I love sharing with Anya’s permission some of what she writes in her Faith Journal. This entry was from last week . We were praying before bedtime and after she asked me if she could get her journal. Although it was bedtime I said sure, because well how could I say no? Right? Here is what she wrote:
|Anya Enjoying Vacation Bible School|
1. Learn About God. I want to be clear that I believe parents should introduce God into their children’s lives. Our homes are the domestic church. However, church is the other side of the connecting bridge that gives them the resources they need to learn about God’s word. Church is where our kids can age appropriately start diving deeper into the scriptures and stories of the bible that will give them the wisdom they need to navigate in a culture that provides temptation around every corner.
2. Creates a Spiritual Foundation. We have a responsibility to give our children a spiritual foundation and the church helps to build that foundation in conjunction with what we instill at home. When we bring our children to church on Sundays, for bible study, for youth group, VBS we are building up their foundation rock by rock and fostering a love for God.
3. Fellowship with Peers. Church is a wonderful place for our children to meet friends whose families share the same belief and similar values. It is spiritually healthy for our kids to be around other children who display a love and excitement for God. They can encourage one another in their spiritual walk which is a blessing in a world where we are getting further and further away from God. This is their time to praise and worship with kids their age who want to glorify God. In a culture where kids are face an enormous amount of temptation, having friends they can talk to that have the same belief system is going to help them make wiser decisions and not to feel bad about them!
4. Role Models and Mentors. In today kids are starving for good role models. Now, I’m not saying that everyone in the church is perfect, none of us are we are all sinners right! Let’s give them other role models that aren’t on television getting famous for bad behavior. But, in church our children can find godly examples of how men and women who love God behave. Many of our brothers around sisters in Christ can become wonderful mentors for our children. Sure our kids love us and hopefully they will comfortable to come to us with any issue, but we always want them to have another adult that can provide sound guidance for them and that they can count on.
5. Church is a Safe Haven. In a world that is so opposed to God, our children are spiritually challenged every day and need an earthly refuge.Yes, our home is a safe haven, but giving our children a place to go to worship, be loved and to participate in a community of believers is a gift. At church they can let their guard down and feel supported and loved by the body of Christ.
6. Develops a Life Long Discipline. Church shouldn’t be something we legalistically do every Sunday, if we make it just a routine our kids will pick that up and to them church will have very little meaning except an early wake up call on Sunday. This is a discipline we should do with joy and sincere love and our attitude will make all the difference. When we take our children to church every Sunday and we show enthusiasm, and prepare the night before, and not make it a chore but a privilege and something to look forward to our children will most likely continue to go to church long after they leave our nest.
7. Church is Inspiring. Nothing compares to going to church on Sunday morning and hearing a beautiful sermon. When our children go to Sunday school or bible study they are reading and learning about godly men and women who were faithful and they are hearing a testimony that they can apply to their own lives. They can be inspired of how God can work in their life which builds up their faith!
8. Spiritual Formation. We were babes craving milk, just as our children are starting out on their journey into their own spiritual maturation. The more we take them to hear the word the more they internalize it and begin to develop their own spiritual formation. When they are surrounded by followers of Christ they are observing and learning. Even if sometimes it may not seem like it when they are swarming in their seat. Kids are sponges so remember they are soaking it in even when we don’t think they are.
9. Helps to Develop Their Spiritual Potential. I am amazed at the spiritual potential in our children. Anya leaves me in awe at the things she will say or do that just shows her incredible spiritual potential to do God’s work. I have no doubt that attending church has contributed to this blessing. It is never to early to develop your child’s spiritual potential and I believe the church can help us do this. Even if your kid is 2 bring them. My friend’s son who is 3 gave his brother who was ill a “helmet of protection,” he made at church so he could feel better. Don’t tell me God’s word doesn’t seep into the hearts of our little ones!!!
10. Families Need the Church. Mommas we need to be worshipping God together with our children. We need to show our children not only through words but through actions that we are serious in our walk with the Lord and our faith. Going to church as a family is a bonding experience that brings us closer together. When we fellowship with our children we are strengthening our relationship with them through Christ. Not to mention that we are developing meaningful traditions that can be passed on through generations that can nurture and create spiritually strong and stable families.
I’m always trying to discover creative and fun ways to teach Anya scriptures. Today after a balmy Labor Day, we made a quick trip to Target to pick up a few last minute items for the first day of school on Thursday. I love a sale and I came across this cute little wooden napkin holder with a blackboard on each side for $4.98. Now, I rarely use napking holders but all of a sudden a light bulb went off!
