What would you think if your husband didn’t speak to you for days or even weeks at a time? What if your children talked about you but rarely spoke with you? What if your friends went to your house but didn’t talk to you while they were there?
Of course these situations sound strange and are probably pretty unbelievable, right? But when we don’t pray, that’s essentially how we’re treating God. Even if we read the Bible. Even if we go to church. Even if we sing hymns or worship songs. Even if we read Christian books. All of those things are great. They are all things we should do. But they shouldn’t take the place of prayer in our lives.
Why not? Because prayer is the way we communicate with God. It’s the way we tell Him how much we love Him. It’s the way we thank Him for meeting our needs. It’s the way we ask Him for guidance. It’s one of the ways we communicate with God in response to all the ways He communicates with us.
And it grieves the heart of God when we don’t pray.
Years ago my husband was filling in for our pastor who was away one Sunday. He began his sermon by telling how he was caught off guard by the amount of love in his heart for our first child when she was born. Of course he had loved Hannah before she was born, but when we welcomed her into the world, a whole new level of love filled his heart. An unexpected love that he never could have understood until our child was born.
He went on to tell how, as she grew, every little thing she did seemed so miraculous. Every milestone she reached made him so proud! Every noise she made sounded like music. Every smile lit up his heart and made him love her that much more.
And then, around the age of 15 months, things changed. Our sweet girl stopped talking. She lost the ability to understand speech. She no longer looked at her daddy with love in her eyes. She no longer laughed when he played with her. She no longer understood his instructions or tried to follow them. She no longer craved her daddy’s attention or sought his approval.
In other words, she no longer responded to her father’s voice.
My husband learned by experiencing Hannah’s lack of response toward him—Hannah’s earthly daddy—that God feels the same way when His children don’t respond to Him. And if we earthly parents grieve when our children don’t respond to our imperfect love, how much more must God grieve when we fail to respond to His perfect love for us?
Yes, prayer is important. It’s one of the ways we show God that we’re listening. It’s one of the ways we ask Him to help us understand His will for our lives. It’s one of the ways we thank Him for what He does for us. It’s one of the ways we acknowledge Him, communicate with Him, and respond to Him. It’s one of the ways we worship Him. But the most important reason to pray is simply because God desires a relationship with each of us.
Sometimes, we forget to do “it.” Other times, we take “it” for granted. Often times, I wonder how little power we attribute to “it.” But truly how often do we take a step back, stand in awe of the fact that our Lord and Savior has given us the amazing gift of prayer?
Prayer connects us to God
Prayer gives us a way to connect with THE GOD of the Universe!
How amazing is that!
Let’s stop and contemplate that for a moment……
Before the world began, God knew we would sin and that this sin would keep us from having a relationship with him. So, he formed a plan to save us and reconcile us back to himself.
“He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”
– 1 Peter 1:20-21
He not only wanted us to be with Him in heaven one day, but He wanted to cultivate a relationship on Earth. This is why he blessed all who believe and are baptized with the Holy Spirit. Not only do we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, but we also have the gift of prayer.
Walking with God
Throughout the Bible, we read that so and so “walked with God.” Enoch walked with God 300 years, Noah walked with God, etc. In the past when I would read about them walking with God, I felt a longing in my heart to do the same. But for some weird reason, I didn’t believe it was possible. And then, I read this verse and realized God wants to walk with ALL of us!
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8 (emphasis added)
Yes! Walking with God is possible for all of us, but how?
Walking with God in the Power of Prayer
Jesus emphatically tells us in John 14 & 15 that Jesus and the Father are one. That if we know Jesus, we know the Father. Then in a bolder statement, Jesus says:
“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
Honestly, this boggles my mind a bit…what about you?
Have you ever thought about doing greater things than Jesus? Um…Never! But here is the thing:
It was by God’s power that Jesus did everything He did. He walked with God through a prayerful life. Jesus wants us to walk in a prayerful life with Him because in doing so, we will walk in a prayerful life with God. Then, God will work through us in the same way He worked through Jesus!
We are, after all, supposed to follow Christ’s example. Are we truly taking hold of the power of prayer or are we settling for something less than what we could have? These are questions I’ve been asking myself. Would you join me in this challenge of walking with God through prayer in a more powerful way?
How does this change your outlook on prayer?
Does it scare you at all?
Because, it does me just a little, but in a good-God’s-pushing my comfort zone kind of way.
Have you ever thought about how the Lord provides a way to escape through provision? Honestly, I had never considered that until these past few months.
Through my life, I have always thought about how the Lord gives blessings and provides for his children through material possessions. But, now, I can see so much more than that because of this verse:
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Cor. 10:13
Do you see it? He provides a way to escape from temptation.
Isn’t that beautiful?
To me, it is because I have fallen into temptation my entire life. I have longed for material possessions, to be the best (at many different things), I have suffered from jealousy, coveteousness, gossip, anger….. and the list goes on.
One thing I have held higher than I should is the need for stability.
