Friday, August 19, 2011

Building an Ark... AKA... Homeschooling your Children.

I surrendered my life to Christ in college. I grew up in a Christian home and knew the truth but had a very rebellious heart. I finally stopped running Nov 1, 1997. Jesus Christ called me out of the boat to walk on water and dance with him. I prayed and waited on God to send me a godly husband. He blew me away with his gift to me in Tim.

We were on our honeymoon when I was weeping before the Lord asking why He had given me such a good gift that I don't deserve. I was reading straight through the Bible in Malachi when He very clearly spoke these words to me..

"Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring.*" Malachi 2:15

Kids were nowhere on my radar screen. I was going to be married and travel. I was scared to death of having children. But, at that moment, I knew that God had called me to have children and to raise them to be godly. I had no idea how to do that and I still don't. But, God is daily helping me and showing me what to do.

The verse I want to highlight today that God is using in my life as I homeschool is...

"May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace."
Psalm 144:12

Let's start with the sons... another version says,

"That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth"-

Our sons are as plants that are to cultivate and flourish in our homes. The Hebrew word here means "grown large in their youth" meaning that they may be stout, strong, vigorous, well-formed, EVEN IN EARLY LIFE. They are compared to plants: young, tender, well-nursed, and taken care of, healthful, thriving, and PROMISING MUCH FRUIT. That they may be plants of the Lord, pleasant ones to Him, and profitable to others. God desires that our sons be like strong, well rooted, young trees which promise great things. The peak season for growth is in their youth. If in their young manhood, they are stunted, they may never get over it. Now is the time to pour into our children. TODAY. We cannot miss this vital season to engage and invest the Word of God in our young sons.

"your sons will be like olive shoots around your table" Ps 128:3

"I write to you YOUNG MEN because you are strong and the Word of God LIVES IN YOU and you have overcome the evil one" 1 John 2

"But the godly will flourish like palm trees
and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
For they are transplanted into the Lord's own house.
They flourish in the courts of our God.
Even in old age they will still produce fruit;
they will remain vital and green.
They will declare, "The Lord is just!
He is my rock!
There is nothing but goodness in him!"
Ps 92:12-15

Caring for a palm tree:

The most important factor for a healthy Palm Tree is good soil. The type of soil determines how much nutrients and water the plant receives. While Palm Trees have long been associated with desert conditions, in the wild, they are only found near abundant and continuous supplies of water. If you are thinking about planting a Palm Tree on your property, make sure that the tree will receive adequate water and be prepared to water a newly transplanted tree frequently while it acclimatizes. Frequent watering is crucial for newly-planted Palm Trees. Use a bubbler or arrange a hose to slow soak the area around the tree. It is important not to allow the soil to dry out as this will severely weaken your new Palm. Most hardy Palm growers recommend protecting the palm from the climate for the first years that it is in the ground.

How to grow a cedar tree:

Plant near the water-edge of a river... and basically water, water, water. Protect the roots. Keep soil moist.

So, what does this have to do with homeschooling our children?
We have to soak them in the Word!

"Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:13,14

"Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do."
Joshua 1:8

Listen to this paraphrase of this verse...

"For our sons are like plantings of date-palms, nourished up from the doctrine of the law from their youth"

The way to nourish your sons is to water them with the Word of God. This is what we are doing everyday when we homeschool. Nourishing our young plants so that they may grow deep roots and become strong!

What about our daughters?

"May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace."

"That our daughters may be as pillars, Sculptured in palace style;"

"our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;"

My prayer is that God would sculpture my daughter's heart so that she will be ready to make His temple more beautiful. That she would be ready to be a godly wife and helper to her husband when God sends her a husband. I want her to be ready to serve in God's kingdom and that His beauty would shine through her.
Believe me, this is going to only be done by God's power and prayer.  :)

How do we accomplish such a high calling? By the power of the Holy Spirit in us and the Word of God. But we must be DILIGENT and faithful to raise up our children to know and love God.

"You shall teach them (what's them? God's commandments- His Word) 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." Deut 6:7

This verse jump starts me when I want to do homeschool half-heartedly. Nope- God has asked me to be diligent.

"do not forsake your mother's teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever;
fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp,
this teaching is a light"
Prov 6:20-23

When we teach our kids the Word of God, we are not only teaching them... we are giving them the Teacher that will teach them the REST OF THEIR LIVES.

Guiding them, watching over them, speaking to them, lighting their path as a light. Doesn't that warm your heart as a mother? What happens after I die? Who will guide and watch over my children?
The Word of God that is implanted in their souls.

