Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Most Excellent Way (1 Cor. 13)

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From time to time, Jeremiah will have the kids stand against a blank wall and take individual pictures of them just to mark their growth and changes of face over time. This time, they all jumped in together, half-clothed as usual.

I've been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching lately, as I'm sure you can tell from my last couple of posts.

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(Rohan fixing lunch.)

I want to thank everyone who left such kind and helpful comments. Even long-distance friends can form a community to encourage and strengthen one another.

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(Larkin helping with lunch.)

With so many wonderful options for homeschooling before me, I began to be overwhelmed. Which path to take? Which method is best? What do my kids need from me?

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(Zahana putting away the silverware.)

"Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge;
Take it to the Lord in prayer:
. . .
In His arms He'll take and shield thee;
Thou wilt find a solace there."

I have found a solace there.

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(Miah frying eggs.)

He has shown me, not the perfect method, but the way of Peace.

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(Zahana stirring a turmeric dye for wool.)

I tend to be always thinking of the future and on a broad scale. What is the purpose of my whole life? What great thing is it that I should be doing or will some day do for God? How can I prepare my kids to use every bit of their talents and minds and selves for the glory of God when they're all grown up? I do not lack vision. But there is something even more important than the future. It is the present. It is the moment that I live in and act in now. It is the words I speak now. It is the state of my heart and the attitude of my mind now. My kids have needs now, besides being prepared for the future. They are human souls whom God can speak to and direct, who feel and think, who love and hurt now. Their lives are not only meaningful for what they may do or become in the future. Their lives are important now. And they are individual lives with individual needs. The answer to their future success does not depend on my ability to teach or the selection of the perfect educational philosophy. It does not depend on the speed with which they master concepts or their knowledge of facts. The answer to their success lies in the revealing of the Love of God in their hearts. Thus the requirement for me, as their mother and teacher, is to focus on the immediate moment in which we live, not neglecting the vision for the future but neither prioritizing it above who they are now and their need to know the gentle love of God in their lives. So there is no conclusive revelation on the best way to do things, just a commitment to do whatever we do in the love and joy and peace with which Christ desires us to live now. In thinking so much about methods and such, I have grouped my kids together, as in "What is best for them?" What an error on my part! This isn't mass education here. Miah is Miah, and Larkin is Larkin. Each is the precious, unique individual Jesus has created them to be, and my thinking towards them should reflect that.
I had a wonderful conversation with Miah on Sunday about learning and the way we do school around here. We talked about each thing we do on a regular basis and how she feels about each one. Overall, she's pretty happy about learning. There were many things she said she liked, many things that made her smile and eager to talk, but there were three points that brought tears to her eyes. I'm going to have to work on changing them. The question comes up: does she have to like everything I think she should do? Well, no. There were things we talked about, such as copywork, that she would prefer not to do, but it didn't make her cry. I think the benefits of copywork and the very small amount I give her to do outweigh the fact that she would prefer not to. But when my seven-year-old cries when we talk about math, I definitely think some changes are in order. (Kicking myself here. Fear of math was the very thing I wanted to avoid. )
So as we go about our day, I am trying to f0cus on what we are doing and what is needed in the present moment. Not all the things I think we need to get done today. Not the fact that if we don't cover a certain amount of material today, we won't finish it all by a certain date. (Ugh, how did I come to that anyway?) It does make for less stress. And it makes for a lot more peace.
As I was waiting for my pictures to download for this post, I read a beautiful post (a confirmation) about our true teacher, the Holy Spirit. It describes the wonderful freedom we can experience in our homeschool when we realize that we are but facilitators, leading our children, individually, to God and to the things of God. I hope you will read the whole post, but here is a snippet:
"Then after quoting Isaiah 28:24-29[Charlotte Mason] says...
'In the things of science, in the things of art, in the things of practical everyday life, his God doth instruct him and doth teach him, her God doth instruct her and doth teach her. Let this be the mother's key to the whole of the education of each boy and each girl; not of her children; the Divine Spirit does not work with nouns of multitude, but with each single child. Because He is infinite, the whole world is not too great a school for this indefatigable Teacher, and because He is infinite, He is able to give the whole of his infinite attention for the whole time to each one of his multitudinous pupils. We do not sufficiently rejoice in the wealth that the infinite nature of our God brings to each of us.'"