I never really thought about that or how it can be sinful to need stability, but this past year, God has shown me that anything I place above Him causes my heart to wander.
It took a true friend, one who knows I long to learn more about the Lord to speak the truth.
One day, as I shared our financial situation, she very lovingly replied: “The Lord will bring to light the things we need to work on so that He can do bigger things in our lives and the lives of others through us.”
That hit me like a load of bricks.
She didn’t say “Oh, I am so sorry” or “Oh, I hope things work out…” She spoke the truth and showed me that no matter what was going on, the Lord had allowed it to happen, but for a bigger purpose than I could imagine.
As I considered what she said, I asked her to pray for me. I asked her to pray that God would give us clear direction….
God did give us clear direction.
Within a few months, a neighbor called and told us she was selling her home and asked if we would like to speak with her realtor. I agreed to do so but knew that we had to make a certain amount on our home, or it would not make sense.
The realtor came that night and within 48 hours (even before listing on MLS), we had a full price contract.
In that transaction, God provided a way for us to pay off almost all of our debt.
While we do not have a home of our own, he has also provided shelter – through the same friend who gave me those words of wisdom. We needed to sell our home and a place to regroup; she needed house sitters while her home is empty.
God has provided.
His provision was not just for our physical needs; he has also provided spiritually.
I no longer judge how other people mess up their finances and end up homeless and needing food stamps. There are times in this life where things happen because of lessons that haven’t been learned. There are also times when things happen that are completely out of our control.
I am thankful for my friend and her lack of judging me. I am thankful for her love and desire to speak truth.
Most of all, I am thankful for how deeply she loves the Lord.
God has shown His love through His provision for me and my family. I pray He will also provide a way for us to bless others…
I woke up this morning and realized July is almost over. GASP! And my blog is due – double whammy! The topic for this month, “provision,” which is: the action of providing or supplying something. I could easily write about another “pro” word, you know, as in procrastination but such is not the topic this month.
As I prayed and sought the Scriptures, the first verse that came to mind was Philippians 4:19. I’m going to be real honest with you, I usually tend to think about this verse when I’m trying to figure out “how am I going to pay for ‘X’?” I know my God is not a “genie in a bottle,” so I immediately felt convicted that provision must mean more than God making sure I have food, shelter and enough money to pay the bills. As a former pastor used to say, read the Scriptures s-l-o-w-l-y. So, I did. I looked up that verse and read it slowly and this is what I saw.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
If you recall last month’s blog I was in the midst of a full kitchen remodel that began the 1st week of June and construction / final installation didn’t end until July 11th. We still have items that need to be completed, but the kitchen is fully functional. Praise the Lord!
Being the planner that I am, I had a built-in cushion; all boxes were checked, but the surprises just kept coming…along with the tears. My prayers sounded like this, “Hello God! Do you not see that I have been a good steward with this project? I need you to make this go as smoothly as I planned it.” Me and my list explains why I fell through the ceiling and why things went a bit out of whack during our kitchen remodel.
God needed me to see my need for Him and let Him take care of things because I really have no control. Not having a clue on how things were going to get fixed kept me my attention on the One who is in control. I kept focusing on the “how are we going to pay for it” aspect instead of remembering God’s provision for our needs.
I’ll be honest, I cried a lot and then it was time to balance the budget, where the credits and the debits left us $156 ahead and left me saying, “Wow God, Wow!”
A friend who was going through a kitchen remodel at the same time we were, summarized my feelings so eloquently and she gave me a hearty laugh in the process —
“I feel like I am on a mission trip. I’m in a construction zone; paint all over myself, no plumbing, etc….*except*… no one is getting saved and there’s no plane waiting for me at the end of the week.”
While “nobody got saved,” I was able to have some fruitful discussions with the contractors. As a worldview teacher and pro-life activist, I pray faithfully that God provides me the words needed to speak should I encounter such situations. Interesting to note how I trust Him to faithfully provide for those situations and yet, I “panicked” about what I was seeing as the growing expense of our money pit, (ahem!) kitchen.
Why the panic? Why do so many of us panic over certain situations and not others. It’s different for each of us, but the issue remains. For those areas where we choose not to panic and when we focus our energy on seeking God’s peace and trusting His provision, things always work out better than we could have anticipated. Remember, I don’t have answers, but I do have a lot of questions and those questions keep me close to the Vine. I know all too well that God will be teaching me this lesson yet again. Hopefully next time I won’t fall through a ceiling.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28
This whole process reminded me that I have zero control, and that is a good thing. It also left me weary because I kept trying to control what I couldn’t. I teased that what I now needed was a very long nap, and what do you know God makes provision for my need to rest too! That part about “all my needs” means all my needs. While there wasn’t a plane waiting for me at the end of the remodel, there was a Sleep Number™ bed with my number programmed and ready to receive me.
I was very excited when I saw this month’s topic: God’s Provision. My husband and I have been on a journey of learning about God’s provision in a whole new way. This year has been one of ‘those’ years. One in which we have sure questioned God’s Provision. One in which we have wondered what God was doing. We have wondered why He was not providing like we thought He would.
