All I Want for Christmas is… (Part IV)

All_I_Want_For_Christmas_IsAs far as I’m concerned I don’t need a single present under the tree or even a piece of coal in my stocking. While both are appreciated, my soul is set on a few other goodies. Not necessarily things to be wrapped, but much-needed gifts. Join us during the month of December as we explore several blessings we’d love to receive this Christmas.


It’s happened again. That moment when I realize I’ve not only stopped listening to what my friend is saying, but have been rude enough to interrupt in order to express my own opinion on the matter at hand. I wish I could say this doesn’t happen often. But it occurs more than I’d like to admit. Thus, the fourth gift on my Christmas Wish List is the ability to listen better.

I want to see people as Christ sees them, and I want them to leave my presence feeling as if they matter. One of simplest ways to do this – though not always the easiest – is to listen. To hear not only when they speak, but the volumes communicated when they remain silent. There is restorative power and edification in being given the opportunity to bare our burdens and joys with someone who is willing to hear us out. I want to be that person.

Unfortunately while I may start off with the intention of listening, open to this person sharing with me, I often end up trying to “fix” the problem with words of advice or wisdom. Perhaps an example of having gone through the same thing so my friend understands I relate. It took me some years to realize this was not always desired. In fact, sometimes it can be a turn-off for the person trying to communicate. They aren’t looking to hear from me. They are looking for a listening ear.

Thankfully I seem to have gracious friends who overlook my fault, or at the very least have never confronted me on the matter. I’ll be completely honest and say it doesn’t bother me when I’ve been interrupted. I understand. However, for the sake of those who are offended and out of a desire to be considerate, I should make an attempt at being self-aware of this issue.

What I’d like to do is approach conversation with the intent to only listen. I want to ask questions, and seek to know the other person better. My desire is to wait upon the Lord and His wisdom when is the right time to speak. Then pray the Lord would give me the right words, in the right moment.

As we gather with friends and family this Christmas season, my desire is that each person I come into contact with would feel the love of Christ, and understand their importance in my life. I pray I would have the heart to listen and the wisdom to speak only in the right moment. May this holiday, and all the days to come be less about what I have to say and more about leading people to God; the only one worth listening to.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”
~ James 1:19

Your Turn!: What are you listening to right now; perhaps music, a podcast, or a Christmas movie running in the background?

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Our Children are Hearing, But Not Receiving

Our Children are Hearing, But Not Receiving“Son, are you hearing me?” His voice filled with agitation, he gives a curt, positive response. I begin again only to find his eyes wandering out the window and his mind engaged in other activity. I gently ask him to repeat what I just said. He gives me back the words, but we both know… he’s hearing, but not receiving.

I do my best to keep our homeschool lessons short and sweet, especially for the younger of my children. Testing their patience is never pretty, and we want learning to be an engaging activity. Something our children love to do, and will continue long after I’m gone. No matter how good a teacher I think I am, there are going to be days when no matter what I do, my children are not going to receive what I’m offering. For one reason or another, they are hearing my words but not taking in wisdom and knowledge. Maybe it’s time I explore the reasons why.

Prayer – I can always tell when I’ve been slacking in my prayer life, tough as it is to admit. I become short-tempered and we start going through motions of doing school instead of actively using this as an opportunity to reach my children’s hearts for Christ. One of the reasons we might be having learning issues is because I need to repent of my disobedience and ask the Lord to meet my children where they are.

I am Over-Burdening Them – Another confession: In my desire to teach my children “everything”, I sometimes try to fit in everything. Now there’s a recipe for danger. Four active kids, too much book work, add an overabundance of lecturing and there you go. A bomb which leaves a hideous mess in its wake.

It’s All Just Words – How much is too much? I wish I knew. Some amount of lesson giving needs to take place. I wish I could say its only different for each child, but it’s not. It’s different for each child, each day of their lives. Some days are better than others. Some days all words fly right out the window and being out-of-doors is a fantastic idea.

They Have a Physical Need – This is a little easier to understand. Lack of sleep, food, water, exercise. There’s a physical reason which requires a physical response. If only all of life’s challenges were this simple.

