Expressions from our Youngest

Expressions from our Youngest
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Monday, May 21, 2012

Make Life Meaningful Monday

Today's post over at Michelle's "Make Life Meaningful Mondays" is about "Breaking Bad News" to your children.  Her post struck a cord with me and I thought I would share my memory of breaking bad news to our kids by linking up to her blog.  Just click on the link to participate.

I distinctly remember when my two college sons were around fourth and fifth grades, my sister-in-law suddenly revealed to the family that she was gay.  My husband and I knew our position on this issue.  Nevertheless, how should we present this to our children?  Or do we go on with life like nothing is changed?

Well, we decided, after much discussion, that our sons needed to know the beauty of a normal relationship before they knew the perversion of a homosexual relationship.  Therefore, we turned to one of Pope John Paul II's encyclicals about marriage and family and began to evangelize with the boys.  Of course, this was our opportunity to discuss the birds and the bees.

John Paul II was an amazing man and his words of wisdom helped us to lift the sacrament of marriage to reflect what the Author of Life designed it to be:  between a man and woman only!  This discussion went extremely well and both my husband and I were adamant about the beauty of a heterosexual relationship within a traditional marriage.

We let the boys digest this for about a week before we revealed the truth about their Aunt.  Unfortunately, we had to discontinue letting her babysit for us and limit her visits with the kids.  We also had two younger daughters to worry about too.

Unfortunately, homosexuality is a perversion of the relationship between two (or how ever many) people.  If our children became too attached to their Aunt, they would be devastated about her chosen life style.  In fact, a close relationship with her may have fostered an acceptance or approval of her behavior at such a young age.  This is what the public schools do.  Why were we homeschooling anyway?

My husband and I were hurt at first but knew that the main reason we had to draw the line - so to speak -was for our children.  Eventually, we eased into respecting each others opinions but agreed to disagree.  Our children needed to learn how to do this too by perceiving the situation with the eyes of faith.

I remember how torn apart my husband and I felt when she initially exposed her true intentions.  We felt bad for my mother-in-law because my sister-in-law was in a celebration-type of mood at the time while the rest of us were very worried and concerned.  Anyway, we've grown a lot since then and the children are very respectful when we see my sister-in-law but deep inside:  they know the truth!  And no - they are not homophobic.

Shepherding a Child's Heart

I'm participating in Amanda Pelser's book club for Tedd Tripp's book called "Shepherding a Child's Heart."  Today I will discuss Chapter 12:  Embracing Biblical Methods - Appeal to Conscience and Chapter 13:  Shepherding the Heart - Summarized.

Most all people (except some with serious handicaps) have a conscience or "the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good." (Webster)  I ask you, what is right and what is good?  Who is going to set the standard for your family?  God is the Author of life and He is the one who instructs us on all that is right and good.  This is why it is so so so beneficial to expose our children to our Christian faith backed by God's Word.

When our children are trained in the Lord's ways under the grace of the Holy Spirit, they are attracted to what is true and beautiful and take offense to ways that violate God's Word.  This will stir them to act virtuously.

Our words and our ways are not the organ of discipline.  We need the Lord's direction and protection.  Children will not hear a parent who spouts off words in anger when they disobey, backed by more words, backed by more words.  The rod may be applied to a child only (Proverbs 23: 13-14) if necessary.  Nevertheless, it is the Love from the Lord that will direct our children toward virtuous Christian living and eternal life in heaven.

In fact, our conscience is deeply tied to our purpose in life, which is:  to know, to love, and to serve the Lord.  Our conduct, intentions, and characters will more naturally fulfill this life-giving purpose when we are trained in the ways of the Lord.

Conscience is also a "sensitive regard to fairness or justice." (Webster)  Parents do not want to only appeal to this part of their child's consciousness.  I've witnessed some children in classroom situations where they are overly concerned with what is fair.  They often end up complaining too much because they compare themselves against others or one group against another group.  The virtues received from instruction in the Lord's ways has a way of lifting us out of this selfish tendency to think everyone has to be the same or there is something 'unfair.'  We begin to appreciate the differences in each other.  It is good to be fair but not overly obsessed with it.  You can see that even some adults today have never outgrown this perception in life (cough cough).

