Happy New Year, 2019!

As the fresh new year of 2019 approaches,  many of us are busily thinking up and writing down new year’s resolutions.  I must admit that I do that too!  Before you do that though, I encourage you to make a list of all the ways that you are blessed and the goals that you achieved in 2018.

Thinking about and writing down all the good things in your life will focus your attention on the positive and bring more joy into your life.   As you then plan out your resolutions for the new year, you will have more determination to accomplish them! You have many blessings to thank God for and have achieved many of your goals.  Be joyous in 2019!

During All the Gift Giving and Receiving This Christmas, Please Remember the Greatest Gift of All!

“Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”

2 Corinthians 9:15

While we are all busy giving and receiving gifts this year, we can easily get caught up in the material aspect of Christmas.  As Christians though, it is critical that we remember and celebrate the greatest gift that was ever given to us.  God gave His only Son to us as a special gift!  The scripture verse at 2 Corinthians 9:15 succinctly sums up the reason for the season. 

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year, 2018!

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"An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves."
Bill Vaughan

As you enter into the new year of 2018 and leave the old year behind, are you an optimist or a pessimist? As Christians, our hope is in God and we must be optimists!  Philippians 4:8 states: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (New Living Translation).

As we focus our thoughts on all that this verse says we should, we hold firm to the promise that all will be well with us, not because of who we are ourselves, but who we have our faith and confidence in. Our lives are not our own – we were bought with a price.  Have confidence that God continues to order our steps.  “I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.” Jeremiah 10:23 (New Living Translation).

I pray that you will receive your heart’s desires this year as you put Him first and foremost in your life.  Dream big and grow in faith because He is a God of big dreams!  Happy new year!

This Christmas - Allow God’s Light to Shine Through You in Everything You Do

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
Matthew 5:14

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus, it’s important to remember that He was the light of this world.   When Jesus was born, the wise men saw His bright star and followed it from the east to find Him.  Matthew 2:2.  Then, when they were in Bethlehem, they continued to follow the star and it led them directly to the house were Jesus lived.  Matthew 2:9. God is light and as His children, He passed that light down to us.  God does not want us to hide the light He gave us - He wants it to shine brightly, as a star, in and through us. He wants us to display His light in ways that are pleasing unto Him.

Consider using your gifts to serve the Lord and shine brightly.  God has blessed each one of us with our own unique talents and abilities, but it is up to us to choose how we use them.  There is no better way to be a light to this world than to use your gifts to honor Him.  If your talent is singing, join a church choir or sing songs that give glory to the Lord.  If you are a writer, write creative and informative books or stories or other written works based on biblical themes, characters and histories. There is so much that you can do!

Being a light in the world also involves volunteering to assist those who are less fortunate, and I have written about that before.  1 Peter 4:10 states, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Our gifts were bestowed upon us to be a blessing to others in the same way that God has blessed us.

Passing on His graces and mercies is the ultimate expression of His love for us and what He continues to do in and for us. God’s light is life and we should use the life He gave us to light up the world - as He intended it.  And, just as the wise men followed that bright star to find Jesus, others will follow us to Him.

Dress Modestly According to God’s Will

“… I want women to adorn themselves modestly and appropriately and discreetly in proper clothing ….”
1 Timothy 2:9 (AMP)

During this festive holiday season, it is the perfect time to dress up and have fun going to family and friends’ gatherings and parties.  In dressing up, please pay attention to modesty.  Yes … it is a subject that is often misconstrued but is of importance to Christians.  Importantly, it is not meant to shame young women and girls for their God-given bodies or even for appreciating the way they look.  Instead, it shows exactly who and what should be most important in our lives and who we represent - Jesus.  

The following is taken from an article about modesty and I could not say it any better.  It describes very well what modesty for a Christian is all about:

Modesty in the way we dress is not just for church; it is to be the standard for all Christians at all times. The key to understanding what constitutes modesty in dress is to examine the attitudes and intents of the heart. Those whose hearts are inclined toward God will make every effort to dress modestly, decently, and appropriately. Those whose hearts are inclined toward self will dress in a manner designed to draw attention to themselves with little or no regard for the consequences to themselves or others.

