Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

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

February Lesson Plans

2014-2015 Kindergarten and Preschool

Etched in my mind as a sibling milestone marker, is this picture of my two little bitty sweeties taken in February 2012, around the time when I started this blog. Its an image for me that recalls the sweetness of a newly budding friendship between my children that I had not yet seen before. I remember being delighted that the Lord was moving on their heart strings for each other during our “love and friendship” theme in our new Little Lambs preschool we had recently started up at home. It was so so cute one day to hear two year old Noah leaning over and whispering to Faith, “Will you be my friend?” over and over. At 16 months, she was no doubt flattered, but definitely speechless. We had no idea how important in the years to come that question would become.

Will you be my friend?

The other week, Noah confided that he “loves playing with Faith” because with Faith, he has SO much fun. My heart melted to hear his open expression of love, and that his maturing perspective is allowing him to become more consciously appreciative of a sisters sweet presence in his life. To see the kindness and patience Noah has shown Faith through all 3 long years of her self-centered topsy turvey toddler time, and to see her fierce loyalty and admiration for her big brother, makes me love these two like crazy. I think some of the sweetest, tenderest, best friendships in the world, God reserves for brothers and sisters.

“It ought to make a young man’s heart exult to have a beautiful and noble sister to lean upon his arm and look up to him for protection, for counsel, for strong, holy friendship. And a sister ought to be proud and happy to have a brother growing into manly strength, to stand by her side, to bear her upon his arm and to shelter her from life’s storms.  Between brother and sister there should be a friendship deep, strong, close, confiding and faithful.”  –JR Miller

Doesn’t that quote stir your vision for your children’s incomparable friendship? Yet, we always seem to keep wondering……Where should my child make friends? Does my child need more friends? Should my child spend more time with friends? Then we search and pursue ways to bring our children in more contact with their peers.

And we also wonder why don’t my children get along with each other better? Will my children ever be best friends…. or friends at all?

“In every home where there are brothers and sisters, there is a field which needs only wise, patient culture—to yield life’s richest and loveliest things. Are we cultivating this field or is it lying neglected, covered, perhaps, with weeds and thorns, while we are spending all our strength in trying to make harvests grow on some bare, rocky hillside?” –JR Miller

Unless we, as parents, are willing to do the hard work to cultivate best friendships at home, we can expect nothing less than what comes naturally. Make them each others constant priority and each others keepers, helpers, cheerers, prayer partners, and protectors.

“A young man should be more polite to his own sister that to any other young woman under heaven; and a young woman should ever turn to her brother as the one nearest in all this world to her until a husband stands by her side. Brothers and sisters are each other’s natural keepers. They should shield each other. They should be an inspiration to each other in the direction of all noble thought and better life. They should be each other’s guardian angels in this world of danger and of false and fatal paths.” –JR Miller

What better way to demonstrate Biblical principles, and God’s agape love day by day, than to gently point out selfish, unacceptable behavior between siblings for the sin that it is, and then replace it with true Love? “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NASB) You can use these lesson plans below as an opportunity to show your children scriptures and stories centered on love, friendship, kindness, courtesy, and manners, while asking the Holy Spirit to give your children a holy love unquenchable in strength for each other. Call up love to wreath itself over all your home life this month.

A few deep friendships outside the family can be a blessing in our children’s lives as well. Genuine friendship takes time to grow, is deep, and is indeed, a form of love. Although “having” friends is often our children’s natural focus, “being” a friend can and should be fostered along the way. “Being” a friend involves actively bringing someone higher, helping him to become his best. Befriending a friendless or less fortunate child can be a profoundly maturing experience for a child. Friendship that fosters our children’s moral development involves “being” a friend, rather than just “having” friends.

As I write here, God always seems to enlarge my vision, and I am thankful. Despite the bodily pain (late nights) and challenging work of drafting up my own lesson plans, as well as writing other posts, writing here has proved to be a most life changing instrument (if you try blogging, or any heart searching writing, I think you will see what I mean! 🙂 ) Wisdom that is searched for like silver and hidden treasure will be found, right? Every time I research and write, God seems to radically shift my perspective, renew my mind from the “norm” (AKA wordly thinking), give me more wisdom, and fan the flames of vision contained in my heart.

Whether you or I grew up in deep Godly friendships with our siblings, or grew up unaware or unable to experience God’s plan for sibling relationships, God wants to show us much much more than what we have formerly known. Receiving a small visionary glimpse of what it will be like someday when Noah, Faith, and Daniel grow to become each others most trusted confidants and watchful guardians over each others souls, spurs me to seek God’s will for brothers relating to sisters, and vice versa. As we seek Him for revelation, friends, I know the beauty of His will for our children’s relationships, will be more than we can even “think or imagine” at this time. And what He gives will be such a stark contrast to what the world gives, with its promises of inevitable sibling rivalry and rifts being the “norm.”

All glorious and beautiful made possible simply because of God’s goodness to us– His families that serve Him and look to Him for wisdom!!!

……Now I am thinking of the precious guardian angels in my own life, how much you have meant to me, and so I just want to say to my husband, parents, siblings, and dearest friends……

I love you!!!

My Angel Friend and Sister

Sister and Friend, My Angel

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THIS BOY is an angel brother!!!! Watch this clip.

The Cochran Family – Unsung Hero Award

Fun Theme: Valentines and Friendship

Seasonal Theme: Winter

Character/Habit: Kindness and Manners

Bible: Exodus

History/Geography: Ancient Egypt, Africa

Nature Study: Wasps

Parent Study:

  • Continue learning about creationism vs. evolution and young earth vs. old earth
  • Continue my own prayer journal and nature journal along with Noah.
  • Read some chapters out of JR Miller’s book, The Home Beautiful

Art, Music, and Poetry Study:

All Things Bright and Beautiful Blog

  • Poetry: Various selections from Favorite Poems Old and New
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach— selections, biographies, and other suggestions from All Things Bright
  • Artist: Rien Poortvliet, and paintings in his book, Noah’s Ark

Character/Habit Development:

Read one story a month from Storytime with the Millers.

Storytime with the Millers

Circle Time/Family Time:

Promise and Blessing Time:

Use God’s promise in Ephesians 4:29 to confess regularly over each other: “Let no corrupting talk come out of _____‘s mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Also take a minute in circle time to verbally build our children up with spoken blessings.

  • You have such a kind heart, ________.
  • Thank you for thinking of ________ (name the recipient of your child’s kindness), instead of yourself, ________.
  • Did you know God delights when He sees kindness (Jeremiah 9:24)? I bet He is happy right now.
  • ________, thank you for choosing not to pay back wrong for wrong.

(With each bullet above, try to include specific examples of obedience observed of each child as well)

Prayer Time:

  • Use scripture guided parent’s prayers and kid’s prayers to intercede for God’s help in the area of kindness
  • Use Instructions in Righteousness by Doorposts to help identify and attack selfishness and contention–two major roadblocks in siblings forming true friendship–using scripture. Also offers scriptural ideas for  rewards for generosity and peace making, and punishments for selfishness and arguing.

 Discussion Time:

  • Definitions: Kindness–friendly regard shown toward another, Courtesy–behavior marked by respect for and consideration of others, Manners–social rules of conduct shown in the prevalent customs
  • “No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.” –Amelia Earhart
  • This would be a great month to get familiar with the booklet, “The Brother-offended Checklist,” by Doorposts, and post its corresponding chart in the house.

