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Keeping Focus
November 1, 2009
Am I Doing Enough?

Does this email strike a chord in you?

We currently do our Bible study as a family & are not using any particular text than the Bible itself and Bible commentary. It's been fun going off on rabbit trails - lately we've been reading about the Ark of the Covenant - but can you suggest a more systematic approach that can include all ages?

Lately I've felt a real sense of urgency to spend more time in the Word with my kids and to work on building even stronger relationships with each one of them. Recently I've spoken with two ladies (both Christian and one that homeschooled) who have adult children who are going through a period of rebellion. This breaks my heart to hear it and reinforces my goal to draw near to my children and let the love of the Lord shine through me. (And boy that last part is TOUGH some days ... !)

I've tried to make Bible not just another subject to cover, but to make it the base of all we do. In the winter, we sit in front of the fireplace and read aloud various passages. It amazes me how easily we launch out into discussions. I keep my commentary close by to answer questions that my kids come up with that I can't answer – and they do come up with some good ones! After our youngest son saw Raiders of the Lost Ark, he began questioning me about the Ark. This led to us finding a book on the Ark which covered archeology and various theories on what happened to it. At one point we had our measuring tape out, measuring our kitchen table to see how big the Ark was in relation to our table!

It's so easy to fall prey to the “Am I doing enough?” thoughts that dance repeatedly through my mind. But I am reminded of a book I read many years ago when I first began homeschooling – maybe it was Chris Klicka. There was a line in his book that stuck in my mind – something that went, “If you just pulled your kids out of public school and did nothing else, your kids would still be better off.”

Here's part of my response:
I think you just answered your original question. What you described is precisely what homeschooling is all about. I came across a quote from C. S. Lewis the other day: “When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” To me, the academics and life skills are the second things. Our faith is the first thing. Unlike any other faith or religion, Christianity is about relationships. It's personal.

By definition, homeschooling is meant to be personal. It's taking advantage of the “teachable moments” like the one described in the email that can have the most impact with our children because they are learning in context.

Another aspect of homeschooling this email highlights is that we as parents don't have to know the answer to every question. When we honestly admit this to our children and then let them see us researching the answer, we model humility, a teachable attitude, study skills, and zest for learning that is so vital in this age of ever-exploding information.

There's another important aspect of homeschooling that this email alludes to: it is not the end-all answer to raising perfect children. As the quote of the month says, it takes both work and vision. Just because we are raising our children in a godly home and using Christian materials in our homeschooling, does not mean that our children will automatically pick up a godly lifestyle, as if by osmosis.

In a recent article in the Home Educating Family magazine, Linda Johnson shares how they began a “systematic” teaching of the Bible. When each of their children were old enough to begin school, they gave them a thin, blank book and wrote on it: MY PRAYER JOURNAL. For the first few weeks, she would wake that child up and bring him to the kitchen table or her bedroom so that they were alone. She would write in her own prayer journal and read her Bible while the child sat beside her. She told him that she was writing to God, and asked him if he would like to do the same. The purpose in teaching this habit, she wrote, was to “soften the ground of our children's hearts by presenting God as friend and confidant. He is approachable.” She went on to give examples of how they sowed the seed, watered the soil, pulled up the weeds, until the flower unfolded.

It can be difficult, especially when you have highschool-aged children, to discern how to incorporate it all into your homeschool – academics, credits and transcripts, life skills, character, social skills, physical activities, field trips, and biblical worldview. We all struggle with the “Am I doing enough?” question in each area. There is no one, correct answer – except to say that He Who is the Answer will guide us as we come to Him. When we put this first, we will find that the other concerns are secondary. But they will not be ignored; He will show us how to develop and enhance them in light of His ways.

A short poem from Thomas á Kempis sums up this process:
     Without the Way,
          there is no going;
     Without the Truth,
          there is not knowing;
     Without the Life,
          there is no living.

Image Credit: ©Laurin Rinder - Fotolia.com
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