John and I have become pretty big fans of a pastor in Seattle - Mark Driscoll. In one of his sermons we were listening to recently he said that when he is disciplining his children he ask them a few questions as gentle reminders. 1. Who am I? - your daddy 2. How do I feel about you -you love me Then he talks to them about how he is their daddy and he loves them and wants the very best for them and that they need to obey him because he always has their best interest at heart.
I think this gentle reminder is wonderful for all children, but especially in the training years with small children. This understanding parallels our relationship with God and it will be a concept that can easily transfer to obedience to God. I think it is very tangible as well at a young age. I think it easily can instill some key foundational beliefs into a child.
1. The shorter catechism's (which I have been told that children should know these by the age of 6 because they help to shape their worldview and understanding of God) question #4 ask - Why do we glorify God? Because he loves us and takes care of us. That answer is simple enough for a child to understand and it is the same as why the child should obey the parent. (yes as well it is commanded in scripture but this gives much more understanding to a curious child than because the bible says so.)
2. John 14:15 Jesus says that if you love me you will obey what I command. As a child begins to understand love and our love for us we can teach them that one of the best ways to show their love for us is to obey us. This will also transfer to their relationship with God. Loving God/Parents = obeying them.
We have started this with Jake and man how it has softened his heart more toward obedience. It is helping so much with the arguing and complaining. I think he is slowly understanding these truths. Just a thought to share.
Last Wednesday was Jake's 5th Birthday!!! That just doesn't seem right. We had a blast on his birthday. We went to a bounce house, to McDonald's and then we came home and had homemade mac and cheese and chicken nuggets for his favorite meal. We of course had cake and opened presents. You can read about our birthday traditions here. I just thought I would take a minute and tell you what a hero my birthday boy was on his big day!!! When we got to McDonalds this mom with 2 little girls came in. The mom was shouting at the little girls "If you go up there you will find your own way down...I am NOT coming up to get you again!!!" I completely understood where she is coming from I have said this to both of my kids at some point. And of course the little girl went to the very top and got stuck and the mom stood here ground for a while. The girl finally got really upset and the mom was about to go up there and Jake said "I'll go get here!" So he climbed to the top and spoke softly to the little girl. "Take my hand and I will help you down." When she would make it to each level she would sit and wait for Jake to climb down below her and she would take his hand and he would pull her down to the next level until they finally made it out. He was so sweet and patient with her. It was priceless and I was a PROUD momma!!! He is growing into such a sweet little gentlemen!!!
When we moved here, all of me was sure that it would be long enough for us to pay off our debts and then we would be headed back. I really believe that God knew that at the time, thinking that was all that I could handle - all I needed to know. But since we have been here God has been wooing my heart. There have been many times when I am alone - painting and such - that I fell as though I have really conversed with my Savior. And every time I have walked away with a stronger stirring in my heart for this area. I have been open with John through the process and EVERY time I have gone to him to talk about what God is doing I am met with the same response - "I feel the same way." When John left Campus Outreach to return to school to do web development we specifically prayed for God to use the potentials that this career had to put us in a position in the future both financially and timewise (not the constraint of a 9-5 job) that we could truly labor for His kingdom. We had no idea that it would happen so soon. (5years) Nor do we have any idea how long it may last (without the job he has we can't stay here) but we have faith that God is doing something here. This is not the place we would have picked for God to plant us to labor but we feel more and more every day that this is where He is leading us. I have still been hesitant to say - yes this is what God is doing for several reasons: 1. it means a commitment. Do I really want to commit to living in this small town for longer than 18 months? I have lived in big cities (several in fact) and I LOVE IT!!!! i love all that it affords my family - different types of people, things to do, a mcdonalds, etc. I love that there have been solid churches that have feed us and minister to us. Here that is not the case. I have been afraid to get excited about what I will be saying no to because there is not much tangible that I feel like I am saying yes to. So often when I think about these things I become paralyzed with fear that we are going to miss out. 2. It means missing out. We will miss out. The kids won't get to do things that we would like for them to be a part of. We miss out on the fellowship we are use to (but thankfully God has brought us some people that love him to be our friends) 3. What if nothing happens. It is pretty Ironic how the town God has given us a heart for REFORM, Alabama got it's name. The story goes that a preacher refused to return to the town until the townspeople reformed their ways. What if God doesn't move in this town. What if he doesn't heal this land in my life, what if we labor in vain. I know that my labor for God's kingdom is not in vain - in my heart I know that but I am going to be honest and say that I have struggled with "Is all of the other good stuff worth giving up even if I never see fruit from my labor here on this earth? Will I be happy? What if God calls me to live in the place forever? Am I ok with that?"
