Category Archives: Teaching Your Children About God

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The Gospel Ornament: Tell the Story of Jesus to Your Kids

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,’Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ ” Luke 2:14

By: Jennifer Mullen

In the busyness of the season, it is important to remind our children (and ourselves) the reason we celebrate Christmas. This is a simple way to share the gospel story with your family.  Make this activity one of your advent events during your family devotional time.

What You Will Need: 

  • clear plastic or glass ornaments
  • white crafting feathers
  • red ribbon
  • raffia

Found all of these items at Hobby Lobby.

How To: 

While reading various scriptures about Jesus with your family, insert the following into the ornament:

  • Raffia– This symbolizes the hay in the manger. Read Luke 2.
  • Red Ribbon– This symbolizes the blood of Christ. Read Matthew 26:28 and Isaiah 53:5. 
  • Feather– This symbolizes the angel who proclaimed the resurrection at the tomb. Read Luke 24:1-12
Make it into a Gift: 
The Gospel Ornament is a inexpensive gift to share with neighbors, teachers, students, friends, etc. You could easy make 48 of these for less than $25.  Include in a paper sack all of the items for the ornament with the instructions on how to assemble. For a free printable to include with your gift, click here: Gospel Ornament Printable.

Legacy: Part 2

Continued from Part 1

By Jennifer Clark

I was worried when I found out the date of my grandpa’s funeral. It was on a Monday, and there wasn’t time for the newspaper to print his obituary before the service. I was afraid that there would not be enough people there to honor him.

The church was full.

My cousin Sean, a newly ordained minister, preached his funeral. I was reminded of Elijah passing his mantle on to Elisha as he stood up and delivered his message. Sean was not the only member of my family to follow in Grandpa’s footsteps. Grandpa’s son, Jack, and granddaughter, Julie, are both ministers as well. Three generations united in service to God.

I sat in the service and thought about my son, Jackson, whom I named after my grandpa. I know that my grandpa prayed earnestly that this blessing would come into our lives. How many hours, I wonder, did my grandpa spend kneeling before God praying over his family? What course might our lives have taken, if not for those prayers?

The Old Testament talks of blessings and curses that fall over the generations of a family. I believe that to be true, though I think the curses come from the evil we do to each other. A parent who abuses a child can often raise an abuser. The cycle can last for generations, until someone has the courage and will to break it. But the opposite can also be true. The influence of a wise and loving parent can also last for generations. When we raise our children, the future is in our hands.

It’s a scary thought, the power we hold as parents. That’s not to say that we can control the destiny of our children. But our influence, that will always be there.

So many times our family turned to Grandpa for prayer. Will Jackson turn to me? Am I living in a way that will inspire him to live his own life for God? I am afraid that far too often, I fall short. I want to be more like my grandpa. My son needs me to be more like him.

A legacy may be unintended. Children are led by example, and the example I set is not always the one I would consciously choose. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget the big picture. But I can’t afford to do that; I have a responsibility to my son.

When it is my time to pass, I want my son to have the comfort that our family had when we buried Grandpa. He had lived a life that was rich and full and dedicated to God. He wasn’t really dead; he had simply gone home.

We could have faith in God’s word:

“His lord said unto him, well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” -Matthew 25:23

Legacy: Part 1

“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4

By: Jennifer Clark

Parenting can be terrifying. I remember when I first brought my little bundle home from the hospital; I just wanted to keep him alive. Here was this tiny, helpless baby that was totally dependent on me and my husband. I couldn’t even remember to water my plants, and they gave me a baby?

The first night, we finally coaxed him to sleep in his bassinet  I stood there for about ten minutes just watching him breathe. At least I thought he was breathing….wait was he breathing? So, naturally, I poked him.

Eventually I began to let go of some of my anxiety about his survival. I think the turning point was the day at the park when he popped a used Popsicle stick in his mouth. I was horrified, repulsed and more than a little freaked out. But he didn’t get sick, and his tongue didn’t fall off. He was fine. I realized I was going to have to let go a little. I would just do the best I could to keep him safe.