So as I looked ahead to writing this article, I was excited to share with you the complete story. I thought it surely would all be solved by the end of this month. But, friends, we are still in the middle of the story. We still haven’t seen the ending to these situations we’ve found ourself in. We still have not seen God’s provision come yet.
. . . . Or have we?
Throughout this whole seven-month saga in our life, outwardly, it may seem like God is not providing for us. But, oh WOW! There are many things that our God has provided! Things that go beyond human eye sight. Things that go way deeper than the physical needs we have. Things beyond the very large decisions that weigh on our minds.
In His goodness, He has provided:
Preparation. Though some things can never be prepared for, we have felt prepared. God’s Spirit quietly prepared us to unclasp our hands to the things that rot and decay. God’s great provision!
Teaching. Great lessons, that can only be taught thru life’s hard times. We are being gently taught by God’s Word. God’s great provision!
Wisdom. We are wiser than we were a year ago. Certainly. Not that making any decision is any easier than it would have been a year ago. It might even be harder. Yet all the things God has taught us this year have prepared us to make the big decisions we are facing now. God’s great provision!
Peace. Throughout this whole year, though circumstances are less than ideal, we have felt peace. Peace in the midst of the storm. God’s great provision!
So, friend, if you also find yourself in need of God’s great provision, look around. He shows up everywhere. He may not look like what you think provision looks like. It may not be a physical provision. Yet, His Word, His grace, His peace, His preparation, His teaching. The lessons learned. Are all a part of our God’s great provision.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 NLT
He sees the big picture. He sees the emotional and mental provision that we need. More so than all of that, He sees the spiritual provision we need. He knows what we need to go thru in order to come out refined as gold tried in the fire. As clay, molded and shaped, ready for what the Master has for us to do.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8 NIV
We are not thru it yet. I don’t know how much longer we have before we can tell the whole story. For now, the story we can tell is that God provides. More than we think. And while he is providing, He is shaping us into the couple, the family, the person, He wants us to be. And because of that, we can praise God for His amazing provision.
I was so excited. A new school year was starting, and I had all our curriculum in order. With several weeks already planned out, things were going smoothly.
Then it happened.
Now, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Late summer hurricanes are always a possibility when you live in Florida. However, this one caused a few huge trees on our street to fall, bringing down power lines with them. Of course, I can’t complain. No one was hurt. In fact, no one’s home was damaged.
But we had no electricity.
Now, if you haven’t been in Florida during August, you may not realize the intense heat. I know there is a difference between dry heat and humid heat, but let’s just say that the humidity in Florida’s August is so high that you are almost able to swim in the air. We were without air conditioning and were expecting up to two weeks before power would be restored! How could we do school? There was no way we could be in the house during the day, because it was unbearably hot.
I was so frustrated. We had such a great beginning to our school year.
Part of my frustration was with God. I really felt He had called us to homeschool, but it seemed that I never was able to meet MY GOALS for the year. And this year was starting out the same way. WHY did God allow for a hurricane to mess things up? Wouldn’t He want ME to successfully teach MY children according to the lesson plans *I* had carefully planned?!?
Well, you can probably guess what happened. God knew what was better for us than I did.
Really. He did.
In order to endure the heat each day, we would pack up our books, papers, and lunchboxes and go to the local library. On that first day, the librarian noticed how we were camping out, so she came over to ask if we needed anything. I explained our situation and that we were doing our homeschool work there. “What are you all studying?” she asked us.
And that began one of the best two weeks of our homeschooling journey.
You see, once she learned what we were covering, she told my children all about what the library had in the way of books that would go along with our subjects.
The next day, she asked if they would like to go downstairs into the resource rooms and learn about microfiche (for those of you too young to know what that is…it’s an old-school type of projected viewer showing printed materials like newspapers and magazines, many from years and years ago). Each day, she excitedly came up to us to ask if she could help us. Some days we were fine and other days we asked her what she could show us. She set us up with historical videos, educational games, interesting magazines, and even a few crafts they had left over from some summer programs.
After two weeks of that, my children became true library professionals. They could navigate their way around the computer card catalogs as well as the “ancient” hard catalogs, too. They boldly went up to our librarian “friend” to ask questions and also came to realize that librarians REALLY are a wealth of information and (for the most part) LOVE to help.
No amount of Mom-planned field trips would have given them this lesson. They truly learned a skill I wanted to teach them but never could find the time to add it to our “busy” days: how to learn how to learn. Not just memorize things, but how to research and discover information they do not know.
Indeed, the Lord provided.
He set up the circumstances to require us to camp out at the library for 10 days. He knew this was an important skill for my children to learn that would help prepare them for the future.
Now, I know that this provision seems small. I could share “bigger” times of provision with you: a time when my son was horribly injured and had to endure several surgeries, a time when we had to care for my sick father by having him move in with us, and many more. God indeed provides for us in the big things. But this provision came during a time I least expected it. It showed me that my Lord provides even the little things in ways I cannot orchestrate myself.
