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Entries in Parenting (37)

Thursday
Aug282014

Helping Kids with Their GPS (God Positioning System)

Some women, like Deedra Scherm, seem to have been born with a parenting creativity gene. In this Parenting UPGRADE, she offers practical counsel for building spiritual insight into children’s lives.

“I was driving in downtown Dallas, trying to find my way to have lunch with my cousin Cathy,” Deedra says, “when I had to pull over to call my husband.”

Like Deedra, I (Dawn) often get turned around in the car. (OK, I get totally, horribly lost.) I used to feel terrible about that until I read somewhere that Einstein, a genius, often lost his way too. (Maybe that’s a myth, but I’m sticking with it!)

Deedra continues …

“I’m LOST!” I said with great frustration. “And I’m already 10 minutes late for lunch!”

“Okay," my husband said. "Just tell me where you are.”

“If I knew THAT, I wouldn’t be LOST!”

Shortly after that my husband gave me a GPS (Global Positional System) to help me navigate the roads. Is it too much to say I love my GPS? Because I do. I no longer have anxiety when I have to navigate new roads. I just turn it on and enjoy the path I’m driving.

My spiritual life needs a lot of guidance at times.  Over the years I have learned about the importance of reading God’s Word, prayer, and wise counsel, because I’ve discovered, The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NAS).

I wanted to start teaching my children at a very young age how to understand the importance of God’s desire to guide their lives. 

Their “God Positioning System.” Their own “GPS.”

I thought I’d share a few easy ways to help plant seeds in young children on how to seek God’s guidance for themselves. The hope is that as they get older, seeking God’s guidance will become a natural part of their lives.

1. RECORD family prayers.

It seems like such a simple thing, but it can have such a great impact when you take the time to pray as a family and write down the requests and answers. The visual of written requests and recorded answers can make a lasting impression on a child about how God listens and responds.

When you record family prayers, it not only shows kids the importance of prayer, but it encourages them to seek prayer for themselves as they face decisions in their own lives. 

2. RECALL the times God has personally guided you.

Find ways to share moments where God has guided you and your family to where you are now.

When the boys are enjoying playing at the park next to our house, I like to say, “I remember when we were looking for a place to live and we just couldn’t find anything. Then we prayed for God to open up a house near this park. What a wonderful blessing He gave us with our house.” 

When you recall how you sought God for a decision point in your life, it will encourage them to seek His guidance when they are faced with decision in front of them. 

3. RELATE your child’s story to the story of someone in the Bible.

The Word of God is one of the main paths of guidance for us as Christians. Whenever we can direct our children to find connections to scripture, it will help them be able to relate as they get older.

When your child is experiencing fear, tell them about the story of Daniel and how God will take care of them in the scariest of circumstances.  When they are worried about if they are good enough, tell them the story of the boy with five loaves and a couple of fish and how Jesus can take what you have and use it for His glory. 

When you relate your child’s story to the Bible, it will encourage them to seek the Word for guidance when they are faced with challenging circumstances before them.

4. REMEMBER to show God’s provision in the “less-than-what-I-hoped-for.”

I remember circling a parking lot with my three boys in the car when the “front row” spot opened. “It’s the favor of God!” said one boy.  

At first, I was a little proud at his response. But as I thought about it, I realized that if I only thank God for the good things, when things get tough the kids could believe it’s because God has no hand in it. 

The next time we got the back-row spot, I said, “Oh, it would have been great to be in the front row, but maybe God knew I needed some extra exercise. Or maybe someone who has trouble walking needed that spot more than we did.” 

After time, I saw the boys applying this principle to all sorts of areas in their lives … from when they didn’t win the prize in the raffle to when someone else at church got the starring spot in the spring musical. 

When you remember to show God’s provision in tough times, it will encourage kids to trust God’s plan even when things don’t go their way.

What a great gift you can give to your kids if you teach them to have their own “GPS.” Then they can stop worrying about being lost, and really start enjoying the journey!

Can you think of a teachable moment when you recently taught a child (or a mentee or a friend) how to trust God for guidance? Which of Deedra’s four points could you use in the days ahead?

Deedra Scherm lives in Dallas with her husband and three boys. Between homeschooling and writing, she’s on constant watch for “parents night out” so she and her hubby can get one of those things called a date night. You can find Deedra’s  bestselling book, The ABC Bible Verse Book, and other books and DVDs at lemonvision.com or amazon.com

 

Tuesday
Jul082014

10 Ways to Help Your Kids Cultivate a Missional Mindset

Stephanie Shott encourages moms with mentoring that is intentional and missional. In this Parenting UPGRADE, she offers suggestions to create missional thinking in our children.

