Give the Young a Word of Encouragement

Give the young and struggling a word of encouragement when you can.  You would not leave those plants in your window boxes without water, nor refuse to open the shutters that the sunlight might fall upon them; but you would leave some human flower to suffer from want of appreciation or the sunlight of encouragement. There are a few hardy souls that can struggle along on stony soil — shrubs that can wait for the dews and sunbeams — vines that climb without kindly training; but only a few.  Utter the kind word when you can see that it is deserved. The thought that “no one cares and no one knows” blights many a bud of promise.  Be it the young artist at his easel, the young preacher at his pulpit, the workman at his bench, the boy at his mathematical problems, or your little girl at the piano, give what praise you can.

Signs magazine
September 14, 1882

The Most Important Class

Pop quiz, parents.

What is the most important class you teach your children?

Hint: It’s also one of the hardest to teach.

Math? Nope. English? Nope. Although, I’m teaching my kinder how to read and can I just say – the English language – who’s idea was that anyway? Hopeless.

You might be thinking, “Bible class, duh!”

But I’m going to offer to you something even more important than learning about the Bible – learning to know the Author.

Now, I grew up in a home that didn’t teach about the Bible. Not only did we not have a Bible in our house, but I didn’t even know what the Bible was. True story. Fast forward a bunch of years and here I am now a Christian, married to a Christian man, raising Christian children, and living as a Christian missionary.

I have no idea what this is supposed to look like.

In recent years I have been blessed with older, wiser mentors to help me through this journey, and while they did a great job of raising their children, I didn’t actually get to see it in action. I wish I did. Reading about it just isn’t the same as experiencing it.

What does this have to do with homeschool? I’ll tell you.

One day some months ago a friend stopped by to watch my kids so I could do some work on the computer for her. I told her I was going to just take 10 minutes to have some devotional time because let’s face it – the struggle is real when it comes to finding time for the Bible when there are people in the house under 3 feet tall.  Almost immediately one of the children came in to ask me something and I answered with my standard response, “Mama is having Jesus time, please wait until I’m done to ask me questions.”

Since the kids were used to this, they said OK and went back in the other room. Later, my friend came and sat down next to me while I was needing a break. I could tell she wanted to tell me something.

Her: “Cas, I just have to tell you something. I think what you did was really great.”

Me: “Hmm?”

Her: “When I was growing up I never once saw my parents have devotion time. I always assumed they did… but I never saw it. And because I never saw them do it I didn’t really know how to have devotional time as a young person.”

Me: “Oh. I wasn’t trying to teach them anything on purpose, I just have a hard time getting up before them.”

Her: “Well it is teaching them, a lot. I wish my parents would have done that…”

Parents, the most important class is the one that teaches your children how to know Jesus. Not about Him, but to really know Him. The class that teaches how to spend time reading His word. How to be still and listen for His voice. How to run into His arms when they are hurt or scared or angry or sad.

Do you really want to be challenged in this area? I did. For the first time in my life I have been waking up at 5:30 so I have an hour and a half every morning to spend with Jesus before the children get up. I’m reading the entire Bible chronologically in 90 days. I’m 29 days into this journey (I started January 1) and I’m wishing I would have been doing this since the day my kids were born. (Well. Maybe a month after. You know, moms.)

If you want to really teach your children to live and breathe Jesus I challenge you to practice what you teach. Spend that time with Jesus if you aren’t already. Read your Bible in front of your children. Act like Jesus every chance you get. Because what’s more important than Jesus?

Jesus Loves Me – A Hymn Study

Many Christians around the world teach their children to sing Jesus Loves Me. This song is number 190 in the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal. What a wonderful hymn for any age. This famous hymn is worth learning more in depth.
Anna Bartlett Warner and her older sister, Susan, became writers. They wrote books and poems while living on Constitution Island in the State of New York. They were across the river from West Point and the cadets would come across the river for Bible studies with Anna and Susan at the Warner’s house.
One of the novels Anna wrote included a song. That song from the novel was given music by William Bradbury, who wrote many songs for children. That song, of course, is Jesus Loves Me. Bradbury added the refrain. Throughout the years the hymn has had different verses written and it has been translated into many different languages.

The Mysteries:
As I was researching the hymn, I came across some mysteries. Maybe you would like to see if you can figure them out. Sometimes facts are wrong in books and on websites. It takes time to search them out and see what information is actually correct.

