Memorize More Scripture!

In our home we are resurrecting our memorizing muscles! They have atrophied with disuse lately, I am ashamed to say. Life goes that way. Important things get squeezed into the background by other duties that scream louder for our attention.

But, quietly, the Holy Spirit keeps whispering, “You need to hide God’s word in your heart. You need to teach your children to do this too.” And, I am determined to listen and work little by little on fortifying the fortresses of our minds with Bible verses.

Why bother, in this age of instant apps, smartphones that hold the entire Bible in our pockets, and every imaginable tool to study the Bible? The only answer is BY FAITH. We are so lazy. We would rather click our phones than unzip our Bible cover and find a page. We’d rather search any app than search for a topic in the Word. And, our minds are shrinking with all this instant access to everything. I think that it makes us lazy spiritually. We just shrink from any hard work. But, by faith we have to override all of this ease, and remember that one day we are quite likely to have our Bibles taken away from us. What about when we lose power permanently for standing strong for God’s law? If we have only made the habit of clicking on the EGW app or the Bible app and not downloaded them into our permanent memory banks, we will be empty in many ways. We need the Bible to help us fight against temptation, so that we can meet Satan with “It is written,” and not just our own strength.

So, we must make the habit of memorizing the Bible. One verse at a time. We are told that our minds will strengthen as we put forth our efforts.

In light of all of this, I thought I would share a few resources that have been helpful to our family as we have worked on Scripture memorization. Currently, we are working together on Matthew 4:1-11, or how Jesus met temptation. I chose this one because we want to know how we can follow His example and succeed in our areas of weakness.

Listen to this talk first! 

The talk above is by Chad Kruezer, and it has been a real inspiration to me. I’d also recommend reading the chapter in Great Controversy about the Waldenses if you want to get inspired. Check out how many chapters Fanny Crosby had memorized — five chapters per WEEK!! She could recite the entire Pentateuch, all four Gospels, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and many Psalms chapter and verse. All this being blind! Makes me wonder what’s wrong with my memory! Disuse is the only excuse.

Another resource we have found inspiring is the book, Ten Peas in a Pod, by Arnold Pent. It tells the amazing story of a family who homeschooled before it was called that, and who made Bible reading and memorization such a part of their everyday life that several of the children memorized many whole chapters and books of the Bible. It is a great read-aloud for your family and it will entertain as well as inspire!

If you need another inspiring account of a family who got their children into memorizing, here is one. The author/mom shows how she helped her children to successfully memorize the book of James.

This is a good book about scripture memorization that will give you tips, reasons, and stories to inspire you. The book is on sale for only $3. I paid more several years ago, but I think they just want to get them out to people!

If you have a Kindle, or any device where you can install the Kindle app, then there is a book that we have found to be quite helpful. You can find it in the Kindle Store. The reason this particular book is helpful is because it contains the entire Bible, divided by book, which is not so rare; many online Bibles offer this, I know. But, this book has the advantage for memorizes of offering an option where, once you have your verses on the screen, you can may either read the typed out verses, or click on the number of the verse to change the text into first letter only (see the photo below). This way you can jog your memory of the verse or passage without seeing the whole words, which gives your mind a chance to remember what’s coming next.

Here is the option of first letter only verses.

It works similarly to the way I memorize without the book. I write my verses on one side of an index card, and on the other side I just write the first letters. Then when I review them, I have cues, but not answers.

Scripturetyper.com This app is such a wonderful resource!  You can use the website online or download the app. You can add verses/chapters and join groups if you want. It saves your verses and gives you a reminder to review them at intervals. This is good for everyone! Our boys like to practice their verses often when we get into memorizing! You have several options for how to memorize and review your verses. You can just type the whole verse out, you can type using just the first letters, or you can have certain words blanked out on your screen so that you have to remember those words, while the words typed in will help you as you go along. It remembers your speed, and you can challenge yourself to keep improving your speed and accuracy. PSST…don’t tell your kids, but this also sneaks in a little typing along with the Bible memorization! We have the Scripture Typer Pro, which allows us to install it on five devices, so we can all be using it at the same time, wherever we are! It is well worth the price.

