Thursday, August 30, 2012

7 Tools Book Club: Discovering Purpose

Chapter Four of 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential is devoted to discussing how to discover our child's purpose while maintaining an eternal perspective. 
The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

I can't stop thinking about Zan's story of teaching a class and using maps to learn about a certain area of the world.   After the class she asked a student to help her fold the maps.  Zan folded one in the time it took her helper to fold ten.  She asked him how he did it so fast.  He replied, "You gotta fold 'em the way their bent."  He had taken a few seconds to study the bends in the maps before folding them.  Zan worked against the the folds.

She said that our children are like those maps:  "We must fold them the way they're bent."  

Proverbs 22:6 says, "Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."  Chuck Swindoll says that verse could read, "Adapt the training of your children so that it is in keeping with their individual gifts or bents- the God-given characteristics built into them at birth.  When maturity comes, they will not leave the training they have received."  We should be students of our children so we can work with them the way God created them to be.  (pg. 69-70)

Further in the chapter Zan continues by saying that we should "always be watching our children to identify their true passions."  Whether these passions turn into vocations or not, is not the point.  "God can use our children's gifts and abilities, their strengths and passions, to display His glory to a watching and needy world."  (pg. 99)

Something that struck me was her thought that we also need to help our children discover their gifts and develop them so they can use them to benefit the church and society.  Yup.

Our four oldest children play soccer.  Our fifth child is a natural gymnast.  Where did that come from?   She can't stand for more than a few seconds without performing a cartwheel, handstand or the likes.  It's the way God made her.  She was recently invited to join the team at our local gym.  So now the decision is, "Do we let her spend hours at the gym, and a significant sum of money, on her 'bent'?"  After reading this chapter my inclination is to say, "Yes," although with some reservation as she is only eight years old.  I'd love more insight on this!  Comment anyone?

This chapter was jam packed with ways that parents can guide their children to discover their purpose.  As I've I said about this book should read it!

Are you working with your child(ren)'s bent?  What is the race that He set before each of your children?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

All Present.

Everybody made it to school today! 

This fall we'll have one hunter, one gymnast, three soccer players and one who wants to do all of the above.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Not everyone was in class today.

First day of school today.

This is the second year in a row that we started school "minus one".  Luke is in California, again this year, spending a week with his friend (our former neighbor) who lives in Germany and visits California every summer with his family.

It was actually easier to start the first day with only four grades to teach instead of five.  Ya think?! Also, Steve had the day off and watched Levi which allowed me to really focus on orienting the kids to the new school year.

Maybe next year I can have each child start school on a different day.  I wonder how that would work.  Oldest child on Monday, next oldest on Tuesday...

As school was about to start this morning, Levi came to me and whispered that he didn't want a babysitter to come to take care of him during school.  In the past, I've had someone come and play with him for a few hours a week so I could concentrate on some academics with the other kids.  He always wants to be in the mix and not at all separate from us.  That really is a good thing.  I wonder how I'll keep him engaged (and quiet) during school this year.  Still working on that.

Ready for some pics from the first day?

Watch the little guy on the right...trying to keep a straight face.

Still stoic on the right...

Ah ha!
13th year of homeschooling.
I hope to get a group shot with all of the kids tomorrow when Luke is back!

This year my older kids are taking quite a few courses in an online classroom.  I hope to be able to concentrate on certain subjects with certain kids instead of trying to manage most/all the classes for each child. 

How will school be different for you/your kids this year?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

7 Tools Book Club: Cultivating Intimacy

So many times I start a book and never finish it.  Thankfully, this book club and
this book are keeping me accountable and determined to finish.

This chapter on cultivating intimacy was the one I wanted to read the most.  

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

Here are some of the points that I highlighted...
  • If your parents never loved each other, "and you never saw that and absorbed it as a kid, it's hard to know how to do it."
  • "Many kids are now affected with depression.  The root of this depression is alienation.  God created people to live in fellowship with Him and with other human beings.  Alienation from God is the primary source of children's depression; alienation from family ranks a close second."  This last comment relates back to the last chapter regarding establishing identity.  After reading the last chapter, I realized how glad I am that our family has a small group ministry.  It gives our family an identity and helps to form a bond.
  • "Relationships, like gardens, require constant attention and cultivation.  Without these ingredients,  weeds will grow out of control and choke the life out of our relationships or drought will wither our relationships on the vine."
  • "Why do relationships require so much work?  Sin.  Sin results in our alienation from God and from one another."
  •  "What is intimacy?  Intimate relationships are those in which we make ourselves known to others, and they reveal themselves to us.  Today, we refer to this as community."  We see this happen in small group settings.
Four tools for cultivating inimacy:
  1. Time
  2. Personal Presence
  3. Conversation
  4. Physical Affection
Zan discusses each of these in depth.  And then ends with a bang in her conclusion.  Children mimic us (parents).  We know that.  But she teaches and admonishes by saying, "We need to be aware that children are their parents' ambassadors to the world.  They will tell the world what they have seen, heard, and learned at home." 

