"'And you've quite given [writing] up?' asked Christine.
'Not altogether...but I'm writing living epistles now,' said Anne, thinking of Jem and Co."
- Anne of Ingleside, L.M. Montgomery


Big Questions & Another Reason

The fears set in for him so young.  Tears in his voice, he asks us, "What if our Skidamarink gets very, very sick?  What if he can't get better? What if he gets so hurt he can't be fixed and we lose him?  I would be so sad if I lost my brother."  He's concerned about the hole in the basement where the sump pump sits.  Skid might fall in it.  "You can fix it, Dad.  So Skid and our baby don't get hurt." 

He follows up his worries with the hope:  "If Skid couldn't get better he would go to heaven and Jesus would give him a new body.  But I would miss him."

My momma says he gets it from me - the always thinking serious thoughts.  He and I were both old before our time.  "You were 18 when you were 2," she tells me.  Little child with grown-up questions.

Grandpa speaks words that feel like prophecy.  He talks about our sweet little boy and his big questions, big faith, big understanding.  He says he's special.  He can see that God has big plans for our Cap.  He is different.  Grandpa says there is a reason our little guy is in such a hurry to grow up.  He says this boy needs to grow up fast.  Grandpa can't tell us why, but he feels this burden to tell us that there is a reason our little man will need such big faith.  He exhorts us to tend this plant carefully so his roots will grow deep.  He'll need deep, deep roots.

My mother's heart worries.  Why will he need deep roots?  Grandpa can't see it, but he feels there is something coming and I'm absolutely terrified of the storms that might be on the horizon.  I want deep roots for him, but I would prefer him to be safe - to have a hold on the anchor but never face a storm that requires its use.

It's been a year since Grandpa called us to him, sat us down and spoke those words.  I can't ignore them.  They make me wonder, what do I need to give a boy like this?  A boy with such big questions, such big fears, such big understanding?  Is it a gift of time?  Extra time to sit and grapple with the questions and the fears?  Extra time to play so he can stay young and have rest and enjoy life without fears and questions always pulling?  Extra time to take chances and be bold and strong and courageous so that he doesn't let the fears overwhelm?  Extra time to ask questions of us and of God? 

It's so clear that growing those roots is his most important work right now and I need to give him all the time he needs to grow them.


Seeing the Glory

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
- 2 Corinthians 3:18

In giving thanks, what are we doing but stopping to see the glory of God that is evidenced all around us.  As we stop to notice the work of God around us and to offer up our thankgiving and wonder doesn't he transform us? Our gift of thanks to him, his gift of new life to us.

Thank you, God, for...
113.  first seeds sprouting.
114.  Cap talking to his baby sister - tickling my tummy as he talks through me.
115.  holey-kneed jeans - the evidence of hard play.
116.  provision for new jeans when we need them.
117.  food in the cabinets and that my family's cries of hunger are always met.
118.  the gift of all we need and more.
119.  Skid falling asleep in his great-grandma's lap.
120.  the boys riding on my Grandpa's lap, making circles in the wheel-chair.
121.  memories of riding on my Uncle's lap in his wheel-chair.
122.  that growly voice Skid uses when he makes his toys talk.
123.  all that time to pray for her while I sort and fold and paint for her.
124.  the way they play together.
125.  that he gets to build for her just like he built for them.
126.  Cap so eager to help his Daddy build.
127.  that all we have to do is "cry out to Jesus"
128.  lessons in story-form - parables and children's books.
129.  getting lost in 2 Corinthians and reading longer than I realized.
130.  snoozing little boy.
131.  crazy baby gymnastics - even when they prevent sleep.
132.  freedom from worry about how he will learn.
133.  confidence and, finally, a decision.
134.  the way Skid says "too-mon-oh" instead of tomorrow.
135.  extra time with my adorable nephew.
136.  the delightful wonder of blanket forts.
137.  the joy of listening to scripture as we drive.
138.  beautiful, spring-like days at the end of January.
139.  more peace when there is normally stress.
140.  cuddling up and reading.
141.  them running to grab more and more books.
142.  the priviledge of having time to learn to read.
143.  finding long-lost library books.


