December 13, 2006

A Lifetime of Learning

These days I feel that it is I who is learning the most from home schooling. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I decided to have Charis skip a new math lesson this week!) I constantly feel my character is being stretched and (hopefully) shaped as I pursue my calling as a stay-at-home, home-schooling wife and mother. I'm learning more and more about God's character and seeing how my own life falls so far short of His standards...yet I also understand a little bit more each day about His mercy and grace and His desire to see me pass those on to my children.

Once a month I receive an e-newsletter from Steve & Teri Maxwell, authors of Managers of Their Homes, a tool that has encouraged and challenged me over the last year. (I still struggle to implement our schedule as we should, but at least I'm more mindful of how we are spending our time.) The e-newsletters are lengthy but are well worth the read. I always save them until I have the time to devote to digesting the points within, and I read both the "Mom's Corner" as well as the "Dad's Corner" and am often just as challenged (if not more so) by the "Dad's Corner" as the article aimed towards mothers. The articles are archived if anyone is interested in checking them out...I've made up my mind to take some time now and then to read them myself, as they date back to 1999.

This month's topic in the Dad's Corner echoes some of the concepts that were presented in another recent reading project of mine by R.C. Sproul Jr., When You Rise Up: A Covenental Approach to Home Schooling. It's kind of hard to put all my thoughts into words at this point, as I feel I'm still absorbing the information from this book and now from the articles I read via email. I guess in a nutshell I feel that God is clarifying in my own heart and mind His purposes for the family unit, and specifically, that means letting go of my concerns about our own family.

I've always been bothered by the questions people ask (I'm sure unthinkingly) such as, "Well, are you done yet?" as if one could poke a toothpick into our family and determine whether we're finished baking or not. I've never been able to put my finger on why exactly it bothers me to be asked questions like this. It's not that I necessarily feel that they're rude or intrusive, though I suppose they can be. I confess I have that natural curiosity of other families as well, though from the experiences I've had, I've made the decision not to ask unless they bring up the conversation themselves. Now I'm starting to understand why That Question bothers me. It insinuates that WE should be controlling our family size, that WE make the decision as to whether we will add more children or not, and if not, then WE would need to do something drastic about it.

The Bible says that children are a heritage from the Lord, a reward, even. Steve Maxwell writes about this topic in his December Dad's Corner far more eloquently than I could, so I'll quote him here:

"Families will reject more children for a host of reasons. Why would man not want more children when God calls them a heritage and a reward? The answer is obvious since children represent hard work, time, money, and most likely, some degree of heartache. There are no guarantees with children. They could have health problems or be rebellious. Yet, the Lord says children are His heritage and reward.

There is a vast difference between children and other aspects of the created world as seen in Genesis 1:26: "And God said, Let us make man in our image. . ." Nothing else has been made in God's image. The simple fact that a child is made in God's image makes him a treasure. Do we really value children as His heritage and reward?

Another reason we reject children is that they bring change into our lives. If we allow it, they cause us to grow in Christ and in dependency on Him. Teri and I often hear moms say they could never homeschool because they aren't patient enough. What parent has the character needed to raise a child? That is one reason why God gives us children. God will use them to constantly shape us into the image of Christ. "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience" (Romans 5:3). Children can break our hearts. Brokenness is a good thing that the Lord uses in our lives. Once broken, we are prepared for the work of the Potter's hands. Certainly, who in their right mind would welcome a source of tribulation? Yet, the Lord says children are His heritage and reward.

Many will reject God giving the family more children because of all the work and money they will require. That would be like someone offering to give a friend a Mercedes and having him turn it down because of the costly insurance, gas, and maintenance. Perhaps another reason for saying no would be that he doesn't have room in his garage. I don't think so. It is all a matter of our point of view—heavenly or earthly."

Food for thought, eh? It is for me!


Megan said...

Thanks for posting this! After having Tobin, you probably were asked many times, "So, are you done now that you have a girl and a boy?" People are asking us that these days, or making comments like "A girl and a boy: that's perfect!" as if there's no reason to have more children since we have one of each model. If we'd had two girls first, it would have been acceptable to "try again for a boy," but heaven forbid you have a third child if you aleady have one of each.

I finally figured out what to say when people ask if we're done now that we have "a girl for Mom and a boy for Dad." I say very cheerily, "I hope not!" The other day I tried that on a lady at church, and she responded, "Oh good!"

Tina said...

Very much food for thought! I've passed this on to several people. Thank you for sharing it.

Bob & Claire said...

Oh yes, a sore spot for me! : ) Good thoughts--I enjoyed reading them. I've also read When you Rise Up and got a lot out of it, at leasst for my own motivations for homeschooling.

The good news about those people who are always harping on when you are done--by the time you are expecting your 6th, they have stopped asking that question! I rarely hear that anymore; it's always "Are these ALL yours? And another one?" I guess they figure we just don't know HOW to stop, LOL! : )