Friday, 24 July 2009

Mom 2 Mom - Encouraging our children's relationship with Jesus

Welcome to the Mom 2 Mom Carnival - Encouraging our children's relationship with Jesus.

Don't forget that all participants are eligible to win a giveaway (more on that at the end of this post!), so get started on writing your own post ASAP!

First of all, I'd like to admit that I completely stole this idea from Missy at It's Almost Naptime. Over a month ago she did a post about this exact same topic and I personally think it's one of the best posts I've read on the topic and it really got me excited about sharing more ideas with each other and encouraging each other.

So - these are some of my thoughts on how we can encourage our children to have a better, deeper and personal relationship with Jesus.

Disclaimer - these are some of the ideas we've used in the past, use presently and might use in the future, but we obviously don't do them every day or perfectly - not at all. Just keeping it real.

1) First of all, we can't teach something we don't have. We obviously need to have a relationship with Jesus ourselves, but even that in itself is not enough. We have to make this relationship a priority in our lives. It needs to be authentic. Our children are not stupid. They see us at our worst and at our best. They know what is really important to us. At least, they know what we're showing them. So, if we're not showing them, we need to start. They need to see us spending time in the Word (or at the very minimum they have to know that we have this Quiet Time).

2) We also need to show them that not only is this relationship a priority, living out our faith and living to give glory to God is the most wonderful way to live. They need to see our joy! This is something we talked about in our last True Woman Tuesday lessons. If we don't find it joyful to be a follower of Christ, why would they want to?

3) This is just an extension of #1, but in order to direct our children to Jesus, in order to describe Him accurately to them, in order to live in a way that reflects Him - we need to know what we're talking about. And the only way to know that is to be in the Word and to connect with God in prayer.

I have absolutely failed at this for probably most of my life. This year I made a commitment to myself (and to God) to read through the entire Bible for, embarrassingly, the first time in my life. Since then I have been using the One Year Bible reading plan and discovered the somewhat sad fact that it really only takes me 10 - 15 minutes to read each day's reading. That's right. I have never consistently taken 10 - 15 minutes of my time to read through the Bible before. I admit that I have skipped days, but I always catch up! I am now over half way done. And this is a great start. But next year I want to go deeper. I will probably get the Life Journal which also has it's own One Year Bible reading plan but also provides space to journal about each day's reading - digging deeper into the Word, studying it instead of just reading it.

Don't let this discourage or overwhelm you. I know how hard it is to set aside time consistently when there just doesn't seem to be any extra time between diaper changes and sibling disputes, laundry and dishes, cooking and cleaning. But know that ANY time that you spend in the Word or in prayer is time well-invested.

4) We gotta walk the talk for our children to see. Fairly obvious point, but such an important one. We need to admit to them when we fail - their respect for us will not diminish by acknowledging our weaknesses. To the contrary, it will increase it!

5) Nathan reads the Bible with the girls and prays with them before bed every day. We have numerous Bibles that we use for this. Our church gives out bibles to every child who is dedicated by their parents, plus we have a few of our own, so we have quite the stash that we rotate through. From our church we have The Early Reader's Bible, The Beginner's Bible and the Young Reader's Bible (we got a 2nd copy of The Beginner's Bible when Jacob was dedicated). I picked up the Little Girl's Bible Storybook at a garage sale one year - it tells the Bible stories from the viewpoint of the women in the story, and has a bit of a devotional and discussion after each story as well. We also have a devotional for little kids that we got from Costco called God and Me. Nathan usually reads one day's devotional from God and Me, followed by one Bible story from one of the numerous Bibles we have available! (We basically take turns going through each one). My absolute favourite kids Bible storybook is the Jesus Storybook Bible and you can find my detailed review of it here. It is absolutely incredible how the author weaves the ultimate story of Jesus into every OT story.

6) I also want to teach our children how to study the Bible for themselves. Emma has started using the Children's Life Journal (see my full review here) and I think this is just an excellent way to help get kids started in Bible study. My parents gave the kids a Bible in the New International Reader Version for Christmas one year, and this is fabulous for this purpose. It's written in easier to understand English which makes it easier for them to understand what the verses are saying. As they get older I plan to order the How to Study Your Bible for Kids by Kay Arthur. Emma would be ready for that right about now, so I may do that soon.

