Friday, May 23, 2008

Intellectual Giftedness...

My daughter is "intellectually gifted". As much as I don't particularly like how that term sounds and what it implies (or not!), it is what the school board uses, so I digress. Every year at this time, since she has been "identified" (another term I don't quite warm up to!), we are faced with the choice of keeping our daughter in her home school with moderate curriculum enrichment or sending her off to the full-time gifted programme at another location. So far, we have made the choice to keep her at the home school as we have not seen a reason compelling enough to do otherwise. However, this coming September the full-time gifted programme is being moved to a new location. There was an open house at the school this morning which hubby, myself and our daughter attended. As you can already tell, that is why I'm blogging!

Aside from the new location (which has better facilities than the one before), there is also a new "Gifted Facilitator" from the school board. He is a great communicator and is very convincing! He sells the full-time gifted programme quite well, I must say. But, upon coming out of the open house, despite being impressed by the facilities and the facilitator's enthusiasm, my gut feeling still leaned towards keep my daughter at her home school at least for another year.

Every year, I agonize about this decision. Every year, God provides me with a clear answer. Isn't He awesome? This year, it was through Beth Moore's blog, The LPM Blog. A few days ago, she blogged about intellectual giftedness in children and it hit the right spot in my heart --- the words on the screen expressed what was exactly in my heart and on my mind; thoughts that I was having trouble putting into words! The complete blog entry is here --- entitled "Something's Got Me Thinking" --- but I will quote the few paragraphs that really grabbed me:

"I happened on an article that was not only well written. It was one of the most thought provoking secular articles I’ve read in a good while. (“More” - May 2008 Issue, p.90).

In the article entitled “My So-Called Genius” author Laura Fraser recounts her remarkable journey from whiz-kid-dom to an adulthood of unmet expectations and fairly ordinary life. Don’t let my crude synopsis keep you from reading the article for yourself because I won’t do it justice. I’d like to recap enough, however, to explain why I found it significant. By the time she was five she’d already been labeled “precocious” and told repeatedly how special she was. The next years did not disappoint. She was brilliant and darling and surpassed her peers impressively, drawing the attention of adults who conveyed to her in a myriad of ways that she was destined for greatness. Then came college where she entered an academic world of peers who, not coincidentally, were told the same thing. By her late forties, she’d accomplished many good things but the expectation of greatness and the sense that she’d never quite achieved it (despite a best seller) haunted her with feelings of failure. All the well-meaning forecasts had done nothing but cast a pall of perfectionism upon her and, as her consultant so aptly pointed out, "Perfectionists always lose.” The consultant confronted her with a very important challenge that I’ll paraphrase: “Must you write a great book? How about writing a good book?” Fraser describes how age and time had become precious gifts and how she’d come to reconcile the unreasonable expectations with her reasonable success.

In doing so she really made me think about some things. Here are a few: How careful we need to be – as parents, teachers, relatives, leaders, or observers – about telling gifted children how great they are going to be. It is a trap and a forecast Fraser claims rarely pans out. She points out the monumental difference between talent and having a clue what to do with it and (again paraphrasing) how genius rarely exempts people from having to work hard just like everybody else who wants to make it. I’m a big believer in encouraging young people and imitating the Apostle Paul with Timothy by telling them that they are extraordinarily gifted. BUT, as we learned this weekend in Boise, every gift is a trust placed in human hands by a holy God and it is up to each individual to develop the integrity, humility, and work-ethic to know what on earth to do with it. A gift never guarantees success. In the long run as well as the routine day-in and day-out, those with the grit to just keep doing the hard thing will often prove more effective. Gift without grit is a dang waste.

How profoundly wise God’s way is. If we’re willing to follow His paradoxical path on the winding roadmap of Scripture, we have the joy of side-stepping this ankle-breaking trap. So will a few children we’re privileged to train. Living just to be great will prove at least empty and at most unbearable. Spending ourselves for something infinitely greater, however, still fans our parched souls with the God-given need to matter, but relieves us of the relentless pain of being the “It” Person at the center of it. To live for the greatness of God IS to live the great life. Oh, I know we’ve heard it before but what if something in us clicked all the sudden? What if we all at once awakened to what a dream-killer perfectionism is? And to how pitifully small and unworthy a goal personal greatness is? We were meant for so much more. Every one of us who embraces the glory of God as our lofty purpose for living will end up doing great things precisely because we end up doing God-things. His holy hand rested on the least act renders the ordinary extraordinary. Far from the least but sadly uncelebrated, spooning soup into the mouth of the weak and bed-bound or manning the church nursery so a tired mom can go to Sunday School are acts of highest worship when offered in the Name of Christ. Though the arrogant and ignorant minimize and miss it, Christ beholds the sight like a breathtaking work of art, tilting His head and squinting His eyes to study each subtle detail. “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6).