But since this summer, I have spent a lot of time thinking about another, greater responsibility to my son: How do I raise him to become a good, Christian man?

You see, this past summer, my family lost my grandfather. It is difficult to put into words the depth of that loss. Over the course of his life, he helped raise three families. His own father died when my grandfather was a young man. My great-grandmother was left with children still at home to raise on her own. My grandpa stepped into that void and was, in many ways, a provider and father figure to his younger siblings. Then, with his wife, my grandma, he raised his own family of four children. Later, he stepped up again and became much more than a grandfather to three of my cousins, his grandchildren.

He was more than a father, grandfather or great- grandfather. He was a pastor that that didn’t just preach the Gospel, he lived it every day. I saw him help feed the poor, and visit the sick and the lonely. He yearned for heaven, but it was his devotion to doing Christ’s work on earth that I think gave him such great satisfaction. He wouldn’t, he often said, trade anything for his journey now.

We knew his life was coming to an end when he entered hospice care in June. Waves of people, generations of family members came to say goodbye and pray. Sometimes there were so many people that we all couldn’t fit in his room, so we would sit with him in shifts. He was never alone.

This was not a man, by the standards of the world, who was outstanding or exceptional. He wasn’t rich or famous. There will never be buildings named after him or monuments built in his in honor. But my grandpa did not have his eyes set on this world. His treasures were stored up in the kingdom of heaven.

To be a parent is to send ripples through time. My grandpa’s influence did not end with his death.  Because of his example, generations of my family will know what it means to live a life that honors God.  I look at my son, and wonder, how can I carry on this legacy?

To be continued on Wednesday…

Nigerian Dessert: Chin Chin

But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God, and observe it.”  Luke 11:28

By Guest Writer: Veronica Thiele

It’s hard for me to sit and think about something to say in response to my own writing… something that makes it more than it is. I cannot do that. As I was singing to God this afternoon, I realized that in a few short days it would be 1 year to the day that we stepped foot in Nigeria. It brought tears to my eyes.

I miss it so much, the people, the food, the memories. I want to share some of my favorite memories with you.

The first is a simple dessert called Chin chin. In Hausa, Chin chin means sweet snack. Nigerians have their own version of Chin chin, but this mine. It is similar to a donut or Beignet.

Chin chin:

1 ¾ C flour

2/3 C sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 mashed ripened banana

1 ½ tsp vanilla

¾ C water

*Oil to fry

Mix all ingredients well. It will look like a lumpy pancake batter. Make sure your oil is nice and hot over a medium high heat. Use a 1/3 C scoop, drop scoopfuls into the hot oil. They will sink to the bottom; you will need to loosen them. They will then float. Turn them when they are lightly brown (approx 3-5 min). After both sides are brown, remove from oil, drain on paper towels.

Options: sprinkle powder sugar on top OR add chocolate chips to the recipe 

Another great memory I share with my children and those are our village: Football (soccer). Every evening, we would rush to finish dinner so that we could join the children playing soccer. My 2 yr old would get out in the field and just run and run. He didn’t care if he had a ball in front of him or not (most of the time). He just enjoyed the giggles that came along with it.

We have so many wonderful memories to share. Had it not been for God’s lead, and our willingness to follow blindly, we would have missed out on these blessings.

(Please “Like” our Facebook page.  When we reach 200, we will host an awesome give-away.)

Veronica is a wife to the newest member of a local police department, a mother of 3 very active boys, expecting baby #4 (while praying for a little girl), and a high school English teacher. Whew… with all of that said, she enjoys baking, cooking, and sewing.  Veronica writes a blog called The Tell-Tale Thiele Family blog.  Check it out!

 

Hi, I’m a hypocrite….

“If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8

by: Kerri Young

When my oldest was about three years old and still my only child I was asked to speak at a local MOPS group. After much prayer and consideration I landed upon a talk on the power of positive parenting. I focused on the fact that I want my children to remember me smiling when they mess up, loving them through the frustration and modeling the joy of Christ rather than grumbling and complaining when things go wrong. It was a good talk; I think. =) But as a mother of three now, I can see that though I meant well and all the things are great and true and I hope the Lord used something of what I said to encourage at least one person who was listening, I had so much to learn about parenting with grace. (And I still do.)