7) Instilling the Word of God in the hearts of our children is invaluable! Obviously they get a lot of this in Sunday School and any kids club programs they're involved in, but really, you can't memorize too much scripture. I've always found it hard to find time for scripture memory, until I came up with this time saving tip. I work on their memory verse while I comb their hair! This is something I have to do every day, so I may as well make the most of it! Mondays through Wednesdays we work on their Kids Club verse (clubs is Wednesday evenings) and then Thursdays through Sundays we work on their SS verses.

Awhile back I purchased My ABC Verses: Hiding God's Word in Little Hearts by Susan Hunt. Each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding Bible verse, and each verse has a story to illustrate the meaning of the verse. It doesn't help a whole lot to memorize verses you don't understand, and this is an excellent way to do it! The girls really like this book, even though I haven't used it as much as I'd like to say I have. My plan is to read it to them during breakfast and then go over the verse with them once their done eating (you know - so the manners we taught them don't go out the window by talking with their mouths full!).

Another very cool idea for memorizing verses is one I just got from Missy. There are some amazing cd's out there called Seeds Family Worship that are simply awesome. And the best part is that the music is actually fun to listen to - even for adults! Don't believe it's possible? Well, then - check out the following tunes on YouTube... Do Not Be Anxious (Phil 4:6-7) and Cast Your Cares (Psalm 55:22) or Young (1 Timothy 4:12). Yep, loving it! I ordered 3 of the cd's (Seeds of Courage, Seeds of Faith and The Power of Encouragement), just got them this past week and so far am loving them!!

8) Shaping our children's worldview to reflect a biblical worldview instead of a cultural worldview is pretty crucial. There are several to go about this.

His Little Princess is a wonderful book for those with princesses of your own in your house. Since our girls love princesses, I thought this would be perfect. It's a series of letters written from God (the King) to His princesses (yes, our daughters!). Each letter has a Bible verse to go with it, and a prayer as well. Here is a sample letter...

My Chosen Daughter...
You are not a pretend princess, my child. You are a real princess, and I am your God, the King of all kings. I chose you before you were even born to be my princess. You are very important in my kingdom. I have chosen you to do something special that only you can do. I have amazing plans for you, both now and for when you grow up. Remember, a crown and a palace do not make you a true princess - it is your love for me and for others that will make you special. If you read my words every day in the Bible, I will teach you all you need to know about living like a daughter of the King.
Your King and Father in Heaven
"You didn't choose me, I chose you." John 15:16

And here's the prayer to go with it...
Dear God, thank you for choosing me to be your princess. I feel so special knowing I belong to You. Help me to remember to act like I am yours, because I need help. I'm glad you are my King who can make me shine for You! I pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Even though we are not Catholic, I bought another book (after reading Missy's post) by Susan Hunt called Big Truths for Little Kids which teaches children the basic truths of faith using catechism questions and stories to illustrate them. Basically, theology that kids can understand! I realized this was lacking when I found out our kids didn't know about the Trinity - they thought there was God and Jesus and had no clue about the Holy Spirit. We don't always think of all the things we need to explain to them, this is a perfect way to make sure we're not missing any big blanks that need filling in!

If (likely when!) they start to question their faith - a process every child needs to go through really to make their faith truly their own (and not just their parents), some more great books that I already have and will go through with them are a series by Lee Strobel - the Case for Christ for Kids, the Case for Faith for Kids, the Case for a Creator for Kids and Off My Case for Kids.

Another huge part of shaping their worldview is monitoring their entertainment choices. I have recently made some changes to our kids tv viewing habits. They are now only allowed to watch one show per day. The more of a cultural worldview you are exposed to, the more it affects (ie changes) the way you view things. I also cut out some of the shows that they watch - not necesarrily because they were bad, but because they deal with topics that are simply too old for them, or encourage a worldview that we don't agree with. Garbage in, garbage out as the saying goes. And really - if they're completely immersed in our culture's worldview (through tv, video games, magazines, etc), can we really expect them to form a worldview that's any different?

9) Teachable moments. Take advantage of them and if they don't come up - create them! Especially when it comes to sex education. And, yes, I have a few good books for you about this too! A Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey with Your Kids About Sex by Dr. Kevin Leman is an excellent way to prepare yourself, pretty much from the birth of your kids, the healthy way to discuss sexuality. God's Design for Sex Series is really good too - it has 4 books for you to read with your kids at different ages. This is an area where parents have to really step up. If you don't teach them about sex, they're going to learn it in school - and they're likely going to learn it wrong, and they're for sure going to learn it in the wrong context.