Christ, the very One who called us to abundant, effective life and commanded us to splash in the cool springs of joy while living it, announced the secret to the great life without a hint of contradiction: Pour it out lavishly, sacrificially for the glory of God and the good of man. Those with presence of mind and semblance of health are called to pour out the drink offering of their lives until the cup is turned completely over and every last drop of energy slips - perhaps unnoticed, uncelebrated – into the vast ocean of earthly need. The last imperceptible drop of your well-lived life will sound like a tidal wave hitting the floor of the Grand Canyon to the hosts of Heaven. “I’m already great enough for both of us,” Christ says in effect, relieving the willing of their woeful burden. “Just follow Me.” For “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45)."

Wow! Just the words of wisdom that I needed. Bottom line is that I feel there is still a lot that my daughter needs to learn in terms of fully embracing the Christian worldview. Hubby and I both feel that keeping her at the home school for at least one more year would provide us with more opportunities to "complete" that training before she "spreads her wings"!

It is truly amazing when God provides an answer. My hubby often says he wishes that God would send him an email --- I say that God speaking through Beth Moore's blog entry is pretty close to that!

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need."
---Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lessons from Prince Caspian

We went to see the movie "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" today. It is very well done --- definitely worth seeing! I must say that hubby and I enjoyed it as much as our children did. The movie even reminded me of a few very important life lessons.

Here are some thoughts ---

~ I must have faith like that of a little child: Lucy, the youngest of the four siblings, was the only one who could see Aslan (the lion, the Christ figure) at first. This is because she's the only one who had the simple faith of a child that the Bible teaches about. When her brother Peter asked her why she could see Aslan and he couldn't, she replied: "Perhaps you weren't looking." How often have I missed seeing Jesus because I wasn't looking for Him in my circumstances; being too focused on the problem rather than looking for the One who could provide the answers?

~ It is essential to wait upon the Lord: Later in the movie, Peter makes a plan to attack the castle. Lucy asks him to wait for Aslan; reminding him that it was Aslan that helped them succeed the last time. Peter proceeded with his plan anyway resulting in failure and loss. How many times have I forged ahead with my own agenda; neglecting to wait upon the Lord; then wondering why things didn't turn out properly?

~ My Jesus is indeed the lion and the lamb: Aslan is both gentle and powerful. He embraces and speaks to Lucy gently. At the same time, He powerfully awakens the trees and the river! Awesome contrast --- reminds me of this song by Crystal Lewis:

Who is He --- who's the mightiest of all?
Who is He --- creation trembles at His call?
Who is He --- the lowly sacrifice?
Who paid a victim's price, His name is Jesus.

Who is He --- with the power none can tame?
Who is He --- that every foe would fear His name?
Who is He --- who was humbly led away?
To suffer that dark day, His name is Jesus.

Jesus, from the Father's own right hand.
Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man.
Jesus, who died and rose again.
Jesus, He's the Lion and the Lamb.
He's the Lamb that was slain.
He's the Lion that reigns.
My Savior and King.
Both the same.

Who is He --- with the eyes that burn like fire?
Who is He --- oh, the wonder He inspires?
Who is He --- who bore the guilt and shame?
For those who'd gone astray, His name is Jesus.

~ FInally, I can trust God for He is sovereign: Towards the end of the movie, Aslan tells the Kings and Queens of Narnia to rise. Prince Caspian looks up and says: "I don't think I'm ready yet." Aslan replies: "For that reason, then, I know you are." This hit me powerfully. How many times have I said "no" to God only because I didn't think I was quite ready yet? How many times have I missed seeing His power and glory because I didn't obey? This scene in the movie definitely reminded me of God's promise in 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says "...for my power is made perfect in weakness." This is such great encouragement as it pertains to the church plant journey that God has placed our family in at this time!

"He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
---Matthew 18:2-4 (NIV)

"We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name."
---Psalm 33:20-21 (NIV)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
---Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just One More...

Just one more poem in honour of Mother's Day! I have this one tacked onto my fridge as a visual reminder. May this always be my prayer...

