Maturity or Foolishness

by Mama Bear Email

I was talking to some other moms yesterday about their kids. One of the mom was speaking of her child not willing to try anything new. Refusing to take classes because either she was already very good or she doesn't want to. This child was considered very independent and self-sufficient. This was followed by an ascent of this child was very mature. Mature? When did stubbornness, pride, lack of submissive spirit become equated with maturity? The last time I checked in the Bible, these are the actions of a fool. I think we as parents often excuse our kids' follies and try to put a good face on it. Consider the insanity of me saying that my child is very mature because he has decided that he will not eat vegetables but will have candies and chips from now on, certainly independent and decisive thinking, but maturity? Not even close! Certainly our children are not robots or dogs that we simply command without any consideration to their natural bend or feelings. But until they can demonstrate sufficient self-control to submit to wisdom (not that I'm always wise, but at least while they are young, I'll venture that say that I'm usually the wiser of the two), their decisions will more likely be the sort which gratifies their immediate desires rather than looking at the long term benefits for their lives. If allowed to continue, they will likely become set in their current ways of self indulgence for the here and now.

Prohibitions, Work, and Ice Fishing

by Mama Bear Email

The thought of sitting out in the cold at the crack of dawn is not a pleasant one to me. I like to be snuggled up nice in warm under my blanket until I'm nice and ready to be up and about. It would be an absolute chore and outright torture to force me to go on such an expedition. Perhaps if I had tried it I may think otherwise, but unless I must, I think ice fishing will always appear odious to me for the rest of my life.

Yesterday after the Good Friday service I was talking to someone about God and she was asking that with all these do's and don't's with no guarantee of an easier life, why would anyone want to believe in God. Well, I suppose it's like ice fishing. The fisherman must go to sleep early, they must get up early, they must endure the cold, there's no guarantee of a catch, there's often the associated expense of traveling to the site for fishing, there's investment into fishing equipment, and I'm sure there are a whole host of other costs and tradeoffs that I haven't even began to imagine, why would anyone voluntarily submit themselves to such cost and torture. Yet to the fisherman, all these and more are worth the cost. Likewise, when we come to know God as Paul the Apostle had come to know Him, Paul counted everything else as trash because of how wonderful God is. May none of us consider the Christian life as a list of do's and don't's and miss out on the absolute JOY of knowing and being with God at whatever the cost.

Readability vs Reliability

by Mama Bear Email

"Which version of the Bible should I get?" I get that questions sometimes. In the past, I've said New International Version (NIV). But no more...

Just a short history of my journey through versions. My first exposure to scripture was the Chinese Union version. Boy was that hard but honestly, I didn't read much of it except memorized Psalm 23 and I think the Lord's Prayer. A few years after learning English, Mom signed me up for Bible Memory Association. Fourteen verses a week, all in King James Version (KJV). Was that tough since I didn't understand most of what I was memorizing. Later my Sunday school teacher highly recommended New American Standard Bible (NASB) because it's a faithful translation though no heavy emphasis on readability. Since I really respected my teacher, I went out and bought one for myself. Later in college, I had more exposure to NIV and really liked it because it was a faithful translation with more care for readability. So since then I've switched back and forth between NIV and NASB with occasional references to Amplified and KJV. I do not like many of the more paraphrased modern translations because I think too much personal theology of the translators are interjected into much of the text. I do have a copy of the New King James Version (NKJV) but I think it's too much like KJV but with a few substitution of some archaic words. I recently started looking into English Standard Version (ESV) as it's another faithful translation of scripture.

Anyway, back to which version. I'm so disappointed with the most recent translation of NIV and am thoroughly sorry that I started my kids down the path of NIV. The translators of NIV has decided to be more gender neutral. From my understanding that the initial translation was even worse than the current one. It's a slippery slope in translation. I do some interpretation at church so I understand that invariable we do interject our personal theology and worldview into our translations. However, there should always be a good faith effort in staying as true to the original even if some parts make you uncomfortable. Unfortunately, now I think about it, when the desire is readability rather than faithfulness to the original the danger of interjection of personal interpretation will increase and it should be of no great surprise that over time as the societal beliefs shift that "readability" for the current audience will also shift. Burnt once, I hope I have learned my lesson. Now, how do I slowly switch my kids to a more reliable version...

Victim of Marketing

by Mama Bear Email

We've been homeschooling for years now. Over the years I've changed curricula and approaches but I'm at a point where unless something really good comes around or unless I discover something really unique about one of my kids' learning styles, I feel that I'm pretty much set in the direction which I'd like each of them to take... that is until a few weeks ago.

