Found at the "Living Sacrifice" blog.
Our homeschooling support group is working through the “Genesis of a Legacy” Bible study by Ken Ham. Wow! What a great and inspiring series of lessons to remind us just WHY to homeschool in the first place.
One thing has stood out to me this week: The issue of appetites. Ken Ham gives an illustration in one of his video presentations where he has three volunteers from his audience come to the platform and try a bite of vegemite. Vegemite is an Australian favorite—a dark brown squeaky paste made with salt and yeast. Australians eat it on bread or sandwiches. They love it. Most Americans, tasting it for the first time, think it is disgusting (I’ve tasted it and did not remotely like it!). He explained that Australians love vegemite because when they are babies, their parents start giving them tastes of it on a spoon. They grow up eating it, having it regularly, and their appetite is built for it. The parents actually train their appetite for it!
So, what appetites are you building in your children?
What are your children hungry for? How do they want to spend their time? What do they want to “put in their brain?” What do they want to eat? How do they want to behave?
Are we giving our children an appetite for video games? TV? Movies? Collectible Toys? Superheroes? Comic books? Sports? Worldly pleasures? Junk food? Laziness (not doing chores or work?) Lack of self-control? (giving in to whims or desires without regard to consequences?)
How often, do we as parents, cultivate the wrong appetites and then whine and worry when our children aren't hungry for the things of God? When they aren't interested in good things, and godly things? Sometimes, we cultivate wrong appetites because WE are lazy (yes, I am aware that is a word that makes many people mad). Sometimes, I am tempted to turn on a cartoon for my fussing baby just to keep him quiet and occupied for a while. But I will not often do it. I offer him things that I know will give him a good appetite: to accompany me while I do a chore, or to play with his toys--toys we have approved (blocks, a few cars, books, wooden puzzles). At any given time, I will tell him to play with his toys, or he must do nothing (sit on a chair in the middle of the room). Guess what--he is developing an appetite for his toys--the toys we choose and approve. He is developing an appetite to sit contentedly and look at books or work puzzles.
Incidentally, he is 2. He has one basket of toys. No more. He has about 12 books that are at his level, and a stack of wooden puzzles that are kept in his sister's room in her cupboard (they were hers, and her older brother's before her).
I allow him to sit at his desk and draw or color, or play with his flash cards.
Sometimes, when the other children are doing school and the chores are caught up, I play a game with him, or I read to him, or I work on other ways to develop his good appetites.
At the moment, while I am typing, he is outside "working" with his older brother, and loving every minute of it. Following his brother while he does outside chores is a joy to him. And his older brother develops an appetite at the same time!
What about our older children? How often do we let them get absorbed in video games, a movie, or TV just because it keeps them quiet, it keeps them from fighting, and we aren't even watching the time anyway because we are so busy ourselves surfing the internet, watching TV, or pursuing our own pleasures. What do my children/your children do while we are online? What about right now?
About three years ago, we started reprogramming our children’s appetites to God-pleasing things. God revealed His truth in this area and I realized it was my responsibility to train the right appetites for my children--my end goal being to turn out children who had a hunger for God first and foremost, and an appetite for godly things. I prayed daily for help. We made changes.
We began consistently saying “no” to things where God revealed we were developing wrong appetites, (and explaining why they are not glorifying to God) and replacing those things with God-pleasing alternatives. This year, I am finally seeing the change and transformation evident in their appetites. God's work is evident in our home. He has been changing us, changing our lives, and changing our appetites!
About 3-4 years ago, we took away, one by one, TV, movies, collectible toys, superheroes, comic books, video games. We kept toys that helped facilitate their growth in a godly way. We didn’t do this all at once! We were still growing in the Lord, and we didn’t always realize right away that some things were not pleasing to God. But we grew, and we changed. And we are still growing and changing.
For example, at this point in time, my daughter (who is now 8) has a play kitchen and four baby dolls. BABY dolls—not Barbie dolls, Polly Pockets, Bratz Dolls, or any other kind of dolls. BABY dolls. These toys encourage her to practice being a mother. They give her an appetite for mothering. The other dolls simply were not as good at building this appetite.
My daughter has a doll house. Not a trendy, collectible, plasticky, Barbie or fashion-doll house. A real doll house. Made with wood. It has carpeting and tile and empty rooms. She has a bin of wooden furniture and accessories. It helps her organize and design a home. It gives her an appetite for being a home manager. She can sew curtains or make tiny pillows or bedspreads, placemats, or crochet area rugs. She can make little pictures to hang on the walls, or design wallpaper, borders, or textured paint.
My son (now 13) has Legos. They give him an appetite for being a creator, inventor, planner, and builder. He has books to read—godly books. Lamplighter Publishing, Henty novels, Christian biographies, martyr stories, missionary stories, and some approved classics (not all classics are acceptable—even though they are classics!).
