Friday, August 18, 2017

How Home Education Bonds Family Dynamic

Last week, at Meijer, I was asked an odd question. "Are your kids loving brother and sister? Or do they hate each other?"
My eyes met the cashier inquiring, then traveled over to look at my kids, to see what could have prompted such a question. Were they in quarrel? About to murder one another? No telltale signs. They were contently working together to collect the bags of groceries. I puzzled. "They love each other and are best playmates," I answered honestly.
"That's nice," she said. "End of summer helps."

?? End of summer helps... that sentence hung in the air. I can only assume it was an implication that once my kids "go back to school" and aren't around one another for the majority of their days, it is easier to get along. It reminded me of a recent comment I read on a friend's post, where they had said the number one reason they could NOT homeschool, was "Family Dynamic."

This needs addressing. Mainly because, there are a multitude of hypocrisies within it. First of all, my kids do NOT get along 24/7. They are disagreeing with each other as I type this. However, being home affords them the space to work through their conflicts, and ultimately become closer. Home is the best training ground for relationship. For family dynamic. To say you can't be around each other because you can't be around each other is an oxymoron. It is like saying you can't pick up a book because you don't know how to read. If you don't pick up the book, you will never learn. In "end of summer" mentality, you are simply avoiding the issue. That is not learning to live with something, that is learning to bear it until you can avoid it. Same with discipline or authority issues for parent/child relationships. Secondly, it plays into the sad societal notion that the best thing about summer vacation is when it ends. Photos go viral with applause when moms make jokes at their kids' expense about getting rid of their kids so they can enjoy themselves. Even as homeschoolers, we have a strange Catch 22. We want all kids to have the freedom we enjoy, and yet, we all have to admit, we breathe a relief when our parks and museums and zoos are back to the quiet, uncrowded peace we enjoy during the school year. My kids gasp when we arrive someplace swarming with kids and ask if we can return when the place is useable again.

I don't have the answer. And I know not everyone can homeschool, and that family needs differ-sometimes year to year. But, I wonder at the answer another mom might respond with, who didn't stop to give pause that her children were listening to her answer. Does that not set a tone? If I had said, "they hate each other," would they have believed me?

I get it. Family is hard. It really is! But it is also so rewarding. And edifying. And sanctifying. There is so much you miss out on, if you are simply waiting for summer to end.
Breaks apart, or times of solitude, are healthy. But time together is precisely what makes my kids "a loving brother and sister." God ordained them to be brother and sister. Sibling relationships, family dynamics, whatever you want to call it, don't need end of summer. They need summer year round. We school year round, because living and learning is a lifestyle, not a season.

The Lie that you are worthless

By the time it escalated to the point where I needed to say something, they had exited the building. My heart questioned an appropriate way of getting up to go after them. I didn't.
Now it is haunting me.

Our family was eating dinner out tonight, a few towns over. There was a family behind our table. The mom was clearly frustrated. My heart went out to her. I've been there. I didn't hear the man speak, but the woman was yelling at her kid. There were 3 boys. I would say the older two were maybe 10 and 14. The youngest, the one on the receiving end of her anger, was little. My husband and I estimate no older than 5 years old. It got uncomfortable to listen to, particularly because we could not hear or see any cause for the fuel of upset she was spraying. But we continued with our own table business and conversation with our kids. Eating out is a rarity for us. When she had raised her voice too much with repeated "ENOUGH," I felt compelled to turn around and make eye contact with her, both to convey sympathy for her, and to make her aware of her surroundings again, to help her find a calm center. I refrained, in fear that she may, in her heightened state of anxiety, view it as a glance of judgement toward the boy, and take it out on him more. Embarrassment can drive regretful choices. Whatever he was doing, was far, far less scene causing then her reaction to it. Whatever she had had 'enough' of from this kindergarten aged child, it was her who needed to be told 'enough.' I will never be unconvinced of such after hearing her haunting words as she left the restaurant with him, telling him to 'shut up', and whatever plans they had that he didn't deserve. And then, the deal breaker. If it had come when she was still in the room with me, I am certain I would have spoken. Because every mom has been in those moments, where they have had ENOUGH. Every mom had been pushed to their breaking point by tiny people. Sometimes, it feels like every day. This boy was not having a tantrum, but even if he had been, her final words were inexcusable.
She left the man and other boys at the table to pay, and, as she led this small, vulnerable little boy out the door, she said the unimaginable.

"You're worthless."

My heart smashed. My eyes welled. Did I really just hear that? I glanced to my husband, my expression likely wild and bent. I searched his face. He hadn't heard. Had I imagined it?