The Lord knows we are sinners and so must we... then we will have an awareness that all need his guidance.  Therefore, we need to compare ourselves (and others) to the standards of the Lord so that we stop comparing eachother and start loving our neighbors like good disciples.  The Lord's children are happy with what they have and humble in their relationships.

Occasionally, parents will have to "work back from behavior to the heart" to "expose heart struggles." (p. 126) These struggles should focus on an attempt to strengthen our relationship with the Lord.  Once this relationship is firmly established, our children will "know the true nature of reality" (p. 126) and be well on their way to "knowing themselves" (p. 126) as members of God's loving family.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Homeschool Week

Journal Writing
I am sharing my homeschool week by linking up to The Homeschool Mother's Journal at Homeschool Chick.  I am amazed we were able to get anything done this week because there were so many outside activities we were committed to.  In any event, it was a productive week spiritually, socially and academically.

In my life this week (includes places we've been/people we've seen)...

Monday we had our last middle school co-op class for the year at our house where the girls learn physics and history.  I teach the girls history and we learned about the spread of communism during the Cold War years with highlights of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  These were rough times for our country and many held unpatriotic attitudes detrimental to effective progress.  In fact, it was the liberal leadership in our country who assisted the communists who were trying to take over South Korea and South Vietnam.  It was a great lesson for the girls.  Afterwards, one of the girls had a sleepover with my daughter.  I woke them up early to say the rosary with EWTN and make pancakes for breakfast.  (And they thought they were going to be able to sleep all day - ha!)

Tuesday we celebrated my husband's birthday complete with homemade cake and birthday cards.  It's great this time of year before the mosquitos come because we can eat outside on the sun deck.  Hubby was pleased with the celebration.  Two of my kids got their haircuts also.

Wednesday we met for the kindergarten co-op at a friends house and had our last Challenge Girls Club celebration.  The kindergarten boys learned about the second Glorious Mystery:  The Ascension.  I made sure I pointed out the difference between The Resurrection and The Ascension.  Afterwards, we prayed a decade of the rosary.  The Challenge Club was very nice too.  The girls prepared a great buffet for the moms and awards were given out.  Mothers and daughters also said the rosary together in a prayer garden.  Some girls put on a skit and some made up a song for the moms.  There was an interesting film we viewed that was o.k. but a bit odd.  Anyway, you can view it here   and decide for yourself.

Four boys in Kindergarten Co-op
Thursday I had two doctor appointments and we bought some great clothes/shoes from a consignment shop.  I may have to get a hysterectomy if my hyperplasia is not cleared up...please pray!  (This is on top of the many other ailments I am currently experiencing.  Oh joy!)

Friday and Saturday my daughter performed in three different recitals for ballet.  It worked out great because I was a 'backstage mom' for her ballet class.  During this time, I was able to organize and summarize some of the work my daughter did this year to keep for memories and prepare for neat storage in files.  The girls were very well behaved and required minimal maintenance so that I was able to get a lot done.  I also ran into an old dear friend at one of the shows.  She informed me that her sister just had a masectomy.  I was very close to both of them when I was young.  I have something else to pray for now.  I was able to talk to her oldest son and meet his new wife.  What a handsome young couple they were!  It was good to see her.

My daughter is second from the right.  I cried when they performed because they looked so beautiful.

Sunday (today) my two daughters and I attended Mass together than joined grandma at a mother-daughter luncheon.  We had such a good time together.  A sister told us about 'Our Lady of the Smiles' and the Little Flower.  It was so interesting as I never knew St. Therese was known for her smile.  We also learned that she is the patron Saint of missionaries even though she never became a missionary.  This is because she constantly prayed for missionaries.  After the luncheon, grandma showed us some old pictures of great, great grandma and grandpa.  My grandma Corine created a beautiful picture album.  We also learned about great, great, great grandma who was a widow who raised three girls.  She didn't remarry until the youngest daughter graduated from high school (who was my grandma Corine).  She became a widow some time after this again and married someone with the same last name we have:  Miller.

In our homeschool week (our homeschool efforts are not hurtful drills but help establish virtue into our characters and relationships)...