A Mother's Prayer
By Helen M. Young

God, give me wisdom to see
That today is my day with my children.
That there is no unimportant moment in their lives.
May I know no other career is as precious.
No other work so rewarding.
No other task so urgent.
May I not defer it nor neglect it,
But, by Thy Spirit, accept it gladly, joyously,
And by Thy grace realize
That the time is short and my time is now,
For children won’t wait!

"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him."
---Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow mommies!!! I had good intentions of posting this entry yesterday but time just escaped from me! I'm sure all mommies know what I mean...

So, in honour of Mother's Day, here is a story that illustrates very well why I cherish every single moment I have with my children --- read on and enjoy!

Wet Oatmeal Kisses
Author Unknown

The baby is teething; the children are fighting. Your husband just called and said, "Eat dinner without me."

One of these days you'll explode and shout to the kids, "Why don't you grow up and act your age?" And they will. Or: "You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do. And don't slam the door!" And they won't. You'll straighten up their bedrooms all neat and tidy, toys displayed on the shelves, hangers in the closet, animals caged. You'll yell, "Now I want it to stay this way!" And it will. You will prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn't had all the olives picked out and a cake with no finger traces in the icing and you'll say: "Now this is a meal for company." And you will eat it alone. You'll yell, "I want complete privacy on the phone. No screaming. Do you hear me?" And no one will answer.

No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti. No more dandelion bouquets. No more iron on patches. No more wet, knotted shoelaces, muddy boots, or rubber bands for pony tails.

Imagine. A lipstick with a point. No babysitter for New Year's Eve. Washing clothes only once a week. No PTA meetings or silly school plays where your child is a tree. No car pools, blaring stereos or forgotten lunch money. No more Christmas presents made of library paste and toothpicks. No wet oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No more giggles in the dark, scraped knees to kiss or sticky fingers to clean.

Only a voice asking, "Why don't you grow up?" And the silence echos: "I did."

...because children grow up way too fast! My two are now 11 and almost 8. Where did all that time gone to? Fellow mommies: cherish every single moment, for in a blink of an eye, they will be all grown up!

"Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."
---Proverbs 31:28-30 (NLT)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Our Calling As Parents

There is an article in this month's issue of Focus on the Family Magazine that expresses very well something that I've been thinking a lot of lately. Here's my thought --- how do I, as a parent, help my children develop that joy in serving God with their life? I mean, really experiencing joy in serving God rather than just doing it. I think that is the ultimate thing that I can teach and impart to my kids, so how do I make sure that they get it?

Gary Thomas helped me to round up my thinking on this particular concept through his article entitled "Evangelism Begins At Home", so rather than typing out my own thoughts, I thought I'd share his entire article instead. Here it is:

Life In Focus: Evangelism Begins At Home
By Gary Thomas
(as printed in Focus On The Family magazine, May 2008 issue, page 30)

The deeply troubled boy proved too difficult for the disciples to handle. His father appealed directly to Jesus: "Can you help me?" Jesus replied, "Bring the boy to me" (Mark 9:19).

That is what we are called to do as parents: bring our children to Jesus.

If my goal is simply to raise "happy" children, I'll buy them whatever they want instead of teaching them to be responsible with money. If my goal is to have "successful" children, I will spare no expense helping them to rise above others --- they'll get the best coaching, the best equipment, maybe even the services of a sports psychologist.

But Christian parenting calls us to a much different purpose and motivation: raising servants of God. Malachi tells us that God's passion for marriage is rooted at least in part in our children's spiritual welfare: "Has not the Lord made them one?... And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring" (Malachi 2:15).

When I seek to raise children for God's glory, I'll be willing to face the difficult realities of training, encouraging, praying and the like, because I know there's no more important use of my time. Martin Luther wrote, "But the greatest good in married life, that which makes all suffering and labour worthwhile, is that God grants offspring and commands that they be brought up to worship and serve Him. In all the world this is the noblest and most precious work, because to God there can be nothing dearer than the salvation of souls."

What is the grand scheme behind your family? What will motivate you to train and instruct your children instead of ignoring something because you're too tired, too distracted or too fearful to address it? What greater end will fuel your efforts?

Some children will follow eagerly. Others will overwhelm us with their resistance. But our ultimate aim must be Jesus' command: "Bring the boy to me."

Lord, refine my motivations, purify my actions and energize my heart so that I do all that I can to help my children find their greatest joy in serving You.
I love how Gary Thomas phrased that prayer --- refine my motivations, purify my actions and energize my heart! AMEN! Good questions to be asking myself: What are my motivations? Are my actions pure? Is my heart energized?

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”
--- Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NIV)