  • “A young man should be more polite to his own sister that to any other young woman under heaven; and a young woman should ever turn to her brother as the one nearest in all this world to her until a husband stands by her side. Brothers and sisters are each other’s natural keepers. They should shield each other. They should be an inspiration to each other in the direction of all noble thought and better life. They should be each other’s guardian angels in this world of danger and of false and fatal paths.” –JR miller
  • Read online some of George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior (and use some for copywork)
  • Show these moving videos on various days as a source of inspiration:
  • Read:
  • A courteous person is gracious, always looking for kind things to say. Discuss how it can be much easier to complain than encourage. When things are wrong, we complain. However, when things are sunny and bright, we forget to express our thanks. What would it be like if we looked for things going right and thank those around us for their part? Meditate on Ephesians 4:29 together.
  • Make and use kindness flags
  • Brainstorm a list of ways to show kindness to siblings and try to do one each day. To follow up, on the following days at circle time, have children point out how they noticed each other being kind, so boasting can be avoided (and thankful encouragement can be practiced!).
  • Administer a fun quiz to figure out your kids love languages
  • The story of the relationship between Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller is an excellent example of “being a friend,” and reading the story together will get children thinking of “friendship” in a different vein– as an opportunity to sacrifice, lay down our lives, and incite others to higher purposes.
  • Study and discuss the pictures in this awesome book, a page or two at a time:

Bible:

Read Exodus stories in the Children’s story Bible by Catherine Vos, and/or my ESV Study Bible.

Memory Verses:

  • Luke 6:31 “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  • Review February verses from previous years:
    • “We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
    • “A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17
  • Learn memory verse for our “Short Term Savings” coin bank (a gift store bank): “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.” Proverbs 21:20
  • Review previous coin bank verses:
    • “Tithing” coin bank (a church bank): “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10
    • “Long Term Savings/Future Dreams Bank” (a rocket shaped bank): “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7
    • “Charity and Missions” Coin bank verse (a lighthouse bank): “ If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” James 2:15

Hymns:

Lovely hymns are full of more truth than many sermons (2nd and 3rd verses are often especially theologically deep), and can imprint precious truths on our hearts.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
MP3Sheet Music Here

Poetry Recitation:

The Human Touch

’Tis the human touch
in this world that counts,
The touch of your hand and mine,
Which means far more
to the fainting heart
Than shelter and bread and wine.
For shelter is gone
when the night is o’er,
And bread lasts only a day.
But the touch of the hand
And the sound of the voice
Sing on in the soul always.

-Spencer Michael Free

Handwriting:

Copywork–George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, valentines, handwritten letters, notes of encouragement, Christmas and birthday cards, thank you cards, shopping lists, nature journal entries, prayer journal entries, poem or memory verse copywork.

Reading:

Word Building:

Preschooler Faith sounds out 3 and 4 letter phonetic words, and spells them out with letters (word building). Kindergartener Noah will build review sight words (non phonetic words) that he learned to read last year, practice building sight words from this years reader, as well as sound out and build an occasional phonetic word for phonics review (especially words with blends and digraphs).

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Literature Read Alouds:

History and Geography:

  • One lesson a day from SCM’s Genesis-Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt lesson plan book; living books that are suggested in the lesson plans

Math:

All lessons from Kathy Richardson’s “Developing Number Concepts” math books.

Noah’s Lessons:

Coming soon…..check back soon
Faith’s Lessons:

Week 1 Lets Pretend Stories (p. 105)

Provide counters (such as unifix cubes) and colored construction paper to represent different environments: ocean (blue), grass (green), cave (black). Tell a story for the children to act out (like a word problem). For example: “Its a stormy day on the ocean. The waves are high and it is starting to rain. There are four ships on the ocean. Show me the ships. Three of the ships decide to go back to the harbor…..” These pretend stories provide imaginative counting practice/ addition and subtraction practice by noticing how many are left or how many there are altogether (this step is not necessary unless children are ready).

Week 2 Pattern Task Cards (p.151)
Have children copy simple or complex patterns using pattern blocks, unifix cubes, or dot paint.

Week 3 Matching (p.146)

Make number set cards (like the toothpick set pictured in my December lesson plan) with varying objects such as buttons, paper clips, bread tags, beads on bracelets, beads strung on yarn, onjects glued on popsicle sticks. Each set should include at least 3 or 4 of each of the numbers from 1 to 10. Also provide collections of various items (buttons, keys, nuts and blots, etc) and several sheets of construction paper. Have the child choose one of the number set cards. Then, have the child use the collections and construction paper to (like a mat) to build a set that has the same number as the card. What size numbers can he work with? Does she copy the arrangement?

Week 4 Exploring at the Weighing Station (p. 61)

When children first start learning about weight, they need the type of scales that show how the weight of an object actually pull down the scale. Make homemade scales by hanging a container by a rubber band off the end of a ruler weighed down by books on the other end. Make two scales so that objects to be weighed can be compared. Say, “Which do you think is heavier–the can or the rock? Let’s find out.”.

Nature Study:

Videos:

Show children how the Kingdom of God IS advancing around the world. “Dispatches from the Front” is a thoughtful, moving, understated, and ultimately convicting series of videos depicting the work of the gospel in some of the most challenging corners of the world.” – D. A. Carson

19 science DVDs on creation

God of Wonders

Awesome Science is a high quality DVD series produced by a family that homeschools and works on the series together. Noah is the field guide and host for all 13 episodes which explore the globe to discover evidence of the accuracy of the Bible. Noah contends that the earth is NOT millions of years old and the dinosaurs did not die from a meteor. These videos provide excellent science content as well as a theological perspective. They are an effective way to challenge evolutionary assumptions with scientific evidence while providing a very visual science education.

6 Episodes all compliment study of the account of the flood in Genesis.

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Library series on ancient civilizations:

Book Jacket for: Ancient Mesopotamia [videorecording]Book Jacket for: Ancient China [videorecording]

The Berenstain Bears: Kindness, Caring And Sharing (Full Frame)

Traditions, Fun Friday Projects, and Other Ideas:

Hold a friendship teddy bear tea party, practice manners and serving

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Make valentine/friendship jewelry

Make a Sweet Valentine for Daddy. This card melts my heart.

Sew up a few special felt hearts (wool felt, large needles, and embroidery floss). Noah says he loooves to sew.

felt hearts

Healthy Valentines Treats

PaleOMG Chocolate Almond Butter Cups_3

Fieldtrips:

Visit our dear Lois in assisted living (previous neighbor).

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Just Imagine It!