This Is a Character Issue – Here is a tough one. This takes time, energy, care, and gentleness. This is when everything else stops – and should – so we can get to the bottom of the issue. Are my children experiencing a spiritual attack, or is this an act of laziness; worse, rebellion?

It’s Not What it Looks Like – I had visions of what learning would look like. Eager faces turned in my direction, excited answers and anticipation of lessons. Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, this happens sometimes. Sometimes. And that’s not a bad thing. Just because learning doesn’t always look as I imagined, doesn’t mean my kids aren’t learning. It just looks… different.

Turning Hearts, and Minds, is Not My Job – (This one thought deserves an entire blog post, which we might come back to later.) After all is said and done, I need to leave the issue – whatever it might be – at the feet of Christ. If I have done my part by praying over my children, changing learning to meet needs, dealt with physical and character issues, and more, the rest is up to Him. We only need be faithful in what God is calling us do. He will see His work is done.

As a parent and educator, my job isn’t to force my children to receive wisdom. That is impossible. It is my responsibility to lead my children to Christ, by example and deed, encouraging them and training them. It is my privilege to instruct and teach, continually stimulating growth. Reaching my children’s hearts and minds is God’s work.

When I become discouraged or distracted because it appears my children are not learning, may the Lord prompt me to pray and leave it at His feet. May He meet my children where they are; opening their hearts, minds, and ears to hear. May He soften them towards learning and grant me wisdom to teach as He would lead.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
~ I Corinthians 3:6-9

Your Turn!: What helps redirect learning when it appears your children are not receiving?

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Child-Led Changes to Our Homeschooling

child-led_changes_in_homeschoolingI plan our year well in advance. Everything is in order, everything has a place. So when my child comes to me and says we need to make a change, you can bet I’m not jumping for joy. My control is slowly slipping away. But something better is taking its place, if only I have eyes to see.

We want our children to take an active part in their learning; to communicate their needs and struggles. While not every suggestion will be met with affirmation, we wish to take their thoughts into consideration and help them grow.

Whether it’s a schedule change, a mix-up of curriculum, or a newfound interest which requires more time, when we let go of our control and allow God to lead, amazing things begin to happen. Encouraging our children to share their thoughts on our homeschooling creates open communication and a better learning experience.

While I do my best to plan our year well and pray over each area of study, there will inevitably be changes. This doesn’t necessarily mean my planning went wrong, or that I wasn’t listening to the Lord. Instead, the Lord has something better in store and a lesson needed to be learned. (Not that I should discount the occasional redirection when my ideas have gone astray from where the Lord intended. I’m human.)

It would be key for me to remember, I truly never have control. This isn’t my homeschooling, but the Lord’s. I can fight, I can fuss. But at the end of the day, God’s will is best. It’s when I let go of control and let God move that I begin to see the fulness of His plan unfold. It’s a beautiful thing.

“There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.”
~ Proverbs 19:21

📢 Chime In!: Have your children suggested any changes for the year so far? Share them with us!

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An Educational Experience

Playing Games

The kids playing games with my in-laws. Listening to my kids carry on conversations, can be quite a riot!

I find it interesting that, even though my children take periodic chapter tests, I learn just as much about what they have retained, through their conversations with other people. It is definitely an educational experience!

I may think that I have done a decent job teaching, they might have even gotten perfect scores on their tests, but it isn’t until someone outside of our immediately family starts asking them what they are learning, that I really get to see what they remember the most.

It amazed me that sometimes the littlest things are remembered and yet the big picture gets overlooked. It amazed me how much detail they remember and how much of an impact a particular topic can have.

I love listening to what they found to be fun and what they are struggling with. I enjoy hearing their take on how a topic was taught and how they retell a lesson.

I wonder if this isn’t an essential part of the whole learning process; not just the taking in of information, but the giving out.

It helps me to truly know how much they understood and how I might improve my methods. It helps me to see what was appreciated and what they need.

My sister-in-law is currently in town and right now mommy is doing some learning of her own. She is learning by listening and it has been an educational experience.

Do you find this to be true in your household?