Penelope's Baby Dedication

Yesterday was a special day for us as we celebrated Penelope's baby dedication! We stood in front of God and our church family, and committed to raise Penelope with the truth of the Gospel and knowledge of Jesus and His Word. 

Penelope Mae Oren
Born: April 6, 2014
Dedicated on October 26, 2014
Life Verse: Lamentations 3:22-24
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."

Dear Penelope,
Daddy & Mommy chose this verse for you because you are a picture of God's redemption and intense mercy and faithfulness in our family. We pray that through your story you come to know the relentless pursuit of a steadfast and compassionate God. We want you to see that each new day represents another opportunity to experience God's grace and faithfulness. We pray that these attributes of God give you hope and strength to walk out your days seeking to truly know, love, and serve Jesus.
Daddy & Mommy 

This day was truly special for us because it is by God's miraculous grace and pursuit that we stood together, as a family, holding the representation to us that God truly is a God of restoration and redemption, that God is a God who does GREAT things. None of us deserve God's goodness to us, but we are forever thankful for His mercies. They truly are new every morning! We are also incredibly thankful for our families, many friends, and church family who have walked beside us, in the deepest trenches, and on the highest peaks. 
Without you, this right here would not have existed...
Psalms 136:4
To Him who alone does great wonders, For His lovingkindness is everlasting;

We had such a great day celebrating God's grace in our lives and enjoying our family. It was an incredibly beautiful fall day! After church, we went to lunch with Jon's parents, and then spent the afternoon playing by the river, catching crayfish, throwing rocks in, and playing at a local park where we enjoyed a hilarious game of tag. Our hearts are full. We are so blessed.

A Letter from our Pastor to Penelope...
Dear Penelope, 
It has been my privilege over these past few years to get to know your Mom and Dad as they have been attending Harvest Bible Chapel. My wife Laura and I have greatly enjoyed getting to know your parents, your brother Mekonen, your sister Evie, and you. It really is an honor for me to be the Pastor for your whole family. 

Today, I was able to pray for you in church as your parents dedicated you to the Lord. By dedicating you to the Lord, they are promising to help you know about Jesus and learn to live for Him as you grow and mature. They chose Lamentations 3:22-24 as a Bible passage for you because they want you to know you are a picture of God's faithfulness, mercy and redemption in your family; and they pray for you to truly know, love, and serve Jesus. Penelope, God has been good to you to allow you to be born into such a fine family where you will always be taught that God loves you and has sent His own Son to die on the cross for you. It is my prayer that as soon as you are old enough to understand, you will accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and that you will live your life to always please Him. 

You have a lot of exciting days ahead of you as you mature and grow into a lovely young lady. Remember to be a woman of God's Word and to be careful to obey the Lord who loves you very much. You really are at the beginning of a life full of adventure! I trust that through all your experiences, you will mature into a fine young woman whom the Lord will use for His service. 

Your Pastor, 
Brian White 

What is Baby Dedication?
It is taken from the story of Hannah in the Bible. Hannah was barren and past child-bearing years. She fervently prayed every day asking the Lord to give her a son. She told the Lord that if He did bless her with a son that she would "give him back to the Lord" and diligently raise him to love and serve God. God did just that- He blessed Hannah with a son and she named him Samuel. Hannah gave him back to the Lord, teaching him to serve God all the days of his life.

Baby dedication is a commitment of the parents to teach their children about Jesus with the hope that when they are old enough they will choose to follow Him and serve Him. It is the parents placing themselves under the humble position of accepting the guidance and direction of their church and other Christians as they seek to nurture their children to come to know Jesus.

(Just so you can see it, this is the Certificate of Dedication that we receive on our child's dedication day. 
This one is actually Evie's because I've yet to take a picture of Penelope's).

What Baby Dedication is Not.

It is not salvation. Baby dedication is not a means by which a child can go to Heaven. Salvation is an individual matter. When the child is old enough to understand that they are sinners, realize they cannot make themselves perfect enough for Heaven, and need to Jesus to forgive their sins, they then accept salvation as a gift from God, not something they earn by going to church, being born into a "Christian" family, being good, being dedicated, or being baptized, etc. 

It is not a means by which a child becomes part of the church-
The "universal church" is simply all Christians (those who have believed in Jesus to forgive their sins) all over the world. The "local church" is the specific group of Christians that you worship Jesus with on a regular basis. Being part of a local church does not mean you go to Heaven, nor does it grant you any special rights. 