Christmas Gifts for Imagination

My heart swells when I think of these early years with my children, full of wonderful active imagining. The beauty of childhood– the playfulness, the youthfulness, the imagination–is such a wonder, and truly a time in life to treasure. I feel more impressed all the time to make choices for our children that treasure this time of wonder and imagination. When choosing toys, I have always held the opinion that they should serve to heighten imagination, rather than just entertain. God unexpectedly used my Christmas shopping this year to show me a whole lot more about His heart for imagination.
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My husband and I just finished some Christmas shopping for our kids, and finding toys to “grow their God given imaginations” was our driving desire. Interestingly, and without planning it, after selecting our children’s gifts, a theme appeared in our choices for each child. I sensed God’s participation in our Christmas shopping efforts. Like handwriting on the wall, Noah’s gift theme appeared as: “Knight in Shining Armor,” and Faith’s appeared as: “Little Mommy.” When I think of how much these “themes” speak to their futures, my heart swells to sense the calling of God on their lives, and to realize that somehow God is allowing our simple Christmas gifts, in participation with His gift of imagination, to actually form their destinies. Yes, I know toys “forming their destinies” may sound a bit exaggerated, but I shall explain.
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When we as Christians sit with God during a morning devotional, or whenever we meet with Him, He gives us ideas on how to proceed in the upcoming day, or up ahead in life, through His gift of imagination. For example, when we pray about an idea or problem, then get quiet to “listen” for His voice, our thoughts are usually chewing on the topic, and through divine overshadowing of this time of chewing, answers come. This is how God “speaks.” He often sends His answers like a thought, like a picture in our minds eye, like a new creative idea–in other words, through imagination. Pastor Kerry Kirkwood explains how imagination is an important spiritual exercise that guides us into our destinies. He says, “Imagination simply allows us to see what the Father has already made available for us. Ephesians 1:18 tells us that the eyes of our hearts will be enlightened so that we might know the hope of our calling. Enlightened is translated as ‘photizo’ from which we get the word photograph. Imagination is allowing the Holy Spirit to develop a photograph upon our hearts of our potential destinies. The devil wants us to be blind to what God has thought and determined for us.” Wow, since children often have the strongest imaginations of all, what a glorious time to capitalize on their liberty to release the images and thoughts of their imaginations without constraint. And us grown ups can learn from our children and their unrestrained imaginations, because Jesus said to “come to Me like little children.” God enlightens the eyes of our hearts and wonderful things begin to happen.
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Mothering, teaching, and drafting up lesson plans are all things in my life that rely on me hearing God’s voice through a creative ability to imagine. One creative thought that arises in God’s presence is more fruitful than a whole day of thinking on my own. Everything that has been created by mankind: skyscrapers, skis, cars, computers, buildings, boulevards, coffee cups, cotton balls and even things immaterial such as concepts and philosophies all began in the mind of someone before they became reality. Our accomplishments, and who we are, begin as imaginations. What would God have our children imagine while they are young, so that they may live it when they are old? I venture to say that the toys we put before them, playing a significant role in their imaginary life, will certainly influence who they become. (Now, no pressure when you go Christmas shopping for your kids.) 🙂
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So what toys would fuel Godly imagination AND won’t end up collecting dust? How about historical toys that match the time period/people you are currently studying and have already studied  in homeschool? We have some Indians (last years study), some Egyptians (this years study), and now Noah is really hoping for some knights (we study the medieval period in a few years from now). Three reasons for historical toys: one, history is full of noble exemplars for our kids; two, history is God’s story (“His-story”) and stories are perfect for re-enactmenting (narration!); and three, living history books full of interesting mind food give toys a brand new life/potential with each new reading. I absolutely love that homeschool kids can get caught up in a life of true hero emulation rather than caught up in all the junky “dark” play figures marketed to kids, especially boys. What we admire, we tend to become. While many kids grow up admiring Pokemon or dark comic book characters, thank God, some are being preserved in wise Godly homes, and guided towards other heroes such as noble warriors or selfless missionaries, from the past or present.
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When we study one time period, or one hero, for an extended time, the whole stage of our children’s imagination becomes filled by the inspiring cause or person. Ultimately, as we read heroes, think heroes, play heroes, and pray to be heroes, the beautiful result is that we become more capable of displaying the same large hearted actions of these “mighty men” we study. God is calling our boys to become the next “mighty men”, our girls the next “mighty women”, and it all begins in the precious imagination of a little child.
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I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened (that you may imagine!), so that you will know what is the hope of His calling,
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints
(Ephesians 1:18)
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~Noah~

Rescuer, Defender, Protector

God’s “Knight in Shining Armor”

Our Hero

Here’s a hand to Noah who has courage
To do what he knows to be right;
When he falls in the way of temptation,
He has a hard battle to fight.
Who strives against self and his comrades
Will find a most powerful foe.
All honor to him if he conquers.
A cheer for our boy who says “NO!”

There’s many a battle fought daily
The world knows nothing about;
There’s many a brave little soldier
Whose strength puts a legion to rout.
And he who fights sin single handed
Is more of a hero, I say,
Than he who leads soldiers to battle
And conquers by arms in the fray.

Be steadfast, my boy, when you’re tempted,
To do what you know to be right.
Stand firm by the colors of manhood,
And you will o’ercome in the fight.

“The right,” be your battle cry forever
In waging the warfare of life,
And God, who knows who are the heroes,
Will give you the strength for the strife.

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~Faith~

Nurturer, Heart of Mary, Giver

God’s “Little Mommy”

A Heart Just like Mine

God please give me a heart of a mother, that Faith would want one just like mine
Loving unconditionally, no matter what, no matter who.

God give me courage, that Faith will want to be courageous too
Very brave, that she also may be unafraid.

God give me wisdom, that Faith will want to be wise too
Knowing what to do, big and small, to help her through it all.

God give me strength, that Faith will want to be strong too
Knocked down, yet standing strong for another round.

God give me beauty, that Faith will want to be beautiful too
When I smile it would give her the feeling that everything will be okay,
and all her problems disappear for awhile….

God give me generosity, that Faith will want to be generous too
Helping the helpless, never thinking of ourselves and being un-selfish….

God please give me a heart of a mother, that Faith would want one just like mine

 

Noah’s Christmas Gifts

Melissa and Doug’s fold out play castle.

Knights by Schleich are beautiful hand painted toys. The Griffin knights in blue, white, and gold are my absolute favorite. Noah LOVES gold.

Schleich Griffin Knight King

A special coin to remind our son of his spiritual armor.

Armor of God Coin

A Christian allegory illustrating the importance of guarding his heart from evil.

“How to train and joust, ride off on adventure into battle, use and care for a knight’s weapons, and live by the code of chivalry–here is everything a knight-to-be could want to know. Girded with pops, flaps, booklets, and even a squire’s board game, this magnificently illustrated book, dressed in a shining foiled cover, gives courageous young squires a chance to fulfill their destiny.”

“When a little boy asks a powerful king, “Why do we have shadows?” the ruler doesn’t know—and neither do his wise men. But then the king hears about somebody who’s so great that he’s only light, with no darkness—and no shadow! A wonderful story about the holiness of God for your 4- to 8-year-olds!”

The King Without a Shadow

“This book is rife with opportunities to discuss difficult Christian concepts with children. An allegorical adaptation of the story of the cross, this piece covers such concepts as: the fall, the hard-heartedness of all humanity, the cost of sin, the necessity of the Son’s sacrifice, redemption, God’s goodness even when things seem bad, and Christ’s resurrection, just to name a few.”

Armor of God costume

  • Helmet of Salvation
  • Breastplate of Righteousness
  • “Shin Guards” of Peace
  • Belt of Truth
  • Spirit-of-the-Word Sword
  • Shield of Faith
  • Faith Parenting Guide with suggested activities and Scriptures

A poster to remind our little knight that he serves Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and the precious Lamb of God.

Noah’s Birthday Gifts for January

American Indian Figures (fave ones by Schleich) paired with good living storybooks about Indians makes for endless imaginative play opportunities (and narration!)

Holling C. Holling wrote The Book of Indians, published in 1935. Holling and his wife, Mrs. Holling, lived with the Indians. “In the northern forests we paddled their birch-bark canoes, and slept in their wickiups. We rode our horses beside theirs across the great plains and camped in their teepees in the mountains. In the desert they made us feel at home in their pueblos. We have fished with them in the surf of the Pacific Ocean. This book is the result of some of that hunting, riding, camping and research.” This is an awesome living book on Indians for young children!!

The Book of Indians Holling 1935 with dust jacket

Faith’s Christmas Gifts

An ergo baby doll carrier just like mommy’s!

