Friday, January 29, 2010

Brainwashing our children

Our children's ages span from 20 to 1, and so we find it necessary to repeat lessons as the younger children grow. From sit down when you eat, to don't run in the house, to measure twice, cut once.

Yesterday, the little boys and I had a discussion that is pretty familiar. It often starts as the school bus passes our house. Where are the children going? What are they doing?

Teaching our children at home began as an experiment for us, but it has developed into a way of life, and we have no other option for accomplishing what God has set before us. The necessity of being the main influence for our impressionable children, the necessity of teaching them God's Word as we go about each day, seeking to live it....there are no other options.

It is sad that educational reasons for homeschooling have eclipsed what really motivated many modern Christian parents to return to keeping children home 30 or 40 or more years ago. We attended a wedding last year, where the 80-something year old father of the FATHER of the groom was present. He was a homeschool dad. Yes, I mean the groom's grandpa! Years ago, he had been a school teacher, and decided he had to pull his children out of the school and teach them at home. It was not for mere educational reasons.

Occasionally someone will ask us if our children ever wanted to go to school. As far as we can tell, the answers is no. From an early age, we have discussed many of the realities of school. These discussions, coupled with what they know already through experience, seems to have them brainwashed. Yes, we brainwash our children! We figure, someone is going to, so it better be us!

Where are the children going? They get up early in the morning and leave their homes and go to school. If they have brothers and sisters, they will not be able to be with them unless they are the same age. If their mom just had a new baby, they will be gone all day long and only see the baby after school.

Don't they want to stay home? At first, many do. But they soon find it more fun than being home.

They will sit in a room with other children their own age. There will be a teacher there who has to try to get them all to listen and obey instructions. Nobody is allowed to be spanked for disobeying the teacher. If the teacher has problems with a certain child, they will tell the parents, but the parents are not there when the problems occur. Sometimes the child convinces their parents that they didn't really do anything wrong.

If the children do or say something bad on the playground, they will not be spanked. Usually, they will have no consequences at all. There are too many children for the teachers to keep track of all the rude talk, or pushing or other bad things. Also, the children can do bad things at school that their parents don't want them to do. The parents may never find out.

The kids who do not dress cool or act cool or are not nice looking are treated badly by most of the other children. This makes most of the children beg their parents to get them cool clothes or hair cuts or to pierce their ears, because they want to be like the other kids. Sometimes they will refuse to wear certain clothes, even if they still fit, just because the kids at school will think they are not cool. They start to think it is more important to please the other kids.

When you go to Walmart, you can see racks and racks of the same clothes. Some are immodest. But the children want to be like the cool kids, so they wear them. The stores know what will be cool and stock up. Even if they are wildly expensive, that is what the children have to have.

At school, the children don't have to do any chores. They get to play on the playground a couple of times a day. When they get home, they want to watch TV or go and play with friends. So, many parents find it is extra hard to teach them to do work, since they only time they do work is when they are home. This makes it easy for them to not want to be home.

When the children are home, it can seem the only time they have to do chores is when they are home. Guess what happens. They usually want to avoid it. Also, the parents become used to a quiet, neat house. When the children are home all week for summer vacation, some parents actually wish summer would be over so the kids would go back to school! More and more, the children learn to want to be with their friends more than their family. That's why you see so many big kids out walking around without their families.

We don't really talk much about school shootings with the children. We don't talk much about the immorality, the increasing abuse, the social engineering, and the increasing drugging of school children as a means to control behavior. Just the above is enough to inspire our children to be content with not being on the yellow bus.

Teaching our children at home has not caused us to become the perfect family. That is another reality our children have experienced! But even through our stubborn blundering, we all recognize that pressing on, hand in hand, is the best way to move ahead.

Yes, we brainwash our children. Who is brainwashing yours?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Don't ask....

....why Gideon was trying to sneak a rubber ball and a roll of duct tape into his room.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pray without ceasing

Yesterday, Joanna was giving Joshie a bath.

She asked him to close his eyes so she could wash his hair.

He closed his eyes....and bowed his head, and folded his hands!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Our miscarriage

Yesterday was a day where the Lord walked with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We had a miscarriage and I hemorrhaged. Well, I am home now and the Lord took our baby but spared me. We wanted to share our testimony of how the Lord helped us. This will not be gory, but just wanted to share how the Lord helped us.