My son has a computer for typing and learning programming—he has a programmable robot. He has no internet connection. He has an email address, but he corresponds only with family and very rarely AS NEEDED, and it is supervised by his parents. He is not allowed to check it by himself (due to spam). His appetite is not being built for internet, email, and chat. His appetite is being built to use the computer as a tool.
My son has tools. He has outdoor sports equipment. He has a basketball hoop, baseball equipment, golf clubs, soccer balls, a bike, a scooter, a .22 rifle and a bow with arrows (50 lb). He doesn’t play on teams at the moment—it is not how God is directing him, and we are not feeding his appetite to think that athletics are highly important. He might watch a sporting event or two each year. But we do teach him that being healthy is important, and that having fun is something God wants us to do!
We have art supplies and books to teach drawing and painting. We have stuff for sewing, crocheting, knot tying, and music (piano, guitar, recorders).
We have a DVD player. It is for sermons, Moody Science videos, and other Christian videos we own. It is not used more than once a week, if that.
We have local TV channels. Most days it is never turned on.
The children have a typing tutor on the computer with games (my 8-year-old daughter can type over 20 words per minute—and she loves typing! She has built an appetite for it!). They have Rosetta Stone Spanish they can do independently. We have about 4 computer games that can only be played with permission. They are car racing (just cars--no people, stealing, chasing... just driving), and hockey.
So, after three years, I have been watching my children and gauging their appetites. Finally, there is evidence that their appetites are changing. They don’t miss or even bat an eye that other children have Playstations, PSPs, action figure toys, Barbie Dolls, every Polly Pocket set, or 6 American Girl dolls, the whole line of Bratz dolls, or all the Littlest Pet Shop toys. My children have no appetite for these things any longer.
My son has built an appetite for reading. And we feed him on GOOD books. Godly books. My son has built an appetite for playing the piano and the guitar—he loves choosing to spend his free time there. He has built an appetite for outdoor work. At the moment, he has taken his little brother and they are collecting kindling for the winter. He has an appetite for mechanical things.
My daughter has built an appetite for singing, for cooking, and for reading. She loves typing and writing in her free time. She loves crocheting and embroidery. She actually doesn't play with her toys that often any more. They are used mostly when friends are visiting--and I feel good knowing I am not feeding bad appetites in other people's children with the toys I have in my home. But my daughter's appetites are changing. For example, in her free time this week, I have observed her reading through "Drawing with Children" on her own and completing the lessons. She has been reading "The Book of Virtues." She has been working on her typing skills. She has been playing with her brothers.
They have learned to play contentedly with each other (not all the time of course, but certainly most) – a 13-year-old boy and an 8 year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy. The past few weeks, they have been inventing their own game using the baby’s bin of toy animals (miniature plastic giraffes, elephants, gorillas, alligators, etc.) They wrote a rule book and have played together for hours in the evenings, having a wonderful time. They happily include the baby. They have an appetite for each other!
But most importantly, I’ve noticed they have an appetite for God. This year, our Bible classes day can run an hour or two overtime. Why? The children never get tired of discussing God’s Word. We get out the concordance, we talk, discuss, apply, think of examples, write notes… And we’re not even using a curriculum. Just the Bible. They are excited, engaged, interested, and intrigued. Not too long ago, when my daughter was told, “Get your notebook, we’re watching a sermon for Bible class today.” She actually jumped and cheered.
Now that’s a good appetite.
My children have an appetite for chores. We’ve worked at it steadily. It is now a regular part of their lives. They love order and neatness. They hate chaos, mess, and excess. Weekly, they bring me things they have identified that they no longer need or use. Their rooms, drawers, shelves, and closets are in near perfect order most days. My oldest is to the point where mess and chaos bothers him. It is not normal to them. Their appetite is for cleanliness, orderliness, and things that are needed—not things that are not needed.
And what is really neat about all of this is watching the baby. You see, my older two children originally had bad appetites. When my son was 8, he had every Pokemon toy and every Pokemon card. He had every Disney video. He had everything. My daughter had Barbies, Polly Pockets, and who knows what else. They watched TV. They had “attitude”—I had given them an appetite for it. My older children—they had to be reprogrammed. I had to change their appetites.
But the baby—he was born into an entirely different family. It is amazing to see the appetites that this little guy has developed. Guess what his number one favorite activity is?
Work. Of any kind. He loves to work. Why? Since he was born, that is what he has been fed. He loves helping with any chore at any time. He observes what the family is doing, and leaps up to help -- throwing clothes in the washer, or grabbing napkins for the table, or...
School work. He is only 2 ½. He has flash cards and worksheets, and he begs to do school work. That is the appetite our home cultivates.