I started praying. I turned to look at their table. The man and boys were occupied on screens. I felt like the Iceburg notice had just been shuffled around the Titanic and ignored.

The entire way home, I prayed that this boy, and ALL children who are told verbally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, that they are NOTHING, break free of that lie. I don't care who is telling them that. The world, their own mother, their father, their teacher, their peers.... how many of us have had this message thrown in our face? In one form or another, it comes from every direction. And it is a LIE. From the pit of Hell, it is a lie. Every human being, from womb to grave, has worth. We are not evolved pond scum.

I don't know that mom. She may be a horrible mom every day, she may be a fantastic mom who had a horrible day and chose to let horrible words come out of her mouth. Perhaps, and I pray so, she immediately recognized her mistake and has repented, asked her son forgiveness, and made it known to him he has immeasurable value. Perhaps those words she said will echo in her mind, like they are in mine, and be the turning point she needs. If words of affirmation are a love language, then this is the opposite. May it be so that all parents who speak in such a life robbing way, repent and be changed, by the grace and mercy of Yeshua. This is my prayer. And my message to every single person reading this? You.are.not.worthless! Don't let anyone, including yourself, tell you otherwise. Hurt people tend to hurt people, even without realizing it. I can't find that small boy tonight and tell him he is wonderfully made in the image of God, and that he is valuable beyond measure. But I can tell all of you. You have worth. You have value. You matter.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Gift of the Law: Shavuot / Pentecost

Deut. 16:16-17; Lev. 23:15; Exodus 19; Exodus 34:22; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Ezekiel 36:27; Joel 2:28-32; Jeremiah 31:33; John 14:26; Acts 2:1-4; 1 Corinthians 16:8; James 1:18; Matthew 7:16; Galatians 5:22-23; Hebrews 13:15-16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 13:11-12

We went camping at one of our favorite local spots for the week leading up through Shavuot. Quiet, clean and blessed opportunity to connect with G-d through His wonderful creation! We had friends and family out to visit throughout the week- a total of five different families throughout the trip. We enjoyed the peaceful rhythm of a slow pace. Fishing, swimming, hiking, playing, praying and study of His Word. Among some great devotionals about the gift of the Spirit, we also listened to the audiobook of Ruth while down at the shore as a family. On Sunday, Pentecost, our friends came up for the day to celebrate with us, bringing gifts of bread, flowers and fellowship. It was a wonderful time.

One of the devotionals my husband led the kids through, from Tim Shoemaker's books, was an activity using hard-boiled and raw eggs. Half the eggs were cooked, half weren't. They had all been together in the carton overnight, and he had the kids try to guess which were which by looking and feeling them. It was impossible to know for sure which were which by the outside. But once they went through the pressure test-- (fun part---crack and smash the eggs, kids!!) then, judging by what COMES OUT OF THEM, you can easily tell what they are. It was a great demonstration for the kids about what the pressure test would reveal about their friends, or about us. What's inside us? What comes out under pressure?

"For this very reason, try your hardest to furnish your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love." -2 Peter 1:5-7

Saturday, September 24, 2016

He Is Risen! Feast of First Fruits

We enjoyed a beautiful celebration of our Risen Saviour this spring during the Feast of First Fruits. When I first began researching the Biblical feast days, I was amazed to discover that there was already a Biblically ordained festival for His literal day of Resurrection. Who needs Easter and its competing secular counterpoints? We've learned so much by shedding the traditions of man and embracing observance of the calendar of YHWH.
During the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread, you have the Passover meal as well as the Feast of First Fruits. All the spring feasts, through Pentecost, were all fulfilled through Christ's first coming. The fall feasts are YET TO BE fulfilled, and they will be completed when He comes again. So historically speaking, we are in the harvest season right now, awaiting His return. We've gone through the spring, and we are looking ahead to fall. It's a beautiful blessing to embrace our place in the story still unfolding in God's Plan! And yes! These things that God intended for His people for them to remember, observe, set aside and be set apart with, are still relevant, accessible and purifying for us today, as grateful grafted-in children of the Most High! HalleluYah!

To combine the elements of this feast with its fulfilment, we made harvest bundles for all our guests as a centrepiece to our table. Each adult and child got a paper bundle with their name attached, to "wave" as we prayed THANKS to the one True God of Israel, YHWH.

We read through the glorious story of Yeshua (Jesus), His resurrection from the dead, HE IS OUR FIRST FRUITS!!! Woo-hoo! The grave could not hold Him. Shout it from the highest mountain!

