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What You Know First
Rose Wilder Lane
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What You Know First

What You Know First
By Kimberly P. Kane

Get comfortable if you would, and allow me to share a very special
story with you. It was written as a children's book, but I beg to
differ. I think that it is a parent's life-goal told in simple words
with simple illustrations. Forgive me if I don't make it through
without shedding a tear. I'm the same mom that cannot read Ox Cart
man without crying when he kisses the ox on the nose.


OK, so why did I read you that book? And how does this all relate to
teaching our children? Stay with me and I think you will find that
Patricia MacLachlan was correct when she penned this precious
book, "What you know first does stay with you.."

While fulfilling the role of primary teacher in the lives of our
children, we are afforded the awesome and sometimes daunting
responsibility of teaching them what they will know first. That is
why it is of utmost importance that what we teach our children first
is what we WANT to stay with them throughout their lives.

So what do you want your children to know first? What kinds of
memories do you want woven into the fabric of their beings? What
threads will you supply for that weaving and in what order do you
want it to take place? If you get ahead of yourself, the pattern
will not be identifiable and the strength of the cloth will be
compromised. I hope to challenge you today to make your own list of
firsts that you will begin instilling in your children as this
beautiful tapestry is assembled. Perhaps one day you will recognize
all of these threads and stitches and knots as you wrap yourself in
your own blanket of firsts.

My husband and I have been blessed with two beautiful children, here
on earth. I never once doubted that motherhood would be challenging
or sometimes difficult. However, when you add homeschooling to the
mix, the weight of your responsibilities can sometimes appear
overwhelming. That is why it is so important to know what you want
to pour into your children. Otherwise, you could find yourself
frantically scrambling to mend and tack things at the end of your
journey that should have been woven in carefully all along.

By choosing carefully the books and other teaching materials our
children will be exposed to, we are setting the very foundation for
them to build upon as they grow into the man or woman God wants them
to be. Through reading first the Bible, and then other inspiring
literature and stories, we can help them discover characteristics
and qualities that are worth emulating in their own lives.

Starting with your babies, then toddlers, preschoolers, elementary
students and so on, those first stories and pictures are threads
that begin the pattern at the bottom of our figurative loom. Our
children need to hear the Word of God from us first. Not from the
Sunday School teacher, not even from the Pastor we sit,
they need to hear it from us first! I still get all choked up when
my 9 year old recognizes a portion of scripture in church and turns
to me with a smile and says, "We read that, didn't we Mom?" That is
what she knows first. The Word of God is important in our lives, so
important, in fact, that Mom and Dad made sure to impart into their

I want my children to see me spending time in the Word on a daily
basis. My husband and I decided that to make sure this was what they
knew first, we would actually print out a reading schedule and keep
it before us as a way to be accountable to the Lord, each other and
our children. Just last year, I experienced another first with my
daughter as she read the Bible every day for one solid year. We were
both able to check off the last daily passage on December 31. Now we
are halfway through another year of reading the Word everyday. One
thing my children will know first is that spending time in His Word
is a required part of our day.that way we know His nature first.

As we continue to add to the cloth, we need to be mindful of other
things that are filling the minds of our children. Culling through
and finding worthy works of writing can sometimes be difficult and
time-consuming. However, it is our job as "gatekeeper" in their
young lives to provide them with things that are worthy of their
time and energy.

Having an early reader in my daughter, I sometimes found it awkward
to provide her with books that were age-appropriate, yet challenging
enough to her to make them worth her time. She and I have been
thrilled to discover that there are such books out there, and they
can provide great material for discussion about the kind of people
we can truly admire for their character and noble nature.

For example, we have read and re-read Patricia MacLachlan's trilogy
about Sarah, Jacob, Anna and Caleb, starting with Sarah, Plain and
Tall. Together, we marveled at Sarah's love for children that were
not her own and her determination to make the prairie her home, even
when the sea is what she knew first. My daughter was drawn to Anna's
abilities to help run a home and protect her little brother at a
very young age. We spent one entire afternoon reading the entire
book because we could not stand the idea of a bookmark keeping the
children from spying the yellow bonnet on its way up the dusty road.
No bookmark could keep Jacob from finding Sarah and declaring his
love. That is a memory I want my children to remember first. I'll
tie a knot in that thread and continue the weaving.

We must also guard their eyes in other ways, not just in the case of
the written word. When our daughter was born, my husband and I
decided that television would not be a babysitter in our home. In
fact, it would be off more than on! No filling time and air with
mindless garbage.what our children would know first is that
television is not a permanent fixture in our lives. Instead, it
would be a tool for education and some entertainment, but not
a "stay-on-all-day" annoyance, robbing them of their innocence and
imagination! We made Television Tickets that limited viewing to a
restricted, manageable amount of time. By doing so, we taught our
children discernment, discipline and discretion. Sitting down to
watch a show on TV is a "treat" at our house. Not an expected
distraction. Our children know how to turn the TV off, too! This is
a feat many adults have yet to master. They both realize that 30
minutes is enough, and when the timer beeps, there are no questions.
After all, there is too much life to live and fun to be had. It's
always more fun to be doing something else! That thread, now firmly
woven into the very foundation of our tapestry, has returned
multiple blessings upon our lives.

