Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Education and Spirit Building

As you have probably figured out by now, we are very proactive in Addie's education. Believe it or not, she is the one who looks for the learning opportunities (before anyone thinks we are forcing it on her). When given a choice of toys, games, or books, she almost always goes for her books, puzzles, and interactive learning toys (as long as Elmo is somewhere nearby). On Monday, as we were going through our routine and schedule, I began taking a closer look at what we were playing with and realized that everything was being turned into a learning experience. (More on what can be taught with toys to come in an upcoming post)

However, with all of the knowledge that my daughter is gaining, what we want most of all for her is a heart that loves the Lord and chooses to please and follow Him (we cannot make that choice for her, but we can supply her with all of the information she needs to make that choice for herself). In fact, as I was getting her lunch video ready, I was praying that God would build my daughter's spirit in obedience towards Him and us and fill her heart with a love for Him.

One of the things that we have done with her since she came home from the hospital is a nightly memory verse. For the first month or two we "memorized" Ephesians 6:1. Every couple of months we would change the verse for her. We then began using the verses that came out of the Home Life magazine put out by Life Way. However, sometimes the verses were too long for us to learn in one week. We decided to choose verses for her that were much shorter. When she began signing along with us or calling out a word or two throughout the verse, we knew she had it. For example, for a few weeks recently, we did the verse 1 John 4:8 "God is love." At the right time, Addie would say, "Eight!" and would sign the word love. We knew she got it.

In the mornings during her breakfast, I play one of the two Praise Baby DVDs (highly recommend). Not only are the ever changing images stimulating for her (I love when she shouts out what she sees on the screen), but the music is calming and worshipful. It is by no means dull; in fact, the songs are the praise and worship songs that we sing in church. We have been using these since she was 4 weeks old.

Last year, during a two week revival that our church had, we purchased a 2 disc album of Bible verses that had been set to music (Hide 'Em In Your Heart by Steve Green). One disc is a CD of the songs, and the other is a DVD of several of the songs that were made into "music videos". The song CD is played during playtime, and at lunch she watches the DVD.

Just playing music or DVDs is not going to "train her in the way she should go", though. We need to make sure that our faith in Christ is not compartmentalized and only "done" on Sundays at church and during morning devotions (Brian has taken over this. He and Addie go into the office, read from her picture Bible, pray, and then she comes running out with the biggest smile.) and nightly memory verse time. Deut. 6 tells us that we need to speak to them when they get up, as they are walking along the way, when they sit down, and when they lie down. That pretty much covers the whole day! We need to make sure that we speak of the Lord to Addie throughout the day. As I am shopping with Addie, I tell her about the God we serve that allows us to find the sales and the matching coupons so we can buy twice as much for half the price. I tell her about the God we serve who uses others to be a blessing to us. I tell her about the God we serve who protects our going out and our coming in. At the zoo on her birthday, I reminded her that God made the animals that we were looking at. I want her to know that God is not some abstract Being who is out of our reach and out of touch with His creation. I want her to know that God is very real and at work in our lives and her as well.
Is it working? The other day, while she and I were in the office together, she picked up her Bible, flipped through a few pages while saying something, put the Bible on the desk, folded her hands, said something, and ended with "Amen!" Another time, she took Elmo's hands, folded them, "prayed", ended with "Amen!", and then pretended to feed Elmo. When we give her milk or juice, she folds her hands before taking the cup so that we can pray. She is seeing and putting into practice for herself that we need to acknowledge the One who has given us all that we have.

At times when correction needs to take place, her behavior is corrected and she is put in "time out". Before she can leave "time out", she needs to say "I'm sorry". During the revival last year, the speaker said that when a child's heart is ready, she will apologize for wrong behavior. When the child's heart is still hardened, she will not. After she has said, "I'm sorry", she is hugged, and I explain to her that Jesus wants us to obey, be kind, etc. When we obey Mommy and Daddy we are also obeying Jesus. It takes time, and sometimes it is easy to just brush the teaching aspect aside to move on to the next thing. However, her spirit and relationship with the Lord is more important to us than anything else.

In a day and age when serving Christ is considered to be narrow minded and politically incorrect or popular as long as your version of Christianity is all inclusive (Jesus was very exclusive when He said "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man cometh to the Father but through Me."), our children will need us to step up to the plate to teach them the truth about the God that we serve. I need to remember to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (spiritual teaching and training) and all these things (Addie's education) will be added unto us.
By way of an update, our doctor called yesterday to tell us that Addie's bloodwork came back perfect. What a relief since I was concerned about how nutrious a diet consisting of oatmeal, cheese puffs, mac n' cheese, liquid vitamins, and an occassional taste of fruit was. Thank you, Lord!
Photo by my sister Faye


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