Monday, April 3, 2017

THRIVING CREATIVELY

The theme of the upcoming annual North Carolinians for Home Education Conference and Book Fair  is THRIVE : Equipping, Encouraging, Connecting.

"Thrive" is a good word;   it means to PROSPER,  FLOURISH, GROW VIGOROUSLY.   That is what we want for our children and our homeschools, right?   We don't want to just "get by", we want to prosper and flourish!  We don't want our children to just be "good enough", we want them to be all they can be!

So the question is, what will cause my family to thrive?  What will allow ME to thrive?  What is the "formula"? What steps do I follow, what curriculum do I buy...?

Psalm 1: 1-3 is a good starting place.

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God. But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely.
They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper.

(The Living Bible)



Those words "everything", "day and night", and "always" make me cringe a bit, because I know I don't always do everything God wants me to do.  But I know this is God's blueprint for how to THRIVE.  So just because I don't do it perfectly doesn't mean I shouldn't try, and do the best I can. This is where I want my children to start as well.

Proverbs 11:28 says

Those who trust in their riches will fall,
    but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

(NIV)


So here, thriving is equated with righteousness, which means living a moral, virtuous life that is in accord with the character of God.  Because God created mankind in His own image, we have the ability to live in line with His character. That means that we reflect God's nature. 
We are creative because God is Creator. 
We are spiritual beings because God is Spirit.  
We communicate because God communicates, and is the Word. 
We are intelligent because God possesses all knowledge and wisdom.  
We are relational because God is  tri-une, and personal, creating mankind to be in relationship with Him   
We understand morality because God is a moral being, holy and pure.  

When we embrace and nurture these qualities in our lives and in our families, then we are able to THRIVE, living as God created us to live! 

Let's talk about one of the characteristics of God - CREATIVITY.

What is creativity?  One definition is "the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, etc. and to create meaningful NEW ideas, forms, methods, and interpretations."

When you think OUTSIDE THE BOX,  when you find NEW and ORIGINAL ways or methods for dealing with tasks and obstacles, you are being CREATIVE!  


We want our children to be leaders who are innovative, who come up with new ideas and better solutions, whether in the workplace, the church, the community, government, school, or family.
Creativity is an integral component to a thriving economy, a thriving church, a thriving community, and a thriving family.

Creativity is not about being able to draw or paint, although those are creative activities.  It is making things, solving problems, cultivating beauty, exploring ideas.   It is a key part of being "educated", and feeling  fulfilled as a human being!



Why is creativity important?  Supporting the fact that creativity is part of God's character and developing our innate creativity allows us to THRIVE, numerous studies, such as this one here,  have found that practicing creativity improves both emotional and physical health and well-being. 
  • increases feelings of positivity; improves mood
  • reduces stress and anxiety
  • improves ability to resolve conflict
  • increases self-confidence and sense of purpose
  • increases spontaneity
  • contributes to emotional and physical healing
Developing and practicing our God-given creativity helps us to live healthier, happier lives!

What if I'm not creative?  Your innate spark of creativity might be dormant through lack of use, but it is still present!   How do I know?  Because Colossians 1:16 says

"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him."

Genesis 1: 27

 "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." 

God was lavish and bold and expressive in His creation!  Pastor and author John Piper writes:

"If you are God, your work is to create out of nothing. If you are not God, but like God - that is, if you are human - your work is to take what God has made and shape it and use it to make Him look great." 
 ( Don't Waste Your Life, 139)



Young children express their creativity very well. Anyone with a toddler has been amazed at the ingenuity displayed when he pushed a box up to a chair so he could climb on the counter to open the cabinet to get to the shelf where you hid the Oreos behind the box of brown rice!   Think of the imagination that is typical of preschoolers - imaginary friends, dress up costumes, tea parties, blanket forts, made-up songs.  But do you know that measures of creativity and imaginative thinking fall drastically once a child starts school?



In a 1968 study on creativity by George Land,  98% of the 1,600 three to five year old children given a test on divergent thinking scored at the highest, or genius, level.  When that test was given to those same children at 8- 10 years old, only 30% scored at the genius level.  The number dropped to 12% when they reached 13-15 years old.  The number dove to 2% when the same test was given to over 200,000 adults over the age of 25.    What happens to children between the ages of 5 and 25?  Well, school happens.  The conclusion drawn by Sir Ken Robinson is that modern education, which emphasizes learning for a test and giving the right answer, stifles divergent thinking.  