Reason #4: Learning Styles

Everybody is a genius.
But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
- Albert Einstein

I'm pretty confident that if Cap goes to school, he will be a terror to his teachers.  I've had almost two years of this experience to back me up.  Even on the days when he's not causing general disruption, he doesn't do all of his work.  The thing that bothers me most is that Cap seems to be a different child when he's at school.  My sweet little guy is already planting flowers because we're going to have a baby girl and when she grows up she might want to get married and he wants to make sure she has plenty of flowers on her "married day".  My boy insists on taking milk to the food pantry because somewhere there is a little boy who doesn't have a home to live in and he probably doesn't have any milk to drink.  Yet every progress report that has come home from school has noted that he does not consider the needs of others.

I'm pretty sure the reason for this disconnect has a lot to do with his learning styles.  I think there is a lot of truth in Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences.  It's pretty clear to me that Cap is a logical-mathematical, bodily-kinethetic & interpersonal learner.  While the logical learners tend to do pretty well in school, bodily-kinethetic & interpersonal learners often struggle.  Bodily-kinethetic learners use their bodies to learn.  Sit Cap at a table and tell him not to move and he's not going to learn much.  Give him freedom to tap his fingers, lay on the floor, walk around the room and he keys in.  In the same way, tell the little social learner to quietly work on a page and he'll be daydreaming in a minute.  Give him the chance to talk with others, ask questions and converse about the subject and he's eager to learn. 

The trouble is that letting kids wander around and talk freely is a recipe for disaster in a classroom.  It's pretty hard to manage a large group of kids when they are given these freedoms.  So the kids who learn best in these ways have to find other ways to adapt.  In Cap's case his movement and social inclinations have found the outlet of disruption.  On my visits to his class, it seems to me that Cap often assumes the role of class clown.  He's always looking to get a laugh out of his friends.  His need to explore his surrounding with movement and conversation is being expressed in ways that are inappropriate for a classroom setting and he gets in trouble.  A lot.

And the preschool years are the most movement and social oriented time of traditional education.  I tremble to consider what would be in store for us as Cap got further and further along in an increasingly rigid school structure.  Considering his particular interests and his learning styles together makes me think we would be doing his potential teachers a favor by letting Cap learn at home. ;)  At home he can have the freedom to move around and talk with a variety of people about his questions and hypotheses.  I'm excited about the possibility (and the challenge) of helping my little guy learn in ways that are in line with the unique individual God created him to be, rather than trying to fit him into a system where he is going to feel like a fish trying to climb a tree.


Reason #3 Interest-Led Learning

"Mom, do you see this?" It's what I heard over and over again for the entirety of an hour as we were having dinner at my grandparents' house one evening. Cap finished his dinner early and was sitting in the living room watching the Science Channel show, How It's Made.  For an entire hour my four-year-old guy sat completely mesmerized by the process of building some portion of an airplane.  He has since decided that he is going to become an aerospace engineer.  Of course, he'll get his pilot license as well because what fun would designing aircraft be if you can't fly it yourself? 

And then the other day we were sitting in the bathroom, waiting on the potty-training Skidamarink.  Cap was sitting underneath the sink trying to figure out the mechanics of the plumbing.  For a good 15-20 minutes.  He's always wanting to know how things work.  I'm pretty sure it's only a matter of time before I start discovering random disassembled tools and electronics around the house.

We started calling him our little engineer about a year ago.  He got a Buzz Lightyear toy for Christmas. But it didn't have wings.  It had karate-chop action instead.  He really wanted a flying Buzz and would not accept my advice that he learn to be happy with what he had - Buzz was going to fly.  So, he rigged up a contraption involving our ironing board, a cabinet door and some thin elastic that enabled Buzz to hang suspended in midair.

