When Serving Others Scares Us

When Serving Others Scares Us - Parenting Like HannahThere is no doubt about it. Even a casual glance through the Bible tells us God expects us to serve others and share our faith. It is even more obvious from reading about the lives of Jesus and the Apostles, sometimes the cost for doing those things is high and even fatal. As I am not a fan of danger, I am always interested to read about people whose service and faith sharing has put them in situations that would terrify me.

Kent Brantly is a name that was in the news for quite awhile last year. You may recall, he was one of the ebola patients who was an American citizen serving others in Liberia and contracted the Ebola virus. Kent and his wife Amber have written a book about their experience, Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic.

The book tells the story from how they met, through how they ended up serving God in Liberia to the Ebola experience. The narrative ping-pongs smoothly between Kent’s and Amber’s retelling of their personal feelings and recollections of the events. By the end of the book, you feel as if you know them well without feeling as if you have eavesdropped on personal conversations.

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Do Your Kids Know What They Believe?

Do Your Kids Know What They Believe - Parenting Like HannahStrange question right? Your kids have minds of their own and have been making their own choices for some time now. If someone asked them to explain what they believe about God though, what would they say? Do they understand why God wants people to be baptized to become Christians? Do they know what God considers sinful? Are they aware of the positive things God wants them doing in their lives? Could they share their faith in even simple terms?

If you haven’t had this conversation with your children, it’s a good idea to do so. Probably not all at once or you will begin to sound like a detective grilling them. Over time though, it’s a good idea to discuss the basic tenets of Christianity found in the Bible with your children. You may be surprised what you discover.

Some things your children may have heard so many times, they can even quote verses to back up their beliefs. You may find though, that some of their beliefs have gotten a little mixed up because of their young age and maturity when they were originally taught them. Other beliefs may be way off base as your children picked up ideas from the world and mixed them in with the Bible with the result that worldly theology has become biblical in their minds.

As you begin having these discussions with your kids, their are a few important things to keep in mind:

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Summer Reading for Empathy Development

Summer Reading for Empathy Development - Parenting Like HannahIn Kids, Prejudice and God. I shared some ideas of things you can do to help your children love people the way God would want them to do – without prejudice. Although the best way to eliminate prejudice is for your children to seek to know those who are different and spending the time to find things in common. it’s not always possible.

At times, your children will have to learn about others through books. There are some people your children may not encounter until they are much older. Perhaps your family will be spending time in a culture very different from your own. Or maybe your child was exposed to someone who seemed very different and the situation didn’t allow enough time for your child to really get to know the other person. Books can help.

Don’t believe me? Remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank? Even though nothing in that book was familiar to me when I read it, I could identify with the feelings Anne was having as she wrote in her diary. That empathy can help your children be more willing to talk to similar people when they meet them later in life.

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Kids, Prejudice and God

Kids, Prejudice and God - Parenting Like HannahWhat have you taught your kids about prejudice? Maybe you read them James 2:1-4. Perhaps you have told them all people are equal in the eyes of God. If you are really intentional, you may have had discussions about how they are to treat everyone with love – no matter who they are.

If you asked your kids how they would react if they came across people treating someone with prejudice, they would probably tell you all of the absolutely correct things they would do. Studies have shown though, when placed in a real life situation, hardly anyone reacts in the godly ways they claim they would. Most sit quietly by without saying or doing anything.

There are some concrete things you can do with your kids to improve the chances your children will treat everyone equally. You can raise kids who are the few who actually do what they think they will do when around others treating those who are different from them poorly. Your children can learn to serve and share their faith with others with the same godly empathy and love Jesus modeled for us.

There are a lot of things you can do to help your children treat everyone the way God expects from us. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Teaching Kids How To “Read” People

Teaching Kids How To "Read" People - Parenting Like HannahThis probably never happens in your home, but have you ever had one of those parent miming conversations? You know, when one parent is taking a very strong conversational path with the kids while the other parent is desperately signaling to switch topics immediately. Which, as the signals are ignored, get more obvious and often end with the signaling parent muttering “don’t you know ‘this’ means stop talking?”

Your, I mean the “clueless” spouse had failed to read the signals properly, creating an awkward parenting situation. While your marriage and your kids will survive quite a few of those moments, there are other times when it is crucial our kids have learned to “read” the non-verbal signals others give them.

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