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As we are preparing to begin a new year at home educating and training our children, I believe there is much room for frustration, anxiety, and doubt.  There is room for those things because we are human and because we can’t see the big picture the way God does.  For now, I want to try and encourage you with some thoughts and Scriptures that God has laid on my heart lately.

Following God is rarely an easy thing.  It stretches us and changes us in ways that we would sometimes rather just not bother with.  Fortunately for us God loves us too much to leave us the way we are.  That is how we should see our children.  We should love them too much to leave them the way they are, be that behavior, education, work ethic, etc.  We should strive to see the bigger picture for them and beg God to reveal His will for their lives.

To that end, we begin our school year with planning.  I, for one, enjoy planning!  It is invigorating to go through the curriculum and see what’s in store for the year ahead; imagining the possibilities for each child.  It can get a tad overwhelming as well.  Have I thought of every subject they need?  How much is all of this going to cost?  And usually the number one question in my mind as I look at the enormous stack of books is, “How am I going to get all of that done in one year?”

It is a daunting task to be sure.  But it is one you have been called to.  God has placed on your heart a desire to shepherd your children daily and to guide them into becoming adults that will follow Christ with abandon.  Scared yet?  I am.  I am petrified that I will make a mess their education and forget to teach them basic Math concepts!  With so much weighing on our minds for their education, it is easy to overlook a subject of much more importance. 

Their walks with Christ. 

Nothing can be as important as that and I believe that should be the main focus of our days and our prayers.  If we can teach them to love, obey, and follow Christ as the Lord of their lives everything else will naturally fall in place.  By His Grace and His Will.

Now, does that mean that you can scrap your lesson plans and just read the Bible all day long and count it as school?  Um…No!  Although a day of focusing on the Word isn’t a bad idea.  J

What it does mean is that you, Mom, need to get on your knees and seek God.  Go to the Lord to find out what He wants accomplished in your children this year.  ‘Big picture.’  He will direct and guide us if we will sit and listen.  Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.”  What good is that lesson plan if we didn’t seek God’s direction and leading before we began?  We need the Lord to build our house; He is the foundation and will stand strong.  He alone is capable of being our firm foundation.

Pray.  Listen.  Give God your children; release them to the One that made them.  Then listen and watch for His leading in their lives.

Okay, so we have prayed, we have a direction from the Lord; now what? 

More prayer, of course!  And talking, there is always talking going on in our house.  With four girls there are a lot of words floating around constantly.  But that provides opportunities if we are looking for them.  There are countless times to talk about God and the ways in which He cares for us.  Tell them stories of how God has worked in your life, read the Bible together and talk about what they think it means.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 talks of the greatest commandment but it doesn’t stop there.  It goes on to say that we are to impress them (the commandments) on our children; we are to talk about them when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up.  Are you seeing what I’m seeing?  It’s a lifestyle.  It should be in every fiber of our beings so that we can’t help but talk about God and what He’s teaching us and doing in our lives.  It should flow so naturally from our lips that our children expect to hear about and see God’s involvement in every part of our lives.  How are we doing with that one?  Yeah, I need to work on it too. 

Once we have our praying and planning done, it’s time to get going!  School goes great for a few weeks and then attitudes change.  One day you wake up and the switch has been made.  Instead of the sweet and eager child of yesterday you now have a surly and obstinate one.  When did that happen?  Well, many things could have happened but it’s our job to try and figure it out.  First step?  You guessed it, pray!  Pray for your own heart and ask God to show you where you might have done something you shouldn’t have. 

Next pray for your child and ask God to show you what happened and how to go about setting it right.  Sometimes it can be the fact that the child doesn’t understand long division and so becomes frustrated; acting out to vent the fear that they are stupid.  Our reaction of frustration at having to explain the concept yet again probably didn’t help the situation, either.  (preaching to the choir here!)  I have butted heads with this kind of problem too many times to count and God keeps bringing me back to the same verses.  1 Cor. 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”  Now I know that these verses aren’t necessarily addressing the same topic that I am but I think the Holy Spirit keeps whispering to me to remember that they are children.  They will not see things as quickly as I do or even in the same manner.  They will behave like children because they are.  To expect them to act like little adults is setting them up for failure.  And it only adds to our frustration.  It is normal for them to get so frustrated with Math that they cry, stomp their foot, or even refuse to do it; sin nature rules until we give it to Christ.  It is our job to disciple them and show them how to handle situations in a manner that is pleasing to God.  A word of warning here:  They may NOT get it the first time or the fifth or the hundredth; but keep teaching and guiding them.  Write it on their hearts and pray.  Psalm 103 is a great Psalm for parents to read, this parent anyway!  Verses 13 and 14 are especially key to what we are talking about.  “As a father has compassion on his children so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”  May I be more like my Heavenly Father every day.

Training our children is a heavy responsibility; it is filled with anxiety and heartache.  There is always one more thing to be done and something forgotten.  That fear can become the main focus if we take our eyes off the only reason it matters in the first place, Jesus Christ.   He is the beginning and the end, the Creator of the Universe and the One who saw our children when they were in the secret place being formed.  He alone knows the plans He has for them.  “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Ps. 33:11

Rest in the Lord and trust in His plan for your children.  Teach them to love Jesus with abandon and to seek Him all the days of their lives.  Teach them to see God’s handiwork in every moment of their lives and to talk about Him with every breath that they have.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.” 

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