EDUCATION is not a mechanical system, where you put in raw material, manipulate it in certain ways, and produce a consistent end-product.  Education is a HUMAN system.  There are certain conditions under which people THRIVE!  Look around you. Where is that happening?  Look are your children.  Are they thriving?  If not, what conditions need to be adjusted?


If you are a mother, you are creating something beautiful every day!  You are creating art!  Every hug, every kiss, every pat on the back, every nose wiped, every lesson taught, every meal prepared, every tear wiped away, every prayer lifted is adding to the color and texture and design of the beautiful life that is entrusted to you. 
And you are more creative than you think!
  • creative in getting your kids to eat vegetables
  • creative in stretching a pay check
  • creative in getting a reluctant child to do his lessons
  • creative in finding time to be alone with your husband    

Creativity is like a muscle that needs to be stretched and exercised.  The more you use it, the stronger it gets!  Just because I cannot run from my driveway to the end of my street without feeling like I'm going to die doesn't mean I don't have the ability to do so. It means I haven't used those muscles in that way in a very long time.  If I start slowly and am consistent in practicing, bit by bit I will develop those muscles and regain that ability.  I may never run quickly or gracefully, but that doesn't mean I can't do it!

Stretch your creative muscles!  Some possible creative pursuits that you might explore with your children are
  • GARDENING
  • WRITING -  letters, a blog, short stories, poetry, a journal
  • DRAWING
  • SCULPTING
  • HANDCRAFTING  -  sewing, knitting, rubber stamping, candle making, jewelry making, etc
  • COOKING 
  • MAKING MUSIC
  • PLANNING - birthday parties, unit study celebrations, church functions, family reunions, support group events
  • DECORATING  -  your home for seasons or holidays,  
  • PHOTOGRAPHY
  • DANCING / CHOREOGRAPHY
  • ACTING
  • STORYTELLING 
  • DESIGN - fashion, landscape, graphic, more efficient ways of doing things, 
  • BUILDING -  blocks, LEGOs, woodworking
  • DEBATING



STORY

"The Story of Gillian Lynne"   ~  paraphrased from the book The Element by Sir Ken Robinson.

Gillian was only eight years old, but her future was already at risk. Her schoolwork was a disaster, at least as far as her teachers were concerned.  She turned in assignments late, her handwriting was terrible, and she tested poorly.  Not only that, she was a disruption to the entire class - one minute fidgeting noisily, the next staring out the window, forcing the teacher to stop the class to pull Gillian's attention back, and the next doing something to disturb the other children around her.     Gillian wasn't particularly concerned about any of this -  she was used to being corrected all the time, but she really didn't see herself as a bad child.  However, the school was very concerned.  Finally the principle wrote to Gillian's parents, saying that Gillian obviously had a learning disorder of some kind and it might be more appropriate for her to be in a school for children with special needs.  This was the 1930's, and classroom inclusion and accommodations were not yet the norm.   Today, Gillian would probably be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and put on medication. But the ADD epidemic hadn't been invented at the time and wasn't an available condition.

Gillian's parents sprang into action and took her to a psychologist for assessment, fearing the worst.  The doctor, an imposing man in a tweed jacket seated behind a large, oak desk, asked Gillian's mother about the difficulties she was having at school.  While he didn't direct any of his questions to Gillian, he watched her carefully the entire time.

Eventually, the adults stopped talking. The man rose from his desk, walked to the sofa, and sat down next to the little girl. "Gillian, you have been very patient, and I thank you for that, " he said.  "But I'm afraid I need you to be patient for just a little longer.  I need to speak to your mother privately for a minute. We're going to go out of the room, but don't worry. We won't be very long."   The mother exited the room and the psychologist followed, but first he leaned across his desk and turned on the radio.

When they were in the corridor outside the room, the doctor said to Gillian's mother, "Let's just stand here for a minute and watch what she does."  There was a window in the door, and they stood to the side where they could watch Gillian but she couldn't see them.  Nearly immediately, Gillian was up off the couch, moving and skipping about the room to the music, looking at the various things on the shelf , humming to herself.  After watching for a few minutes, the psychologist turned to Gillian's mother and said, "You know, Mrs. Lynne.  I don't believe Gillian is sick.  She's a dancer.  You should take her to dance school!" 

