Friday, 21 March 2014

Helping our "seedlings" to grow {5 Days of Spring Life-lessons}

This year, I have finally managed to get around to doing something I have wanted to do for YEARS. Grow my own sweet peas, from seed.

I ADORE sweet peas, as you may have heard me mention before.  Having the house filled with their heady scent, in the summer days, just makes my heart happy.  I want to have a continual, beautifully scented, supply of pretty blooms this year.  I am about to get the ground ready to put them in, and get some kind of gardening supply to train them up to the fence I want to them to grow up.  There is a wall it needs to get past first, and with less to cling onto, they will need some help.  Before they even get that far, I have had to plant them, water them, and transplant them to a bigger pot as they  have grown too big for the propagator.  It's quite a commitment, to even get them to the stage to grow outside, never mind produce the show of flowers I am hoping for!

I COULD have ought them ready grown, but where is the fun in that??

As I was pondering verses about hope, I stumbled upon this one. I am sure I have read it before, but it really struck me with freshness. It made me think about my seedlings that I am growing.

For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:  
That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: 
 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
Psalm 78:5-7

As I mentioned already, we cannot save our children.  Only the saving work of the Holy Spirit can change their hearts from death unto life. However, we need to teach our children, and grow seeds of truth in their hearts. 

As parents, it's so easy to get hung up on things we consider important, whilst neglecting what REALLY matters.

Making sure our children are clothed, fed and cared for physically is important. Their health is important. Their education is important.  The company they keep is important. All these things should matter to us, as we care for our little "seedlings".

Looking at these verses, though, we see what is a more important part of raising our children - one that makes an impact spiritually.  We need to teach them the truths of God's Word.  We need to rise up, and tell them all about God, and His Word.  It says that the next generation will set their hope in Him, not forget what He has done, and keep his commandments.  It's not a promise that every child will be saved, but it is certainly an encouragement that if we teach them what is right, the Lord will use it in their lives.

There are many ways that we can do this on a day to day basis.  Obviously, because I have them at home all day, I have many wonderful opportunities to follow this scriptural directive.  It's one of the reasons why I would suggest home educating is a wonderful thing to do - so we can claim the many moments in a day to teach them about the Lord. Even if your children are not at home, we need to make sure and grasp every way we can to point our children to the Lord, and teach him his truths.

I think that a time of family worship is very important, and gives a perfect opportunity to teach them God's ways.  I want to share with you about the book we are currently using, although we have done many different things through the years, including studying through books such as Proverbs, as a family.

Right now, we are using "Leading Little ones to God", by Marian Schooland.

My copy is older than this.  Why?  My parents used it with US, growing up, and it impacted me so greatly, with happy memories of learning from it, that I bought my own copy before I even married Robert, never mind having any children! 

It is a book which goes through Biblical doctrine and truth, at a child's level.  It has a short portion to read for every topic, with a scripture reading, song suggestions and a "Prayer".   We go through it every morning, as a family, and Robert often thinks of clever little ways to make it memorable for the children. For example, when we were learning about God's holiness, Robert used our table mats to help them remember.  HE set them out on the table, with one different from the others, and the others all "joined together", side by side in a group. Also, he used the imperfect ones as the "group", and a new, unspoilt one as the stand alone one.  He asked them how the mats were set out, and to tell him what they observed about them.  They noted one was separate and set apart. That it was perfect and clean, and the others were flawed. They can still remember what holy means, because of those mats! 

We also sing and fellowship together at the end of the day.  It says in the Psalms "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord and to sing praises unto thy name, O most high, to show forth thy loving-kindness in the morning and thy faithfulness every night".  SO, we meet in the morning and at night, remembering how God has been good to us in that day.  Our evening time is less formal, but yet we try and teach them in it, praising together. We love to sing!! 

Although not essential, we also choose to use many curriucula which are Christian ones.  WE feel that if we are going to choose to home educate, to have a positive influence on our children, that we should also choose curriculum that is God-glorifying, too. It's not something to be legalistic about, but we consider it as a "good, better, best" principle.  For us, it's a case of trying to use scripture whenever we can, in all parts of their lives, including school.  I particularly love the new English lessons we are doing, from Rod and Staff.  When they are doing an activity, such as reading through sentences to see which ones are correct, they then write out the correct ones, and you get a little Bible "story"! It's great!!   It's certainly worth considering using as many Bible based subjects as you can, especially the ones which are especially undermined by false teaching, such as science. We use Answers in Genesis material for that, God's Design for Science.  It's great material, with plenty of fun and educational activities, and good for multi-level learning.

Like those plants, which I want to grow, we need to water them, help them grow, and train them up to keep growing in the right direction. We need to water their lives with prayer.  There are some fantastic prayer prompts available, which guide you to pray intelligently for your children.  I will do a separate post about that another day.

Learning scripture with your children is also great - so that God's Word is hidden in their hearts.  I often hear elderly people testifying about how the verses they learnt as a child, came back to them in old age to encourage their hearts.  There is a scripture memory system, a Charlotte Mason system, which I want to do with my children.  I will have a guest poster sharing about how it works, so more of that to come another day soon!

When we train up a plant, we have to guide it towards the direction it needs to grow.  Our children will not grow up in the things of Christ, if we do not direct them.  It's not enough to hope that the church or Sunday school does the job. It's the responsibility that we, as Christian parents, have.  It's not just a case, either, of telling them all the time, about what not to do.  It's about TRAINING in the RIGHT way. Positive reinforcement and teaching about the character traits that are good and right.  Giving them opportunity to exercise these traits, and rewarding and encouraging for the right behaviours. I may have previously mentioned the Child Training Bible resource I have, which points children to the Bible to see how they have sinned.  They now do a Virtue Training Bible set, which points children to scripture, for 42 virtues to pursue.  I really want to get this set, as I think that positive training like this is so important.  It takes a while to put together, so it would be a it of a project!

Another important thing with my little seedlings, is thinking back to the weeds from the other day.  If you let weeds crowd little seedlings, they will not grow, and can get choked and die.  Spiritually speaking, we need to deal with sin swiftly, and early.  I was speaking to friends recently, who were asking about disciplining small people. I told them that there are some days, when my children are about 2-3 years old, where I just feel I am having to sort out sin and rebellion in their little hearts and lives, ALL DAY LONG. Anyone who doesn't believe in original sin, hasn't had a 2 year old!  No-one TEACHES them to do wrong - they just do it naturally. If you don't weed out those issues - defiance, rebellion, strong-wills, disobedience - when they are little, the roots of those behaviours will go down deep, and they will be far harder to deal with later on.  It's hard work, to be consistent and faithful in our training, but, oh, so important.  I often say it's harder on us, as Mums, than on the children - a test of our own consistency, and faithfulness!

I am sure there is so much I could say, but that will suffice for the time being!

I pray the Lord will help us all to train up our little "seedlings" in His ways.

I am so sorry this 5th part took so long coming, but I had a wonderful visit from my brother and sister in law, who I hadn't seen for nearly 2 years.  Blogging waited!

1 comment :

  1. I love the Leading Little Ones book. I want to read it with my daughter. The Virtue Training Bible sounds interesting. I didn't know they had that.