September & the Start of School

We're enjoying a beautiful, golden day today.  Not quite as literally golden as this picture I took last October, but those days are coming soon. When it comes down to it I really can appreciate all the seasons, but I think if I had to pick one, I could be happy in perpetual Autumn.  Temperatures in the 60s and 70s, the foliage glowing with change, apples and pumpkins and other bounties of the fields in plentiful supply, home and table spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, the sky a mix of sunshine and cozy clouds, feet can feel equally at home in flip flops and tall boots, windows open to welcome breezes at night.   Pastor John Piper once spoke about C.S. Lewis' impact on his faith, and how the latter helped the former, "become alive to life. To look at the sunrise and say with an amazed smile, “God did it again!"'  I felt that way driving home from a "field trip" to the zoo today, sun streaming into our van.  He made Autumn again!  Amazing! 

As "field trip" implies, we have started our second year of homeschool.  The first few days have gone wonderfully well, and it's refreshing to be teaching some new things.  Working on reading got sort of plodding as summer wore on, but my daughter is attacking it with fresh enthusiasm and has been delighted to find she truly can read some simple books by herself at this point.  We got some Bob books out of the library this past weekend and they perfectly complement our reading lessons.  I'm even enjoying teaching math--my least favorite subject ever.  Most of the time when my husband the engineer talks about anything even remotely related to numbers, I let my eyes glaze and my jaw sag and remind him I was an art student.  Not that I was a complete failure at math--I did fine up until calculus--but it simply isn't one of my areas of strength or particular interest.  So I was feeling a little apprehensive about overseeing this aspect of my kids' education, but I'm feeling encouraged that by golly I can DO this and it might even be FUN.  :) 

I made a delicious zucchini frittata and also an Indian beef dish this week and I didn't take pictures of either of them.  As a food blogger, I think that earns me 30 lashes with a wet noodle or something.  I don't know.  Feel free to cluck your tongue at me.  I can't hear you anyway.  :)

I read an article today called Homeschool Blindspots, posted by Josh Harris but written by Reb Bradley, that has me thinking.  While it addresses homeschoolers in particular, I think there's wisdom for all parents trying to raise children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  One passage that stuck out to me: 

Preoccupation with results often leads to emphasis on outward form. When we are preoccupied with achieving results it is natural to admire the results others seem to have achieved with their children. We like the way the pastor's kids sit reverently in the front pew and take notes of their father's sermon, so we go home and begin to teach our children to sit reverently and to take notes. What we don't know is that the pastor's kids conduct themselves with reverence and attentiveness not because he "cleaned the outside of the cup" and simply drilled them to do so -- he lived a genuine love for Jesus that was contagious, and watched as the fruit was born (Matt 23:26). Parents are destined for disappointment when they admire fruit in others and seek to emulate merely that expression of fruit in their own children. Fruit is born from the inside -- not applied to the outside
Imagine that the fruit you desired was the edible variety, so you went out into your yard and planted an apple tree. Just suppose that one day, while you were waiting for the apples to begin growing on your tree, you caught a glimpse of a neighbor's apple tree. You noticed in admiration that its branches were laden with big, luscious apples. What would you do? Would you run to the produce market to buy some apples, then go home, and in the dead of night, tie them onto your tree? If you did, the sight of your tree might really impress your neighbors. But that is not what you would do. You would likely go to the neighbor and ask how he cared for and fertilized his tree to produce such fruit. It is the same with our children - luscious fruit will be born from what we put into them - not from what we tie onto them. As a matter of fact, in no time, the fruit that we put onto our children will rot and fall off.

In the homeschool community I have observed that there can be a great emphasis on outward appearance, whether it is dressing for excellence, modesty, grooming, respectful manners, music style, or an attitude of sober reverence in worship. Some even take their children down a country path of humble fashions, raising food, and making bread. Nothing is wrong with any of these things, but we must be careful - we can model for our children outward changes and easily fall into molding their behavior and/or appearance, while missing their hearts. In some circles emphasis on the outward is epidemic.

A friend of mine, a homeschool mom, just passed away of cancer. In the week before she died, I asked her if she had any regrets in her life. She told me she wished she had baked less bread - she said if she had it to do over again she would buy bread and spend more time with her children. She had invested time and energy in pursuing the "path" because she thought it was part of the spiritual homeschool package.

So once again I'm reminded that one of the best things I can do for my children is live a genuine love for Jesus that is contagious, and watch the fruit be born.  May God graciously ordain it in my life and yours.


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