10) Be plugged in. Know what's going on, know who your kids friends are, know what's happening in school, get to know their teachers, volunteer in school, be genuinely interested in their interests. Spend time with your kids! I really think quantity rules over quality. Truly. I mean when do you think quality time happens anyway? It happens when you're spending time with your kids. You can't force it, you can't plan it, you can't schedule it, you can't add it to a list. If you're not around, it's not going to happen. Quality time happens in the middle of quantity time.

11) Invest in your marriage. Nothing gives children more security than knowing their mom and dad love each other and will always be together. Make your marriage a priority, second only to God.

12) Talk about Jesus in everyday conversation, all the time.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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 upon 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.

Whew! I think that's all I got for now. I can't wait to read what you guys come up with.

Oh yeah - the giveaway! Bet you thought I forgot after all that typing. :)

One amazing things about the Seeds Family Worship cd's is that they actually come with 2 cd's in each package - one to keep for yourself and one to give away to a friend. So, I am going to be giving away one of the cd's! Simply make a post (or comment or email) with your ideas of how to encourage your children's relationship with Christ before Monday morning and you are entered! Everyone is eligible to win - Canadian, American, Australian, whatever.

Oh, and here's the link to Missy's post that started this all! I'm taking the liberty of adding her post to the Mr. Linky below.

And, please - link up directly to your own Mom 2 Mom post so we can all be encouraged. Thanks!


kristilea said...

This is just spectacular! Thanks for sharing on this OH SO IMPORTANT topic, and thanks for letting us share as well!

Jessica Morris said...

Um... I am so sorry I didn't get a post up about this - my brother is here visiting and I am SO behind on reading peoples blogs!! yikes!!
I love the Seeds Family Worship songs - I had never heard of them before, but I am listening to them on youtube - soooo cool!! :) If I don't win one I think I'll buy some of them!

My idea is being consistent with regular reading and prayer time - but at the same time be spontaneous. We pray before every meal and read and pray with them before bed, but I think it's important for kids to know they can talk to God ANYTIME, and so I try to make a point of stopping and praying with the boys throughout the day - whether it is to say Thank You for something He blessed us with or to ask for something we need or to pray about bad attitudes.

Nicole said...

Hi Tammy, because my blog is private I thought I would cut and paste onto here for you.

My friend Tammy came up with this great idea for Mum's to share how they are encouraging their children's walk with Christ. Here is her blog for you to take a look at it for some other Mum's ideas and stories of what they do with their children.

I guess for me there are things that I do and things that I want to do. I need to get better at the things I do, or should I say do things more regularly than what I have been. I want to give my children the best head start in their lives, to train them in the way they should go, to show them that living with Christ in your life is the ONLY way to live :)

Some things that we do are:
Pray-I'm a big prayer, not that I am "out there" or anything but I stop throughout the day whenever the Spirit leads me to pray for people or things God places on my heart. So we pray throughout the day. We pray before Grace goes to kindy, we pray if we hear an ambulance or news of someone that needs prayer, we pray at dinner time, and again before bed. But I would like to extend this more by not making the bed time one so rushed, by the end of the night we are all tired and eager to get the kids in bed, so its not as I would like it. So I think we need to pray earlier or just STOP and take the time...

Devotionals- I did a little devotional Bible that Grace and I would read through once a week, although we would sometimes miss a week or two. It was fairly good, but I wanted something more, something we could do as a family. My friend Jen shared with me a devotional they do at her church with the children. I LOVE it. We have done 3 weeks so far. There is scripture to read, a memory verse, and 2 activities to sink it home to the kids what they are learning that week.

Discipline- while teaching at a Christian school I saw the importance of getting a child to realise when they had done something wrong, to repent of that and seek forgiveness. I noticed the difference in the children in my class compared to others whose teachers didn't follow the same type of framework that I did. So I TRY to do this at all times with Grace. Again, its an area where I can improve and an area I would love my husband to embrace.