One mystery was the year Anna was born. I found it cited as 1820, 1824, and 1827. That is a lot of years. The one tricky thing is that Anna’s mother’s name was also Anna, so it could get confusing when doing research. I checked on the website for Constitution Island, which has wonderful information about her family and pictures and videos. I also found a picture of her gravestone. Which source do you think is correct and why?

Another mystery is the name for the house Anna lived in. The Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal says they called it “Good Crag”. I have found old pictures which refer to it as “Wood Crag” and I have found other sources which say it was called “Good Craig”. I haven’t concluded anything on that yet, so maybe you would like to see if you can figure it out.

There are a few more; however, I’ll leave those for now. This hymn has plenty of learning opportunities, so here are some suggested activities:

Language Arts
Can you find the rhyming words in each stanza?

Rhyming patterns: The rhyming words mark the end of a phrase called a line. The first line ends in the word “know”. Assign that line a capital “A”. The next line ends with the word “so”. That rhymes with the first line so it is assigned a capital “A” as well. The third line ends in the word “belong”. That doesn’t rhyme with “Know” or “so”. Then that line gets assigned a capital “B”. The last line ends with the word “strong”. That rhymes with “belong” so give it a capital “B” also. We can say the rhymes scheme for the first stanza is AABB. See if that same pattern is followed for all three stanzas.

Writing: Could you write a new stanza for this song using the AABB rhyming pattern?

Music: Pentatonic Scale
This song was very popular in China. Missionaries loved to teach it wherever they went. One reason it was popular in China is that the tune is pentatonic. If you have a piano or keyboard, play the black keys only. That is pentatonic, which means a five-note scale. Only five pitches compared to a major scale which has seven notes. Many songs in China use the pentatonic scale. See if you can figure out how to play Jesus Loves Me using only the black keys on the piano. In the hymnal, the harmony parts are not Pentatonic. The cool thing about the pentatonic scale is that all five notes sound good together. See if you can improvise some harmony using only the black keys.

History/Social Studies:
Anna and Susan were authors. Was that common for women during that time in history? Were there any other famous women authors during that time?

What is West Point? Can you discover any famous Americans who are associated with West Point?

Geography: Find Constitution Island and West Point on a map. How far did the cadets have to row a boat to go study the Bible at the Warner’s home?

Foreign Language:
Sing the song in another language or using sign language.

Study the words of the song. What do those words mean? There is a lot of words that are symbolic and can be a bit tricky for very young children. Can you find Bible verses that tell you that Jesus loves you?

Here and Now? Or Future Possibilities? (Temperament, part 3)

Continuing the exploration of temperament and our kids, today we’re looking at Sensation (S) versus iNtuition (N). This trait, while making a very discernible difference in adults, is sometimes hard to read in children, especially young ones. I’ll give some general examples, but it may be difficult to know exactly which your child is, since little ones tend to appear as S’s for quite a while.

Here are some possible scenarios:

N kids…
-may like the same stories told/read again and again, especially fantasy and highly imaginative ones
S kids…
-may want adventure stories that make sense and are factual

N kids…
-may be able to spend much time listening to or reading stories
S kids…
-may prefer games, activities, and action over stories

N kids…
-may feel like they don’t fit in, especially if they are quite introverted and feeling (we’ll cover Feeling next time) oriented
S kids…
-may seem to know just how to “perform” or give a loving gesture that charms a family visitor

N kids…
-may seem more opinionated and certain of what they know, but sometimes has a hard time explaining why — which can lead to adults accusing them of just guessing
S kids…
-may do very well with what we would think of as typical schoolwork like notebooks, and may also enjoy detailed coloring books

N kids…
-may have more “crushes,” putting another child or adult on a pedestal
S kids…
-may relate very well to the world around them, including people and things

N kids…
-may be highly imaginative, creative, and daydream oriented
S kids…
-may respond to facts and detail, and be full of action

When you read through that list of scenarios, frankly, the N kid sounds a little backward or weird, whereas the S kid sounds more “normal.” If you suspect your child of being an N, though, do not despair. Those same N kids who don’t quite fit in often get to college and think, “Wow! Here are people like me,” and they become the imaginative, future-thinking, idea people in society.