So her mother did exactly what the psychologist suggested.  When Gillian walked into the dance school for the first time, she immediately felt at home.  Here were other people like HER. People who had to MOVE to think!  She started going to dance class every week and she practiced at home every day. Eventually, she auditioned for the Royal Ballet School in London, and they accepted her.  She went on to join the Royal Ballet Company itself, becoming a soloist and performing all over the world. When that part of her career ended, she formed her own musical theater company and produced a series of highly successful shows in London and New York.  She met Andrew Lloyd Webber and he hired her to choreograph some of the most famous musical theater productions in history, including "Cats" and "The Phantom of the Opera".  

Little Gillian, the girl with the high-risk future who some considered "special needs", became known to the world as Gillian Lynne, one of the most accomplished choreographers of our time -  someone who brought pleasure to millions, and earned millions of dollars doing it!   This happened because someone looked deep into her eyes and saw who she really was.  Someone else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down. 



















This story is not meant as a criticism for anyone with a struggling child, but perhaps inspiration to take a second look at what makes them tick, what brings them joy, what conditions let them THRIVE!  All children need unstructured play time in which to daydream, come up with their own entertainment, and make their own rules!  Some children really do need to MOVE in order to THINK!  My middle child was exactly that way, and because we homeschooled, I could let him wiggle, sit in a rolling chair, toss a tennis ball, squeeze silly putty,  hop on one foot .... whatever he needed to do in order to concentrate on the task at hand.

Some of the ways we can help our children nurture their natural curiosity and creativity are:
  • banish perfectionism  - allow for experimentation, dabbling, and mistakes
  • don't be afraid of messes -  creativity can be quite messy at times;  but messes can be cleaned up
  • provide space, time, and tools for a variety of artistic expression -  markers, paints & brushes, all kinds of paper, scissors, glue, old magazines, yarn, fabric, tools & wood, clay, dirt, costumes or old clothes,  musical instruments, cardboard tubes and boxes, puppets, 
  • listen to all kinds of music
  • read! - stories, fairy tales, poetry, biographies
  • ask your child to think of new ways to do things around the house  - encourage creative thinking and problem-solving
  • teach your child not to compare themselves to others - comparison is the thief of joy!!!  Creative pursuits are very individual, and often two people will approach the same subject in very different ways
Creativity is a vital part of the abundant life that God created for us.  Another benefit of creative activities is the ability to bless others!  The fruit of your creative labors can be enjoyed by others, can touch the lives of others, and build community. 



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Don't Lose Sight of the Forest for the Trees

This is especially for new or new-ish homeschoolers.



One thing I encourage all new homeschoolers to do is to write a paragraph stating your reasons for homeschooling. You likely have given this a good amount of thought at some point, and may have a "list" in your head. It is important to write it down and keep it someplace where you can refer to it from time to time.... because you will forget!!
 ~in the midst of winter when you are snowed in and everyone is sick,
~in the midst of struggles with learning to read or figuring out fractions or convincing your son that punctuation is necessary, 
~in the midst of trying to manage laundry and sports practices and grocery shopping and lesson plans,
~ in the midst of frustrating days and sleepless nights, 
you will hear yourself saying "Why did I think this was a good idea?" and YOU WILL NEED TO REMIND YOURSELF. 



Many years ago a speaker at the NCHE Homeschool Conference told this story, and it has stuck with me. This woman was head of a support organization in CA, and they required all their families to submit a statement of their reasons for homeschooling. One day a homeschool mom came to her, very discouraged, saying that after getting back her children's standardized test scores, she and her husband had decided the children were not doing as well as they'd hoped and that the kids would probably be better off in school. The leader pulled out the written statement that this family had submitted when they started homeschooling, and read it over for a minute.

 "You say you are disappointed with your children's test scores and think they should be back in school. But I don't see high test scores anywhere on this list of reasons you gave for wanting to homeschool in the first place. This is what you wrote."

And she handed the paper to the mom to read. The statement included things like growing up in a safe environment, building strong family relationships, having freedom to teach from a Christian worldview and include God in their daily lessons, protecting their children's innocence and allowing them to learn at their own pace and to develop their God-given abilities using materials that fit their individual learning styles.

"Have these things changed? Are your children still benefiting from the things you wrote here?"

 The mother admitted that she had lost sight of those reasons, and perhaps the standardized tests were not the most important part of this whole picture. She left much encouraged, with a copy of her written statement to show her husband.