So if Grace pushes Nathaniel over she is stopped and I get down to her level and ask "what happened" what I am looking for is for her to admit, but you know kids, they usually blame it all on the other child. Then I say to her "you pushed Nath, what do you know about pushing someone?" the response I am after is "we're not allowed to push" which she eventually gets to. Then I will say "that's right, we are not allowed to push one another, we need to be caring and loving and peaceful with one another. What could you have done instead of push your brother?" She will then give me some ideas or I will suggest some. "You need to go and say sorry to your brother, give him a hug please and then its forgiven" so I take her through that, then we finish off with prayer and hugs. If its something more severe that she has already been told off for she will be smacked (spanked) before the prayer part.

General- we also talk about God in everything. We talk about how cool it is that God made the penguin babies have a call that their mother knows, we talk about how beautiful a rainbow is and why God made rainbows, we talk about some things we see on tv and how that pleases or displeases God. God is the focus in what we talk about and learn about.

Things I would like to be better at is praying with the children, praying FOR my children, and as they get older leading them to Christ, encouraging and leading them to study their Bible.

I didn't grow up in a Christian home, so I dont know what its like. I am learning from amazing men and women and from God. I want my children to have a childhood and a life that I didn't, one that is God-focused and God-lead.

Pamela said...

Thanks for hosting this carnival. After stewing about it since you first mentioned it, I finally got around to my post. What I discovered is that I have the desire to be more intentional in my actions and this was a great invitation to get started in that.

A few things stood out in your post for me:

Having numerous copies of the Bible on hand and different translations. Ever since you first posted about the message translation in the true woman study, I have been translating other portions of scripture to get an even better understanding of the text. I think purchasing different translations and consulting them is a great way to even encourage my own study of the bible, not to mention support my kids as well.

I had never heard of the seed family worship but what an awesome scripture memorizing tool. One thing I am finding is that so many of the verses I am coming across in my daily readings are actually the words of songs that I know. Putting the verses to music is a great way to get it stuck in your head.

I also believe in quantity over quality and I find the more time I spend with the kids the more I enjoy it. I shudder when I hear of parents who openly admit to not wanting to being with their kids and I feel sorry for that.

Kim said...

Hey - I linked up :) Thanks for the reminder on my blog!

CappuccinoLife said...

Well, my late one is up and linked. Rather short, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tammy - thanks for your comments on my blog! I am subscribed to your RSS feed, so I get your blog posts in my Google Reader all the time! :) I would've loved to participate in your blog carnival, but I find I have so little time for blogging these days! And like you mentioned, my little guy is still rather young, so we have not instituted a lot of things in this area quite yet. One way that I believe we are making an important investment in our kid's futures and their walks with God is when Joe & I have our times of prayer together for our family. Sometimes Justice joins us for these prayer times when he wakes up early & even if he doesn't know what's going on, I think it's good that he's a part of it. We also have several Christian kids books that we like to read to him, but I haven't purchased any kids Bibles yet - except for one that I got as a gift which is specifically for little girls (can't wait to read this one to our little girl on the way!). I think one of the other most important ways I can encourage my kid's relationships with Jesus is by making sure I am exhibiting a good example for them that they can follow - not just in my daily prayer & devotional time, but in my words, attitudes, actions, etc. throughout the day - kids are so observant, so I am trying to be extra aware of what kind of example I am setting! Thanks for all the ideas you shared in your post & one of these days I want to check out some of the Bibles and resources you've suggested, because they sound really great!

Andrea said...

Whoops! I missed out on this, I guess.....looks like you had a good response though!

Sarah said...

Tammy...another one of my kids favorite "scripture songs" come from the show God Rocks. You should check it out (google it and it should come up). They have some very fun and funky scripture songs!!

Pam D said...

I just linked up with a post that I did a week or so ago. My son and I are getting close to the end of Hinds Feet on High Places, and it has just been the most amazing experience for us both. I think that finding really good books like that and reading them together, discussing faith in the midst of the reading, is a great way to bond, particularly with boys. My boy has really opened up while we're reading, and I've seen growth in his faith (look at my post from this Sunday to see further proof!). LOVE this topic and the Mom2Mom linkup! Thanks....

Weird Unsocialized Mom said...


Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such encouraging comments! I also appreciate you encouraging me to take part in your carnival. I'm afraid I probably won't have time to get a thoughtful post put together in time for your Friday wrap-up, but I'm definitely going to be reading through what others have had to say, as this is such an important topic. I've really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject as well. Thanks for hosting such a thought-provoking carnival!


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