Monday, April 26, 2010

Shameless Indoctrination

A young child's favorite question is "why?"

Do you roll your eyes to this nonstop question, or do you take the opportunity for what I refer to as "shameless indoctrination"?

The first "why" gets answered with a matter-of-fact statement that is creating the default setting for my child's beliefs about God, the world, themselves, and morality. The second "why" gets a more general answer to the effect that either "God tells us in the Bible" or "because I said so." End of discussion.

But let's unpack that first opportunity for shameless indoctrination (and, shameless indoctrination doesn't need a why question to be practiced; it's just that the why question provides SO MUCH opportunity since it occurs SO FREQUENTLY).

In our house, we have a daughter who's a mere 18 months older than her twin brothers. You can imagine that there's been quite an education concerning the anatomical differences in boys and girls, among other "life lessons." When we were changing the boys' diapers, bathing the three children, and potty training the boys, myriad questions arose from my daughter. The answer? An unapologetic statement that "God made boys and girls different. One of those differences is in the way he made them look. Girls are made this way and boys are made that way." That paves the way for future discussions of the other ways God made boys and girls different. Similarly, when my daughter stated that she was going to marry Daddy someday, I told her he was my handsome prince and she'd have to marry someone else (but Daddy would always be her daddy). She then said she'd marry me. To that, I matter of factly stated that girls don't marry each other. Girls marry boys--1 girl to 1 boy. See? Setting that foundation before they even know it's an issue in our society. When she comes face to face with homosexual "marriage," my prayer is that by then, the truth of God's Word regarding marriage between one man and one woman will be so ingrained in her little brain--the default setting, as it were--that she will not question God's standard. Instead, she'll recognize the sin in the world.

In another interchange, after my daughter had gone with my husband to buy me flowers, she said she would buy the boys (her brothers) flowers when they were bigger. I told her that was a sweet idea, but girls don't buy boys flowers. That's the boys' job; when they get bigger, they'll buy flowers for the special girls in their lives (including us, hopefully!). See? We're setting those expectations high. When she has a crush on a boy later (hopefully MUCH later) that doesn't treat her well, ideally she'll notice it because we've been laying a foundation of respect and proper treatment between men and women.

Toddlers and preschoolers don't need the paragraph answers older children and adults want. A simple statement or two is usually enough. Why not use this golden opportunity to set the foundation for God's created order? Morality, gender roles, even "religion" and "church" are being called into question and given fuzzy boundaries throughout society. Prepare your children now by given them a strong foundation in God's Word and His standards.

I need hardly point out that the Children's Catechism and Scripture memory are part of this training!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gospel Driven Discipleship

I went to a seminar over the weekend on Gospel driven discipleship. I was typing up some points for my women's Bible study so I thought I would post them here. This doesn't really do the info justice, but it gives you the main points (which are still good.)

Gospel Driven Discipleship:
(Note: reference 2 Timothy 2:1-2 and Titus 2) When the Gospel is a hole of you, it will propel you forwards.

1. Doesn't focus on outward behavior.
2. Focuses/pursues the soul/heart.
3. HAS to be spirit driven.
4. Has a willingness to walk into the darkness of our own hearts and others.
5. Boldness to speak the truth-not just give easy answers.
6. Initiate and persist (especially with younger ages/students)
7. With Children:
a. Immerse them in scripture.
b. Live it everyday.
c. Our God is not going anywhere.
d. Make your home a haven.
e. Have kids be attracted to Jesus in your life.
f. Be available.
8. Stop and listen: help those around you where they are.
9. Be sure to use the word every time. "Nothing is a stumbling block to the man who has the word of God in him." -Charles Spurgeon.
10: Other references: Psalm 78:1-4, Deut. 6: 5-9, I Thess. 2:8

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Great Silence (and the Fast)

I don't post something on this blog every day by a long shot. However, I don't usually let 6 weeks go by; I've rarely let 6 days go by without putting something on full tummies. My neighbor, Lisa, and I committed to a Lenten fast from the internet/computer this year. I'll link up to her blog reflection on our "fast" when she posts her reflections--she "interviewed" us last week with a few questions. Suffice it to say for now that we are truly glad we set aside this time and have learned a lot about ourselves, our society, and technology. I highly recommend a similar experiment for anyone reading this! In fact, it's taken nearly a week since the fast ended to even post something; I'm obviously not overly eager to jump back on the internet/blog bandwagon.

Our individual rules were different. I allowed myself more flexibility than she did. She checked email once a week and did no other internet-related activities (or, that was the plan--she'll discuss why and when she "broke" her fast in her reflection). My rules were to check email only once a day and do only internet-related activities that were absolutely necessary and couldn't be done by any other method. The primary cause of this last rule was simply that we have an internet-only bank; to pay bills and do basic banking, I must use the internet. As much as possible, I tried to stay away from my food blog--choosing to use recipes that I had in other places rather than access my stash of favorite recipes on the blog.

So, what did I learn? Here's a short list:

1. The internet/email has some definitely legitimate uses (such as the aforementioned banking, getting in touch with my hubby via email when phone is not available, etc.).

2. The internet/email is a big time waster and was not contributing to my life in proportion to its presence in my life (that is, the opportunity cost of spending time on the internet usually left a deficit).

3. Some hobbies and ways of spending time are restorative in nature whereas others are merely passive. In other words, playing the piano, going for a walk, sewing, gardening, painting, writing a letter, reading a book--all of these restore the hobbyist in ways that surfing the web and watching TV do not. They function just as well for stress relief as TV/internet does, but they also restore or give back to the hobbyist. The mind has a chance to process the day, mull over details, plan an upcoming event, wander at will, enjoy the creative process, etc. when a person is engaged in something creative or naturally related. The mind is turned off and put to sleep when internet surfing/TV watching--and when the mind wakes back up, it still needs to process everything! This leads to remarkable mental clutter.

4. Margins are necessary and procrastination is NOT. If we fill all the little 10-15 minutes spaces before leaving for an activity, between two different activities, or just a "boring" little spot with internet surfing or email or whatever, then we're not leaving ourselves any margin for error. Instead, during this past 6 weeks, if I had a 10-15 spot of time, I'd get us all ready to leave at a more leisurely pace; I might fold a load of laundry or make a doctor's appointment/phone call or empty the dishwasher or.... Then, when something did come up (a "boo boo" that needed a bandaid, an emergency trip out of town, a friend needing to talk via phone), I was ready to deal with it because everything else had been taken care of along the way. I also got a lot of little projects completed because I used those little margins of time in a better manner.

It's worth taking some time to evaluate your use of technology!