I can . . . do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God has made me able to do everything required of me.
I ought . . . to do my duty to obey God, to submit to my parents, to be of service to others, and to keep myself healthy with proper food and rest so my body is ready to serve.
I will . . . resolve to keep a watch over my thoughts and choose what's right even if it's not what I want.
Yesterday a friend of mine introduced me to a great spelling program for kids called Spelling Wisdom. Each week parents combine spelling with inspirational thoughts that build character, virtues, and values. In the beginning the lesson is only one simple sentence, but as children learn more and more words, the sentence turns into a small paragraph which is learned, discussed and then dictated to a child so they can write it out in proper form. Today we started the first lesson which was Charlotte Mason's motto for her students. I loved this motto so much that I wrote it on our kitchen white board and our morning devotional was based on the principles behind her motto.
I am, I ought, I can, I will are like four steps of the ladder that St. Augustine wrote about when he said we could 'go up on the stepping stones of the old, sinful man we cast off and are dead to, and ascend to higher things.' I am means that we can know ourselves and understand what we're really like. I ought means that we have a moral judge inside us. We feel like we're subject to it. It lets us know what our duty is and compels us to do it. I can means that we know we have the ability to do what we know we're supposed to. I will means that we resolve to use the ability we know we have to do what our inner moral judge has urged us to do. Resolve is the first step in actually doing. These four thoughts make a perfect, beautiful chain . . . (You can read Charlotte Mason's exact wording on page 330 of volume 1.)