Thursday, August 16, 2012

Teaching Your Kids the Word of God

As we are headed into a new year at home, I am getting kind of sad... sad about how fast time is starting to move. I remember when my older 3 boys were 4 years old and under, I LIVED for bed time. Those days were so hard. One day definitely seemed like a thousand years. 
But tonight when my 9 year old hugged me and said, "Momma, you are getting shorter", I wanted to ugly cry. Ugly cry because I am not getting shorter, he is GROWING SO FAST. My older boys are my friends now. They are my brothers in Christ.
We didn't take much time off school this summer. So life is just going on like normal around here. Reece gave a presentation on the Sperm Whale tonight. Bubba gave one on Jellyfish. Lake presented the map he has been working on all day.
It is beautiful.
We are learning Hebrew (the Names of God) for our foreign language.
Bubba is doing sermons for Public Speaking.
(He is working on a new one titled "Sup". It is going to be good!).

I love homeschool. I really do. It is WORK. Hard, sweaty, LABOR but I love it. 
When my older 2 boys were almost old enough to start school, I realized I wanted to teach them. I wanted to be there when they read their first words, and did their first hard math problem. I wanted to teach them the Word of God. I just really wanted to be with them...period.
I didn't really "choose" to homeschool. I just knew God was asking me to do it.

“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

Children? Raise them to be godly? Me? You’ve got the wrong girl. I think your wires got crossed and this job was suppose to go to some organized girl who has been to seminary!
But, is that who God calls? Does God call the equipped? Or does He delight in using ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  

 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.
Now, I am telling you how God has worked in MY life. I am not telling you to do things the way I do them. I am simply encouraging you to cry out to God for vision for YOUR family. You may not be a homeschool mom and THAT IS OK! My goal  is to encourage you to ask God to give you vision for your family. Asking Him to show you His best for your children.

So, here I am... A girl who got rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son He loves dancing on the water being pulled further and further away from the comfort of the boat. How was I suppose to do this? My boys were 4, 3, and 1 when I felt the tug of the Lord that it was time to start teaching them. I remember stressing out and calling some older homeschool moms saying, "I can’t do this! I have no idea what I am suppose to be doing. What curriculum do I use? How do you teach somebody how to READ? HELP ME!!!!!!!!!".

So, the big day was here. I was shaking in my boots as my 2 older boys and I marched in from the kitchen into our school room singing… “this is the day that the Lord has made”. I had no idea what I was doing. I still don’t. But, I will tell you what God has taught me during these last 5 years.

The boys and I began to memorize Scripture together. I had always struggled to memorize Scripture myself. But, as they learned it, so did I!
First, we memorized Nehemiah 9:5,6. It was just a passage I had read in my quiet time and I thought it was worshipful and cool. Next, we went on to the armor of God, and 5 years later, by God’s grace and a lot of hard work, we have memorized a whole notebook full of verses.

Often in Scripture, God will use creation or gardening to help us understand things. You know what I love about God’s Word is that He WANTS us to understand it! He doesn’t hide His meaning from us. He paints a picture so we can really get what He is saying!

John 15 says apart from Jesus, we are a Big DEAD branch. The fruit we want, we cannot pop out in our own strength. We have to be seeking God first before we attempt to teach our children. If we aren’t abiding in Christ, we cannot teach our children to abide in Him.

“Abide/ Remain in Him.” “Abide” is a synonym for fellowship. It means to remain in Him from the standpoint of drawing on His life as the source of ours and then to obey Him out of that relationship of dependence. This is the basis of rewards or the cause of their loss, the abiding, Christ-dependent life.

Most people know Deut 6 and how it teaches us to teach our children but I feel like it is easy to skip the first couple of verses…

“And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.”

Before we move on to how to teach our kids, we have to figure out where we are with the Lord. Are we abiding? do we love God with all our hearts? have we commited ourselves wholeheartedly to HIS COMMANDS?

We have to ask God to help us love Him with all our heart, soul, and strength. We simply can’t teach our kids to do that if we don’t. 

It is impossible!  

