Prayer Piñatas: Involving the Children in Your Congregation

Prayer Pinatas: Involving the Children in Your Congregation - Parenting Like HannahYesterday was a special day in our congregation. Twice a year we have a special Mission Sunday, when the entire offering for the day is given to various mission efforts. Each time, we focus on a particular mission field our congregation supports. Normally, we have someone speak who is involved in the efforts at that location and take up the special collection.

This time, the focus was on an orphanage in Mexico our congregation had helped start several years ago. This was the tenth anniversary of the first child arriving at the home. We decided this time we would add a chance to celebrate and involve our own children in Missions Sunday.

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How Dads Can Parent Like Hannah (Sort of)

How Dads Can Parent Like Hannah (Sort Of) - Parenting Like Hannah
Photo by Dinuraj K

When anyone teaches the story of Hannah, they tend to focus on the interaction between Hannah, Eli and God. After a discussion of Hannah’s fervent prayer, the teacher will usually fast forward to a few years later when Hannah fulfills her promise to God and leaves little Samuel with Eli. Hannah’s actions have a lot to teach us, but we are missing out on someone else who is just as pivotal in this story in his own way – Elkanah.

Elkanah was Samuel’s father and Hannah’s husband. The scripture actually tells us more about the kind of man Elkanah was than we think. You see Hannah was able to “parent like Hannah” because Elkanah was the husband and father Hannah and Samuel needed him to be. So what can Elkanah teach fathers who want to dedicate their children to God?

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Tips for Teaching Children Empathy

Tips for Teaching Children Empathy - Parenting Like Hannah
Photo by sbhland
When Jesus told the people to love others as they loved themselves, I imagine most of them thought, “That one is easy”. On the surface, I would imagine most of us think of ourselves as being kind and helpful the majority of the time. Jesus was really asking us to go beyond that though. I think when you put this command with others in the Bible about caring for our neighbors, widows, orphans, the poor, our brothers and sisters in Christ and a host of others, there is a deeper message.

A large part of caring for others is the ability to be empathetic. It is entirely too easy to accidentally become like the other people in the story of the “Good Samaritan.” How many times have we walked by someone who is sad, either assuming someone else would take care of it or not even really seeing the person or her pain? We need to train ourselves and our children to see the hurting people around us, identify how they are hurting and then help them in the best possible ways. I believe developing a strong sense of empathy can make us more like the loving Christians Jesus was really calling us to be.

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Faith, Logic, and Kids

Faith, Logic, and Kids - Parenting Like Hannah
Photo by Pranav

Most Christians will tell you faith is a huge part of living a Christian life. The Bible has chapter after chapter that discusses faith – what it is and its importance to the believer. The problem in our modern world is that the skeptics our children will encounter dismiss faith and demand only “logical” responses to their challenges.

How can parents encourage the faith that is “sure of what is hoped for and certain of what we do not see” in our children? (Hebrews 11:1) Is there a way to use logic without compromising faith? How can we prepare our children to have faith when surrounded by skeptics in the media, in their classrooms and  in the world around them?

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Parenting From the Gut

Parenting from the Gut - Parenting Like Hannah
Photo by Beverly and Pack

For years I have heard over and over again about trusting your gut. My first advisor of the gut theory was a successful magazine publisher. On the train back from a sales trip, he regaled me with business stories from his youth. He counseled; that when I had a tough decision to make, I should trust my gut.

After my daughter was born, I got lots of advice about natural instincts and trusting my gut when parenting. I started believing it myself. I had a couple of times when I disagreed with my pediatrician. The good girl in me followed his advice, only to find out my “gut” was a better doctor.

As the years have passed though, I have noticed something. The “trust your gut” saying has become so common that it is becoming an excuse for poor parenting decisions. Suddenly Johnny isn’t disciplined, because it just “felt right” to let him run wild. Children aren’t fed healthy meals because “my gut” just told me they would eat what they needed.

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