This is the second instalment of our weekend with the lovely Sally Clarkson, in which I’ll focus on the talks she gave to our Christian Home Ed group. Her website again is sallyclarkson.com
Anticipation had been building. Sally had kindly agreed to come and talk to us way back during the gloomy months of winter, a bright spark of hope in a darker season.
A small group of us had somehow pulled together what was needed for an event with such a speaker, and by the time we arrived at the venue, tables were set up with crisp white tablecloths, bedecked with coloured bottles of water, flowers and chocolates. A team of lovely teen girls were busy setting out a delicious looking array of home made cakes, and another clever teen, with good tech skills, was sorting out all our PA needs.
We’d hoped we might attract fifty women, to a home ed conference, but we were actually about sixty. Some women had driven up to two hours to get there.
Sally gave two talks, which I’ll do my best to outline below. These are my words, so I hope I’ve not strayed too far from hers.
Talk 1- Preparing our children to think
This talk was looking at some principles of educating our children. She prompted us to think about the many messages our children are bombarded with; where they come from and what they are. They are generally not rooted in the truth of God’s word, and it’s both our responsibility and privilege to ensure that our precious children, whom God has entrusted to us, are rooted in their early years in God’s good truths. We have the job of mentoring them, day by day, little by little, to become mature disciples of Christ. She encouraged us to think in an overview, not to get to focussed simply on facts, but to root them in the truth; who God is, who they are. She encouraged us that we are the most important resource our children will have. To ask, “how will you use my life, my home to share God’s love?”
She used the acronym THINK
T – Talk. She referred to Deuteronomy 7:6-8. We’re to talk to our children all the time; morning, noon and night, around our tables, as we go through the day. We want to pass on a legacy of faith to future generations, so we need to teach our children to love God’s word and trust in His wisdom. In order to accomplish this, we need to have God’s word on our hearts, and we need to be refreshed ourselves. She suggested doing Bible study with friends, praying for each other, listening to podcasts (I can recommend Sally’s!).
H – Humbly Help. Jesus was the servant leader. He washed his disciples feet, served them fish for a fire on the beach and took the children in his arms. We are to emulate Him in our homes, as we daily help our children, extend grace to them, be patient with them, be with them in education. And, we must remember not to expect ourselves, or our children, to be perfect.
I – Imagine. Jesus told stories, and Sally encouraged us to read every day to our children. She encouraged us to give our children lots of opportunities to stimulate their imagination; to explore, to use their five senses; to hear stories, to be out in creation, to look up at at a starlight sky, to eat delicious food. She encouraged us to speak forward into their lives; to observe something they are good at, and wonder out loud how God may use this for his purposes.
N – Nurture. It’s so important to nurture their walk with God. Every day, to read the Bible, pray together, memorise Scripture. She emphasised the importance of modelling this ourselves; of our children seeing how much we, too, need to read the Bible and pray each day.
K – Kindle. We need to remember we’re not just filling a child with facts, but shaping them to come healthy, strong adults, able to stand firm for Christ. She encouraged us to read stories that will inspire them, light a flame in their hearts. She told us that all her children had had times of doubt, but that their firm roots had brought them through stronger in their faith. We can’t save our children from hard times, but have to walk through these seasons with them.
Talk 2 – Discipling our children.
This was another inspirational talk, illustrated throughout with heartwarming stories from Sally’s own years of mothering “in the trenches”. For those of us with older children, I think it was particularly enouaging as she is now in a different season, with adult children and even a grandchild. There is an authenticity in her words and life. She used the acronym of GIFTS
G – God’s gracious love. Our children need to know His love in their lives, and to extend it to others; to see the good in others, to forgive. She impressed upon us the value of spending time with each child now, when they are young, of investing in them.
I – Inspiration. She talked about how we can light a fire of inspiration in their hearts while they are young. How we can read stories from the Bible and of other men and women of faith, which will inspire them, too, to become heroes of faith.
F – Faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God”. She encouraged us to ponder our faith together, to build our children up in thier faith, and to go out and make disciples. Life will bring its trials, and we need to teach our children how to walk through these. She challenged us to cultivate cheerfulness and choose joy in our lives and homes (I wrote that down in capitals!).
T – Training. She acknowledged how slowly training our children to have good character happens, little by little, day by day. I loved her honesty, alongside urgeing us of the importance of this.
S – Service. Jesus told us to go into the world and make disciples. We’re to serve each other, and then make opportunities to serve others. This prepares our children for work, for ministry, for marriage…for life.
Throughtout her talks, Sally spoke with a warmth, honesty, sense of humour and love which so characterises her ministry. I think she ended with instructing us to take care of ourselves, as I’ve taken this down in capitals too! I know so many of us were hugely encouraged and blessed by the afternoon, and I remain deeply thankful that we had this amazing opportunity to spend time with her. Thank you so much, Sally!