pastor Voddie, I envision a home with an atmosphere of great drawing power–both on our children and anyone in our life who may need Jesus. I am realizing how a family that spends a lot of time together at home is able to better tend and nurture the children’s spirits, as well as win their hearts for the purpose of discipleship. I am realizing how important a strong home is in order to disciple children, as well as reach out to others. I am realizing that the nature and extent of parents’ commitment to nurture, disciple, and educate their children will dramatically effect their view of home, how much time they spend at home, and how they choose to spend their time at home.

Home is where the heart is, and home is where we can best reach our children. It is our homes that give God the most undistracted access to our children’s hearts and minds. The home is a God designed dynamic learning environment for children. Therefore, we as a family commit to being at home, together, a lot, in order to build our home. We desire a slower paced environment and atmosphere in our home, where our children can soak and drink deeply of God, rather than us always rushing in and out, building up much of our lives outside of home, and separately. With some intentional thought, we can make our home a place that our children prefer over any other place. With the holidays coming, it might just be the right time for all of us to slow down and cozy up together at home, work on beautifying and warming up the atmosphere, open up our homes to minister through hospitality, while seeking God to expand our vision of home discipleship.

Love you.

Picking Popcorn at Ardenwood Historic Farm

Picking Popcorn at Ardenwood Historic Farm

Happy Harvest

Happy Harvest

Nature Boy

Nature Boy

Happy 4th Birthday Faithy!

Happy 4th Birthday Faithy!

Big Boy

Big Boy

Good Daddy

Good Daddy

I Want to be a Diver When I Grow Up (and an astronaut)

I Want to be a Diver When I Grow Up (and an astronaut)

Learning how to spell and sound out "space"

Learning how to spell and sound out “space”

Noah's Pyramid Idea

Noah’s Pyramid Idea

Daniel's Praying Hands

Daniel’s Praying Hands

Do I Have to Mommy?

Must I Mommy?

Noah's Block Pyramid Idea

Noah’s Block Pyramid Idea

Craft Extravaganzas, My Favorite Moments

Craft Extravaganzas, My Favorite Moments

A Kid Inspired Project

A Kid Inspired Project

Putting Some Blessings Together for Our Neighbors

Putting Some Blessings Together for Our Neighbors

All Ready!

All Ready to Go!

Sweet Karla Invited Us to Play on Her Putting Green

Sweet Neighbor Karla Invited Us to Play on Her Backyard Putting Green

Astronaut Faith

Astronaut Noah at the Chabot Space and Science Center

Astronaut Noah

Astronaut Faith

In the Mercury Capsule

In the Mercury Capsule

At the Nature Park on a Rainy Day

At the Nature Park on a Rainy Day

IMG_0055

The Creek is Flowing Again!

IMG_0067

Free Play is Wonderful!

IMG_0084

This is Pretty Much How We Look at the End of the Day

IMG_0086

Costumed Cuties and Our Giant Homegrown Pumpkin

IMG_0126

Blasting Off in Our Cardboard Rocket

IMG_0158

Three in a Row!

Daniel at School

Daniel at School

What Can I Say?

“What Can I Say?”

IMG_0205

Adventures in Nature

Golf at the Nature Park

Golf at the Nature Park

Fall Finds

Fall Finds are Gorgeous

Faith and Mommy's Leaf Turkey

Faith and Mommy’s Leaf Turkey

IMG_0025

My Beautiful Mother on Her 70th Birthday

IMG_0040

IMG_0168

Noah’s Tree Study in his Nature Journal

IMG_0170

My Nature Journal in Progress

IMG_0156

Awesome Rocket Art

IMG_0145

Dinner and Stories with Neighbor Doris

IMG_0126

Daniel’s Finally Starting to Walk!

IMG_0079

Noah’s Number Arrangements for 6, 7, & 8 (a design with combinations, which enable you to quickly determine what number it is)

IMG_0076

Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Decides to Make a Play Dough Megalith

IMG_0062

So sweet how Faith brushes Daniel’s hair every morning, and he loves it.

IMG_0056

King and …..Queen??? History is Getting Weird.

