Posted in At Homeschool, Blog, Little Boots

Piano Practice

For Christmas, Grumpa started the big three in a course of piano lessons. We found a wonderful piano teacher, RJ — who turned out to be a Christian, by the way — who comes right to our home for lessons, and the children have been practicing daily on the piano that was given to us a few years ago by friends from our church. Praise God for friends, family, teachers, and music!

We have all enjoyed the lessons so much, and will be continuing on with them. I thought it would be fun to track their progress as we go.

Posted in In the Word, Little Boots

When do you give your Child their First Bible?

When do you give your child their first Bible?

This question was recently asked on a homeschool forum that I frequent. My answer?

As soon as they can read!

As soon as one of my children has passed the sounding-out stage and is legitimately reading, they are presented with their first Bible, complete with case. They are very proud to have their own Bible. They take them to church, they use them for reference in homeschool, and — joy of joys — they are free to highlight the verses they learn with a marker! A marker!!

As this illness started dragging me down in the last few years, I found it more and more difficult to drag myself out of bed as early as the children. And so I started to stall them. It’s time for breakfast? Well, did you brush your teeth? Are you washed? Did you dress?

My children soon became very independent in these tasks, and were finishing them too quickly. And so, I added another pre-breakfast task. Is your room clean?

Have you ever asked three or four young children to clean two bedrooms all by themselves? At first, it took forever. But they soon became more proficient at it, and I was forced to find another pre-breakfast task if I wanted to stay in bed past childrise. Did you read your Bible?

There! I was guaranteed an extra 15 or 30 minutes, and my children were developing a daily discipline and devotion to Bible reading.

At first, Encylopedia Boots read a chapter each morning to the others. When Safari Boots learned to read and was presented with his Bible, he was very proud to take his turn reading. And just last year, Shiny Boots learned to read and thus earned her own Bible, and started a new morning routine — she preferred to read her Bible by herself, not taking turns with the boys.

At first, I wondered if she would actually read it without her big brothers as accountability, but it soon became clear that she very much enjoyed her time in the Word — she actually sings her Bible chapter. It is so sweet to wake up to my little five-year-old daughter singing her Bible to her two baby sisters every morning.

We are told to give thanks in all things. Even illness. Without this illness, I would not have had my children doing independent daily devotions. What a sweet blessing it has been, and I pray that it will set the solid foundation on which they will build the rest of their lives. This is exactly how God turns suffering to joy. Amazing, isn’t it?

 

Posted in Blog, In the World, Little Boots

Let Love Be Genuine

When explaining current events to my boys, I told them that ISIS persecute and kill those who do not agree with their religion. Terrorists from ISIS killed people in France, and every day they persecute people in their own country. Refugees fleeing from their homes are asking to come to Canada..

“But what if there are spies hidden within the refugees?” Encyclopedia Boots asked.

An eight-year-old boy, as free from racial and religious prejudice as only a child can be,  put his finger directly on the very real fear that many Canadians are facing.

“Well, yes, that is a risk,” I told him. “So what do you think Canada should do?”

In the media (both corporate and social), we seem to be so divided along party lines, speaking within a framework that is predetermined for us by our political leaders. But as Christians, having pledged our lives to the service of He who has died and risen for us, we must resist the urge to trot out the familiar soundbites of those pundits who espouse the values of our particular political bent. Our response, in this as in all things, must be to turn to the Word of God

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:36-40

Sure, love my neighbour as myself, the Conservative Right acknowledges. But it goes on to ask: Are these 25,000 refugees, many of them Muslim, really my neighbours? Are we merely opening the door to a people who will bring the problems of their country into our own? 

When an expert in the law poses to Jesus the question “And who is my neighbour?”, Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-36). This man, despised by the Jews for his race and religion, showed more mercy to the wounded Jew than did the priest and the Levite who passed him by. “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”  He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-36)

Okay. So they are our neighbours. But what if there are terrorists hidden within the ranks of the well-intentioned refugees? If even 5% of the 25,000 are terrorists,  we would be inviting 1,250 terrorists into our country. Surely Christian compassion cannot mean that we are to put the welfare of our own country at risk by helping our Syrian neighbours, at the risk of bringing in potential enemies.