There is an old adage, "Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees."
Keep the big picture in mind, and don't let one small detail or struggle derail you.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Celebrate Advent with Christmas Picture Books

If you have young children, you probably do some sort of Advent activity to countdown the days until Christmas.  There are lots of creative ideas for doing this and also reinforcing the message and meaning of Christmas with our children.  For years I used the advent unit studies on the Symbols of Christmas and the Names of Jesus found in Celebrate With Joy! by Sondra Burnett/






We have created paper chains with Bible verses on them, tearing off one link per day.

We have collected change in a jar, counting objects in our house that are blessings, and then donating the money to the Southern Baptist's Lottie Moon Fund or another charity after Christmas.   For example,  on Dec. 1,  put a penny in the jar for every shoe in the house. On Dec. 2, put a quarter in the jar for each car we own.  On Dec. 3, put a dollar in the jar for each bathroom.  On Dec. 4, put a dime in the jar for each Bible in the house.  Etc.

We love books, and Arnold Ytreeide has written a wonderful series of Advent adventure stories set in biblical times.  The stories, Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's PassageTabitha's Travels , and Ishtar's Odyssey,  are written as daily readings leading up to Christmas Day, and include questions to talk about together.  Read a different one each year.




Another idea is to collect Christmas picture books and display them in a special basket, reading one story each day until Christmas.  Advent traditionally starts on the 4th Sunday before Christmas, but most Advent Calendars start on Dec. 1st.  You can do it either way.
Here are some suggestions for books you might like to add to your Christmas collection.

The Very First Christmas, by Paul L. Maier

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey,  by Susan Wojciechowski

Jacob's Gift, by Max Lucado

 Alabaster's Song, by Max Lucado

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

Legend of the Christmas Tree, by Rick Osborne

Legend of the Candy Cane, by Lori Walburg


The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clark Moore, ill. by Jan Brett

Gift of the Magi, by O Henry, ill. by P.J. Lynch

A Charlie Brown Christmas Pop-Up Edition

Christmas Around the World Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, ill. by Brett Helquist

Legend of the Poinsettia, by retold & ill. by Tomie de Paola

The Little Drummer Boy, by Ezra Jack Keats

St. Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend, by Julie Stiegemeyer

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

Christmas in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, ill. by Renee Graef

The Littlest Angel, by Charles Tazewell

Twelve Days of Christmas, ill. by Jan Brett

Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story, by Cynthia Rylant

Christmas in the Trenches, by John McCutcheon

The Candle in the Window, by Grace Johnson

Annika's Secret Wish, by Beverly Lewis

Gift of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus' Birth, by Dandi Daley Mackall



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Current Events & Preparing Our Children for an Anti-Christian Culture

The ongoing battle of worldviews being waged in this country is intensifying every day. North Carolina is in the thick of it, with the opponents of HB2 launching heavy artillery aimed at the state economy, in hopes of forcing our government leaders ( who were elected by the people, btw, so this attack is on the democratic process!) to align with the new "progressive movement.



Similar things are happening all over the country. Yesterday, the Michigan Board of Education passed "guidelines" (tied to funding, so we know what that means) saying that all schools must allow students to self-identify their gender. Last week, Massachusetts (my home state) became the latest state to approve protected class status for transgender persons, and, according to the Gender Identity Guidance report by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, CHURCHES can be considered places of public accommodation and subjected to fines and penalties for not accommodating transgender persons in accordance with their gender identity. Similar wording was issued by a commission in Iowa earlier this summer.
U.S. Civil Rights Commission chairman Martin Castro has lashed out at "religious liberty and religious freedom, calling them “code words" for a host of hateful and discriminatory actions including “Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.” " [World Magazine, "Churches in the ‘civil rights’ crosshairs", 9/13/16]

What is your worldview? What and who influences your beliefs about right and wrong, good and evil, truth and lies? What are the assumptions ( truth claims ) that determine your opinions and actions? Do your actions line up with what you claim you believe?
Is God real?
What is my purpose in being?
Why is there suffering and what is the solution?
What is truth?
Is truth relative, or is there such a thing as absolute truth - something that is true for everyone?

There was a time, not so long ago, when

Some resources I have used with my teens that you might want to investigate:
*The Truth Project (Focus on the Family)
*For the Life of the World (The Acton Institute)

With younger kids, ground them in God's Word, talk about what it means to follow Jesus and how sometimes that's a hard thing to do. Study the book of Daniel. Set a godly example, demonstrating God's love and compassion while also standing up for truth. Teach them to be compassionate. Read biographies of heroes of the faith, who faced hardship, disappointment, calamity, and all manner of challenges with hope, courage, perseverance, fortitude.



Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

Friday, August 26, 2016

My Baby's Not a Baby Anymore : Turning 18

Last weekend was my baby's 18th birthday.

Gulp.
Shake my head.
Breathe.

My husband, daughter, and I threw him a surprise birthday cook-out at camp, with about 40 of his and our friends. He was surprised!  Which is often a challenge!  It was hot & humid, but still fun! I was too busy to take pictures. 

He is awesome. Amazing. Handsome. Funny. Affectionate.  Competitive. Forgetful. Unorganized. Wonderful.

I use similar adjectives to describe all five of my kids.  I adore them all.

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy.






Friday, August 19, 2016

Our Last First Day of School

Reality is setting in, as we embark on my youngest child's senior year of high school.  As much as I said I wouldn't do this, I am marking the "lasts".   Monday was the last first day of school for our homeschool, Cornerstone Academy.  My husband was the one who said it to my face, as I frantically stuck my fingers in my ears, chanting "La la la la la!  I can't hear you!"

"I don't want to make you sad, but do you realize that this is our last "first day of school" ever?"

Oh honey.  Do I realize?  I've been doing nothing but realizing... I've been shoving those realizations down and trying to stuff them back into the box of denial for at least a year.  I've been gazing at my 6'2" baby and blinking back tears.  I've been swallowing around a bowling ball lodged in my throat while sitting in an empty house all summer while he and his sister have worked overnight summer camp, because I know this will be my new normal all too soon.  I have helped my second youngest move into her first post-college apartment, smiling as my insides crumble, because her bed and wall decorations and clothes and stuff are gone from her bedroom now.  The girls' room isn't the girls' room any more - although it will forever be the girls' room.  I have nearly broken down in the grocery store, realizing that a gallon of milk is too much to buy, and reaching for the 1/2 gallon instead. I feel like a crazy person.
Oh honey.  I realize.



I belong to the "school starts after Labor Day" crowd, but the local community college does not. So Jason started his 3 community college classes this week, and I'm still pulling together my plans for his other classes, that will start when they are supposed to start - after Labor Day.  He is taking Writing, Statistics and Spanish at the C.C., so this week he was up and out of the house by 8:30am every morning. This is a big adjustment for the boy who likes to sleep until 11:00am!  I only had to rouse him one of those mornings, when he apparently slept through his alarm.  Not too bad.
I have helped him figure out the online aspect of his classes, which use Moodle and MyStatLab and  Composition Connection for submitting homework, class announcements, etc.  Such a different world from even when my  oldest started college!  I've stroooongly suggested that he use an actual, hold-it-in-your-hand, paper weekly planner to mark down all his homework deadlines, quiz and test dates, project deadlines, etc., since he is a person who NEEDS visual reminders.  I think I'm going to have to go out and buy that planner today and put it into his hands and sit down with him as he fills it in.   He may be turning 18 tomorrow and nearly a grown up and about to fly the coop, but I still have a job to do, and that is to help him gather the tools to be successful when he DOES leave home.  Yes, I still have this job... for a few more months.










It's a whole new world. There is a lot of "letting go" happening around here.  I can see that this is a process and am grateful that the Lord has given me friends and a homeschool community to walk through this with.  Several moms in our homeschool support group have formed an "Empty Nest Survival" group on Facebook, to give us a place  to commiserate and support one another, knowing we are all going through something similar.  My husband is being supportive, he really is, but I can tell he is a bit bewildered by the intensity of my emotions.  He doesn't quite know what to do when I say, "I am NOT okay right now!"   My girlfriends know that I need chocolate and a bottle of wine and a chance to talk it out and possibly even a good cry.

I know God will be revealing the next thing for me, as this year goes on. But I will still be marking the "lasts" and grieving a season of motherhood that is ending, while looking forward to new good things ahead.


*** this post as well as others are linked at  Weekly Wrap Ups at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Jesus Feeds the 5000 for Homeschool Moms



Have you ever found yourself reading a very familiar passage, a well-known story in the Bible, and suddenly God illuminates the page!  Suddenly the words take on a whole new meaning, even though you've read them a dozen times before! 

In all 4 Gospels -  Matthew 14:13-21;  Mark 6:30-44;  Luke 9:10-17; John  6: 1-15   - we find the story of Jesus feeding the 5000.

This is a story for you,  homeschool moms!