 I'm pretty sure most kids learn the most when they are interested in what they are learning.  It is certainly true in Cap's case.  I spent last school year frustrated that we couldn't get Cap to want to hold a pencil or a crayon.  But when he got interested in reading he started picking up the writing utensils on his own.  Lots of people marvel that he knows the difference between carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.  He's not a genius, he's just interested.  He wants to know things like why our dogs' teeth look different from his.  So, we spend a good amount of time finding answers together.

Today, when I picked Cap up from school I had an interesting conversation with his teacher.  He didn't want to do his worksheets today.  It's something he's struggled with before, regularly missing out on playtime because he doesn't want to complete the worksheets.  She said unless it's something he's interested in, he just doesn't want to do it.  He reasoned that he didn't need to do the worksheet because he already knew the material.  She warned me that he's going to have a really hard time in kindergarten next year.

None of this was news to me, but it was interesting to hear her say it.  I can see both sides of this problem.  It's important to learn that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do and to do those things with a good attitude.  Also, there are certain things, like learning to write letters, that just have to be practiced.  Repetition is necessary.  Even though Cap may know the material already, he still has the work of training those muscles for the fine-motor task of writing. 

On Cap's side, he does things he doesn't want to do all the time.  Granted, he doesn't always have the most willing attitude when he has to do something he doesn't like, but who among us does?  And there are other ways to practice that are more palatable to him.  He struggles with a paper full of letter k's that he has to copy over and over, but is almost always eager to write words.  A page full of a single letters to copy is a physical exercise that doesn't challenge his brain.  Adjusting the exercise to writing words adds a mental challenge that engages him.

I don't believe that Cap is smarter than the average kid, but I do believe he is a bright, capable child with specific talents and inclinations that need to be developed.  I have a hard time justifying the idea of a child who is eager to learn having a hard time in kindergarten.  He won't struggle because he's incapable of learning the material.  He will struggle because he won't be challenged in the right ways. 

The choice to me seems clear.  I can send my boy to kindergarten and expect a kid who is going to be a challenge to the teacher, a disruption in the classroom and a very disinterested student.  Or, I can keep my little man home and nurture those talents and inclinations in a learning environment that is specifically fitted to his needs and can provide him with the right level of challenge. 

Just to be clear, I am not in any way suggesting that my son's teacher isn't doing a good job or that kindergarten teachers are incompetent to teach Cap.  I'm extremely grateful for the teachers Cap has had and for the majority of the teachers I encountered in my own school days.  They are remarkable individuals!  What I am saying is that there are certain limits to teaching a large group of students at one time that will almost definitely create problems for my little learner.


Over and Over Again

This list is so repetitious.  Time and again I find myself writing the same thanks.  Nearly every morning those cold little toes climb into bed with us and I can't help but be thankful.  Each time I look out my windows I find the beauty staggering and I must give thanks. 

The thing is, I know that the day will come when those little ones won't come running and clambering into our bed.  In a few months tall rows of corn will prevent us seeing for miles.  I know there will be a time when the gifts I receive in this season will come to an end.  I am confident that they will be replaced by other gifts - other glimpses of God's goodness specific to the seasons that lay ahead.  Still, it's bittersweet to think that these days won't last forever. 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10b

I have to wonder if this practice of thanksgiving isn't part of the key to recieving that full measure of life.  Maybe, in part Jesus gives us life abundant and joy to the full when he awakens us to the beauty of the moment and inspires the giving of thanks.  We stop to fully recieve the gift, to express gratitude for each evidence of God's abundant love for us.  And maybe it's a little more ok, a little less bittersweet to realize that this too - even these perfect little moments - will pass, because by stopping to offer back our thanks we experience so much more of the gift than if we just let the moment pass.  And because we know with each sign of God's love that gifts beyond imagine are heading our way.

