Monday, April 28, 2014

Stuff to Ponder

I had a good block of time this weekend to catch up on my favorite blogs and articles, so I have an overflow of great things to share.  You might want to bookmark these to read later because I think they are all highly worth it.  (I use an app called Pocket to save stuff for reading when I have more time.)

Homeschooling IRL asks the provocative question, "Are You More Committed to Homeschooling or to Your Kids?"  An important question for all of us to ask.  This blog and podcast are definitely worth subscribing to.

Gracy Olmstead blogging over at The Gospel Coalition asks another one: "Should Christian Parents Ban Books?"  See if you agree with her thoughts.

And the always funny and sarcastic Matt Walsh takes on the two absolutely worst arguments against homeschooling.

Finally, a few thoughts from David Platt concerning a popular and sometimes controversial Christian book and movie that is in the news lately, to help us think carefully about how we know if Heaven Is For Real.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

10 Ways the Gospel Shapes How We Homeschool

I haven't blogged in awhile and I've been thinking about starting up again.  So I cleaned up a little, deleted a few posts and thought I would re-introduce the blog by reposting a favorite (of mine) that reminds me why this blog is called "Gospel Centered Homeschooling".

How the gospel shapes our curriculum…

1.        The gospel shows us there is one grand story in all of history:  creation, fall, redemption and restoration.  All of our curriculum: history, science, literature, logic and others should be viewed in the light of that grand story. 

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. AmenRom. 11:36

…these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31

2.       The heart of our purpose in homeschooling our kids should be to show them their role in this grand story, and to plead with them to become reconciled worshippers of the One True God.

Q:  What is the chief end of man?  A:  To glorify him and enjoy him forever.  (-Westminster Catechism)

3.       The gospel propels us outward in mission, leadership and service.  We should always be seeking to help our kids to discover their gifts and talents and the unique ways that the Lord may desire to use them to bring glory to Him and to serve others.  (Ephesians 2:10)

How the gospel shapes our approach to “The World”…

4.       The gospel tells us that we do not need to avoid the world fearfully, avoiding all contact with the “bad influence” of the lost people around us.

 He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Take heart for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  .

5.       The gospel tells us that we once were those lost people!  Romans chapter 3 reminds us that “there is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”  We are saved by grace, not by our works, not by our homeschooling, so that no one can boast.

6.       If we protect our kids from the world, it should be for the purpose of preparation to enter and engage the world.  The power to do this comes from the Holy Spirit through the new birth, not by religious observance (See Colossians chapter 2 and 3).  I fear that our protecting our kids can easily turn into becoming judgmental about all the wrong things in the world, so that we fear, hate and condemn the lost instead of having compassion on those who are enslaved to sin.

How the gospel shapes “The Rules”…

7.       The gospel reminds us that we are not saved by multiplying laws to keep ourselves from sinning.  Homeschoolers can be notorious for adding laws to follow, subtlely conveying that God will bless our efforts with our kids if we just keep all these laws.  This is a FALSE GOSPEL.  (See Galatians 1:6-7, 2:19-21, 3:1-14)

8.       The gospel reminds us that we are saved by grace, through faith. I’ve already said this in multiple forms, but it bears repeating, because I am always prone to wander!

For it is by grace, you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves – it is a gift of God, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9

How the gospel shapes our view of failure and success…

9.       The gospel reminds us that our performance is not the basis of our acceptance.  When we fail to live up to our standards, or the standards of others, we don’t have to despair.  Christ has covered all of our failures and imparts to us his righteousness – instead of despair we can have grateful joy.

10.   The gospel reminds us that all our efforts are grace-driven effort.  When we succeed, we are not proud, but humble recipients of grace from a merciful God.  There is no place for boasting in the Christian homeschool. 

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 1 Cor. 15:10

How does the gospel shape how you homeschool and in what practical ways?

You might also like this post:  More Ways the Gospel Shapes Our Homeschooling


Friday, August 24, 2012

Gospel Powered Parenting {Chapter 9}

Discipline That Preaches

The chapter this week has probably been the most practical yet, in that it has some specific steps and instructions for disciplining kids.  Farley lays out a suggested model for discipline, based on eight steps for how to connect discipline to the gospel.  His most important point, I thought, was to "use the discipline event to rehearse the gospel."  (pg. 169)  Unfortunately, he didn't give very much as to what this looks like or sounds like in a real life situation.  I have found this to be very important in my own parenting, so I have had to learn how to do this in a discipline situation.  I haven't done it perfectly - especially in the beginning.  I would say that because my previous understanding of the gospel has really been to hear  revival-type preaching, followed by an altar call where I would "re-dedicate" my life (again) to Jesus, I had a lot to overcome in learning what this meant, so that my poor kids didn't get THAT everytime they were disciplined.  In order to avoid this in your home,  I would suggest that you really dig into some resources regarding what the gospel really is about- make sure you understand it!   Explain it to your kids over and over again in non-discipline settings, so when the emotion of discipline comes about, you don't sound like a hell-fire preacher who is bent on converting their sinful souls.