Thy Word Creations produces nice books that help you to memorize whole portions of scripture or whole chapters. They have well-known chapters set to music with a CD. These have been invaluable in our home. Every song that we have learned in this way we still have memorized years later! I am including the product webpage, and an amazon.com link, since it looks like many are not in stock on the webpage.

Thy Word Creations website—children’s projects

Teen and adult products

Amazon link

The following website offers a phone number to obtain Bible memory verse songs that go along with the My Bible First Kindergarten and Primary lessons.

My Bible First

This link is a resource for memorizing the entire chapter of Psalm 119. I do not have it yet, but have listened to the samples and they are very nice! This is my next project! Our son started memorizing Psalm 119 and almost had it down, with no ”help” like this CD, until he got sick. With a little brushing up, I know he will have it mastered. You can download the album or purchase the audio CD. I am always amazed at the talent that some people have to be able to set these passages to nice music.

There is an app that last I knew was free, and used to be available for both iOS and Android. Now I am not seeing it updated on the App Store, which makes me sad. I am including it here, on the chance that they will decide to update it, since it is a wonderful app. This app is put out by Fountainview Academy, and has hundreds of songs from the KVJ Bible put to music. Lovely music. The app is Scripture Singer. I really enjoy it and still have it downloaded onto my old phone.

There are probably hundreds of resources and tips for memorizing the Bible. I have just listed ones we have used with success from time to time. One of the best ways to have success is to join with friends who also want to memorize, because then you have accountability. Our best times memorizing have been when we had a little group who met weekly and memorized together. So much easier than when you feel like no one will know whether you succeed or not!

Feel free to share any ideas you have as well, because we are all here to help each other!

Homeschool Seasons and Why We Sometimes Need to Fake It ’til We Make It!

As a blog writer for this group, and for my personal blog, I have never before experienced the writer’s block that I am currently going through.

I am a week late on my deadline, and not for unconcern. I do not take my commitment to this group lightly. Through the past month, I have frequently had ideas for blog articles buzzing around in my mind, but when the time came for me to harness them, they just didn’t seem to fit. So, I am going to write from my heart, and pray that what I share will connect with someone out there.

Sometimes on a homeschool page like this one, we present information, and it seems like we are some sort of experts on the homeschooling process. Just forget about that portrayal. I can assure you that when we share anything, it is because we have tried many ideas and finally found one that has worked, or that we hope will work out. We might not share the umpteen flops, failures, and moments of sheer desperation that led us to our “instant successes.”

This school year I prayed for opportunities for our boys to learn practical skills. I meant that prayer. But, I had no idea how that would play out. Even that is an understatement. My husband and I made plans for apprenticeship opportunities, in controlled settings, at predictable times, in mind for learning skills. I would drop off our eldest for a couple of hours with a mechanic, and go pick him up, or something like that. The details hadn’t materialized, but we had plans. Beware of plans. Of course, we have to make plans, but just be careful about holding too tightly to them.

You see, we had other plans too, plans which involved property, dabbling in homesteading, and clearing land. We had plans to ease into a “build-as-you-can” project, and slowly work our way into our off-grid Home-Sweet-Home. Through some unanticipated life turns, we suddenly realized that we would need to crank up the schedule of land preparation, and that “easing into it” would change to “get it in gear!”

The high-gear stage began when we needed to rent a piece of heavy machinery to help with the clearing. When you’re paying for a big machine, everything begins to revolve around efficiency so that you don’t waste rental hours. That’s sort of when homeschool began also to revolve around whatever we needed to do to “get ‘er done!”  Early hours, late nights, and a picnic every day became the norm, since the property is about an hour away from our home. We all got a sudden immersion into the ins and outs of putting in septic lines, rock characteristics, soil types, and so on.

