Use Your Words. . . Tiny Tot Tuesday

love

“Use your words.”

This is a phrase I often hear moms use with their children. As young children learn to speak, it’s often hard for them to find the right words from their limited vocabulary, and so they can easily get frustrated. With frustration, comes whining, crying and yes, even sometimes the occasional temper tantrum–from both child and parent! Learning to use our words helps communicate our thoughts and our heart, and although some might say love needs to be shown rather than said, I suppose I’ve always been a believer that it’s a combination of both.

Since it’s February and almost Valentine’s Day I’ve been thinking about love. When it comes to teaching our children about love, I mean really teaching them about love, using our words can be a huge asset.

This month in our children’s department at church we are teaching our children I Corinthians 13:4-8 which says,

“Love is patient; love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast.
It is not proud. It isn’t rude.
It’s not self seeking. It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
Love never fails.”

Using this Scripture as a model, we can begin to use our words to teach our children about love.

For example:
1) You are going to the grocery store. You know there is a great probability that you will have to wait in line to check out and they/you will begin to get impatient, angry, you may want to say something that is just a little rude or you may find yourself a little jealous of the line next to you that is going a little faster.

You can begin to use your words before you ever enter the store, and so you can say, “Before we go into the store, let’s choose to show love. We are going to be patient if our line is slow. Let’s think of something kind we can say to the worker, because love is kind.”

2) Starting to get angry? (Not at me, at our imaginary trip to the store!) You can simply say, “Let’s look around what do we have to be thankful for. We don’t want to start getting angry, because love is not easily angered.” Then refocus that energy by counting candy bars or playing thumb wars or saying a little prayer for the people around you and yourselves.

3) When your child tells the truth about something–and not just when they have been in trouble–Rejoice!! Tell them you are rejoicing. Tell them why you are rejoicing. Because love rejoices with the truth, and truth is good and you want to honor that.

4) Your children are bickering (yes it will still happen) and tattling about current or past offenses. Have your child make a list of positive things about the person they are upset with to replace their “record of wrongs” list. Use your words to remind them that “love does not keep a record of wrongs.”

I’m sure you get the idea. There are so many ways that we can speak love into our children’s lives as it relates to how they treat others. Sometimes it just comes down to staying intentional and remembering to make the most of those teaching able moments.

Because aren’t you thankful that God is patient with us? I am so thankful that He is not easily angered and keeps no record of our wrongs. He is not a God who delights in evil, but rather He rejoices with the truth, and He protects us, is kind to us and He will endure beyond forever.

These are great words to use with our tiny tots.

Disclaimer–I was going to share some fun Valentine craft for you to do with your children, but decided to “use my words” instead. For great Valentine craft ideas, feel welcome to kindly check out Pinterest! I’m sure you’ll find something you love!

Why I Will No Longer Accept Your Child’s Facebook Friend Request–Mama Mia Monday

like-us-on-facebook

Got another one–

Last week I received another facebook friend request from a child I know, and I just can’t click confirm.

I will admit I have accepted requests in the past. I talked with some friends about it, read some articles and finally relented with the belief that since their parents were allowing it, it was still a chance for me to connect with them and even to keep up with what’s going on in their lives.

But I was wrong.

Because in doing so, I affirmed to them that it’s okay to lie, that it’s okay to lie with your parents’ permission, and that I, as their children’s ministry leader, think a little lying must be okay.

Yet, that’s not what I believe at all.

I’ve been a part in putting them in danger of identity theft, bullying (from either side), child predators, negative self image (both physical and mental) and entrance to an adult world they weren’t meant to join until they were, well, adults.

Yet, I could never imagine doing that intentionally.

Children are not yet capable of fully understanding the consequences to some of their actions or the concept of marketing. Facebook is designed to target those who sign up for it. So when a child registers with a false age beyond their years, they are now targeted with ads for someone “beyond their years.” This includes sites about drinking, gambling, meeting singles and more.

In the United States it is illegal to collect information on people under the age of thirteen–one of the reasons facebook doesn’t allow children under the age of thirteen to have an account. I find it ironic how often we get upset when the government lies or acts unethically, yet now we are enabling that process. In fact, we have become the very thing we say we abhor.

And why?

I’m not sure. Some of the reasons I hear are so that our children can have friends, have fun or be like everyone else. Some parents have admitted they just didn’t want to tell their children, “No.” They didn’t want the fight. Others have said they felt like the lie wasn’t really a big thing because they are monitoring what their kids are doing on their pages.

