Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's A Small World

...Teaching children to think - to live - globally, and to be missions minded.  

"... and where did you learn that?"  I ask the boy who tells me, giggling, about the South Sandwich Islands.  (Apparently he finds it funny to talk about the South Sandwich Islands).
His brother chimes in before I hear an answer, "And did you know that there is an Easter Island AND a Christmas Island?"

Finally, the answer.

"We learned it in the bathroom", they answer nonchalantly.  Then they move on.  On to tales of natives and pirates in the Pacific Islands long ago, tales of missionaries and their adventures as they attempted to deliver the gospel to the lost.

I suppose, before writing further, I should explain how the children are learning of remote islands while in the bathroom....

When we moved to our now not-so-new home last year we were looking for a place for our large laminated world map.  Dan thought the living room was not the best place, and there wasn't enough wall space elsewhere, at least at child-height, so it took up residence in the main bathroom.


It has proven the best spot - I highly recommend it!  I do believe our children have learned more geography in the bathroom this year than I've taught them, even with our main focus of study being world geography this year as we work through our "My Father's World" Curriculum- Exploring Countries and Cultures.

I heard recently that a local public school doesn't teach geography until seventh grade.  How can children be expected to make connections when they don't have an understanding of the world around them?  When children can picture where a place in the world is, it's position from the equator and therefore the weather, the wildlife, the customs of the people in a given place, they can better grasp additional information that comes their way.


We enjoyed this past Sunday afternoon at my parents house.  My Dad took a recent trip to Guatemala to assist in building a school for an impoverished village, and we had the privilege of hearing of his travels.  
The boys were especially eager to hear from Grandpa the details of his experience. The boys compared and contrasted Dan's experiences serving in the Dominican Republic with Grandpa's tales of Guatemala and learned that cement is mixed in Guatemala very similarly to how it is done in the Dominican Republic.

They know that toilet paper cannot be flushed in either country and they are now especially grateful to be grandsons and nephews of plumbers!  They heard stories of orphaned children and of children who roamed the fiery dump, risking burns for scraps of food.
Their "three bite rule" (the required amount they must eat of what is put before them before they are excused to make their own peanut butter sandwich) suddenly doesn't sound quite so torturous...

The experiences shared with these boys of the reality of the world, together with the books they read have helped to open their eyes to see beyond their own little corner to the vast world that lies beyond.

Opportunities abound for further study if you are aware.

We recently finished reading a biography of Nate Saint, a pilot and missionary who was martyred alongside Jim Eliot and several other men as they attempted to reach the Aucas in Ecuador.

Just on the heels of the completion of this book, our pastor shared of his contact with a radio station in Quito.  He very graciously shared with the boys his hobby - ham radio.  The boys saw how it worked and further study revealed that Nate Saint's wife, ten years after Nate's death, married the president of HCJB (the Quito radio station with which our pastor had contact).  Our pastor did not know of our study of Ecuador, nor would it really have struck our fancy had we not had a point of reference with which to associate the information.  The boys (and I) also had a geography quiz as we tried to locate on the map all the countries from where our pastor had received QSL cards.

These connections help our children to understand, to make further connections, and to appreciate the things that are often taken for granted.  It keeps perspective to be reminded often of the ways of the rest of the world.
According to the World Health Organization, only 83% of the world has clean drinking water.  That leaves over 1 billion people with unsafe drinking water.
According to Wycliffe there are about 2100 languages without a Bible translation in their language.
Over one billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
One quarter of humanity lives without electricity.
And consider this - Global Priorities in spending in 1998 show that 8 million USD were spent on cosmetics in the US, while an additional 9 million USD was needed for water and sanitation for all!
If you need still more perspective, check out www.globalissues.org.

“One of these grand defects, as I humbly conceive, is this, that children are habituated to learning without understanding.” 
― Jonathan Edwards

Sadly, I know more geography now than I did before teaching third grade to my son(s).  I must add that even for myself, having a greater knowledge of the world- of it's places and customs- fosters a greater concern for those who live in it.  I pray that my children will not only learn, but will understand... that they'll learn to understand.