This process has been exciting in many ways. After all, we prayed that God would lead us to a piece of country property, and He did. When we chose this property, we knew full well that to make it work, we would have to put in lots of work, and even that seemed like part of the romantic charm of carving out our own homestead, like in the olden days. We were all on board, eager, and gung-ho! Every day was a new challenge, but we knew that we would figure it out. Our boys suddenly had the chance to jump in and learn some practical skills as the oldest two ran the transit for the leveling of the septic lines, and everyone got to help install the field line components. Progress was clicking along pretty well, considering all of the rock we encountered. We got our garden and greenhouse site prepared, and holes dug for our orchard — 3x3x3 so we can plant them the Ellen White Method, that the angel showed her in a dream.  I remember standing up at the top of our property in the future garden, and thrilling as I looked over the wooded hills, just feeling blessed. It was my mountaintop time, when faith was easy.

Life is not all mountaintops, though, and as my husband had to go out of town for work, the full responsibility suddenly rested on me. This was fine, with what we initially had planned to accomplish. Then, additional projects popped up that needed immediate decisions.  Every day another challenge came that eventually left my head spinning, as I tried to make important decisions on the fly, figure out yet another DIY project, purchase supplies, and just keep life running. Let me say that I totally get the fast food concept now. I’m afraid Taco Bell became a more regular part of our lives, and home-cooked meals have become more a rarity than our regular fare.

This season has honestly been the most stressful season of homeschool that we have gone through, and are currently involved in. When I have more projects on my plate than I know how to deal with, I short circuit, and then we certainly experience the trickle-down effect through the ranks. As challenge after challenge has hit, I have seen myself at close to my worst. I have analyzed what we should and could be doing differently, but just keep coming back to the fact that life right now is not our ideal situation, but we have to keep plugging away. I have cried many times, overwhelmed with what new thing we must handle. And, I am finding that it is not always the biggest challenges that I crumble under, but the little annoyances — the loud noises when my mind screams for some silence, and the mental load of trying to understand multiple projects simultaneously.

In the last months, we have stacked up the projects, leaving little time for quiet reflection. As the mental pressures pile up, I found myself unable to process much more mentally, so I have been so grateful that my boys know how to cook. When I hear, “Mom, what’s for breakfast?” before I even have a chance to get the cobwebs out of my head, I am thankful when they just make it happen so that I don’t have to make another decision. My mind has been stuffed with septic line assembly, dump truck rental, fruit tree placement, hole size, distance and diameter, house site clearing, basement excavation, footer dimensions, root cellar placement and size, finances, sick child, phone that quit making calls, floor plans, mud and rain, driveway excavation, packing, and employee coordination. Then our sink and countertop failed us, and we found out just how poor we are at “figuring out” DIY.  Did I mention school? Allll this without Dad! Literally, when our month of focused excavation was completed, our eldest asked me what we were going to do the next day. I replied, “School.” “Only school?” he asked. “Yes.” He let out an audible sigh of relief at “only school,” and I realized that we all were just completely exhausted, physically and mentally.

The more overwhelmed I felt, the more time I noticed myself turning to Facebook. I realized it was/is an escape for me, and a natural way to “interact” while my husband and I have had decreased communication because of distance. I enjoy catching up, but I realized that my already overwhelmed mind didn’t need more material to think about. I have consciously been watching my time on FB this last week or more, and I see that it helps me. My mind can only take on so much before it reaches saturation. And then, when things are already challenging, the temptation to compare your life to the lives portrayed by others is quite high. This can compound feelings of inadequacy and frustration. But, what we need to realize is that on any journey, there are shadows and rainbows. Facebook posts tend to showcase the rainbows, and maybe it’s because we all need to cling to those moments where something actually does happen right. We as homeschoolers especially need to keep this in mind.

During this time, I have admittedly fallen behind in reading other blogs in our group. The other day, I randomly (I thought), while weary, feeling knocked down and dragged under the bus, stumbled upon this post on our blog. It’s the only blog post I have read in over a month. I don’t even know how I got through it, I was that tired, but somehow, some bells started to go off in my head. I particularly appreciated the links that were shared to Dr. Caroline Leaf’s materials. I began to listen to some of the messages, and I saw so clearly how, even though I legitimately have real challenges in our situation right now, I don’t have to drown under them. Jesus offers help, and it is with my cooperation, especially in my thought life. Wow. There is abundant material about the brain and how our thoughts form connections that contribute to our health, both mentally and physically. Truly, we are what we think. I haven’t read part two of the blog about our thoughts, but I will soon be doing so.