A godly woman endeavors to do everything with a “God-ward” perspective. She knows that God wants His people to be concerned for His glory and the spiritual state of their brothers and sisters in Christ. If a woman professes to be a Christian yet she dresses in a way that will unduly draw attention to her body, she is a poor witness of the One who bought her soul by dying for her on the cross. She is forgetting that her body has been redeemed by Christ and is now the temple of the Holy Spirit (
1 Corinthians 6:19–20). She is telling the world that she determines her own worth on a purely physical basis and that her attractiveness depends on how much of her body she reveals to them. Further, by dressing in an immodest fashion, displaying her body for men to lust after, she causes her brothers in Christ to sin, something condemned by God (Matthew 5:27–29). Proverbs 7:10 mentions a woman “dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent”—here, the woman’s heart condition is displayed by her manner of dress.

The Scripture says that we are to dress modestly, but what exactly does that mean in modern society? Does a woman have to be covered from head to toe? There are cults and religions in the world that demand this of women. But is that the biblical meaning of modesty? Again, we have to go back to the matter of the attitudes of the heart. If a woman’s heart is inclined toward godliness, she will wear clothing that is neither provocative nor revealing in public, clothing that does not reflect negatively upon her personal testimony as a child of God. Everyone else in her circle may be dressing immodestly, but she resists the temptation to go along with the crowd. She avoids clothing designed to draw attention to her body and cause men to lust, for she is wise enough to know that type of attention only cheapens her. The idea of causing men to sin against God because of her dress is abhorrent to her because she seeks to love and honor God and wants others to do the same.

Modesty in dress reveals a modesty and godliness of the heart, attitudes that should be the desire of all women (and men) who live to please and honor God.


https://www.gotquestions.org/dress-modestly.html

Recommended Resource: A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George

Helping Children Enjoy Church

"Our kids can learn to enjoy church when they watch how much we enjoy worshiping the Lord and caring about the body of Christ."
Christy Fitzwater

For adults, attending church is an experience like no other.  We assemble together, a group of people of different ages and from varying backgrounds,  to learn more about God, to sing praises to Him, and to fellowship with others.  As fulfilling as these services may be for adults, children oftentimes view attending church as a once a week obligation that they would rather avoid.  It can be hard for them to sit or stand and listen for an extended period of time, and that can make church extremely boring for them. Their outlook on church does not have to be this way, however, and parents should do all that they can to assist their children in having enjoyable church experiences.

Start with your attitude about going to church.  Do you and your spouse enjoy attending church or is it just another duty that you both reluctantly do?  Do you allow any excuse to prevent you and your family from attending? As a parent, your attitude toward church will rub off on your children. 

Spend time at home reading the Bible as a family together and praying together.  Also, incorporate singing and worshiping God into your everyday life. There are many Christian children’s songs.  Purchase some cds or download songs on your computer or smart phone.  When your children arrive at church, all that is done at church will already be a part of their experiences at home. 

It is important is to find out if your church has a children’s ministry that is geared for your children’s ages.  Children’s ministries are developed to teach them the Word of God in fun-filled ways.  I served as a lay children’s minister for many years and can tell you that a children’s ministry is not all games and laughter, though it may appear that way.  In fact, I attended several children’s ministry training conferences just to learn more about making our children’s ministry better.  Ministers and volunteers spend a lot of time planning out what will keep the children’s attention and at the same time help them learn the Word and develop a deep love for Christ.  From lessons to songs to puppet skits to games – everything is centered on God. 

If your church does not have a children’s ministry, there are many things that you can do to help your children have enjoyable experiences, especially because of their short attention spans.  First, put together what is called a “worship bag”, which is a backpack with coloring sheets, crayons, cute stickers and many other items that will keep your children busy while the adult sermon is being preached.  Contact your church’s office beforehand to find out what subject or scripture verse will be in Sunday’s message and gather items that are on that specific topic.  Include a few simple snacks too as little ones have appetites.

Second, encourage your children to participate during the service.  Allow them to hold the hymn book and put money into the offering basket.  This will make them feel included.  