The last week or so there had been some signs but we just prayed and waited, like we did with Joshua for 3 months. After lunch yesterday, it became obvious and I called Dave. We had lined up three appointments to pick up some free items on Craigslist. They were all in the same neighborhood. But it didn't seem wise for me to take the boys out to do that, so Dave decided he could do that.

He came home and warmed up the truck, but I was feeling like something wasn't right, so I asked him to stay. We prayed and waited, and eventually decided to head for a nearby hospital.

We have had a number of trips to the hospital that turned out to be expensive and unnecessary, so we prayed the Lord would make it obvious. I brought my bp cuff in the car and took it as we parked. Bp was low, pulse was high. So we went in.

I was feeling okay, but losing a a lot of blood. We saw the triage nurse and they did a blood test and checked bp and pulse. Pulse was high. Second time they checked blood pressure, it had dropped 40 pts. So they were concerned and told us they'd get us a room and to let them know if I felt dizzy.

Not too much later, I did. Dave let them know, and then things went fast. I passed out, was grey and cold. Dave was with me talking as they wheeled me down to a room. I had lost a lot of blood. I thought I had been awake the whole time, though I recall not being able to see at one point. But Dave said I was out and snoring! I had been thinking of each of our children and of Dave and was just waiting on the Lord.

They inverted me so my head was getting more blood and gave me IV fluids, which were refrigerated and cold. They had some heated blankets which helped with the shaking, but it was a while of waiting. They told me to keep talking and not go to sleep. Dave and I recited James 1, and then a song came to me, which had been a blessing to me while waiting for Joshua to be born:

The joy of the Lord will be my strength
I will not falter, I will not faint
He is my shepherd, I am not afraid
and the joy of the Lord is my strength

So, the Lord gave me peace and helped me. He promises to give grace and peace in our trials and He did it. Praise the Lord.

The hospital's procedure was to verify the baby is gone before doing anything that would harm the baby. So we had an ultrasound. A mother can have a lot of bleeding while still being pregnant, so it doesn't always mean that the baby is gone. So, this gave us a little hope that maybe he or she was still okay, and we waited for a while for the tech to come. But there was no baby on the ultrasound.

The OB doctor we saw was very upbeat and his accent made us think he was from a third world country. When he found out we have 13 children, he asked what religion we were. Mormon? Catholic? No, we told him, we are Christians and we believe the Bible. Next he told us: "You must make sure all your children go to college and get a good education." We told him we had a problem with that, because the colleges don't teach the fear of the Lord, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He replied, "By the age of 7, it has already been inculcated in the child to be good or bad."

After his visit, I was disconnected a little from some things, but given more medicine to help with the bleeding. It was much decreased. I was permitted to go clean up in the bathroom. For the first time, I saw my pale face. Dave said it was actually much improved from before!

I went back to bed and rested and they kept checking my blood pressure and pulse, etc. The nurse was so kind and helpful to us. Actually, everyone was. They noticed when I sat up, my pulse went up a lot, so they gave me more of the IV cold fluids and blankets. I was never given blood, but just fluids for blood volume. After waiting for that to finish, were allowed to go home, with lots of instructions.

We got home very late, after everyone was in bed. We were very thankful and talked a bit about all that had happened.

Dave got me all situated, and cozy. I have been kind of weak, but that is normal. We pray that the Lord will use this in our lives to make us be more in awe of his power and love for us. Life is so uncertain, and we need to live like any moment could be our last. We need to be ready to face our Creator and Judge and Savior.

Today, Giddy asked me, "Did our baby die?" and I said, yes. He said, "Then we will see him in heaven." And then he smiled so hard.

Monday, January 04, 2010


When Dave and I were in school, we remember using spelling workbooks, and later spelling/vocabulary workbooks. They were nice. I always liked workbooks, just that compact little fill in the blank style. Dave received the meritorious distinction of passing "Level Z" when he was a senior in high school. That was the absolute top!

For teaching our children spelling, we initially started out looking for something specific for homeschooling, not a classroom program. We kind of assumed spelling should be taught as its own subject, as that is how we learned it. We found one homeschool program that focused on root words and was customizable. It was neat, but, basically, it was the same method: isolating spelling as a subject.

However, as we sought to try to focus on God's priorities for teaching our children, we began pursuing a focus on writing for real people (letter writing). Before long, we began to discover that many components taught separately in the schools as "language arts" could be taught much easier as a unified way of completing a real task. We found that even teaching spelling could be done mostly through the letter writing process.