I feel like that reminder about choosing my thoughts has helped me. It has made me more aware of what I say since it reacts on me and others, like my children, reinforcing the positive or negative. And, I have seen how much the Lord really wants to help me to have a victory, not a defeat.

I will say that old habits are those that surface without our effort, and so much so in this area of what we say. I am literally praying often that God will give me a kind word, because when I feel overwhelmed, my natural reaction is negativity. Barbara O’Neill, a favorite speaker of mine, says that we must “fake it ’til we make it,” and that this indeed is a spiritual principle. This is a very helpful talk about the laws that govern our minds. I highly recommend it, and I need to go back and re-listen to it too!

Don’t misunderstand the Fake It ‘Til You Make It outlook. This does not mean to pretend your worries away, expecting that they will just vanish. Instead, it means choosing what we tell ourselves about what we are going through, and choosing to turn to beneficial sources like Bible promises to get our mental dialogue pointed in a positive direction. The Bible says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in Thee,” Isaiah 26:3. This strongly suggests a partnership between us and the Lord. He promises us peace, but first we choose to train our minds on Him, His power, His ability, His goodness towards us. He is able to help us in every emergency.

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Another talk that I appreciated is this talk by Maria Neblett, called The Language of Encouragement. She speaks so honestly about her struggles, and I really can relate to what she shared. But, she also shows us how to strive for victory and change the course of our homes. This talk I have listened to a couple of times, but really need to go back over it until I can truly make it my experience.

I hope that my ramblings have not been too random. God is good. He is real, and He is here for us. Satan wants to weigh us down and defeat us in any way that he can. We do have a part to play to cooperate with our Saviour, even if we have to “Fake it ’til we make it!”

Public Speaking and Homeschooling

Do your kids love public speaking?

Can you picture your kids being up on stage talking and presenting?

Do you picture your kids being good leaders one day?

How many hours a week, or a month or a year, have you spent in building public speaking skills with your children?

Running a clinic with multiple doctors and staff requires my wife and me to review countless resumes and interview many people. Many people flunk their interview within seconds simply because they were either not able to hold eye contact, were overcome by anxiety, or were not able to think critically under pressure when answering questions.

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and it is one of the most common phobias in the world. Whether people realize it or not, their career and life decisions are often decided by their public speaking skills. Some people may choose to pursue a career where they will interact with many people daily. Some may choose to do the opposite, where they will work in private, or have less interaction with people. If your kids learn to speak in public today, they can prepare themselves to speak properly in public, and to manage the fears of presenting in front of others for the future. To put it simply, your children’s future careers may depend on these skills.

We all want our kids to do well when they grow up. We want them to be confident enough to be on stage, especially when God opens doors for opportunities to influence others. We want them to be leaders. Our family intentionally decided to invest in public speaking skills and stage presence skills when homeschooling them on a daily basis. I’d like to share some ideas you may find useful in your homeschooling journey.

MEMORIZATION

There are three benefits of memorization. The first is emotional health benefits. Remember that the brain is a muscle that must be exercised. There is a part of the brain called the hippocampus which is in charge of making and keeping memories, and partly responsible for managing emotions. People with Alzheimer’s disease have their hippocampus fail first and severely before other parts of the cortex fail. People with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizoprenia have a hippocampus that shrinks gradually.  The hippocampus also is now known to control the hormone estrogen, which controls emotions and mood changes.

By training yourself and your kids to memorize things, it may prevent you and your children from depression, anxiety, mood changes, Alzheimer’s, and other mental illnesses!  

The second benefit of memorization is, as your children spend time memorizing passages, tables, and poems, they learn to focus. Studies have found that students who were required to memorize from an early age often go on to have more capacity to focus on educational tasks as high school and college students. Researchers from the National Institute on Health and Aging have found that adults who went through short bursts of memory training were better able to maintain higher cognitive functioning and everyday skills, even five years after going through the training. Practicing memorization allowed the elderly adults to delay typical cognitive decline by seven to 14 years!