He cares so much for us that He knows our needs before we know them. Rest on that. Know that the things that “get in the way” of our plans do not take our loving Lord by surprise. It may be our Plan B, but it is ALWAYS His Plan A!
This month we are sharing our thoughts on God’s Provision in our lives. The first verse that came to mind was Philippians 4:19 where as a child of God, I can rest assured that my needs will be met.
“And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
As life comes at me from all directions, it can be a challenge to stay on track. Even the best planned day can go sideways in a heartbeat. I consider it a blessing to know that I am not alone in trying to meet the needs of my family (whether financial, physical, or emotional).
Just think of the promise. My God shall supply every need..according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
When we place our faith in the Christ, God has committed himself to protect, provide, and care for us. The hard part for us is to remember that although God always provides for his children, it is usually not in the way we expect.
Isn’t that the truth? When I am knee deep in life, it is often hard to see His provision and care. I find myself praying for specific results instead of His will. Especially when my needs feel so urgent..I need the help now!
But Isaiah 55:9 tells us that God’s way is higher than ours. God sees the overall picture or forest when we can often only see what is right in our face.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”.
Don’t feel that you are the only one that feels this way. Even the disciples missed what Jesus was saying and doing..and they were there to witness it! If the disciples missed the point of the miracles and the lessons in the parables, we need to not be so hard on ourselves when we do not understand or see God’s provision in our lives even though we know it is there.
I think it helps to remember that provision is not just physical things.
So how should we look at God’s provision in our lives?
God Provides Differently Than We Expect
Remember the story of how God fed the Israelite’s in the desert? Every day God provided food, for that day only. Not for tomorrow or next week but just what they needed for the day at hand. If God provided daily food for all those people, why do we question that He can’t meet the needs of our small family?
We complain just like the Israelite’s did because we don’t get what we want in the way we want it. Whoa, when I think about how much God did for them and compare my needs to theirs; where do I get the right to complain about anything?
Help doesn’t always come from the direction we are looking. And, unlike the popular saying, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. If we re not happy with our circumstances, we should take steps to improve them but in the meantime, not complain about the situation.
We need to be all in, whatever we are doing. I Corinthians 10:31 says: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”.
God Provides More of Himself
Scriptures tell us over and over that we should make the pursuit of God our main goal in life. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” And Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Have you ever stopped and thought about exactly what God has given to you? I mean really thought it through or even made a list? It is eye opening. It also shows how much God has and is doing in our lives.
The more I spend studying the Word, the more I want to know about and become closer to God. I believe this is what the focus of our lives should be as we mature as Christians.
God’s Ultimate Provision Was Given at the Cross
Salvation and eternity with God is the greatest gift of all. This provision was given to us at the cross. Until we cross into Glory, the gifts that we are given here on earth are just a taste of what is coming in Heaven.
So while we ask God for so many things to make our life more comfortable here on earth, we need to remember that if we are a child of God’s – we already have the greatest gift of all. For me, this puts my daily complaints in another light.
James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
We may struggle while here on earth. We may create a lot of our own troubles. Well, we all create most of our own troubles by our own selfish will. But God is still there, and providing every good thing in our lives. What love comes from our Father in Heaven. He sent Jesus as the ultimate provision for us.
God Provides for Eternity
While we struggle with the day to day, God looks at the forever after. Our heartaches, physical or emotional pain may not be removed in this life. We may not get the healing we have so earnestly prayer for before our body gives out. There will be times that God does not provide or care for us in the way we want in this life. We must however, remain faithful even in these tough times.
The scriptures don’t promise that life will be easy and that we will not suffer but physically and at the hands of others. In fact, it states that we will in fact suffer for the name of Christ as a Christian.
But, if we remain faithful – we will be with God for eternity. We will never suffer or have any pain. One of my favorite songs talks about the fact that there will be no tears in Heaven. No sadness, no death, no pain.
Will we understand it all then? I don’t know. I do know that I want to be with God in Heaven. I would imagine that all those questions I think I want answers to won’t matter a bit when I am with my Heavenly Father.
So while we wait for answers to prayers, we need to keep praising God and doing His will. My grandmother used to say that the reason the things of this earth are so hard to bear are because we get a glimpse of Glory through the Word. That glimpse is so perfect that anything less is not enough.
We are sojourners according to the scriptures. This world is not our home. But we are also a chosen race and a royal priesthood according to 1 Peter 2:9.
When you pray again asking for this or that, stop and remember to thank Him for all the good gifts in your life. When we are truly thankful, it puts the urgent needs into perspective.
Today, I want to talk about how “that child” sees so many things differently than you and I do.
I have some books I want to recommend and talk through. These are works that have completely changed the way I approach mothering and homeschooling.