Have you ever wondered Why adults are told to put their oxygen mask on first, before their kids? 

Because there are only a few seconds of good air pressure and if  parents spend those few seconds trying to get masks on their children, both parent and child will pass out before they succeed, and then neither parents nor children will have masks on, and both could die. If a parent puts his own mask on first, and then puts his child's mask on, neither of them will be deprived of oxygen long enough to cause any problems.

I don’t know about you, but I need God’s oxygen mask. I need Him to breathe His life into ME or me and my children are going to die.
 If there is unconfessed sin in your life, confess it so you can begin to walk so intimately with the Lord. 
If you are not passionate about the Word of God and spending time with Jesus, ask Him to give you a passion for His Word.
If your heart is fully committed to Him, He will strengthen you!!!

‎"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2 Ch 16:9

 "Repeat them (what is them? God's Words) again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.  Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

We are suppose to be teaching our kids the Word of God around the clock! I have Scripture posted everywhere. We listen to Seeds music in our car. We study the Word during the day. I sometimes write it on the kids hands. It is painted on their walls. I NEED to write it on my forehead so every time my kids look at me, they see the Word. And, you know one thing I decided long ago was… “alright, God, you are calling me to teach my children at home. There is only one way I know I can’t fail. By honoring your Word. "

So, I lean heavy on the Word. All my eggs are in His basket. His Word canNOT return void.
"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."
Isaiah 55:11
 I use the Word to teach my kids to read, write, memorize, I have used it to teach them math, pronouns, sentence structure. I primarily used the Word of God until they started 4th grade. It has been awesome. It has been HARD work and it isn’t glamorous but I am seeing it bear fruit
My boys have more wisdom now than I had at 21.
My heart melts when I hear them pray. My heart melts when they bring me a lego set they just made and it is the ark of the covenant. My heart melts as I watch them GROW IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
Don't get me wrong...I have spent the majority of days feeling defeated. But, at the right time- God shows me a sprout.
I decided that if we seek first His kingdom, then He promises He will add everything else. And, God says His Word won’t return void so I am simply taking Him at His Word. 
Teaching my kids God’s Word has reminded me of being a FARMER. When a farmer sets out to sow seed in a field, it isn’t necessarily a lot of fun. He just spends long days sweating, breaking up hard ground, and sowing seed… believing that God is going to produce a crop. He waters it, he chases pests away. And, don’t forget this part… HE PATIENTLY WAITS.

“See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.” James 5:7

Don't give up if you don't see fruit immediately. Farmers don't do that and you are FARMING YOUR CHILD'S HEART. WAIT for the rains. God will bring the autumn and spring rains. Just plant the seeds... pray... and WAIT.

A verse that God is using in my life as I homeschool is... 
Psalm 144:12
"May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace."

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. I used to think God wanted to me to equip my children so that He could use them when they were adults. I was WRONG. He wants to use our kids NOW.

"your sons will be like olive shoots around your table" Ps 128:3
I looked up how to grow an olive tree.. It said  for best results, install a mini-sprinker in between the trees. WATER, WATER, WATER. And then, there was a link to read about how to “manage your crops”. Ahhhhh, won’t that be a good problem to have! When are kids are yielding so much fruit, we have to figure out how to manage it all!
As farmers, we just do what God tells us to do, pray for God to water all these seeds and protect them… and then patiently wait for God to do what He says He will do with His Word!

"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

What about our daughters?
"May our daughters be like gracefull 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;"
Do you think that it takes time to carve a pillar for a palace?

This isn’t going to happen over night.
I pray this verse over Hope every time I put her in bed. That God would sculpture her heart in palace style! I want her to be ready to be a pillar in God’s temple!
A godly wife and a help-mate to a man serving in God's temple.
I want her to bring beauty to the Church.


"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

*Grow strong
*Transplanted into the Lord’s own house!
*Still produce fruit even in old age

*They will speak about the Lord.. 
“He is my rock! There is nothing but goodness in him!”

Yes, Lord, that is what we want for our children!!

How does this happen? I'm not sure but I decided to look up how to plant a palm tree and 
listen to this…
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."

