Have you ever had the experience of studying a topic in the scriptures and then having an experience that teaches you more about it (or makes you realize you need to learn more about it)? Which leads to further study. And then someone at church or in your family brings up a similar topic?
Does this happen to anyone else? That’s when I look up to heaven and say, “I understand! I need to better live this principle. I’ll work on it.”
I’m always really grateful for the depth of study and understanding that comes from these experiences. After a few weeks of study and various discussions, with my husband, at church, with friends, I feel myself reach a different plane of spiritual development. My connection to God increases. My love for my Savior, Jesus Christ, increases. I feel a greater desire to be the person God wants me to be.
A while ago, I had the desire to create this type of study experience for my children. And not necessarily only on spiritual things. Although, God has told us that all things are spiritual. But with things that we ordinarily teach our children: responsibility, honesty, respect for others, compassion, family commitment. Even though these aren’t lessons we often pull out our Bibles for, they still matter to God, making them spiritual.
In part, this desire to give my kids a more comprehensive study experience–that in my mind would lead to deeper commitment to these important principles–came from spending a of couple years doing Joy School (a value-based preschool) with my kids, and seeing the effect it had on their growth and development.
My son grew out of Joy School, but I found myself wanting to replicate the experience in a more mature way. Because we follow the Thomas Jefferson Education style of education, I knew I wanted to really focus on values while my kids were young, so I spent my son’s kindergarten year developing the ideas for this values study. I thought if I could concisely get the ideas into twelve principle themes then I would be able to use it every year to develop our core, alongside academics as the kids got older.
I started with the Joy School topics, finding ways to make them more in depth, but I soon found that I wanted to include topics not explored in Joy School. I started making lists. I wrote down character traits and values (somewhere around 75 of them!) I listed like ones together. I had my husband review it and add anything he thought I was missing. I read 2 Peter 1:5-7 to make sure I hadn’t missed any important virtues.
I determined which character traits and values could be combined into one study topic, until I came up with fifteen main themes, which I eventually–through prayer and inspiration and continued planning–whittled it down to twelve–by combining a few more (I didn’t cut anything!).
I felt God through much of the process of establishing the themes, which I am calling foundational principles, and concepts to go with them. I felt inspired as I prayed about the topics and the further I got into the process, the more I knew that I needed to share this with other parents. One day I sat down to write an introduction, outlining the reasons for what I was creating. Every sentence I wrote was inspired. A few days later, I typed up a full introduction. It varied only slightly in format to the one I had written down a few days before. And I had the same experience: almost every word felt like it was directed by God. I knew this was important to Him.
I thought that I would create the whole book and test it out over the year, thinking I would invite a few close friends and family members to test it out along with my own family. But within a few months, as I continued to get more material from my notes, brain, and from the Spirit, I felt the Lord asking me to invite more people to use it this year.
It is nowhere near ready to be used by a large population by any publication standard. It hasn’t been edited. It isn’t even finished. Yet, as I reread the introduction myself, intending to edit it, I couldn’t find much to edit. I was floored that I had even written it, confirming again the inspiration I had been given while writing it.
After I had the foundational principles and concepts down, I looked for resources to support the study of the topics. I have been led to resource after resource to include and it has all come together more quickly than I could have hoped, considering I have three small children and I am pregnant, and therefore very little time to devote to this process. As I have glimpsed the vision God has for this project, I have devoted most of my free time to listening to His guidance and trying to get it ready to use. The best description of it is “a guide for parents.” Specifically, it is called, “Becoming: Who God Intends Us and Our Children to Be.”
I am really passionate about us learning alongside our children, so I am including ideas for parental learning as well. I feel my role as a mother is more the role of a mentor, than a teacher.
Anyway. I have felt God pushing me to give this guide to you as soon as I can. The foundational principle for August is almost ready. I will be able to release it and the introduction for everyone to use in August! Yay! (Deep breath.) Hopefully all of the subsequent foundational principles will be ready to be released at the beginning of each month throughout the next year. Pray that I will get it all done!
I’m hopeful that many families will benefit from this guide. If you know anyone who would like this, please share this post with them, or invite them to like my page on Facebook. I will be creating a group to go along with the guide when we start in August, so we can all have a forum to share our experiences and hurdles! (Since this guide has not been tested.)
I am still amazed that this guide is anywhere near ready for release. But nearly every day I make strides in it, and I am amazed that the material is coming together so easily. I am grateful to have this opportunity to share the experience God has given me with you.
Stay tuned for updates! I will have the list of titles of foundational principles ready soon!