Monday, September 19, 2011

Starting with a Bang: The Orchard Year

Remember when I wrote about creating Power Moments for your kids? Here's how it went down at our house this year to kick off the new school year.

I like beginnings to be marked. I love the anticipation of events just about to begin. I love the feelings evoked from the moments just before a race or a game. Beginnings are important. They mark the start of change.

Even though we unschool our kids and most of our learning just feels like life unfolding naturally, I still like to mark the beginning of a new season.

This year is The Orchard Year at my house. An orchard is a piece of land set aside for the purpose of growing fruit. We have decided, as a family, to be set aside for God to allow Him to develop the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

This was a theme that needed to be introduced with panache. It needed a celebratory tone as my husband and I were introducing some goals, disciplines and new changes to our lives. It seems a spoonful of sugar would help our new "medicine" (change) go down well.

All we needed to start was a ball of string.

The string was unwound all over our yard, creating a maze that travelled through haphazard obstacles, wound its way through garden paths and weaved around the entire yard.

I sat the kids down and told them to observe the string in the midst of our huge yard. What did they see?
The yard was big. The string was relatively small compared to the yard. You couldn't really see where the string was going because it was small.
I talked about how following God and growing in God is very similar. Life can be a huge place and you could go all over, venturing into places unknown or even places forbidden. Learning to follow God and His voice for your life was like the string. It required focus, attention and a fair amount of holding on tight. I asked them to start following the string.

The string led them on a bit of a wild chase. Shortly into their walk, I asked them to stop and look around them. Hanging off a plant, I had a paper cherry with the word LOVE written on it. I asked them to pick the fruit.

We talked about how as we follow God ( the string) we will grow in His character. I told them to be on the look out for all the 9 ways we could grow in the Fruit of the Spirit. The adventure was on as they began to climb over obstacles and crawl under chairs following the string and hunting for the different fruit.

Finally, they arrived at the end. They managed to find: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. They brought all of the fruit with them to the end of the string.

At the end of the string, I had a poster board of a tree. The tree had fruit candy taped to it. I gave each of them a candy and asked them to describe it. It was the strawberry candies that have the wrappers that look like strawberries. My children said that the candy was sweet and tasted great. They also noted that it lasted a long time.

We discussed how following God and allowing Him to develop our character will produce good things in our lives and that it will last a long time. We talked about whether or not following the string was easy or difficult.
"It wasn't too hard if you paid attention to where it was going. Sometimes you could run ahead of the string and then have to go back to where the string was actually taking you."
More discussion on following God and how the path He leads us down is straight, narrow and sometimes seems to be filled with obstacles. Even the parts that had lots of obstacles were easy to get around if you followed the string.

When the candies were done, I talked about how it was a gift to others to be a fruitful person. Then I told them they better look on our kitchen table and see if there were any gifts for our new season of schooling.

They bolted into the house. I see that our "patience" tree is going to require some growing this year!

Unwrapping new art supplies, books, and science gadgets was filled with fun and mayhem.
Then we prayed as a family and dedicated this new growing season to God.

I'm excited to see where this new year leads.

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