Religion - Scenarios and Bible Verses from and lesson on St. Therese

Math - Parallelograms; Fraction Chart and Multiplying Three Fractions; Exponents and Writing Decimal Numbers as Fractions

History - Took notes and discussed the Cold War years

Physics - Compasses, Magnets, Electricity

Writing - Finished Final Draft on "Lifelong Promises" and completed Dress Ups and Sentence Starters

Reading - The Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman

Art - Sketched and colored beautiful rose and made up poem for Dad's birthday card.  Also observed landscape portrait by George Inness of Lackawanna Valley, PA.  Then made a diorama of a panoramic view of Ocean City, Maryland where our beach house is located.  (You know she is thinking about summer time!)

My daughter added palm trees and beach towels later.

Latin - Derivative Detective (p.57); Studied Vocabulary Words; First, Second, and Third Declensions; and Tenses of Verbs; and was quized orally.

Music - Piano Lesson and Guild

Phys. Ed. - 1 Dress Rehearsal and 3 Recitals for ballet

I'm inspired by...the growing relationship between my two daughters.  They are getting to be so funny together!  I always tell them that I wish I had a sister.

My favorite thing this week...was seeing the tears in my mother's eyes as she told my daughters about the old pictures we were looking at together.

Things I'm working on...organizing and cleaning with the end of the school year upon us and my two college sons home.

Questions/thoughts I have...In my organizing activities, I've discovered that my middle schooler has averaged about 12 papers and/or book reports a year.  Does this sound like enough to you?  How many does your middle schooler complete in a year?

I'm reading...Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

I'm cooking...Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and beans

I'm grateful for...completing my curriculum review with another homeschooler and sending it off to my umbrella group to finalize the year.  I also registered my first grader for next year.

I'm praying for...I think I pray every day for our country.  In fact, we saw a huge, huge, huge American flag outside of Hancock on Route 70 returning from my mother's house.  It was so extremely beautiful and I thought I could see my father helping flap it in the breeze (He was in the navy for 27 years and passed away not too long ago).  Am I silly?  I swear I felt his presence...or the Lord's.

A photo to share...
Mother's Day

At the Pet Shop

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eileen is Grateful

Every Wednesday Judy's blog at A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings gives us the opportunity to express five of the Lord's blessings upon us in which we are extremely grateful.  These are worthy moments in time to share with eachother and remember.  Please click on the link to participate (to be added soon).

1)  I am so thankful for the speaker that came to my daughter's high school from the Archdiocese of Washington to talk to the girls about religious freedom.  She was extremely intelligent and insightful referencing current events and court cases in which our religious freedom is under assault.  It was a great benefit for the high school girls to hear her words of wisdom that honor our American traditions and Catholic faith.

2)  I am grateful for the teaching moments encountered with my middle school daughter in history where her text book referenced the National Organization for Women (NOW) while studying about the 60's and 70's.  With all the fuss Obama is trying to make about 'women's rights,' she brought up NOW verbally with me and I was able to instruct her on some of their faulty principles.  She knows the truth about the true dignity of women as referred to by the Great Pope John Paul II in one of his many encyclicals.

3)  I am very thankful for my daughter's high school theology teacher.  Her class viewed a film about homosexuality which was tolerant towards the sinner but unacceptable to the behavior.  The film showed real current events where homosexuals displayed violence towards Christians - this is not tolerance in which they claim to be the experts.  She knows the truth.

4)  I am grateful that I was able to bring my daughter and her friend to the mall for a couple hours this past weekend.  While they were shopping, I sat in a restaurant and prepared my lesson for my middle schooler history class the next day.  It was beautiful weather and I was able to sit outside with a yummy smoothie.

5)  I am very thankful for the peaceful Mother's Day celebration we had on Sunday and the great birthday celebration for my husband yesterday.  The cake turned out great because we used a lot of butter to keep it from sticking on the pans.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Simple Woman

Today I'm going to participate in The Simple Woman's Daybook even though I'm not quite sure how to hook up to the correct post.

Outside My Window...there has been a soft and steady rain all day long here in Maryland.

I Am Thinking...that yesterday for Mother's Day was very relaxing and pleasant to spend time with my husband and three children.  Hubby bought a new table and two lounge chairs for the back sun deck and we ate dinner out there and took peaceful rests in the lounge chairs while our children played in the hose together.  My two college sons also called me in the morning and wished me a happy Mother's Day.  They will be home for the summer in another week.