A really nice Costco find. I’ve always wanted a pram for Faithy.

Faith’s new doll highchair from Etsy, and red, of course.

Bright Red Vintage Wooden Doll Highchair

A sweet doll blanket from Etsy.

Ready To Ship -  Mini Quilt

A handmade baby doll cradle from Etsy.

Doll Furniture-Small Wooden Cradle

Our Fun, Silly, and Somewhat Scientific Stocking Stuffers

Space man bubble gun

https://i1.wp.com/www.houseofmarbles.com/uktrade/images/products/222010.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Insta Snow by Steve Spangler

Wacky sand that sticks together and oozes through your fingers.

Putty that you can bounce, bend, tear, stretch, snap, pop. Magnetic and color changing too.

 

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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

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The Creek is Flowing Again!

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Free Play is Wonderful!

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

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Costumed Cuties and Our Giant Homegrown Pumpkin

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Blasting Off in Our Cardboard Rocket

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Three in a Row!

Daniel at School

Daniel at School

What Can I Say?

“What Can I Say?”

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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

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My Beautiful Mother on Her 70th Birthday

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Noah’s Tree Study in his Nature Journal

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My Nature Journal in Progress

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Awesome Rocket Art

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Dinner and Stories with Neighbor Doris

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Daniel’s Finally Starting to Walk!

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

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Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Decides to Make a Play Dough Megalith

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

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

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Shape Puzzles Were the Perfect Math Challenge for Faith

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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.

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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!

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My Nature Journal

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Noah’s Nature Journal

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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

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Faith’s self portrait and first time writing her name

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Noah’s Bible narration illustration

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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

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What Matters In Life

Welcome Baby Daniel

Here is our sweet baby Daniel, born September 12th, weighing 7.8 pounds, and measuring 21 inches! We have spent the last month adjusting to life with three kids, so will you forgive me for taking some time off from blogging? Life is purposefully slow and sweet here; we don’t want this short window of tiny baby time to pass us by too quickly. There are so many things that sink in by baby #3–like knowing more than ever what really matters in life. I read something recently about children’s stages of attachment by the author of Hold Onto Your Kids (most awesome book!), that reminded me of my personal core value in this life as a parent: bonding with my kids–and why its so important. As I read Neufeld’s words, I felt grateful that I can see evidence of the stages of attachment unfolding in my children, but anxious that perhaps we have also fallen short in some ways………and of course, we have. Thank you for the grace of God. I am making sure to snuggle and spend lots of time with my baby; its a brand new beginning.

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Dr. Neufeld says, “I’ve been spending my life trying to put the pieces together of how attachment unfolds. And in fact, I had a wonderful opportunity of taking a whole year off just to be able to study all the attachment theories throughout the ages, actually, and see how it is that attachment is meant to happen. And it’s a beautiful story, really. I’ll try to tell it very quickly and very simply. In the first year of life, a child does attach through wanting to be with, to be in sight, in smell, in hearing, in touch. But by the second year of life a new way of attaching should open up in which the child wants to be liked, not only with, but liked. And this is the key to language acquisition, to stamping out form on their behavior; it’s a key to so many things. If that goes well, the third part by the third year, a child becomes preoccupied with belonging and becomes preoccupied with loyalty to be on the same side as which is a different way of closeness, to take the same side, to serve and obey. And that’s when the obedience instincts begin to be there. By the fourth year of life, you should see in a child a huge quest for significance – to matter, because he feels close now when he is dear to those that he’s attached to. Now if everything unfolds properly, the fifth year is incredible. The limbic system, the command center or the amygdala of the command center, the limbic system, the emotional brain pulse – all of it stops and the child gives his heart to whomever he is attached to. He falls in love. And he’s deeply emotionally attached to his kitten, to his grandma, to anything that is there. And this is amazing. And it’s so important because when the child develops at that level, that’s a stage for the rest of parenting. We cannot parent children whose hearts we do not have. We can’t parent even our grandchildren whose heart we do not have. Or our adult children. This is absolutely essential. So children need to fall deeply into attachment and we need to make it easy for them. The last stage is a very interesting stage. If it’s safe to attach, there’s no defendedness emotionally, then the child actually wants to share all that is within his heart. And so the 6-year-old is busy telling her secrets, and not to have any secrets that divide. This is the beginning of psychological intimacy, which should characterize our marriages and our best friendships. And so we’ve got all kinds of intimacies: with, like, belonging, mattering, our heart, emotional intimacy and then finally psychological intimacy. And this is a context in which children are meant to be raised. So the beginning – the infancy and toddler – is just the beginning of a wonderful unfolding and development of the capacity for a relationship.”

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How amazing! Keeping our children right with us in the early years is so important in order to hold their hearts close to us all through the years. I have seen Noah, my four year old, reach each of the first four stages Neufeld describes. We are now in the “look at me,” “I am so good at this,” “I am bigger,” “I am better,” significance stage. And I just thought he needed some lessons in humility. Little did I know his current way of mattering and attaching to mommy and daddy is through importance. My favorite part of what Dr. Neufeld had to say was, that a five year old gives his heart to whomever he is attached to, he falls in love. I have always loved 5 year olds because there is something magical and magnetic about them, and where they are at developmentally. My favorite grade to teach was kindergarten because the kids adore you. Now as a parent of a soon to be five year old, I am so looking forward to Noah turning 5!! To be loved is why we parent, right? I have been in love with Noah all his life, even before he was born, but very soon he will finally be in love with me too. What a year of fulfillment! I am going to make sure that I am the one right there when he is ready to fall in love. How exciting for this attached mama!!

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Oh, and on a side note, what is Noah looking forward to when he turns five (besides toys of course!)? The other day he said, “I can’t wait until I turn five.” I said, “Oh yah, how come?” He said, “Because I will get to have more jobs (ie chores).” (????) I was surprised to hear that because he talks about playtime as if its his sole purpose in life, and needs more of it. So I thought, sweet, we must have built up birthday chores like they are gifts or something. We told the kids that they get new responsibilities (jobs) when they have a birthday, and that along with the new responsibilities of growing up, come special new freedoms too. Noah told me that one new job he would like to have when he turns five is to help me cook more. Hey, sounds good to me. 🙂

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What Matters to Us

Dean and I recently drafted up some Core Family Values, an assignment from our Kingdom Families small group that we meet with from church. With a new addition to our growing family, it was a great time to sit down and discuss what matters to our family, how we will live it out, and which scriptures will breath life into it all. Some things we wrote down are more statements of faith and things we are aiming for, rather than things we are doing perfectly all the time. Now we have something to turn to in hard times that will help refocus us. Anyway, it was a valuable, purposeful, and defining experience for us. Perhaps its a good time for your family to write up your own Core Family Values?

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Cravalho Family Core Values

1.Beauty

……….For beauty and excellence to be in whatever we do, and show forth God’s glory.

One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.       Psalms 27:4

  • Family is sacred and beautiful. God’s glory shall dwell in our home and family. Thus, we protect our family life, live undivided and un-fragmented, and prioritize spending time together. We do homeschool together, family devotions together, and worship together in church. We want to learn, worship, pray, work, reach out, grow, cry, go through struggles, and make memories together. We won’t departmentalize learning, home-life, friends, work, and God–with each of us going in separate directions all the time as we see happening in most modern families.

2. Holiness

……….To dwell in His presence, be saturated and encompassed by God.