First, The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias. I would highly recommend that you seize any chance to listen to Cynthia Tobias; she is a scream to hear in person. She is a very funny speaker but has tremendous insight. I actually got this book I think all the way back when we were beginning our homeschool journey. It has really helped me see some things I was blinded to.
Second, if you get a chance to hear Dr. Kathy Koch, I would highly recommend her. She is based out of Texas (my beloved state), and frequently speaks at the Hearts at Home conference and on Focus on the Family radio. Her book, How Smart Am I? is another must-read.
And thirdly is an work entitled Awakening Your Child’s Genius by Thomas Armstrong. He maintains, “We want to assist [children] in finding their inner genius and support them in guiding it into pathways that can lead to personal fulfillment and to the benefit of those around them.” He has said his writing is motivated by the desire to ensure that every child gets a chance to fulfill their potential. Obviously, this is an incredibly helpful perspective when you are learning to educate your “that child.”
That Child & The Way They Learn
I was really a struggling learner until about the eighth grade when I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Although I had incredible auditory skills, it wasn’t until we identified my dyslexia that I was able to process the different ways I learned.
So, when I stepped into home education I assumed that my kids would learn the same way that I did. I kind of slammed into the reality that this is not true. Cynthia Tobias’ premise in this book is that there are four quadrants: concrete, sequential, random, and abstract; and then combinations of those quadrants.
I tend to be a concrete and sequential learner. I want concrete examples that you can show me and I want them to go in order. Those are two very, very important things to me. I really believe that by and large, when I’m learning, those things are important to me. That’s how I assumed my children would also learn and need information. I believe this is generally how the education system functions.
Yet what I learned from this book was that that’s not how everybody learns. Our reality is our own normal, not necessarily that of everyone else, and so I was shocked to find out that my son was my complete opposite. I am concrete-sequential and he is random-abstract. I certainly couldn’t get my head around it.
I couldn’t appreciate his many questions, the things that he wanted to chase, the ideas that he had, the way that he saw things because I didn’t understand. I didn’t think the way that he saw things was legitimate. I’m here to advocate for the fact that, no matter where you are on this, how your child sees, and thinks, and takes in information, is indeed legitimate.
Not sure which type of learner you are? Tobias has included a brief survey so you can actually figure out which style(s) describe you and your children.
I wish that I had read the work of Dr. Armstrong when Charles (my first “that child”) was little. I literally had tears dripping off my chin when I read one of his articles on genius and I realized that my current “that child” (who is now taller than me, and in the 9th grade, eating me out of house and home) is so much like his older brother yet truly his own person.
Reading “Awakening Your Child’s Genius” brought me to tears! This was describing my two boys! Moms, if you’ve got a “that child” and you are just continually feeling like you are banging your head against the wall because you do not get where a particular question came from, or why they are interested in that random topic, or why did they do that thing with all of your straws… Anybody with me on this? Anybody?
You had plans for those straws and it wasn’t for that spontaneous craft project that they just completed. Right? Armstrong’s work gives you insight into all of that. Actually, I think it gives a lot of insight.
If this resonates, you can read even more from Dr. Thomas.
How We Are Smart
In her book, Dr. Koch talks about the eight intelligences: word smart, logic smart, picture smart, music smart, body smart, nature smart, people smart, self smart. She validates each one of those, which is so important. So often we try to put everybody in the same box, but that is not the objective of raising the next generation of kids to change the world.
It certainly will fail every time, and twice on Sunday, if we try to put “that child” in a box of everyone else’s construction. We need to validate and affirm “that child” as a very unique blessing from the hand of the Almighty God. Again, as we use these tools to help them understand how God has wired them then we can help, and encourage, and foster, and nurture these intelligences, and maybe even some of the other ones they are not as strong for them.
So, I found this really, really helpful. But I want to get to my really favorite part and give you three do’s and three don’ts.
I’m here to tell you that “that child” is wired to be a world changer. We must not destroy the joy that they have! I get so excited about this. So, let’s go on and look at these qualities of genius. Again, I’m just going to briefly over each of them, give you a little bit of insight, and then you can read more for yourself.
The ways we learn
Oh, my goodness! If you have a “that child” you know that this is true. They have a curiosity way beyond our curiosity. In fact, often, their curiosity seems like they are not paying attention.
You may have heard me tell this story before but one time, and I do mean one time, because the outplay, the effect on my son, was so painful for him I determined that I was not going to subject him to that again. Certainly not at the young age that he was at the time. I took him and his brother to Reading Time at the library. I was literally that mom in the back of the room nursing the baby. Yeah. That doesn’t happen a lot in public anymore but that’s what I did all those years ago. So, I was sitting in the back and Charles, in Charles’ form, was on the front row. Right?
Anderson was dutifully sitting beside him and this woman, oh! I wish that I had the foresight at that time to mark down the book that she was reading. Anyway, he was up on his knees and he was so excited to be there to listen to the story. You know, we had a pattern of reading books at home. Right at the very end of the book, you know the woman, the librarian (I don’t have to say anything more about that), but at the very end of her reading she says, “Are there any questions?”