I Am Thankful for...the wonderful friends who came to our middle school co-op today - even in the rain!  It was great to talk to other moms and hear the children bond and play.  The classes went well.

From the Learning we discussed the Cold War years in history and discovered the past evils of Communism.

From the Kitchen...we are having pizza tonight because we have to attend my daughter's dress rehearsal for her ballet class.

I am jeans, a purple shirt, and flip flops.  I have 'rainy weather hair' which means I just let it go so it is very wavy.

I am Creating...a journal writing plan for the first grade co-op next year.

I am travel 45 minutes in this rainy weather to get to my daughter's dress rehearsal tonight - yuck!

I am Reading...Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

I am Hoping...that I can wake up my daughter and her friend who is sleeping over up tomorrow morning.

I am Wondering...why Communism has been so successful.

I am Hearing...the rain coming down and the kids talking downstairs while a t.v. show is on.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Monday is my daughter's dress rehearsal and sleepover with a friend, Tuesday we get our hair cuts and have piano lessons, Wednesday is the kindergarten co-op, Thursday I have two doctor appointments and I have to pick my daughter up from school, Friday we have a piano guild and my daughter's first dance recital, Saturday we have two more dance recitals and I am a 'backstage mom,' and Sunday my daughters and I meet grandma for a Mother-Daughter luncheon at her Church.

I am pondering...that this is going to be a very busy week and I hope I don't forget anything.  I'm usually not this busy going out and about to places.

Some quotes to share...

Let words be a search to reveal truth.

The whole world is a stage and we all have stage fright.

Progress has to do with direction more than speed.

If you think you have no faults, you have at least one.

Be grateful for what you have, rather than regretful for what you haven't.

The manner of giving means more than the gift.

Shepherding a Child's Heart

I'm really enjoying Tedd Tripp's book called Shepherding a Child's Heart for Amanda Pelser's book club.  Last week we had the opportunity to post our thoughts on Chapter 10:  Embracing Biblical Methods-A Life of Communication and Chapter 11:  Embracing Biblical Methods-The Rod.  Just click on the link to participate.  I would like to share my thoughts on these chapters with you.

Tedd Tripp points out that parents who frequently incorporate sacred scripture and use "careful, timely, measured, and controlled" discipline are on their way to ensure their children know the greatest love story ever told.  In turn, this fosters the construction of their childrens' own love stories which reflects a Christian witness in life.  Some ways the Lord's loving story of redemption can be written onto the hearts of our children are through parental involvement in:

1) hearing and acting on God's Word;

2) utilizing the "rod of discipline to drive folly out of the hearts of our children" (p. 105 and Prov. 22:15) which fosters:
          -  witnessing of the "parental exercise" (p. 108) in God-given authority which
              honors and strengthens the parent-child relationship,
          -  portrays a serious "act of faith" (p. 109) to emulate,
          -  shows an "act of faithfulness (commitment) toward the children" which strengthens trust, (p. 109)
          -  shows a parent's determination to "act as God's representative" which fosters purpose-driven
              lives under God's authority, (p. 109)
          -  requires application of discretion used to administer the "proper measure of punishment," (p. 110)
          -  and "rescues" (p.110) children from becoming 'lost sheep' or loosing their souls - yes...parents are
              like little saviors.

3) We need to remember that communication and the rod are part of the picture.  There are other avenues available to parents too.  For example, participation in Church events can provide the family with wholesome service opportunities, relationships, activities, and sacramental blessings within their Christian community of believers.  This too creates memorable heart-felt desire for descipleship.  For the purposes of the book club though, we are focused on these two chapters for now.

Tedd Tripp has a marvelous approach to elevating our marital responsibilities to their designed order by applying biblical wisdom to the process of parenting.  Committed parents "model the dynamics of the Christian life" (p. 95) and so must their children.  The children are to become active participants in God's ways and must be included into the Christian unity of the family.   I've witnessed the stress one wayward child can cause to the entire family.  Believe is not pretty!  This is why it is so critical to "shepherd the hearts" of our children in order to let the love of Christ be the 'nucleus' or 'powerhouse' in  family life.  This takes tremendous time, patience, sacrifice, commitment, dedication, discipleship, name it!