Last chapter I recommended Tedd Tripp's book, Shepherding a Child's Heart, because it is so careful and thorough about presenting practical steps to follow when disciplining your child.  After reading the chapter this week, I feel even more strongly that you need to read Tripp's book to get a good handle on what Farley is saying about discipline.  I sort of felt like in this chapter that Farley had read Tripp's book, but he breifly summarized (some) of Tripp's method and moved on.  The how-to of discipline, especially the use of corporal discipline can be a very difficult subject and I don't think that Farley does it justice just to claim that it is necessary and biblical.  In this day and age, he really needs to do a more thorough job of explaining his reasoning, answering objections and helping parents to understand this in the right light.  Tripp's book does that.  Not only that, but he emphasizes other very important elements that need to be a part of discipline besides just the corporal discipline.  Tripp discusses child development, authority, biblical and unbiblical goals, unbiblical discipline methods, and then several chapters on biblical methods - three on communication, one on appeal to the conscience and one on "the rod".  This is the kind of thorough coverage of the subject of discipline methods that I appreciated as I was considering how discipline should look in our family. 

In addition to Tedd Tripp's book, I would also highly recommend Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick's book, Give Them Grace.  This book is also very specific in what a conversation with your child sounds like that "rehearses the gospel" - from everyday corrections, to specific discipline events.  Where Gospel-Powered Parenting opened my eyes to the importance of using the gospel and not just the law in my parenting, Give Them Grace and Shepherding a Child's Heart gave me specifics and practical help. 

Here are some links to the books recommended today.  I didn't use any affiliate links, because I don't want you to think I have promoted these books for my own gain.  I won't receive any compensation from your purchasing any of these books.  And you really should get them!

Give Them Grace by Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick
$7.99 for Kindle at Amazon
$9.99 for Paperback at CBD

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
$4.99 for Kindle at Amazon
$8.99 for Paperback at CBD

And this is a good (free!) video from Jessica and Elyse on the content of their book... if you want a little bit more information and insight into what it is about. 
Parenting Issues: A Mother and Daughter Perspective (Elyse Fitzgerald and Jessica Thompson)

Other book club posts can be found on the Book Club Page.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School Traditions

Last week was our first week of school for the new year.  It is our sixth year homeschooling, and our first with all three boys in grade school.  We have a 1st, 3rd and 5th grader this year!  Six years ago, when it was time to send the oldest to kindergarten, I knew I was excited about homeschooling, but still unsure about what he might be "missing".  All those first day traditions, riding the school bus for the first time, carrying a lunch box, meeting his sweet kindergarten teacher who would read "The Kissing Hand" or one of those other "back to school" first books.  I began to search for some back to school traditions for homeschoolers - I found lots of ideas, but I'm not real crafty, so our traditions became what was realistic for me and seemed the most like "us".   I also wanted it to be something pretty simple - no need to be elaborate, because it is harder to sustain elaborate.  I wanted whatever we chose to be something we could do every year.

We always have a fun breakfast, usually a special request from the boys or a "treat" like waffles with whipped cream and strawberries.  This year it was french toast and bacon, by request.

We are a music loving family, so I usually have a song picked out to play to start our school day and call everyone to the couch to start our day with the Bible.  This year our first week song was "Put on Love" from Seeds Family Worship.  You can hear it here.  It is a fun setting of Colossians 3:12,14a. 
"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience... and above all these put on Love!" 

Here are the two youngest, "puttin' it on"...

School Supplies!
It's always fun to get new "stuff"... so I save the fun school supplies for a surprise.

Oh, and a little treat, too.  (Pop Rocks, with an silly note!)

First Day Pictures!
Every year we take pictures by the same tree in the backyard, so we can see how the kids grow.  This year, since they were going on the blog, we used some "disguises" because I decided I don't really like to post individual pics of the boys on the blog for just anyone to download.