I literally went, gasp! Because I knew… She, she did that. Right? I knew that this was Charles’ moment and he was going to have a question. Why? Because we fostered that at our house. We were always talking, always having those discussions. His hand shot up. She said, “Yes?” And he proceeded to ask the question. Again, I really wish that I had known to write it down because it was just be so much more full, the story. He proceeded to ask the question that she did not think was on topic.
She, in that moment, said, “I would really appreciate it if the questions pertained to the story we just read. Is there anybody else that has a question?” And I saw Charles slump. Maybe you’ve seen that in your “that child”. Because this is what I knew as the mom in the back of the room, he was on topic! He was curious about something that was related. She just couldn’t see where he was where she was standing.
Often, our “that child” has questions that don’t seem related. It’s their curiosity. I really think that we want to foster that, and encourage that, as we have discussions with them.
This is another thing that we tend to discourage in our children. We tend to not want them to be silly. Dr. Armstrong, in this article, encourages them to be silly. They should be silly! We should have homes, and circumstances, and contexts in our immediate family where their silliness is welcome.
Now, we do need to teach them orderliness, it does have a place and a time. I know it’s challenging, but you know what I’m betting? That we need to die to our self and let them be more silly more often. These books talk about play being the highest level of development.
This is when kids can escape and imagine things being different, imagine things being better, imagining fantasies or dreams. We need to encourage those.
I have a daughter right now that’s writing a paper on Chesterton. He would often just lay in bed, and just think, and just imagine. His whole idea about imagination was that it was never wasted, that daydreaming is never wasted. Look, we often see one of our kids, our “that kid”, and we’re trying to accomplish something and they’re daydreaming. Certainly in the school system, we don’t have any patience for that. But according to this article, it’s valuable for them to have those fantasies, and those dreams, and for us to give them life, and discuss them, and smile when we see them imagining.
This is when we give them permission to come to conclusions in new ways, in ways that we wouldn’t have. This is an example of that. You may think that your “that kid” maybe isn’t very creative. Because see we often have a very narrow definition of what creativity is. We think it’s some artistic display. But it’s not always!
Creative thinking often manifests in answers to questions that we immediately assume to be wrong, and they’re not. For example, if you ask one of these kids, “What is… one plus one plus one is?” If they say, “Four!”, we would say it was wrong. Or if they said it was one we would say it was wrong. Look, if you’re creative in the way that you think the immediate question is, “One plus one WHAT?” Are you talking about one half plus one half?
Because one half plus one half is one. We would mark that answer wrong! But see they are being creative in the conclusions and the solutions that they’re coming to. These are kids that don’t test well because these are kids that argue and discuss through every answer that they are given in a multiple choice situation. We need to foster that creativity.
“How did you come to the conclusion that one plus one is one because that’s not true?”
Or you might have a child that you have taught Biblically and you might have an equation that says, “One plus one plus one equals?” and they wrote “one” thinking the Trinity. This is an example of that creativity. Look, to these kids, it’s not just about connecting the dots for them. They see dots that the rest of us don’t see. We don’t need to make them feel bad about that. We need to encourage that.
This is their natural astonishment at the world around them. This is something that, sadly, many of us grow out of. Again, you might have heard me tell this story but it fits here so I’m going to share it. One night there was a mother standing in the kitchen sink washing the dishes when her son comes running into the kitchen. He goes, “Mom! You’ve got to come right now. The sunset is so beautiful. There’s blue, and there’s orange, and there’s pink. Oh, mom! Come right now. See the sunset right now.”
Mom goes, “Just a minute. I’m going to finish these dishes.” You know what I know? That mom who got caught up in finishing the dishes, a few moments later her son comes moping in and says, “You missed it.” There will never be another sunset like that one that was right there. That child in the wonder, and the amazement, and the astonishment of Creation came in and wanted mom to share it with him. We were distracted, you and I, by the dishes.
May we not do that. May we dare to enter in into the wonder, and the astonishment they have by a sunset, or a bug, or a spider web, or lightening bugs. Anything the wonder of Creation. May we as Christians, Mom, point them to the glory of God’s majesty and His detail in every creative thing. This is an opportunity. This aspect of intelligence is our opportunity to point them to a holy, mighty God.
These are children who have wise insight beyond their years. It’s not based on any kind of experience. They’re very, very young. But they see things, they have this wisdom that they can make connections that sometimes we discount. Sometimes it’s in small pithy statements. I remember one of my kids, we went on a walk one night just around our neighborhood but it … trash and recycle day was the next day.
One of my kids said, “Wow! You can learn a lot by looking in someone’s recycle bin.” Goodness! Yeah, well yeah, you can. But I didn’t expect you to notice that. That would be an example of wisdom. When our children dare to say something like that, again, we need to take the time to unpack that with them.
- What do you see?
- What do you mean?
- What do you think that that tells us?
- What’s in ours that we are telling to other people?
- Why does that matter?
There’s so much opportunity for communication there.
