09 10

24 December 2018

Come Follow Me: Study Ideas

I love that the new Come Follow Me manual is completely choose your own adventure:

Use this resource in any way that is helpful to you.
-page vi

People's needs are so varied; I love that they say up front that there's no wrong way to use the book: do what works for you. And it need not replace good things you are already doing in your home:

You and you family may already be studying the gospel regularly. Maybe you have a goal to read the Book of Mormon. Or maybe you are reading another book of scripture for a seminary or institute class. Come, Follow Me is not meant to replace or compete with the good things you are doing. ... Follow the Spirit's guidance to determine how to approach your own study of the word of God. 
-page vi

Even the schedule is explicitly optional:

The schedule will help you keep up with the material covered in Sunday classes, but don't feel bound by it; the schedule is simply a guide to help you pace yourself. The important thing is that you are learning the gospel individually and as a family.
-page vi (emphasis added)

That last sentence bears repeating: The important thing is that you are learning the gospel individually and as a family. If we are studying the gospel, we are successful. It's that simple. The point is not to answer every question, to read every chapter start to finish, or to stay in lockstep with the class: the point is conversion to Christ, and conversion is a very personal process, a journey that we each take starting where we are right now, and moving toward Him. 

The next few pages, before the lesson outlines start, cover a nice list of possible ways we could choose to study the scriptures: marking verses that deal with the teachings of the Savoir, doing word studies (I shared my work with the word humility a while back), likening scriptures to ourselves, recording your thoughts, feelings, and what you've learned in a journal, studying the scriptures in tandem with the words of modern prophets and apostles (like this verse President Monson used in one of his talks). They've got a pretty good list, but the magical thing about the scriptures is that there's a whole host of good ways to study them. One of their suggestions I like best is to share insights and put things in your own words, and they say:

Discussing insights from your personal study is not only a good way to teach others, but it also helps strengthen your understanding of what you have read. 
-page viii

Basically, what they're recommending here is narration, and that really is a powerful tool: to tell back what you have read, you have to have paid attention, to have understood, and assimilated it to the point that you can give it your own words. I love blogging about things that I'm learning precisely because the process of writing what I've learned is so powerful: it cements in my mind the ideas. But verbal narration is a similarly powerful tool, and in harnessing it, we draw the scriptures deeper into ourselves and help our children draw them deeper into them as well. Keeping it simple: read the chapters, tell it back, and talk about it a little, is what we plan to do. In my experience, simple plans easily executed work better and longer than fancy stuff that requires printouts and preparation. We like it simple: just the scriptures.

However. Academic knowledge gained on our own, as families, or in class is only half the equation: the things we learn need to become the guides for our conduct. It is in the application of scripture that we truly become Christian. Reading is the start, and after that we must live it.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only...
-James 1:22


This post is part of a series.
Click the button below to go to the series index.

11 December 2018

Come Follow Me: Conversion

After they passed out the new books in our meetings this week, my husband and I discussed what we want to do with the extra hour of time on Sunday afternoons, and how we want to deal with the new Come Follow Me manual. We tend to do best with a laid-back approach, and decided that we want to spend some time painting miniatures and talking about the gospel each Sunday. Looking through the lessons, we're going to have to do the readings during the week, probably during school time: we have a very good evening scripture routine that we've decided not to displace. I don't know that we'll always get through all the readings with all the kids: the first week is no problem; it's only 1 chapter. But near the end of the year they've scheduled 11 chapters of Revelation... twice. Revelation is not really easy going, and it may be all three of the kids' first time though it, so we'll see what we can actually do. At least by the time we get there, we'll have some practice at this new format!

I'm really excited that we'll all be doing the New Testament this year; some of the most fundamental things are in the New Testament: the whole of Christ's mortal ministry, and then there are some really beautiful doctrines in the Epistles. I love that we'll all be studying the same thing, that all the classes will be aligned.

And then there's the purpose.

The aim of all gospel learning and teaching is to deepen our conversion and help us become more like Jesus Christ. For this reason, when we study the gospel, we're not just looking for new information; we want to become a "new creature". This means relying on Christ to change our hearts, our views, our actions, and our very natures.
-Come Follow Me, introduction

That's beautiful! And it's challenging. It may require a bit of a paradigm change: I usually go looking for new insights, new connections, new information, and just trust the process to create deeper conversion, both for myself, and also for my kids: I trust that if we take in the scripture faithfully, then the process of change, of transformation, of conversion, will happen.

Conversion is an interesting word, really. My husband is an electrical engineer, but he started his education in chemical engineering, and he recently commented that, scientifically, to convert a thing is to totally, fundamentally change it. Remember those science equations?

2H2 + O2 2H2O
Hydrogen and oxygen are completely, wholly different from water. The equation is balanced: none of the atoms got away. But if you convert hydrogen and oxygen into water, then the water is in every way different from the original ingredients. In every way.