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

 If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36

As Christians, we must not be ruled by fear.

On the other hand, it seems that the Liberal Left, in its eagerness to prove its distinctiveness from the Conservative Right, moves past compassion and into foolhardiness.

Trudeau has pledged to welcome 25,000 refugees by year end. They are vetting 100 each day. But to meet the self-imposed deadline, he will need to process refugees almost ten times faster! How can they reasonably expect to screen almost 1000 people each day, and still maintain adequate security?

And yet those even further left on the political spectrum, are quick to dismiss these security concerns as hateful prejudice and fear-mongering. NDP leader Tom Mulcair has even criticized Trudeau’s policy of attempting to keep out terrorists by excluding single men in favour of women, children and families.  Mulcair states that this is “simply wrong,” and “not the Canadian way.”

Is it really so wrong to give preferential treatment to those who are most vulnerable?

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Obviously, there is a security concern. Even an eight-year-old, who has no idea of the skin colour or the religion of the “bad guys” in ISIS, can see that. We needn’t prove our compassion by affecting blindness.

But that valid security concern does not veto our obligation to help our fellow man. They have asked for help, and we can give it. As Christians, we must give it.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them .. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9,14,18,21

Part of living peaceably with all, so far as it depends on us, includes taking appropriate security precautions (abhoring what is evil) to preserve the peace within our nation. We need to forget arbitrary deadlines given as election platforms. Take the necessary time to screen the refugees fully and carefully as possible. And then welcome them, in genuine love.

Posted in Blog, In the Word, Little Boots

What Shiny Boots Learned at Sunday School

As I sewed a badge on her Awana vest, Shiny Boots proudly showed me the work she had done at Awana last night — a maze leading to Jesus. “You can only go to Jesus if you’re happy, right, Mama?”
“Mmm…” I responded absently. And then I nearly pricked my finger as the meaning of her words filtered through my brain fog. “What?”image

She held up the maze. She had traced a line of smiley faces to Jesus, avoiding the obstacle of the sad faces. “You can only go to Jesus if you’re happy. Not if you’re sad.”

Of course I corrected her, and we had a conversation about God’s unconditional love for us. And how we can go to Him at any time, with all of our sorrows.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

So where did my daughter learn this erroneous bit of doctrine?

At Awana, basically a weekday Sunday School type of program for children.

We don’t put our children in Sunday School, because we believe that the main service is for everyone. A period of listening to Bible stories and colouring bible pictures is no substitute for being within the body of believers on Sunday morning, worshiping and learning alongside their parents and community.

As parents, it is our awesome responsibility to teach our children to know and love God. For this task, children’s bibles and colouring pages are very appropriate. But they are never a substitute for church.

So why, then, do we send our children to Awana? Not for the Bible teaching, which they get at home. We send them because they enjoy it. We send them to make friends and have fellowship with other Christian children. It is not necessary, but fun.

We specifically chose Awana because it largely stays away from doctrinal teaching,  which we prefer to provide for our children ourselves. It focuses on Scripture memorization, in a fun and lively environment. And it provides a gym program where they can run around and have fun with other kids in a Christian environment. We send them not for the teaching, but for the fun.

And of course, there will be times when the message they’ve gleaned is blatantly false, and we will have to do some debriefing. Certainly Shiny Boots’ intelligent and orthodox Awana leader did not explicitly teach the message that Jesus doesn’t want anything to do with the sad or downtrodden. She is a lovely Christian woman who would never have imagined that one of her little charges took away this message.

That said, she does have 8 or 9 other children to tend to, and she can’t be responsible for every heresy that each one soaks into their receptive little mind. She is not ultimately responsible for what my child learns. I am.

When we teach our children at home, we are able to focus on them one on one.  The impediment of shyness does not prevent the child from asking for clarification. Most importantly, the parent knows the child as no teacher could.

The takeaway? If your child is in Sunday School or a similar program, do go over with them what they have learned after each session. You may be surprised at the ideas they have picked up!