Training Our Children

Passing Along our Heritage: Teaching the Gospel in All of Life

Passing Along our Heritage: Teaching the Gospel in All of Life

“Do you think she’s old enough for theology flashcards?” I asked my husband while perusing Christmas presents for our daughter, “You know, to help her learn words like ‘justification’ and ‘atonement.’”

“Well, since she’s 10 months old and can’t say, ‘Mama,’ I’m going to guess probably not.”

I nodded. And then I put the flashcards on the list.

Before she was a toddler, my daughter was brand new. I remember pulling the blanket away from the perfectly chubby cheeks of my baby girl while she slept on my chest. I gazed at her tiny nose and thought it funny that she wasn’t aware she had a nose. But that amusing thought led me down a list of everything she didn’t know—which was everything from her ABCs to God’s existence. While I’m shocked at how much she’s grasped over the last 14 months, she still has so much to learn (like recognizing that we don’t check for other people’s belly buttons without an invitation).

I sometimes spend hours researching books, songs, and other resources (like those flashcards!) which might help my little lady learn about God and his world. The weightiness of teaching her about our faith sits heavy on my heart, and I often find myself overwhelmed about the best resource, most accurate children’s Bible book, or if we should ever sing a nursery tune that doesn’t include a full biblical metanarrative.

I think many parents feel this way, because we understand our faith is the most important thing we want to teach to our children. But when the options are endless and the advice is non-stop, I have to remember that God has given us his word to teach, instruct, and encourage us in our role as mothers. The Bible is living and active, and studying it changes our hearts and minds. His word offers us a framework for our calling as parents and provides the freedom to live it out.

 

School Choice as Stewardship

School Choice as Stewardship

I will never forget the first night I held my daughter in my arms.

After friends and family had come and gone, it was just the three of us—my husband, my daughter and me. In the dimly lit and quiet hospital room, I was lying in the bed studying the face of my swaddled baby girl. And then a thought almost took my breath away. How was I supposed to be the mother and teach this newborn baby the way through all of the decisions and storms of life?

Many of you have prayed a similar gospel-saturated prayer over your child … and many of you have also experienced the same fears and insecurities that I have in this journey of motherhood.

There are so many decisions we face in raising our children. We constantly assess what is good, better, and best for them—sleep training, feeding, disciplining, discipling them, developing their giftings, and schooling.

I have found that a helpful principle in my own decision-making process is to think through the lens of biblical stewardship while gazing closely at the mission of God. As parents, our children are some of the most precious gifts that we have been entrusted to steward and love, not use or keep for ourselves. 

We are asked to roll up our sleeves in love and humility and labor towards two hard tasks: (1) help them know and follow Christ, and (2) help to cultivate in them the God-given gifts that he wants to use.

Because we trust an unchanging and faithful God who is still on the Throne, we must find comfort in who he is and commit to do the hard work of planting our children to grow—whether that is in public school, private school, or homeschool—rather than burying them to keep them safe. 

As moms, we can find so much freedom in this.

As I send my precious girl into our nearby public school this fall, I know that I will be scared and choking back tears. If you’re in Ann Arbor and reading this, come find me at a local coffee shop and sit with me that morning. No matter the choice you or I make regarding schooling for our children this fall, we both need each other for encouragement and the grace of God to sustain us as we plant our children in the harvest fields of the Kingdom of God.

What Should I Teach My Childern About the Bible?

What Should I Teach My Childern About the Bible?

When my son was just about a year old, I heard a mom friend say that she was doing scripture memory with her three-year-old because he was, “Such a sponge.” I had other friends reading a story from The Jesus Storybook Bible every night as part of their routine. And still others who were taking their school-aged children to Wednesday night church to learn the Bible with a group.

I remember feeling intimidated and wondering if I was behind. “Should I be doing more scripture memory with my baby?” (I literally thought that, even though he couldn’t talk yet!). Instead of focusing on the long road, making it a goal to consistently expose him to the word of God, I felt apprehensive about each method and strategy.

How do you know what to teach your children about the Bible?

Well, the goal is to equip them to be a disciple of Jesus Christ — to be able to follow him in obedience as adults if they place their faith in him.

Let them see you authentically loving God, repenting when you fail, turning to God in prayer, and studying sound doctrine along with the local church. Involve them when you host neighbors for dinner, encourage them to work hard when no one is looking, and love them as an image-bearer of God. It’s hard to be faithful in this work..., but what to teach them is actually fairly simple. 

Teach them to be a follower of Christ.
 

The Other October 31st Holiday: Reformation Day

The Other October 31st Holiday: Reformation Day

October 31st is marked by falling leaves, buckets of candy, and adorably dressed children parading down neighborhood streets as animals, a favorite character, or, as I was for many years, a pumpkin. The anticipation of the 31st begins as early as stores release costumes and candy corn in the late summer months. But the 31st actually marks two holidays, and one – though lesser known – is extremely significant and exciting for all Christians. The final day of October is known as Reformation Day, where a surprisingly monumental decision was made in a little town in Germany in 1517 that would impact generations. And this year is the 500th anniversary.

Maybe you’ve never heard of Reformation Day or maybe you’re wondering how this relates to motherhood in 2017. Here’s really brief history lesson:

Helping Our Kids to Celebrate God's Beautiful, Diverse Creation

Helping Our Kids to Celebrate God's Beautiful, Diverse Creation

Like you’d teach them with anything else, it’s essential that we begin to teach our children about creation, specifically the image of God, at an early age.

