Friday, November 29, 2013

The Danger of Educating your Children (part 4)

As I have been sharing in my last few posts, there is a real danger in teaching your children to love learning, researching, and studying, especially God's Word.  This danger is that you may end up changing your life in ways you never planned too.

(if you want to read the previous posts they are here: part 1, part 2, and part 3)

Our lives continued to be challenged as God once again led us in a new direction for educating our children.  As we planned for the next school year (2009/2010), We felt challenged to really teach our children from God's Word as the sole textbook for all subjects.  This new vision led me on a search to find curriculum that was Bible based.  As I searched for good materials and prayed about how to best make this change, I began to realize that the best way to teach the Word was to go through it from beginning to end with the children.  So we started at Genesis 1:1 and began studying.  As we continued through those first five books, we found a new love for Israel, Hebrew, and God's law (the Torah). 

Each year God gives Jeremy and I a verse for the school year.  In the year 2009/2010 the verse was Joshua 24:15.  The funny thing was, we had always claimed this as one of our family verses.  But, it took on a whole new meaning in this school year.  As we studied the Torah, we realized that serving the LORD was so much more than just going to church, more than praying, more than being good moral people.  We were realizing that choosing to serve the Lord meant looking different for His name sake.  It meant being set apart.  Not following the ways of the world. 
So as Christmas approached in 2010, we again felt challenged to not included pagan traditions in our  celebration of Chris's birth.  So again instead of decorating our home with the traditional Christmas tree, we again opted for a small nativity, and we did lots of snow man decorations.  We again decided to buy our own kids just one small gift, and allow them to give to charities as they chose.  Our ancient history studies had again showed the children that many of the traditions of Christmas were as old as the Tower of Babel and truly had nothing to do with Christ.  But we (Jeremy and I) just were not sure how to decided what to do, about our new convictions.

You see we knew that these convictions had no barring on our salvation.  We had spent a great deal of time reading the book of Romans and Paul's many letters to the early churches.  We found verses like:

Romans 14 specifically verses 5-10
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

We knew that, much like our conviction to let God number our children, if we believed God didn't want us to celebrate Christmas, this would be a personal decision. 

So, we continued to study God's Word, and be open to his plan for our lives.

to be continued...

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Danger of Educating your Children (part 3)

In my last post, I shared that by teaching my children to love reading God's Word and researching things changed our lives forever.  You can read the first two post here and here.  So, that Christmas in 2008 we enjoyed gift giving and a Christmas tree and the Advent season.  But, something had changed. The children had already started to have a desire "to have less to give more."  This would soon become a family motto, that would not only affect our holiday times, but our everyday life.
But that wasn't all.

Our oldest daughter loves the library, loves books, and loves learning knew things.  Even more than that she has a love for God's word and is an avid student of it.  It makes my heart rejoice that she loves all these things, but it also makes it a challenge to keep up with her.  She often teaches me things.  Sometimes things I wish I never learned.

This was one of those times in life.  As our family studied each holiday on the calendar, Tyler dug deep and shared with our family her findings.  Sometimes it was exciting and interesting.  Like learning about the true story of our founding fathers, and Squanto at Thanksgiving time.  But, other times, it was a challenge.  That was how it was for Christmas.

Tyler Ann searched scripture and searched books and websites and found Christmas wasn't at all what she thought it was.  (Instead of telling you all the different things she discovered, I will share this link with a few of the things she found.)  She shared her findings with our family.  We found it interesting and it truly challenged both Jeremy and I.  But, we weren't ready to let go of Christmas.  In fact, we didn't discuss it with each other much at first.

Christmas 2009 was approaching and we had finished our study on generosity and joy.  The children had started something new.  Living with less to give more.  So again they asked if they could not have presents, but instead use the money to give to the poor.  They also asked to not have a tree.  So, instead of putting up a Christmas tree we got a new nativity and placed it in our living room.  Instead of giving them gifts we gave them stocking stuffers only.  The children went bargain shopping and made lots and lots of shoeboxes to give to Samaritan's Purse.  We bought gifts for relative and friends and went to family gatherings.  We all felt pretty good about ourselves.  We felt like we found a compromise. 