“When my children were young, I desperately wanted them to embrace God’s call on their lives to be world changers.” Stephanie writes. “Maybe you’ve felt the same way too.”

Don’t think this is only for your children. I (Dawn) want to encourage a missional mindset in my grandchildren. And maybe you are in a position to mentor or teach children. This is valuable for you too.

Stephanie continues...

Raising children to live beyond themselves isn’t easy when so much of what they see and hear beckons them to make their lives all about themselves.

God’s Word says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too”“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God” (Philippians 2:4; Hebrews 13:16, NLT).   

So, while we know God’s Word calls us to a life that is focused on ministering to others, it is definitely easier said than done when it comes to teaching that to our children.

I want to share with you 10 ways you can help your children cultivate a missional mindset.

  1. Have your children help you prepare and take food to a family in need.
  2. Make one Saturday a month, Saturday Serve Day and look for a way to bless someone in your neighborhood. (mow the lawn, clean the house or hang out and chat with a shut-in from church, a single mom, or someone who is ill)
  3. Let your children help you choose a local ministry to partner with for a weekly, monthly, or quarterly service project. (A homeless shelter, a children’s home, a nursing home, a hospital, etc...)
  4. Create ways your children can earn money to purchase gifts for a missionary child who is living on the field and allow your children to help pick those gifts out.
  5. Help them write cards of encouragement to their friends, to children in local hospitals, to widows or widowers, to missionaries, to a child you support through Compassion International or some other global ministry.
  6. Teach your children of Jesus’ sacrificial love by taking them shopping for those who are unable to give anything in return.
  7. Take them on an international mission trip where they can participate in feeding, clothing, and ministering to others in another country.
  8. Make it a fun game to do “intentional” acts of kindness throughout each day. Allow them to help pick out someone to bless by buying their meal, giving them a small gift, or some small way to share the love of Jesus in a tangible way.
  9. Help your children create a service project in your neighborhood, church, or in conjunction with another ministry. (i.e... organize a coat round-up for a homeless shelter, collect food, furniture, or money for a family in need, etc...)
  10. Be a missional momma. Living on mission is more caught than taught. The joy that comes with giving is contagious. When you are mission-minded, your children will more likely be mission minded too.

When we model a missional mindset and create opportunities that will help them discover the joy of giving and ministering to others, they will never be the same.

How do YOU model a missional mindset to your children, grandchildren or the children in your church?

Stephanie Shott is the founder of The M.O.M. Initiative, a ministry devoted to making mentoring intentionally missional. She is an author and popular speaker who helps women live full, fearless and faithful lives. To invite Stephanie to speak at your next event, visit her website. Find out more about The M.O.M. Initiative or how to begin a M.O.M. Mentor Group at www.themominitiative.com.

Graphic in text adapted: Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Thursday
Jun262014

Six Biblical Truths for Preschoolers

Melissa Edgington is a pastor's wife who writes about life with kids while living with kidsand that's quite a challenge for any mom! I appreciate her wisdom about family life; and in this post, she shares a Parenting Upgrade about preschoolers.

“Preschoolers can understand much deeper biblical concepts than we think," Melissa says. "The earlier we lay solid biblical foundations, the better."

I [Dawn] was blessed to serve in a revival ministry during my children's preschool years, and I know the blessing and power of teaching biblical truth early. The world will try to squeeze our children into its mold. We've got to start early!

Melissa continues:

I've compiled a list of six important truths we should be sure to teach our preschoolers.”

1.  The Bible is God’s special book (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 119:105).

Preschoolers can learn from an early age that the Bible is not like other books. We can teach them that the Bible comes from God and teaches us important things about Him. We can open the pages of the Bible and let them touch it, so that they learn young that the Bible is for them, too.  

When we talk about the Bible in these terms, we’re reinforcing the fact that the Bible is true and is the authority for our lives.

2.  You and I are sinners (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10).

Children already know that they do things they shouldn’t. But, we can put their bad behavior in different terms by talking about what sin is and why it matters to God.  

Our church’s preschool teachers say: Sin is anything we think, say, or do that breaks God’s law.  

3.  Jesus died on a cross and came back to life (1 Peter 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

This concept is one that we often debate in our minds.  Are we doing wrong when we tell our three-year-old a story that’s, well, let’s face it, bloody? 