IMG_0054

Shape Puzzles Were the Perfect Math Challenge for Faith

Leave a comment »

Keeping Children in “Big” Church

Since I am largely speaking to other Christian homeschooling families here, I think we can agree that training up our own children, as the Bible admonishes, is very important, and a big reason why many of us decided to homeschool. Delegating the responsibility to someone else in a school system of age segregated classrooms to educate our children started to feel wrong at some point, and so we decided it was time to take our rightful authority back and keep our kids under our own careful training. In the same way, our family feels called to train up our own children in the Christian faith in an equally passionate and parentally responsible manner. Just like we do not want to delegate our children’s education, we do not want to delegate their spiritual training either, and especially not on Sundays!

Now days many Christian parents send their children off to Sunday school, children’s church, or various children’s bible clubs. As long as parents are using it as supplemental, rather than delegated Biblical training, its not wrong. However, “sending off” is so normal these days, we hardly think twice about it, but every little bit that we do, eats away at our time to “walk along side” and disciple our own kids. Every time well meaning friends and family encourage my husband and I to think about deviating from our choice, we are given another opportunity to reassess our family core values, and reexamine where we stand. Today’s post is one such reexamination. Although the discussions can sometimes cause a brief unsettling about our convictions, we pray, and hearts settle on the wisdom of Deuternomy 6:6-7, which says to teach Gods words to our children when we sit, walk, lie down, or stand up. Those verses, and other scriptures, keep drawing us back to our original family convictions, and challenge us to continue to fully practice a “walking along side” type of parenting, rather than a “sending off” type of parenting. So really we have you to thank, loved ones, for helping us strengthen our conviction muscles.

When my sister Tara came to visit recently, I experienced one of those well meaning, friendly attempts to help me see the light. 🙂 I thought that she made a lot of good points that many of you who send your children to children’s church would probably amen.  Since its an interesting topic of discussion amongst Christians, and particularly Christian homeschoolers, I asked Tara for permission to share our conversation. We started our debate at a restaurant, and then continued it by texting each other as follows:

Tara: I just wanted to say that I really do appreciate your family together perspective. I was trying to present the aspect of what their age level actually understands. But if you guys feel like its more important to have a level way above them than one you think is way below them, then obviously that’s your decision. No hard feelings from me. : )

Lynn: You are a hard sell. : ) I already poured all my blood sweat and tears on these issues on my blog where its a lot safer–safer cause people can read it if they want or not and I don’t have to defend myself. : ) If you do decide to read and watch my stuff, I would feel honored, and it would be great to continue the conversation–or debate. 😉 No hard feelings–however, we should probably chill out a bit because we are a little intense for other parties listening.

I guess we talked a lot about “level”, but maybe I should say that level is the lesser reason to keep my kids in main service. Its more about the work of the Holy Spirit. Anyone can glean from where the Spirit is moving–whether special needs, low or high intelligence, young, old, etc. You know how everyone hears something different from the same message because the HS speaks to us all according to what we need at that time? He makes one simple message so dynamic and applicable to everyones life. I think He does the same for children who are taught to be listening. I want my children in service where they are directly under our discipling to “listen” when it matters most since church is key spiritual training ground in our lives (not a time for delegation in our fam), and the main service has the fresh life and movement of HS every Sunday for that to occur regularly. That’s why I was saying that everyone is “made in the image of God” at the restaurant, everyone is made to hear God, and even just understanding/revelation on one word can be enough to sustain or change or grow our kids if its delivered by the HS.

Plus, no one can refute our family leading by God, and I think you wisely understand that. There have been too many things that have pointed us in this direction to go the other way now…..from books, to articles, to movies, to timely Bible study with the kids (like how our fam devotions before church this morning totally coincided with the message given today). We would be foolish to ignore what seems to be a path made obvious for us. If our same leadings haven’t come up for you, then maybe you don’t need to do what we do….Well, unless this is the inkling of a new beginning…….. : )

Tara: I guess I just don’t see why you think that the main service is the only place where the Holy Spirit can move or the only place that has “the fresh life and movement” of the Spirit. You, as an adult, may personally feel that it ministers to you in a “more effective” or powerful way. but that shouldn’t preclude you from thinking that the Holy Spirit can also be present in kid’s church or there be an anointing on someone other than the head guy. As if he is bound only to the main sanctuary or one  man. I feel like you shouldn’t underestimate his power to minister to your kids in an impactful way that might always remember. True, he can minister one word that might change their lives during a service thats way over their heads or they can learn that God can be a God of fun and fellowship even at their little level. Or take away a phrase from children’s church that might change their whole course. I certainly see the value of kids being together with families for worship, but I just don’t think they have to sit bored week after week to maybe catch something in their spirit…….Because they are definitely not catching anything substantial in their intellect. Again, if thats what you both prefer and you just want to be together, than I pray the Lord honors your request in the way you want it.