It just makes sense. When learning to cook, you don't isolate measuring things into cups x number of times, then proceeding to tablespoon practice, then to teaspoon practice, etc. You learn by doing a real thing. Same thing with many other tasks: sewing, building things. But in the schools, things must be regimented and isolated and easy for teachers to test.

As we pursued letter writing as a way to teach, a helpful tool by Gayle Graham, was a spelling notebook (I think its called "My Spelling Notebook"). Instead of having pre-made lists of words to work on each week, the children build their own list based on words in their writing that they don't spell correctly. The notebook she designed has pages for each spelling rule or letter sound or combo. We used this book in conjunction with proofreading the child's writing; one book is all they ever need. Find the misspelled words, write them on the page corresponding to the spelling rule or letter combo. Those are the words to work on.

In the schools, teachers must teach spelling, and many other companion skills, with the reality that most children are not doing any reading or writing outside the classroom, unless it is required by the teacher. This greatly limits the children's ability to absorb and use and therefore learn what is taught. We recall how normal it was to memorize things just to pass a test, then forgetting and going on. But our focus is not just reading and writing, but seeking to teach our children God's Word, and encouraging others through letter writing.

Since God's desire is for us to impress His Word on our children throughout the day, in various ways, we have a great reason and focus in teaching reading, writing and spelling and other related skills. But we have learned that instead of isolating things as "reading," "writing", and "spelling," we just focus on God's desire and command for us to teach them His Word. If that is our focus, "all these things" will be added (Matthew 6:33). We've really seen this in our family!

In schools, if a child has difficulty with reading or spelling, they are put in a special class and skills are further isolated and re-taught.

We have found that if a child has difficulty with reading or spelling, instead of focusing on the difficulty, we can just continue helping them to keep plodding along with their writing, for the benefit of others, and reading and learning and memorizing God's Word. With that as their focus, they just plod on at their own rate, not worrying about a test to pass, but on a task to accomplish. We've seen an older child, absorbed in writing a letter to a real person, quickly ask younger siblings how to spell a word so they could continue their writing. As time passes, this is needed less and less, because rather than focusing on the skill, they are focusing on using the skill to meet a goal. We've seen real improvement, but not by a special focus on skills. The focus remained using the skills.

Again, its like the difference between focusing on steering straight, versus steering towards the point on the horizon.

This has been one way God has really taught us that homeschooling is NOT a realm in which His Word is not the authority. As we have gone to the Lord, asking for wisdom, He is so very gracious to guide us. We are so thankful that He guides us as we lean not on our own understanding!

Friday, January 01, 2010

A new year!

The snowflakes are beginning to settle here in St Louis.

We are grateful to God for helping us through a very challenging, exciting and c c cold move from Wisconsin. Our moving in is not done, but it is amazing what the Lord has enabled us to accomplish this far. I can remember there was a point before things really got rolling that I thought to myself, "This is going to be really difficult," and it was, but thanksgiving to God really makes a difference. Dave and I are really grateful to the Lord for all the opportunities to trust Him when things did not go as planned, and to work hard through this difficult move.

We have dear friends who do dairy farming, and every day, several family members are up at 3 in the morning, snow or not, to milk and feed the cows! They work hard as a way of life. This was a child training plan decided on by the parents, who work alongside. And they sing hymns doing it! The father says, "I'm not using my children to build my business, I'm using my business to build my children." There is much wisdom in that.

We are praying for a quick sale of the house in Wisconsin. We have many wonderful memories there and know it will be a great place for the right people. The kids finished up many of the last-minute projects and took a few photos, and its looking ready to move in, for the most part.

Health wise, we are faring pretty well through all the cold and exertion. Of late, Zak is having some symptoms. Probably just worn out. I was feeling pretty queasy after my last round trip to Wisconsin. When we got back to St Louis, it just hung on, that queasy feeling. Hmmm... that familiar feeling....

And so last Friday, we informed the children we are expecting number 14! Universal hoots of glee were heard from everyone, except for Joshie (16 mos) who is totally clueless, but happy anyway. Not sure of the due date, but it is probably near August, near Joshie's 2nd birthday.

Lowest unloading height!

Praise the Lord, Dave and crew made it home after the boys did a quick but secure homemade fix on the brakes, saving us towing, parts and labor, and time! The arrived safe and sound by 10 pm, and we enjoyed a nice supper, Bible time, songs and 'SECRET DOCUMENTS' (currently reading 'East Wind' by Ruth Hunt). This morning, we sprung into action with our block the street maneuver which allows us to not do all the lifting required in Wisconsin. Many hands make light work!