Lessons on God

It’s hard to believe that we’re in the middle of Summer already! Although planning for next year is already underway, it’s hard to keep from reflecting on all of the amazing things that we accomplished this past year.

As a school, we learned history from Columbus to Peter the Great.  We learned to read and write and grow fish and reduce fractions and Latin noun declensions.  We learned that God gives us our daily bread and that Martin Luther wrote a Mighty Fortress is our God.  We learned to respect authority and to take responsibility.  We sculpted soap like Donatello and played fun games in PE.  We learned to be good friends, to say that we’re sorry and to think of others before we think of ourselves.

We learned so much, but the most important things we learned were about God.  His fingerprints were on everything we learned because He’s sovereign over all of it AND because He is infinitely discoverable.

In light of all of those truly amazing things, I wanted to spend some time this summer reflecting on what we learned about God.  And I think our best chance for summing it up is found in these three sentences.

We learned that God is True.  He is True to His Word which we hid in our hearts.  As many of us heard countless times this year, James 1 still rings true:

“Consider it pure joy when we do bar models or number bonds of many kinds?”

“If any of you lacks wisdom about Latin let her ask God who gives generously.”

“Let no mom say she is being tempted by God to drink before 10am, because God tempts no one.”

And, my personal favorite: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above- yes, even your children.”

His Word is True and He is True to His word.  He does give joy when we seek Him no matter the circumstance.  He does give wisdom when we have nothing.  He does lead us from temptation.  He does send good and perfect gifts when we least deserve and if we’ll only open our eyes.  He is True.  And we are grateful.

Next, we learned that God is good.  He is so very, very good.  He never runs out.  His grace is sufficient.  He loves beyond measure.  He gives abundantly.  He never sleeps and never slumbers. His eyes are on us.  He delights in us.  He sings over us.  He listens when we pray.  He comforts when we’re down.  He stoops low to lift us up.  His Kingdom is an upside down Kingdom where wrongs are righted and slaves are set free and sick are healed and old is made new.  He’s so good.  And we are grateful.

Lastly, we learned that God is beautiful.  So very lovely.  His creation.  The many faces of ACS. How He inspires writers to write and artists to create and musicians to play and teachers to teach and neighbors to give and friendships to deepen.  It’s just beautiful.

Our God is True.  Our God is Good.  And our God is Beautiful.  And, oh, how we love Him here at ACS.

I look forward to sharing some more thoughts with you as we continue to enjoy this Summer season and prepare for our new school year to start this Fall!

“Slowing” and Solitude

The Practice of “Slowing”

Ortberg says, “The most serious sign of hurry sickness is a diminished capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time and time is one thing hurried people don’t have.” Jesus was never in hurry and if we are to follow him, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives. How do we do that? Ortberg suggests two things: “slowing” and solitude.

Slowing involves intentionally putting yourselves in situations where you have to wait:

  • Deliberately take the slow lane, and pray for the people you would normally be zooming past.
  • Get in that long line at the grocery store and let someone go ahead of you, especially if you’re feeling rushed. As a parent, you can add “color commentary” to the things you do on a daily basis so that kids can understand and clearly see the spiritual disciplines or principles put into practice. This talking out loud is simply connecting the dots for your kids, especially the younger ones.
  • Smile AND make eye contact with the cashier, your child, your spouse.
  • Force yourself to chew your food 15 times before you swallow.
  • Don’t wear a watch for one day.
  • Say “no” to an activity that you would normally say “yes” to. Have the courage to say “no” to good things to say “yes” to an unhurried heart.
  • Find ways to deliberately choose waiting, ways that make hurry impossible. As we practice them, we should tell God we are trusting him to enable us to accomplish all we need to get done each day.

At a classical education conference, I heard about a teacher who started each day with, “God will give us enough time to get done all that we need to accomplish today.” This is an act of faith and humility- submitting and surrendering our time to God and trusting that He will supply all of our needs according to his glorious riches.

The second thing Ortberg suggests is to seek times of solitude, both within each day and extended times of solitude. This is a spiritual discipline that takes intentionality. Time alone with God often feels so unproductive, and you will have to fight for it. No one will say, “Mom, it looks like you need some solitude, why don’t you take a moment/day for yourself.” You have to put it on your daily schedule and on your monthly schedule. I call my days alone “Dates with Jesus”. I actually write, “Date with Jesus” on my calendar because that is how I want it to feel- like I am taking out time to be alone with the One I love so that we can reconnect in a face-to-face way. Ortberg and Richard Foster give excellent guidelines for practicing both daily and extended solitude, but Jesus is our best example. Before and after intense times of ministry, Jesus took time to just go be with the Father. It wasn’t a time to catch up on work or friends or anything like that. It wasn’t even a time to recharge or think about himself. It was a time to be with His Father. Jesus did get renewed, but that wasn’t why he sought solitude. He sought solitude in order to relate to His Father. So, how can you, how can I, intentionally make a date with Jesus, the Lover of our souls? Sit down with your spouse and ask, “What day can I carve out some space to spend time alone with Jesus?” Write that day on your calendar, and protect that time like your life depends on it…

Make Haste Slowly: Part 2

By Dusty Kinslow

“Festina Lente” essentially means to “make haste slowly.”  A more modern maxim is “Measure twice, cut once.”  It is about taking the time to do things well the first time.

For example, have you ever had a Saturday when you had lots of errands to run and things to accomplish, but you didn’t take the time to plan your day?  One recent weekend, I had several errands I needed to finish but didn’t spend any time the night before, or even that morning, to plan.  I ended up driving (with the kids!!) all over town and getting about half of what I needed to accomplish complete.  It was maddening!

It’s also like going to the grocery store because you know that you really need to but you don’t take the time to make the list.  You end up buying things you don’t need and not having all of the things you do need.  You are in the middle of making that delicious casserole your kids all love (right?) and realize you forgot that can of chicken and mushroom soup.  Again, maddening.

This is where the principle of “festina lente” can be applied.  Slowing down to plan the day saves time in the long run.  This applies to our days at home, as well.  In the UMS model, parents serve as co-teachers.  It makes such a difference in our success as co-teachers if we will take the time to look over the lessons and plan our school day before we begin.  We will make more progress than if we just rush headlong into the day.  Supplies will be gathered, hearts will be prepared, progress will be made and frustrations will be lessened because we have taken the time to make ourselves ready.  The same is true of our weeks; taking time on Sunday evening to plan for the coming week (meals, meetings, activities) is time well spent, especially if we submit the week to God in prayer, asking Him to order our steps aright.

I would also pause here to say that I find it useful to include my husband in the planning of the week.  Simply asking, “Honey, do you have anything I need to include on the calendar?” communicates respect and unity.  It is also important to communicate the week’s schedule to him.  For example, “This is what we have coming up this week.  Is this all okay?” puts everyone on the same page and shows honor and submission to our husbands.

In our model of schooling, we grasp “festina lente” when we see the list of assignments to check off for the day, and rather than rushing through them, we instead slow down to check for mastery.  Mastery is what we want.  While it is tempting to push through so that we can finish each piece of curriculum, it would serve us well to remember those books are just tools to teach math or spelling or Latin.  The books are only maps to show us where to go- they don’t always determine how fast we get there.   At Austin Classical, we are more concerned with mastery than with making it to the end of the book.  We want to “make haste slowly.”