I am a tough sell too. 🙂 I personally remember really enjoying big church worship, but the sermons that I have carried with me were ones that came from teachers who had dedicated their lives to my age group. The rest was full of words and concepts that were just too complex for e to even process. I don’t know why you want them to matureway beyond where they are at anyway. But as you say, you feel like they will gain a greater spiritual maturity so maybe so. : )

Lynn: Yah I guess I think of CC as generally a trickle compared to a gushing waterfall of the Spirit after being in so many kids classes with constant turnover of workers and people who were not HS led or barely wanted to be there. Sad, but true in children’s ministry everywhere. They end up in something like child care and even watching TV or just playing. There are certainly some really good dedicated teachers or children’s pastors out there, but still their heart for their class can never compare to the heart of a child’s own parent and what he or she can pass down as spiritual heritage. The adult service we sat in as kids–ok, everybody was lost and dying on the vine (dry sermons!). Also, our parents expectations and involvement or training was way different than my fam. Our church has awesome speakers and we are really trying to disciple. Close discipleship is probably the main indicator of enjoyment/accessibility/success in my opinion.

I would die on the vine if I had the amount of HS flow that kids classes have, so how can I expect it to minister to my kids? I dare say that I would endanger their growth. They don’t need a small Holy Spirit just because they are small, they need a full open heaven torrent that descends in both worship, during the Word, and especially at the end of a service at alter call (a call for change and prayer). Wouldn’t want them to miss out on any of those 3 unique outflows. (However, if its a church where the Holy Spirit doesn’t move much then my argument holds little applicability)

Tara: Well, for sure all kids’ programs are not created equal. Not sure what was happening in the larger class they wanted Roman in–looked like more plan, passion, and agenda, but if you do ever speak up for/try to influence your own churches little kid classes, they need help. Roman said they only sang one song, prayed only for the snack, there was no real story time, just something he already knew about the lost sheep, and they watched some Christian video twice and then some Clifford video too. Thats just babysitting and makes me feel really sad for the kids involved there. Sounds like a mission for Lynn!!! 🙂

Lynn: Hee hee, yah except it goes against my philosophical viewpoint that parents need to teach their own kids and that families are better off together in service.

So Romans class is just one of many examples of churches ministering lower than what children need. I have seen it over and over again. I hope your church is truly much better. yes, the older lass may be better, but probably still lower than what kids that age could be doing. Roman’s class is pretty typical at churches for that age range, and I wholeheartedly disagree with their approach because children are capable of much more!! However, only with proper parental daily input! However, I must say that Roman’s class actually does minister to kids in a family where the parents are not training up in a Deuteronomy 6:7 way. There are kids who wouldn’t be able to receive if more was expected, but the majority of CC classes don’t work well for a family obeying Duet. 6:7. Our kids will always be in a much different place than the general group of kids whose parents both work and don’t have a full life discipleship model. Sunday school was actually invented for poor children who couldn’t read because they worked 12 hour days in factories. Today children’s classes are still designed to best reach and minister to kids whose parents can’t/won’t/don’t teach their kids or just teach a little. I am not trying to exalt our family, and I really hope I don’t sound arrogant…….some parents really are doing all they can……the reality is any parent who is committed to spending every waking moment training up his/her kids as many Christian homeschoolers have chosen to, the kids will be misfits in typical Christian society (in a good way). Noah is already so different than his peers at age 5 and I expect the gap will only increase as there is no turning back for us. He probably knows what I knew Biblically at like age 11 (me being a typical girl from Christian society).

Tara: Still, your church could benefit from some feedback, because yes, we have a much richer curriculum for even younger ages. I mean seriously? 3 movies? We don’t ever watch movies there. Thats just lazy to me. A once in awhile special experience maybe, but otherwise it just comes across as you aren’t prepared or aren’t equipped.

