Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Diligent Instruction

Or ... The Importance of Family Worship

"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."
- Deuteronomy 6:7

What does it mean to teach our children diligently? What are we supposed to be diligently teaching them? Well, if you read the beginning of Deuteronomy 6, we see that we're supposed to be teaching them God's Word. Verse six explains "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart." These words...His words...His word, his scripture, his law, his instructions, his story. We should diligenltly be instructing our children in the ways of the Lord. But, why?

Our church is going through a series right now entitled The Bride. We're looking deep into the book of Revelation and studying out God's instructions to the seven churches of that time and how they apply to us, the church, today. Our message on this past Sunday was regarding the Church at Thyatira and the messsage is a great place to start when beginning to understand why family worship is so very important. It is our job as parents to raise our children up in the way they should go, and in this age of technology they are bombarded with the ungodly practically from birth. 

As parents, my husband and I have several ways that combat the ungodly and pour diligent instruction into our children. First and foremost, we homeschool. I know that, practically speaking, this is not an option for all families, but it is an option for us. We go without a lot of comforts and live extremely frugally in order to do this, but diligent instruction is worth it. Secondly, we have a family worship time for an hour a day, every day. Yes, you read that right; for one hour every single day we spend time worshiping the Lord, pouring into His word and instructing our children directly from His word. Our family worship time culminates from several key aspects:

We always begin our morning with prayer. This composes our hearts into a posture of worship and quiets our bodies as we prepart to focus on God. Our morning prayer comes from our homeschool curriculum and is recited as follows daily:
Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous. 
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give and not to count the cost.
To fight and no to heed the wounds.
To toil and not to seek for rest.
To labor and not to ask for reward;
save that of knowing I am doing Your will.
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen

Creed & Doxology
In addition to praying together, daily we recite different creeds and or historical prayers of our faith. We slowly add more as we learn them and then cycle through them throughout each week. Right now we've memorized and recite on alternating days the doxology and the gloria patri. Daily we also recite the apostles' creed as the first and most basic creed of the Christian faith. 

Scripture Memory
There are so many reasons for memorizing scripture that I can't possibly mention all of them here. Suffice it to say, the more of God's word that is in your heart, the more you can recollect it during the trials that most assuredly will come your way throughout your life. Our method of scripture memory has been so amazingly helpful to us. In the past year, we've memorized over 40 verses and passages of the bible together as a family. We mostly have been using the verse list found here

A catechism is a series of fixed questions, answers, or precepts used for instruction; in this case instruction in the Christian faith. As a family we've been memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism for Children. Even our youngest daughter, who is only two-years-old has memorized several of the answers. Learning the catechism together gives us daily reminders of what we believe and why which will hopefully prepare our children for apologetics (defending their faith intellectually) as they get older. Our family devotional also goes through the Heidelburg Catechism. It breaks each series of questions and answers down, provides real-life application even for our youngest family members, and scriptural references. It is available for purchase here.

Scripture Study (SOAP Journaling)
Finally, in concordance with our devotional, we read scripture. We use a method for journaling called SOAP. We encourage each of our older children who can write well (from Jubilee - 10 and up) to have their own SOAP journal and to have their own personal daily time in the Bible in addition to our family worship. Our middle-aged children (Lily 9 & Isaiah 7) usually will draw a picture and write a sentence or two about what they've read. Everyone in our family owns an ESV Bible. This is Jeremiah and my preferred translation of the Bible and we've found it to be wholeheartedly enriching to our children to have their very own copies of the Bible to read along with us. 

Worship through Song
Finally, our worship time includes singing praise and worship songs. We include both hymns and contemporary songs, as well as scripture memory, books of the bible, creeds and more. We often listen to worship songs throughout the day and have found it imperative that the songs we listen to, memorize and sing be theologically and scripturally affirming to our faith. This is yet another way we are able to diligently instruct our children in our faith. 

We take our faith very seriously. We take God's instruction to teach our children diligently daily, very seriously. I hope you've found this post helpful and encouraging. If you've found different ways to instruct your children in the faith diligently please feel free to share in the comments below!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

diakonos - Make Me a Servant

ˈsərvənt/ - a devoted or helpful follower or supporter

What is a servant? In the most basic sense, a servant is one who serves. Usually, in this day and age, we think of servants as those who serve in someone else's home. In Christian speak, the term servant has weight. A pastor is a servant to his congregation. A volunteer is a servant, a missionary, a worship leader, a youth director. Servant, within the Christian community, is synonymous with leader. It's a public position, not a private - within the home- position. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all, and everyone must KNOW that you are their servant, so that greatness can ensue. Being a servant isn't simply a state of being. It is action, and acknowledgement and reward. If people don't know that you're a servant, then you aren't really a servant. This is the world in which we live in American Christianity. 