Like I said, there was only one way I knew I could not fail at homeschool- by using the Word. It became my confidence and I began to see it teaching my children. I began to use it for pretty much everything. Reading, Writing, Math, Grammar, Memorization, Spelling.
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly AS YOU TEACH..." Col 3:16

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for TEACHING," 2 Tim 3:16

"The rain and snow come down from the heavens

and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with MY WORD.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it."
Is 55:10,11

"Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ," Gal 3:24

Ask Him for His power and energy to be poured into your life as a mother!
"To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." Col 1:29

"Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
Exodus 4

"All your children shall be taught by THE LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children." Is 54:13

I compare how I felt about God asking me to homeschool the children to how Noah must have felt when he heard this...
“Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18-inch opening [fn6] below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper."
Gen 6

Not only had Noah NEVER HEARD OF AN ARK OR A LARGE BOAT, he had never heard of rain. But, God have him exact instructions about how to build something he had never seen before.
God has helped me so much since I stepped out in faith to homeschool. I know he will do the same for you!
He will lead you. Provide all the materials you will need. People may mock you but you just focus on obedience out of love for your God.
And, this just occurred to me too:
After Noah spent almost 100 years building the boat and got all the animals inside and God closed the door, the rain did not come for 7 days!
"After seven days, the waters of the flood came and covered the earth."
Genesis 7:10
I am sure during those 7 days of sitting in a huge stinky boat with a bunch of animals and people outside making fun of you, there could have been some doubt in Noah's mind that maybe he was crazy. Just like there will be for you when you wonder if God is really doing what he promised through homeschool. Are your kids really learning? Are they really going to flourish?
Just concentrate on obedience and leave the rest up to God.
Homeschooling requires A LOT OF FAITH.
And, faith PLEASES GOD!
I do not believe homeschool is for everyone. So, please don't feel criticism from me if you don't homeschool. This is a post for mommas who believe God is asking them to do it or are already doing it and are growing weary.
I knew NOTHING about homeschool when God asked me to homeschool the children. I didn't know how to do anything. Through crying out to God for wisdom (thankfully, He gives generously!), He has begun to show me how to teach my boys. We are starting our 3rd year and we have good days and bad days but the reward of seeing them grow in their walks with the Lord is worth all the bad days combined!
I don't know how long the Lord is going to let me keep these precious children and I don't want to miss a second of being with them and investing into their lives.
I would miss them terribly if they went to school every day. And, they would miss each other!
I am not crafty or detail"y" like most homeschool mommas. But, I do love God's Word. I don't want my kids to be dorks so we try and play a lot of sports and our house is usually full of people (ministry stuff) so they are learning social skills. I am sure they will be semi-dorks though because their momma is. LOL.
"For our sons are like plantings of date-palms, nourished up in the doctrine of the law from their youth; our daughters are beautiful and fit for priests who serve within the temple." Ps 144:12

Here is an impromptu video I did to answer some of your questions all at once. Pardon my crazy hair and nervous sidekick!

Be Blessed!

P.S. This is a great article by Jeannie Fulbright...

"I began my homeschooling journey with a deep conviction that this was God's call upon my family. Many of you felt that same calling. You knew that God had a great plan for your children's life and He wanted to lead you as you guide their spiritual and academic development. God hand picked you to be their parents, and no teacher could love them, nurture them or would care about their success more than you. No teacher, except you, could early-on pinpoint their unique talents and gifts and be able to nurture them while still lovingly helping them with their weaknesses. You were uniquely positioned to be a devoted teacher, spiritual mentor and coach for these children which God has given you.

As I stepped out in faith into this wonderful journey of homeschooling, I discovered an exciting new universe: a world of curriculum, educational philosophies, supplementary activities and courses, academic endeavors, field trips, and opportunities abounding for the betterment of my little protégés. With a thrill, I realized that I really could give my children a better education! Only one major problem existed: fitting it all in. So, if we were going to do it all, we had better get on the stick!

Can you guess what fell by the wayside in our zealous efforts? Personal discipleship: Bible reading, morning devotions, deep spiritual discussions, heart training, and even our dear Lord Jesus. Sadly, I caught a terrible case of "Academics Attack", a malady that strikes many a homeschool mom. Indeed, my quest to provide my children the "best" education and the "best" enrichment resulted in an attack on our true purpose for homeschooling - to nurture their hearts for the Lord and help them grow into children that have their own personal walk with God - one that is Spirit led and powerful.

Though I believe God desires our children to do all things with excellence and to infiltrate every arena with light, including fields of study and trade, we must intentionally bear in mind our true purpose as home educators. If we are not proactive, we'll pave our homeschool highway with good intentions unfulfilled. There is a way that seems right to man, and focusing on academics and achievement would seem to provide a bright future for our offspring. Yet, in God's economy, we must continually seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness and all these things shall be added to us as well. Seek ye first.