Lynn: Could have been just one of those days, ya know? Somebody new trying to get by…….or not. The thing is, CC so depends on who is teaching, and its so often in the hands of good hearted but incompetent or undependable volunteers and training system. and quality can change at any time without parents being aware. Parents are largely unaware of what happens back there at all, stranger still is that they are ok with that. What if selecting random volunteers was how we taught adults in main service? Yikes.

.

So I think Tara’s thumbs gave out at that point or we moved onto other subjects…………..Well, as you probably guessed, I do have a little more to say.

Children complete the worship community, and to me, are key elements in creating a balance in the meeting place. The gathering is a less dynamic experience when children are sent away. Dear Parents with Young Children in Church is an encouraging article that a friend shared with me about the arduous task of training young ones in church, yet the outcome of building true community is worth it. Divided: Is Age-Segregated Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church? is a documentary I strongly suggest for every Christian mom and dad to watch together. The premise of Divided, well received by some and not by others, is that youth ministry and children’s age grouped classes are a “50-year failed experiment,” because dividing children from adults at church is an unBiblical concept borrowed from humanistic philosophies. The movie asserts that the church has drifted away from scripture, away from the established pattern of biblical church life, and toward modern culture for her answers. It is awesome. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it.

Children also really need to feel like they are a welcome part of the worship community. Studies have shown that when we constantly alienate our children and teens, separating them from the rest of the body, that once they leave the youth ministry, they aren’t sure where they belong. (They have never really made a connection with any one in the body of Christ that is older other than their youth pastor, but their youth pastor is now telling they are no long a teen and they don’t belong in the youth group but they never felt like a part of “big people church”) And when kids are so used to church being about entertainment–skits, puppet shows, snack, play time, games, etc–its no wonder that by the time they are teens and expected to join in service, they decide that “church” is boring. As much as parents tend to think so, church is not about entertainment, even for kids. Its about much much deeper things that will seem very foreign to a child who has not learned to become a part of the “adult” worship service.

A book I would like to read, Family Driven Faith, explains how our children are falling away from the faith because we are asking the church to do what God designed the family to accomplish. At one time Christian worship, teaching, & ministry was primarily a function of the family. It was considered normal for families to sing hymns together daily, for the father to systematically teach the Bible daily, to pray daily, for the family to look for ways to minister and reach out to others. This is how I pray that God will build and restore our families!! When families are strengthened and restored to function as God intended, all the age segregated ministries that churches offer becomes a pale substitute for the dynamic nature of family driven faith, and therefore largely unnecessary and irrelevant in the lives of such families. Family is the only institution mentioned by scripture for the spiritual training up of children (not church, nor government). The benefits of attending Christian activities will never compare to the life transformation that occurs while children watch, listen, and learn from their parents relationship with God.

For us, including our kids in church is a huge part of their training and discipleship, and discipleship is one of our three important Cravalho Family Core Values. I want them to hear the full weight of the gospel. It may be hard to understand at times, but that just gives us more opportunities for follow up with discussion and discipleship at home. I am humbled and shocked to find what has entered the heart of my oldest already through his ability to just sit and listen. When the whole counsel of God is going into a child, it may not be fully understood at the time, but its in there, and the Holy Spirit will cause it to resurface at a needed time in the future. Also, I couldn’t send off my children into classes to be with teachers and people I don’t know very well. They are my most precious treasures, and we guard their hearts and minds, and whoever speaks into them, with fiercely protective love. As our children walk along side us, we are right there when they are engaged in conversation by anyone in our church family, or held in the arms of a trusted friend within the sanctuary. Discipleship by nature means keeping close, and discipleship of young ones means keeping them very close.

Making family beautiful is another one of our core values. Building family relationships is our priority, and we view being together in church a key time for that to happen! I love when I find my 5 year old Noah’s wrapped arms around my shoulders through a worship song as he stands on the chair behind me praising God with me, or when I worship face to face with my little 3 year old Faith held close in my arms, or seeing our 1 year old Daniel raise his arms in praise because he sees mommy or daddy doing it. I wouldn’t trade those beautiful experiences of family worship for anything.