Once, my husband was accused of not having a servant's heart by someone whom we held in high regard. It not only came as a shock to both my husband and I, but it truly broke his heart to hear that. And, it felt wrong. Wrong because my husband is always serving. Wrong because it felt like an unfair judgement call by someone who truly doesn't know him. Wrong because a servant is exactly who my husband is and who he desires to be. Not a servant of a particular church. Not a servant of the masses. Not someone built up and lifted up and applauded for how much he DOES. Because serving is not what he does, but who he IS; and, more importantly, who we should strive to be. 

We are all called to be servants, servants of Christ. Note the definition that started this post. A servant is a devoted or helpful follower or supporter. Are you a servant of Christ? It's not about being lauded for accomplishments. If you're a really great servant, rarely does anyone even notice you. But it's about being helpful to God's kingdom. Lifting our leaders up in prayer. Encouraging the single mom. Bringing the new believer under your wing and quietly mentoring them. Being an example of good stewardship regardless of your financial means. Being a listening ear even when wisdom isn't required or requested. Being a servant of Christ means that sometimes you will go for years and years without being noticed, or acknowledged. Sometimes, sometimes it also means that someone will even accuse you of not serving. Maybe that just means you are serving God's kingdom so well that only HE is getting the glory. May I be that kind of servant. The kind who desires no fame, no glory, no honors, no rewards. The kind who is always first and foremost bringing glory to God as a devoted follower.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

You're Blessed

I orginally posted this about 6 years ago on my old blog. The message is still relevant today. You are BLESSED. Lord, today thank you for reminding me of how blessed I am because when there is less of me, there is more of You.

Matthew 5 (The Message)

You're Blessed

1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

4"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

5"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

6"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

7"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

8"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

10"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

11-12"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why We Choose to Homeschool

This post was originally posted on a former blog that Tikatia had. It has been updated to reflect our journey since then.

When our family was just beginning our family we never questioned that our children would go to school.  We sent Cali to public preschool, and then public kindergarten.  Her first year in Kindergarten, we place Shiloh in the same public preschool.  This is when we started noticing problems.  Cali had been diagnosed in preK with a Sensory Processing Disorder.  The school thought she had ADHD.  She was actually diagnosed with ADHD due to the school's form (though less "symptoms" on the parent form).  She was placed on meds.  The first meds did nothing, so they tried another, Adderall.  She lost 5 pounds within two weeks, she was talking about hating herself and wanting to die.  Remember, she was also only 6.  This led us to bring her to an ADHD specialist, who evaluated her, and talked to us more in depth.  The result, she does not have ADHD, instead she is a very bright and gifted child who is bored.  We brought the results to the school asking if they could challenge her more and were told that there were several children just as bright as her in the class and that she just needed to learn to listen better.

Our pediatrician suggested homeschooling.  We'd never considered homeschooling before.  Neither of us had been homeschooled.  Would it be a lot of work?  I didn't think I would be organized to do it.  We had 3 children at the time, so we also wondered, should we just homeschool Cali or both her and Shiloh?  Was it okay to send Shiloh to preschool and homeschool Cali? 
Well, I researched, and I prayed, and I researched.  I knew of a few families within our church who also homeschooled, so I asked them questions and spent months observing them and their children.  I got excited. It thought that this would be a great choice for Cali.  DH wasn't as completely on board as I was, but I convinced him to let me try.

For my first year homeschooling, I just homeschooled Cali.  Shiloh continued at his public preschool, Juby was a baby.  By the second year homeschooling Cali, I loved it.  But I knew that Shiloh had special needs and that in a public school he should be able to get services.  So, I homeschooled Cali, who was in 2nd grade but doing 3rd and 4th grade work, and sent Shiloh to the same public Kindergarten.  I fought with the school for months.  They insisted that there was nothing wrong with him and that he was fine, his speech was fine and he didn't need services.  He was missing school all the time and was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.  Finally, I got tired of fighting with the school.  Cali was excelling in homeschooling and she loved our homeschool co-op.  I withdrew Shiloh from school in February.  I continued to homeschool Cali, Shiloh and eventually Jubilee for a total of 3 years and I loved it.  