Third, talk with your children after church to find out what they learned.  Ask questions.  This will generate their thought processes and help them develop their knowledge about the Bible more.  And, since children love sharing what they learned, these discussions will motivate them to pay close attention so they can do so.

The Bible instructs us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.  (Hebrews 10:25)  Adults and children attending church is important to God. By being engaged with your children in every step of their church experience, you will help them grow to enjoy church services and fellowship with other believers.

It Is Essential to Forgive Others as the Lord Has Forgiven You

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
— Colossians 3:13

What is a simple seven letter word that is very hard to do?  Forgive.  No matter how many times we are told that forgiveness is an act that benefits the forgiver more than the person being forgiven, we still often view it as a tough task, usually because of our pride.  Not only can refusing to forgive be detrimental to us physically, but also spiritually.

Forgiveness is not an option in living a Christian lifestyle, but rather a requirement.  Colossians 3:13, our scripture text, actually commands us to forgive as God has first forgiven us.  It does not say that we are allowed to forgive sometimes, depending on what that person has done to us.  We are to always forgive – period.

One of the most poignant stories of forgiveness for me in modern times was when Pope John Paul II forgave the man who tried to assassinate him in 1981.  The shooter fired many shots, four of which hit the Pope.   He lost a great deal of blood but survived.  The shooter was caught and sentenced to life in prison.  Two years later, the Pope visited the would-be assassin in prison and forgave him.  The two emerged from the visit as friends.  But, the Pope even went further.  He requested that the shooter be pardoned, and he eventually was, and became a Christian. 

Now that is forgiveness in action!

By Spreading Love Rather Than Gossip, You Grow as a Christian

As much as we hate to admit it, we have all participated in gossip at some point in our lives. Whether the information we were spreading was based on truth or just pure speculation never really mattered, because there is a strange thrill in sharing some information between you and a few of your friends. There are those who say the act of gossiping is and has always been a part of our social lives, used to learn what is and is not acceptable. Some have described it as harmless banter, but it is actually an opportunity to say hurtful things about a person, with no regard for the consequences, including the person’s wellbeing.

If we really want to stay informed, or have a better understanding of social niceties, as has been suggested, there are so many productive and non-threatening ways to do so. Instead of talking about someone, try to talk to the person.  Get to know him or her better.  We, as humans, are social creatures and by doing this, we use the same amount of energy and can make a new friend in the process. You might even be able to learn a few things from the other person, as that person can from you too.  At the end of the day, we should constantly try to lift others up and encourage them, rather than drag them down, and once we are willing to lift and encourage, it is easier to be lifted and encouraged in turn.

Once you make the decision to no longer be a part of the toxic lifestyle that comes with gossip, feel free to distance yourselves from those who choose not to follow that principle.  The Bible states “as for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” Titus 3:10.

Creating some distance does not mean you have to cut those people out of your life, completely and immediately.  At first, you should encourage the people around you to consider the consequences of their actions.  Try to inform them and give them some of your tips on stopping this type of behavior.  Your role is never to be judgmental, but to be helpful.  If they persist, however, do not be afraid to now maintain distance from them, surrounding yourself with people who believe as you do.

The next time you are told a piece of gossip, no matter how interesting it may seem, be that wise person and walk away.  Let it die at your ears.  Always remember that your children are watching you and listening.  Be a good role model for them.

Patience is a Virtue That You Must Develop on a Day to Day Basis

 

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

-Habakkuk 2:3 (NIV)

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Patience is hard to develop in this fast paced world we live in.  When I read Habakkuk 2:3, it deeply resonates with me, especially the last words, “though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come.”  I speak not only for myself, but also I’m sure for many others when I say that once I make a prayer request to the Lord, I usually expect an immediate response. That is not what God has promised us, however.

This verse stands as a reminder to me that there is a season for everything, including the answers to my prayers. If I continue to trust and believe while I wait, I know that everything I have prayed for will come to pass - in God’s time. His timing is always perfect!