Oftentimes, parents have to be willing to "drop everything else" (p. 94) to devote "time" (p. 94) and offer "flexibility" (p. 94) in their schedules in order to capitalize on a teachable moment...especially while their children are very young.  This is one of the reasons we've chosen to homeschool our children during their early years.  It has given us real leadership and freedom in how we manage the time and members of our family.  Even "the physical and spiritual energy" (p. 95) required for in-depth communication is enhanced through homeschooling with more time available to rest and pray.  Or would you rather be frantically driving all over town to meet someone else's schedule?  This is especially detrimental to very young children and their need for smooth transitions.

Parents who "encourage the faith" (p. 94) in their children will expose them to true wisdom which is knowledge in relationship to God.  It is only through true wisdom that an objective perception of reality is encountered in one's vision for life.  When the Lord is placed at the very center of family life, faith can ignite a fire of loving communication in every word, thought, and deed which elevates our desires to be 'one' in union with Christ without which our days are meaningless.  Our children desire to live out this 'dance of love' even when they leave the safety of our homes.  This is the whole meaning of the redemptive love of Christ and the power of the Holy Cross which helps the faithful fulfill their purpose in life in knowing, loving, and serving the Lord.  This life-giving purpose sets us on a path to our redemption and restores our friendship with God through his mercy and forgiveness.  Parents are the life-giving and unreplaceable instruments in the hands of God to teach these faith-centered realities to their children.

With the Lord's centrality to family life in mind, our parental authority reflects the love of Our Heavenly Father and has a great influence on our children.  God intentionally designed family relationships for parents to have the most "authority" (p. 97) over their youngest children when their minds are the most impressionable.  This is critical to be aware of because our children are not born "ethically and morally neutral" (p. 105), but we are all born with original "sin" on our souls. Most everyone has witnessed a toddler who says, "mine, mine" or "I want, I want" too much.  Our children should learn that living under God's loving authority by obeying their parents helps to eliminate the "foolishness of hearts" (p. 106) when one is "driven by their own 'selfish' wants and desires." (p. 106)  Selfishness leads to the downfall of many and parents are "mandated by God" (p. 110) to replace this attitude with love of neighbor into the hearts of their children.

I can remember when my older son was an infant and my father was watching me take care of him for a few minutes.  He said, "babies are takers.  This is all they know how to do yet."  He was witnessing how I continually had to give the baby all my time to feed, dress, and entertain him.  When the baby was unhappy, it was usually because he wanted something that needed my time and assistance.  Oftentimes, calming a cranky toddler may require discipline "employed as a God-given remedy" (p. 107) from a "faithful parent." No one else has this grace-filled ability from the Lord...not even a teacher.  "Rebellion" in the heart of a child, if "left unchallenged" (p. 107) can become a dangerous obstacle on their path to salvation in the Lord.

I can remember moments where I would have to try and properly balance serious communication while reading bible verses with moments of discipline to instill in my children a proper respect and attitude for the Word of God.  My children quickly learned that they could not fool around or giggle while we spoke about our faith or read from the bible.  In fact I'm going through the same process again with my five year old while I'm teaching his co-op class.  Gentle reminders pop up to help the children to remember to sit still and focus on prayers and lessons about the faith.

When we hear the voice of the Lord during our most impressionable and formidable years, we develop a stronger allegance to recognizing and following this voice of the 'Good Shepherd'...even into our adult years.  Adult choices will more naturally reflect the love of God.  We have been given a firm foundation from Christian parents to enhance our focus and recognition on the ways of the Lord from our earliest and most impressionable years.  Our first love has created unshakable memories and becomes a powerful adherance to life-long commitments in discipleship.  Therefore, we end up loving the Lord who melts away the selfish wants and desires of childhood and prepares us with a Christian vision to put the needs of others first.  Families who work to know, love, and serve the Lord will acquire the beauty and virtue to want and desire God's loving will (vs. their own will) for themselves and for all of humanity.

These families are more apt to have children who willingly agree to their parental influence through the years which directs them to enter full-fledged mature Christian discipleship.  This requires a commitment to live according to God's will to the best of their abilities. Parents can be instrumental in developing these abilities along side the Lord by living and communicating a way of life that mirrors authentic Christianity.  Children learn to trust parents because they've invested their lives around putting the needs of their children before their own.  This portrays the highest level of communicating an unforgettable and desirable language of love in family life.  Words to communicate are powerful and so are silent, humble, compassionate actions.  Therefore, families should frequently make time for prayer and Christian-oriented communication through action, instruction, and discipline to direct family members toward discipleship.