Thank you, God, for...
68.  The water dripping like diamonds  in the sun from the leaky faucet.
69.  A husband who points out leaky faucet diamonds to me.
70.  Beautiful country views out of every window.
71.  Boys climbing in bed in the morning to cuddle.
72.  Such soft little cheeks to nuzzle & kiss.
73.  Fog rolling over empty fields.
74.  Seriously - these views! Breathtaking beauty with every glimpse out the window.
75.  Plans for Spring and seed cataloges.
76.  Kisses on top of her two-week-old head - my newborn niece.
77.  The cradle in our room, full of sweet little things for our newest little love.
78.  Brothers giving hugs.
79.  Cap's eyes sparkling as he laughs.
80.  Skidamarink just wanting to sit together.
81.  The chance to wash the tomato soup from their faces - everyday priviledge.
82.  Time to sit and talk at the table.
83.  An early morning conversation with my Grandpa.
84.  Sunlight slanting across the yard.
85.  Time alone to plan for my loves.
86.  A little man so happy to see me.
87.  Chasing him to wash the sticky face and collapsing in giggles.
88.  Cap catching me by surprise from his hiding place and even more giggles.
89.  Pink, purple, blue & white mingled in the sky.
90.  That they come to me for comfort.
91.  The joy of being held close.
92.  That I am loved.
93.  My amazing Grandmother.
94.  Rest at the end of the day when all the work is done.
95.  Good conversations with good friends.
96.  Car ride conversation.
97.  The reminder that Jesus is all we need.
98.  Stopping to read words I normally would skim.
99.  Time spent just with Skid.
100.  A boy who seeks out ways to bless others.
101.  Work to do in preparation for our baby girl.
102.  Jabs in the ribs reminding me she's here.
103.  That he takes care of me when I don't feel well.
104.  Him paying attention to things he doesn't care about just to bless me.
105.  The reminder that your generosity knows no limits - we will always have more than enough.
106.  His prayers for his brother's health and safety.
107.  His reliance on the truth of the resurrection.
108.  That I can give thanks over and over for the exact same things.
109.  That our boys are such good friends.
110.  The overwhelming excitement that she will be here so soon - just 13 more weeks!
111.  The scratchy-soft feling of my great-great-grandma's blanket.
112.  A warm and cozy bed.


A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart

The song from Madame Blueberry is running through my head right now.  It makes sense.  A thankful heart is a happy heart.  When we stop to realize all we have to be thankful for, it's hard to grumble. And the truth is that in Christ we are called to give thanks in all things.  (Ephesians 5:20) I've often heard a very good friend a pastor say that the most important thing we can say to God is "Thank you!"

A few months ago I ran across a book that I felt compelled to read.  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp was not quite what I was expecting.  I was ready for a light read that made me think a little, but instead I found words that, within just a few pages, had me in tears.  Stories of hurt and anguish and how giving thanks in all circumstances heals wounds and brings us close to God.  I knew that "every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17) and I see a whole lot of the good mixed in with the ugly of this world.  I know that the little beauties of daily life are gifts from a loving God.  What I didn't stop to consider was that I could say thank you for each of them.  What would it look like if I stopped to really notice the evidence of God's love that shines all around me in the gifts he has given?  What would change in me if I stopped to give thanks particularly in those moments when I least felt like giving thanks?  If I thanked God for blessings while boys are knocking each other down and when we are running late and when everything seems to be going wrong?

So, I took up Ann's challenge.  I'm keeping my list. Honestly, most of my thanks don't get written down in my book (largely because I'm a weirdo about actually writing things down.  I want my book to be pretty and my writing to be neat and to always use the exact same pen, so my journal stays in one place and gets added to when I'm close to it.)  I started writing my thanks sometime in late October.  Here is the beginning to my list of thanks:

Thank you, God, for...
1.  Little boy feet pounding down wooden stairs.
2.  Toes fresh from the bath that are clean enough to kiss.
3.  Skidamarink holding me tight and tickling my neck with his words: "You are the best mom!"
4.  Fuzzy, warm slippers and steaming cups of tea.
5.  Holy, indecipherable prayers from two-year-old lips.
6.  Breakfast table worship songs.
7.  The way bad memories can turn good.
8.  Brothers holding hands.
9.  Blonde heads in my lap.
10.  Cap helping Skid put on socks and shoes.
11.  Grandparents.
12.  The bright colors of Fall.
13.  Little guys dressed as farmers.
14.  Eyes the same color as his Daddy's.
15.  Strong arms.
16.  Early morning cuddle time.
17.  "I love you" ' s all around.
18.  Long mornings cuddling in pajamas.
19.  Baby kicks.
20.  The chance to bless others.
21.  How hard he works for us.
22.  Everyday Easters and four-year-old proclamations that "He is risen!"
23.  Roads that take us to loved ones.
24.  All the shades of green and brown and the way dirt and decaying plant matter can be beautiful.
25.  Morning sickness and back pain and other signs of new life.
26.  Happy noise.
27.  Generosity of friends.
28.  Food on our table.
29.  Puffy white on a field of blue.
30.  That either way we'll have a home. (When we weren't sure if our new home purchase was going to happen or not.)
31.  Every moment on the computer means that he doesn't have to be far from home. (My husband is a seminary student taking online classes.)
32.  That you are with us in the waiting.
33.  Smiling eyes.
34.  The sound of baby's heart.
35.  The way even the smallest can bless.
36.  Running water.
37.  That I get to share the daylight with my kids.
38.  That he takes care of the mouse traps.
39.  A warm home and hot drinks.
40.  Kids wearing halloween costumes in Advent.
41.  Grace to forgive when I don't want to give thanks.
42.  Christmas lights.
43.  Snuggling in front of the tree.
44.  Grace to show me my sins.
45.  The ability to give.
46.  Wrapping presents.
47.  A day all together.
48.  Your perfect timing.
49.  Employment.
50.  Our little girl!
51.  Hot chocolate mustaches.
52.  Baking cookies with  my boys.
53.  That they are still little for now.
54.  Little boy excitement for Christmas traditions.
55.  Conversations in the car.
56.  That he's willing to come all that way every night.   (When Jeff had to travel for work.)
57.  Lessons about waiting.
58.  For the gentle way You teach through children.
59.  Encouraging words.
60.  Harsh words in scripture - full of love.
61.  Heavy responsibilities - living epistles.
62.  The knowledge that Jesus carries my load - I can't, but he can.
63.  Pizza - so I can rest and have a minute to recoop.
64.  Sunrise over harvested fields seen through big picture windows.
65.  Little boys who want to be my heroes.
66.  The excitement of little boys' first "I did it!" 's.
67.  Coming home to a house full of love.


Letter Xx

Another post from the draft folder.  I think I kept is as a draft because I was going to add pictures, but I never did.  At this point I think I'll go ahead and post so the record of what we did is visible even if there are no pretty pictures.  This was our last week of our homeschool experiment before the pre-school year began.  I contemplated keeping up with these materials, but decided to spare Cap and let his at-home learning be unstructured while he was in school.

We are currently using a combination of You Can Read and Raising Rockstars, plus whatever else we stumble across. :)

Captain Silly Wiggles is currently 4 years & 1 month old.
Raising Rock Stars

Our learning this week was centered around Matthew 18:3:
eXcept you be converted 
and become as little children,
you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

We spent lots of time talking about how we need to trust Jesus to take care of us just like little kids trust their parents to take care of them.  We also talked about how it's not the good things we do that let us live in relationship and in eternity with God.  Rather, our trust in him - our faith - is the most important thing.

Song: Jesus Loves the Little Children & Jesus Loves Me 
Letter: Xx
Number: 7
Sight words: I, can, you, me, little
Sight reader: Jesus Loves Little Children
(The last page of the sight reader says, "Jesus loves me!" and has a picture of Cap.  He loves reading it and his smile gets bigger and bigger as he nears the end of the book. :)

On Monday we...
1. ...did the Getting Ready for Xx worksheet.

2. ...worked on his cutting worksheet.  He cut a diagonal line, pretending to make a bear sled down a snowy hill.

3. ...traced the Xx's on the RRSP worksheets.  He flew through all of the pages making perfect X's.  Improvement!

4. ...did the Color by Word YCR worksheet.  He did this one without any prompting while I stepped out of the room.  I was surprised to walk back in to see the page completed (though he didn't color the whole thing - just the words).

