Monday, April 26, 2010

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

...the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19:1-4

Speaking of homeschooling, this scripture has been one that we have talked about over and over this year during our school day. Especially as we have studied science. And that is another reason that I love doing this. We can talk about God's glory all day long in every subject without hindrance. We have even started to memorize this passgae thanks to this great CD that comes with our Core curriculum, Sonlight.

This year for science we have been using Apologia's Exploring Creation through Astronomy and it has been wonderful. It is SO much more than just learning about the solar system in general like I remember doing in school. It is very detailed and just totally points to God's amazing intelligent design and creation of the universe. Even things we think we know about, like our earth for instance, it has blown us away when we look at every detail and see how everything from the earth's size and distance from the sun, to its atmosphere and tilt, to its rotation and magnetospere and many other details- if even one of those things were just slightly off or different, life would not be able to exist here. I find myself constantly praising God for these details that I rarely if ever have considered- now that's a good curriculum in my opinion!

We usually take a few weeks to study about each planet in depth and then do a small experiment at the end of the two weeks. A few weeks ago we finished studying about Pluto and the Kuiper Belt and ended our time by shaking up our own ice-cream (learning about chemical reactions and how they can lower the freezing point of something- even a planet). The next day we took Grandma along on a field trip to our local Planetarium and watched a special program about whether or not Pluto is a planet and how the scientists came up with the conclusion that it wasn't a true planet. It was awesome to be sitting next to the boys as they kept nudging me everytime the program would talk about something we had just learned about in science and to see their excitement about learning. That week they had all 3 written out a hypothesis on whether or not Pluto was a planet and then had to state the evidence on why they thought that. (In case you were wondering, 2 out of 3 believe that it should still be classified as a planet, but we will all know much more once the spacecraft New Horizons reaches Pluto in 2015.) After we walked out of the planetarium, there were some local astronomers set up outside with these gigantic telescopes and of course we couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a look! It was amazing! Even in the middle of the day we were able to look directly at the firey sun through one telescope and at the moon through another! We got some info about when and where these local astronomers will be set up on different evenings all throughout the summer, so that we can catch a glimpse of a little more of God's amazing creation.

The best part about that day though was later that evening after we had dinner, the boys had the idea that we should go look at the stars. We don't exactly live in the country, but it is not totally the city either so we drove over the hill a little ways and parked and all piled into the back of the truck to lay down and star gaze! After our time at the planetarium, the boys thought they knew where some of the planets and constellations were so they were having fun trying to find it all in the night sky. It didn't last very long because it was cold and Elliana needed to get to bed, but it was fun just to be able to do something spontaneous like that and watch how excited they were about learning. We are marking our calendar for the next few meteor showers and they have already told me that a telescope will be on their Christmas wish list- too funny.

And this is why I wanted to share all of that with you. Several years ago, Randy and I began teaching our boys some of the shorter catechism questions and answers using the book Training Hearts, Teaching Minds. We never got through the book, in fact I don't even think we got half way through the book! BUT we will never ever forget the very first question of the catechism- which is: "What is man's primary purpose?" (or another way of asking it is "what is the chief end of man?") And the boys would answer "Man's primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." That short, simple, yet profound truth is ingrained in their minds and hearts because we took the time when they were young to teach it to them. And now everytime we open up our school books I remind them that not only is that man's primary purpose, but that even the HEAVENS and all of creation are declaring the glory of God! As we stare up into the sky and as we study the marvels of the universe our natural response is to worship the Creator even more! And we can call it "school!" Don't you love that? And guess what? You can do that too. Don't let another day pass without pointing out the wonders of God's creation to your children and praising Him for it. You don't need some curriculum or devotional book to do that either!

I want to encourage every parent that is reading this: you are teaching your children at home whether you realize it or not. You may not be a typical "homeschooler" in the sense that I am, but you are a teacher none the less. Education is discipleship. Simple as that. And if you are a follower of Christ and have children in your home- you are called to disciple them. In other words: educate them. And I believe that the goal, function, and very purpose of education is changed hearts. No, I am not the one who changes their hearts. And no I absolutely do not think that by homeschooling that somehow my children are guaranteed to have changed hearts. (Remember my last post about homeschooling?!) There is only One who is capable of that transformation of the heart of a person.

One of my favorite quotes that I look to quite often for encouragement in parenting is from R.C. Sproul Jr in his book: When You Rise Up. I pray that wherever you are in your parenting journey- that you would find encouragement and renewed purpose in it too.

"May we remember as parents that we are his children, and that he is about the business of changing our hearts, of repairing our ruins, of remaking us. And though he has not finished with us, he has placed in our care his children. May he in his grace keep our hearts aflame for these children. May he give us minds like steel traps that we would never be distracted, that we would not foraske our calling. May he, the great Steward, make us faithful stewards of our children, the most precious gifts, of which is the kingdom of God."

We have made so many mistakes in the 13+ years that we have been parents. I wish I could somehow go back and erase all of the mistakes. I try not to think about all that I did wrong and sometimes feel the guilt coming back to haunt me. But of course that is when knowing and hiding God's word in your heart comes in handy- the Holy Spirit assuring me that I am a new creation, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and that He will use each and every one of those things for HIS GLORY! I love that and rest in those promises. It all points back to Him!

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