Sunday, May 27, 2018

Homeschooling Thoughts

Twenty years ago, I started homeschooling my oldest son, who was 10 at the time.  Last week, my youngest son had his final homeschool evaluation.  I paid his evaluator, and she signed his diploma.

Done - end of an era! 

Everyone always asks, "Which curriculum did you use?  What about high school classes?  How did you apply for college?"  I could give lots of practical advice about homeschooling.

I could also share some family the seven weeks we lived in a hotel room...or when I made a pot of soup during a biology dissection.  Use your imagination!

But, no stories, no curriculum.  Instead, I'm choosing to share these three thoughts.

First, teaching isn't difficult.  A person with a high school diploma, who's married, and has had a child...that person has enough experience to teach.  

And homeschooling has come a long way in 20 years.  I ordered my first curriculum from a catalog, through the mail.  Now courses and materials are available through the internet, YouTube, social media, homeschooling groups, co-ops, online courses

If a parent is unable to teach a certain subject, options abound to cover that subject.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.   Colossians 3:17
Second, teaching a child and raising a doesn't take a day, a week, a month, or a year.  It takes years.  Results take years.

And a child's progress shouldn't be "compared" to siblings or to other homeschooling children.  Just give it up.

My first two sons devoured books at an early age.  Al...not so much!  It took years and years to get him to read anything.  His reading appetite kicked-in during his sophomore year, when he chose to read Les Miserables, a book about grace and redemption. 
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  Matthew 6:34
And third, the coolest aspect of homeschooling is the shared experience and knowledge we gained as a family.  We read the same books, learned math and science in the same manner, watched the same teaching videos.  We cooked, cleaned, and spent time together.

Along with that shared experience, we have the same Lord, we have the same faith.  We know we're sinners, and that we sin, even against each otherAnd, we know that Jesus died for that sin, and rose again.  Being Christian, believing in Jesus, is a part of who we are as a family.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Psalm 127:3
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Eyeglasses, Time, and Dust

I've had the same eye doctor for many years.  He does a great job, and he's so predictable.  After every check-up, and before telling me how my eyes are doing, he always says, "And time marches on."

Of course, what he's saying isn't positive.  He's saying that I'm getting older, and my eyesight isn't getting any better; it's getting worse. 

This came to mind recently when I was praying through Psalm 103.
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.  Psalm 103:15-16
Time marches on... 

Since the day of my birth, time has been marching on, marching on to the grave, to "no more."
...What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  James 4:14 
It's the curse of Adam...
...for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.  Genesis 3:19
And the cry of Paul...and of me...
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Romans 7:24 
I often pray Psalm 103 from memory, but I sometimes mistakenly leave out these verses that David also prayed...
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.  Psalm 103:13-14
He knows my frame; He knows how fragile I am; He knows that I'm dust.

Even as I'm aging, as my body is failing, He knows I'm fragile...and He shows me His compassion.   

But not only my physical body, my spiritual body is also corrupted, dying because of my sin nature 

And again, David reminds me where to look; it's my Lord...
...who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.  Psalm 103:3-4  
At the cross and with the empty tomb, Jesus defeated sin and death.  He showed me His greatest compassion, mercy, and love in forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life.

"Time marches on" doesn't sound so bad - might even be a little comforting, as "Time marches on to eternity"...because my Lord knows, He loves, He cares, and...
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:26
Time marches on...Amen...Come Lord Jesus...

Monday, May 14, 2018

To Become Like Children

Our morning devotion last week was on Matthew 18.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 18:1-4 

As we discussed the passage, I was surprised to hear three very different responses to "What does it mean to become like children?"

Two of the answers were:

1. Children faithfully trust in their parents to provide and care for them.  To become like a child in faith would be to trust in God's care, without anxiety or doubt.

2. Children are often undisciplined, get into trouble, and need direction. The Christian is weak, gets into trouble, and looks to God for guidance and authority. 

Hey - that works.  Now I know how to become like a child.  Done!

Yeah, right... 

The truth is, I like to be in control and do things my way.  I put a lot of faith in myself, in my ability to care for and provide for myself.  

Didn't God give me skills, intelligence, and talents?  I don't need His guidance, authority, and certainly not His discipline.

And when something "goes wrong" in my plans, I get anxious and worry.  At those moments, moments when I should have faith, I don't have childlike trust in my God.

However, the third response to our discussion brings this all together:

3. Children are needy; they require someone to meet their every need. 

As human beings, whether children or adults, we're all in need.  And we need "Someone Greater" to supply all our needs. 

I've learned that, despite my work and success in life, I'm helpless.  I have to trust and rely on my God to provide my daily needs - from the air I breathe, to the clothes I wear, to the food I eat, and every other need in between - He provides it all.  

And, if that's not humble enough...I need the cross, I need His forgiveness.

I have no ability to keep even one of the Ten Commandments. it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  Psalm 130:3
And I do trust in Him for my salvation - I have no other choice.  I know that, in an instant, circumstances in life can leave me undone, and my reaction would be to sin.

My only hope, my only source of comfort, mercy, and forgiveness is to be a needy child, in need of my Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Captain America: Civil War

When I was a kid, I watched Super Friends - a Saturday morning cartoon with the DC Comic characters: Batman and Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman.  

Now, my husband and sons are into the Marvel movies featuring the Avengers:  Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk...and about 50 superheroes I've never heard of - at least that's how it seems!   

Lately, I've been watching these movies on DVD, trying to "catch up."

Last week, I watched Captain America: Civil War.  In this movie, Iron Man and Captain America disagree over the management of the Avengers; their dispute later escalates into a physical battle.  

As the brawl begins, the hideous supervillian Zemo reveals that he orchestrated this conflict, in an attempt to destroy the Avengers.  

As I watched the fight and Zemo's plan unfold, my heart sank as I saw how evil can triumph...and I was convicted.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12
Iron Man and Captain America both get caught up in their own viewpoints, including their passions, hurts, and lusts...they forget who they are and whom they are battling.  And they fight each other.  It's sad.

And I know about this.  I know how easy it is to blame my situation, or to blame another person, even another Christian, for whatever is bothering me, for whatever is wrong with my little corner of the world.

And even if I don't physically fight another person, I "battle" them with my words, my actions, and even my thoughts.  I forget who I am, Whose I am, and I fight the wrong enemy.

I forget my sins...
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight...Psalm 51:3-4a
I forget my Savior...
...and [Jesus] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:15
I forget His mercy...
...and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Matthew 6:12
But then, by His grace, I remember...
This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.  1 Corinthians 11:24
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:12-13

Heavenly Father,

Forgive me for forgetting, for fighting the wrong battle.  Please help me to show patience, mercy, and love to other people, and to be an encouragement to them.  

Help me to forgive, even as You forgive me, and especially during times when I'm prone to feel hurt and to react in anger.

In Jesus' name and with the Holy Spirit.