The problem is God doesn't do compromise, no that was not going to work for him.

to be continued.....

The Danger of Educating your Children. (part 2)

In my last post I shared how teaching my children has changed my life forever, and began to share how in the school year 2008/2009 it really changed our families life in areas that were hard for me.  Specifically in the area of holiday celebrations.
(If you would like to read that post it is here.)

In the school year 2008/2009, Jeremy and I chose joy and generosity for our school focus.  That meant that everything we taught would be centered in these two character traits.  I was so excited because as a child my mom always taught my siblings and I about generosity at holiday times, so I decided what better thing to study than holidays to teach these character traits.  So, I began writing our lesson plans and it included holidays in it that we celebrated and also holidays that we didn't.  My goal was to educate my children on all the holidays, using them as history lessons too.  I was excited because my older children were at an age now that I could give them research assignments and they could do their own research and find their own answers.  I was proud that I had made learning and research exciting for them, and they were excited about discovering answers on their own.  But little did I know that teaching my children to research and discover on their own would change my life.

We began our school year and started memorizing our verses on generosity, and doing our Bible lessons that showed us God's great love and generosity towards us.  We read in God's word about his gift of joy to those who chose to accept it, and that that joy is even greater than all our sorrow.  It
was a great time in God's Word, and I loved hearing the children read the Bible on their own and discuss what they were learning from it.  Bible class was just amazing. 
Then we had history class and we looked at the calendar each week and studied and research any holiday that was on it.  Some of those holiday's we fun and interesting, like President's day, Labor day, and Veterans day.  We learned a lot about our American and world history, and I was impressed with the research the children would do.  Their reports were excellent. 
But then there were those holidays like Halloween and Valentine's Day that we never celebrated as a family, and the children did their research and were surprised by the pagan roots of these holidays and curious as to why so many of their friends and relatives participated in these activities.  I gently reminded them that every family has to make those decisions for themselves, and that we are not to judge others, but to live our lives as we believe God calls us to.  This seemed like a good answer to them, and we went on.  But then it happened, my children began to dig deeper into their studies than I actually expected them to.
It was one of those great yet distressing moments.  I was so proud that my children had gone the extra mile and discovered answers of their own, but little did I know that the answers they found would challenge them to challenge me.  It was Christmas time, and we got out all our decorations and our tree the day after Thanksgiving.  This was tradition.  We started baking and singing Christmas music.  We planned our program and we went shopping.  It was a busy fun time.  But there was a problem the children began researching the roots of Christmas.  They dug deep, they found things that upset them and that made them wonder if we should celebrate such a holiday.  (If you want to know what they learned check out my friends blog, here.) 
But, it wasn't just the roots of Christmas that upset them.  No, as they read the verses on generosity in the Bible and thought about the true meaning of generosity, they just weren't sure if this whole Christmas thing was right.
So, I am not sure how or when, but our children began to ask us if we would consider not giving them gifts for Christmas.  Oh, you might think this was a sweet moment, maybe even a proud parent moment.  But it wasn't.  You see.  Jeremy and I had never bought our children very much at Christmas time to begin with.  In fact, we don't buy our children many gifts at all.  So, Christmas time has always been sort of a fun time for him and I to go out and get things for them.  We would get them each three small gifts, each gift specially picked for that child.  So, when they asked us to not give them gifts, it wasn't an easy thing for us.  So, as Christmas approached, we compromised and decided to just get them each one gift, and the rest of the money we would have spent on them, we let them have to give to charity.
As you read that you are probably thinking "oh, that is so wonderful".  But, it wasn't wonderful.  You see that compromise wasn't going to last.  Tyler Ann, our oldest daughter, was certain that God's word told us not to participate in pagan holidays.  She also was certain that Christmas was a pagan holiday.  She continued to push us to look into it further.  The more research she did on it, the more research I did.  I was trying to find answers to show her that Christmas centered on Christ was ok, and good and acceptable.  But, for every verse I thought I found to convince myself, I found even more that showed me that Tyler was on to something.
It was an uneasy feeling.  It was not the answer I wanted to find.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Danger of Educating your Children?