Matthew 14:13-21

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; iyou give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

So, I imagine it going something like this:

[Disciples}  Hi... Jesus. Ummmm. I don't know if you've noticed but { tapping watch )  it's getting kind of late.  It's been a long day;  I think it's time to tell  these people to go back home for dinner. I know we're getting kind of hungry and could use a little rest....

[ Jesus ]  No, they don't have to go home.  You feed them.

[ Disciple ]  What?

[ Jesus ]  You do it.  You feed them.

[ Disciple ]  With what?!  There have to be at least 5000 men here, never mind all the women and children with them!  We don't have anything to feed them with!  It would take ,  I don't know....  8 months wages to buy enough food for all these people.   I mean,  we have ... like 1, 2, 3, ... 4, 5,  loaves of bread and a couple of fish!

[Jesus]   Bring that here to me.

[ Disciple ]   What?

[ Jesus ]   Bring me that little bit of food you have there. 

                        Jesus gives thanks and blesses the food.

[ Jesus]  Okay, here, now take it and feed them.

[ Disciple ]  What? 
But... but.... how?  There is still only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.... and all those people look really hungry!   I don't understand. This is just an IMPOSSIBLE thing you are asking us to do!

[ Jesus ]   Trust Me.

Verse 20  : They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.


Now, we are going to change the characters a little.

[ Mom ]  You know, this has been great. But she's school-age now sooooo..... it's time to send her off to school.  I'll miss the little booger, but... well, she'll be fine.  Right?  I'm sure the teachers are great and she'll make lots of friends and....

[ Jesus ]   Don't send her away.  You do it.

[ Mom ]  Wait.  What?

[Jesus ]  Keep her home with you and homeschool her.

[ Mom]  Hahaha!  Me?  I don't know how to do that.   I'm not patient enough for that.... or smart enough... or creative enough.  Never mind that we don't have a lot of money and I was thinking of going back to my old job...   no. really.  There's no way.  I'm not equipped for that.

[ Jesus ]  Bring me what you have.

[ Mom] what?

[Jesus]  I know all those things about you.   Bring me the little that you have.

                                   Jesus gives thanks and blesses her.

[Jesus]  Okay, now you're ready.

[ Mom]   But nothing has changed!  I'm still unorganized, stretched thin, tired, poor.... how will this work?  Where do I get curriculum?  How do I know what to teach?  What if I ruin my kids?  What will my mother say?

[Jesus]  Trust me.    
Take a deep breath.   
Take baby steps.  
I have placed helpers around you.   
You have more resources at your disposal than you even know.   
This isn't about how much you are bringing to the table, but about how I can bless and multiply what you have when you give it to me and TRUST ME.... and then step out in faith.  We'll do this together .... side by side.


Do you know what my favorite part of that story is?  The 12 basketfuls of broken pieces gathered up at the end.  


Jesus didn't just provide enough.  He didn't JUST satisfy.  He provided ABUNDANTLY.  MORE THAN ENOUGH.   MORE THAN THEY COULD EVER ASK OR IMAGINE!

The people were well-fed.  Your children will be well-educated, in line with the unique gifts and abilities God has placed in them. 

Jesus cared about the hungry people, and he cares about your children.  But think about this.  He could have said to the disciples, "Sit back and watch what I can do!" and just had the food appear.  But instead he said, "You do it", and he handed the food TO the disciples and THEY gave it to the people.  Why?   Because the real blessing was as much for them as for the hungry people.   The people really had no idea that there was so little food to begin with...but the disciples...
THE FAITH OF THE DISCIPLES HAD TO HAVE BEEN  INCREASED IMMEASURABLY!!   They witnessed a miracle. 
No, they didn't just WITNESS a miracle,  they TOOK PART in a miracle.  God used them and the little bit of lunch they had, and made a feast for thousands and thousands of people!  

Just as he can use you and the little bit of knowledge, organization skills, patience, desire, time, money, space that you have and multiply it in ways you cannot imagine. 

Prayer -   Father, thank you for your Word, which shows us so clearly that you are ready and able to provide ABUNDANTLY for our children, for our families, if we will just set aside fear, set aside disbelief and uncertainty, give thanks for what we DO have, and  trust you.  We are thankful for the freedom that we have to homeschool. We are thankful for the freedom that we have to read your Word and pray together and encourage one another. We are thankful for the families you have blessed us with, for the friends you have placed in our lives, for the abundance of resources all around us, for the many good gifts we enjoy each and every day.  We pray in the name of Jesus our Savior.  Amen