The third benefit is increased confidence.  When a child learns to do something difficult, they earn a great sense of accomplishment. This is especially true where plays or presentations are concerned; children often receive praise or even applause after they recite a poem or act in a play, which increases their self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.

Start with a simple task such as memorizing short Bible verses. This is something you can even do with a two-year old. Ask them to do it while standing up before meals and during morning and evening worship times. Ask them to keep their eyes focused on you and to speak clearly with a smile on their face. I make it more personal and understandable by modifying some of the Bible verses so they can understand the meaning of them. Here are 12 simple verses that you can use for each month of the year or the first six months of the year (two verses a month, depending on your child’s ability to memorize):

    1. Numbers 6:24 The Lord bless you and keep you.
    2. Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
    3. Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world.
    4. Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey Mommy and Daddy in the Lord.
    5. Matthew 28:20 Jesus said He is with me always.
    6. John 10:11 Jesus said He is the Good Shepherd.
    7. Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
    8. Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
    9. Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
    10. Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
    11. Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will trust in Jesus.
    12. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Some kids who are kinetic learners will find it easier and enjoyable to memorize Bible verses while doing an activity such as running in circles, hula hooping, dancing to a song, doing signs or hand gestures, etc. Make sure to repeat these verses daily during dinner time or worship time.

Older kids can start memorizing a whole chapter of a Bible or a long passage. Have them present to you during morning or evening worship, or in the middle of homeschooling session in between subjects. Even better, parents should also memorize these passages and maybe even do a competition with the older kids!

This will not only help them understand important spiritual lessons, but also help their brain cells to handle large amount of information which improves their cognitive functions. Here are a few ideas of important Bible chapters or passages that older kids and adults should memorize:

    1. Numbers 6:24-26
    2. The Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:1-17
    3. The Beatitudes – Matthew 5:1-12
    4. The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:5-15
    5. Psalm 23 & 46
    6. 1 Corinthians 13
    7. Romans 8 & 12

REGULAR GIGS, AWARDS, AND REWARDS

As mentioned previously, when children receive applause and praises, their sense of self-worth and confidence are also increased. Even better, treat them with rewards or awards every so often.  

  • Have them present what they just learned from science or history lessons in the morning to the rest of the family during evening meal.  Ask them open-ended questions: “What did you learn about amphibians this morning? What did you learn about the Egyptians today?”  
  • Morning and/or evening worship times are perfect for them to present a Bible verse or chapter.  
  • Have the kids present what they memorize in front of church as part of the worship program or Adventist Youth program.  
  • Challenge other kids in their Sabbath School class to memorize verses and passages as well, and have them present during church service.  
  • Have your kids present their school project or what they learned this past week to their grandparents or family friends when they visit.  
  • Make a calendar with goals of which passages to memorize for the month and for the rest of the year.

USING VISUAL AIDS AND PROPS

Just like with a science presentation, help your kids with their speaking presentation using visual aids and props. I have been invited to be a judge at the local schools’ science fairs, and it’s always interesting to watch how some kids with average project can shine because of their public speaking skills, while some kids with average or amazing projects end up not winning because of their presentation skills. Younger kids can start with simple objects, while older kids may use slideshow software or props.  

Have your children be involved in a play at church or school where they get to do speech as a character. Preparing for a role, and preparing visual aids and props — both of these activities teach them to be prepared for their presentation in advance, which will help lessen their anxiety.

JOINING A PUBLIC SPEAKING CLUB

Toastmasters International or other local groups are often found in local libraries or churches. Look up Toastmasters International to find a local chapter. You’ll be surprised how much you and your older children can benefit from attending this weekly meeting of various people from all walks of life who simply want to improve their public speaking skills.  They will give you constructive criticisms, and they will help you to be a better speaker.

Our children at the time of this writing, are eight and four. They do fairly well being up on the podium or on stage with other kids at church or at a dance recital.  However, they still have some stage fright when they are up there by themselves. They are getting better at it, though. The oldest one actually recently asked when she could do special music all by herself. And, both of them enjoy doing mini presentations during evening dinner from what they learned in the morning.

