Monday, November 16, 2009

"Just wait until they're teenagers!"

As we began having children, we would often hear that ominous phrase, usually prefaced by a comment on how sweet our baby looked. "They look so sweet now," the onlooker would grant us, "but just wait until they're a teenager!"

The unspoken continuation of the thought was: then they'd become ungrateful, deceitful, aloof, disrespectful and lazy.

At some point, we calculated that for the next 20 years or so, we'll have about six "teenagers" with us. So we realized we needed a strategy to deal with teenagers.

The strategy was simple and practical: denial.

We decided years ago to not refer to our young adults as teenagers. "Teenager" is a new term crafted by those who have profited from creating a subculture with its own dress and hairstyles, music, entertainment, church programs, and speech. Rather than having a goal of being an adult, the goal of this subculture is to extend childhood.

From the Bible, we see young adulthood as a time of training for bigger and better things. After all...

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
1 Cor 13:11

"But don't they need to break away and be independent?"

We find that this thought is just fed by the non-Biblical idea that people need pride in themselves. Self confidence and self esteem. (Like the world doesn't have enough of that already?) We have observed that the biggest problem people have with young adults, and people in general, is PRIDE. The Bible has nothing good to say about pride! Pride is in fact the enemy of learning anything worth learning! The humble receive instruction, but the prideful think they know it all already...sound familiar?

As parents, we find we need to give up our pride! What regret we have of reactions and words born out of pride. Ug. As new parents, we eventually realized we were ignorant of the wealth of instruction to PARENTS found in the Bible! Likewise, for the good of our children, we need to point them to God's wealth of instruction in his Word, much given as warnings to young people (the Book of Proverbs). And when you take a look in the book, there is no doubt: pride is like cancer! Cut it out!

So anything aimed at instilling pride in our children, in their abilities, their income, appearance, potential, etc. we want to steer away from it like the plague. We sure haven't got perfect discernment and we have had regrets. The Bible says God resists the proud and that is not the boat in which we wish to be. We feel there is a real difference between feeding our children's pride versus helping them recognize that the skills and experience and knowledge and opportunities they are now gathering demonstrates God is preparing them for his service.

But back to the independence idea: We feel that, especially for those of our children who will eventually marry and have a family, gaining the feeling of "independence" can often contribute to planting selfish ways of doing things. How many parents struggle with frustration because they feel "tied down" to family responsibilities? Where does that begin? Probably from independence!

On the contrary, if a goal for our young adults is real responsibility, it seems you can't beat living at home as a young adult: learning to put others before oneself and other real Christian virtues, the real world context of a family, with increasing real responsibilities, the experience of being depended on and depending on others, the inconveniences, and stomach viruses, and just operating in a real home, preferably one with a very high person to bathroom ratio.

And further, if we follow the world's wisdom of "letting them find their way" aren't we rather just leaving them at the mercy of others who desire to influence them for evil, for self-profit (merchandisers on TV for example). How much better is God's plan...

"My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck."
Proverbs 1:8,9

So, responsibility - YES.
Independence - doing it my way - NO.

We are happily discovering God has a plan for people of all ages, even young adults. It is definitely a demanding time for all of us, primarily because of the importance of us as parents being real godly examples, and because the human tendency in ourselves and our children towards pride is real. We do feel God has given us ample opportunities to show our children a better way.

So, that is why when a stranger sees our baby and warns "Just wait until they're teenagers," it doesn't strike our hearts with fear and foreboding. Yes, parenting is always a challenge, but we are trusting that God will help us guide each one into fruitful service for Christ, which is the only thing that will last!

How wonderful that the Lord Jesus gave for us all, young and old, the example of humbling himself and being a servant.

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,
but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28

Our website contains a new pdf with some articles on this subject which we have found helpful. It's called "Training our Children for Leadership" and asks the question, "Are we training our children to be servants?".

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Random recent photos

Here are some photos in the order that they got uploaded, just to make things fun.

Joshie loves to toddle all over, and you can see the backside of his first haircut!

Here are some of the children doing a leaf journey...a favorite fall activity...hauling leaves to our compost bin using a tarp.

After cutting all the big boys' hair one evening, I sat down to rest a while. As I watched shaggy Joshie toddle by, I realized it was time. I sat him on my lap and powered up the clippers. He absolutely loved it! He got all cuddly with me! It was so precious!

Later we will post a sequence, but this is basically our old bus chassis. Today we finished scrapping it, dropping off the last load at the metal recycler...with NO accidents, praise the Lord! This was such a blessing for us, that the kids could get this done, as we are trying to sell the house, and the "broken down bus in the backyard" look does not aid in making your home attractive to buyers.

You may be wondering how we got these beams into the back of the bus to haul...

Our wonderful neighbor again came through with the lending of his acetylene torch. Solomon took to it like a fish riding a bike! It was waaaaay faster that the reciprocating saw we used for most of the bus!

In case I confused you by mentioning how we got the chunks of old bus into the back of the bus, I will remind you that we, until recently, have been a two bus family!

Here are pieces of the walls of the old bus. They were disassembled largely by popping screws off the panels. This was a great job for the younger kids, with earplugs!

Oh yeah, here is that cutie pie again, enjoying the leaves!