I once read about a scenario that I would like to share.  Have you ever ordered an item online that you were really excited about and it was scheduled to arrive in 3-7 business days? Now it is the 6th day and you are beyond anxious, maybe even angry that the package has yet not arrived.  So, you check the tracking number over the internet several times a day, just to see how far it has travelled since you last checked it. You do this until the seventh day, and then you get the notification that your package has arrived.   But, you still have to wait until it can be delivered.  When the package finally arrives, you are filled with so much excitement that you almost forget to sign for it and while in a fit of eager anticipation to see what’s inside, you slam the door in the face of the person who delivered it to you without so much as a “thank you”.

Note: You became angry and impatient even before the deadline has passed.

That was a simple example, but one I think we all can relate to.  As it applies to Habakkuk 2:3, your answer to a prayer is that package, and God is who you were tirelessly monitoring and eventually slammed the door on without a second thought.

It is easy to get caught up in the anticipation and anxiety of receiving what you have prayed for.  In fact, despite God’s promise that “it will certainly come”, you may even doubt that it will ever be manifested.  You are constantly checking up with God to make sure He has not forgotten you, not realizing every time you do so, you are actually questioning whether the Word of God is true. 

God makes no mistakes and our prayers are answered in God’s timing, not ours.   Continue to be patient and trust Him daily in all aspects of your life and your children’s lives.

Encourage Your Children’s Curiosity by Reading Rather Than By Being Nosy

 
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business
— 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NASB)

When I read the above quote and saw the picture, I laughed out loud!  It is so appropriate, isn’t it!  Our children are naturally curious and will ask a lot of questions.  As parents, we should encourage their curiosity and help them search for answers, but not allow being nosy to be a part of their behavior.  Reading is the best way to find answers to questions.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “nosy” in the common English for students as “wanting to know about someone else’s business.”  This has a negative connotation.  It does not mean that you are sincerely curious so that you can assist and provide consolation and prayer for the other person.  Instead, you are trying to find out about the other person so that you can make derogatory comments, often behind that person’s back.  The Bible encourages us to spend our time diligently working, not having idle time to be a busybody. 

 
We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down...
— 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 (NIV)
 

Most of our children’s behavior is modeled after us, as parents.  Take a moment and analyze your own behavior.  Do you have your nose in someone else’s affairs?  Do you talk openly and in front of your children about what other people are doing in a condemning way?  It may seem harmless but it isn’t at all.   Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about those things that are honorable, pure and worthy of praise.  Being a busybody is not among those mentioned. 

Sharing Jesus With Your Children

As a lay children’s minister for many years, I loved teaching children about Jesus in my church’s children’s ministry.  We used a variety of techniques, from puppet shows to funny skits, to dressing up in clown costumes to fun parties.  Everything was centered on the Word of God. Of course, I was trained to do what I did and relied upon the creativity that God gave me as well.

Many parents find it hard or uncomfortable to talk about Jesus with their children.  But, it shouldn’t be that way as parents are the first teachers of and role models for their children.

When talking with children about Jesus, I recommend to focus first on how much He loves them and wanted to be around children.  Describe some of the instances in the New Testament about Jesus and children.  When the disciples tried to keep the children away from Him, Jesus stopped them and made sure the children were allowed to come to Him.  He said that the kingdom of God belonged to them too.  Matthew 19:13-14; Mark 10:13-16.  One day, He took a child in His arms and told the people that if anyone receives a child in His Name receives Jesus and God, the Father.  Mark 9:36-37.  To illustrate the importance of children, He also told the people that children are not to be despised as their angels in heaven continually see the face of God.  Matthew 18:10.  And, He loved children so very much that He said it was not the will of God that any child should perish.  Matthew 18:14.

I further recommend that parents not limit talking about Jesus and spiritual issues to just Sundays.  All during the week, look for instances to talk about the goodness and love of God such as the beauties of nature; food to eat; a good home to live in; nice clothes to wear; and fun toys and games to play with.  Talk to them about how forgiving God is. The subjects are endless.  What is important is that your children see and hear about God every day. 

When you need assistance, surf the internet to find out what you can do.  There is quite a bit of information available to help parents.          

Are You and Your Children Regularly Attending Church on Sundays?

The title for this week’s blog may surprise you.  Why would I ask if you and your children attend church regularly on Sundays?  Based on recent studies, there are declining numbers in church attendance, and many point to busy family schedules, including children’s sports on Sunday mornings, as the main reason.   Many people would like to take Sunday as a day off, due to their very busy schedule during the week days and even on Saturdays.  Sleeping in, relaxing, watching television, playing computer games – all these sound very appealing for a Sunday.