Tedd Tripp explains these same concepts in "Shepherding a Child's Heart" and I highly recommend this book to all parents.  He gives very constructive information and refers to biblical passages often to assist parents in gaining the confidence to fulfill their parental responsibilities.

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Homeschool Week

It's a great opportunity to record and share the events that happened during your homeschool week by joining The Homeschool Mother's Journal over at Homeschool Chick.  Just click on this link.  Here is a record of two weeks ago (sorry so late-technical problems) homeschooling:

In My Life this Week...It was a great week even though I experienced some pain every day in my hands and feet.

On Wednesday, we took a field trip to visit two big brothers in college.  It was great fun.  After my son's girlfriend and I parked the car, we had to get the security card to enter the dorm building.  My son puts the card in a glove and throws it down to his girlfriend from the fifth floor so she can use it to enter the building.  I thought this was so funny...just like my son to think of this.

We were able to see their pet gerbils and watch the fish in the water fountain at the Catholic Student Center.  It was better than being at the zoo.  My sons and one of their girlfriends were so hospitable to us while we were there.  It was great to see them and spend time in their environment.  If I get a chance later, I will post some pictures of our trip but am having some technical difficulties.

On Friday, we visited good friends for our homescool co-op.  The kids had a great time.  We focused on the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary for our journal entries and prayed a decade.  We also made an agreement to continue the co-op next year for our sons.  I will still be teaching Journal Writing, but we will have to begin to write more in first grade next year.  One of the other moms will have to come up with another subject to teach.

My Homeschool Week...

Math - Middle School:  Corrections; Using Prime Factorization to Reduce Fractions; Dividing Mixed Numbers; Lengths of Segments and Complementary and Supplementary Angles; (Kindergarten - Addition and Subtraction with manipulatives).

English - (Kindergarten - Phonics:  reading, long I, rhyming words, short/long vowels).

Religion - Morning Offering and Rosary every day; Reviewed/researched vocabulary in ten bible verses regarding speech; (Kindergarten - Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, 1 decade, and review of Creation).

History - (Kindergarten - Using directions on a globe and following directions to color a globe, marking poles, and equator; Drawing, coloring, and labeling own globe).

Science - (Kindergarten - Observing and identifying different kinds of weather; using symbols to indicate weather; identifying appropriate dress for different kinds of weather).

Writing - Middle School:  Final edits on paper "The Gold Bread" and revised Dress Ups and Sentence Starters; (Kindergarten - Three Journal Entries / see Reading).

Reading - Middle School:  Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman and The Journey by Peter Kreeft; (Kindergarten - Thunder Boomer by Shutla Crum and bible verses about laughter; Dimity Dumpty-The Story of Humpty's Little Sister by Bob Graham with reference to the Good Samaritan.

Latin - Middle School:  Parsing, diagramming, and translating sentences; Quized on Vocabulary Chapters 1-3 and First, Second, and Third Declensions.

Music - Piano Lesson

Phys. Ed. - Ballet Lesson

I am inspired high school daughter, Kristen, who has handled a very sensitive issue with friends at her school in a very mature and virtuous manner.  I am so proud of her and, here at home, we are always praying for Kristen and all of her friends.

Things I'm Working on...Grading my eighth graders Math and figuring out how to copy pictures from CD to the computer so they can be rotated.  This new blogger won't let me rotate my pictures.  That is why my post is so late - sorry.

I'm Reading...Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

What's Working/Not Working...Our summer schedule of Latin, Math, and Writing is working out extremely well.

I'm grateful for...The beautiful weather we had Saturday morning.  I went for two walks; sat out on our deck with hubby; wore shorts; did exercises, stretches, sit ups and lifted weights; and did not like the mosquito bite I got on my arm (we have a pond behind our yard).

Friday, May 4, 2012

Shepherding a Child's Heart

Amenda Pelser's book club on Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp has an opportunity this week to analyze Chapter 8:  Embracing Biblical Methods - Communication and Chapter 9:  Embracing Biblical Methods - Types of Communication.  These chapters really spoke to my heart because communication with the young has been stressed in my own homeschooling methodology.  Just click on the link to participate.