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.Deuteronomy 5:12

  • We live everyday like its the Sabbath, putting as much energy into growing in Godliness, as if everyday is a Sunday
  • We need not separate holy and secular, for everyday moments are holy if perceived as such. All can be holy ground. The kitchen sink can be a sanctuary.
  • We have regular Bible Times because holiness is only possible by shedding worldly mindsets through the daily renewing of our minds

3. Discipleship

………..Comfort, teach, guide, model, nurture–DISCIPLE–our children for the purpose of aiming them to God’s glory and the service of their generation.

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

  • We train up our children through side by side discipleship. The behavior, habits, character, and destiny we envision for our children can best be accomplished through intimate discipleship, and homeschool presents the perfect opportunity for true discipleship.

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.  Proverbs 23:13-14

  • We discipline with both spankings and loving words of reproof so that our children do not bring shame to us, but rather bring delight to our souls.

Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.  Deuteronomy 5:16

  • Our children honor us as compass points in their lives, as parents able to orient them in what direction to take and how to get there. They listen to us, rather than their peers or media, concerning all matters– how to act, what to say, what to do, how to look, etc.

These words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  Deuteronomy 6:6-7

  • We live on a single income so that we can have a stay at home parent available to teach our children since discipleship as described in Duet. 6:6-7 is an all day long comission.
  • We teach our children by including them in worship. We follow the Biblical model of family worship where worship primarily: was led by the father, held in the home, and included all generations of life.
  • By cultivating a close relationship with our children, we open their hearts to God. Side by side discipleship allows for an attached relationship. Children give their hearts, loyalty, and confidence to whomever they are attached to. Therefore, a child who is well attached to his parents, is a child that is easy to parent, and also easy to disciple. We can not disciple or parent children whose hearts we do not have.

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And yes, we are still managing to do school and other fun stuff with a new baby in the family! Take a look!

Playin’ in the Rain One Day

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Daddy’s Sweet Potato Science Project

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Daddy Helps Me with Word Building

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Daddy Helps Me with my “I am Special” Book

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Tayler’s Mommy Helps at School

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Noah’s “Mud, Mud, Blood” Pattern

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Noah’s Independent Math Time Creation (Attribute Blocks)

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Handwriting

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Noah Exclaimed, “I did it as good as Tayler!”

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Noah’s Punishment for Biting a Word Tile

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Faith’s Time Outs Are Time Ins with God

We have always put Faith in her crib for timeouts because she gets so enraged when she is in trouble that she needs a quiet, safe place to calm down in. However, lately I have been letting her sit in her rocking chair with a recorded prayer book. She is much calmer with this type of punishment! And while she is hearing Grandma and Grandpa pray all kind of calming prayers from her Really Wooly Bedtime Prayers book, her heart is being ministered to and softened by God’s Word. Perfect for a little one who can’t read yet!

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Our “I am Special” Books

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Tayler Working on Her I am Special Book

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All of Tayler’s Pages

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All of Noah’s Pages

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All of Faith’s Pages

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The Pumpkin Patch

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Lima Bean Pots!

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The Hay Maze

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Our Homegrown Giant Pumpkin

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A Neighbor’s Giant Pumpkin

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     Tayler Made Faith a Pretty Birthday Cake in the Sandbox

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Noah Painting Faith’s Birthday Present (a dollhouse)

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Happy 3rd Birthday Faithy!!

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Too Cute!

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Faithful Fathers

The Calling of a Father

Father’s have a very special role in the family. A father calls out his children’s magnificent destiny. “There is a secret in God’s heart about who our children are meant to be, and it is the father who helps our children discover their own story and secret, and to declare that over their lives.” (Ed Tandy McGlasson) In the Bible, we see that a father’s blessing was the most powerful thing that was given from a father to a son. And did you know that if a father is the first in the household to become a Christian, there is a 93% probability that everyone else in the house will heed the Gospel call (as compared to 17% if mother professes first, or 3.5% if a child professes first)? Fathers have a very special and powerful calling indeed.

Yet, how many of us remember dedicating our hearts to Jesus on our father’s knee or having our real life-changing spiritual experiences with our father? Hmmmm…….oh yah, it happened when we went forward at a Christian youth camp or concert. Did we accept the call for salvation there because we really understood the gospel? Probably not, and that is why so many many people who give their lives to Christ all too commonly fall away from Christianity within a short time. Like seeds that fall on shallow soil and die away for lack of roots. Shallow conversions are a common problem in the modern church, and kids are leaving the faith in droves. How sad. In contrast, imagine a child’s most meaningful spiritual experiences occurring at home during the daily diet of a father’s teaching in a special discipleship relationship, through a father touching his child’s heart with the gospel message. In this context, faith grown from a true understanding of the gospel is developed, and it will be faith that a child will not easily walk away from. Fathers who teach their children as Deuteronomy 6 commands, effectively pass on a lasting heritage of faith to the next generation.

I think every man wants to be a good father, but many are not clear on what the Bible expects of a father. Scriptures command fathers to diligently teach and care for the souls of their children day by day. In reality, very very few Christian fathers are obeying this day by day calling to disciple their children. They have relinquished their responsibility to the church which trains up our children in its youth programs, Awana, Sunday School, Missionettes and Royal Rangers, children’s classes and clubs, and various other children’s ministries. Fathers get too comfortable and believe that their children are receiving much of the Biblical training they need from church programs, and so they feel they can relax and relinquish the daily responsibility of teaching the scriptures, since it feels likes its being taken care of. “Involved” fathers feel satisfied with their fathering because they are attending the kid’s recitals and games and getting them into great church programs or youth groups. However, the Biblical example of an involved father, or faithful father, doesn’t look like anything of the sort, as scripture prescribes something quite different. Daily, a father is to praise God to his children with hundreds of words and practical principles. Day after day, he cries out to them, explaining the stories that glorify the kindnesses of God, His wrath toward sinners, and His vanquishing power over all things. In so doing, he reflects the heart of the Heavenly Father who cries out, “Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:7-11).

Biblical Worship is Family Worship

(Excerpts from A Family Guide to Biblical Holidays)

If we are to follow the Biblical pattern for family worship, we must look at Hebrew worship as a model, where worship was led in the home by the father. Christians should study the Hebrew culture since our Christianity can not be fully understood without studying the Old Testament and our Hebrew roots. “We study a Hebrew book–written by Hebrews; we serve a Hebrew Lord–who had Hebrew disciples; we desire to follow the first century church–which was first predominantly Hebrew; and through Christ, we are grafted into a Hebrew family! It makes sense to study the Hebrew culture”. Christians can learn much from the Hebrews strong family/worship lifestyle:

“Everything is centered around the home–family, education, and worship. Every area of the Hebrew world is entirely saturated and encompassed with God. The Hebrews make no distinction between their spiritual life and the physical areas of life. They see life as an entirety. It is all God’s domain…..There were times of temple worship; however, most of the worship centered around the home.

If you were to visit a religious Jews home on a typical Friday you would find everyone in the home in a hurried state preparing for the coming Sabbath. Setting a fine table and special meal. At sundown, all the hurrying stops. The mother of the home prays and dedicates this special day unto God as she lights the Sabbath candles to begin the Sabbath. The father leads the family in prayers, Torah readings, and singing praise and worship. He prays a special blessing over each child. The rest of the twenty-four hour period is spent resting, enjoying family, growing spiritually as individuals, and growing closer to family.

We should ask ourselves, “Is there a time, if someone entered our home, that they would see such devotion to God?” How ashamed we should be when those who don’t even know Jesus as Messiah, show such devotion.