There are many benefits to regularly attending church as a family.  In her online article entitled 5 Benefits for Attending Church, writer Megan Gladwell gives a good listing:

  1. Church anchors us.  All day long we face bombardment from the outside world, so much so that we can lose our spiritual perspective: advertisements, social media, demands on our time, and other external forces.  By attending church, especially as a family, we develop closer bonds with each other and God and learn morals and standards by which to live. 
  2. We receive spiritual strength.  Nothing can substitute for what happens in church.  There is singing and praising God, a sermon to listen to, and many other activities that bring you closer to God.  It sets the tone for you spiritually for the rest of the week.
  3. Church provides much needed fellowship.  Often, churches have various groups that meet during the week.  There are functions to attend.  When you need a helping hand, a church member is usually there to assist.
  4. Church presents opportunities to serve.  Our communities have so many needs, and churches help fill those needs.  Families volunteer to provide assistance to others, exhibiting the love that Jesus wants us to show to our fellow man.  Children learn to serve others and be givers rather than just receivers.
  5. We get to know God on a personal level.  This should actually be the number 1 reason to attend church regularly. 

You can read her entire article by clicking here.

I have always been a regular church attender.  As a young mother, I remember a funny incident involving my oldest son who was about 7 years old at the time and wanted to stay home from church one Sunday morning.  He wriggled on the floor over to my side of the bed, moaning and groaning, and told me that he was having such a severe stomach ache that he couldn’t attend church.  I could instinctively tell that this was not true.   I firmly told him that God expected us to be in church every Sunday and would not accept that excuse.  Of course, he complained for a short while.  I made him breakfast, which he ate, and within minutes, he was up and about playing with his toys and then getting dressed to go to church.  He never made an excuse again.   I often wonder what would have happened if I had accepted his excuse.  What would have been the excuse he made up for the next Sunday and the Sunday after that?

This coming Sunday, make a vow to attend church regularly as a family.  The benefits will never end.

How to Choose a Bible for Your Children

Do you have a Bible for your children?  Many parents buy story books for their children with stories out of the Bible because they do not believe that their children will be able to understand the Bible.  I continue to encourage parents to buy an actual Bible for their children so that they can begin to read God’s Word for themselves.

In the online article Choosing a Child’s Bible, writer T. Capps provides some excellent guidance in selecting the right Bible for your children.  Important considerations are:

1. Make sure that you purchase a Bible that is the right reading level for your child.

2. Buy a Bible that is the complete Bible, and not just one part.  That way, your children learn from young about the Old and New Testaments.

3.  If the Bible has pictures, ensure that they are accurate and not cartoon characters or scary.  The Bible is not a cartoon book, and children should not think of it as such.

4. Purchase a Bible that has maps and other information to help your children learn more about the time periods.  Maps, timelines, etc., offer assistance to children and make the Bible more understandable.

5. Make sure that the Bible is durable and further consider a cover for it so that it can last many years.

The author makes many more helpful suggestions.  Spend time considering what Bible to purchase as it will be a prized possession for your children for many years. To read the entire article, click here.

All Christians Should Join in Celebrating Black History Month

February has been designated Black History Month.  No matter what race or national origin you and your family are, there is so much that we can learn about ourselves and our nation by studying and celebrating African American history.

An online editorial by crosswalk.com editors entitled “The Importance of Black History Month to Christians” is worthy of reading to understand why Christians should participate.  The editors quote writer David Mathis, who acknowledges being a white American who grew up as an unsympathetic youth to the struggles of African Americans, but has changed:

“Such is not the spirit of Christ, nor is it walking by his Spirit to suspect the worst of non-blacks who rush to join the annual celebration. Nor is it Christian — not in this nation or any other place on the planet — to keep silent with our children about the realities of ethnicity in view of Christ. If we don’t cast a positive vision for our children about the glories of God-designed ethnic diversity, we leave their inherent ethnocentrism to swell and take root.”