The S kids, as well as S adults, are more often grounded in the realities of today. They can be the movers and shakers who get things done, the ones who are more appreciative of traditions and organizational systems. They tend to be realistic, down-to-earth, practical, sensible.

The above traits are a bit tricky, because even intuitive children tend to be quite concrete when they are young, and most children seem to have more sensation qualities. As they get older, the variations begin to manifest, but you will still see way more S’s in the United States population group. I believe the ratio is three S’s for every one N.

So, what are the implications for family and homeschooling? If you are an S with an S child, or an N with an N child, you probably relate to your child enough to be able to figure out the approach he or she needs. If you are opposites, the differences can be a little bewildering. Even more than extraversion and introversion, sensing and intuiting reflect how our brains operate. However, just becoming aware of these differences can make our children less alien to us. Once you realize there’s nothing “wrong” with your child, they just approach life in a different fashion, then it is easier to understand them, and to have insight (and hopefully discussions with older kids) that could lead to a more effective approach to learning.

Next time we’ll look at Thinking versus Feeling. Stay tuned.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether…,” Psalm 139: 1-4.


*Info taken from Please Understand Me, by D. Keirsey and M. Bates.

Planting the Flag

I stood there watching the British flag, the Union Jack, being raised on a white wooden flag pole, while the National anthem, “God Save the King”, was gustily sung. The stoic soldiers in their red coats stood at a stiff salute, while onlookers all solemnly watched the event. It was January 26 and I was at a re-enactment during the Australia Day celebrations. This day in our history the first fleet of eleven tall ships, sent out by Britain, eight months previously, arrived wearily in Sydney Cove. Under the command of Captain Phillip they had departed to establish a penal colony and  to take possession of the land in the name of King George III.

I enjoyed a happy day of celebrations. People were waving the Australian flag, many were dressed up with t-shirts or hats or some fun regalia all depicting our flag. It was a warm summer’s day and we were by the sea shore with many, enjoying the sparkling water. Events on the stage were taking place all through the day from Australian folk songs, citizenship ceremonies to aboriginal dances and music. Food, craft and market stalls were cheerily set up, while children’s rides and jumping castles added to the festive mood. Traditional wood working, leather, knitting and sewing skills from long ago were being demonstrated by those in period costume. An all time, well loved Australian sporting event, the wood chop, was busily going through rounds of competitions. Re-enactments took place as the wooden stocks were manned by British soldiers, the old cannon was being fired with ceremony and the soldiers guns discharged in noisy blasts and loud commands.

In all the festivities and fun my mind thought of the hardships that first fleet of convicts endured, the long sea voyage and the arrival in a strange land. In 1770 Captain James Cook had navigated the east coast of Australia and claimed the land for a British Colony. Other nations had their attentive eyes on the land Down Under. Just days before Britain took possession of the the land, two French ships were sailing out of the  bay, south of Sydney, as the First Fleet were sailing in. Over several previous centuries, explorers from Holland, Portugal, Spain and France had all set their sights on the continent in the southern seas. However, on January 26, 1788 small wooden row boats were lowered into the calm waters of Sydney Cove. Captain Phillip, a few dozen marines, officers and oarsmen clambered down the rope ladders and into the those boats. They rowed ashore and stepped onto Australian soil. It was here that they planted the British flag, saluted and took possession of Australia on behalf of King George III. Australia was officially a British colony.

Territories for centuries and millennia have been fought over, challenged, grasped, conquered and ruled. The planting of a simple flag is a recognised and declared ownership. God tells us in His Word that “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him” ( Ps 24:1). However, we know that the enemy is “roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” ( Job 1:7) “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” ( 1 Peter 5:8 ). Have you ever had those times you just felt like a tsunami of troubles and problems was hitting you? Day after day, trial after trial, with barely a moment to breath between one crises after another? Do you feel emotionally drained, worn down, run down and you wonder if you can go on? Satan seeks to claim us as his own. He is there to “steal and kill and destroy” ( John 10:10) our joy, our eternal life and our happiness. Yet God will raise up His flag and plant it over you. He will claim His ownership of you, “and they shall be mine”, says God ( Mal 3:17) The next time you feel swamped and knocked down and overwhelmed look to Jesus. Look for His flag. Look for His ownership over you. Do you belong to Him? Do I?

Isa 59:19 “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.”

Song of Solomon 2:4 “..And his banner over me is love.”

Ps 60:4 “You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth.”