It is not Baptism. Baptism is simply a public profession of the fact that you know you are a sinner, cannot be perfect enough for Heaven, and therefore need Jesus to forgive your sins so you can spend eternity with Him. Baptism is an individual choice a person makes after they have understood and accepted salvation. This happens at any time in a Christian's life, but it is usually right after a person has asked Jesus to forgive their sins and has decided to follow Him.

What Do You Do For Baby Dedication?
I imagine different churches do things differently, but this is how our church does it. We take a short "class" with the director of children's ministry as they explain baby dedication and the importance of parents being the ones who teach their children about Jesus. Our church does a wonderful job of expressing that we as parents, have the first responsibility of pointing our children's hearts towards Jesus. It's not the job of the church, the Christian school, or anyone else. The church exists to come alongside parents to encourage and help equip, but it is not their responsbility.
During the Sunday morning service, they called each family up with their child, announced the child, their birthdate, and read the Bible verse the parents chose for their child. Then our Pastor read 5 commitment statements that if we agreed to we answered, "we will." Then our Pastor called family and close friends to come up and gather around each family to pray with them as they committed to teaching their child about Jesus. We are so thankful for the church body where are known, loved, and encouraged. We are truly blessed.

The 5 Commitment Statements 
  1. Do you desire to dedicate your child to the Lord and publicly commit to parenting them in a way that honors God?
  2. Do you promise to raise your child in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” through instruction and discipline that is defined by God’s Word? (Ephesians 6:4)
  3. Do you promise to lead your child to an understanding of salvation and his/her need for Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior?
  4. Do you promise to work diligently and consistently to instill in your child an understanding of God and His Word? (Deuteronomy 6:4)
  5. Do you promise to conduct your home in a way that models Christian love and heart-felt commitment to Christ and his instruction? (Psalm 127:1)


Happy 1/2 Birthday Pip!

It's her 1/2 birthday! Craziness I tell you! We are halfway to being one year old and seeing her smash cake all over her face! This is one of my favorite ages. The pudgy, not quite as fragile stage, where they smile at almost every eye contact, and where their personalities start to come out. I cannot wait to see how it continues to unfold being #3 in this crazy crew.

Happy 1/2 Birthday Pippi!

 6 months! 
I love her soft little smile
(a tad fuzzy and off colored because I took a picture of a picture instead of scanning it!)
You are crawling and sitting up by yourself (although still not totally trustworthy sitting without falling). You learned to crawl before you learned to sit up. You have perfected the tripod sit, where you are in a crawling position and try to push up to sit. You haven't gotten to full sitting by yourself. Here's the closest picture I could find of your tripod sit. It's super cute. Looks like I'll have to capture one on camera now. (Daddy says your after bath comb over looks like a German boy). 
 Your little personality is busting at the seams. You smile 99.9% of the time when someone makes eye contact with you and gives you attention. It's the cutest, biggest, open mouthed smile ever. You are beginning to love watching Mekonen and Evie. You sat out here for almost an hour watching them ride their bikes. You can also see the little bit of red tint in your hair in this picture. 
You had your first haircut, because let's face it, this rat tail had to go! 
You officially suck your fingers. We've tried very hard to switch you to a paci, because you can always take the paci away, but lo and behold, you refused. We would stick the pacifier in, walk away, come back in the room, and you would have your fingers. Oh well! Hopefully you'll give it up as easily as Mekonen did! 
You still prefer your belly to all other positions! 
You had your first swing at the park and LOVED it!!! We got video of you laughing and giggling like crazy. Such a sweet girl you are! 
You are an excellent sleeper, sleeping from 7:30pm-7:30am with one feeding around 10:30pm. You're taking 2-3 naps a day and are still eating at 7:30am, 10:30am, 1:30pm, 4:30pm, and 7:30pm. You've gotten into a great rhythm and mostly prefer to sleep in your bed now instead of other places. But you are still quite flexible, which is almost not an option being kid #3. 

Your bouts of screaming and unhappiness are fewer and farther between and you've also mostly stopped sreaming your brains out in the car (give or take a few rides here and there). Sometimes, I whip around in the car expecting to see an empty spot where your carseat should be because I don't hear you screaming and I fear I'm one of those moms who just left her baby in the grocery store. So far, I haven't! You're just so quiet back there now I panic! Once I yelled, "Where's Pip?!?!?!" as I whipped around and Evie said, "Mom, her carseat is right there." And I said, "yes, but is she in it?!?!" HA! She was. 

You add so much softness and tenderness to our bunch. We love you and thank God every day for you! 