Keeping our children in church also provides a preferable socialization experience. That sounds backwards, but yes, I meant to say that children’s church is the less preferable social experience. By letting our children be surrounded and immersed in the company of mature , Godly, wise examples, we believe that that is who our children will become also. We can give them healthy intergenerational learning experiences on Sundays by including them in the worship community. On the other hand, the Bible says if we make our kids the companion of fools, they will be destroyed (remember “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child,” and yes, foolish company abounds in any children’s class). We parents sure do love for our kids to have “friendships,” and we count on church classes to provide them in plenty. However, reading Hold Onto Your Kids will forever help me to keep the perspective that kids don’t need friends like we think they do. The very concept of friendship is meaningless when applied to immature people. A true friend is considerate, acknowledges our boundaries, respects us as individuals, supports our growth and development. Does this sound like many of the kids you know? No, the capacity for true social integration comes with maturity and individuality. So our time is more wisely spent cultivating worthwhile relationships with the adults in our child’s life/church, than pursuing “friends” for our child.

Finally, its ok to be different! In fact, it may even be beneficial! I believe the “abnormal” decision to keep our children in church, which requires extreme patience with our babies as they mature into children who can sit quietly and actually receive something from a sermon, is definitely taking the harder more untraveled road. Yet, we know that whenever we take the normal path in life, we can often expect normal results. However, if we bravely live outside the ordinary, we may just find the extraordinary!

May we raise extraordinary children for the glory of God!

From my post Teaching Children the Bible:

(Info from inrich.org that I find very interesting)

  1. Age graded programs are unwise, unnecessary and largely unproductive. Segregating and separating children is both unbiblical and unnatural. When families are referred to in the Scripture, the children are included in the family worship, never otherwise. The secular society has tried to keep kids from their parents. The public education system was influenced heavily by G. Stanley Hall, John Dewey, G.F. Hegel and Rosseau who advocated isolating children from their parents. This has been one of the fundamental problems of the public schools. But these secular ideals must be recognized and resisted on the basis of clear Scriptural teaching on how to raise children. The church needs to strongly resist the anti-christian culture that purposefully or unconsciously attacks the family and biblical values.
  2. The church should lift the standard for both parents and children. Some parents will be “uncomfortable” with the challenge to train their children to listen, to follow through at home (and be held accountable for it!), or with strong preaching on the Scriptural admonitions. We should have high expectations for our children, giving them something to reach for–demonstrating our confidence in their ability to relate to adults and to learn at a higher level.
  3. Intergenerational activities (classes, programs, special events) provide an opportunity for individuals to relate to others of all ages in the natural way they are placed by God in society (church and family) instead of in the unnatural and negative peer structure. These cross-generational groups also furnish ample occasion for the church to follow God’s plan for older women to instruct younger women, for older men to instruct younger men, and for parents to train their children, etc.
  4. Children need to see their parents worshiping God and responding to His Word (preaching and teaching); children worshiped with their parents in the Bible record and this was part of the educational (learning to fear and trust God) experience. Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78 state the principles; examples are seen in Deut. 31:10-13, 2 Kings 23:1-3, Neh. 12:43.
  5. Sunday School was not formed originally as a biblically-based and balanced approach to discipleship. In some ways the pattern of the first Sunday Schools would be akin to government subsidized busing “ministries.” In relation to traditional Sunday Schools in most evangelical churches today, one must be careful to evaluate all discipleship programs in light of the core values of the local church. In other words, are we adding more classes or programs because people want something more to do or desire to acquire more information? The questions to ask in reference to the core values is: “what ministry ‘programs’ will have the greatest influence in making mature followers of Christ and thus accomplish our God-given vision for this church?”
  6. The local church needs to be more than “family friendly.” The philosophy of ministry, because of God’s plan for the family, needs to be decidedly based on building family values since that is clearly God’s plan and since strong families are a major component in producing healthy churches.
  7. Having the family-based church leads to effective and fruitful ministries that come naturally from the healthy family. For example, instead of creating artificial or contrived ministry programs, the family – in the context of their relationship to the local church – reaches out to the lost, embraces the “foreigner” (single parent, single adult, church visitor, unsaved individual, etc.), “adopts” newcomers, practices hospitality, and serves together. “HOME” groups can also be structured to include family groups, instead of creating another night out away from family members. The family learns a missionary mentality.
  8. Sundays need to be a family-together experience. Families are already fragmented excessively in American culture. We already spoke of the contrast between “sending away” and “walking along side” in parental education. Deut. 6:6-7 can be experienced on Sunday mornings. Churches can bear the “inconvenience” of having children learn to sit and worship with their parents, giving their parents the opportunity to train (and be with) their kids. See Exodus 10:8-10; Deut. 29:10-13; Psalm 78:1-4 for additional examples of all ages together in corporate worship. Child training can happen on Sundays.