At this age, we can simply talk about how Jesus is God’s Son, how He died for us on a cross, and then God raised Him from the dead. It’s good for them to know the basic facts of what happened, even before they really understand the significance of what Jesus was doing on the cross that day.  

4.  The Bible is one big story (Genesis 3:14-15).

This is a concept many adults have never even been taught. But, it’s important for our children to understand that, even though we tend to study the Bible in small chunks (stories) on Sunday mornings, all of those smaller stories link together to form one big story of God’s great love, saving us from our sin through Jesus.  

I recommend reading The Big Picture Story Book Bible with your children. It does a fantastic job of showing how Jesus is all over the Old Testament, too. It helps kids to get the “big picture” of God’s redemption plan.

5.  Heaven is for real (John 14:3-4)

Because the Bible says so. And Hell is for real, too. We can talk in basic terms with our preschoolers about how Heaven is the place where we can go to be with God someday. It can be helpful to talk about Heaven in terms of someone you know who has passed away.  

Most importantly, we should make sure that the kids know that doing good things doesn’t get you to Heaven. There is only one way to Heaven, and that way is believing in Jesus.

6.  God keeps His promises (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Even our very youngest charges can understand the idea that God is good and He tells the truth. God follows through. When He promised He would send a redeemer, He did it.  

And, we can trust His other promises, knowing that God is “working all things together for the good of those who love Him."

When we teach our preschoolers well, we help them combat the wrong thinking that will come their way. It’s never too early to lead our babies to the truth.

Do you have preschoolers? What is your biggest challenge in teaching them the truth of scripture? How has God blessed you (and them) in teaching them biblical truth?

Melissa Edgington is a pastor’s wife and mom of three young children. She writes about motherhood and the Christian life at Your Mom Has a Blog. 

Thursday
Jun192014

5 Ways to Bring God Naturally into Parenting

Sheila Wray Gregoire’s blog, “To Love, Honor and Vacuum,” often offers helpful counsel to parents. In this UPGRADE Your Parenting post, she gets to the root of spiritual influence in the home.

We want to raise our kids to love God, but it can seem awkward,” Sheila wrote. “We get scared that if we ‘push’ it too hard, then our kids will rebel.”

I (Dawn) have seen that happen time and time again. The very thing parents wanted for their children, they sabotaged with pushing. The scriptures tell us to teach and guide our children all day long (Deuteronomy 6:6-7), but it's not always easy to do.

So what’s the secret to natural discipleship of our children?

Sheila continues …

Certainly, if you push it, that can backfire; but if God is already a natural part of your life, then kids tend to see that and naturally gravitate to it.

Stress relationship, not rules. Christianity is about relationship, and when kids have that with you, and see you having that with God, it’s only natural that would spill over into your parenting.

1. Be sure God is a natural part of your life.

You can’t just “naturally” talk about God if you don’t actually know Him. Snatch moments through the day for your devotions. Join a Bible study that meets weekly. Start praying out loud there—force yourself! The more we can do these things naturally, the less awkward it gets.

If you are feeling awkward, it may be a sign not that your parenting is off but that you need to spend more time with God first!

2. Take time to talk.

You can’t expect to have deep conversations with kids if you don’t get much time with them. Limit your extracurricular activities. Plan technology-free times when you can talk—like over the dinner hour as a family.

If you know you’re growing apart from one of your kids, your instinct may be to grab hold hard. That often causes the child to withdraw. A better approach: find more time when you can just be with your child … with no agenda. Just “hang out.”

3. Do things together.

My youngest daughter and I get into the best talks when we go for walks together. Other people swear that their best conversations happen in the car.

4. Own up to your mistakes.

The best teaching times I’ve had with my girls are when I’ve messed up. That’s when I can really model God to them. Take those opportunities to offer a heartfelt apology. Model a prayer of confession when you remind your kids that you’ve also sinned against God. Ask for their forgiveness.

Let them see that confession isn’t weakness. It’s good to acknowledge our faults quickly when we make mistakes.