I hope this article is helpful to you and your little ones. We have the responsibility to train our children to be pillars of the church and to be leaders wherever they go in life. Leaders are not necessarily bosses. Leaders are influencers. Everybody is a leader when you can influence others around you.  With the Great Commission as our task, we must equip our children with public speaking skills to reach others and to spread His love.

Maranatha!

Arthur P.

Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart

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“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children,” Deuteronomy 6:6-7.

These words clearly instruct that God’s word should be committed to memory and passed on from generation to generation. Committing portions of scripture to memory is vital in retaining knowledge of the scriptures. Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:8 share that prosperity and success in life come from scripture memorization, as it creates familiarity with God’s word and causes the learner to meditate upon the principles of God which promote these things.

Memorization takes discipline, and that can become tedious if not handled with some creative care. A teaching mom or dad can help speed along the process of memory work by building fun and interest into the process. In her book, Building Your Child’s Faith, Alice Chapin outlines some great techniques for accomplishing this. She recommends the following:

  • Set up contests between adults and kids. Offer fun prizes. Draw up a “contract.” For instance, if the kids memorize the verses more quickly than the adults, the adults will take out the trash for a week. But, if the adults memorize them first, the kids will do the supper cleanup for a week. Be sure to sign the contract to make it official!
  • Help little children learn by repetition. Review while rocking, bathing, and playing with them. Repeat while driving or waiting in line at the grocery store.
  • Post current memory work on the refrigerator, closet door, or kitchen bulletin board. Or, stretch a “clothesline” and clothespin verses for the month to it.
  • Have memory charts. Award stickers, stars, or seals for each learned verse, prizes for every five stickers.
  • Purchase a scripture songbook, and sing Bible verses right into the minds of the family. Or make your own music for favorite verses.
  • Use flannel-graph letters or verse flashcards. Mix up letters and words, and take turns straightening them out.
  • Write the verse on a chalkboard. Take turns erasing one word at a time. Repeat the whole verse after each erasure.
  • Print different verses on 5×8 cards. Cut each card into pieces. Put the pieces for each verse in an envelope. Pass out the envelopes, and use a timer to see who can put the verse-puzzle together the most quickly. Have each member read his or her assembled verse.
  • Let the leader begin quoting a verse, stopping after every few words to ask another person to add the next four words, or two words, and so on. Have a stick of gum or a lollipop ready for the first person to identify where the verse is located.
  • Let the small children use magic markers to print the verse of the week on sheets of construction paper. Add stickers or magazine pictures and use for placemats at dinner.
  • Give each youngster an empty photo album with see-through plastic pages. Insert weekly memory cards for an individual record of verses learned and for easy private review.
  • Once in a while assign short scripture verses to be memorized by the following day. Celebrate completion of the assignment with a yummy treat.

~ This is a previously posted article ~

Wanderlust and the Great Commission

 

Kids resting after hiking the Upper Javalina Trail, Marana, AZ

Have you and the family caught the travel bug? My wife and I love to travel, and our kids are happily infected as well. To date, we have visited 46 states, and more than a dozen countries. Our two children, ages eight and four, have been to more than two dozens states.  

Many parents argued that they would rather wait until their children much older before they travel, “because they won’t remember it anyway.” I disagree. That’s like saying “don’t cuddle or don’t spend time with your kids anyway because they won’t remember.” One of our favorite Friday evening activities is to watch slideshows of “old” pictures and videos. We are often surprised by the details that our kids remember from many of our trips. They will mention things we don’t even remember. If traveling is something you dislike or are not accustomed to, allow me make a case for it and shed some light on why wanderlust is essential to your family growth, to your children’s development, and to your spiritual growth.

As homeschoolers, you should already know that off-season traveling is one of the prime benefits of homeschooling. You can travel to places that are usually packed during school breaks and make the most out of it without long queue lines, and the fees are often cheaper when it is off season. There are lots of great deals online during off season — flight, car rental, hotel rooms, tourist attractions, museums, etc. In most places, car rental includes unlimited miles (read: leave your car at home).