Conversion is like that.

The invitation to follow Christ is an invitation to become someone new, someone better: to be wholly changed, wholly converted by His grace into a completely new thing. Thinking about it that way, remembering the bunson burners and charred remains in my high school chemistry class, I'm thinking that it's no wonder that conversion is sometimes an uncomfortable process. Conversion requires that we allow Christ to change our hearts, our views, our actions, our very natures.

Conversion takes time.

It's not a thing that happens all at once; it's a process. Several years ago, Brother Bednar shared the Parable of the Pickle. He talked about how, when you put a cucumber through the pickling process, it becomes something entirely different; the linguist in me notes that it's so different that we have two completely unrelated words for them, and the parent in me is still chuckling over the shocked looks I got from each of them in turn when I told my kids that pickles are made from cucumbers.

Having done some canning, and played around with some fermentation, I love the comparison of conversion to pickling. One interesting thing is that the act of filling your containers with cucumbers and brine is a relatively small part of the process. You could compare going to church and getting the materials and instructions and so forth with putting the pickles in the brine. But if you stop there, just put the cukes in the brine, then take them right back out, which might be compared to going to church on Sunday but not doing anything with it between times, well, then you're going to have wet, salty cucumbers. They won't have sufficient time to be changed. The new streamlined schedule will give us extra time at home to make sure that we're in the scriptures, doing family history, planning service, and organizing things so that we are carefully walking the Christian walk, not just talking the Christian talk.

[The] kind of gospel learning that strengthens our faith and leads to the miraculous change of conversion doesn't happen all at once. It extends beyond a classroom into an individual's heart and home. It requires consistent, daily efforts to understand and live the gospel. True conversion requires the influence of the Holy Ghost. 
-Come Follow Me, introduction (emphasis added)

When you are fermenting, you have to have weights or something that holds the vegetables in the brine: they must be fully submersed. Some types of pickles can take months to make. Even quick tangy fermented carrots or sauerkraut takes several days. But ferments must stay fully submerged the whole time they are changing; otherwise, it gets quite nasty. Chemical conversions also take time, sometimes quite a bit. The extra time in the new schedule, I suspect, is designed for us to organize ourselves and prepare every needful thing, so that we have just that much more space to invite the Savior to fully change us in every way.

What an exciting thought to take into the New Year!

This post is part of a series.
Click the button below to go to the series index.

06 December 2018

A Math Narration

Everybody's a little bit under the weather, especially me, and I wanted to do math, but not worksheets today. Happily, I follow the Let's Play Math page on Facebook, which is always posting something that's both fun and mathy, and they popped up in my feed, so first, I set up my oldest practicing a couple of his troublesome math facts with the cool math-art thing they had. He and I both did some, and I hung them up on our art door.

Well, Dragon didn't want to be left out of the fun math, so I found one for him, too: a thing where you figure out the differences, and I hoped that he'd learn a cool strategy for figuring out differences, which he did. But it ended up being much cooler than that: we ended up looking at even/odd patterns in the difference problems. It started because I wanted to give a problem: "There are 18 candies, Jon has 5 more than Carl. How many does each boy have?" And you end up with Jon having 11.5 and Carl having 6.5. And I wondered which times you'd have to split a candy. So we made a big thing to show it.

It took us a little while to get it right: we skipped a couple of numbers, and we had all of them with the pattern sides up at first, but that was kind of hard to tell one set from the next, so we fiddled with the boxes for a while to get them to go right. But we got there. At the end, I asked Dragon to tell me what he'd learned. So he did.

05 December 2018

Gone With the Wind: Start at the Beginning

When I was in high school, they let us choose a classic to read and write about. I thought that Gone with the Wind would be a fun book to read, and I wanted to write about... I think it was Civil War era fashions. I don't remember, exactly. Could have been something else.

So I started reading, thinking it would be like most of the books I'd read up to that point: the lead would be the hero, or in this case, the heroine.

By the end of the book, I just hated Scarlet, and I hated the book, and I just wanted to chuck it across the room. But it was for school, and I had to write that paper, so I did actually finish the thing. And put it down, and never looked at it again, just thankful to be done.

So, it came up in a book group I'm a member of, and people have been reading it, and it made me remember how much I'd wanted to just slap Scarlet silly last time around. But I also know that I am not who I was: I was right around 16 or 17 myself when I read it, and had never considered learning from books rather than just enjoying stories, no concept of how important supporting characters can be, or a host of other things I've learned about literature since I started homeschooling, and I was curious: would I still hate it as much I did previously? I don't know. I'm not the same person that I was back then; I've grown.

So I called up the used bookshop and they had it. For $3.50. So I grabbed it. And started it.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin