Gift 40 – Homeschool Watch (1)

In preparation for parenthood I’ve been trying to “tune in” to the homeschooling happening around me.   I don’t mean “homeschooling” as we often think of the word, rather, the underneath lessons parents are teaching their children everyday through their words, habits, actions, attitudes, etc.   Research continually points to inescapable fact that parents are the biggest shapers of their child’s identity—in short, they’re the most important teachers.   So if this easily missed homeschool curriculum is unfolding in every car ride, conflict and conversation, what exactly is being taught? I will be retelling the stories of the very best homeschooling examples as I see them…

As I drove to school one morning I saw that someone had rearranged the letters on the church sign right across from the Holland Christian parking lot. Some neighborhood kids must have thought it would be funny to write something inappropriate and unashamedly offensive. Two cars in front of me, a sliver minivan slowed before pulling into the church parking lot. I watched as a woman and her middle school son got out of the vehicle, walked over to the sign, and together changed the words back to the original message.

Talk about a powerful homeschool lesson. Maybe this mom was intentionally teaching her son in this moment, but more likely she was just doing a small act that needed to be done and invited her son to join along. Either way, what I was seeing went far beyond changing the words on a church sign.   This mom was showing her son that when you see something wrong, something that hurts others, you don’t just drive by. We don’t merely shake our heads and talk about how wrong or upsetting something is, but we get out of the car. What an attitude to have towards injustices both locally and globally, worldwide and close to home.  Though probably unaware of the significance, this young man was receiving an incredible education before the school day even started.

Stay tuned for more homeschool lessons coming soon!

Gift 33 – Blessing

1

“Wow…I mean [deep breath]…wow.”

Those were my first and only words for about ten minutes after Amanda told me she is pregnant. Now that the idea of becoming parents has had time to sink in, I’ve decided to better organize my thoughts into a blessing for our future son or daughter.

Historically, and still today in many cultures around the world, a paternal blessing is an essential ingredient for a child’s growth and flourishing. Perhaps the importance of such a blessing is even more evident by its nonexistence in this culture in which 63% of youth suicides, 71% of pregnant teens, 90% of all homeless and runaway teens, and 85% of youths in prison come from fatherless homes*. In his interview with Christianity Today, Bill Glass (pro football player and founder of the prison ministry Champions for Life) speaks of the importance of a Father’s blessing. “It’s got to be said out loud. It’s got to be stated.”

So here’s my attempt at a blessing for you as you grow, Little One. The language of it feels almost out of place in a world in which so little is sacred, but these words represent my heartfelt prayer for you to walk a path that goes beyond the expectations of your culture, up into the high, green country of life to the fullest where Jesus leads those who surrender to his love.

May you be a rebellious citizen of light
in the dominion of darkness.
May you be a vision of Resurrection Life
in the Valley of Dry Bones.
May you be an Easter-hopeful traveler
on the long road to Emmaus.
May you be a joyful Sabbath child
in the chaos of ten thousand tabs.
May you be a bread-and-wine kind of worshiper
in the trend of fast-food feelings.
May you be a beacon of “foolish” integrity
in the Big Business of underhanded dealing and compromise.
May you be an instrument of grace
in a world of scorekeeping, sin counting, and wrong weighing.
May you be an agent of peace
in a world ravaged by war.

May you care deeply.
May you be eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, a friend to those in need—may you take up the case of strangers in the land (Job 29).
May your heart break for what breaks His.

May you trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him (Prov. 3).
May you chase after understanding as one runs after riches (Prov. 3)
May you rise early to seek wisdom and choose her over beauty (Wisdom of Solomon 6 & 7).

May God’s intimate friendship bless your house (Job 29).
May you love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6).
May you seek first his kingdom and his righteousness so that your delight may be in Him (Matthew 6 & Psalm 37).

May you hate what is evil, cling to what is good (Romans 12).
May you be an inconvenience to the wrongdoer, an opposition to oppression, and an enemy to injustice.
May you deal gently with the broken.

May you have open ears and a hesitant tongue (James 1),
May you serve eagerly.
May you be a good character in a great story.

May you be curious and inquisitive, asking tough question.
May you love learning,
May you listen well.

May your heart be a tree planted by streams of water,
a well tended garden,
freshly tilled soil,
a deep, pure well,
a tall glass of grapefruit juice.

By his light may you walk through darkness,
By his Word may you hear his voice,
By his glory may you fear his Name,
By his table may you find your sustenance,
By his rebuke may you recognize his affection,
By his love may you know his embrace,
By his Church may you discern your purpose,
By his Spirit may you live each day.

When you come to a fork in the road…
May you pray earnestly, choose wisely, and go boldly.

When you wrong others…
May you sincerely feel remorse, humbly seek forgiveness, and wholeheartedly pursue reconciliation.

When you are wronged…
May you remember your own wrongs, forgive fervently, and move on freely.

When you meet challenges…
May you assess yourself meekly, persevere stubbornly, and overcome honorably.

When you wake each morning…
 May you bathe wholly in God’s love, to heal all your wounded places, cover all your naked places, and strengthen all your weak places. 

And when you are tired and ready…
 May your mourning turn to dancing, your sorrow into laughter, and your death into resurrection.

*John Sowers, The Fatherless Generation. pg. 36-37