We’ve walked beside teens and families dealing with each of these in the last few months.
Why would God peel so many layers from our naive eyes in such a short time? I’m not sure yet.
It hasn’t been easy talking with our children (16, 13) about such enormous topics. Especially one right after the other. Honestly, it hasn’t been our choice to have these conversations, but circumstances required diving deep and searching the Scriptures for answers. And, in each conversation, God has been gracious.
It’s almost as if we hear God saying, “You have protected them, loved them, taught them and given them a firm foundation. Now, it’s time for each of you to see satan’s work in this world more clearly. And, I’m calling you to do something about it for the sake of my lost sheep.”
What is He calling us to do? We have no idea. Our hearts and minds are stirring. We are watching God work in beautiful ways and wonder when and where He will open the door for us to step in.
Hug your children today. Love them. Teach them God’s Word. Give them God’s grace. Know there will be a day when God says it’s time to open their eyes so they can be used by Him in this imperfect, hurting world. Thank Him deeply for the opportunity to homeschool – to bring them up in His precious nurture and admonition.
I’m constantly amazed at the spiritual growth I see in my children as we take part in service projects. They have more compassion for others, notice needs, willingly give up time and resources, joyfully take part in each and every opportunity, and specifically look for ways to help others. I am blessed by their sweet hearts constantly!
Most importantly, I see them growing closer to Christ during these times. They “get” that Christ first loved us and the overflow of His love can’t help but spill onto others. They are beginning to see others through Jesus’ eyes and dig deep to make a difference in people’s lives.
Maybe surprisingly, these opportunities have opened the door to amazing family discussions about the Bible, the worldview of a Christian, when helping others might not be actually helping them, and more. Heck, even political issues have found their way into these deep talks many times.
Feeding the hungry at a nearby mission
We prayed for quite some time to find a church with a heart for really serving others – in our community and around the world. We have been so incredibly blessed to be part of Bedford Acres Christian Church for the past year and a half. In that time, our family has been able to hand-deliver sack lunches to the homeless, prepare warm food and beds for several homeless friends through a weekly winter housing program, collect and deliver food for hungry families, serve lunches and clean a community soup kitchen, hang out with cancer patients, make and deliver blankets to a children’s hospital, take part in a Bible club feeding program for another church ministering to needy children, and clean the Ronald McDonald house.
It’s SO much easier to consistently serve when you’re working alongside others! But, our family doesn’t only make time to serve through our church ministries. We are always looking for ways to bless other people. That’s what I want to encourage you to do. Whether you have a church group to work with or not, make time to serve others. You won’t regret the time spent!
Need some ideas for homeschool service projects?
I took some time this summer to jot down local possibilities and their contact numbers or email addresses. I keep my list right in my weekly school planner so it’s always forefront in my mind. Sometimes, I call another homeschooling family to see if they want to help and we schedule a date. Other times, I simply set up a time for my own family to serve. Here are a few ideas to get your wheels turning:
Serve at a soup kitchen
Work at a food pantry
Volunteer at an orphanage
Help at an abortion prevention center
Help with a MOPS program or, even better, a TeenMOPS program
Send encouraging cards or make encouraging phone calls
Help at church funeral dinners, etc.
The ideas are really endless!
Share your ideas!
As a homeschooling family, you have such a unique opportunity to “be available” when needs arise. You can’t say yes to everything, but try to say yes at least once in awhile. Better yet, make specific plans for serving occasionally (to make sure it happens.) You will be blessed. Others will be blessed. God will be glorified. Who knows, you might even have a chance to share His gospel message while you’re at it!
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! In honor of his birthday, some of my blogging friends and I would like to share some fun Dr. Seuss-themed lessons with you. My post encourages you to pull out Dr. Seuss with your older children. The content of so many Dr. Seuss books is far more rich than you might imagine!
Our family recently read The Sneetches as one of our literature-based character lessons. What a fantastic book for teaching about the Christian character trait of acceptance – knowing that every single person has been made in the image of God no matter how they look.
The Sneetches have divided themselves into two groups – those who have stars on their bellies and those who have not. Those who have stars think of themselves more highly than they ought, while those who don’t have stars think of themselves more poorly than they ought. Mr. McBean soon rolls into town promising to make everyone part of “the” crowd. After a day full of everyone paying lots of money to continually change the group to which they belong, Mr. McBean is left wealthy and the Sneetches are still separated into two confused groups. They finally come to the realization that looks shouldn’t keep people from being friends.
1. I started the lesson by having my children think about how people are often “sorted” in society by such characteristics as their clothes, shoes, hair styles, skin colors, cars they drive, houses they live in, whether or not they wear glasses, what scores they make on tests, and so on.
2. We talked about the impact these “standards” have had in the past. For example, how slavery and segregation occurred because of skin color.
3. We talked about the lesser (but more personal) impact these “standards” have had in our own lives. Have we ever been judged at co-op or church, for instance, because of an outward appearance? Have we ever seen anyone judged in this way? Have we ever judged someone over such things?
4. We read a few Bible verses:
1 Samuel 16:7b “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (What should we be concerned about?)
Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Isn’t everyone made in the same way?)
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (Does any of the outward stuff really matter?)
John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” (Do we decide whether someone should be our friend based on what they wear or how they act? Do we worry about their hairstyle or whether or not they love the Lord?)
5. Finally, I pulled out some plastic toys (animals or people would work fine.) I asked the kids to think of an attribute and sort the toys. For example, we sorted our people into groups of those who wear hats and those who don’t. We talked about the silliness of considering that the group wearing hats were somehow better than the other group. They obviously weren’t anymore capable, loveable, friendly, etc. than the group not wearing hats. There was no clear distinction other than the hats. To decide whether or not someone is more acceptable simply because they wear a hat (or not) is a ridiculous idea – as it is in real-life, too.