This is about their willingness or ability to use ordinary things around your house for extraordinary purposes. I remember many years ago now when I was doing astronomy with my “that kid”, my original one, and we came to the point in astronomy where we were supposed to build the solar system.
Well me, remember concrete-sequential, I’m thinking, “Oh man! I didn’t get the styrofoam balls to make the solar system. Ugh! I didn’t get that so we can’t make the solar system.” Well something happened and I got called out of the room. I left him with his younger brother. When I came back they had made the solar system with pom-pom balls, and pipe cleaners, and construction paper for the ring around Saturn.
They had constructed it kind of like a mobile. I think the one maybe they had seen over the baby brother or sister’s bed. That is not at all how I would have constructed a solar system. But they were being so inventive with what they did with it. Inventiveness is what we need in order to solve the problems around us in culture and society. We need new inventions. That means you and I probably won’t always know where our scissors are. We probably won’t be able to squirrel away a box of straws for a special occasion.
But we need to be open to their inventiveness and again have those conversations.
- What did you see?
- How did you come to this conclusion?
- How did you solve this problem.
I remember in the movie “Apollo 13”, do you remember that movie with Tom Hanks, and here they had those astronauts up in this rocket ship and they had a major problem?
He comes in and he dumps these supplies on the table. He goes, this is all they’ve got. You need to figure out how to use what’s on this table so that they can breathe and we can get them home. The reason they were able to solve that is because those people around that table had this quality of inventiveness. They were able to look at things that you and I think, “that straw is made to drink something”, but “that kid” doesn’t see it that way. They see the straw having tons of different tools and we need to encourage that.
You and I might tend to think of vitality as having a negative connotation because we think of it as a rashness or impulsiveness. This is the aspect of genius that needs to do it now. They don’t want to wait. They want to do it now. This is an aspect of them that can be exhausting. But it’s also very exciting and invigorating if we allow it to be.
Their vitality is something that really spurs them on. We need to be responsive to them in our environment, in our home, and try our very best to respond to their vitality. This is one of the main reasons why I tried to keep a bunch of random stuff on hand all the time, straws, toilet paper tubes, empty containers of various kinds, I mean I literally had a tub of things. Glue, sequins, all of that kind of stuff, string, all sorts of different things for their vitality to bloom.
This, too, is a beautiful thing because these kids that have these qualities of genius tend to be far more sensitive than we give them credit for. I think this is often because we get caught up in how they make us feel. Like, maybe inadequate or unintelligent because sometimes they are just so far passed us. Sometimes they just make us want to pull our hair out. Sometimes they make us want to cry. They make us want to scream.
So, we discount their sensitivity and we should not do that. These kids have a level of sensitivity that the world has not been able to harden and I am so grateful. They have not been desensitized. These kids see something on the street and they want to do something about it. See, that combination of things, their sensitivity, and their inventiveness like we just talked about, and their vitality? They want to do something!
I took my “that kid” to New York City. I love that city. There are beggars on the streets of New York City and my “that kid” doesn’t want to just walk by. He wants to think of a way that we can help. What could we do? These kids are very sensitive to the problems of this world and that can ultimately be a motivation for them to change it and do something. So again, let’s not wish for them to be hardened. Let’s not want them to be a “big boy”. Let’s not insist that boys don’t cry. Let’s nurture that. Let’s fan the flames of that sensitivity.
Friends, remember that Jesus wept! He was sensitive; he wasn’t cold. And Peter wept bitterly after he denied Christ. Let’s not deny these kids that sensitivity that ultimately can motivate them to change the world.
Flexibility is this idea that they can move from reality to fantasy, to reality to fantasy. They can go from metaphors to facts. They are very fluid in their associations.
Often this is scolded in the system. This was scolded in my house when I was a young homeschool mom. I was so aggravated with his flexibility. We would be talking about, I don’t know, the constitution and he wants to talk about The Hobbit in the same sentence. And I’m confident that he’s not paying attention. But it’s not that he’s wasn’t paying attention. He was just very fluid in his associations. He really was thinking about both of them. He truly was thinking about the concreteness of the constitution and the fantasy of The Hobbit at the same time.
Humor is one of the things that I am passionate about, and I believe in, and that we need to make sure we have lots of in our parenting of “that child”. In fact, according Dr. Armstrong, it is one of the qualities of genius.
Our ability to laugh at situations and things, and more than anything, ourselves, is so valuable. We need to be able to laugh. It’s like a pressure valve when things get tough. It’s not always a time to laugh; but we need to give our kids permission to laugh as they make associations.
This is this core component. We need to chase their joyful things, that which brings them joy, and encourage their joyfulness because that is what is fanning the flames what they are chasing and what they are learning about. Let’s not kill their joy.
I want to challenge you to observe that child. Observe how they learn, how they take in information. Whether it’s random, abstract, concrete, sequential from Cynthia Tobias, or if it’s different kinds of intelligence by Dr. Koch, or if it’s these twelve qualities of genius. Even if you want to journal about different things that you see, observe them.