So in the last couple of days, there has been much focus by me on the moments and on the individuality of each child. There has been work that I have directed and work that was child-led. We learned about Japan, and Miah started working on her World Heritage badge for American Heritage Girls.

Making a Japanese flag - part my direction, part her own.
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Making a Japanese fan. Reading Japanese stories.
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Writing down a book she read on her new list, a gift from a bloggy friend. (Thank you, dear friend.)
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One point that really bothered Miah was that we haven't been doing many art projects. She came up with the idea to make a Swedish village out of paper and cardboard. We looked up pictures for inspiration, then I let her go at it. She didn't finish, but I think she was just satisfied with trying.
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Larkin seems the perfect type for a project. He's still really interested in learning about the rain forest and asks plenty of questions. Whenever we go to the library, he finds this book and studies it endlessly. We brainstormed how we could learn about the rainforest. Of course, they wanted to go to the rainforest. Too bad that won't work. Then they came up with getting books from the library, researching different animals on the computer, and going to the zoo with a notebook to study any rainforest animals they have there. Larkin also wanted to look up ideas for a rainforest project online. He decided he wanted to make a display board. He's been coloring pictures of plants and animals and tacking them to a cork board.
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He also found this craft and went to work on it independently.
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Zahana, meanwhile, has been keeping herself busy with surprisingly non-destructive activities. 3 is nice. ;)
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All in all, life doesn't look much different, but it sure feels different. More relaxed. More at peace. Trusting God is good.

"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:10-14

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11 comments:

  1. Oh, this was so wonderful to read! Thank you for the awesome reminder to consider each child as an individual and *in the present moment*. I know I have been guilty of lumping the needs of my boys together in my head, especially the older two because they are so close in age and like to do so much together. But they are really quite different. I'm so glad you are finding Peace this week. :)

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  2. Good on you my friend! I really felt for you after reading your last couple of posts - I wanted to leave you an encouraging word but have been busy with guests. :) I'm glad you have come to the point of peace and trust. 2 big ingredients in a successful and non-stressful homeschool I think! :) I've always thought you are absolutely amazing... and I think you're children look very very content. I love how relaxed Larkin always looks, lounging on the table in his underwear!! :0 You are such an encouragement to others.

    Let's relax together, focus on the present moments, and TRUST God every day. And enjoy our little ones!
    God bless,
    Saminda xo

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  3. I LOVE this post, Sarah! How true and how encouraging! This is some of the exact thoughts I've been having as of late with school and just life with my family in general....take each moment as they come. Don't worry about tomorrow. Stay the course. Do what you know (based on God's Word) you are suppose to do. Use God's Word as the guide to life, learning, and everything in between! Don't get bogged down by the world, the FLESH, and the devil!

    THANK YOU!

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  4. What a beautiful, thoughtful post. I love that last picture soooo much!!

    And I'm glad M is working on the World Heritage badge. That's the one we wrote our second year as a troop and submitted because our Pioneers/Patriots wanted to do a camp where they could make foods from around the world!!

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  5. Dear Sarah...

    Your post made me teary. Your words and photos touched me. Your love for your children and our Father is so very evident. I leave here always encouraged and challenged. Whatever you do, I am confident that you are doing it with a heart that loves God.

    Thanks for making my evening!

    ~~Camie~~

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  6. I love the intensity of the children's expressions as they work. Beth

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  7. What an amazing beautiful family you have. If you fill the children's souls with God's love, don't they truly have all the need....
    I worry sometimes how I can possibly homeschool with six children (five different grades), but I know that they are thriving, despite their mother's shortcomings and I just pray for them daily and that I may spread joy and love to each of them. Your post was amazing.
    Warm wishes, Tonya

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  8. I feel like I come here and end up saying the same thing every time:
    Your children are beautiful!
    Your efforts to lead and teach are beautiful!
    Your heart is beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing as you do. Praying for you and yours today.

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  9. It is a joy and an encouragement just reading your blog...thank you.

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  10. THANK YOU!! I needed to read that today--refocus, reprioritize, remember WHY I'm homeschooling. You blessed me with this post.

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  11. I'm so glad I found your blog! You have a beautiful family and your words are so inspiring. Thanks for sharing such lovely thoughts!

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