If you want your children to embrace those who are different than them, then you must start with helping them understand that God is the Creator of every tribe, tongue, and nation.

...

Heaven will be filled with people from Indonesia, Dubai, Zambia, the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee and the Grand Cayman Islands. And today we can get a foretaste of heaven when we step out of our comfort zones to get to know someone not like us.

Your children are watching and learning from you. They will embrace whom you embrace. It is God who motivates us to step outside ourselves and celebrate the differences around us. God created, he redeems, and it is He who is calling all these different people together in Christ for His glory.

Ten Opportunities to Talk to Your Child About God in Everyday Life

Find this list as a free printable here!

1. When they see something they love in nature. || God created everything.

2. When they get ready to eat a meal. || Give thanks to God for all he provides.

3. When they show off a skill, gift, or ability. || God gives us abilities to glorify and worship Him.

4. When they get hurt or feel afraid. || God is always with us, He is our refuge and strength.

5. When they disobey. || Sin severs our relationship with God, but He offers forgiveness in His son, Jesus.

6. When they see you reading the bible or praying. || God wants us to spend time talking to and listening to Him through His word.

7. When they hurt other children. || God created everyone in His image and He loves that person. He wants us to be kind to them.

8. When they share or show generosity. || God loves a cheerful giver.

9. When they show self-control instead of selfishness. || God helped you do what is right and put others before yourself. Thank you, God!

10. When they are ready for bed. || God loves you. He is always ready to hear your prayers. 

For more like this, listen to Episode 27 | Intentional Motherhood: It's the Little Things and Episode 29 | Using Life-Giving Words With Our Children


Five Ways To Involve Your Young Children In Hospitality

Five ways to involve your young children in hospitality:

1. Have them help clean and prepare for guests. Set the table, run a handheld vacuum, decorate place cards. 


2. Let them help in deciding the menu and preparing the food. Is there a simple desert or side that you can work with them the day before on? 


3. Have them greet guests at the door. Coach them ahead of time on what to say. Tell them they can offer guests a "hug, handshake or highfive!" Allow them show guest where they can put their boots or coat. 


4. During and after the meal, help them to "see needs and meet them." This usually means mom or dad "sees" the need and helps the child in meeting it - getting new napkins, handing someone a drink, finding an age appropriate toy for the youngest of guests.


5. Teach them to walk their guests to the door, thank them for coming and help them find their shoes/coats.

My children are two and four (next month), and both of them are capable of most of these things - admittedly - with lots of help from mom and dad. (But isn't that like everything in parenting?) We find the main key is in communication. Prepare your child beforehand for what you expect and how they can love the guests that come to your doorstep. Gently remind them of their responsibilities as the evening goes on. Talk about the why to point them to the gospel: We want to bless people through the blessings God has given us (skills, abilities, material things). Everything was given to us by God. We serve because Jesus first served us, etc. (Lots more "reasons" on this week's show!) Most children that are really young still find this exciting and fun – not dutiful – so it's a great chance to capitalize on their willing attitudes.

Hospitality in the little years does take extra work, but if we're thoughtful and plan ahead, we can use it as a wonderful teaching tool for our children to learn to love others more than themselves and show people the light of Christ.

For more about hospitality, listen to Episode 55 | Hospitality in the Little Years and Episode 43 | Serving Others Right Where You're At


Carry The Message of Grace To Your Children

Carry The Message of Grace To Your Children

Even if you only shared the basic message of the gospel with your child 1 time every 2 weeks, by the age of 5, they will have already heard the good news of Jesus about 130 times.

130 times for the pattern of of creation, fall, restoration, redemption to be heard and absorbed.
 

Theology is for Moms of Little Ones, Too

Theology is for Moms of Little Ones, Too

With four young children, a moment of quiet or predictable consistency is hard to come by. Even with my best efforts to be organized and intentional, it’s still difficult to stay engaged in regular bible study, to disciple women, to fellowship regularly with other believers, or to serve in ways that pull me out of my home. The desire is there, but so are the dirty diapers, the naptime routines, the laundry piles, and the mundane things that keep our family going.

All the distractions, setbacks, and challenges occasionally leave me wondering if theological growth just isn’t possible for a woman in the season of young children. I’ve wondered if I should just shrug at my inconsistent quiet times, and parched prayer life. I’ve contemplated sitting out of the women’s bible study or leaving our calendar free of hospitable meals because it’s just too hard.

So for every mom of little ones who is longing to see her relationship with God as bigger than the elusive “quiet time”, this list is for you.

Motherhood Builds A Legacy of Glory for Eternity

Motherhood Builds A Legacy of Glory for Eternity

I think every person has a desire to see results - to feel like something is happening from our efforts, that they're making a difference. We are a culture of instant gratification after all. But when all you're doing most of the day is picking up fuzz, crumbs and toys off the floor, it can be hard to see the value. It feels very ... small. But the truth is, motherhood is not small work. It is a slow process, one that isn't obvious or grand to the world - it takes stamina, patience and vision - but the results are things legacies are made of. 

Family Worship is for Mommy Too

Family Worship is for Mommy Too

I claim I would do anything for Him. I profess that I would suffer for him - even to the point of death. But if I'm not careful, I treat him like an old trinket, cast off in a corner, gathering dust, only coming out on Sunday mornings or when I suddenly have a need.

It's a simple question really, "Do you love Jesus more than anything?" And if the answer is "Yes," then wouldn't we bring him to the forefront, bubbling over with excitement and joy over what he has done for us? Displaying him prominently in the most central place in our lives? Wouldn't we tell our friends, family - our children - about him?