Fractured Families

I wanted to share something with you that has been on my heart for a very long time. I feel as though families are fractured in many ways, mine included. We go about our busy schedule and each of us, as a family unit, is being pulled in different directions; whether it is sports, music, school, jobs, and even ministries. I have seen in so many families, even mine, that we want our families to be on mission together and serve our Lord together, but we don’t foster it even in the day to day activities. Do I gear my whole day around teaching my kids the importance of family time, or do I just try to get through my day with all the commitments I have made? I have been learning, slowly, the art of saying no to things. Even things that might seem good and right, to save myself for my family. This also includes limiting my children’s time away from home. I have heard many parents say that they want their kids to be in multiple sports because they want their children to not sit idle at home. Although, what if instead of placing our kids in multiple sports or other extra curricular activities we take that idle time and do something as a family. This can be an incredible time that we can take the opportunity to disciple our kids and teach them about loving others into the kingdom. I will be the first to admit that I am just as much at fault at this as anyone. To live in this world, especially our culture in America, it is really hard to have this shift in our minds to spend less time entertaining our kids and more intentional time with them.

Another thought that has been on my heart is serving our children as well as serving alongside our children. I have loved the opportunity to teach my son in his class at church. His face lights up when he sees me come in and he gets to have his mom as his teacher that day. It can also demonstrate to him that I value the time he is learning about his Savior and that I want to play a part in that. With my daughter I love serving with her. I love to see her work with the kids and see her light up getting to do it with me. It blesses my heart to see her mature and take care of these kids and for her to teach them some of the disciplines that we have taught her; which I can tell you are few and far between. I want to walk alongside them in their spiritual journey, but I know how hard it is to figure out how to do that.

I came across a blog written by a mom about what the scripture says about the fractured hearts of both parents and their children. It was pretty impactful to me and really made me think about where my heart lies. I so often have all my intentions in other places, other than teaching my kids and preparing them to be disciples.

I believe the Bible speaks volumes about the family and about parent/child relationships.

The very last chapter of the OT is an important message from God:

“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6

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Life Choices

Life is all about choices.   We are faced with many different types of choices throughout our lives that either bring honor or dishonor to our lives and to those around us.  Perhaps it would be good for us all to start each day with this question in mind – What kind of person do I choose to be today?  The choices we make today will affect our lives and those of our families.  Sometimes we become so concerned about the big decisions of our lives  we don’t realize that the small daily decisions we make can be the ones that change our lives forever.

I think the following questions would also be helpful for us to ask ourselves as we make our daily choices:

1.     Am I aware of how I affect my family with my words and actions?

2.     Are my expectations of my family unfair or unrealistic? Do I expect more of those I love than I do of myself?

3.     Do I try to keep myself morally pure and holy?

4.     Do I focus on the negatives instead of the positives in my family?

4.     Am I committed to living my life according to God’s standards or the world’s standards?

5.     Do I respect my family with the same respect I want to be given?

What if we chose each morning to honor and love those special ones God has given to us? We can make small, but meaningful choices, maybe to leave a love note, say a special word of encouragement, give a big hug, cook someone’s special dish, make your loved one laugh, or just do something that affirms how very special that person is to you.   Maybe it would be to refrain from hurtful criticism, mocking words or attitudes, anger, or being selfish.

It is such a privilege and joy to have children in our lives.  What kind of legacy do we want to leave for our children?  Will they rise up and call us blessed and desire to pattern their lives after ours?  Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  May God give us the wisdom to make right choices in our lives. I encourage you to give your family a legacy of love, support, faithfulness and encouragement and also a spiritual legacy of faithfulness and honor to our heavenly Father by teaching them the precepts of Scripture and right principles for daily living.  Invite God to help you in your choices and He will willingly and lovingly guide you and give you the strength to be who He wants you to be for His glory.  God bless you on your journey.

Post by Diana Tatlock

Parenting Siblings

The best bit of advice for parenting siblings I’ve ever received:  “Remind your children that as siblings, they are best friends.” 

I remember hearing that advice when my son and daughter were close to 4 years and 1 year old respectively. The woman who shared the advice– who I greatly respect – was quick to add (with a smile on her face)  –  “…sometimes it might even take a little brainwashing.” That evening, I shared that same advice with my husband and he also reminded me that “they are likely the longest running friendship that they will know in their lifetimes.” 

Excellent.

I remember praying how do I go about fostering that kind of truth in their lives. The answer was simple – tell them. We would remind them after one might have hit the other (which BTW when they were really young, I would get my “sad face on”) and say “Oh, how sad. Brothers and sisters don’t treat each other that way.” Or when they were doing something so beautiful like sharing toys together or giving each other a hug we would say– “let me grab a camera and get a picture of the two of you together because I want to capture what great friends you are continuing to become.”

We encouraged them to love like they meant it…and we still do.

Now, please don’t hear that our kids never bicker or pick on each other. That would be called lying and that’s a whole different blog. But I will confidently say that now that they are almost 15 and 11 they truly are extraordinary friends.  They are encouragers of each other and they share stories and communicate like friends do– true friends. This type of relationship is not only a beautiful thing to witness, but it is also a lifelong gift that they will share as both brother & sister AND…as friends.