These are all pretty simple traditions, but it is fun to at least give the school year a little bit of specialness to start off.  Of course, each year has it's unique traditions too - sometimes we have a field trip the first week, sometimes a special outing or activity.  This year, we ended our "first week" with a pizza party, ice cream and movie night - celebrating our accomplishment!  (No one was very excited about starting up this year, so we needed to celebrate that it was a good week and not as bad as everyone expected.  Some years are like that.)

Your turn.... 
What traditions do you have to celebrate back-to-school?

I'm linking up today with iHomeschooling Network's "Not-Back-To-School" Blog Hop.

Monday, August 20, 2012

All I Have is Christ

I'm singing the gospel this morning with this song from Sovereign Grace running through my head...

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ -
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life!

(Song by Jordan Kauflin, copyright Sovereign Grace Music)
Hear it, buy it, get free lead sheet downloads here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Schoolroom Panic Attack

Last week I spent the week cleaning and purging our school room, moving furniture and re-stacking bookshelves with new books and school supplies.  Somewhere in the middle of all the clutter, I had a minor panic attack.  You see, like many of you who may be visiting from the "Not-Back-to-School-Blog-Hop", I have seen lots of blogs with really cute ideas of how to organize a school room - some complete with matching furniture, cute posters, tons of craft supplies and creative learning space.

I sat looking at all my mismatched desks and bookshelves, faded couches, plastic bins and dust bunnies and desperately tried to figure out how to make it look "cute" or "functional" ....or maybe just "clean".  I was suddenly overcome with discouragement.

No matter how many times I rearranged the desks, I couldn't get one corner to accomodate what I had in mind for my desk and not only did I feel my lack of appropriately sized furniture, I felt my lack of ability at working with 3-D space.  (I'm not much of an interior designer.)  I called my husband at work and much to his surprise, started sobbing... not over our lack of space or our lack of stylish furniture, but MY lack... of talent, creativity, spacial awareness, housekeeping, and decorating skills.  Have you ever had one of those snow-ball days?  Well, it didn't end there, the blizzard of self-doubt and self-pity had just begun.  (As usual when I unload my burdens on my husband, he listened empathetically and said he would help me out however he could when he got home.  Poor guy, it's hard to deal with an avalanche of feminine emotion when you are at work!)

In the past when I have had emotional meltdowns over all of my imperfections, unmet expectations and self-critical evaluations, I have eventually tried "talking to myself" using various strategies to try and crawl out of the pit.  It usually sounds something like this...

"You should be thankful for the things that you do have, think of all the people you know who don't even have a school room and wish they did."
"You should be proud that you aren't like all those other people who have to have 'fancy' things to do their school - you are thrifty, a good steward of your resources."

"You shouldn't be so hard on yourself, you should just go take a bath, or eat some chocolate, or splurge at IKEA - you deserve it!"

"You should remember that it isn't about the stuff you have but the stuff you learn that makes a good homeschool."

All of these answers have a little bit of truth to them, and some of them are definitely more "spiritual sounding" than others.  The problem is, none of them do anything to fix my wandering heart.  I may be thankful today, but my heart is prone to wander again.  Is my measure of thankfulness really the solution to the problem?  Being thrifty may be a valuable quality, but don't you think I sound a little prideful about my frugality?  Then there is the self-gratifying indulgence of my chocolate or buying binges - probably not a good long term solution.  And how long is the last argument going to last when it comes to the end of the year and I start assessing what we have learned?  I sense a whole new panic attack coming along... I'll need to get some new coping strategies... 

So where is the hope for me?  What do I really need?  I need power to change my idolatrous heart, not just more "shoulds"... laws that I can't ever live up to.  I don't need more "thankfulness", I need a Savior!  It is not the measure of my thankfulness for my "stuff"  that makes me acceptable to God, or that will make me more content.  It is the measure of Christ's sacrifice that makes me acceptable to God and it is the power of the Holy Spirit that opens my eyes to seeing CHRIST as more beautiful and more valuable than all this world and all the best school rooms have to offer.

So, I WILL be thankful, but not in my relative abundance, or in my humble lack....
I will be thankful for the gospel...  the GOOD news... will you rejoice with me?

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(Romans 5:1-11)
Thanks be to God!

As for the school room...

It's still hodgepodge, a little less dusty, a little more organized...

...and brightened by some beautiful flowers that my husband brought home for me that day. 

Not a rebuke, a lecture, a quick fix, a to-do list.
Just flowers.
Undeserved love and grace -
just like Jesus.
That's what they remind me of.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Praying for You and Your School Year

This is my prayer for my family as well as yours as you begin (or continue) your school year this year...

"...we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

(Colossians 1:9-14, ESV)