Will our children be missionaries?  If God so leads them, yes.  If not, they will at least have a heart for missions, an understanding of the vast world in which they live, perspective enough to appreciate their blessings and realization for the need to look, to think, and to give, beyond themselves.



*Photos - Bathroom wall map
                - Making a continent and oceans cake with Grandma early in the school year

Friday, February 24, 2012

Out of the Abundance

GRAND OPENING!!! 


A Fabric and Craft Supply Shop


.....

I learned to sew when just a child, looking over my mother's shoulder as she worked.  In time, she would allow me to press the pedal as she gently guided the fabric under the presser foot.  I can still hear the sigh she would make when her old machine would inevitably jam.  She would snip and untangle, and rethread the needle.  She would begin again.  Eventually, she would watch as I stitched on my own.

The year I was married my husband bought me my own machine.  A new, but simple model.

That simple machine has stitched curtains and quilts, dust ruffles and wall hangings.  It has hemmed pant legs.  It has sewn children's sweaters, hand bags and purses.  It has stitched costumes for our children to play dress up and has {unsuccessfully} patched hole-y kneed jeans.

A number of years ago, a kind woman from church, a most talented artist and beautiful quilter, passed on to me her stash of fabric.  A vast array of colors and patters, some vintage some newer, she said, "after decades of sewing you just get sick of looking through the same old materials".

I thought for sure I would use it.  Just as I {ignorantly} thought when pregnant with my first child how I would have so much time to sew when home with a baby, I have thought that I will make use of all this fabric.  Dreams of scrap quilts, of appliqué, of projects galore.  The reality is that  I have been blessed with three handsome sons.  Homeschooling three boys leaves little time for sewing.  They would rather hunt than gather anyway.

Regardless, I have saved it all.  Every scrap passed down from my mother, gifted from others, left over from every project of my own.  And so, it is out of this abundance that I open this shop, Out of the Abundance.

Abundance (n.) An overflowing fullness; ample sufficiency; great plenty; profusion; copious supply; superfluity; wealth: -- strictly applicable to quantity only, but sometimes used of number.

May this abundance be, to you, a blessing...



Sunday, January 29, 2012

The "C" Word

It has arrived at our house, once again.

The phase known to most as the "terrible twos".  Truth be told, I have always found three to be more challenging, but there are times in the life of a two year old that leave those in authority over him to think it a "terrible" phase.


I am certain that it is by God's perfect design that along with the challenges of parenting a toddler go the joy-filled and most adorable moments.

I, for one, couldn't bear the thought of missing out on the little guy folding his chubby hands, confidently offering up his sincere prayers to "Dear Dog" in order to be spared the wails of the same little one at bedtime on a day without a nap.  Or to miss out on little arms spread and held up high, the little voice exclaiming, "HOLD YOU PEAS!"  (Translation: Hold me please!) in order to avoid the inevitable mess under the high chair and the sticky fingers that no matter how many times they're wiped find their way to my favorite articles of clothing.

It's for these reasons, and many others, that I dare not call two terrible.

How does one parent through the trying times of two?

The answer is found in one word.

Consistency.

He must know that you mean what you say and you say what you mean.  Both your words and actions must match.  A toddler is brighter than he may appear.  He will not easily be sucked in by empty threats of punishment.  We must follow through, and discipline must be immediate - not a looming future threat.

Most often, the fussing of a two year old is a test.  He needs structure and limits.  He naturally will test those limits consistently, and it's our job as parents, to consistently train him to not cross them.

Only with consistent training will the little one eventually learn the limit, and learn that you are serious about upholding it.

Further, consistent prayer is needed as we train our little ones.  We need a constant supply of patience and grace as we fulfill the call to train our children well.

We have a struggle in our house lately.

Little Noah does not love bedtime.  He likes his bed, he loves the room he shares with big brother Elijah, and he loves his favorite blankets.  He goes down just fine.  He settles in, but then boredom sets in if sleep does not.  He then thinks maybe he'll peek out the door to see what he's missing.  He knows the limits of our home enough to know that discipline awaits on the other side of the door, should he venture out without need.  Regardless, he tests from time to time to be sure that limit still applies.