So I purchased this little ditty and decided to put a scripture on each side in chalk. I’m going to write two memory verses for the week and the plan is to memorize it, talk about, and learn it and what greater time than when spending time around the dining room table! So if you are near a Target you may want to pick one up and try this too! Take a look!
I make it a point that Anya knows she can always come to me, no matter what the issue is, but more importantly I’ve tried to instill in her that she should always turn to God. I When she is in trouble or is troubled she can always come to mom, but the Lord is her refuge. Sometimes I think she understands what I’m trying to teach and other times I think she is seven and can’t really understand quite what I’m saying. Well, last week any doubts I had about Anya understanding what I was telling her about seeking God were put to rest.
I put her to bed and shortly afterward I heard these pitter patter of feet. There she was standing their looking a little pitiful poor thing. I asked her what was wrong and she said she kept having bad thoughts and couldn’t sleep. I asked what it was she was thinking about, but she didn’t want to share. I started to think she may just have wanted to stay up. So, I told her to lie down and soon she would be sleeping. So, she grabbed the bible that was on the table and left. I walked around the corner and there she was lying on the floor in the hallway reading the bible. How can I be mad at that!
I told her she could read her bible in bed and she crawled up in bed and opened her bible to where she left off. At that point I knew something really was bothering her and I contemplated going in and talking with her, but I knew this was a moment where I had to just let her be in the word of God. This was a step in her own spiritual growth that I couldn’t interfere with. I thanked God that she was seeking him out and he was in her heart.
When I went back in the room this is what I saw…
This is becoming a habit of hers (smile). Every night since then she has read the bible on her own and when she went to her dad’s house this week she took her bible along with her. Interesting enough that week we had a doozy of a time. Her behavior was off and I have to admit I was getting increasingly frustrated. Then when I saw her taking the initiative to read the bible when she was having a difficult time, it was like God refreshed my own heart and gave me hope that what I’m trying to teach Anya is starting to bear fruit. All of the spiritual things we do together is starting to get her rooted in her own relationship with God. She is taking ownership of her relationship with him and that gives me so much joy!
It is so vital that our children develop an intimate relationship with God. In this world they are going to face more temptation than we can imagine and they need to be secure in knowing that they can turn to God, not just at night in prayer, but anytime. They need to realize that the Lord will sustain them and fill them up so they won’t look for unhealthy ways to be satisfied. If they learn that the bible is their blueprint for life they are less likely to follow the world’s pattern and if they do eventually I believe they will come back if they have that relationship with God.
I’ve said so many times that the legacy I want to leave is a spiritual legacy. When I leave this earth as long as I give her the best spiritual foundation I can, if I can train her, and teach her to seek God for refuge and peace in times of trouble and joy than I’ll know I did my job as a parent.
Never cease praying for your children mommas!
|My little clown|
|Enjoying a night of fellowship|
Moms one of my prayers for all of you and is that you get planted and rooted in the church. I’m not saying in a ritualistic way but in a meaningful way that allows you to develop relationships with your brothers and sisters in Christ. There is an inner joy that comes with worshiping The Lord with the body of Christ so please don’t deny yourself! Last week was Vacation Bible School at our church and it was a wonderful week from serving, to watching Anya’s face light up as she explained the lessons they learned and the fun she had, to playing Bible Gestures, it was lovely. I loved that at 9pm after being at church for close to 5 hours she said she wanted to go back to church!
When you plant your children in a loving church you give them a precious gift. You surround them with love, support and mentors! As single moms we need all of these things in our life and our family’s life. When we provide our kids with a church family we’re contributing to their spiritual growth while giving them an alternative to our current culture that doesn’t revere the importance of a relationship with God. Church teaches them that being obedient and loving God is cool while society tells them the opposite.
Your church family can be an extremely powerful force in your family’s life if you are open to developing and nurturing those relationships. One of the best investments you can make in your family’s life is to be vested in the Church of God. I promise your return will be great!If you don’t belong to a church I encourage you to do some research and find a good bible based church to visit. Take time to attend the services, learn about the ministries they have, look at the children’s programs, and bible studies they offer. Talk to the congregation and make sure your kids enjoy it as well. If you’re shy ask a friend to go with you so you can both be blessed! It me took some time to find my current church because I waited to be led by God. I have no doubt that God led me there and answered my prayer. So pray! Pray that you are led to your church family and God will guide you!
