Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What kind of house are you building?

"A wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."
Prov. 14:1

God has whispered this verse into my spirit so many times as a mom, in the midst of a tirade against my children or while being self-indulgent. "Are you building your house or tearing it down right now?" Oh, how convicting. There is no more satisfying feeling than knowing that I am actively engaged in building my house. There is no feeling more awful than knowing that I am tearing it down with my own hands. As moms, we have the power to do both.

I've been thinking of this verse in a new light lately, though. I've been considering it as it applies to homeschooling.

If you think of someone literally building a house, you think of the expertise they bring to the project. Some homes are brick, so you would want someone with masonry skills to do the work. If you wanted a sided home, you might hire a different contractor to do it, not necessarily a bricklayer. I've seen some gorgeous stucco homes (there is a stunning one in my neighborhood) which involves a totally different set of skills. Any of those types of homes are nice. They fulfill their purposes- to provide shelter for those who inhabit them. Though there are certain advantages to each different style (cost, energy efficiency, regional tastes, etc.) mostly it's personal preference which leads to one choice over another.

Much has been made over the past 20 years or so about "learning styles" of children as it pertains to effectively educating them. That has been a particular interest of mine, as it was the topic for my "research proposal" that I wrote for my masters degree. As homeschooling moms, though, I think we must take it a step further. What about our teaching style? Are you sequential, textbook-y, unit study-ish, holistic, scheduled, loosey-goosey? Whatever you are, however you are wired, I believe it is God-given, and it is your "building style."

Much frustration would come to the bricklayer who was hired to do a sided house. So, too, for the mom who buys curriculum for one type of "house" when that's not her style or expertise. A bricklayer could possibly build a sided house, but it would not be as quality a job since it is not his area of expertise. A thematic unit-loving mom would go nuts trying to implement a structured school-in-a-box approach. She could do it, but it might not be done as well as someone who loves how those fit together and enjoys that approach. Similarly, someone who loves writing her own curriculum would be frustrated following someone else's plan for the year. She could make it work, but the end result might not be what she was aiming for. What kind of house are you building? What kind of house are you gifted to build? Go with that! God did it! Our loving, sovereign General Contractor knew just what kind of house you were to build for your family and gave you desires and skills that fit it perfectly.

And I don't think He randomly assigned kids with learning style a,b,and c to a mom who's teaching style is x, y, and z. He didn't just put us all together and say, "Well, good luck with that!" chuckling to Himself as He walked off. He knows the blueprints for the house He has called you to build, and He has given you the raw materials. He will make it work! I am just now discovering in my 8th year of homeschooling that some of my frustration over the years has been from following someone else's blueprint, or building a brick house when God gave me stucco abilities. I'm sitting on a pile of bricks, with "Masonry For Dummies" books strewn all about, when what I'd really like to do is grab my trusty trowel and stucco like I know how to do. (Okay, an over-abundance of symbolism, but hopefully you get what I mean!)

However, having to work at it doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. Building a house is hard work. But the key question is: Is the house being built? Is there progress? Perhaps if you are building along and finding holes and leaks, it's time to go back to the drawing board and see if you are building according to the right blue prints, using your God-given giftings and preferences not someone else's. Or maybe you just need to go back and patch up some spots and work more diligently in the future. God will honor our attempts to work hard at something. I don't believe He will honor our attempts to get out of working at it, or to make it easier on ourselves, though. Only through prayer will you know if you're building the wrong kind of house or if you're just not being diligent in the work you've been doing.

Your "house" will not look like mine, and mine will not look like yours. But may they be functional and beautiful, built to the glory of God.

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