Grand Canyon 


This year we had a blast at Six Flags and City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri; saw the amazing Niagara Falls; hiked to see the gorgeous cascading waterfalls of Glen Watkins,Max Ringling Museum New York; marveled at the eclectic art collection at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida; and then explored Arizona’s truly Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Utah’s fantastic Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. These places were beyond amazing! Words and pictures cannot explain the feelings when your mind is blown by the beauty of God’s creation, the scale of the Grand Canyon, the stunning sunset view from Bryce Canyon and Siesta Beach, and all the wild animals we encountered.

Budgeting with focus. Some people complained their budgets won’t allow for much traveling, but their closet is busting at the seam, they always shop for clothes every few weeks, either online, at Goodwill, or at the mall; eat out several times a week; have the newest gadgets, phone, games, new cars, or nice gently used cars with hefty payments; travel with kids’ sports teams frequently; or spend quite a bit on online gaming every month. The issue truly is not just budgeting, but focus or priority. 

Travel is important to us, so we focus on it and make plans far in advance to save up for trips. We make adjustments in other areas of life. While we have a 2013 Honda Odyssey to haul the family, I still drive my fully paid for, 190,000-mile, 38-mpg-average favorite car — my super-hot, four-door, 13-year-old, 2003 Toyota Echo…that we have had since we got married.

Don’t make the common mistake of saving up for one big trip a year or one big splurge. That would be akin to fasting on water for days or weeks, and then binging on a big expensive dinner in one sitting. This is not fun, likely to cause more stress afterward, leaving people to often say, “I always need a vacation after a vacation.” Right? Instead, take multiple small trips throughout the year. Visit nearby national parks or camp grounds, and camp out “roughing it” or stay at their lodge. Look up “Things to Do” on TripAdvisor.com, read reviews, find kid-friendly activities to do. 

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Have you ever thought much about the fact that you only get to “have” your kids for 18 years? It somewhat bothers me that I only will “have” my oldest child for 10 more years or so. Making memories is an important goal in our family, which is why we spend more on vacations and experiences than on tangible gifts. We let the grandparents spoil them on birthdays and holidays, to a certain extent. Anything else they want, they must earn from their commissions (we don’t call it allowance) for completing their chores and schoolwork. Harvard graduate psychologist Matthew Killingsworth published his findings in the journal Psychological Science — that spending money on experiences “provide[s] more enduring happiness,” and that waiting for an experience apparently elicits more happiness and excitement than waiting for a material good.

Buy experiences, not things. Soon after we got married, we immediately made plans on places we wanted to visit and things to do, etc. That was 12 years ago! The cool part of looking back over these written plans, is that we have accomplished many of the goals, and visited many of the places we wanted to go to, and that has made us feel very grateful to look back and count our blessings. Did we accomplish every single goal? Nope, only most of it. Does it mean we failed? Of course not.

It’s easy to make wishes: “Someday I’d like to visit the Grand Canyon, Alaska, Australia, and Bali Indonesia.” But remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Even if you have money and resources to go, if you don’t make plans for it, it will never happen. So first, write it down. We write down our top 25 destinations. Then we break it down based on priorities: “I definitely must visit these five first, before the rest.” Then we divide and conquer: write down the 25 destinations over a 10-year period, and then break it down further into spring trip, fall trip, or winter trip. The next step is to figure out the cost to do each of those trip, and then start saving. Once they are written down on a calendar (use Google calendar for the next 10 years) and cost is figured out, it’s easier to see how it will happen.

As the years become months, start doing more research into things to do in that area (TripAdvisor will help you there), and places to stay at (rental homes at homeaway.com, home exchanges like hsneighbor.com, RVs, hotels, or even old friends you know who live nearby). Map out your route, and even find out which month of the year is best to visit, considering the weather, off-season travel, local events, etc. This will build up excitement for the kids and the whole family. There is one catch. You cannot explore the world with a poverty mindset. You must think big. You and your spouse (or your whole family) must write down these lists with an abundance mindset. If your mind gets stuck on the “how will we be able to afford this” poverty consciousness mindset, stop it immediately, and say this out loud: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want, I shall lack nothing.”