Don’t miss out on the joy of togetherness and fellowship that you and your family can experience by being rooted and planted in church. When you give your kids deep roots it is harder for them to be
yanked out of their spiritual foundation. Church is a gift and can be life changing for you and your kids.
I try to find practical ways to teach Anya about Jesus. Yesterday, we went to one of our favorite Christian bookstores. She wanted to go to the kids section, so I asked her to lead me there by my hand. As she led me there I didn’t say a word, I just followed her lead even through some of the twists and turns. When we got there I explained to her that this was how we should follow Jesus. I told Anya I trusted her completely and would willing follow her lead just like we should willing follow Jesus’ lead.
I explained that Jesus takes our hand and we are to follow him, even through the twists and turns even if we feel like we are getting lost we need to hold tightly to Jesus’ hand and let him lead us safely to where he wants us to be. I told her it is when we let go of Jesus’ hand that we get lost, even if we may feel lost while we are holding his hand we can rest assure that he has us safely on the path and purpose he has laid out for us. I brought to her attention that I didn’t question her I just followed her lead. When we start to question Jesus and begin doubting than he can’t lead us to where we need to be or it will be a hard road getting there.
Finding small practical ways to teach our children about Jesus and how to follow him helps start them on their spiritual journey. What are some ways you teach your kids about Jesus in every day life?
A prayer journal is an incredible way to document your walk with God. When David was going into battle with Goliath he had incredible faith. Part of that confidence in his faith was the mental journal he had in his head of all that God had done for him and made possible. Do you ever sit down and reflect upon all that God has done for you? If you do I’m sure it is enough to make you fall to your knees and praise God for all his good blessings and grace. Life is tough! It can seem like every time you’re making progress Satan is just waiting to attack and well frankly sometimes it is us who stops our own progress. But, if you take the time to examine your heart, your life, your intentions, your faith, and your spiritual life your walk with God is enriched and deepened. Isn’t it Plato that said an unexamined life is not a life worth living? A journal allows you to do the intense examination that is required to live a life that can glorify God!
I was reading Donna Otto’s book and she mentioned when her daughter was growing up she would have a day that she would declare ‘Grace Day.” On this day her daughter was given the gift of not having to do chores, etc. What a wonderful way to teach your kids about God’ grace to us. As human beings we sin, it may not be intentional, but we do and I for one am so relieved and happy that God gives us grace. It made me think about how I can give grace to my own daughter. I want her to understand the grace God gives to us that we are totally undeserving of and how we should do the same unto our family and friends. Recently, I had the opportunity to have a Grace Day.
We had my friend and her daughter over for dinner and afterwards the girls went upstairs to play in Anya’s room. Well, 7:30 pm came and her friend had to get going. Anya was sad to see her friend go, but also sad because she said she needed help cleaning up what they left behind in her room. Normally, I don’t think she would have cared, but I have been extra diligent about her cleaning up her room and putting things back where they belong after it had gotten completely out of control a few weeks back. I had explained to her that her room is her responsibility and regardless if her friends come over and played in her room that she is still responsible for cleaning up afterward. I told her one way to avoid a big clean up was to put things back after playing with them and to tell her friends to do the same. I told her not to blame a messy room on her friends and to take responsibility and ask them to help her clean up. Since then she has been cleaning her room on a daily basis so it stays neat and there aren’t consequences. I also explained how order would it make is easier to have fun in her room.
When I saw her face fall as she thought about the clean up she had to do and knowing our sweet friends had to leave due to parking limitations I declared a Grace Day. I explained to Anya that I was going to give her the gift of not having to clean up that evening. Later, I went into her room which by the way wasn’t that messy at all and cleaned up for her. When she walked in and saw what I had done she was surprised and thrilled! She said, “thank you so much momma!” I explained that this is what God does for us all the time, he gives us grace by compassion and kindness and this is what we should do for one another. She was so happy I really thought she was going to cry.
This morning as I was making breakfast she came downstairs completely ready for school, got her book bag in order and said, “I hope this helps make your morning better, I am prepared for school and you don’t have to do anything except enjoy your coffee.” It was her way of giving grace back. We all need grace and our children really need it. This is their formative years, a time for learning, making mistakes, and knowing that grace is available to them through God and through mom.
It is important that our children have discipline, structure and consequences and as moms we are responsible for implementing those things in our home. But, equally important is the kindness, mercy, love and compassion we show our children as they hit the stumbling blocks along the road to maturity. So moms declare a Grace Day and give your kids the gift of grace that God so freely and generously gives us!