Next, discuss it with them. When you see them make a quirky connection, or ask a seemingly unrelated question, or take all of your straws and make a spaceship, have a discussion with them. Dare to say, “What? Where did that even come from? I don’t even understand… Help me to understand what popped in your mind that you would ask about a necklace when we are discussing the Treaty of Versailles? How did you get there?”
Look, you and I do not have it all figured out. We have a lot of things that we can learn from our kids. As you start to see them do things differently I pray that it would expand our minds and we would start to consider things. That we would be reawakened in our astonishment of God’s Creation and our wonder, and the connections that we make, and the creative ways we think about different things. We will still face problems and need solutions every day, so let’s learn from them in the process.
Finally, three things don’t do.
Don’t assume that they are wrong. Don’t assume that they are off topic. Don’t assume they are not paying attention. We should not assume. These kids, remember what I talked about so many times when we are talking about “that kid”?
It’s got to be hard for them to them. Because so often everybody assumes that they know that they are off topic, assumes that they are not thinking, assumes that they are not paying attention. Let’s not be one of the people that assumes.
Don’t shame them. Let us not shame them because they do it different from the way that we do it. That genius at your house, “that kid” that thinks outside the box, isn’t going to do it like everybody else. But that doesn’t mean that we need to shame them. We need to encourage them for how differently they do things.
Don’t discount their conclusions or their perspectives. They are valid. Remember, God needs unique perspectives, and descriptions, and conclusions as long as they are based on the truth. He needs those to solve the problems of this world.
Provision. That word has a special place in my mind and soul. So many times in the past, I feared not having enough. Three job losses. New babies. Always fearing that we would not be provided for.
Yet God, in His grace, always, always provided. He always met our needs. He always sent others to bless us. We never went without. And even though we knew that we really needed very little material things to truly be provided for, the fear always remained. What if we don’t have enough?
Over the years God taught me about this word, provision, far beyond the material things. Yes, even in the very lean years we were physically provided for. But what I learned most was that His spiritual provision was far beyond compare.
When you hear the word provision do you immediately think of “things?” Me too. Yet, today I encourage you to look beyond the temporal provisions and look to the spiritual. Those are the things that will matter far beyond this world.
Provision is about so much more than God giving us “things.” Often those things are a tool to either strengthen or hinder our walk. Sometimes though, those things get in the way of seeing what we really need.
In my fear of not having enough, God took away much, so I could see Him more. So the truth is, less physical provision brought about more spiritual provision. Does that make sense?
When we have less things, we can clearly see what is most important for this life.
He already has provided all we really need. The work of the Cross.
That is provision.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
So ask yourself today, “Do I feel provided for? Do I truly have enough in Jesus? Do I crave more of this world or more of you?”
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.” Psalm 73:25
Father, we pray for provision today. But we pray for provision far beyond what we think we need here on earth, and for our treasure in heaven. Let us purpose to fix our eyes on things above. Help us to grasp the truth of our true provision- the work of the Cross.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
When we truly put our faith in Christ, God will protect, provide and care for us, in all areas of our lives. He doesn’t promise we won’t go through hard times, but He does promise that He is always by our side giving us the strength to make it through anything. God wants us to put our trust in His provision for all our needs. Sometimes that can be a bit scary and require us to step out in faith.
We live in a world where, when we turn on the news, we see the natural disasters, crime, hate, and other hardships we are faced with. Sometimes it is hard for people to turn over and trust in God’s provision, when we are consumed in a world full of hate. But when we put our trust in the Lord, He will bring us peace when we face the hardships of life.
Whether we are struggling in our marriage, financially, in work, or any other way, when we put our trust in God, He will give us the strength, hope, courage, and peace, to keep getting up each day. I firmly believe everything we go through is just for a season, you will always find a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what the circumstance is.
I know, personally, I have struggled with many different areas in my life over the years, and one thing that stays true through it all is God’s provision. It is easy to find yourself consumed with worry and anxiety about the situation, but if we turn it over to God, He will get us through! If you are facing what seems like an impossible situation, just pray to God. Hand it over to Him, and let Him take control of the trouble, and he will work it out in His timing! I can look back at situations in the past, and remember in the moment I didn’t know how I could conquer and overcome, but now I see how much stronger it made me, and that God gave me the strength to make it through.
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Matthew 6:31-32
Just like in Matthew 6:31-32, God knows all of our needs. All things happen in His timing, and we have to put our trust into Him, that He will provide what we need and when we need it. Everything can’t be on our timing, rather in His. We have to fully trust in His provisions, and by doing that it means handing all our worries and troubles over to Him, and believing that no matter what is in front of us, God will handle it, and provide all of our needs.
Heavenly Father, we just thank you for everything you have provided for us. Help me to find peace in those times I am struggling, and put my trust in you! Help me to stay focused on you Lord, throughout my days, and know that you will make things good. I thank you for your unconditional love, and protecting and providing all of my needs.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!