I would like to start out with this quote:  "When children are little, we often fail to engage them in significant conversation.  When they try to engage us, we respond with uninterested uh-huh's.  Eventually, they learn the ropes.  They realize that we are not interested in what goes on in them.  They learn that a 'good talk' for us is a 'good listen' for them." (p. 76)  Children are some of the smartest people in the world when they are listened to and instructed with loving care.  Sometimes I would much rather talk to beautiful children rather than stuffy adults.  Parents need to find ways of engaging them in the truth about life of which God is the Author.

Our children do learn from hearing God's wisdom, as the priority, and also hearing our wisdom when we are committed to following the Faith.  Furthermore, our children have to learn to apply this wisdom to their own lives and to the world they observe around them.  This is why my approach to journal writing for the very young has been so effective for my children (  The children learn to express and act on the abundance of their hearts through the use of stories and biblical realities, oftentimes, before any bad behavior occurs and correction needs to take place.  Therefore, Nucleus of Life (NOL) is preventive because it avoids just turning to God's assistance as a reaction to behavior but rather equips children with internal wisdom of the heart to discern the appropriate behavior in various situations by providing them conceptual experience from an engaging story to apply to God's Word.  One of the reasons many children may find it a challenge to write or communicate is their lack of knowledge or experience in which they can retrieve information.  Why not incorporate good stories into lessons to foster conceptual information from which they can draw on to communicate...both in writing and verbally?

To begin, Mr. Tripp says, "You need to look at the world through his or her eyes." (p. 79)  What better way to engage your very young child to life events through good stories in picture books?  In fact, this is one of the methods used by the greatest Teacher Himself...the use of parables.  Sometimes it is very challenging for the young to grasp just text on a page from a book.  There are many great picture books to get them started in understanding concepts and fostering communication skills through dialogue about stories.  In fact, there is no telling where your dialogue will take you when God's Wisdom is applied to lessons.  It can open up the greatest of discoveries in life.

For example, I just read "Clever Jack takes the Cake" by Candice Fleming to my five year old. 

After the story, I asked him..."What would you tell a friend if he asked you 'what this story was about?'"  While I was asking him, I turned to the page with the written invitation from the king on it and asked, "Who wrote this invitation?"  (He knew what an invitation was)

He said, "the king" wrote it. 

Then I asked, "Who received it?"  He said, "He invited the poor boy to the party."  (We've been doing this for two years now.) 

Then I asked him, "Was the king rich or poor?"  He said, the king was "rich."  I said, "O.K. - there's your sentence." 

He said, "The rich king invited the poor boy to the party."  I wrote it down on an index card to remember it for the following day when he writes it in his journal.

The next step was to open the bible to Luke 14:12-24 to introduce the parable about the master inviting the poor to his banquet.  This fostered our dialogue to focus on the right way to treat the poor and the true intentions to have when we serve others because scripture provides the appropriate heart-induced instruction for behavior.  Dialogue opens up to biblical realities which expands one's thoughts to focus on what is beautiful and good. 

The following day he went to write his sentence without any help or assistance from me at all.  He even retrieved it from his own memory.  This is awesome to see at five years old.  Anyone can do this.  At this age, kids are smarter than we think and just soke up knowlege when it is presented in a friendly way.  Sometimes, we turn to God's Word before he composes a sentence if he is having trouble expressing his thought.  This gives him valuable information too that enhances his rhetorical skills.

If I just read the parable to him at this age, he would not have been able to focus effectively enough on its true meaning.  The story book added an attractive concept to his understanding of the parable and greatly pre-exposed him to good information in an enjoyable way.  Also, the tasks of reading, drawing, coloring and writing about the story and parable enables him to think about the lesson for a longer period of time.  Every mother knows the challenge it is with the short attention spans of their young ones.  During this longer period, he is internally 'soaking up' the lesson.  Yes, like a sponge.