5. ...played sight word bingo.  He didn't want to follow the rules of the game at first, preferring to mark any word he wanted rather than the words I was calling out.  We took a short break and he came back excited to play.  This is one of his favorites.

On Wednesday we...
1. ...worked on vocab cards.  He put the paper on his desk and left the markers in the workbox.  I asked him if he wanted to trace the Xs.  He looked at me incredulously and said, "What do you want me to do, mom, color with my fingers?"  Which made me laugh (he sounded so much like his dad) and we were off on a 10 minute silly spiral which ended in a game of tag.

2. ...took a looooong break and came back to our boxes after dinner and a whole lot of playing outside.

3. ...worked on our vocab cards.  This time he dove right in without too much silliness.  He traced the Xs. While he traced we said the words together and searched YouTube for a video on x-ray fish.  Then he very carefully cut the cards apart.

4...put together the word puzzles.  

5. ...wrote some words on the dry erase board.  First I wrote the letters of his sight words in different orders and he erased each wrong word and read the correct word (anc, cna, can).  Then I wrote all of the words he can read on the board and he erased the word as I called it out.  We are working on and & can - he gets those two mixed up very regularly.  Finally, he wanted a turn with the markers.  He decided to draw a "pointy hat and a pony with it's head down".

6. ...did the trace the lines page.  His marker was a car that was zooming down the road.  I love that he's having fun and incorporating pretend play with something that, 2.5 months ago was completely frustrating for him.

7. ...did the RRSP craft.  He was so proud of himself for cutting out a circle!

8. ...had a flashlight number scavenger hunt.  I wrote numbers on sticky notes and stuck them on the wall and the window.  He came in with his lantern and shined the light on the correct number.  I got this idea from Totally Tots.

On Friday we...
1. ...colored the verse.

2. ...did the crazy fonts page.

3. ...built sight words with Duplo blocks.

4. ...wrote a story together.

5. ...played veterinarian with some homemade x-rays.


All of our printables this week came were developed by Carisa at 1+1+1=1. Visit her website for all kids of wonderful resources. You can find her letter Xx printables here and You Can Read Unit 2 here.

The cutting workbook we used is called I Can Cut by School Specialty Publishing.

Oh Boy! July 10-16

I've been going through and editing some old posts tonight and I discovered this one in the drafts pile.  Last July I thought it would be a good idea to write some blogs on the day-to-day happenings in our household.  I thought I would title the posts "Oh Boy!".  It seemed clever in that I was sure I was destined to be surrounded by boys all of my days.  Now that our little girl is on the way, I guess I'll have to come up with a new name.

July 13:  The highlight of today was root beer floats.  It seems Captain Silly Wiggles has decided that root beer is a necessity following baseball.  Accordingly, on our way home for practice he asked for root beer.  We stopped at the store and let Cap figure out which bottle was the root beer (Me: "What two letters together make the sound oo?" Cap: "O" Me:  "Can you find the root beer?" he grabbed it off the shelf, picked up some ice cream and we were off.  Initially he wasn't very fond of the idea of ice cream in his root beer.  He quickly decided it was ok.  Skidamarink on the other hand was very upset when the root beer was gone but the ice cream remained.  Cap brought a spoon and a crisis was averted.

Apparently Cap has observed that toads like to hide in the mud.  Tonight he was playing with a toad in the backyard.  When it was time to let the little guy go, Cap found a dirt clod and was chasing the toad around the yard trying to cover him up with the dirt clod.

July 14:  Generally we had a rough day today.  Captain Silly Wiggles woke up on the wrong side of the bed and was just grouchy all day long. (I need to find a copy of Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!)  The one nice little segment of our day came when he sat down next to me and looked at the window.  He found some birds and watched them for awhile - telling me all about robins and how they are blue with orange bellies.  Then he said, "Mom,  I wish we had a bird feeder."  So we did some research together on homemade bird feeders, he picked out the one he liked best, and we headed to the store to buy some bird seed.  A few hours later and we have two bird feeders in the trees and Cap went back to being grumpy.  :P

I continue to be blown away by all of the spontaneous lessons.  After a long nap, Cap woke up in a much better mood.  He started talking about fires and I said, "What would you do if there was a fire?" He told me he would hide, so we spent some time talking about fire safety.  We designated a safe spot, started working on a fire escape plan and talked about staying low to the ground, testing handles, and calling 911.  We spent some time playing on www.firesafety.gov/kids.  It's amazing how motivated kids can be to learn.  So often, they just need some resourcing.