Would you want your kids to whine daily and tell people that their parents are dirt poor, and never dream to achieve anything great when they grow up?  How do you think your heavenly Father feels when you daily focus on being poor and defeated? Your present state does not determine your future state. Your past does not determine your future. Ask the woman at the well. Ask the lepers. Ask Joseph. Ask Moses. Ask Nick Vujicic.

The world is our classroom. One way to NOT grow and accomplish big things is to stay small, stay within the comfort zone, and be safe. Toddlers, innately, choose to fall hundreds of times a day in order achieve the ability to walk on their feet and explore the new worlds around them. We were made to explore, to wander, to move. What would happen if a toddler is chained to the ground for a few years and not allowed to walk?

Sadly, today’s kids are “chained” to their school chairs for almost 50 hours a week, and then their parents “chain” them to electronics (TV, computers, phones, video games), ensuring a less-than-bright sedentary future with forward head posture, degenerative disc disease, obesity, diabetes, prescription drugs, back pain, and arthritis. As adults, many choose to stay within the comfort zone, choose to stop wandering, choose to stop exploring, choose to stop getting to know and hanging out with neighbors of different customs, cultures, or economic class. Many adults choose to live in a safe bubble of hanging out with the same people who look like them, speak like them, dress like them, have homes like theirs, have cars like theirs, eat like them, and believe the same things they do.

Is this wrong? No. Would Jesus do this? No. Would Jesus and his disciples stay in their hometown forever, chill with the same peeps forever, and stay comfortable forever?

Was the Great Commission really meant for us to reach only those around us? On past trips our kids tried new kinds of foods everywhere they went, observed and even played with wild animals, saw amazing human-built and nature-built landmarks, met various kinds of people with various kinds of manners and customs. They learned to enjoy bikcactsweating and hiking at 100-degree-plus temperature when we were in Arizona, and they also learned not to bike or play tag among cacti. They learned by falling on their bottoms (because they didn’t listen to Daddy) that greenish slime on rocks on the streams are slippery. They cried as they laughed as their eyes, noses, and mouths secreted watery substances as they chose to try different kinds of spicy peppers wherever we went. We have seen our kids being a lot more open to people than most kids, flexible to different kinds of food, cultures, and environment. They have also learned a lot about patience when traveling, about preparation, about handling stress — all which have helped them to be independent, confident, mature, resourceful, and compassionate toward others.

At the end of the day, it is all about the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). There are two important words I would like to point out there: “go” and “nations.” It doesn’t say to stay where you are. It does say to go, to move, to travel. Nations, in plural form, means we are to reach out to those outside of our tribe, culture, custom. When that happens, when all eyes and ears have heard of Him, then he’ll come to take us home. Not before that has happened. How should we shape our children? How should we encourage their development and spiritual growth and prepare them for the Great Commission? How can they be comfortable talking to, eating with, and playing with people who look, act, and speak totally different than they do?

Remember that Jesus traveled a lot during his short years on earth. By one account he walked approximately 21,000 or more miles, which is to say, he walked almost the distance around the world — 24,900 miles (the distance around the earth at the equator). A certain woman by the name of Ellen G. White, who wrote some of the bestselling and most translated Christian books in the world, lived and traveled to Maine, Oregon, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, California, Massachusetts, Texas, Minnesota, Maryland, Washington, Australia, England, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and more, from 1827 to 1915.

What have these two figures accomplished? Were these two figures financially rich? How did they travel? What’s holding YOU back? What are your excuses? How has your spiritual health been this past year or two? Need some shaking?

BecakGo out there. Let the kids actually go feral without electronics for days or weeks, let them interact with strangers and learn their cultures, let them learn to wait patiently. Yes, there will probably be weeping and gnashing of teeth in the beginning, but they will thank you for it. Let them catch frogs, donate blood to hungry mosquitoes, learn about self-sufficiency, recite Psalm 8 and Psalm 91 nightly under the stars around the campfire. You’ll be amazed at how much these trips will benefit you and your family, and others you meet along the way.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to stay at home. Families who travel together, stay together. Share with me your experience when your family catch the wanderlust bug at loveyourlegwarmers@gmail.com.

Maranatha!
~Arthur