We, as the adults in their lives, are supposed to help our kids navigate the waters of character and integrity. We are supposed to model for them virtues like truth, honesty, patience and self control. These underage users–Wow! That’s a startling term considering the addictive nature of social media– aren’t quite yet capable to understand the whole “when it’s okay to lie and when it’s not okay to lie” thing isn’t really supposed to be a thing. Apparently we, as adults, aren’t either.

Mama Mia!

**In 2011, ABC news reported that it was estimated that almost 7.5 million facebook accounts were used by underage children who were using facebook with their parents’ permission. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/underage-facebook-members-75-million-users-age-13/story?id=13565619

The Lesson from Little Debbie–Taste and See Sunday

little debbie cakes

Oh Little Debbie! She and her little cakes and treats are so tantalizing, so tempting, so creamy, chocolatey, and chewy. But alas, they aren’t necessarily the best food choice I could ever make.

Although they look good, they taste good and the price is right, they still aren’t necessarily a great nutritional choice. But do I let that stop me from picking up a box from time to time? No, of course, not. Because, well, because a girl needs some chocolate every now and then, right? And did I let that stop me from buying them for our preschool snack this week? No, of course not, because those little brownie hearts fit so well with our theme!

As I placed the boxes of brownies in our classrooms, the Holy Spirit reminded me of some truths about our hearts.

We tend to say, “Trust your heart.”

The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart.”

proverbs 3 5 6 copy

We say, “Don’t be afraid to give your heart away.”

Yet Scripture says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

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And we say, “Follow your heart wherever it leads.”

But God says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

heart is deceitful

There are battles that wage within my heart. They may wage in yours as well. Battles between my flesh and my Spirit. Battles in which the enemy speaks to me in words that sound sweet, sound right, sound justified, yet are not. It’s in these battles that my flesh cries out above my Spirit, and unless I take the utmost care to stifle the cry of the flesh, I will follow my heart to places it has no business going. Sometimes that is just to a box of chocolatey fudgy brownies, but other times it is to jealousy, unforgiveness, criticism, laziness, or more

In these times of battle, I am learning to not only take Scripture to heart, but to take it to my heart, so that in all of my days my heart will bring honor to the One I gave it to. In these times of battle, I gain greater glimpses of my love for Him, and His for me.

Taste and See . . . the Lord is good!

Ten Signs You You Need to Slow Down to Parent–Dadderdays

ten-things
One of my all time favorite movies is Spielberg’s Hook starring Robin Williams. In this classic film, Williams portrays Peter Panning, the grown up Peter Pan. Although Peter started out with a healthy motivation to work to provide for Wendy and the kids, he became overly entrenched in the grown up world. So much so that Wendy has to warn him, “You’re missing it, Peter, you’re missing it.”

Ever feel like you are missing it? You might be. Here are few warning signs that you might need to slow down to get your parenting adventures back on track.

1. You are reading this blog post or your wife is reading it to you.
2. Work is your life. Hobbies are your life. TV is your life. Your kids’ events are your life.
3. You don’t have time to stop and evaluate what you’re doing, or you’ve stopped looking forward to the end goal in your parenting.
4. You are never home on the weekends.
5. McDonald’s is the place where everybody knows your name.
6. You are skipping church because you are worn out from work and your kids extra curriculars or sports.
7. You’re not really sure what the term “date night” means because it’s been so long since you had one.
8. You haven’t talked to your kids since, well, since. . . .hmmm, when did you last really talk to your kids?
9. You aren’t growing in your knowledge of God and His Word.
10. Love, Laughter and Kindness are not words your children would use to characterize you.

Remember…the time we have with our children in our homes is short. Our goal is never to be busy parents, but we do need to be busy parenting. We want to be effective in all we do.

As Christian parents, we are raising little “Christ followers.” In our home our main parenting goals were to help our kids know Christ, follow Christ and share Christ with the world. But there were times when we got way too busy to do that well, or to do it at all. Taking time to reevaluate where we are on the journey, and then making the necessary adjustments to get back on track is a great tool to keeping the end in mind.

When we do, great adventures await.

Bangarang!

Hook

(If you’ve never seen it or haven’t seen it in awhile, a “Hook” family movie night could be a really great idea for some quality time with the family!)

I Darius You–Freaky Friday

ezra

Whoah! Didn’t see that one coming!

More often than not, when I’m reading the Bible, things just sort of pop up that I don’t remember reading or I suppose I just never read before. Maybe I skipped over it, maybe my mind just took a little nap while my eyes continued reading on or maybe I’m justing gettng old and forgot.

Except every now and then you come across things that you kind of think, “Um, hey, I don’t think I would forget that.”

For example:

The book of Ezra.