Along those same lines, we have expressed very clear and
unchangeable standards for viewing and for reading. By putting into
practice the standards found throughout the Bible, cautioning us to
guard our eyes, our ears, our hearts, we are giving our children a
first that will help them grow mature in their walk with the Lord.
They can tell, on their own, very quickly, if something is not
appropriate for them. My 4-year-old son understands enough about
God's protection to turn from something too scary, too intense, and
even too confusing. Why would he need to waste his precious mind on
things that will not produce fruit in his life? We hold as a
standard the words of Paul to the Philippians, "Finally, brothers,
whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is
pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is
excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." (4:8)

What else do I want my children to know first? Well, I want them to
be completely confident in the fact that they are both deeply and
completely loved. First by our Heavenly Father, and secondly, by a
mom and dad that would sacrifice life and limb if need be to protect
and nurture them. They should know that they are safe and we will
not compromise that safety. How can we foster that security you ask?
By not putting anything in our lives that would cause us to minimize
that responsibility. How can I protect their eyes if I am watching
or reading something that is unworthy? How can I protect their ears
if I all they hear coming from my mouth is complaining, degrading, get the picture. Scripture says that is from the
overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. They should know first
and foremost that I take my job as their biggest security blanket
very seriously.

The next part of our pattern is put forth because our children know
we love one another. The husband-wife relationship they see in front
of them everyday is one I hope they admire and maybe emulate in
their married lives one day. Now I am not talking about
the "natural" relationship they will see between two sinful people.
No, that would not be the best thing! Instead, I want my daughter to
absorb into her being the way she sees her dad love me. I want her
to want a man to love her no less! She notices how he orders dinner
for us.and knows exactly what to leave off of my salad. She notices
how he always puts me (and consequently them) first when making
decisions. She knows that he turns down dinner offers and time-
wasting activities in lieu of being an integral part of our lives.
She knows dad comes home EVERY NIGHT without fail. She never has to
wonder if he wants to be here. It is the only thing she has ever

I want her to see in me a woman that is truly head-over-heels in
love with my husband. I want her to watch me get ready for his
homecoming and know it is a high point in our day. She knows that I
make decisions with his input, always considering his opinion on
both little and big things. She will see that what I do and who I am
is infinitely unimportant unless it includes all of them. I don't
ever want her to think that I do these things out of
way. They are my service, my calling, my ministry. I want those
feminine threads and fibers to be a perfect pattern of giving,
loving ministry she will one day share with her family.

What about my son? The one that God has entrusted us to raise to be
a might man of God? I want him to see first the wonderful example he
has in his own daddy. I want him to marvel at how great his dad is
in everything he does. I never want to belittle that wonder by
putting Michael down in his eyes. No, I want him to whisper to
himself, "I want to be just like Dad." I want him to notice first
the way his dad seeks God's direction and asks God's favor to rest
upon the choices he makes. I want him to learn first how to treat a
lady. One day there will be a lady that captures his still-growing
heart. I want him to know first that she must measure up to God's
standards first.the things he learned first.

In me I want him to see someone striving in all areas to be an
example to him. I want him to know that a woman can be strong and
decisive and independent, but still submissive and loving and
supportive.because he knew me first! Mom's, we are the first love of
our little boy's lives. He knows us first. He loves us first. Are we
working to make sure that we are worthy of that admiration and
adoration? We will never be perfect, I know, but if we are putting
the right things first in our lives, they will become the things he
knows first in his life.

What do you want your children to know first? I've only touched on a
small sampling of the things we want our children to know first. I
could go on and on all day, and never come up with a complete and
finite list. BUT, I do know this, that according to the Proverbs, if
I spend time working on the things that my children should know
first and base every one of them on the foundation of God's Word, it
will form a strong and mighty cloth, able to ward off the arrows of
our adversary; provide shelter in time of storm; give shade in the
heat and offer warmth in the cold. It will allow me to see future
generations influenced for God, wrapped in a blanket woven from the
firsts I provided.

For it says,

"Listen my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your
mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a
chain to adorn your neck.My son, if you accept my words and store up
my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your
heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry
aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and
search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the
fear of the Lord and find knowledge of God. For the Lord gives
wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.My son,
pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let
them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are
life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Above
all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put
away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your
lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly
before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that
are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your feet
from evil."

"What you know first stays with you, my Papa says. But just in case
I forget, I will take a twig of the cottonwood tree. I will take a
little bag of prairie dirt. I cannot take the sky. And I'll try hard
to remember the songs, and the sound of the rooster at dawn, and how
soft the cows' ears are when you touch them, so the baby will know
what he knew first. And so I can remember, too." ~ "What You Know

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