What is Classical Education Anyway?

We have gotten the question "so what is classical education anyway?" many, many times, so I figured I'd write a post and add it to the homeschooling list. You can read about our main reason for homeschooling here...we desire time with our kids and are working toward a "one-piece life" experience for our family. But in addition to that, we are homeschooling to give our kids the kind of education we believe in. (Again, this does not mean you too, must choose classical education for your family, and it does not mean that we have to choose classical education indefinitely). 

What is classical education...here we go! 

Classical education is all about training the brain and uses a three-part process to train the mind. We call that three part process the trivium...
Grammar Stage- teaches the information, or the facts. (The mind is supplied with facts and images).
Logic Stage- teaches how that information or facts go together, what they mean, their purpose. (The mind is given logical tools for organizing those facts and images).
Rhetoric Stage- teaches them what to do with the information- how to analyze information and how to express what they know in speech and written language. (The mind is equipped to express conclusions).
(and because posts are more fun with a picture)
Process 1- The Grammar Stage 
This stage is approximately grades K-4th. This isn't called the "grammar" stage in terms of doing English. It is laying the grammar in each subject, or the foundation, as the building blocks for all the other learning. (Just like grammar is the foundation for language). The "grammar" is basically the learning of facts: rules of phonics, how to spell, grammar rules, poetry, vocabulary of a foreign language, the stories, literature, and timelines of history, descriptions of scientific fields of study such as animals, the human body, etc, and things like math facts, math properties, etc. 

Children are naturally very, very good at absorbing and retaining information, and most of them thrive on repetition. How many times has your child watched the same movie over and over again, or wanted you to read the same book to them over and over again. Their minds love information. Their minds love to retain. So this stage of classical education capitalizes on this stage of their brain by training their brain to memorize, retain, and recall information. This is done through a lot of fun activities, songs, and timelines. This does not mean the kids do nothing but memorize. There are formal regular classes like reading, math, etc. They are not just memorizing random things and doing nothing else. 

The biggest push back people have when they hear about this stage of classical education is that "You can't memorize just to memorize. What a waste." Which yes, that is true to an extent. They aren't memorizing just to memorize- the information all comes back around in the logic stage, which I'll explain next. But even so, the act of training the brain, like a muscle, teaching it to memorize, retain, and recall, is teaching a child HOW to learn, more than it is teaching them WHAT to learn. 

Process 2- The Logic Stage
The logic stage is primarily 5th through 8th grade and can be characterized by "why?" Students in this stage of development are more interested in asking "why" than they are interested in finding out about facts. In this stage, students are starting to analyze information and understand cause and effect. They begin to make connections between different fields of knowledge, and they start to see how all those facts and things fit together. Here are some examples of the logic of subjects. In English/writing the student learns how to form a paragraph properly and how to support a thesis. In history, the student learns why the war of 1812 was fought instead of simply reading its story. In science, the student learned the scientific method rather than just learning what plants are, what animals are, etc. 

Process 3- The Rhetoric Stage
This final stage builds on the first two. So you see, it's not just "memorizing, or learning facts, just to learn them." "The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in 5th-8th grade, to the foundational information and facts learned in the grammar stage, and expresses his/her conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant, language."  At the end of a classical education, students in the rhetoric stage have been taught how to learn something and then how to express it in written word and spoken word (which includes properly arguing for their point of view, and being able to discern and understand the view point of others). 

In addition to the 3 phases, there are a couple other characteristics of classical education. 
1. Language focused. This means that most of the learning is focused on written and spoken words as opposed to images, such as pictures, videos, and television. Language focus is sought after in classical education because it uses a very different part of the brain that requires the brain to work harder. 
2. Interrelated knowledge and history intensive. Subjects aren't taught in isolation. "For example, astronomy isn't studied as an isolated thing, but rather it's studied along with the history of scientific discovery, which leads into the church's relationship to science and from there to the intricacies of medieval church history." There is so, so much knowledge out there and finding the links between fields of study is not easy. Classical ed. makes that process a bit easier by organizing information into timelines and progressing through learning in a distinct, orderly way. This leads to coherence in areas such as history, science and literature, which in traditional settings are often scattered, unorganized, and fragmented. 

Phew! So, there you have it! Classical Education in a nutshell. Hopefully I didn't leave you more confused than when you started! Next post in the homeschooling series will describe what our typical day in the grammar stage looks like! 

(Also, most of the descriptions of classical education above are the ideas, phrases, and direct quotes of Susan Wise Bauer- in her books and various podcasts I have listened to).