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    Commending His Works

    May 12, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    One generation shall commend your works to another…
    Psalm 145:4a

    Si and I are taking a parenting class at our church right now. It is based on the Shepherding a Child’s Heart video series and book, as well as on other lessons taught to us by the teachers. There are two dads basically leading the class, and one mom {a husband of one of the men} who chimes in on occasion. Between the two dads, there are fifteen children {so far} and almost three decades of parenting experience.

    Needless to say, we are learning a lot.

    In the video series, Tedd Tripp emphasizes the idea of generational faith, or a legacy of faith that is passed on from one generation to another. Yesterday, he kept bringing up the verse above, and then the teachers were talking about it as well. And I was suddenly struck: this is one of the core facets of homeschooling!

    Homeschooling slows life way down. There is no morning rush to get out the door. There is no afternoon rush to pick children up. There is a lot more time together than the average family. The question is how all this time is spent.

    In our class, we were given a list of things that can distract us from true parenting. Some of them, I don’t struggle with much, like the culture around us. Long ago, we decided to cut off most culture {I use the term culture loosely as most of what is prevalent is nothing but debauchery} from our home. There are no video games, computer games, television, etc.

    But one of the distractions was “good behavior.” That one rang a bell. It is inconvenient for me when my children are misbehaving. Usually, the internal chaos of one child is all it takes to set the whole household in a spin for a while, and it can be exhausting.

    But sometimes, I think that good behavior then becomes our focus. The video yesterday was looking through the lens of the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. In modern English, the question would be What is man’s primary purpose? And the answer is that man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

    Good behavior would definitely be a result of glorifying God, but it can also be pursued as an end that has no real connection to anything spiritual. And therein lies the danger, I suppose. Disconnecting behavior from any real spirituality, any change of heart or light of faith.

    So as I was mulling over the verse about commending the Lord’s works from one generation to another, this beautiful picture of generational faithfulness, I was reminded of a little book my mother-in-law once sent us. She has given us many books over the years, and many of them would be considered “better.” After all, she gave us a collector’s edition of Pilgrim’s Progress. She gave us a hardback Dr. Seuss collection.

    But the book that stands out in my mind is a book that the sticker says cost her no more than two dollars. What a God We Have is a simple little board book. But the content is priceless. This story of Matthew and his grandma is just beautiful. Grandma lives in the country, and when Matthew visits her, there is much of creation for him to see and enjoy. And Grandma makes sure that she commends the Lord’s works to Matthew at every opportunity. Here’s a quick excerpt:

    Grandma always planted a big garden. Matthew helped her by dropping seeds into the ground. Then he turned the hose on every morning to water the seeds. When the little plants started growing, Grandma said, “Look at them pushing that dirt out of the way, Matthew. What a God we have!”

    So I have been thinking about a theme verse for school next year. We have already come up with the school’s name {in California, you don’t really homeschool, but rather you register your home as a small, private school complete with a name and a file cabinet}. But I thought that a verse for each year would give me a focus. And I think I’m choosing Psalm 145:4a. More than anything, I want our school to be an act of generational faithfulness. What could be more perfect than making sure that each and every day, throughout the day, we commend His works to the children? It is my hope that we, like Grandma, see the beauty in this world and respond in adoration, telling the children, See! What a God we have!

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  • Reply Brandy May 12, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    I suppose the choice was easy for us because we were already weirdos. He he. 🙂 It is amazing, though, how people will misunderstand the diet as some sort of strict, almost abusive form of parenting instead of actually a loving attempt to help the child. At the same time, I am astounded at how many people I now run into who are on some sort of special diet for the sake of their kids. It is becoming more and more common, I guess.

    I am glad to hear that the diet has been a smooth transition. I was totally overwhelmed when I realized the situation we were in…and I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone! 🙂

    Just to warn you: Dr. Bock’s book is over 400 pages. It is great. But I still haven’t actually finished it. 🙂

  • Reply frugalabundance May 12, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Thank-you Brandy. I’ll look for it at my Library. The learning curve is HUGE, I agree, but like you said, it’s pretty much an all or nothing sort of thing. For us, doing it gradually would have been more difficult than changing things all at once.

    I have prayed and prayed over this choice, not wanting to seem like a crack-pot, hippy, weird-o, and yet knowing that if there’s anything to GFCF that I owe it to my kids to give it a try. God has given me so much grace because it has been almost easy. Sometimes God seems to ask me to do very difficult things, and then other times, He guides me in a direction that seems almost effortless. I am feeling very blessed right now, and thanking him for his Grace.

    I’ll look into supplements too. Right now I’m making everyone take a Flintstone vitamin everyday, but hope to introduce a few other things like Codliver oil later on.

    Thanks again for the good ideas. 🙂 🙂

  • Reply Brandy May 12, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Maggie. Welcome to Afterthoughts! Congratulations on beginning your GFCF journey. The first six weeks or so are the hardest. There is such a huge learning curve, and yet you can’t really baby-step the process or you won’t know if it is working. Thankfully, a lot of kids respond quickly, and any response at all is an encouragement.

    I don’t know if you have read it, but I would highly suggest Dr. Bock’s book Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies. We were doing well on the diet, but adding some of the supplements he mentions in the book really brought us into “normal.” No one would ever know now, by observing my children, that there had ever been anything wrong with them at all. I was marveling at this the other day. God has been so gracious. There was a day when I wondered if my son especially would ever lead a normal life.

    Anyhow, I hope the diet is as successful for you as it has been for us!

  • Reply frugalabundance May 12, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Hi Brandy. I’m really enjoying your blog. We’ve just started GFCF and it’s helping my boys already. The oldest has Asperger’s Syndrome and the youngest has ADHD. We’re Christian homeschoolers too, and I love seeing how you manage things through the perspective of Christ first.

    🙂 Maggie

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