Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Care and Feeding of Tweens

Of the three of us girls who write for Maidservants of Christ, I have the oldest child.  At 12 my brown-eyed girl is all of our vanguard into the world of tweens.   I've been exploring the ways that I can bring our Whatsoever Wednesday model to life for her.  

As homeschoolers, we've always studied "Bible" a bit like we did math.  Get a curriculum, read the material, do the exercises.  I've long thought of Bible as the most interesting academic topic I've ever studied.  That's not a terrible way for an introverted nerd to relate to the Word of God, but it is limited.  As I've grown, I wanted her to grow too-in service, in study and in heart.

Her dad is an extremely disciplined guy.  He reads his Bible and 1 chapter of whatever "devotional" reading he is doing every morning after breakfast.  I read good stuff regularly too; this blog helps me be disciplined about it.  So with that in mind, I've been searching around for good stuff for her to read.  Last semester as a regular part of her school work she worked through "Mere Christianity," "The Life I always wanted" etc.  

When this school year rolled around, I decided to try a different tack.  Not that the books she read weren't good for her.  I think they were.  But I wanted her to dig into the word differently. Thus we came to the fascinating world of journaling.  

We've tried SOAP journaling.  SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer.  We've tried picture journaling since she likes to draw.  We've tried a more academic approach recently that includes boxes for simple word studies, applications and new insights.  We've tried the inductive Bible study method as well, since she was familiar with it from Bible class.  

Why try so many things?  Because everything still feels forced, academic and a bit unappealing.  I am not against making a kid do what's right until they develop the will and discipline to do it themselves (if I was I would give up TODAY on the idea of my children learning to pick up after themselves).  But if there's a way that she loves, something that can be internally motivating, I'm all for that too.

In the last few weeks three amazing things have happened.   First we visited a local "welfare center." Then I was given a short devotional book and then I downloaded a novel for free.  

What? That didn't sound amazing to you?  It's not the things.  It's her and the Holy Spirit.  

When we visited the abandoned disabled children at the welfare center she was inspired to try to help.  First she thought of knitting scarves for the kids but the director said that it wasn't something that they could really use.  Then she thought of knitting scarves here where the yarn is cheap and selling them at home to raise money for the kids.  

The book I was given was Cassandra Martin's "The Jesus Resolution" (read an online interview with Cassandra here). A dear friend who gave us another very memorable book, dropped it off on her recent visit.  I read it, but to be honest it is not as appealing to me as her other, deeper, study oriented books. But while it was lying about the house, my girl picked it up.  She read a one-page here, another one there. The next day she brought the book to me and said, "Mom couldn't we do this for our morning devos?" And I said, "Sure," in my most casual voice.  Inside I was doing my end zone dance! Touchdown! 

The novel was one of the many free books I've downloaded for her Kindle.  I don't let her search for them on Amazon cause it's a cesspit of soft-porn.  So I check a couple of Christian blogs that recommend free books regularly.  This novel I wasn't too sure about. For one thing its main character was an alcoholic teenage boy.  So I told her I'd have to preview it have a conversation with me about it afterward.   When she finished we had a great talk about the characters and their motivations, and what was realistic about the portrayal of alcoholism in this book (and others).  

I couldn't have planned any of these things.  If I had picked some piece of literature, made her read it for school, then lectured her on the morality of it, I'd have failed.  Trust me picking devotional books for her to read wasn't half as useful as her picking up one that was laying around. No amount of lecture on social justice touches a heart like snuggling a far too tiny baby, being told she's nearly two and listening to the staff celebrate the fact that she just learned to crawl. 

I think with my 12 year old I am re-learning a lesson from her preschool days.  Back then I knew that my job wasn't to "teach" her stuff, rather it was to provide her with nutritious food, a loving home and a rich environment and God would see that she would grow. As the mother of a young Christian, I've found the same.  She needs a steady diet of God's word and good books, a loving church family and rich opportunities to serve; the Spirit indwelling her will see that she grows! 
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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