Professing Christians in America, in general, tend to view “The Church” as a part of their life–only a small part. Life and relationships are divided into quarters, into four distinctly different locations: partly religious (a few hours a week at church), partly educational (school), partly professional (workplace), and partly leisure (home). Each person in the family is going in separate directions and rarely at home together. Even in the church, the only family time spent together is on the ride to and from church. Upon arrival the family divides into their proper classes. It is hard to find all the members of a family together in one area at the same time in church–much less worshiping and interacting together or praying together as a family.”

Weak Families Make Weak Churches

When I look around at the congregation of my own church, the only families that consistently sit all together in service are 3 families that homeschool! Amazing and interesting! Everyone else seems to be here and there with children attending their own classes. Have you ever asked yourself why we break our families apart and separate throughout the entire church service? The modern day American church has children’s classes, youth classes, young adults, middle adults, senior adults, etc. The practice of age segregation actually began in our education model and nearly every other social institution has followed suit. 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. 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 any anti-Christian culture that purposefully or unconsciously attacks the family and biblical values.

In the early church, children were discipled by their fathers in a family setting. In the modern church, Christian children are largely discipled not at home, but by various age graded church programs. Age segregation is a slippery slope that prevents lessons that should be learned from previous generations. We are moving away from an emphasis on the Biblical model of corporate family worship for the first time in literally thousands of years of church history. What is the impact of fathers relinquishing their duty? The results of this survey done by professor Thom Rainer may indicate at least some of the impact:

Those Who Understand the Gospel by Age Group

  • Born before 1946 — 65%
  • Born between 1946 and 1964 — 35%
  • Born between 1965 and 1976 — 15%
  • Born between 1976 and 1994 — 4%

Something is wrong here! You don’t have to look far to find statistics that the American church and family is on the decline. We are in a crisis, and we must do a better job of passing on our faith to our children. A lot of parents just don’t feel equipped, and that is where the church is failing. The church needs to effectively equip parents and hold parents accountable to teach their children at home, but instead the focus is on providing an array of programs that divide family, and unintentionally release parents of their Biblical mandate to train up their own children.

If you have never contemplated whether family integrated worship is right for your own family, but have instead rather blindly followed the Christian crowd, I urge you to view the following 55 minute video that challenges our naive assumptions about age graded programs, specifically looking at youth ministry, and how our programs are not the answer to building up strong, healthy Christian families. An excellent view for fathers as it calls fathers to take back the training of their children!

Watch: “Divided”, the Movie–Is Youth Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church?

Happy Father’s Day!

So on this Father’s Day I celebrate my husband and father, and all Christian fathers who need some encouragement to know how important they are. I pray that sights will be raised and hearts will be touched in our fathers. Please share this post with Christian fathers you know. Pray for our fathers to be faithful, pray for our churches and their leaders to open their hearts to family worship. Its very likely that there are no family integrated worship services anywhere near where you live, but still we can pray, and then share with our church leadership as the opportunity arises. I think many of our Pastors and church leaders are worn out with methods that are not effectively reaching the next generation. The ability to truly reach the next generation lies within fathers. Fathers discipling their own families is critical to the preservation of faith in our society. We need our faithful fathers!

More to Think About:

A Great Article: The Biblical Model for Family Integrated Worship and Biblical Mandate for Daily Home Discipleship

Directory and Resources at: The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches

A National Conference for Dads: The Masters Plan for Fatherhood (The schedule of classes looks great! I hope we will be able to participate in the Fresno conference in November.)

A Father’s Day Gift Suggestion: Wild at Heart (I am getting this book for my husband)

.       .      .      .        .        .       .      .      .      .       .        .

I Love Daddy!

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Evening Family Devotions

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A Happy Girl at the Apricot Farm

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Noah Kept Asking, “What Are You Going to Make With All Those Apricots Mommy?”

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So I Got the Kids to Work on a Gluten Free Apricot Crisp

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My Little Sunshine Enjoying A Gluten Free Banana Bread Muffin

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Daddy Brought Us Home a Turtle That He Found at Work! What a cool dad!

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Juggling Motherhood and Work

Ok, so this is not what I planned on blogging about next, but I want to share something that came up on my mom’s club forum because its of high interest to me, as well as many other mothers: can women have it all? Can mothers have a high profile career, or a full time career at all, and also be a supermom? A mom from my Pleasant Hill Walnut Creek Mother’s Club posted this a few days ago:

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wenlei

6/21/2012

(4 days ago)

Juggling Motherhood and Work

I thought today’s Fresh Air program might be of some interest to some of the mommies here. In fact, if any of you are interested in getting together and discussing the article, please send me an email, since the issues raised in Slaughter’s article definitely resonated with me. Happy reading & happy summer! -Wenlei

http://www.npr.org/2012/06/21/155498926/the-impossible-juggling-act-motherhood-and-work

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-can-8217-t-have-it-all/9020/?single_page=true

           Basically the feminist author of the above articles, and mother of a struggling teen, came to a point in her life where she had to admit that it is really hard to be supermom and supercareer woman–one or the other has got to give. I was so intrigued to hear a feminists changing viewpoint on this monumental struggle of women, that I had to read through her lengthy article. I encourage you to do the same if this topic is of interest to you as well.
             Then I felt compelled to make a stand on the mom’s club forum for how I feel about the sad state of children today with the ever increasing situation of dual income families in our society, and how wonderful it has been personally to decide to be a stay at home mom. My husband and I were not sure we could do it, my husband wasn’t even sure he wanted me to do it back when we were dating, but as we looked around at children we admired, we found that many times they were the product of a stay at home mom pouring her heart and soul into raising them. I became so convinced of the power of being present in my children’s lives that I told myself if I had to, I could even live in poverty in order to remain the largest influence in my children’s lives. But God is so good because He takes the dreams in our hearts that we will not budge from, and makes them a reality. He has provided for us with a home of our own, free used furniture, healthy food to eat, scads of hand me down clothing for our children, paid for vehicles, and the ability to live on one income. Staying home with my children has been the best decision of my life. (More from me on the calling of staying home here)
              I think so many moms feel torn, split in two, by the demands of family and work. My heart is in angst for moms who have budged from the dream in their own heart, or who are finding out that the juggle of work and home is at a higher cost than they are willing to pay, or who believe that daycare and school can raise her children during the day as well as she can. So I formed a bold response to the “Juggling Motherhood and Work” post on the mom’s club forum:
avatar

me

6/25/2012

(8 hrs ago)

Sadly, I do think feminists have sold women a fiction. The article itself states, “And although women as a group have made substantial gains in wages, educational attainment, and prestige over the past three decades, the economists Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson have shown that women are less happy today than their predecessors were in 1972, both in absolute terms and relative to men.” Hmmmm…..

As for juggling a career and a family, I think two parents can not both be professionals putting in long hard hours without putting their children at stake. I look at the masses of unhappy young people in our society and have to wonder if we are sacrificing our children for our jobs. I believe everyone’s pursuit of happiness starts at home with family, not at work, and so the juggling act of two income families can be quite an obstacle to the priorities of a true pursuit of happiness.

I agree with the author’s statement, “….the minute I found myself in a job that is typical for the vast majority of working women (and men), working long hours on someone else’s schedule, I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be.” I am a happy stay at home mom because I knew I had to make a choice, and I chose my children. I am spending this life on enjoying my children to the fullest because I wholeheartedly believe that one parent needs to be very present at home in order to provide the guidance that both little ones and teens alike need very much. And moms happen to be designed with a God given maternal instinct that powerfully draws us to our children and our home. Its a good fit.