Some friends of mine are going to start homeschooling. Because they will be going back overseas soon, I wanted to do all the research and look into easy to do complete curriculum packages for them based on who will be at the homeschool convention so they will be able to target the companies to look at and have a successful year. The mom of the family had a really bad experience with Sonlight in the past and to be honest, I ditched Sonlight as well though I still really love their list of books. Also due to possible language issues I was looking into ones that requires less teaching from the mom. For that reason I didn't look into My Father's World either. But here are some of the packaged curricula where there's minimum teaching by the teacher. The following list is somewhat in order of cost.

I thought that I've already mapped out what I was going to get for next year and what I was going to purchase at the convention, but as I looked at BJU's distance learning classes I absolutely fell in love with the videos. And since I was also looking up scopes and sequences for my friends, all of a sudden I had that terrible sinking feeling... "I'VE RUINED MY KIDS!!! I NEED to switch so I can make sure that they get what they need!" That feeling stuck with me for a while then an image came to my mind. Towards the end of the movie Sleepless in Seattle Tom Hanks is talking to his kid and says, "We're doing okay, right? So far, have I done anything stupid? Have I screwed it up for us?" I felt like saying that to my older kids. Yet these are the very same kids that a few days earlier I've been really happy with regarding their progress and where they are headed.

Okay, now finally returning to my senses, I had to once again sit down and write out my overarching goal for homeschooling. Helping them to know God, love God and be equipped for whatever tasks that God has prepared for them. In order to do this, I need to help them to become capable self learners who have a deep knowledge of and love for God and His creation, who love others and give them opportunities to explore their interests and talents. They need to be equipped to distinguish between truth and falsehood, good and evil and more importantly choosing good even at a cost. No curriculum on earth can truly equip them for such goals.

I am glad that I am once again at peace, acknowledging once again that no matter what any of us do, our kids will always have gaps (human brains are not big enough to hold all the available knowledge) plus without God's grace, our kids will be ruined by us because we are sinners and will at some point do more than just a few stupid things that we would regret later. I had to chuckle after my initial panic. Isn't that what marketing is all about and I even tell my kids this often praying that they won't become victims of marketing. The goal of advertising is to make you feel unhappy, dissatisfied, wishing for something else. If only I had this, all will be well. If the advertisers say that everything is fine as is, then why would you want to buy their stuff. I think the goal of scopes and sequences is making the educator feel good about what the students have "learned". But what have they truly learned it for the long haul? How many of us remember much of history or other subjects which were presented to us in textbooks via a few sentences per event. Yea, we may have crammed it for tests, but promptly returned those knowledge at the end of the school year.

I'm sure this will not be the last time that I fall victim to marketing. But I hope that I'm a bit wiser and will calm down and return to the fundamentals and remember what life is all about.

soil of children's hearts

by Mama Bear Email

I love Biblical parables, especially the older that I get the more I learn how accurate they describe things. I was thinking the other day about soil and the heart. How not only God's words are planted but just about everything else that we hear and experience. They all become part of our lives. Sometimes these "seeds" don't take root and we just forget about them. Other times they spout up immediately and we see their impact right away. But there are also seeds that seem to stay dormant but once they sprout almost seem impossible to get rid off.

This thought came as I was talking to a friend about keeping one of her child in public school for at least another year. She did not like seeing the impact that schools are having on her children even just going from summer vacation to fall but she believes that her child will be fine and correctable just like last summer and she'll just pull her child out of school before things get worse. Unfortunately I've seen a number of kids whose hearts had become so full of weeds before their parents even realized it and all these weeds seem to blossom all at once and suddenly the parents don't even recognize their kids. I know of several families with kids finishing up elementary school. Some wants to homeschool their kids to avoid the negative influences of the "bad" years, but unfortunately I already see some very nasty and well rooted weeds that they've picked up along the way and I am afraid to dig deeper to see how much more weeds have already taken root, but you just can't see the tops yet but I truly believe that the outward manifestation of these "seeds" will not be long in coming.

Many seeds are planted in a child's heart each day. Are we actively planting the seeds that would benefit them for their entire life and beyond? Are we monitoring what is being planted? Are we doing everything we can to keep weeds from their hearts especially before the good plants take root? Are we patrolling the field and pulling out every little sprout that doesn't belong? Or are we just sitting back, looking at the field and saying to ourselves, "What a beautiful field is our children's hearts. I'll check from my kitchen window periodically as I let others run through the field and plant many different seeds--after all, diversity is a good thing. And I can't wait to see what beautiful flowers and wonderful harvest it will produce." Unfortunately, the child's heart will probably end up looking like my backyard. I have no illusions regarding my backyard. Most of the plants that were already established before we moved in are doing okay, but the rest is quite overrun with weeds and it's about all I can do to just chop of the tops of the weeds periodically and resign to the fact that unless I totally turn over the whole yard it will always be a disaster zone. Is that what we want for our kids? As a parent, please be vigilant as to what is planted (remember this happens throughout ALL their waking hours). Be faithful in weeding. And ask for God's mercy on the kids that the good seeds instead of the weeds may take root and grow.

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