Fun and Games
As many of you who read my blog regularly know, I am rather passionate about our youth. Even more so now that the Lord has opened doors for my children in various directions as well as the face book groups I administrate to help both moms with high school children who home school connect and help each other, and a page for teens who home school to connect safely (because I strictly monitor who gets added as well as the content of what they all get up to). It might seem slightly narrow minded, but, we all have a sphere in which we function, or a world in which we live and work. Mine is home education. I’m not an educational specialist, but I do have a unique set of skills and training that give me enough substance to help others. But enough of that for now, let’s get back to my “issue” our youth, or teens, which ever you prefer calling them J
As I have moved in these home school circles I came to notice that because it is young in South Africa many families find the high school years daunting, because of the responsibility of getting our children a good school leaving qualification that will make room for them to go to university or college. There are also other reasons, such as the teens suddenly find themselves alone, or start hearing the deceptions that they are missing out on a great teen life by not being in school.
Then we have the flip side, where families are taking their children out of school around the teen years. Some because of Christian conviction because of the content of subjects studied at school, some are frustrated with the limited subject choice, quality of matriec, peer pressures or the children are excelling in a field like music, or another art form, sport and the like and if they home educate there are more hours in the day to get to everything, and others do it because they feel it is a call of God for them as a family.
When I looked at this, my heart was burdened. I didn’t want families to give up and go back to school when they had so much going for them in their home school environment, and I also wanted to help those who were leaving school to see there is ‘life after school’.
God heard me when I asked Him what one could do to help in all of this. Here’s how He did it:
After moving into our new home December 2012, our children now having space and being closer to their friends wanted regular visits to play board games and cricket. Suddenly our weeks and weekends became very full. I looked at all this and asked them if they couldn’t come up with a better idea than just individual visits all the time because it was getting a little crazy fitting everyone in. And that is how we came to Games Day.
First it was just their closest friends, boys mainly as these are the children they grew up with and who all live in a five kilometer radius from our home. In January I opened the Cape Town Homeschooling Through High School page. On there a family posted that they have two daughters in the same age category as my own and would we like to meet up. We decided that each girl, my two and her two, share their favorite music cd, favorite book and favorite movie, so that they have a point to start off from when meeting a total stranger for the first time and having to make conversation out of thin air, and we all know how easy that comes to young teens…..it doesn’t happen!
They got along like a house on fire!
This stirred my thinking and helped me allow the Holy Spirit reveal a great idea to me; why not make Games Day a monthly thing and invite the new friends we made to meet our lifelong friends irrespective of school going or home schooled! And that’s how we began.
First it was our close friends and these to young ladies whom we have gotten to love dearly. Then the next month we added our neighbor’s on both sides of our house. After this as the Lord introduced us to new people and they fell in the twelve to eighteen year old bracket, we added them to Games Day.
As a result, these also became part of our Tuesday evening youth cell where they study the Word just like we grown-ups do on Wednesday at house-hold or home-cell, or home-group, which ever it is called in your church. These kids come from various churches and meet on a Tuesday and there is a youth leader (which yes is from our church as the cell has been going for four years and started with the children of the house it is at and our children) and they worship together, rejoice in one another’s testimonies together, receive instruction and then pray for each other encourage each other and get to know one another deeper. They come from all walks of life really, some are home schooled, some are in school, some come from strong Christian families and some are being drawn back to the Lord, some have had really hard and broken lives growing up, others have had more stability but had their fair share of suffering, others have learning disabilities, but despite it all here they learn to care for each other. It is so precious and so absolutely glorious. They make room for one another’s weaknesses and strengths.
And no, they are not all perfect little angels. There have been days where someone was unhappy, or got offended or misbehaved etc, they are after all just children. But because they are growing together there has, over the years, come a mutual respect, and as I said already, deep care. They may have their debates or differences with one another from time to time because they are all growing, but, it never turns nasty, degrading, disrespectful or humiliating and beware if anyone from the outside comes in to harm one of them, the rest rise like lions to defend and protect. And they do it in such a mature way, really I have been rather astounded at how they handle it.
I write all this because I want to encourage other moms who have space in their homes, to open it for the youth. The Games Day has now grown from five or six children to about twenty to twenty five. They play out door games of all sorts, from our “old” games like stuck in the mud, tag, hop scotch, hide and seek (with a twist called five fingers), Marco polo in the pool, running red rover and then the regulars, cricket and soccer! They bring board game because I don’t allow any electronic games, they make up card games, play finger board, chess, checkers, boulder dash, some space game that leads to much hilarity, ag jinne tog, it goes on and on. All I do is make sure they work at being a group as a whole and not little groups of five or three all on their own the entire time. O and I bake pan cakes until they all invade the kitchen and bake themselves, each family brings a topping, which we ask them to announce beforehand so we can make a list and we don’t end up with five of the same thing, a packet of chips and a two liter cool drink to share.
In this way, so many new friendships have been made, and as I said the youth has grown, not just in numbers, but in depth of spirit as well as having Christ formed in them and they are conforming to His image more and more. They have a safe place to come to where they can be entirely themselves, they can forget about the pressures to perform and prove themselves and be something they are not just to fit in. They literally do what we moms like to call, ‘let their hair down and put their feet up’, because they know here we are accepted, we all struggle through the same issues at one point or another to one degree or the next. These are my buddies, who pray with me through my struggles and rejoice with me in my victories. Im not accepted because I home school or rejected because I go to school. Im a kid, trying to find my way in this crazy world, just like you, so we may as well do it together.
This is just one small way in which we have managed, by the grace of the Lord Jesus, to protect our youth, keep them in the fear and admonition of Christ and help direct them to healthy friendships. Each parent who brings their child has made an effort to preserve this precious gift we have. Im just the venue, each parent has a hand in cultivating this field and God brings the increase. The mom opening her home for the youth meeting once a week is like the ruler of a city saying; “here you will find refuge and safe harbor”. The youth leader is a good under shepherd who gently cares for the lambs, feeds them good food, leads them to still waters, gives them rest, calms their fears, and takes them to the True Shepherd of their souls, Jesus, so they know how to turn to Him and learn to hear and know His voice. They preach them right with God, and don’t condemn them.
So lets make room for them, it’s really effortless and the rewards are out of this world. This is the future of our nation and the world. If we want to see the changes we all cry out about, we need to invest in them in the right bank account, their spirits. When they grow in the wisdom and grace of the Holy Spirit, and learn to hear His voice, understand the precepts of the Word, they will impact this world and turn it on its head like the apostles and early church and they will affect effective change.
(c) Celeste Glass
(c) Celeste Glass