Mr. Tripp also mentions other areas "to help your child understand himself:"

1)  Developing "skills" (p. 79) - In drawing/coloring, writing and verbal with NOL

2)  "Help children to express themselves" (p. 79) - In drawing/coloring, writing, and verbal with NOL

3)  "Facilitate conversation" (p. 79) - with the use of a biblical concept as a conclusion or final word

4)  "Comprehend behavior and words" (p. 79) - through use and development of visual, auditory, and motor skills with NOL which extends dialogue about the lesson and commits it to memory more effectively for the very young

5)  "Discern matters of the heart" (p. 79) - nothing like that 'two-edged sword' as God's word brings true wisdom to the dialogue.

You can see how this method is very effective in not only "drawing out" (p. 79 and Prov. 20:5) matters of the heart but infusing into the heart some biblical wisdom that has a higher probability of being committed to memory or 'written on the heart' because a good story is harder to forget and adds to the dialogue.

Chapter 9 refers to types of communication which involve more than the typical rules, correction, and discipline.  "Richer communication" (p. 84) involves Encouragement, Correction, Rebuke, Entreaty, Instruction, Warning, Teaching, and Praying.  I wish I could write about all of them.  I've chosen to explain 'to Rebuke' because it censures inappropriate behavior as Mr. Tripp refers to Proverbs earlier which "weds extensive communication and the rod." (p. 74) 

Mr. Tripp states that it was necessary to teach his "children that there are some necessary limits on free speech."  I wouldn't teach it this way to my children because the Lord never 'limits' but expands, sheds light, and brings freedom.  Therefore, I would call it..."Avoiding hurtful language."  I also, like Mr. Tripp, teach my children never to "tell people we hate them."  At a first offense with this word used toward an individual, one needs to be adamant and rebuke by saying, "it is wrong and you don't want to hear speech like that again." Add to this some good instruction or biblical reference to possibly replace it with something kinder.  For example, say "I don't understand them"  because the Golden Rule applies here:  "What happened to treating others the way you would want to be treated?"  Would you want others to hate you?

This can be turned into a teaching moment, especially if it is a first offense.  Use the concordance or internet with a dictionary for the underlined words and reveal:

Proverbs 4:24 "Put away from you dishonest (intending to mislead) talk, deceitful (misleading others) speech put far from you." 

Sirach 23:15 says, "A man who has the habit of abusive (extremely offensive or insulting) language will never mature in character as long as he lives." 

Sirach 23:13 says, "Let not your mouth become used to coarse (rough) talk, for in it lies sinful matter." 

You can even refer to the Eighth Commandment:  "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" because using such a harsh word can give others a bad or faulty perception of one's character.  This could be like gossipping.  The word 'hate'  has nothing to do with proper justice for a wrong committed because we are called to even "love our enemies."  Hate is the opposite of love when it is in relation to human beings made in the image of God.  Therefore, it is the opposite of God who is all Love.  This is why it is so effective to call something 'hate speech.'  See how God's Word expands one's mind to limitless possibilities...true freedom.  There are tons of verses on speech.

To conclude, Shepherding a Child's Heart is a great read and really helps parents analyze their skills.  I am really enjoying it.  I wish I could add more to this post, but this has taken long enough already.  I've enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you and hope you have gained something from my post.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Eileen is Grateful

I am so fortunate today to be able to participate in a Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings meme at Judy Dudich's blog.  We list five things we are thankful for during our week.  Just click on the link to participate.

1)  I am grateful that my husband and I spoke to a pro-life OB GYN and he told us to employ the Creighton Model of fertility to avoid pregnancy.  We were the only 'old timers' at the meeting with four young newlywed couples.  I hope we didn't look too awkward.  Anyway, I like this method much more than NFP (Natural Family Planning) because it take less time.  It's actually fun to chart because they supply you with these little stickers.  (I'm like a kid.) Have you heard of this method?

2)  I'm thankful that my five year old son was able to participate in the "Liturgy of the Light" celebration at the Church with his religion class.  It is one of my favorites.

Patrick receiving his candle

Getting ready for the procession

Lighting the Pascal Candle

3)  It is also very good that the medicine my doctor gave me seems to be helping to control the lightheadedness I was having in the past.  I can focus better and get more accomplished.

4)  I am grateful for Patrick's teacher who drove him home after religion class so that I can take my older daughter for her ballet picture.

5)  It was also wonderful for my highschooler to be home from school on Monday.  My girls had bonding time together.