Here is the last of our trees to turn and shed leaves. By the time you read this, the leaves will all be gone on a leaf journey...

We hope to post more thematically organized photos soon...including those of our new source of Swiss Rolls!

Reading comprehension

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them,
I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house;
and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not,
shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house;
and it fell:
and great was the fall of it.
Matthew 7:24-27

As we continue to work with Sammy, we keep seeing amazing benefits from teaching children to read using the Bible.

Reading comprehension means that you are trying to teach the child to get information from what they are reading, that is, to understand it. In the schools, this is often tested by asking children multiple choice or fill in the blank questions. (I remember being pretty good at fill in the blank tests, because I would just scan the subject passage for words with over 3 syllables, and that was often the one.)

Everyone agrees it is pointless to labor over sounding out the words without knowing what you are reading. However, if we are just trying to follow the Bible's instruction to parents in teaching our children God's Word, it's all in the bag. We are coming to think its not even a separate step: if we are trying to follow the Bible's instructions to parents...we are teaching the WORDS and their application, reading for meaning, reading for living. Perhaps the learning is in increments, but its simultaneous, at least it seems that way.

Schools need to separate everything into TESTABLE steps. That is one of many limitations of schools, and its not because its the best way to teach a child a thing, but for the convenience of the teachers. Parents who teach their children at home are not so limited in how we teach. If we are teaching our children the word of God, we are steering towards a known point on the horizon. Is the goal literacy? No, that would fall short of the Bible's instruction. There are plenty of literate people who are lost. We have to be so careful to seek first the kingdom of God, not literacy, and not even literacy as a tool to seek the kingdom of God. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, Jesus said, and all these things (including literacy) will be added unto you.

We are really seeing the more we try to make this our focus, it really works.

We are working on the book of Job, and Sammy is doing pretty well on most of the words. In the first chapter so far, most of the words he is reading without much effort. I noted these words which he either didn't already know, or needed extra help sounding out, so we can put them in his notebook:

upright - we have an " - ight " page in his notebook, to which we added this word
eschewed - we had to sound this out and define it, old word
perfect - in sounding it out, he used the soft c sound
thousand - define
hundred - use this in thousand
yoke of oxen - I am thinking a yoke's worth is two oxen...
household - defining this word
nought - adding this to the " - ought " page in his notebook, and defining this word.

After reading through verse 3, where it says Job was the greatest of the men of the east, we stopped and looked at all the stuff we know about Job so far, what made him great? He picked out things we had read.

Now he is working on a two page spread in his notebook, where he is making pictures and copying phrases about Job and all his stuff from the first few verses of Job.

As he was reading and doing his spread, he commented that the word daughters has the "aught" sound, which we have a page for, so we are adding that. In my mind, back when we made that page, I didn't think he'd memorize it, but he does seem to remember that letter combination.

I have noticed my tendency to want to present certain things as a classroom teacher would. But many times, before I have it all laid out, Sammy already has the concept. I don't think its because he is precocious. Rather, outside the artificial confines of a classroom, things are so connected, and in a real context. It's kind of a habit we have to form: to teach children as a parent rather than as if we are a classroom teacher. Parents came first, and teachers are often just imitations for parents.

As parents, we pray our children will build their lives on a rock: hearing and doing the Word of God!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

It goes like this:

We found a twin bed and mattress and dresser for sale. It's a good price and includes delivery. Such a deal!

For the interim, we want to keep the new bed in the girls' room, even though they are good for beds right now. To fit the bed in the girls' room, we have to move the plastic storage tubs under their window. The large tub cannot be moved once its filled, and we want to put the extra blankets stored on Zak's bed in it. They are on Zak's bed because his cot is torn and he has been sleeping on the floor. So, we are going to take the full size mattress from the back of the bus and put it where Noah's cot used to be, and let Zak have Noah's cot. Zak's broken cot will go in the scrap pile, growing in the backyard. (These are old army stretchers, which we use for our trademark triple bunk beds. They are very sturdy, but still were not built to withstand daily use! Zak's only lasted 8 years...)

However, we realized that moving the full size mattress from the back of the bus into the boys' room will make it impossible to open the boys' main dresser.

So, we were going to put the full size mattress in the girls' lower bunk spot, and give Zak their cot. But if we put the mattress in the girls' room, there is no room for the new bed.

The full size mattress, coincidentally, HAS to be moved from the back of the bus so we can haul scrap metal from our old bus. It's just a coincidence it came up today. Sorry if that is confusing.

Well, so either way, Zak can get a new cot out of the deal, except, we are storing all kinds of stuff on his old broken cot. Most of it could go in a large tub in the girls' room. But, again, until we get a location for the large tub, it doesn't make sense to put it in there.

So, the temporary solution is to leave the new stuff in the driveway until we figure out where the other mattress is going to go!


After we got back with a swapped oxygen tank for the torch the boys have borrowed to chop up our old bus, we found they had moved the new dresser to the dining room and the new bed in girls' room. The mattress from the bus is stuffed up in the attic somehow...for later! However, I just remembered we still have one more dresser in the bus to bring in.

Glad we already found a home for the 5 drawer file cabinet we used to have in the bus -- that would have been really crazy.