Christian Parenting Challenges Week 3

We hope you are finding having a printable post with the previous week’s Christian parenting challenges makes it easier for you to do some of the challenges (or share them with others!). Here are the challenges from this week.

Monday: In this town, the children are responsible for answering the bell to raise the bridge when a boat needs to come through the canal. It’s a huge responsibility, but helps them grow and mature. It also gives them a sense of connection to their community and a sense of purpose. Your kids need roles that allow them to serve others. Roles that require them to be consistent, dependable and at times make sacrifices – putting the needs of others before their own desires. Give them or help them find their own ongoing responsibilities for serving others.

Tuesday: Cheese has an aging process. The maker does his job, but it’s not until the cheese has aged for a time that he knows whether his efforts were truly successful. Christian parenting can be like that. It may seem like you are working with your kids on the same things over and over with few results. That work you are putting in now may very well show results days, weeks, months, even years from now as your kids mature. Keep doing what you know God wants you to do to parent your kids towards Him. Don’t give up! The results may just amaze you!

Wednesday: In flowers you can see hints of what may be to come, but you don’t see the full realization until the bloom is fully open. The rest is just potential. Each of your kids has God given potential to learn about God, discover, develop and use their gifts to serve Him and grow to be the person He created them to be. Gift discovery is a huge part of Christian parenting. Unfortunately, most Christian parents aren’t aware of its importance in building a strong faith foundation and helping their kids grow to their godly potential. We have lots of blog posts on our website and you can search for them by typing in gifts, talents and service. Help your kids reach that gorgeous potential God gave them!

Thursday: Are there sibling wars in your house? We have a free parent tip sheet to help you actively teach your kids how to resolve conflict in godly ways. Contrary to popular belief, kids don’t usually “figure it out on their own.” Teaching your kids how to resolve conflict in godly ways can not only end sibling wars, but have a positive impact on all of their future relationships, too. http://www.teachonereachone.org/…/TORO%20Tips%20for%20Kids-…

Friday: Your Church may not be as historic as this one where John Adams and his family worshipped, but it is your family’s church home. Unfortunately, after several months of online, virtual or Zoom church, your children may be confused about the importance of in person, “real” worship and fellowship when it’s safe again. It’s important to have regular conversations about the benefits of worshipping in person with other Christians. Your children will learn and grow the most spiritually in a real versus virtual church environment. It’s important they understand why, or this generation may walk away from in person fellowship entirely. (Note: We are not advocating worshipping together in person until health officials believe it is safe to once again fellowship in large groups indoors. The vaccine will Lord willing be here soon and allow us to resume normal worship practices.)

Great Summer Reads For Christian Kids and Teens

Summer often brings reading lists for kids and teens. This summer you kids may have more time for reading than usual. Why not give them some books that can help them grow spiritually, dream godly dreams or develop empathy for others?

The list below is not complete and not all are technically “Christian” books. They are all, however, books that will get your children thinking. Take advantage of the summer slow times and ask them to share with you some of the things from these books they particularly liked and others with which they are not sure they agree.

Not all of these books are appropriate for every child and many of these should only be read by teens. Please do your own research before giving your child a book to read. Older children and teens can find series like Christy Miller, which will satisfy their desire to read some quality fiction books.

Many of the books today have hidden agendas for promoting ungodly thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. Some of these your children will be forced to read in the process of their education. Providing books that encourage godly thinking and empathy can help counter some of these influences. (Of course, the Bible will always be the best counterculture tool you can ever give your child.)

Have fun reading this summer – some of these books I have enjoyed as much as our daughter did – you may want to read the same books yourself. If you find other great books for Christian kids, be sure and let me know. I would love to share them with other readers.

Gardening, Kids and God

Gardening is a great way to teach kids many of the lessons God wants them to learn. In fact, Jesus taught several parables that involved growing things and taking care of vineyards and fields.

You can use those same parables and a few easy to find items to teach your kids about God. Gardening can also teach your kids about growth, God’s creation, patience, sin, love, nurturing, service and more.

The problem is that in today’s world, gardening is often too big of a commitment for many people. The idea of plowing, planting, weeding and processing a large plot of land seems overwhelming. Or perhaps your finances won’t cover the expenses of a large garden.

The great news is that you can plant incredibly small gardens – even in major urban areas – and teach your kids lessons. You can even use things you have on hand and the kitchen scraps you toss in the trash. We have found some great gardening resources so you can garden with your kids and teach them about God as you work.

  • Container gardening. Container gardening allows you to grow a few plants in almost any type of container. I had trouble getting extra pots earlier this spring so I am using a couple of beach sand pails to grow garlic and cucumbers. Just make sure the containers you use aren’t metal as they will become too hot later this summer. Here’s a link for more specifics on container gardening
  • Gardening with kitchen scraps. Did you know much of what we throw away when cooking can be planted to grow more food for free? I’m currently growing bulbs of garlic from small segments of one bulb. Not everything works because of hybrids in our food chain, but this list will get you started.
  • Gardening inside. If you live in a ninth floor apartment, you may think it’s impossible to grow food. Surprisingly, there are quite a few foods you can grow if you have a sunny window or can invest in lighting. This list can get you started.
  • Hydroponic gardening. If you want to try something really different, consider hydroponic gardening. This particular website has lots of different designs, from simple to elaborate. (Note: This would perhaps tie in well to discussions of Bible stories involving water.)
  • Aquaponic gardening. If you want to really get creative, grow food and introduce Bible stories about fish, aquaponic gardening might be for you. Fair warning, this type of gardening appears rather intense, but would definitely be memorable. This article can give you the basics if you are interested.

So grab some supplies, a Bible and your kids and start growing things. It’s a great summer activity that will also help teach your kids about God.