We’ve read other books in the past that emphasize this same concept (with a Christian flair), too:
More middle school (and above) lessons:
We love Dr. Seuss books and I’ve come across all sorts of ideas for using the books with older kids – middle school and above. Enjoy!
On Fridays, I attempt to plan a simple object lesson to go along with Bible study. Since we have been studying knights of the Middle Ages lately, I thought a lesson on the Armor of God made a nice tie-in.
The lesson is quick, but powerful.
a glass bowl large enough for two oranges to be completely submerged
Read Ephesians 6:10-17
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Talk about what each piece of armor stands for and how it helps us stand against the devil.
Ask your children to pretend to put on each piece of armor as you discuss how that particular piece might help them throughout their day.
Place both oranges in the bowl with their “armor” on. (In other words, keep the skin on both oranges.) Talk about how the oranges are floating, or “standing firm” in the water.
Little by little, begin peeling away some of the “armor” (skin) of one of the oranges. You might peel off a chunk and say something like, “Uh oh, this orange forgot to put on his belt of truth. When someone says something ugly about him today, he might believe it. If he believes that lie, instead of the truth that he’s wonderfully made, he might not stand as firm in the water.” Place the orange back in the water and notice that, although it doesn’t sink completely, it begins dipping further in the water than the orange still wearing all its armor.
Continue on this way, peeling back a little at a time, talking about a new piece of armor the orange forgot to put on, talking about how that might affect his day, and then placing the orange in the water to see it sink more and more each time.
By the time you remove all of the armor, the orange will completely sink. It is not able to “stand” at all.
Challenge your children to think purposefully each day about putting on each piece of armor. Maybe you could even pretend to put on each piece together every morning. When I purposefully try to put on my own armor, I know I’m able to stand more firmly against the devil’s wily schemes. I bet kids can, too!
Welcome to Day 1 of my series 10 Days of Teaching Values!
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be taking part in the Heart of the Matter’s 10 Days of… Blog Hop. My posts will focus on creative ways to teach values (or character training) to your children. My prayer is that you and I will both be inspired (or re-inspired) to train our precious children in the way they should go with methods that reach deep to encourage and motivate their souls.
I hope you’ll stop in every day over the next two weeks (weekdays only) to not only get fresh ideas, but to encourage me with your comments and fresh ideas as well.
First, just in case you’re new to my blog, I’ll take just a minute to introduce myself. I’m Cindy West, wife to Steve and mom to Mahayla (14), Caleb (11) and Eli (4). We live on a cattle farm in Central KY which is an awesome setting for tons of homeschooling opportunities and rambunctious students! I own Shining Dawn Books where you can find my NaturExplorers studies and other “living” curricula. I love encouraging homeschooling moms to embrace every moment with their children by making their time together meaningful and enjoyable.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The Fruit of the Spirit is our “go-to” list of virtues as Christians. We should strive to exuded each of these traits in everything we do! Do we mess up? Sure! That’s part of the learning process – and thank God for His sweet mercy day in and day out as we fail!
One tried and true method I’ve used with each of my three children to help them understand and begin to display these values is a Fruit of the Spirit tree. As early as the age of three or four, whenever I notice that the “fruits” need a little, ahem, fine tuning around the house, we stick a branch in a jar and have great fun catching each other being kind, peaceful, gentle and so on.
Beforehand, I’ve prepared little fruits tied to strings that get hung on the branches when someone has been caught. There’s never a competition between kids to see who can gather the most fruit, but instead it’s a cooperative effort to see the good in one another, be good to one another and watch our family tree hang heavy with fruits as a result.
When one child needs a little more encouragement (like the four year old recently), the tree will be all about him. In this instance, as often as we were able, we made a big deal about the values he was displaying and let him put his fruits on the tree. At the end of the day, we counted the fruits together. His goal the next day was to see if he could gather even more fruits than the day before. After about a week, he had begun a pleasant habit which replaced a not-so-pleasant habit and we not longer needed the tree.
Old or young, every time I’ve pulled out the Fruit of the Spirit tree in our home, positive character has resulted. It’s so easy, too!
How to Make:
Place a tree-shaped stick in a jar/bucket of beans/rice/rocks.
Cut out fruit shapes from construction paper, card stock, foam sheets or anything else you like. (The fruit shapes in my photo were prepared shapes I found several years ago at a dollar store.)
Punch a hole at the top of each fruit and loop a ribbon, yarn or string through it to become a hanger.
For very young children, I don’t write anything on the fruits. We simply talk about each value as its displayed and the child hangs any fruit of his choosing. For young readers, write one value on each of the fruits so that you have at least one per Fruit of the Spirit. When a particular value is displayed, they find the correct fruit to hang on the tree. For older children, place a list of the Fruits of the Spirit near the tree along with the blank fruits and a marker to create their own as a fruit is displayed.
That’s it! What are you waiting for? You could have new, wonderful habits started tomorrow!
While not necessary, I know many of you like to find fun extras to reinforce your lessons, or actual lessons to help you specifically teach the Fruits of the Spirit. I have included some of both in the widget below for your convenience.
Be sure to visit these wonderful ladies during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th!
You never know what I might be writing about - homeschool plans, field trips, projects, family life, and so much more. I hope you'll consider using the subscribe button at the top of my blog to keep up with all the happenings at Westward Academy. And, by the way, I love comments!