When I gave that talk, I’m not sure I had ever raised my voice at my daughter. She had never thrown a temper tantrum (she started talking in clear sentences at 17 months; tantrums were never necessary because she could communicate her desires clearly). I’m pretty sure she had yet to roll her eyes at me in the sassy way she does now or walk away from me while I was giving her instructions. She was the first and life revolved around her. She got all my attention so she didn’t need to roll her eyes at me and I didn’t need to raise my voice to get her attention. We were connected at the hip. And then number two came along.

I tried really hard to not lose my patience with my sweet girl after being up half the night with her newborn baby brother, but all of the sudden she had an opinion and a will of her own that did not include taking a nap or being quiet so brother could do so. She was still an angel, as much as she could have been after being dethroned from a seat she had held for almost three and a half years. But, she’s human. I was quickly reminded I am, too. And let’s not even begin to talk about how life changed when number three came into our world a little over a year ago. Combine that with a newfound sass and attitude picked up from friends in school and you have the perfect cocktail for mommy/daughter battles.

One morning recently we were sitting at the kitchen table attempting to start the day with time in the Word and prayer, and she kept kicking my foot gently while I was trying to read. It really wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was bothering me and she knew it, so she kept doing it. I asked her to stop. And then I had to ask again. I asked nicely, at first.  But when she kicked me again, I lost my cool. And I raised my voice. Because we’ve had this power struggle more than once this Fall, this morning I’d just had enough. All while trying to teach my kids the importance of starting the day out right. Oh, the irony.

Hello, my name is Kerri, and I am a hypocrite. Yes, that’s right. I said it: the big h-word that Christians get accused of being all the time. Well, rightly so. Because we are…every single one of us. Even John says so:

“If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8

However, the longer I’m alive and especially the longer I parent and am faced with my imperfections and weaknesses, the more I realize that this is the beauty of Christianity. The next verse offers hope:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

We are hypocrites, but the power of grace is that it does not matter how many mistakes I have made or continue to make, Jesus died on the Cross and when I confessed Him as Lord of my life and asked for forgiveness of my sins, all my junk was taken away. He washes me clean. He did it once and for all, and He does it every day when I mess up again and turn to Him in repentance.

I serve a God who loves me no matter what because when He looks at me He sees Christ in me; and Christ is perfect. He doesn’t focus on me losing my temper with my kiddos over the same silly things each day. He doesn’t focus on me choosing idleness over action. He doesn’t focus on the grumbling and complaining in my heart because things don’t go my way. Of course He is saddened by all these things and desires for me to come to Him in repentance. But He does not ever hold these things against me, because Jesus already paid the price for my sin. Hallelujah!  (If you have never experienced this grace and forgiveness or come to a place where you have submitted your life to Christ and you are interested in learning more, please go here.)

So, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the most important job I might have as a parent is not to be positive all the time (because to attempt that would be to attempt the impossible and I would most certainly fail), but to let my kiddos see my repentant heart and seek their forgiveness (as well as the Lord’s) as soon as I realize I have wronged them or someone else.  Instead of focusing on teaching them to be “good” and be “bright, shiny little people” all the time by doing all the right things, I need to point them to the unconditional, sacrificial, atoning love of Christ that covers ALL… because they can’t and won’t be good all the time.

They will be hypocrites, too.

I need to teach them that they, too, are sinful and in need of grace. That’s not a license or an excuse to sin. But it’s recognition of our desperate need for a Savior and the realization that it’s only through the supernatural empowerment of the Holy Spirit that they or I can be who Christ wants us to be.

My prayer for all of us today is that we would walk in grace and submission to the Holy Spirit, and that through that submission we would be empowered to parent our children in a way that points them to the truth and the freedom of the Cross.

Be encouraged, friend: “…there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus….” (Romans 8:1)