"You are looking for Yeshua from Natzeret, who was executed on the stake. He has risen, He's not here!" -Mark 16:6

We filled the table with all kinds of delicious fruit, end-to-end! We also studied the fruits of the Spirit. The kids enjoyed a wagon ride while we watched, "Miracle of Israel." It was a beautiful day! He Is Risen, Indeed!!!

The most significant thing I learned in observing this year, was the "A-ha!" of finally understanding the 3-days, 3-nights sign. Because there can be 2 Sabbaths in one week with the high feast of Unleavened Bread, there is an additional Sabbath in the middle of the week. This allows for the Sign of Jonah to actually be TRUTH. Our Messiah said that the only sign He would give that He was Messiah, would be that of the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4): 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the whale.
Well, "Good Friday-Easter Sunday" may be convenient to man-made tradition, but no matter which way you slice it, it still doesn't add up to 3-days AND 3-nights. We can count to three! The amazing Truth unfolds right in the observance of this feast. This would never have been a mystery if we had grown up studying and learning the Biblical feasts! When we forsake the Truth in favor of man's traditions, we literally forsake the only sign He said He would give!

Don't settle! The Truth is more fulfilling and freedom-giving.

We finished up our Feast of Unleavened Bread with some more Passover celebration and, on this day of First Fruits, we started counting the Omer!

Leviticus 23:15-16, "You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath...."

See you at Shavuot!! Pentecost=50 days.

Feast of Unleavened Bread

Exodus 12:17-20, "You are to observe the festival of matzah, for on this very day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, you are to observe this day from generation to generation by a perpetual regulation. From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah. During those seven days, no leaven is to be found in your houses. Whoever eats food with hametz in it is to be cut off from the community of Isra’el — it doesn’t matter whether he is a foreigner or a citizen of the land. Eat nothing with hametz in it. Wherever you live, eat matzah.’”

Matzah, Matzah, Matzah!! From Matzah pizza to matzah ball soup, we tried it all. The kids had fun getting creative with the ways we got around using any leaven for the week.

1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

1 Corinthians 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The kids love this song from their Wilderness Escape VBS, and they still dance and sing to it, at home and in the car. "G-d will guide us, He will provide for us. Through the wilderness, He will deliver us. He Is Faithful, He Is Faithful"

Explore the activities we enjoyed through the feast of ULB, including 10 Plagues, Seder Plates, Passover, and Feast of First Fruits! Glory and Gratitude to Adonai, the Great I AM.

On First Fruits, His Resurrection Day!, we start counting the Omer to Shavuot / Pentecost! 50 days! We have been greatly blessed by embracing the Biblical feasts the last year and a half.

For a simple, peace-filled guide to observing and enjoying the Biblical Feasts as a family and the ways they all point to Messiah, I really love this book. It has a lot of good suggestions outlined as well as menu ideas for all the celebrations. Blessings!

Homemade Seder Plates

With a great Goodwill find of separated plates and a ton of paint markers, we had the kids decorate their own Seder plates for Passover. It worked perfectly! Just baked them in a low temp oven for 30 minutes after to set the paint. They had so much fun, and it was wonderful to have them later in the week when we worked through our Messianic Family Haggadah, by Janie-Sue Wertheim.

When my husband got home from work, he led the kids in a really fun, hands-on, memorable devotional with smashing tomatoes. He got the idea from Tim Shoemaker's awesome book, "Smashed Tomatoes, Bottle Rockets and other Outdoor Devotionals you can do with your kids"
The kids got to smash the tomatoes all over the driveway, and then talk about how even when we mess up, God can still use us for great things! The verses were focused on when Moses murdered an Egyptian (smashed tomatoes), and what God did through him (freeing all His people from bondage)! Then we had a giant pot of homemade chili outside, which requires... you guessed it! Delicious smashed tomatoes!

See our fun projects with the 10 Plagues, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits!

10 Plagues, Red Sea Day

We collaborated with some of our dear friends for a totally awesome day of the 10 Plagues of Egypt, including crafts, games, snacks and coloring pages. Paper hole punch confetti for lice, bubble wrap colored red for boils, ice cube hail and more. It was a wonderful day of Bible history. We also had terrific visuals for the kids for Moses' parting of the Red Sea!

Exodus 12:37, "The people of Isra’el traveled from Ra‘amses to Sukkot, some six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting children."
We had a blast dancing to all the really fun Passover songs out there! I will share more on our ULB post. Here was one of our favorite ones:

The following week after our 10 Plagues day, we made homemade Seder Plates with the kids using some plates I found at Goodwill and paint markers.

It was wonderful!! Throughout our Passover and Unleavened Bread observances, including Feast of First Fruits, we really enjoyed celebrating our Messiah!