“Black History Month isn’t simply about ethnic diversity in general, but remembering the horrors of our shared history and celebrating the progress that has been made, in God’s common kindness, and specifically the many successes of black Americans despite such a history. Christians honor this month, at least in part, because it helps us understand the awful plight of a people made in God’s image, many of them fellow believers, and acknowledges God’s goodness at work in remarkable achievements…in and through a people who often have been treated with utter wickedness.”

Plan to read to your children or have your children read at least one book about a famous African American.  Here are a few Christian African Americans to consider, many of whom you have probably never heard of before:

1.  Bishop Richard Allen – said to be the “Father of the Black Church”;

2.  Bishop William Seymour – started the fiery Christian teachings in California in the early 20th Century that ultimately led to what is known as the Azusa Street Revival and the beginning of the charismatic movement;

3. Thomas Dorsey – musician and composer who helped develop Gospel music;

4.  Mordecai Johnson – educator and pastor who became the first African American president of Howard University; and

5. Rosa Parks – a devout Christian who relied on her faith to refuse to give up her bus seat because of the color of her skin.

You can read the entire editorial by CLICKING HERE.

How Can Christian Parents Build Self-Esteem in Their Children?

Although my quote for today’s blog is not from the Bible, I believe it to be nonetheless very appropriate about self-esteem.  Just what is self-esteem? Essentially, it is the way a child thinks of himself/herself.  As Christian parents, what can we do to build self-esteem in our children?  We, of course, do not want them to grow up to be conceited and self-absorbed but there is a balance between healthy self-esteem and an inflated ego that we should understand.

First, we need to know and fully appreciate how God sees us and there are a number of Bible verses that show us that God sees us as very special. For example, Genesis 1:27 says that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him”.  Psalm 139:14 says “(f)or You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  In Ephesians 2:10, we are described as “God’s masterpiece”. Since He created us as such valuable, superior beings, we should see ourselves that way.

Second, it is important to make clear to our children that they should not rely on anyone’s praise from day to day to have self-esteem.  We, as parents, may praise our children some days, but not on other days.  Also, other people may not praise them, but in fact, may say negative things to them.  Their self-esteem and confidence should derive from God, who is always consistent and loving, and not from humans.  Help your children learn and memorize Bible verses that mention how special they are.  It is the Word of God that will serve as the foundation of their confidence.

Third, each child has different strengths.  Focus on building those strengths.  Remind them that all their gifts and strengths come from God. James 1:17 (“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights”).

 

Raising Thankful Children

I came across this quote and was taken aback by how simple yet forthright and impactful it was.  Saying “thank you” is such an important part of our relationship with God, our Father, yet how often do we truly do it during our busy days?  How are we teaching our children to be thankful for all that He has given us?  1 Thessalonians 5:18 states “Give thanks in every circumstance for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It’s the day after Christmas and I’m certain that we all had a lot of gifts to open and indulge in as well as scrumptious meals to enjoy.  We should be thankful for all that He has given us, not just for these physical, worldly gifts, but most importantly, for the intangible ones - our lives, our health, our family, etc., etc.  I could go on and on naming what we can be thankful for each and every second of each and every day.  

Whether we like it or not, we are role models for our children.  If we are not verbally expressing our thanks and showing thankfulness through our actions, the likelihood is that our children will not either.  To raise thankful children, we must first be thankful as parents.  Try expressing thanks out loud each day as part of the family routine, such as when you are driving them to school.  Make it fun and playful.  Point out how they can thank each other for simple acts of kindness.  As a parent, you can thank your children for things that they do, and they should be thanking you as well.  Nurture a thankful spirit within your children and they will be kinder and more loving to you and others. 

When Planning What Gifts to Buy Your Children This Christmas, Remember This: Your Presence is More Important

As parents, we often spend much of our time planning what presents to buy our children, particularly as Christmas approaches.  Another video game? Another DVD? Music lessons?  Dance lessons?  The newest fad watch?  The list can be endless.  For this holiday season, stop and think about the fact that your children would much rather have time with you than with a gift.

Consider instead planning an activity that will become a family tradition.  Your children will have life long memories of all the fun they had with the family rather than the gift.  Such family traditions can include having the entire extended family over for a meal; or volunteering time together to help the less fortunate; or attending church together.