Scripture memorization

I was not a big fan of scripture memorization during the years I worked in children's ministry.  It wasn't that I had something against the idea of memorizing scripture.  I just didn't feel like it was a good use of time.  I had my kids for 1-3 hours per week.  There was lots I was concerned about teaching them in that very short amount of time.  The vast majority (with a few exceptions) of the kids in my program weren't receiving any Christian education at home.  Many of my kids came to church on their own - their parents weren't involved at all.  Some of the parents & guardians were verbally non-Christian.  Others came on Sunday mornings, but didn't take their faith any further.  Those who actively discipled their kids at home were certainly in the minority.  To me, that meant that my limited time with these kids was vital.  I wanted them thinking.  I wanted to devote the time to learning whole stories more than snippets.  I wanted them to have some time to play together and look for opportunities of living out and working through the values they were learning.  I didn't like the idea of memorization because I anticipated the rote learning of words and phrases that would not likely inspire deeper reflection in their day to day surroundings.  They would parrot the verse back to me and not likely think much of it again.  Most of them didn't have guides at home to help them realize the important of the words in their day to day experiences.  So we didn't memorize scripture.

I still work in a volunteer role in children's ministry and we still don't memorize scripture.  Yet, Cap has lots of scripture memorized.  He started on his own by learning God Rocks! songs.  Now the preschool curriculum we are using is centered around a weekly memory verse.  So, why am I ok with memorization now?  Because it doesn't stop at memorization.  He learns the verse and we talk about it.  Often.  He's learning to think critically about his environment through the lens of the Bible.  I bring up the verses he has learned in different scenarios.  He claims he can't do something and we talk about the implications of Philippians 4:13.  I don't just respond by saying, "Remember, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"  We stop and really talk about what the verse means.  There are things he can't do.  He can't fly without a plane.  But, with faith we have the promise that Christ will empower us to do all that he calls us to do.  We pray about it.  When he's not sure of the right decision in a given situation, we discuss Matthew 5:16:  which choice is a way of letting his light shine?  In these discussions, I've got a newfound love for memorizing scripture.

Yet Another Option

I am continually surprised by the number of educational options that are available. I've learned over the past few weeks that a few school districts in our area will allow home-schooled students to participate in school sports and that a few schools (even one public school) will allow homeschool students to enroll part time.

The Greatest Gift

"Mom! Look! There's a present hanging on the tree!"

I hadn't really expected him to find it yet.  It was tucked in the branches and I thought we'd have to help them hunt.  I wrapped the gift the night before.  The box holds the baby Jesus from the kids' nativity.  On Christmas morning we'll look for that present first.  We'll unwrap it and hear the story and play with the nativity.

I tell him, "That's a very special present.  It's the greatest gift you can ever imagine."

His eyes grow wide with excitement and the knowledge of something I'm not sure I grasp to this day. "Mom, God must be in that box!"

I gave him a big smile and a big hug and we talked about how Jesus really is the best gift.

Later as I retold that story to his father, the tears filled my eyes.  What wisdom from such a little one.  This child has big hopes of toys and special blankets and flashlights.  He knows what he wants and he is all eager anticipation to find out what's under that tree.  Not a morning goes by that he doesn't check his stocking to see if it's been filled. 

And yet, with all of the stuff he wants, he knows.  He knows without blinking an eye that the greatest gift imaginable isn't that Batman cave he really wants or a Transformer.  He doesn't pause for even a second before proclaiming that the greatest gift he can imagine is God himself - Emmanuel.

God, grant that I may gain that insight and that he will keep that knowledge close to his heart as he grows.