Wednesday, July 25, 2012

With the days temperature being over 100 degrees my guys decided to practice their fire building skills and once the fire really got going they made hot chocolate.

Gotta love it!!!

Planning an Adventure

For record keeping purposes, we begin our school year on June 1st and complete the year on May 31st.  All educational activities and knowledge and skills acquired during summertime are recorded but during this time we do take a break from more traditional schoolwork (unless it is 'student-directed').  We begin this portion of schooling the day after labor day.  That day is quickly approaching and I am busily preparing.  There is plenty to do - the house needs thoroughly cleaned, all the 'curriculum' reviewed, and both the house and 'curriculum' organized.  So, all this is going through my head and Maceo's 13th birthday ceremony is definitely still residing in my brain and the two begin to converge - the practical ways in which we hope to guide Maceo on the journey to manhood and the ways in which to weave them through his academic 'curriculum.'
- He will begin his quest for authentic manhood by completing the book "The Teenage Years of Jesus Christ" by Jerry L. Ross
- In regards to helping him acquire skills that will be useful to him as he goes to fulfill his manly role of provider and protector I hope, in part, to build upon a tutorial that he received last year.  Last school year a friend gave Maceo a tutorial on how to change a vehicle's oil and I hope that he will have the opportunity to learn how to very specifically change my vehicle's oil and then, I hope, that he will be able to entirely take over the responsibility of changing my oil.  Also, I will give him more responsibility for the maintenance of the house and we will explore the possibilities of him attending courses at our local technical college that will increase his ability to do just that.
-  The best place to start when attempting to grow in wisdom is, of course, the Bible.  Maceo will read a chapter of Proverbs daily and discuss with me what has been revealed to him about wisdom.
-In order to continue growing in stature physically Maceo will continue attending a homeschool P.E. group at the YMCA and doing calisthenics determined by Dad.   Also, he has established personal goals that he has been consistently working towards and will be encouraged to continue.
- In order to continue growing in stature mentally Maceo can expect his studies to become more rigorous and he will be expected to become consistently more independent.  In addition to his regular studies, he will begin Informal Logic this year.  He will complete "The Thinking Toolbox" and "The Fallacy Detective" by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn.
- In order to promote spiritual maturity Maceo will continue to study the Bible daily after he has finished reading Proverbs and studying Wisdom.  Also, as a family, we will study the book "Character for Life" by Don Hawkinson and we will go on many prayer journeys, inspired by "The Praying Family: Creative Ways to Pray Together" by Kim Butts.
-We will also use the concordance to get a biblical perspective on the characteristics cited by Vince Lombardi.

This should prove to be an exciting adventure, one I look forward to taking with Maceo!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Special Birthday and Its Special Ceremony

It is my fervent hope and prayer that my sons grow to be godly men, husbands and fathers. I have prayed for this nearly every day of their lives.  I believe that it is our responsibility, as parents, to intentionally train our sons up in a way that helps them understand the responsibilities and rewards of biblical manhood.  We want to encourage and support them on this journey.  We consider a boy's 13th birthday to be a special milestone on this journey so we wanted Maceo to enjoy the rewards of a more extensive birthday party.  We also wanted to give him a road map, so to speak, of the journey ahead of him.  I delivered a speech at the beginning of the party and I intend on sharing most of it with you.  I will warn you that in the form of a post it will be rather lengthy but I want it recorded for posterity and some may find it interesting or useful.

"We believe that this should be one of those extra special birthdays because we believe that this is an important transitional moment in time for Maceo.  In our culture we speak of many developmental stages: infant, toddler, preschooler, elementary school age, tween, teen, young adult, middle-aged adult, senior.  However, the Bible refers to only three developmental stages.  For a boy they would be boyhood, young manhood and old manhood.  We believe that Maceo is transitioning from boyhood to young manhood.  He will now actively be transitioning from the things of children to the things of men.  Transitions are rarely easy and this particular one is rife with difficulties.  Living in a culture that promotes prolonged immaturity and devalues authentic manhood means that the road to biblical manhood is often obscured and full of dangerous traps.  We do come together today to celebrate but during this time we also hope to clarify what Maceo might expect on the first leg of his journey to manhood and to ask for your encouragement and support of him during this endeavor, whether it be by sharing wisdom, by sharing skills, by praying for him, or all of the above.

In order to provide a clear vision of what this transition entails let's examine Christ's earliest years of young adulthood.  We can learn more about this time period in Christ's life by referring to Luke 2:41-52.  (At this point in time I recited this scripture).  We know from this scripture that Jesus, even at the age of 12, had acquired significant knowledge and understanding and was aware of his special relationship with God.  But it was not time for him to begin his mission outside of his earthly parent's home.  So the scripture tells us that "he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them."  It also tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men.  During these earliest years of young adulthood we know that Christ was obedient to his parents, he grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.  I want to throw in one more thing here before expounding on any of these, Mark 6:3 reveals to us that he was a carpenter before leaving his parent's home, so we know that he was also busy learning and plying this trade during young adulthood.

