Friday, February 7, 2014

Vision, part 1

But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,  for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
Luke 18: 16 

My youngest sons and I have been involved with an after-school ministry in the inner city for two and one-half years.  My husband joins us when he gets off work early enough.  We have made new friends; we have fallen in love with children; we have been shown an area of ministry that is crying out for more.   

About three months ago, a vision for a preschool took over my mind.   One thing we have seen in our existing ministry is that many of these children are behind academically.  The foundation was not laid well in their education; first principles still need work, otherwise, they will fall farther behind. 

My sons and I are in our sixth consecutive year of home education.   We had one additional year of homeschooling several years prior to these consecutive years.  For all of these six years, I have followed the teachings of an English school teacher, Charlotte Mason (1842-1923.)  Miss Mason wrote six volumes on the education of children and related topics.   Miss Mason had great success with the poor of England, those educationally-left-behind souls of her day.   She has been called the "mother of homeschooling" because from her writings and lectures the Parents' Educational Union, later the Parents' National Educational Union, was born.  A monthly periodical detailing Miss Mason's thoughts and vision for a liberal education for all children, not just the children of nobility, was published and read by parents throughout England.  Miss Mason's teachings and guidance were used all across England with great success.   Miss Mason also ran a school, the House of Education in Ambleside, England, teaching young women how to be teachers and governesses. Just in case you need more affirmation for Miss Mason, here is what one prominent citizen had to say about her:

  "Teachers owe much to Charlotte Mason's deep insight into child psychology and to the new principles in character building and mind training which she advocated.  The gratitude of [those] who have profited by her counsel will be her enduring memorial.     
~ Elizabeth R., Her Majesty the Queen Mother of England

My vision for a preschool encompasses a bit of all these factors.  Laying the foundation for our children is the most important work we have, whether it is behavior, education, or faith related.   Miss Mason's preschool ideas do not align with the modern education system's ideas.   She prescribes letting the young child be just that; don't hurry the child into ABCs and 123s; first teach the child the habit of attention-- of being able to pay attention.  The best way to do that?   Lots of time outside exploring the creation, learning to observe the smallest of details.  Letting the child play as children do; play is the work of the small child.  Add a few books, good books not twaddle, for the child.   Formal education shall not begin until the child reaches age six (6.)

The preschool I have in mind would also serve as a learning center for moms and young women by  hiring those who have interest in childcare.  The goal is to impact the neighborhood by opening up opportunities for employment while educating its inhabitants about childcare principles and teaching mamas to teach using timeless principles which will ready any child for formal education.

This preschool lives strongly in my mind; but, (isn't there always a but?) there is much foundational work to complete in order for this preschool to be born.  And so I am prayerfully putting first things first.

Pressing on in Him,

Lisa Ann

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When God Calls- Early Hints

Jeremiah 29:11 

 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


My journey through life has held so many bumps, mistakes, disappointment in my circumstances and myself.   When I "found" the Bible verse above, I held it as my own.  I had been in some bad circumstances; my life had derailed from the "happily ever after" I had imagined.  But in that verse, I  found hope.  The promise of a future, living for God's purposes, excited and thrilled me!   I.  Had.  A. Future!   Thank you Father! 

I have done those magazine quizzes which are designed to help the reader find his/her "passion" in life.  Usually there is a question or thought-provoking exercise where the reader is asked to recall times or events in  life when one  felt fully alive, energized.  I have a couple of memories which fall into that category which always make me wonder a bit about my life and how on earth I took the detours I took.   The first event was a "zone" meeting at the home of an elderly couple from the church congregation where I grew up.  I remember sitting on a side pillar/wall of their front steps talking with some friends.  I know we had shared some food because we always did that when church family gathered.  I don't remember eating; I don't remember a devotional time; I do remember sitting on that wall talking with friends; watching as children, teenagers, and adults mingled and moved about, I had a deep sense of contentment and joy.  Looking back on that moment, I feel that I knew, in that moment, what life was about-- I was probably eight or nine years old when that happened.   That moment in my life has been relived numerous times in my mind and stands out as a high point.  

The second event was the summer after my first child was born.  My husband and I were poorer than the proverbial church mouse.  But our congregation teamed with an inner-city congregation to conduct a vacation Bible school for the children of the neighborhood around that church.  I remember pushing my baby daughter in her stroller as we walked to and then back home from that small church building.  Singing, with voices young and old, black and white, praises to our Lord  and Father was so uplifting.   What a blessed time that was.  I don't have any other clear memories of that week of serving other than the vague feeling that those children loved to gobble the cookies at snack time.  

Those events in my young life, separated by more than a decade of  existence, are very clearly times in which I felt fully alive, as if I was doing what I was created to do.  I can't say that I knew for sure at those times; but looking back, that is always the sensation that I feel while remembering those moments.