Thankfully, once he is asleep, he's all set aside from the occasional bad dream or soaked-through diaper, but oh the frustration of returning to that bedroom time and again to lay him back down and tuck him back in. There are evenings when there are things to be done, evenings when Dan is home and we would like to simply relax in peace.  Other nights when Dan is out and I am just waiting for days end to pick up that book I've been reading now for several months!

I know from experience, however, that the book can wait.  The chores, if done tonight, will just need doing again tomorrow, and if Dan is home I have at least the benefit of good company in consistent training and discipline and I am only then responsible for every other tuck in.

As with all phases, this one too will pass - and it will pass all too quickly!  I have learned that with consistent training, the child will learn.  He will find safety and security in the limits set and one day just around the corner, I will realize it's been a while since I've had to return to that bedroom to guide the little one back to bed.  Around the same time I will realize, with a twinge of sadness undoubtedly, that he will be praying to God instead of "dog", and no longer will he be asking to hold me.


Consistency is key.

Without it, limits are not limits set for the benefit of all, they are simply suggestions and that model inevitably leads to chaos and unruliness.  

Training without consistency is not training at all.

Without consistency, the child is given much reason to not respect your authority.  Given that God ordained that parents rule over their children, what a disservice we do our children if we do not require obedience!  If we do not require that which God requires, we lead the child to not only disobey us, but to disobey the 4th commandment!

These times, this wonderful year of two, are far more pleasant for both ourselves and our children when we train consistently - doing all things as unto the Lord - knowing that the long term benefit far outweighs the inconvenience of a few fleeting, sometimes hectic days with a two year old.

video
*This video of Noah, above, is of him fulfilling his duties as "Hershey Kiss Unwrapper" during Christmas baking.  He took his job quite seriously, and very much enjoyed it, and ate far fewer of them than I'd expected.  Contrary to popular belief, joyful and peaceful times like these can certainly be had and enjoyed with a toddler much more often that not.* 
*To view, kindly pause the music player in the left hand side bar.*

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Resolutions

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards are perhaps the greatest resolutions ever written.  The list of 70, written in the early 1700's by a preacher, theologian and missionary are still around and are as useful today as they were to this man several hundred years ago.

A recent article in the NY Times reported that by the end of January a third of those who made resolutions at the start of the new year will have broken their resolutions, and by the end of July more than half will have lapsed.

It is said that Edwards reviewed his resolutions weekly.  These meaningful and Christ centered resolutions were not limited to a one year span.  They did not fade and were not forgotten as the year passed on.  Instead, they have been passed down for generations.  Centuries.



Please take a moment to read The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards below.


Did I mention... when Edwards wrote many of these resolutions he was only 19?  An exceptional mind he was, but how we expect so little of our young adults - in all areas- the area of spiritual maturity being no exception.  Please share these with your teenaged children.  A springboard for conversation, perhaps?  Something to study and ponder alongside them?


The Resolutions


Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

Overall Life Mission1

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; “knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.” June 25 and July 13, 1723.

Good Works

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

Time Management

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.
41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
50.Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.
51.Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.
55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.
61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

Relationships

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.
33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec.26, 1722.
34. Resolved, in narration’s never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.
58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May27,and July 13, 1723.
59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July ii,and July 13.
66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

Suffering

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.

Character

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, “A faithful man who can find?” may not be partly fulfilled in me.
47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.
54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan.14′ and July ’3′ 1723.
27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

Spiritual Life

Assurance
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.
48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
The Scriptures
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
Prayer
29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
64. Resolved, when I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those “breakings of soul for the longing it hath,” of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear’, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
The Lord’s Day
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord’s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.
Vivification of Righteousness
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.
43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s, agreeable to what is to be found inSaturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.
44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan.12 and 13.1723.
Mortification of Sin and Self Examination
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.
60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination.July 4, and 13, 1723.
68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
Communion with God
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.
65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton’s 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.
Aug. 17, 1723
________
1 The subheadings and categorization are suggested by Matt Perman to increase the readability


May these resolutions be of value to us all in our daily walk.



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