My sweet (ten year old) boy made this Christmas sign for me from pallet wood for handicrafts and I just love it!
I shared this about it on Instagram earlier this week;
Last week at a Christmas party I was admiring a friend’s tree she had made that was just like this one. Judah overheard and came and whispered in my ear; “I can make one just like that for you, if you want me to!” In two days he had made the wooden tree and stand for me all by himself! He figured out the sizing and cuts and attaching it all together and it is the most special gift he has made me 💕😍 I finished painting it today and just love that my boy made me this!
Handicrafts + Investment
Handicrafts are a part of our homeschool culture – Charlotte Mason has a lot to say about them, which I will get around to sharing about near the end of this post – but basically they are a craft that they work on developing a skill in. It’s an exercise in skill building and an investment of time.
My oldest has been using a jigsaw for a while now, usually making swords for handicrafts, and it admittedly isn’t an easy thing for me that my child works with power tools. It still makes my heart race just about every time I hear the whir of it start up and I shudder a bit as I hear cuts being made in the wood.
But here’s the beauty that exists in our home: my husband has promised to deal with all ER trips that are related to power tools and sharp things. I say that a bit in jest – while that is the agreement that I asked my husband to agree to when he started teaching our boys how to do things that they could get hurt on, what’s actually been going on is my husband has invested of himself to teach our boys how to safely and appropriately work with things that they could get injured doing.
My husband has had his share of injuries. Sometimes people pick on him a little bit about it. Sometimes we haven’t even told people about ER visits we have had to make for him. But you know why he has had so many injuries? It’s because he does a lot. He is widespread in his experiences and while he handles himself wisely, accidents still happen. Proportionately to what he does, his injuries are minut.
Handicrafts + Fear
This is what we hope for our boys, too. That their injuries will be minimal proportionately to what they do. We want them to be wise, but we also don’t want them to avoid doing things because of fear.
Fear holds us back in so many arenas.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of what people will think.
Fear of failure.
Fear of being laughed at.
Fear of repeating past mistakes.
As I was thinking about my fear with my boy working with power tools I had this startling realization:
I could instill debilitating fear in him.
Regardless of the good and the beauty and the skill his father was equipping him with by training him in this woodworking handicraft, I could tear down those layers of confidence and cause doubt and insecurities. Or, I could be supportive and encouraging and build up his father and my awe and appreciation of him and his skills that he is willing to share with our boy.
My communication with my child will either build up or tear down.
He will either grow in the skills his father is teaching him or he will allow fear to keep him from what he could grow into.
The Gospel + Fear
There are many things that will never occur if we allow fear to reign. We can easily rationalize fear. To move beyond fear requires a wider perspective – a vision for what could be.
As parents we want our children to grow in skills that they can use later in life and that will also equip them with the sense that they can learn and develop other useful skills throughout their adulthood.
As born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we want to see others come to know Him as their personal Savior, too.
At church a visiting missionary speaker recently said;
“The world will never be evangelized if we let fear be our master.“
This is the ultimate deviation from our purpose as born again Christians if fear keeps us from sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
And it does, doesn’t it?
Fear keeps us from sharing about the Lord Jesus Christ in situations where we don’t know what the outcome will be, or where people may think differently of us, or where we don’t exactly know all the right words to say, or where people might laugh at us, or (especially) if we have had an experience in the past to share the gospel and it didn’t go well.
We forget to look at it from a wider perspective, from an eternal perspective.
Fear holds us back.
But what if, just like my boys have a tender, loving father willing to invest in them and teach them and nurture them, we had a Heavenly Father who cared about us and gave us an alternative to fear?
What if fear didn’t have to rule our lives?
The Gospel + Investment
Our Heavenly Father is invested in us. He desires to see us grow and develop in the gifts and skills that He has given to us. He wants to equip us.
A friend shared this on Facebook this week;
I love the thought he shared so much. Christ is all.
Everything we need to live a life free from the fear that wants to hold us back can be found in Christ Jesus.
Andrew Peterson has a song entitled Faith to be Strong that I have been listening to on repeat;
Give us faith to be strong
Father, we are so weak
Our bodies are fragile and weary
As we stagger and stumble to walk where you lead
Give us faith to be strong
Give us faith to be strong
Give us strength to be faithful
This life is not long, but it’s hard
Give us grace to go on
Make us willing and able
Lord, give us faith to be strong.
The Lord will equip us daily to do that which He has called us to.
1 Thessalonians 5:24 reminds us – “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
We need to remember that obedience to Christ isn’t a life free from hurt, pain, or even physical injury.
But proportionate to eternity that which we will suffer in this world for following the Lord Jesus Christ is worthwhile.
Perspective is everything.
Handicrafts + the Gospel + Fear
Maybe, just maybe, these handicrafts we teach our children exceed far beyond the boundaries of skills that might be useful to them in the future and in fact show them a little bit of the gospel and our Heavenly Father. Certainly, not all children have an earthly father that is teaching them their handicraft, but as children develop in their skill they are following in the steps of many who have gone before them.
They are following instructions and learning to trust, whether it be from a person standing beside them or from a book instructing them.
They are putting aside the fears that naturally arise and continuing on through the hard and challenging times that inevitably arise.
They can glean perspective and see the investment of faithful work.
Charlotte Mason talks about handicrafts in her book Home Education and I just love the parallels that popped out to me between handicrafts and the gospel.
Here is what Charlotte Mason has to say about them;
- Children should make something useful and not “be employed in making futilities…”
Futilities isn’t really a word we use today, but we certainly practice it! In teaching our children handicrafts that hold meaning and purpose – not simply something we will toss in the trash as soon as they aren’t looking – we are teaching them that there are things worth investing in. And while the handicrafts that they make certainly won’t make it into eternity, it parallels well with 1 Corinthians 3 which talks about what a man builds his work on and what will last for eternity. See 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
- The handicrafts should not be rushed, but rather the children should be shown “slowly and carefully what they are to do.”
The same grace of God that saved us from our sins is what He extends to others, and He wants us to share that good news. Colossians 1 talks about the importance of discipleship, which is a slow and careful teaching to new believers about God. It is the power of God within us that changes us and equips us. See Colossians 1:28-29.
- Children should try their best. “Slipshod work should not be allowed.”
We like to make excuses for everything, especially areas where we are weak and want to give in to our own laziness or fleshly desires. It is essential to know that our salvation is based solely on the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. For by grace we are saved – not by works! But once we are saved we have the power of God within us. We are transformed. What we once were we no longer are and by the power of God we can overcome our natural “shipshod” nature. See 2 Corinthians 5:14-19.
- The children’s handicrafts should be hard but attainable. “The children’s work should be kept well within their compass.”
One of the greatest joys of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ is that He has given us His Spirit to indwell us and He equips us to do that which He calls us to do. It is such a comfort and assurance to know this and be anchored in this truth. In keeping an eternal perspective during hard times we can remember that He works all things together for good for those who love Him. Never forget that those whom He calls He equips. The work He calls us to do will always fall within the compass He has set us in. See Hebrews 13:20-21.
I have been encouraged as I have thought through the greater implications of investing in our children and the handicrafts and skills that they can take with them well into adulthood. We are preparing them to be useful adults that can contribute to the world, but let us not forget that the greatest contribution they can make is in the investment of themselves into the life of another towards eternity.
“Do not let the endless succession of small things crowd great ideals out of sight and out of mind.”
― Charlotte M. Mason
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
― Hebrews 12:1+2