Our first priority should be training the hearts of our children to love the Lord, to love others and to really, really know God. We should be diligent to make heart training the important first in our day - a quest we purposefully and actively pursue, rather than just waiting and hoping for teachable moments to arise. Frankly, academic or extracurricular interests can quite easily become an idol to our hearts and to the hearts of our children. We find ourselves devoted to these pursuits, dedicating most of our thoughts and attention to these things. It's quite a task to make heart training a priority, but God promises that our diligence to do so will yield tremendous results: He will take care of everything else on our behalf - He will do it. He will fulfill His promises (Psalm 138:8).

When a love for God is truly cultivated, everything else, including academics and other endeavors, will fall into place. In fact, if we neglect the spiritual training, the other pursuits won't yield the fruit that God intended.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:5

Apart from God, all our efforts come to naught. Nothing. Zip. Zero. A law degree? Maybe. But in God's eyes, it's worth nothing apart from Him. If we genuinely focus our homeschooling on spiritual training, it will produce fruit, fruit far superior to that which we could ever manufacture through our own efforts. Spiritual maturity produces academic success with less effort. Spiritual Maturity allows our students to be led by their Maker into that which they were created to be, and it's always better than what we could plan or hope for.

After a year or two of relentlessly working to provide the best education and enrichment for my children - putting spiritual maturity on the back burner, I was at the end of my rope. I found myself driving slowly by the public school. Needless to say, things were not going well. My kids were fighting constantly, no one enjoyed school - including me. I realized that all the field trips we took were just an excuse for a day off and no one learned anything, no one wanted to do their work. Each day we were frantically rushing through the school work because we usually had somewhere to be in the afternoon, and anger was the flavor of ice cream I served up on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Yum.

Finally, in silent desperation, I did what we do when we find ourselves in a deep, dark pit: I gave up and fell on my face before God. With fresh revelation, I got up with a new plan - morning devotions instead of school. Yes, for a while we just gave it all up and only did devotions. We did them for more than an hour every day.

Within a short time, our entire family life changed. Peace reigned where chaos was once our dictator. Kindness marked our attitudes, and diligence began to sprout in my children's little hearts as they completed their assignments and did what they were asked. When I said it was time for school, I no longer heard the familiar groans. No amount of begging, pleading, rewarding, or threatening to call dad could have produced this behavior. It was the fruit of my children's renewed walk with God. Their faith grew as their prayer lives matured; they began to regularly pray on their own - in every situation, especially before subjects that were the most difficult.

There have been times over the years where we have fallen out of the routine of devotions - either we couldn't find a good devotional book to read, or we went on vacation and couldn't get back in the groove, or I just allowed busyness to distract us. Invariably, within a short time of neglect, things would begin to crumble again. Unfortunately, we simply can't coast on the manna we received last month - we'll ramble along for a bit before we begin to slide downward into another "Academics Attack."

If I could tell moms only one thing that would help their homeschooling, having regular morning devotions would be it. Truly, nothing else has blessed our homeschool experience more."


Becky said...

Oh gosh, thank you SO MUCH for posting this! I am stepping out on faith this year and starting to homeschool my 2 oldest boys, 1st grade and 3rd grade. I feel so inadequate and have a few people (family members) who don't think I can do it since I don't have a degree in education. But I know God wouldn't have called me to do this if He wasn't going to give me the ability. Any more posts you can do on this subject will be helpful.

Megan said...

Thanks so much for pulling all this scripture together so cohesively! One thing that also jumps out to me in the verses about daughters - pillars/columns aren't just to beautify a building, they can also serve as a support for the structure by transmitting the weight of the structure above to the foundational elements below (thanks, Wikipedia-ha!). In the same way, it seems that parents are also called to raise their daughters to be rooted in the foundation of Christ so they can better support the mission of the church and better support their families by staying firmly rooted in God. Anyways, thanks again for being willing to post your thoughts and prayers so unabashedly online - they're a real source of encouragement!

Stephanie said...

Great insight about pillars, Megan!
Women are definitely pillars in their homes- keeping them strong!

Naturally Ideal said...

I just want to encourage you at the start of your homeschooling journey. I too have 3 boys and a girl and my oldest 2 have now graduated. It was the best thing I ever could do with my life. My kids are awesome and some of it is due to me. It was so tough, but totally worth it.

I hope you don't think I'm spamming, but I want to tell you that I've written a book about my experiences. It's on Amazon and B&N and called Homeschooling Boys - Gaining Maximum Success from Minimum Cooperation. Because boys are just harder to homeschool than girls.

The easy way in life is not usually the best option. I have great kids and homeschooling was so worth it.