Deciding that I would stay home with our children at almost any cost, has been a wonderful decision for us. I have found deep satisfaction in being the one to shape my precious children into who they will become. Satisfaction that can not be traded for any amount of pay or status.

Anyway, just wanted to share on this great post as I often reflect on the calling of motherhood. Lots more thoughts on motherhood, family, and teaching our children on my blog in hopes of speaking to the hearts of moms. I love to hear from other moms.

https://jesuspreciouslittlelambs.wordpress.com

“Someday, when our children are grown, very few of us will say, “I sure wish I had sold more at my job, or won more awards at work, or opened new accounts for my employer.” But many of us may say, “I wish I had spent more time with my children when they were young.” ~Before Five In A Row

Most gracious Lord, help us to remember, in all the moments of our days, that taking the time to cultivate a close relationship with our children is what will open their hearts for you.

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Father’s Day Appreciation

Trains! Trolleys! Transit Fieldtrip!

Transit Fieldtrip– a Father’s Day Lesson

My oh my, what a day we moms and little ones had on our Train, Trolley, Transit summer fieldtrip! The kids loved riding Bart, going over the walking bridge at Treat Blvd., and riding the Walnut Creek trolley. However, some things didn’t go as planned, and although it wasn’t amusing at the time, I laughed so hard retelling the challenges of the day to my husband. This fieldtrip served to remind me why we can be more thankful for dads, just in time for Father’s Day. First, I will start with the story of our Transit Trip……

The challenges of the day…… the Bart parking garage said “garage full”, I quickly made a rash decision to park in another garage that charged $1 every 1/2 hour so we wouldn’t be late, we missed the 10 am Bart train anyway because of the long walk, the Bart ticket machine didn’t give change for a $20, taking strollers up and down elevators at Bart was confusing, the train doors closed on me, we fell over as Bart came to a sudden start within a few seconds of being freed from the doors, we missed the trolley that comes every 15 minutes (a few times I think) because we were waiting behind a wall, the trolley driver was having a bad day, I wasn’t aware of how trolley communication works with a little rope to pull overhead when you want to get off, I got the same salad at Tender Greens that last time I said I wouldn’t get again, we had a poor tired little soul crying through lunch time, we waited and waited and waited for the trolley to come back to get us, we finally hoofed it back to Bart in 95 degree weather, the trolley started coming down the street a few minutes later but we weren’t standing in the right place, half of our party came up the Bart elevator on the wrong side of the tracks, we could not find the parking garage elevator that surely existed only a few hours ago when we arrived that morning.

The brighter side of the day………Friends arrived late anyway and so we all managed to meet up perfectly at the same late time, Cherie was a proficient navigator of Bart, the Bart workers were helpful, the kids screamed with glee as Bart pulled up, we fell over laughing as Bart came to a sudden start within a few seconds of being freed from the doors, the kids had a grand ol’ time playing on a cement “slide” while we kept missing the trolley, Emily spoke up for herself to the grumpy trolley driver, Emily knew how to pull the little rope overhead in the trolley, other people liked their sandwiches and salads, a nutty little old lady pulled out her bubbles at lunch time announcing to our children “Bubble time!” and then muttered “Now say thank you,” to herself as she walked away, I helped solve a mystery when I pointed out to Sheila that Tayler was dragging her feet in front of the stroller (she thought the silly thing had stopped working), we got one good sweaty workout on our trek back to Bart, after coming up on the wrong side of the tracks our party reunited with 3 minutes to spare, I learned how everyone else got free parking so that I can too next time, friends bonded and we chose to see the glass half full that day.

Chasms, the result of thoughtlessness

I know there are plenty of moms who can get around by themselves just fine, but for me, this is one area I heavily rely on my husband. Having a day that puts us totally out of our element, out of our area of expertise, whatever that may be, can shake us up to realize that life without our husbands would only be a poor shadow of what it is now. It is so difficult to know just how unaware we are of the significance of his role, how blinded we are by simple oversight–the inability to think of what life without him would be. If we know we have ungrateful attitudes towards our husbands or take things for granted, perhaps it is by not thinking, not perceiving, not seeing his significance. Unfortunately thoughtlessness in our marriages is ingratitude. A little thesaurus study reveals some interesting correlations. Ingratitude is synonymous with thoughtlessness. Thoughtlessness is simply not thinking about someone enough, or simply overlooking some of their contributions.  And wow, do you know that oversight is synonymous with chasm? When our relationship is characterized by ingratitude, perhaps that is when we most feel that there is a chasm between us and our hubbies?

Main Entry:
chasm
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: gap, abyss
Synonyms: abysm, alienation, arroyo, blank, breach, cavity, cleavage, cleft, clough, clove, crater, crevasse, fissure, flume, gorge, gulch, gulf, hiatus, hole, hollow, omission, opening, oversight, preterition, ravine, rent, rift, schism, skip, split, void, yawn

Do any of these synonyms ring a bell with the way we feel about our relationship with our husbands? Do we ever feel alienated, hollow, split, or that there is a void? Interesting that in the thesaurus, a chasm can be traced back to ingratitude.

ingratitude > thoughtlessness> oversight > chasm

The Lords Plans For Us are so Very Thoughtful

As Father’s Day is designed to be a day for expressing gratitude, let us not underestimate the power of gratitude this holiday. Lets make this Father’s Day special by taking special care to thoughtfully perceive what we have to be thankful for so that we can really show our gratitude on this holiday, but more importantly, all throughout the year. Honoring a father is more than giving another unneeded necktie, or a card with words written by someone else–a truly honoring expression of gratitude starts with a divinely inspired keen perception of what a father’s gifts, contributions, leadership, and life laid down for our families means to us. If our mind comes up a little blank, or if our heart feels a little empty, pray that God will give us sight to perceive how important our husbands are, and to become aware of what we have been overlooking. The blessing of doing this is that a God given thankful attitude will close up fissures, holes, and breaches that damage relationships. And perhaps revealing experiences like the Transit Fieldtrip are just the way our all knowing God answers our prayers for perception. He is a mastermind you know, who carefully plans our days so that the moment we ask, he is already at work restoring our relationships. How good it is to serve the Lord! His thoughtfulness restores every breach caused by our thoughtlessness.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Handprint Art for Daddy. We love you Daddy!

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Holiness

Raising G Rated Kids in An R Rated World

Once you get sick deep in your gut about one thing in this world, it can open your eyes to see that all the worlds ways are mad and merciless, and no matter which arena you look (health, politics, business, family, school, etc.), there is corruption. Do you ever find yourself wanting to scream, “that is SO wrong!!!,” ………when you find out about pink slime or watch Food Inc., or think about how prices of everything organic are driven up making it a burden for families just to eat healthy while junk food is dirt cheap, or how the huge money loving pharmecuticals manipulate our healthcare and FDA, how unethical conduct in the business world is rampant, how the media is full of everything irreverant and disrespectful, how Americans are driven by an insatiable need for more stuff which drives us to increasingly lose sight of family values in all our money making pursuits? Or how about the way government schools require total conformity, discourage parental involvement, and are churning out masses of defiant and immature citizens stripped of the ability to think for themselves. These are a few of the things that make me sick. You probably have your own list.

All this mania drives me to God, the author of everything that is the opposite of sad and sick.