What ever they see us doing, they will do likewise.   Both the chapter on establishing identity and this chapter confirmed the importance of our family's small group ministry.

 When she was talking about the importance of conversation, Zan mentioned the "importance of explaining to our kids why we do what we do and using scripture in our explanations so they can begin to see that our actions are motivated by biblical principles and our love for God."  And, that we do it even when we're tired and don't want to!  Her friend used Philippians 2: 3-4 to explain to Zan's boys why Zan was making, and taking, a meal to a family in need.  "Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look out not [only] for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." 

What is one thing that you do to cultivate intimacy with your kids?  Say good night to each one?  Take each one out alone once a month? Something else?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

7 Tools Book Club: Establishing Identity

Would you agree that it is easier to read a book than it is to read a book for a book club and then post about it?  I mean, not only do you have to take the time to read, but if you are a blogger in a book club you have synthesize, analyze and then write about it.

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

Would you also agree that the later is so much more edifying and profitable?

Which brings me to chapter 2:  Establishing Identity.  Have you thought about establishing your child's identity?  I have, but not from the same perspective as Zan wrote about in this book.  In this chapter she talks about if from the perspective of establishing your family identity which in turn provides a positive identity for your child.

We live in a society that is...
"full of adults and teenagers who are random- who lack a purpose for their lives and are therefore forced to run a haphazard race rather then the race that God has set before them." 

The reason for our randomnesss, Zan says...
"stems from the fact that in large measure we have divorced ourselves from God, forgetting to worship and obey Him." 
As a result of being...
" Detached from its scriptural place of prominence and responsibility, the family has become weak and powerless, and parents have succumbed to thoughts that they are incapable of doing anything of importance in the lives of their children.  Nothing could be further from the truth."
 Those lines alone could cause one to shutter.

What can families do?  Ensure children know Whose they are.  We. Are. NOT. Random.  
 "A child needs to know who he is in a larger context than himself.  God accomplishes this by placing children into families."  (Psalm 68:6 I encourage you to look it up.)
What can families do?  That depends on your family.  Zan asked some pensive questions that got me think about our family's identity.  And, she gave the key point for me: 
"You should have some activities that are enjoyed together and not just individually...The more time you can spend together in today's fragmented, random world, the better off your children will be."
Wonderfully, Zan posed questions that made me think of what is important in our family and what type of legacy our kids will have based on that.

What were some of her questions?
  1.  Do you have a spiritual legacy in your family?
  2.  How are you currently education your children and why?
  3.  Do you eat meals together?
  4.  Do you enjoy each other's company?
  5. Do you vacation together?
  6. Do you play ball or musical instruments together?
At the very end of the chapter I love what Zan wrote:
"The work of establishing an identity for your child begins as you teach him that he is God's.  It continues when, as a family, you actively engage in seeking God, in serving others, in enjoying  one another's company, and in learning, growing, and working together.  These are meaningful pursuits that breathe a positive perspective into your child about who he is and what he can become.  As you lay down your life for him on a daily basis, you are telling him that he is worth giving your life for."

Zan's goal in writing this book was to give us direction and encouragement.  This chapter encouraged me to intentionally establish our family identity.

Do you have this book?  If not, I dare you to get it.

Are you in the 7 Tools Book Club?  If not, I double-dog dare you. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I lightened my load.

My planning was done.

Then, out of nowhere, I changed my plan.  In my last post I showed the classes my kids would be taking this year: classes my kids are taking this year

There were too many classes for me to teach.  I. Need. A. Break. 

So, I did "it" and I am so excited....

What did I do?  I signed up my three oldest kids for online classes with Tapestry of Grace.

The oldest two were already registered for literature with TOG's online classes.  In addition, I also signed up my soon-to-be 7th grade daughter for literature with them.  TOG has a great literature curriculum, but I don't always get to implement it.  Now, I know they will get all that great literary information from the TOG class.  

I also signed up my 7th and 9th graders for TOG's online history class.  My 2 oldest took history and literature online with TOG last year and I was going to teach it myself this year, but I snapped and just kept signing them up for courses!  I would have signed up my oldest for history with them too, but the class has a wait list, so I'm waiting to hear about that.

Finally, I signed all three of the oldest up for TOG's writing!  TOG has an amazing writing program.  Although I've been using IEW and I love it, I've always wanted to use TOG's writing because it is one of the best, but I just couldn't fit in preparing and teaching that class too.  (IEW's is easier to implement- IMHO.)  TOG's writing complements the literature and history curriculum so they will be writing about what they are learning about in history and literature.  (And someone else will provide feed back/grade their work too!  Yes!)

Such a heavy weight was lifted when I registered them for all of these classes.  My kids will still be using TOG, but I'll have help teaching.  I might even be able to breathe this school year.

Just in case you want to check out their online classes, here's a link:  Tapestry of Grace online classes

Now, if someone would recommend a writing class for my 10 yo 5th grade son that I don't have to teach or grade, I would be very thankful.

Do you have any classes that you "outsource"?