It has its ups and downs. Life for God’s people as they return to Jerusalem is no easy task. As they work to rebuild the city, the wall and the temple, God is rebuilding their hearts.

Throughout the pages we can see unity, courage, obedience, and commitment. God’s people faced great opposition as well as great favor.

Recently I was reading about King Darius showing favor to God’s people. It started out pretty innocently. Darius was searching for proof that King Cyrus has indeed issued a decree to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.

seal for decree

It turns out that Cyrus did issue the decree and so Darius sends out his own royal memo instructing the building of the temple to continue with the cost being picked up by the royal treasury.

Awesome!

But there’s more!

The trouble makers are told to leave the Israelites alone and make sure they have everything they need daily–without fail–so that “they can offer sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the well being of the king and his sons.”

Nice! Darius obviously had a pretty good idea here who God was and what he is capable of.

But then, he adds these words to the end of the memo:

“Further more I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his house is to be a pile of rubble. May God, who has caused his Nme to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem.

I, Darius, have decreed it. Let it be carried out with diligence.”

Holy Cow! That’s pretty intense.

I guess not only did Darius have a good idea who God was and what He was capable of, he also had a pretty good idea who the people around him were, and what they were capapble of.

Honestly, I can’t say that I completely understand this whole thing. I’ve read that it was

Kids Answers–Thankful Thursday

kids answers magazine

It has been reported that more than one half a million people tuned into the Ken Ham-Bill Nye debate earlier this week. I was one of those, at least for most of the time. I’m not here to debate the debate, but rather to express my thanks to Mr. Ham for his grace in sharing the gospel, his strong conviction to the Word of God, and his ministry to children.

Ham and the team at Answers to Genesis continue to do a phenomenal job at providing resources and teaching that equip people with the truth of God’s Word and the evidence of His creation. Ham’s Kids Answers Magazine is a resource I had, quite honestly, forgotten about until after the debate. In looking back at the Answers in Genesis website, I came across the online version of the magazine. There is so much great stuff for kids here: videos, puzzles, weekly articles and a variety of activities, plus a special section just for parents.

Here’s the link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/ka

It’s simply a great resource for you and your kids–those in your home or your classroom.

Answers in Genesis also offers church curriculum, Vacation Bible School material and if you are planning a trip in your near future, be sure to consider The Creation Museum. It’s located just seven miles west of the Cincinnati Airport, and is within one day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population. When you buy your tickets they are good for two days making them a great buy. My pastor/boss/friend, his children and grandchildren spent time there last year and they are still talking about what a fabulous time they had.

So today I find myself thankful for a ministry who is willing to take the time and make the commitment to help see that kids have the answers to some of the most important questions they may ever ask, and for helping children see that God made them and loves them and that He is, indeed, the Lord of all Creation.

dinosaur

ark

http://creationmuseum.org/

How Do You Eat An Elephant?–Dadderdays

elephant

Before retirement, a friend of mine was a teacher and school administrator. When his students were faced with what seemed to them to be an overwhelming challenge, they would tell him that they couldn’t do it–it was impossible, and he would ask them this question, “How do you eat an elephant?”

Perplexed, they would give him the, “I have no idea,” look and after many wrong guesses, he would tell them, “One bite at a time.”

Today I was reminded of these words as I was listening to a Mark Driscoll podcast entitled, “Kiss the Feet,” where Driscoll explained that when he first became a Christian he asked a pastor what he should do now that he had made his decision. The pastor told him to go home and read the Bible–which Driscoll did. When he finished, he went back and asked what the pastor what he should do next.

The pastor told him to choose a book of the Bible and begin to study it. Read the book, read about the book, ask questions, and figure it out. Driscoll did just that. When he finished his first study, the pastor told him to keep doing that until he died. Good advice.

Reading and studying the Bible often seems to be a task equivalent to eating an elephant. I mean, really where do you start. I think my friend has the right idea–one bite at a time.

Bible study begins well, it begins with a beginning. Like any daunting task, you just have to start, and then you keep going.

Dads, if Bible reading and Bible study are a challenge for you, today I want to encourage you to rise to that challenge. The Word of God will change your life. It will change your family. It will change your children, and your children are looking for and are hungry for a dad who will lead them and guide them in the ways they should go.

dad and bible

It may not be easy for you at first, and you may have to admit that there is some stuff you don’t know. You may want to give up. But, please don’t. It will most likely lead you to places, decisions and experiences you never imagined, allowing you, your family and even those in your circle of influence to know God in new and deeper ways. As you seek out His Word and His heart, the chances that your children will grow up to do the same increase exponentially.

So take the challenge-one bite at a time, (or one book at a time), and have a great Dadderday today and in all your Dadderdays to come.