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 teach our children God’s Word. Nourishing our young plants so that they may grow deep roots and become strong!

How do we do this? 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  wholeheartedly/ 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.
This is going to require sacrifice.
Whether it is financial sacrifice or social sacrifice or time or whatever. But, I promise you being "diligent" will cost you something.

"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 that is implanted in their souls.
How much have I invested (spiritually) in my children through prayer and the Word in case I am taken "home"?
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.

"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

Now, I know you are thinking but what about history, and math,  and all the other subjects?
Well, pray and ask God to help you decide what  to use but don't let it crowd out the Word. My boys just started watching Abeka DVDs this January. I didn’t want to switch them over but we had a season of intense trials and hospitializations so I bought the dvds for them to watch in the morning and now I am freed up to spend time with my little ones and teach them the Word in the afternoons while my little ones are napping. It is a juggling act and most days I drop all my balls but I am obedient and doing my very best.
And, God is honoring it. I just had them tested and they scored way above their grade levels. Reece scored post-high school in Math Reasoning.
It reminds me of tithing. You can’t outgive God with your money and you can’t teach your kids TOO Much of God’s Word. He promises, is we seek first His Kingdom, He will give us everything we need. It is His Word that will give them life and lead them to Christ.

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

"To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." Col 1:29

If you are like me, you are scared to death that God has chosen the wrong mom for this job.
I can so relate to Moses here...
but listen to what God tells him.

"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

I want the Lord to teach my kids and I am watching HIM DO IT.

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

I want to end with a story that means a lot to me. It is a passage I fall back on often.

“Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue,  and a man with a shriveled hand was there….
 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored,”
Matt 12:9-13

If you feel like God is asking you to teach your children the Word of God but you have no idea how, if you feel inadequate, or unable. Remember this passage. Jesus asked this man to stretch out his hand. Obviously, if he could have done that in his own strength, he would have done it a long time ago. I am sure the man was looking at his deformed hand and then looking at Jesus and thinking, um… alright. I am going to stretch out my hand. As a mom can’t you relate? God is asking you to do something you cannot do. Yes, you obey and watch Him do the miracles.

You don’t have to homeschool your children to educate teach them God's Word. You will have to be intentional though. YOU CAN DO IT!
I thought this was good insight...
"The dinner table and bedtime provide opportunities to spend time as a family studying God’s Word every day. You can use this family devotion time to teach your children ways to answer the questions of the world and to think Biblically.
Of course, children need to do more than read the Bible; they need to learn how to study the Bible and how to use the Bible when confronted with skeptical attacks on the Word of God and Christianity.
Joy—Every family will encounter trials and hardships, 
but there is no circumstance that can rob us of our joy if 
we know that the key to our present welfare and future destiny
 lies in Christ alone.

Orderliness—As the apostle Paul says, 
"God is not the author of confusion but of peace" 
(I Corinthians 14:33).

Grace—A Christian home should be a safe place to mess up. 
Family members need to be reminded that love, 
not perfection, is the goal.

Service—A Christian home is tempered and flavored 
with acts of kindness, respect, humility and love.

Spiritual Disciplines—A Christ-centered home provides an 
environment in which every member of the family learns 
how to live by studying Scripture, praying and spending time in God's presence.

God's Purposes—A Christian home is a place where 
the family's goals are founded upon His values and 
the vision for the future is consistent with His plan."

Be blessed and Be encouraged!
I have got to go get in my bed that is full of tiny pieces of chips.
Thank you, God, for giving me my children!
Now, EMPOWER ME to teach them Your Word!


Anonymous said...

You are a huge inspiration! Thank you for the encouragement ~

Erin Southwell said...

I read and appreciate every word of this steph. I am so excited to start preschool with Wynn.

Stephanie said...

I don't know how I first came across your blog, but it is very encouraging to me! My children are 3, 2 and 10 mos and these days are hard! It's so refreshing to hear from somebody a few years ahead.

Anna @ The Things I'm Learning said...

This is just the greatest post! I've been praying about this very thing (scripture memorization with my boys). Thank you!