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Monday, March 25, 2013

God's Lesson Plan

March 17, 2013

This time of year is a season of reflection for our family as another school year nears its end and we start planning for the next. It is a time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. If it didn’t work, why didn’t it work? Was it bad material? Faulty instructions? Or operator error?

For the academics those questions are difficult to answer. Maybe it’s none of those; or maybe it’s all of them. What works for one family may not work for another. I have read many articles over the years that say if it doesn’t work don’t be afraid to dump the curriculum and try something else. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. I have even passed that sage knowledge on to others.

Know your child is another gem of wisdom. Identify their learning style. Study them to ascertain the optimal time of day to teach certain subjects. For instance, if your child is fidgety in the afternoons, it is probably not a good idea to do seat work. If your child is easily distracted, don’t have his work space near a picture window.

Tackle your most difficult subjects first and save the easy-breezy stuff for last. There’s nothing like trying to fight over Math at the same time the little ones are waking from their naps, you’re thinking about what’s for dinner, and phone calls start coming in because everyone knows your “school day” is almost over. Plus, saving the easy stuff for last ends the day on a positive note and that makes for a pleasant evening.

Save the extras for last. We cover the core every day, but we have a few subjects that we study that are not required at his age. If we have time to get them done, GREAT. If not, NO BIG DEAL. Life is about learning not checking off a To Do list.

So the academics are easy to sort through. Took five, maybe ten minutes to decide what to keep and what to dump, what we’re adding in next year and what will wait. But since our focus is on the eternal futures of our children, part of this season of reflection must include our training and discipleship.

I took the same approach in evaluating this part of our education and found the answers a little more straight forward.

What worked? Practically nothing! I read a daily devotional to my children in the morning after breakfast. Or at least I did until I couldn’t take the jockey for position next to Mommy, the fighting over who gets to hold the Bible while I read from the Devotional, and the covert teasing that inevitably ensued. I gave up.

Was the material bad? No. I love it and the kids love it but we just didn’t seem to be able to get through it without conflict.

Were the instructions faulty? No. It is the Word of God afterall!

Operator error? Clearly! And that is the problem across the board when it comes to training and discipleship. This year (and last) has been difficult for us. I keep thinking today will be the day I break through the fog. Today will be the day everything clicks. Today will be the day we can start building our fortress instead of excavating the foundation. But then evening comes and I wonder how it all went so wrong.

Maybe I should read the Lesson Plan again.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fallout and Recovery

Photo from Sound Doctrine Ministries

March 11, 2013

The fallout of my battle with anger is obvious. Immediately, it leaves a path of destruction and tears. In the long term it has left something more harmful.

I have children who look to me (and my husband) to see how they should behave. And I have not been a good example!

How can I tell my daughter not to act out physically when she’s upset? How can I tell my son not to yell and boss everyone about when he’s upset? How can I tell my toddler not to throw a hissy-fit when she doesn’t get her own way?

THE ANSWER IS I CAN’T! I’m a hypocrite and they know it. Do As I Say And Not As I Do has never worked in the history of mankind. I now have three little mirror images of Mommy and it ain’t pretty.

The other day I was correcting my son for pointing out a flaw in my daughter’s character. A sin really. I called him to the kitchen and quoted Matthew 7:3 :

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Now that was a real pot calling the kettle black moment. He was trying to chastise her for something he does quite regularly. But I realized so was I. Here I was trying to tell my children that anger is a sin and they needed to weed it out. But I wasn’t following my own advice. Instead I was justifying it. ‘If they would only listen’, ‘If I didn’t have to repeat myself’, ‘If they would…..’ The excuses just went on and on.

For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” – James 1:20

How could I expect the righteous of God to fill my children’s lives when the wrath of Mommy kept exploding on the scene?

So what to do with myself and my mini-mes? I knew from working through the Mommy Anger Management booklet what my physical manifestations were, but were they the same for my children? Yep! I see the fists clenching. I hear the teeth gritting and the deep breath in through the nose. And I recognize them all too well.

Now that I know they have the same manifestations, how do I help them get rid of them? As I work at undoing all the physical manifestations of my anger I feel able to undo all theirs. Now every time I see a fist clench, I open it. Every time I hear teeth gritting, I kiss their little face. Each time they hold their breath or start taking deep breaths through the nose, I tickle them.

To be perfectly honest, maybe not each and every time. After all, I am still working out my own issues. But I can tell you one thing, since actively working to diffuse the situation instead of participating in its escalation; our days have been ones of relative peace and joy.

Do we have a long road ahead? You betcha! Every day I see progress; but, I see setbacks too. It’s like doing the two-step (you know, two steps forward – one step back). It’s slow going but by God’s grace we will get there. And when we do I believe not only will I have the hearts of my children again, but so will God.

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” -  Ephesians 6:4

That goes for Moms too.