Looking to this model, we will expect continued obedience from Maceo and we will strive to help him acquire skills that will be useful as he goes to fulfill his manly role of provider and protector.  During this time we will be encouraging him to grow in wisdom.  The Bible has much to say about wisdom and this will be explored together.  But all of it can be distilled to this definition, "Wisdom is the ability and willingness to base all of our thoughts, actions and decisions on the principles of God."  Maceo, together we can explore the principles of God but wisdom requires you (and only you) choosing to believe them and apply them.  This will be your responsibility as a young man.

Growing in stature refers to maturing physically, mentally and spiritually.  I think that we can all attest to the fact that Maceo has been maturing physically.  As I mention every day, I can't believe how tall you have become or the size of your feet or some such thing.  You will probably continue to grow and it will be your responsibility to continue taking care of your bodily health and developing your physical strength.  In order to grow in stature mentally it will be necessary for you to continue acquiring knowledge and your studies will need to steadily become more rigorous.  Growing in stature spiritually has to do with deepening your understanding of God's ways and seeking out His will for you.  Together we will explore the ideas of a transcendent cause, a mission in one's life, something greater than just you as an individual.  We can look at others throughout time (explorers, warriors, missionaries, husbands and fathers) who have sought out and followed God's will and have found a noble purpose for their lives.  But, again, Maceo, it will be your responsibility to develop a deep relationship with God and to talk to Him regarding His will for you.  It will be your responsibility to discipline yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.

Through the pursuit of wisdom and righteousness, through seeking a right relationship with God you will naturally grow in favor with God.  Much will be required of you in order for you to achieve growth in wisdom and physical, mental and spiritual stature and, thus, to achieve authentic, biblical manhood.  The legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi once said, "Life is like football.  It requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority."  Christ embodied these traits and you will need to employ these characteristics in order to successfully move from 'the things of children to the things of men.'  And it is these traits that will earn you favor with men.  The world will encourage you to act immaturely, selfishly, or impurely; it will try to convince you that his is the way to earning favor with men, that it will make you popular with your peers.  But this is not what the scripture instructs you to do.  1 Timothy 4:12 says, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith and in purity."  I am certain, Maceo, that you have heard adults speak disparagingly of young adults (of what they are wearing, the language they are using, how they are behaving), this scripture tells you how to avoid that by the way that you present yourself - in deed and in word.  You earn genuine favor from men when you conduct yourself in a way that will be viewed as responsible, respectable, and honorable.  You will find yourself in favor with men as you go about the business of men in a way that employs perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority

The journey ahead of you, Maceo, will be arduous at times but it is a battle worth waging.  You will find it rewarding.  And, please, know that you have the love, support and guidance of your family now and always."

After sharing this vision with Maceo we presented him with a football that has Luke 2:52 and the Vince Lombardi quote inscribed on it.  It will be framed and placed in a prominent position in his room and will hopefully serve as guiding principles on his journey to biblical manhood.

I know that this post is cumbersome but I pray that it will be a blessing to someone.

Celebrating a Very Special Birthday!

The Decorations
Maceo will be turning 13 soon.  We consider this to be a milestone birthday, one that deserves special recognition.  We typically keep our birthdays simple with the birthday child being surrounded by parents and siblings only.  Although these celebrations are treasured we wanted to do something a little larger for this special birthday. 
The Gifts
We threw him a Carolina Panthers football party complete with goal posts, turf and a concession stand.
The Guests
And we invited extended family members to celebrate with us and to be present as witnesses as we guided Maceo across the threshold into young manhood.
I will do a separate post on the words spoken over Maceo during this time.
It was a joy and love-filled day!

We all love you, Maceo!
Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Birthday, Roxie!!!

 The bestest big sister in the whole wide world is turning 50 today!

 We had a surprise party for her on Sunday!
 - a back to school party complete with primers and pencils, flashcards and chalk, classic school pictures and...
 lunch served by hairnet clad lunch ladies Marge and Bertha.
 It was such a joy to get to celebrate this milestone with her...
and to watch her with her grandchildren.
She is such an inspirational grammy and I pray I get to witness her love for those grandbabies for many more years.
And I pray that I get to celebrate many, many more birthdays with her!

Love you, Roxie, and Happy Birthday!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

June Has Come and Gone...Already!

June has come and gone.
We are already a third of the way through our summer break.
Time just keeps marching forward.
And, in the life of a family, so much happens during that bit of time.
We have celebrated birthdays, Christian has completed more college courses maintaining his 4.0, Herb has processed out of his duty station and is preparing for his next one.

 We have begun to harvest the summer crops - cherries, tomatoes, peppers, blackberries and lots of herbs.
 Bishop has completed the reading program requirements and has begun to reap the sweet rewards.
 We've gone to the zoo a couple of times, trying to take full advantage of our family's membership.

 We have attended and thoroughly enjoyed four special library programs.
 Maceo finished up his year in the Showstoppers acting troupe
and performed in Godspell Jr.
Bishop attended a very hot week of Boy Scout camp.  (I hope to acquire pictures of his experience and will post them when I do).
It has been a full month and we have much to anticipate as time continues its relentless march forward.