She fell in love with the stories, and we fell in love with teaching them to her. That’s what happens when you take Living Letters and place them between pudgy fingers.
Our Bibles weren’t meant for shelves. They were meant to be bent, dog-eared, marked in permanent ink.
Hers is falling from its spine. The back cover, decorated in squiggles and smudges, long ago fell off. And (bless her heart), she once tore out the page with snakes pictured, knowing how fearful I am of slithering reptiles. (Am I that way too, mentally tearing out parts of Scripture that I don’t like?)
We taped the snake page back in.
In this — the season of new books cracked open and new pencils sharpened — we continue to peel back the cover of the oldest and best story of all: The Good News.
In this dwelling surrounded by Iowa farmfields, school is open. Our children belong to two schools. In this house, we spiritually homeschool our children year-round as we grow in grace together.
But we send our children to another school, too. They attend public school — the same school that educated their father and their grandfather before them.
Each morning, they sling backpacks over little shoulders, and I walk or drive them to the end of the lane. As the bus turns the bend onto our road, we join hands in the center, making a ball of fidgety fingers.
“Dear God, Thank you for this wonderful day,” the youngest one says. All her prayers begin that way …
And I pray a blessing over them. “Bless them Father, that may they keep their hands in Yours.”
And we all say: “Amen.”
With a blessing on their hearts and new sneakers on their feet, the girls board yellow bus No. 44.
And I whisper to Him: “They are in the world, Lord. But let them not be of it.”
They spend their days in busy classrooms that are spilling over with back-to-school enthusiasm wrapped neatly in crisp new shirts from Target and Children’s Place.
They dig into Jan Brett and Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl. They eat on divided trays, sit in long rows in an old gym marked by the echoing percussion of dropped forks and giggling kindergartners. They spin dizzily on tire swings and tornado slides and merry-go-rounds powered by third-graders.
They stand up, with hands over hearts, and pledge allegiance to the flag with teachers who still recite: “One Nation, Under God.”
And they do believe, these teachers, for I see them in the pews on Sunday mornings, and sit with them in Bible studies, and join in their prayer chains that come my way via e-mail.
But this is still public school.
They share my beliefs, but they won’t teach about Jesus there, not by name anyhow, for they can’t. They can model Christ-like behavior, sure, and they can teach “Character Counts.”
But the stories of Jesus and Jairus and Joash and Jacob wait between pages here at home. And that is why we homeschool, too.
I’m waiting there at the end of a dusty lane when they return. And they bubble over with stories as we walk to the back door.
Their learning didn’t end with the last toll of the public-school bell. We still have work to do — and we package it in the everyday of mealtime prayers and scavenger hunts, and in Polly Pocket games where tiny dolls sing praise music — or “Dancing Queen.” (Can someone tell me if there’s any redeeming spiritual quality in ABBA? Please tell me there is. I’m a hopeless fan.)
We count blessings as we walk the quarter-mile home from the bus-stop, past alfalfa and tassling-corn and sunflower-painted ditches. A welcoming party of cats trails behind. We thank God for it all.
Books await inside our home — some old with torn pages, and some brand-new for this new season of learning. For we don’t exist just to feed, and clothe and tuck in these little bodies.
They came to us so we could feed their souls.
“Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops, and priests to their children, for it is they who make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal.” — Martin Luther
In our home, each of us has our own tent and altar, that place where we find rest in the sustaining word of God. Today, I open here the tents of our two girls, so you may see what they’re studying this fall. Would you consider sharing the contents of your child’s tent?
RELATED POST: Definition of a tent and altar.
In the tent of our youngest:
Children’s Book of the Bible. The vivid illustrations and photographs delight us … and alarm us. (This is the book with the snake photo. -smile-.) This story-Bible provides historical context in easy-to-understand language for little girls — and for mommies, too. I always learn something new here.