Now,  it’s your turn. What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given for parenting?

Post by Sandii Chase

All About Your Mom

As most of you know Mother’s Day is on Sunday. I love that there is a day devoted to us loving on and appreciating the mothers in our lives, biological or not. But I also hope that this day reminds us that every day should be a day we let our moms know how much they mean to us.

I’ve been fortunate to have grown up with a great mom, and even though I’ve moved over 2,000 miles away from her, we still have a really good relationship. We talk often and I know that she’s always there to give good advice and listen to any of my problems.

I also look around at all my friends that are moms and I have great appreciation for who they are and what they are doing. They are raising up the next generation, are the hub for their family, make sure everyone is fed, clean and encouraged, all while holding on to their own unique personality that makes their family special.

I am so grateful for all you MOMs out there, for what you do and who you are. Thank you for being a great example to me and to those of us looking forward to being moms!

In honor of you moms, here’s a fun video sure to make you chuckle a little!

Post by Meredith Malkowski, K-5th Director

Easter Stories

Do you ever wonder whether your kids are fully grasping what you teach them, especially when it comes to Jesus?  I know I often underestimate what my almost 5 year old daughter can understand.  Sometimes I even hold back from talking to her about certain things just figuring that it will go over her head.  Well, this Easter was special for me as she shared her thoughts about Easter:   She said “I know Easter isn’t about a bunny mom but we celebrate because Jesus died on the cross & then 3 days later he “rised” up & “he lives in heaven now”.  I was so excited to hear her say that all on her own & it brought tears to my eyes.  She then said, “I am so glad that Jesus is taking care of my “Pop” until I get there to see him again.”  At this point I am fully crying (happy tears) & thanking Jesus that my daughter is processing all of this.  I am so excited to continue our conversation & I want to encourage you to talk with your kids-They understand more than we think sometimes!!

So, that is my great Easter memory for this year……..Do you have a favorite memory/story from this Easter?  We would love for you to share!

Last year, we started a new tradition of making “Empty Tomb Cookies” on Easter Eve. It’s a great, hands-on way for kids of all ages to be reminded of the Easter story. Each ingredient symbolizes a part of the story and there are verses to go along with each step. I originally saw the idea here and she has some great step-by-step photos! Happy Easter!

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” – Matthew 28:6

Makes 1-2 dozen

Ingredients

1 cup whole pecans, in a plastic bag

1 teaspoon vinegar

3 egg whites

1 pinch salt

1 cup sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees–you MUST do it now. Also, gather a cooking mallet, kitchen mixer, masking tape and Bible.

Read John 19:1-3 ~ Jesus was beaten for our sins; beat the nuts with a cooking mallet; set aside.

Read John 19:28-30 – Jesus drank something like vinegar (gall), sniff the fragrance, dip finger in and taste, too; place the vinegar in a mixing bowl.

Read John 10:10-11 – Egg whites symbolize Jesus’ holy, innocent life; add whites to the bowl with the vinegar.

Read Luke 23:27 – the bitter tears of the women; taste a few grains, remember your own sins; add the salt to the bowl.

Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16 – Sweet salvation! Taste and see; add to the bowl.

Crank up the mixer and let it go while you read from Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3; let the mixer go for about 12-15 MINUTES; this needs to be VERY stiff!

Read Matthew 27:57-60 – Fold the nuts into the egg-sugar mixture; this symbolizes the rocks in the garden.

Using a scoop or knife & spoon, drop by spoon into mounds (to resemble a rocky tomb); put into the oven and turn it OFF!

Read Matthew 27:65-66 – The tomb is sealed; use two pieces of tape (5-6 inches long) to “seal” the door edges (symbolically).

Read John 16:20 & 22 – Consider these passages, then go to bed!

NEXT MORNING: Read Matthew 28:1-9 – Jesus is risen! Behold–the empty tomb! Unseal the oven door, take out the cookies, break or bite one in half — it should be hollow inside—empty—just like the Tomb!

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!

Post by Brittany Turco, Infant/Toddler Director

A question that has been on my heart lately is, “How am I training my children to be lovers of Jesus?” Is my conversation with them helping them to pursue how and what the Holy Spirit might be saying to them in a given situation? I want to cultivate in my children the knowledge of the Holy Spirit. That He can speak to them as children just as powerfully as he does with adults. This can only happen if we encourage them in their own spiritual journey. Affirming things that they are processing in their own maturity and not discounting the fact that the Lord is speaking to them.

I have seen this in my own daughter, Mikiah. This last Christmas she came to me and felt like the Lord was telling her that she didn’t need any gifts for Christmas, but that she wanted to give all of her money to someone that needed it. Of course my heart leaped with joy that my daughter got it, and of course those that know me; I cried as well. It was an amazing opportunity for me to affirm what she felt and that it was the Holy Spirit in her life putting that call on her.

What I would love to do for this blog entry is hear your stories and thoughts. How have you seen the Spirit speak to your kids? How have you been able to cultivate that in your kids? I am really excited to learn and hear from you, and to be able to provide a dialogue between us as parents on what we can do.