Praying and talking about Jesus. And singing about Jesus. And reading his Bible. He can’t read, but he has three Bibles he carries around, and sits down to read them. Or, he sits at the piano with his Bible open on his lap and “sings” from his Bible while he plays. Okay, it sounds like some "joyful noise" but in his heart, he is singing!
I just wanted to document God’s wonderful work here in this journal of mine. Get that straight—It’s all GOD’s handiwork. Not mine. I could have never gotten it figured out on my own, and certainly could not have done anything right.
God’s ways are perfect, and He promises to give us anything we ask that is in His will. We asked, He gave it to us.
Do your appetites need to be changed? How about your children? PRAY! God will get to work! It is His will!
Now, let's apply this to Christmas!
Look at your Christmas list for your children, other people, and other people's children. Make sure the things on your list bless the other person (like homemade food, edible treats, and such), and FEED GOOD APPETITES!
For example, I used to let my son buy video games or Lego sets for his friends or relatives. Not any more. We try to think of something we can make, and if not, we try to choose something that will not be a time waster for the person receiving the gift or a money waster for us or contribute to a covetous attitude like collectible toys.
For example, my son sent his half-brother (age 12) a homemade fleece blanket and matching pillow for his birthday this past fall, including a framed matching painting that he had done of a peacock (the colors in the painting matched the colors on the blanket, and all those colors matched the colors of this boy's room). We then baked him a whole batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies--his favorite--and included them in the box.
One of my daughter's friends is getting a typing tutor software as a gift for Christmas to encourage productive computer time and writing (this girl has played for hours on the typing tutor at our home).
I fully believe in blessing our children with good gifts--especially at Christmas--to celebrate the ultimate gift God gave to us, but also to teach them about the nature of God and His goodness. God gives us good things all day every day!
Want to know what our kids are getting for Christmas? Here is a list. The point of sharing this is simply to be honest. Perhaps something we feel is good appetite is something you would never consider! That is OKAY! We have tried to consider the appetite we are creating with every gift we give them -- whether the gift is simple or a little more elaborate -- and I would like to encourage you to do the same.
Young teenage son:
Henty audio book (this is a big treat for him)
New Lamplighter Publishing Book (He loves these and always asks for more)
Arrows and accessories for his bow (we already gave this and he has been practicing)
Much needed clothing (he won't quit growing!)
Some new board games to play with the family or his sister (Bible scattergories, Battleship)
Instant hot chocolate (just a blessing and treat)
Tic Tacs (a tradition for us--I buy a case at Sam's Club and divide them among the kids for Christmas)
A book light for reading in the dark in bed or in the car--the kind that attaches to the book
A 12-pack of roller-ball pens for school (he LOVES good new pens!)
A Knitting Machine (well--not machine--one of the sets of peg-rings in different sizes): because she LOVES crocheting, but she still struggles to do it well. I figured this would bless her and help her make her projects more easily until her hands become more coordinated for traditional crocheting and knitting.
A disposable camera--she really wanted one just for fun! I don't mind encouraging photography skills!
Different scrapbooking papers so she can make handmade cards (last year we got her the handmade card book--it was a WONDERFUL investment and gift! We have made the most beautiful cards and gift tags to bless other people!)
Snow gloves (she asked for these and needs them)
A whole new set of "hair pretties"--as we call them: head bands, pony tail holders, clips
A fresh new journal (she is a writer and these get her inspired)
A 12-pack of new gel pens
Pretty new socks
Hot chocolate, and tic tacs
2 1/2 year old boy:
-Three new school workbooks at the 3-yo level, and a nice coloring book of all types of "everyday" images: trees, boats, flowers, animals.... Schoolwork is his favorite!
-A new school desk and chair, all his own, with a drawer (right now he is borrowing the wooden child's table from his sister's bedroom)
-New pencils, erasers, and a pencil sharpener-just like the "kids"
-Two new reading books (he likes to read stacks and stacks of books!)
-A new wooden puzzle set
-3 new board games (Memory, Candy Land, and Hi-Ho Cherry O). He loves playing games and he is ready for these! He will have hours of fun with his older brother and sister and his parents!
-A new watch--just like his big brother's (he likes it when his big brother lets him wear his watch. If you ask him what time it is, he importantly says, "Thirty-one.")
-Some new socks
-Hot chocolate, and a bag of "mosh mallows"
-His very own packs of Tic Tacs
These are gifts we feel encourage the good appetites in our children as well as conveying to them how much we love them and love giving them good things, and love giving them things they love.
I wish you all a most blessed Christmas season. Praise God for His mercy and love in sending His Son for us, truly the greatest gift of all.
P.S. What are you giving Jesus for Christmas? After all, it his HIS birthday! Is there something you think He may want from you?