If you want to escape all this corruption, if it makes you want to wretch, good. Let it make you want to run to God! He is the only one you can count on to protect you and your family from the harsh realities of this world. How else can you protect your precious innocent children? When you think of your tiny ones, you think purity, innocence, undefiled, and exceedingly precious. Does it grieve you when you look around you and see that the world is robbing children of that gift at an earlier and earlier age? My mission as a mother and a home maker, is to fashion a home that promotes holiness so that my children may grow up uncorrupted, being “Holy as He is Holy.” That they may have a beautiful set of unscarred childhood memories. That they may escape the sinful mindsets that sneakily infiltrated my own young life, even managing to get past the guard of my own faithful parents.  I want my children protected from the pain that accompanies sinful choices. Satan is working full time to lure our children into his lair by engraining a worldy mindset into them as they socialize at school, as they are bombarded with media, as they sit in our own homes under the tutelage of parents with unrenewed minds. Yes, by our own parenting. If we are not in the Word of God constantly, our minds are unrenewed, unable to think God’s higher kind of thoughts, and there is no doubt about it, we will be totally and completely susceptible to the corrupting mindsets of the world. If we do not agree with the crazy ways of the world, then why wouldn’t we do everything we can to be set apart, following higher ways, being holy–especially for the sake of our children?

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

God has given us everything we need for living a godly life…….he has given us great and precious promises (His Word!). These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 1 Peter 1:3-4

Protecting my children was a huge determinant for why I decided to homeschool. The article, Raising G Rated Kids in an R Rated World, spoke to me during a time when I was beginning to feel a holy burn inside for protecting my children. The author, Jill, says, “You see our job and goal is to train up our children in the way they should go……….. Thank God there is only ONE way. That way is narrow and few will enter into it. Why? Because it is hard to go against the world in all you do. It is hard to shut the world out and raise your children as if what is going on outside your home is not happening.” You may disagree with some of my standards for ensuring that my kids stay protected, but I will share a few to get you thinking about these things before they “sneak” up on your child. I don’t feel that little children need to watch TV or movies, that older children need cell phones, that video games do a lick of good for anyone, that kids should have a computer or TV in their own bedrooms, that kids should be going to play or sleep over at the houses of other families unless extremely well known and holding similar standards, that kids should be cared for or taught by anyone on a daily basis who does not share your standards. The last standard is one big reason why it is not possible for me to send my children away to be taught by the world’s teachers, and why I passionately embrace homeschool. Anyway, these are all personal convictions and yours may be different, but whatever they are, I encourage you to set them high. Its is easier to lower them later, than to raise them later. Besides, you may find that you love what God is able to do in your household through your high standards. In the beginning it may feel as if striving for holiness is binding, like what can we do?? No, it is not easy to shut out the world, but in the end, I believe that the happiest families are those who pay the price for true freedom. “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed!!!” John 8:36

Holiness is Truly Beautiful

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“d” is for dragonfly, “d” is for discipline

Disciplining Through Work Brings Joy

Why does my son whine so much?? Spankings and timeouts have been effective for other misbehaviors, but seem to have little effect on whininess. I was praying for guidance and searching my heart for answers. Then I found this article (I highly recommend reading it!) which presented a slightly new slant on discipline, and I thought aha, WORK the whine out of him. Funny, I had been feeling it was time to balance out Noah’s play to workload ratio around here anyway (thanks Holy Spirit). Dean and I have noticed that his imagination while playing has taken off lately, and his pretending skills have made a developmental jump. He is getting so good at playing; he is getting more done in less time, so to speak, during his play hours. So now my intuition (ie spirit) is telling me that its also time to increase the work he does to help around the house in order to keep him balanced. Ever so often I get this tugging inside that tells me its time to bring Noah to another level of maturity by adding to his chores. To begin with, when Noah was little, work was all pretend work, pretending to vacuum like mommy or rake like daddy, but after awhile kids lose interest in pretending if it doesn’t turn into the real thing. Pretending is great still, but why keep it at a pretend level when a child is showing that they are highly interested in getting to work? The first time I felt the tugging inside to get Noah to work was when he was two and a half, and that is when he started washing his own plate after a meal. Now he is able to wash the whole family’s plates! And little Faithy suddenly snaps out of being cranky before dinner when I ask her to help set the table. Young children feel honored to be useful to others, and some crankiness can be averted by making them feel useful to their family.

Dean and I are both huge on teaching work ethic, and work, in a sense, is celebrated in our household, heralded higher than the value of play. Our kids, and most little kids, have oodles upon oodles of playtime; they suffer not for recreational time. What most of us need to consider is: are our children receiving the proper amount of time spent doing chores? Not so much as to crush their fun loving spirits by overburdening them, but placing the proper weight of responsiblity to keep them growing. Working into them a Godly attitude of servanthood, shaping them through the weight of work, just as muscles are toned and strengthened by lifting weights.

After reading the awesome article about discipline mentioned above, I immediately had a chance to implement work as a form of discipline. One afternoon, as Noah was playing himself silly, he wasn’t doing anything wrong that I could pinpoint, but I had a feeling that whininess and a bit of ingratitude or entitlement were creeping in. Plus, Dean and I happened to be slaving away to get the house back in order after a fun weekend, and it just didn’t feel right that Noah was not participating in the work. When I asked Noah to do one small thing and was met with resistance, I decided it was time to put that attitude to work. So we had him put away a mountain of laundry with Daddy, and when I checked in with Daddy to see how good of a job Noah was doing, I decided a little more work was in order. He vacuumed in the kitchen and put toys away. Eventually I was pleased to feel a peaceful atmosphere and pleasant shift of attitude in Noah return when all was said and done. Work works! What an effective hands on lesson about disciplining for mommy!

Mommy, Teach Me is a really awesome book about teaching your preschooler at home with a Montessori perspective. I just love what Barbara Curtis has to say about young children and serving at home, “The sensitive period for serving others–which in the life of a believer will later be translated into serving God–is in the preschool years. Remember what that means: if the environment provides appropriate encouragement and direction during those years, the child will learn to serve with joy, but if the environment or caregivers thwart the preschooler’s natural desire, any later attempt to make the child “learn” to serve will meet with resistance. Serving will not be fun, but something the child will want to avoid.” If you haven’t realized it by now ya’ll, I am screaming the message across this blog, “PRESCHOOL YEARS ARE AN INCREDIBLY SENSITIVE WINDOW OF TIME TO LEARN AT HOME!” Just today I read in a New York Times archived article, “Indeed, a 4-year-old’s brain uses more energy than it ever will again. Brain development cannot be put on pause, so the critical question is how to provide the best possible context to support it.” What an incredible time in life: to be raising a preschooler!!! Praise God it is never dull, and not a time to save parental investments for later.

Home is where we teach our children to serve. Preschool outside the home can only offer very limited and artificially structured ways to be helpers, but at home you can make work an awesome life shaping part of your daily routines. There is indeed much joy to be found in daily work! If we are joyful about it, our kids will never grow out of finding the joy in it.

I’d love to know what your preschooler helps out with around the house to give me more ideas for Noah (ie leave a comment!! :)). Here is what Noah does at our house to give you some ideas (none are done on a daily basis yet).

Washes dishes

Vaccuums the food explosion under the table

Sets the table/Clears the table

Helps put me put away everyone’s laundry

Tidies the house

Feeds Faith

We Caught Our Garden Cross Dragonfly!

Small miracles do happen here everyday

Dragonfly observation on “d” is for dragonfly week

Our New Favorite Game: Butterflies

“It” is the “netter”; the cross is base, a safe place for butterflies to land

Noah “taking care of  bunny” charmed me

He really didn’t want bunny to be caught by the netter (perhaps because we have been reading the Peter Rabbit series a lot lately).

Gabby’s “d” for dragonfly handwriting

Very Hungry Caterpillar Art

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