Christian Parenting Challenges Week 2

Each week day we post Christian parenting challenges on social media. We want you to have a printable copy so you can remember them or use them any time you wish. Here are the challenges from this week.

Monday: Wearing a mask is a good opportunity to teach your kids about what the Bible has to say about obeying governmental authorities (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2 etc.) and loving others as we love ourselves, putting others needs before our own and more. It’s faith and love in action.

Tuesday: This wind mill has lots of moving parts. If one of them is broken, it must be fixed for the windmill to create the paper it was built to make. Christian parenting is similar. If your kids aren’t growing spiritually, some part of the process that was meant to help them grow has broken down. It could be their own heart issue or something they need from you to start moving towards God again. If you don’t take the time to analyze what’s causing the problem and fix it, your child will continue to move farther and farther away from God. Problems are usually easier to fix when they start, not after years of worsening. Don’t procrastinate!

Wednesday: Life is full of interesting things. And things that practically scream for our attention. It’s easy to get distracted from doing the Christian parenting things God wants you to be doing. Sometimes – like with an illness – it’s unavoidable. One thing I think the pandemic has taught many of us is that most of our distractions we have actively chosen to allow them to distract us. When they are removed, we often still neglect the things we need to be doing. Don’t excuse your way out of parenting your kids towards God. Be intentional. Make good choices. It’s worth it!

Thursday: When I was young, I was fascinated with Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. It was fun to see her perform recently. Of course, we didn’t have the access to all of the information about the celebrities your kids do. Which makes being a fan a bit more spiritually dangerous for kids. I could only copy Mary Poppins or Maria in the Sound of Music as I knew next to nothing about the real Julie Andrews. Your kids can copy everything about their favorite celebrity from clothes to makeup to fowl language, illicit drug use and more (depending upon the celebrity of course). Even if they choose a Christian artist or a minister, those people can still make poor choices or sin. Teach your kids it’s fine to admire people, but they should focus their efforts on being like Jesus.

Friday: Most of these adults in Holland are already drunk at 10 a.m. They may look like they are having fun, they may have even convinced themselves they are having fun. Talking with locals revealed the daily heavy drinking is actually connected to the unhappiness they feel living their lives with no meaning and no sense of purpose. Kids and teens may only see the perception and not the reality in unhealthy and sinful coping strategies. Teach them godly ways to cope when they are lonely, sad or angry. Teach them the consequences of using poor coping strategies. Help them find their place in God’s Kingdom, so they will be connected and have a sense of purpose and belonging. Actively teach and model living the lives God wants His people to live….and make sure they see Christians can obey God and have a rich, full, joyful life.

Tiny Habits for Christian Parents

Do you want to do all of those Christian parenting things you know you should be doing, but struggle with consistency? Perhaps you do well for a couple of weeks, then something happens and you never seem to be able to keep up those great new habits.

The key word there is habit. Although Christianity is ultimately about our hearts, many of the things we need to do to keep our faith strong and Christian parent well are actually habits. We need to do them every day or several times a day to accomplish our spiritual goals.

If you’ve ever tried to break a bad habit or start a new one, you know how difficult it can be. Most of the time the very thought of trying to establish a new habit is enough to exhaust us. I don’t go to the gym because changing clothes, driving several miles, finding a class I like….all of it just feels too overwhelming.

There’s a great book called Tiny Habits by B. J. Fogg. I highly recommend reading it, if you can find the time. It’s not a Christian book, but a lot of the information can be easily adapted to be used in trying to live a Christian life.

There are a couple of key points for establishing new habits I want to share with you. It’s only a small fraction of all of the great material in the book, but you may find these three tips change everything for you.

Let’s say you want to have a family devotional time every day. You’ve started and stopped so many times, it feels like you will never be consistent. Here are three things you can do that may help you finally have those daily devotionals consistently.

  • Pick the best time. Find a time in your schedule as it is right now when you can easily and consistently fit a 20 minute family devotional. Make sure you consider possible roadblocks that could occur in that time slot, like a family member with other commitments. Let’s say your family always has dinner together. Can you work in the devotional immediately following your meal? Or could you have it while you are eating? Don’t try at this point to swap the devotional for another activity currently in that time slot, like watching a favorite tv show. You will be less likely to follow through if one of you feels they are giving up something for the new habit.
  • Make the new habit really tiny. This was the part that changed everything for me. Our new habits are always grandiose. We want a 20 minute family devotional that meets the spiritual needs of your kids, is engaging, and of course has some complex activity to make the point of the scripture reading memorable. It’s easy to fail the first time something goes wrong and give up. Instead, aim for reading a verse of scripture and having a very short prayer of blessing over your kids. Two minutes tops. If you want to do more, great! On those inevitable bad days, just read one verse of scripture and pray over your kids. Choose a book like Proverbs or a Gospel to start to make it easier to quickly find a great verse to read. (If you choose Proverbs, just read one verse from the chapter corresponding to that day’s date – January 15 – read one verse from Proverbs chapter 15. Or read the verse of the day in the Bible app.) A “victory” is that one verse and blessing prayer. Pat yourselves on the back and cheer every day you do it. On those days when you have a full devotional and activity…you’ve won the Super Bowl! On those crazy, bad days, you’ve still met your goal even if your family only read one verse of scripture together. The goal is consistency, not the amount of time or amount of scripture covered.
  • Create daily reminders you can’t miss. Set the alarm on everyone’s phone to go off at the chosen time. Have the Bible already out and open at the place you have chosen to have the devotional. Make signs that say “Devotional today at (time and place)” and hang them around your house where everyone will see them. Part of starting a new habit is remembering to actually do it! With lots of reminders, you will have less nights when you remember the devotional after everyone is in bed.

I encourage you to read the book to get more ideas, but start with these now. See if you can use them to ingrain those Christian parenting habits you need.