5. Make use of great resources.

Here are a few resources that I love:

  • For Family Devotions - The vast majority of family devotionals I’ve found in Christian bookstores are, to put it simply, lame. Learning to Speak Life isn’t. Each week has a Fruit of the Spirit to work through. There are stories, role playing games, verses to memorize—even an activity to do as a family, if you so choose. There are thoughts for different ages; and it’s super easy to do without a lot of set-up.
  • To Prepare Kids for the Opposite Sex - Preparing your kids to make good decisions when it comes to dating and the opposite sex has to start when they’re young. It’s not about having “the talk” with your kids. It’s about having an ongoing dialogue—multiple “talks”—that help keep the lines of communication open so they know that they can ask you anything. One of the best resources I have found to make this natural is Barrett Johnson’s The Talks (available in an ebook or paperback).
  • Scripture MemoryFamilies use to memorize together as a key spiritual discipline. When children have a repertoire of key verses memorized, it puts them in good stead for life. I’ve written out my favorite 50 Bible verses to memorize. Try memorizing one verse a week with your family. It will make a tremendous difference!

Bringing God into conversations can feel awkward, but remember: “I’m just sharing with my kids my own heart. I’m sharing something that’s important to me.” If those things are true, you’ll find it much easier to parent with God.

How do you bring God in to your parenting naturally?

Sheila Wray Gregoire a syndicated columnist, blogger and speaker. The author of seven books, including How Big Is Your Umbrella and To Love, Honor and Vacuum, Sheila mixes humor and real-life stories to help women deal with the messy problems many of us face. She holds two Master's degrees from Queen's University, but says her real education has come as a wife to Keith and mother to Rebecca and Katie, who they homeschool and take on mission trips. Though Sheila is married to a physician, she still faints at the sign of blood! For more about Sheila, visit her website.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Thursday
Jun122014

Ask Your Children Big-Picture Questions

As a special Father’s Day post and to help us Upgrade our parenting and/or ministry to children, I asked my friend, Nancy Leigh DeMoss of Revive Our Hearts ministry to share with us. So much of her life was shaped by the life example of her parents—especially her father. She often talks and writes about him. In 2013, Nancy wrote about a question her dad asked that helped her shape her life and ministry. *

“The scene is indelibly etched in my memory,” Nancy wrote. “I was 19 years old. My family was on a mission trip in Haiti—my parents’ (and my) favorite type of family 'vacation.'”

Reader, does this give you some insight into the type of family Nancy grew up in? This vacation is only a slice of the big picture of life and ministry her parents embraced.

Nancy continues ...

We were worshiping in a small Haitian church, sitting on hard wood benches. In the middle of the service, my dad leaned over to me and whispered,

“Honey, what are your 50-year goals?”

Now, I’ll confess I hadn’t given a lot of thought to my 50-year goals, prior to that moment. But over the next weeks, I set out to respond to his question. Of course, I didn’t know things like whether I would be married or single or what my specific ministry path would look like. But I tried to record what I wanted to be true of my life in 50 years—by the time I was 69—if the Lord was pleased to give me that many years.

Periodically I’ve gone back and reviewed the document that resulted from that exercise more than 35 years ago. It has proved to be a valuable reminder to be intentional, stay the course, and focus on the things that matter most.

While I would no doubt craft these goals a bit differently today, these are the same basic categories that I still believe are important. Even this week, in re-reading this list, I’ve been challenged to recalibrate my thinking in one particular area.

As a teen sitting in that Haitian church, 50 years seemed like an eternity away. I could not have imagined how quickly those years would pass—or how easy it would be to fritter away days, months, years—a lifetime.

Today, with less than 15 years left till I turn 69, I wish I were a whole lot further along toward these goals. I haven’t even come close to attaining all of them. But I’m confident I have grown more in these areas than I might have if it hadn’t been for my dad’s question. So for challenging me to this exercise—and for so much more—thank you, Dad!

I believe there is value in doing this kind of thinking at various points in life. And not only for yourself . . .

Don’t underestimate the potential impact of encouraging your children, grandchildren, and young friends to think through these kinds of big-picture questions.

Less than two years after I wrote these goals, on the weekend of my 21st birthday, my dad died suddenly of a heart attack.

I’m so thankful for his efforts to encourage me to live a purposeful life to the glory of God. And that he didn’t think the teen years were too young to challenge me to seek and embrace God’s vision for my future.

What questions could you ask your child, grandchild or another child you want to influence, to help shape big-picture thinking and priorities?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a mentor and "spiritual mother" to hundreds of thousands of women who have read her best-selling books and who listen to her two daily radio programs, Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him. She communicates a love for the Lord and the Word that is infectious! Nancy is the author of many books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. Learn more about her ministry and women’s revival conferences at Revive Our Hearts and True Woman.

* This post is part of an article at TrueWoman.com titled “My Dad’s Impromptu Challenge.” The article includes the goals that Nancy wrote when she was 19.

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