What about planning a family trip together?  You can select a different location each year.  One Christmas, my sisters and I planned a family trip to a popular theme park.  We rented a large home and our parents and all our siblings and their spouses and children came.  We had such a wonderful time and made enduring memories.  

Also be sure to include some relaxed time.  What about simply going outside and looking at the stars?  Or trying a new recipe for a special desert? Or playing fun games with them?  When was the last time that you were the horse and they rode on your back?

Spending time with your children requires planning.  But, these plans will be the most important and life changing plans you can make. 

 

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

As Halloween approaches, before making plans to participate in its activities, I ask Christian parents to research and read about this so-called “holiday”.  One of my children’s books discusses the true origins of Halloween - It’s Not About You Mr. Pumpkin - A Love Letter About the True Meaning of Halloween.

Many Christians do not know where Halloween started or what it involves.  Some think that it is just harmless fun for children, such as dressing them up in costumes and knocking on doors asking for candy.  I believe that it is very important for parents to understand the pagan origins of Halloween and the rituals that were and still are involved.  Shockingly, next to Christmas, it generates the most amount of money for retailers.

In preparing to write my book, I did a significant amount of research.  The celebration was started by people known as the Celtics who lived in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. Their priests were known as Druids, who used evil spirts to do dastardly deeds.  They believed that on October 31, the lord of the dead Samhain, would call out from the dead for all the evil spirits to go back and visit the homes where they used to live or the homes of their living relatives.  These evil spirits began “haunting” homes.   People living in these homes would put out food to stop these spirits from coming in and also put up scarecrows to scare them away.

Over the years, decorations became scarier and uglier.  The focus centered on death, witches, wizards, ghost and all things evil and scary. Soon, the aim was to get children involved.  Why not make it appear fun and playful – then children would be eager to participate?   Since children love to eat candy, offering the evil spirits food turned into offering children candy.

There are many alternatives in which your children can participate – especially those activities sponsored by churches.  Usually these festivals involve fun activities that do not involve any of the Halloween aspects.

You can read more about my book and order it by CLICKING HERE.

Pray for Your Children's Teachers

As the new school year flows into its second month, consider teaching your children to pray for their teachers.  Before doing so, be sure to read Shane Pruitt’s August 10, 2016 online article 10 Ways to Pray for Your Child’s Teacher This School Year.  Here are some of his suggestions:

  1. Pray for peace in the classroom.  With so many different children with all kinds of personalities and so many demands placed on the teacher, the spirit of peace should reign. 
  2. Pray for wisdom on how and what to teach and also what the teacher should say to each student.  
  3. Pray for patience, strength and understanding to guide the children along the proper paths.
  4. Pray for unity – unity within the classroom, unity in the relationship between parents and the teacher, unity among the teachers, and unity within the school and its administration.
  5. Pray for the teacher’s spiritual, physical and emotional endurance.  Your children need and deserve teachers who are stable and grounded and will last through the entire school year.
  6. Pray for the teacher’s personal life.  Oftentimes, we don’t think about a teacher’s life outside the classroom.  Pray for the teacher’s home life – marriage and children, etc.  Pray that the teacher has interesting hobbies that he/she can enjoy and relax with and then return to the classroom refreshed.

This year, instead of complaining about teachers, pray for them.  “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV)  You can read the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

Inspirational Back to School Quotes for Your Children – Build Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

For the month of September, I have been centering my blog posts on inspirational, back to school quotes for your children.  In this last blog for the month, I would like to focus on teaching your children to trust God.

Trusting God first starts with children understanding and accepting the critical truth that He loves them unconditionally.  Unlike a parent whose love may be denied based on the child’s actions, God always loves us because He is love.  Since He loves us so very much, we know that we can trust Him in everything.

On her webpage, Rachel Wojo writes about many ways to teach trust to children.  She suggests taking your children to a planetarium, for example, to help them understand how big our God is and how His ways are greater than our ways.  She also has a list of Bible verses to read with your children to help them build trust.  She further suggests spending quality time praying with your children, and when their prayers are answered, remind them of all that God has done for them.  To learn more, visit her webpage by clicking here.