A Guide to Family Time

Bear and Bible

The minute I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I starting buying my arsenal of books.  Books on baby-raising, potty-training, child-training…the list goes on and on….and on.  Yes, I am one of those people.  The people who feel the need to be ultra-prepared for everything.  I mean, I sometimes even read up on the Revenue Office procedures.  Seriously.  So, parenting was no different.  And once that little guy got old enough to start formally teaching him God’s Word, well, that just meant more books to me!  So I searched, and I bought, and I read over and over again.  Some books suggested spending hours planning for your family time, cutting out little paper figures for every character in the story.  Others used ridiculous comparisons and illustrations.  Nothing that I ever found seemed to teach my child the things I wanted him to know.

It was only a couple of years ago (after several measly tries) that we began to find what works for our “Family Time”.  For us, simple is key.  We won’t do something if it’s not simple.  And what it boiled down to truly was incredibly simple.  We need to be together with a Bible, and that’s it.  In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God’s Word says,

 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

We can’t neglect the fact that our kids need to see us treasure God’s words.  They need to see us talk about it, ponder it, and internalize it.  They need to see us think about it.  They need to see God’s Word transforming us. They need to talk about it with us. These words from this Old Testament book still ring true today…I think even truer.  But, for those of us like me, teaching our kids about God can be daunting to do on your own.  So, I wanted to share a little bit of our journey to “Family Time”. ** I want to note here that I don’t have everything figured out…far from it.  (The appearance of having everything figured out is something I strongly dislike about blogging, so please don’t take anything I say as if I have a corner on this parenting thing…trust me-I don’t!) But we have been so blessed by our Family Time that it is my hope and my prayer that sharing about our successes…and failures…may encourage others to not be intimidated by it, but to embrace it as the blessing that it is.

1.  Gather your family together at the best time for you.  Some families get together at breakfast…not us!  We are not perky enough in the morning for a family time early enough to get Dad out the door to work on time.  We do ours in the evenings just before bed time.  Sometimes this requires shutting off the TV (like last night when the kiddos really wanted to watch American “Ninjan” Warrior as Hannah calls it), but it’s always worth it.  Others do their family time around the dinner table.  Whatever works-do it!

2.  Pick a passage.  This is the part I used to feel really intimidated about, but my sweet husband is so laid back, and one night, he looked at our oldest and said, “What do you want to read tonight?  Old Testament or New? What book?”  We’ve even done the flip the book open and point to a passage method.  It’s very technical!  🙂  Sometimes, like right now, we are reading through the book of John at our own pace, just one section at a time.  We’ve also had nights where we’ve chosen a Psalm or a few Proverbs.  Sometimes Tim or I will choose one of our favorite verses and read that.  (Yes, just one verse!)

3.  Talk about it.  Who’s speaking?  Who wrote the passage?  What do you think this passage means?  Sometimes, this takes some guidance, but it’s okay.  Talking is the key.  We’ve had nights where Tim and I start talking about the meaning of a verse and we finish the conversation and realize the kids didn’t say a word!  But that’s okay too…we are modeling what we want them to do!  Besides, I’m sure they learned a lot just from listening!  Also, if your kids are young, no matter what you read, their answer will be like Lydia (age 2) who says “God” or “Jesus” for every question we ask.  Or Hannah (age 4) who says, “Jesus died on the cross for our sins” for everything we ask her.  Those answers are great!  Accept them and realize that everything you talk about they are learning!  It just takes a while to gather in their mind before they can begin making sense of it.  It’ll happen!  Keep going!  As they get older, the rewards are so great!  Isaac is now 8, and I love having conversations about God with him.

4.  Pray.  We do the circle prayer at our house.  Usually we will ask the kids what they want to pray about.  If they are having trouble thinking of something, we might help them or suggest that they thank God.  They will each take their turn (after the girls argue over who prays first *sigh)  Then, usually Tim or I will close out our time with prayer.

5.  Keep going.  It is SO tempting to quit family time.  We just went through a two week spell where we had VBS and then we all got sick and family time went to the back burner.  I felt terrible.  But, the worst thing we can do is have a couple of bad weeks and let that discourage us enough to quit.  Life happens.  Kids get sick, there are late nights at church.  Give yourself grace and know that even on the days that you don’t get to formally have family time, you’re still showing your kids Christ through your actions and the words you spoke to them in the car and during that fight they were having with their sister, and when you needed to ask their forgiveness for snapping at them.  The worst thing to do would be to continue the pattern.  Have family time, even if you can only get together to study once a week.  That is GREAT!  Do it!  It’s SO worth it!  I promise!

6.  Keep going even if your kids don’t like it.  I’m adding on this point because I think it’s so important to know that if this is new for your bunch, it may not necessarily be accepted with excitement.  Keep in mind, you’ll probably be breaking already established routines, and that doesn’t go over too well (believe me, I know!).  So, if your kids don’t like it, it’s ok.  Keep going.  Give them time and they will change.  God’s Word has a way of transforming us.  No matter what, keep going.

7.  Make it work for your family.  Family time was hard when our girls were babies.  VERY HARD!  They didn’t sit still, they screamed and talked, and honestly, we didn’t do it as much during that season of life, but as they got older, they’ve gradually gotten better.  We started slow (5 minute family time) and increased it over time.  We now do about 15 minutes-unless we really get going on a topic!  Our girls have finally learned to sit still (relatively) and listen.  It will happen.  Don’t be discouraged, just keep going.  Try different things until you find what works.  Give the baby a quiet toy or a picture book about Jesus, try sitting on the floor with the youngest in your lap.  Let them help.

Once again, I am no expert.  I fall short every single day.  I just know that this was a struggle for me, and we found that, for us, the best answer was the simple one.  Just a Bible and our family.  And oh, the blessings!  The world problems we have solved during our family time sessions….(ha!).  The fruit we’ve seen.  Good stuff.  The best!

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This Week’s Goals

I discovered about two years ago that I am very goal-oriented.  It was in the midst of having two precious little girls 15 months apart…both in diapers and a 5 year old boy.  I was in what seemed like a continual fog that never lifted, and to be honest, there’s so much about my girls’ baby years that I don’t remember because I was literally in survival mode.  In the process of clawing my way out of the fog, I found a website that changed the way I do everything.  MoneySavingMom.com was a God-send to my tired self.  Through Crystal Paine, I learned how to pace myself, set goals, and determine what’s most important.  So that was the beginning of my weekly goal-setting.  It has now become a Sunday afternoon tradition for me to sit down and determine my goals for the week.  It’s a great time for me to pull the week into focus.  So, I thought I’d share what I do, and if it works for you, GREAT!  I break my goals down into a few categories each week as follows:

1.  Spiritual Life

-Daily Bible Reading & Prayer

-Read “Am I Messing Up My Kids?” by Lysa TerKuerst (This is part of a Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study I’m participating in right now.  Great study!)

2.  Family Life

-Daily Family Time (We are reading through John)

-At least 2 fun activities w/the kids as a final nod to summer

-Make Hannah’s 4 yr old check up appt

-Finalize school preparations (I have a list of this but don’t want to bore you with it)

3.  Home Life

1 Deep Clean Day

-Daily Load of Laundry

4.  Church Life

-Send cards to Sunday School Kids

-Help Prep for Wednesday night event

-Prepare Sunday School Lesson

5. Physical Life

-Track food on LoseIt.com (highly recommend this!)

-Coffee, water, and hot tea only

-Exercise x 2

6.  Social Life

-Send text to friend to check on, make date to get together

7.  Financial Life

$50 Incidental Expenses Limit

8.  Legacy Goal (I’ll tell you more about this category in another post)

-Write 3 Blog Entries

9.  Mental Life

Personal Time x 2

-Start a new book (haven’t decided which one yet!)

 

I have a lot of categories, but keep in mind I’ve been doing this for 2 years now!  My list has expanded.  If you are just starting out, I would recommend picking a couple of categories this week, and expand as you grow more confident in goal setting.  Always make your goals realistic, and it’s best when your goals are measureable.  I struggle with this sometimes, as you can tell!  Mine are not always measureable, but I’m still growing in my goal setting too.  🙂

So, this is what my week looks like so far.  I’ll check back in with you next Sunday to let you know how I’ve done!  Have a great week!

 

 

Why Study Missionaries?

world map 2

I’m just jumping right in here on the new blog!  But, this is something that I have grown to love, so I’m eager to tell you more about it.  About two years ago, we started this crazy thing called homeschool, and like I’ve said to several people, I think it has impacted my life just as much (if not more than) my kids’ lives.  Last year, we made the switch to Sonlight, and what a huge blessing that turned out to be!  Last year’s Sonlight core had a heavy emphasis on world missions, and it truly impacted our family in ways that I never anticipated.  One of those ways was giving us, giving ME, a heart for missions.

 

And today, I want to tell you why it’s SO important to teach your own children, and your children at church about missionaries. 

1.  Missionaries inspire us.  Kids are taught almost from birth about the many different professions.  We give them doctor kits and let them listen to our hearts, we give them a white board and markers and let them teach their stuffed animals.  In our case, we give them PVC pipe and let them put it together (plumber’s family!).  What if we told them about missionaries and people who do great things for God every day?  How would that shape their lives?  Their thoughts?  Their future?