Circumstances changed for us after Number 5 (Isaiah) was born. After 11 weeks of bedrest and then dealing with a colicky newborn, I felt like a failure as a mother, let alone a homeschooler. Isaiah was born in April of 2008 and by that September we were ready to enroll them into school. Cali started fourth grade and Shiloh started second. We weren't quite ready to try a preschool, so we kept Jubilee home with us for that year still "homeschooling" just her. 

The kids were enrolled in public school for three years. In that time we saw Cali go from a precocious, curious and engaging little girl to a sullen and apathetic preteen. She left for the bus before sunrise, arrived home just in time for dinner and to lock herself back up in her room to do homework. We missed our kids. We missed seeing them learn new things, and being involved in their lives. And mostly, we missed the godly character that we'd been cultivating since their birth. When you don't see your kids more than a few hours per week, it is impossible to fully reinforce faith at home. So, after the end of the school year 2011, we took the kids back home. Cali had completed 4th-6th grade, Shiloh 2nd through 4th and Jubilee K-1st grade in public school. For two of those years, Lily also attended free public preschool. 

After our experience with public school, we started doing a lot of research into government schooling and our role as parents. Continuously, God brought me to Deuteronomy 6, particularly verse 7.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
In this verse, we saw that God's best plan for our children was that we educate them at home and so we made the decision to homeschool all seven of our children through high school.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 6:7

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Psalm 127:4

What do these two verses have to do with one another? The connection therein lies the title of this blog and this family endeavor.  

"You shall teach them diligently" according to Strong's is the Hebrew word: וְשִׁנַּנְתָּ֣ם transliterated: wə-šin-nan-tām or shanan. This word most often appears in our Bible meaning sharp or sharpened, like a sharpened arrow. Psalm 127 likens our children to arrows. I find it so interesting to see children likened to arrows, when in Deuteronomy we are basically being advised to "sharpen our arrows" when we teach them diligently. 

Who is Quiver Sharp:
QuiverSharp is a place of encouragement. It is a place where I hope to be transparent and real about raising sharp arrows through diligent instruction in the Word. This blog is written by an imperfect mother striving to raise her seven children diligently through a solid biblical foundation and home education. As a family we are bible affirming Christians from a Reformed / Covenantal paradigm. We believe in first and foremost the Sovereignty of God in all things, including our parenting. Here, we hope to share insights into many areas that are pertinent to our family, including but not limited to: evangelism, reformed theology, catechism, homeschooling, bible studies, parenting as discipleship, and many, many personal anecdotes. 

Who we are NOT:
QuiverSharp is NOT part of the quiverfull movement despite our family size. We are not in any way associated or affiliated with the Quiverfull or Patriarchy movement.

Meet the Family:
Dad - Jeremiah (Miah)
Our rock and our family shepherd, Jeremiah has a heart for sharing the gospel and loving people whom others may feel are unlovable. Jeremiah became aware of God's calling as a pastor in his life only within the past few years and has been actively chasing after God's will in his life ever since. With the heart of a pastor, he will be entering seminary in the near future and his heart is to serve the people of Northern New England (specifically NH and VT). He also loves music (particularly hymns), studying theology, cooking, and watching movies with his wife and children.

Mom - Tikatia (Kat)
The author of this blog, Tikatia is first and foremost blessed every day to be married to Mr Wonderful with a Heart of Gold. Classically educating seven kids at home is a feat unto itself, so please bear with her if new posts are few and far between. This blog is firstly a creative outlet for a frazzled and sometimes lonely mama. In addition to homeschooling, Tikatia has a side photography business and babysits an adorable toddler four days per week. She loves poetry, reading, singing, snuggles, being creative, learning new things and then sharing those things with her children and friends.

Arrows: The Kids- I am sure that many a post will be dedicated to these seven. For now though, let's start with a simple introduction from left to right with names and ages. 
Looking at the picture above from L to R:
Shiloh 14, Amadeus 5, Jubilee 10, Isaiah 6, Elianna (Lily) 9, Hadassah (Haddie) 2, and Calista (Cali) 16.