 

Last Summer Memory spent at Hartland Christian Camp was a wonderful experience

Last Summer Memory spent at Hartland Christian Camp–a wonderful experience!

First Day Giggles

First Day Giggles

Ice Cream to Celebrate our First Day of School!

Ice Cream to Celebrate our First Day of School!

Back to School Snacks have been extra special for Faith's sake, my snack time lover

Back to School Snacks have been extra special for Faith’s sake, my snack time lover

Our new I Can Serve Board tells kids what they can help out with everyday

Our new I Can Serve Board tells kids what they can help out with everyday

Noah Doing Observe and Serve before School

Noah Doing Observe and Serve before School

Sketching a Crepe Myrtle tree in our nature journals was a beautiful moment

Sketching a Crepe Myrtle tree in our nature journals was a beautiful moment

Our little teepee covered in bird house gourd vines

Our little teepee covered in bird house gourds

Writing my name for the first time

Writing my name for the first time

Elated over Word Building

Elated over Word Building

Daniel's 1st Birthday and Baby Dedication

Daniel’s 1st Birthday and Baby Dedication

Took my Sweetie to a Tea House

Took my Sweetie to a Tea House

Morning lessons

Morning lessons

 

Faith draws Roman soldiers or Jesus in Mary's belly in her nature journal

Faith draws Roman soldiers or Jesus in Mary’s belly in her nature journal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at me, no hands!

Look at me, no hands!

IMG_0273

My Nature Journal

IMG_0301

Noah’s Nature Journal

IMG_0286

Noah Found Swallowtail Caterpillar Eating our Parsley

Noah Found Swallowtail Caterpillar Eating our Parsley

Our Caterpillar Hung in this position all day before turning into a chrysalis overnight

Our Caterpillar Hung in this position all day before turning into a chrysalis overnight

Faith's pattern work

Faith’s pattern work

The Kids Love to Bring Surprise Sharing to School

The Kids Love to Bring Surprise Sharing to School

 

Noah Making Combinations of 8

Noah Making Combinations of 8

Apple Hill

Apple Hill

So Fun to Pick Apples in the Orchards

So Fun to Pick Apples in the Orchards

Little Boy was Quick to Notice our First Lemons. Captivating!

Little Boy was Quick to Notice our First Lemons. Captivating!

Tayler Joins us for a Fun Apple Lesson

Tayler Joins us for a Fun Apple Lesson

My Math Story

My Math Story

Learning to Trust

Learning to Trust

We can swim!

We can swim!

Fun with Our Swim Teacher Miss Hillary

Fun with Our Swim Teacher Miss Hillary

Handsome Hero

Handsome Hero

Blasting Off to Space in our Rocket

Blasting Off to Space in our Rocket

True Heroism in Action

True Heroism in Action

Future Mommy

Future Mommy

Imaginary play is alive in our “ship” tree

Proud of my Little Man Wanting to Carry our Stuff

Proud of my Little Man Wanting to Carry our Stuff

Found an Old Friend at the Nature Park

Found an Old Friend at the Nature Park

Love our Cactuses in the Desert Paintings

Love our “Cactuses in the Desert” Paintings

IMG_0295

Faith’s self portrait and first time writing her name

IMG_0288

Noah’s Bible narration illustration

IMG_0300

Noah’s self portrait (belly button, but no arms!)

Tea Invitation for Doris

Tea Invitation for Doris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digging for Sweet Potatoes

Digging for Sweet Potatoes

Tea TIme with Doris is a Lesson in Social Skills

Tea TIme with Doris is a Lesson in Social Skills

Lego Creations are Starting to be Creative

Lego Creations are Starting to be Creative

Sweet Lambs

Sweet Lambs

Fall Trees Nature Study

Fall Trees Nature Study

Leave a comment »