The decision to homeschool our children was made before we even had children.  I am not sure why, but Jeremy and I both felt strongly about homeschooling any children God blessed us with.  We didn't really know any homeschoolers (only a childhood friend's family).  But, we did know how we felt about the education we both had.  We wanted our children to love learning, to desire to learn.  We wanted school to be fun and beneficial.  We knew that we could not afford to pay for schooling, and pubic schooling left a lot to be desired.  In the beginning, it really wasn't about God, as much as it was about our children getting the best education.  When our first two children were old enough to start school we bought books and materials.  We got excited about the whole homeschooling thing, and we were scared silly that we wouldn't be able to do it.  But we jumped in with everything we had. 

That first year the goals were simple teach the basic, teach them to read, and most of all teach them the love of learning.  For most of my childhood school was torture and no fun.  I didn't truly learn the love of learning until I went to college.  So, my goal, from the beginning, was to teach my children to love to discover and learn knew things in books and in experiences.  Well, I had no idea that this goal:  The Love of Learning, would come to change my life forever, year after year.  The more my children learned the more they challenged me to keep learning and that has become our life.  A journey of learning. 

One of the areas that our life has changed the most is how we participate and celebrate holidays.  In the next couple of posts, I want to share with you how educating my children has caused me to have to give up things I held dear for so many years. 

It all started in the school year 2008/2009.

 As  the years of homeschooling went on we became more confident and more focused on why we kept our children home with us.  Instead of it being just about giving them a better education, it started to become about being obedient to God's calling as parents.  We had met lots of homeschoolers and we had been challenged by them and God to make our school focused on training in righteousness.  So, Jeremy and I had started using a new teaching style, using KONOS as our guide.  Each school year we would choose a couple character traits and make that our focus for the year.  Then everything we taught would line up with the character traits we were studying.  The character traits for 2008/2009 were joy and generosity.  Little did we know that studying these two character traits would change our lives forever.

To be continued......

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Purity Pledge by Lydia

Sunday, November 3, 2013 Lydia Lucinda Hirn turned fifteen.  So in Hirn tradition she received her purity ring and gave her purity pledge.  Below is her pledge.  She also sang one of her original songs with her pledge.  The link to her song is at the end of the post.  Her father and I are so proud of the woman she is growing into.
 Lydia's pledge:

Purity to me is: clean, freedom from guilt, honor

Today, I am committing myself to remain pure until I get married. In order to stay pure, I must guard my heart, eyes, mind, and body from any sexual impurity. It says in Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” And in Romans 6:13 it says, “The body is not for immorality, but for the LORD, and the LORD is for the body.” Also in Romans 12:2, “ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The last verse I want to share is in Matthew 6:22, “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if the eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”

All these verse talk about my eyes, heart, mind, and body. I must protect my eyes by not looking at impure things, and instead looking at the Bible. I must guard my heart by feeding it good stuff by studying God's Word. I need to keep my mind pure by making good things go into it. I can copy the Bible, because the things in it are crazy good! I need to commit my body to God and honor Him. I can take care of my body and do things that please Him.

My parents are giving me a ring to remind me of my decision to honor God and stay pure. Every time I see my ring, I will remember that God and my family love me, and I should not make decisions that hurt God, my family, or myself. Another verse I find encouraging is 1 Timothy 4:12, “ Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” This verse is talking about how I talk, how I act, how I love, how my attitude is, how I trust in God, and how I stay pure. I know I want to be a good example to others. I am going to be careful who I hang out with, because friends can influence my choices towards purity. I am making this pledge in front of you, so that you can keep me accountable. If I ever go down a wrong path, I know I can come to my family for help. So please keep me accountable. I believe God made sex good, but it is only good between a husband and wife. So today, in Honor of God, my family, and my future spouse, I commit my life to sexual purity.

Lydia singing one of her own songs