Today, in my time with God He gave me a verse that I will claim for my life and pray that God makes true of my life. My quiet time had no relation to this discussion but God of course weaves all things for our good. I was meditating on Ps 16:11 and I realized that this is ALL the truth that I really need in life. "You make known to me the path of life, In your presence is the fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Isn't that a great verse. Jesus said that He came to give me life abundantly. And God will make know to me the path of life. Does my life abundantly include a McDonalds? A rec center, a great solid church to attend with ease and without labor on my part? God says that in his presences is where my fullness of joy lies. It is with Him I will find joy, not the tangibles that we are leaving behind. With him are all the pleasures I will ever need FOREVERMORE!!!! As a believer I could have told you this truth in a conversation and thought I meant it with all my heart. But here I am faced with giving up the luxries that a big city and a body of believers provides me and I was shaking in my boots. It has been such a real internal struggle for me. When I'm talking about "seeing Jesus" I get excited because in the lives of these hurting people I see the potential - great potential to see jesus. I see an opportunity to be the hands and the feet of the gospel to them. But then I turn to my boys and I know that they loved their life in bham and do I really want to give it up for the long haul? Sure the country is fun for a while but for years? Do you see this struggle in my heart? It has been tormoil for me!!!! But today, God released me from it. The fear hasn't gone away but I am making a choice to believe that God has revealed to us the path of life for us, and that here with Him is where we will find joy and pleasures. We want God to reform Reform, Alabama. We want the men and women there to discover that they are not good people. That they (we) are wrectched sinners that look everywhere but God to fill those holes in our hearts - drugs, alchol, relationships, romance novels, ect. We want them to know that we can never be good enough to warrent heaven but that jesus made a way for that. And as we surrender and trust him with our life and learn to walk in obedience to him that there they will find fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore!!!! So my friends, I know this post is long but I needed to write, to get it out. All that to say that the Cook's are here in this area until God says go. And we are excited to see what God does here. Any of you want to come join us and labor in this community? We would love to have you!!!!!! Seriously!!!!!
We are starting our homeschooling adventure this week. We are really just spending the next few months laying some foundations with the boys. I have decided to use the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. If you want to know more you can devour this site. For the early years (Up to age 6) the FOCUS is on 4 things - read alouds, habit training, outside play and Bible. She believes that these things lay the foundation for a love of learning. As the children are ready up to age 6 you add on teaching them to read, basic math and such. These are not to be forced on the child before the age of 6. The more I have read about her style of teaching the more I am convinced that it is the right one for us. My boys love being outdoors and they have so much energy that sitting still for long periods of time at this age just doesn't seem profitable for me or them. I have really struggled with worrying that they will be behind if I don't start now with all the academics. But over the last month, God has really given me a peace about this approach. I feel sure that Jake will be ready this summer or fall to start learning to read. One of the things that CM stresses are short lessons (15-20min) with young children. We are to train them to have FULL attentiveness in that amount of time rather than dwadling for 30 min or more per lesson. She also says to expose the children to a variety of things rather than the same thing every day (Like don't do math every day). So on our drive out to Denver I came up with a schedule and decided to spend the month thinking over it and deciding if it was what I wanted. I am glad to say that for the most part it stuck - with only a few tweeks this week. So for the month of Feb here's what we will be up to: Daily - Catchism Questions, Read Aloud time at least 2x/day, we will be learning the calendar, Scripture Memory, and about 2.5 hours outside or free playing/day, and family devotions at night. oh and for the time being both boys are still napping. Weekly: -Messy Monday's - we are going to be doing lots of art. Focus on the process and not the product. I want to expose them to various types of creative outlets. This site is one of my favorite resources. -Training Tuesdays - we will focus on various character training aspects. I am usuing Luke 2:52 as my guide - Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. I won't do all of these every month. This month we are revisiting First Time Obedience, Speech (poo-poo and such - when is it ok to use it), and Listening Skills. I will post more later about how I did these training days. -Work Wednesday - This day I will focus on practical life skills that I want to teach the boys. This month Jake will be learning how to wash dishes, sort their laundry, pick up boys room and school room (we rearranged since Christmas stuff). Brady will be learning how to wipe down the kitchen table, countertops and stove, how to fold towels, and to pick up boys room and school room. -Teaching Thursdays - This is the one day a week that we will sit and work on academics. We are reviewing Upper and lower case letters and sounds with Jake. He will also do copywork to practice writing his letters. Brady will be learning the letters. -Fun Friday - This day will usually be an outing for us - the park or such. Or if the weather is nice we will go exploring in the woods behind our house. Just to get out and have fun with the kids. I am excited to see how we all do with this schedule. We basically do the same thing every day except for 2 -35 min sessions (15 min with each child when seperate and time for transition) each day where I work in the things that differ above. I am committed to it for this month and if it doesn't work we will try again. For those of you that have read this far I assume you are interested so I will keep you posted.