2.  Missionaries give us REAL heros.  Kids LOVE Superman, Spiderman, Barbie, etc, etc, etc….and honestly, I cringe when my kids ask for the newest Barbie doll or Superman action figure.  The violence in the “superhero” movies and the materialism of Barbie makes me want to vomit most of the time.  But, the reality is that kids desperately need role models (aside from their parents-parents are a given!) to look up to.  We need to provide them with those role models who exemplify Christ-like characteristics, who spend their lives giving God glory, who give up everything to take God’s Word to the ends of the earth.  Yes, THOSE are the real earthly heroes.  Those are the ones that I hope my kids want to “be like.” 

3.  Studying missions shows us REAL persecution and REAL suffering.  The Bible tells us clearly that as Christians, we will experience persecution and suffering, but we Americans, truthfully, know little of this.  So often, we think that our friends deserting us because of our beliefs is suffering, and it is!  But it isn’t anything like the suffering going on in the world.  There are Christians all over the world being truly persecuted for their belief in God.  They are dying, being tortured and terribly mistreated, simply because they believe.  There are countries where it is illegal to worship God, and sadly, many of our children don’t know about this.  They don’t know what a privilege it is to get to go to church freely.  They don’t understand how great it is to have the right to say loudly in the street, in the media, “I believe in God!”  I believe that when we teach our children about missionaries around the world, we will view our “sufferings” and “persecutions” in a much different light. 

4.  Missionaries increase our faith in God.  Last year, we read about George Mueller.  It was life-changing for us, and I don’t mean that lightly.  Reading about how he took 200 orphans and depended solely on God to provide day-to-day….words cannot express how his story of God’s provision increased my faith.  Because of the stories of missionaries and great people of faith, my children know that God is BIG and can do BIG things. 

5.  Missionaries prove God’s sovereignty.  What a difficult subject for us to understand.  In our reading of George Mueller and Gladys Aylward, we read stories of great provision….but also of great heartache.  It makes you ask yourself (it makes your kids ask you!), “Why did that happen to them?”  And it comes down to God’s sovereignty.  He is sovereign.  The good and the bad, the highs and lows are all a part of God’s will for our life.  What is God’s will for our life?  That’s actually a simple answer:  God’s will for us is sanctification, and everything that happens to us is part of the process of sanctification.  When we read about difficult things happening to good people, and read about what happened afterward, and how that shaped their life, it helps us and our children get a big picture of God’s sovereignty at work in our lives.  What a gift…at such a young age, to have some understanding of this. 

I truly believe that studying missionaries and people of faith is a huge part of raising children in the way they should go.  In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.”  We need people in our lives who encourage us to live like Christ.  We need people to look to, to imitate.  Our children need it too. 

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Here are a few resources to get you started:

George Mueller Children’s Biography

Gladys Aylward Children’s Biography

Heroes of the Faith Series (Entire Set)

 

{Disclosure:  If you are interested in Sonlight curriculum and you use the link provided above, our family will receive Sonlight rewards, a credit toward our next purchase.  Thanks!}

 

Greetings!

It’s the first post of a new blog.  Oh the pressure!  Oh the things in my mind that I would love to just spill out into this post.  I’ll spare you this time (I hear a collective sigh of relief).  I will use this first post to tell you all that for the past six months or more I’ve had this nagging feeling that I needed to start back to blogging.  I pushed it down just to have it keep rising up again and again.  See, here’s the thing….with blogging, you really put yourself out there, for better or for worse, and it’s tough for a people-pleaser like me to want to open myself up for criticism.  BUT, I do love to write, and I really believe that starting to write again is truly an act of obedience to God.  So, here I am world…be nice!  Ha! 

I did, however, sit down and brainstorm this blog for quite some time.  I didn’t want to haphazardly do this.  I’ve been thinking and praying about it for months.  So, I came up with some guidelines for myself on what my posts will center around.  Here’s the breakdown:

Faith-this will include book reviews, Bible studies that I’ve enjoyed, maybe a short devotional, some reading plans to go through together (it’s always better with a buddy!), my thoughts and notes on living a disciplined, faithful life

Family-One of my favorite things!  I love family.  I believe that they are a gift from God, so we need to be good stewards of our families.  Here, I plan to keep you updated on our day to day, give you some family time ideas and encouragement, and talk about goal setting. 

Homeschool-As you may know, we homeschool our children, so I’ll post a little bit about our day to day homeschool routine and activities, some curriculum and product reviews, and things of that nature.

Children’s MInistry-My husband and I have a combined 30 years of experience in Children’s Ministry.  We both hold Early Childhood Education degrees (though we no longer use them in the public school system), and we are passionate about teaching children the Word of God.  We have specific ideas about what children’s ministry is (and what it’s not!), and we would love to share these ideas in the hopes that it will be helpful to others. 

So there you have it.  That’s what to expect from this blog.  Phew…post number one is done! 

Oh, but just for some cuteness to add to your day….

Hannah Isaac Lydia