As our children grow into young adulthood, it's a time to encourage them to step out and try new things (in a good way!). These years are not for holding our teenagers tighter, but to start aiming them out as arrows and to begin letting go. The high school years are a perfect season to experiment with new dreams, to take godly risks, to discover God's desires and to work on developing every area of life:

Spiritual Development - The most important target is for our teenagers to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If this is not the focus, nothing else will line up. Mature teens can also be motivated to help others. Perhaps your teenager could lead a youth or children's Bible study, join a church worship team or go on an adventurous mission trip.

Mental Development - Educationally, where is your teenager headed? Will God's calling for their lives require a college degree? How should that affect this week's diligence with that stack of books? If finances for college will be a challenge, your teen could research scholarship opportunities (and begin improving in areas these competitions evaluate).

Physical Development - The teen years are a great time to develop a healthy lifestyle. It's not too late to learn a new sport, to join an athletic team, or to work on losing those extra pounds. Perhaps your teen would like to try something unusual, like scuba-diving or mountain climbing. I've found that the more youth are challenged (but not pushed), they more they thrive!

As parents, we can seek God's direction for each of our children then begin to serve as His facilitator and motivator. For youth (and all of us) there needs to be a reason for the routine. True learning doesn't usually come by merely "getting through" those required textbooks (which we use) but by desiring to really "know" something for a specific purpose. As parents, we can help our teens to discover God's plans, to desire His purposes and to develop the unique talents He has given.

Is your teen called to communicate? While Joshua Harris was still in high school he was encouraged to pioneer a magazine for homeschool teens; today he is a bestselling Christian author.

Is your teen called to government? A homeschooled teen we know was actively involved on the leadership level of "TeenPact" and in national patriotic competitions through American Legion and VFW; today he is studying government at Patrick Henry College.

Is your teen called to ministry? One of my teenagers has a desire for missionary evangelism. As my husband and I have designed his curriculum, classes have included "Conversational Spanish" on a mission trip, "Public Speaking" with an interpreter in remote African villages, "Music Study" while playing guitar for a weekly Bible study and "Christianity 101" through regular prayer walks and time in God's word.

In practical language, it's as easy as an elementary geometry lesson. Simply draw two points, get a ruler and make a straight line. Point A is where your teenager is today; Point B is where God is leading in the future; and the line's length is the time period in between. Our goal as parents is to help our child keep moving forward, step-by-step, on this straight line of God's purpose.

Walking toward the target, the archer pauses to appreciate this arrow's craftsmanship and how good it looks in the center of that red circle! Finally, he gives a slight tug, polishes its shaft then places it back in the quiver. Today's shot was only practice; but someday, when the time comes for battle, he trusts this arrow will reach its mark.

Our teenagers are God's arrows. May we keep them polished, aligned and aimed towards His destiny. As homeschoolers, may we be "mission minded" regarding each child the Lord has entrusted into our care and may we train our teens "on-target" with His plans.

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Ann Dunagan lives with an energetic passion for the Lord and the lost. She is a joyful homeschooling mother of seven kids (ages 4 to 18) and the wife of an international evangelist. Currently, Ann is finishing a book for parents and teachers entitled, The Mission Minded Child and can be contacted through their ministry website (www.harvestreport.net).