Friday, December 21, 2012

life update

Wow! A month has come and gone, and our family has lived a lot of life in the meantime!


We've lived in Canton, just over a month now and we've been so busy unpacking, setting up the house, taking care of the kids, adjusting to a new area, getting into a new job/routine, preparing for Christmas + Norah's 1st birthday (wow!), and just trying to have a normal day-to-day family life. \

I've been working on so many craft projects + new recipes too, that I realize how crazy I am to attempt all this with everything else we have going on. But it IS Christmas- I just can't help it! ;) Plus, sewing/crafting helps me feel like not everything in my life has changed! Its nice to revert to something I know, to get lost in fabric and the hum of my machine!

I've been longing to get back to blogging in the past couple weeks. But I just can't bear taking the time away from crafting and from my family and all the other things that really are more important! Then I got a comment this week from a sweet mom who said she missed my posts coming on of her blog stats. Ahhh! So sweet! I felt so loved, like my little blog really is appreciated out there! So I knew then I needed to find some time to get back on here! It was the push I needed! Thanks Jules! :)

So here's a quick life update...

Monday, November 5, 2012

let's go bananas party



It was a blessing to have so many loved ones share in our birthday festivities over the weekend for Titus' 3rd birthday, especially in light of our move next week!

As I looked at everyone having a good time at the party, the kids playing, the adults talking... I got kind of sentimental! I'm just overwhelmed by God's blessing on our lives the past 5 1/2 years that we've lived here in Fremont, and so thankful for all the relationships we've made! In light of celebrating Titus' birthday, it was so special to me as a mom to see all the people in my little guy's life who came out to show their love and support for him! He had such a blast!

Because this will be his last birthday here, we invited all his little friends and their parents, plus our family and a few special people. There were a LOT of people, especially kids! 13 kids total (Twelve of them ages 4 and under!) So there was lots of noise- aided by all the sugar, of course! But so much fun!

This was the first year Titus could get really excited about his birthday, and helped out a lot with the party! Although it's definitely not the best looking cake I've ever made, it's special because Titus picked what kind he wanted, helped me bake it and decorate it! It was fun to do it together!


I found this party theme from Hostess with the Mostess! Titus loves Curious George, but I loved it because it is based off the Classic Curious George books, so the theme is mostly based on the red, yellow and light blue colors found in the books, rather than being so character-theme focused! I kept it focused on the colors, patterns and bananas! We already owned the books and a lot of the decor so it wasn't an expensive party to put on!

Here's some pictures of the party!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Titus Remington is 3!

It's hard to believe that today my baby boy is 3! He has grown from that precious bundle of handsome-ness that made me a mother, to the constantly energetic, curious, talkative, sweet, tender-hearted boy that he has become! I can't even believe how this little boy has completely captured my heart! I grow more in love with him everyday! I melt at his every smile and sweet word! I'm sure all you mothers understand that feeling! :) And I'm also so thankful for his tender heart towards others and towards spiritual things! I constantly pray for his salvation and I know he's still young, but he has such a child-like faith that I pray that maybe this could be the year he gives his heart to Christ!

Happy Birthday, Titus Remington! I love you!


We celebrated Titus' birthday this weekend with lots of family and friends at his Curious George party! A picture heavy post will be coming tomorrow of the festivities!! :)



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

day 31 :: a holy work

This is Day 31 -- the final day-- in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post


I can't believe this is the last day of this 31 day adventure! I hope you've enjoyed this series just as much as I've enjoyed writing it! It's been challenging to my own life, but also the Lord has used it to encourage me in my journey as a mother!

I'm so passionate about being a mom who shares her love for the Word, teaches her children who God is, and imparts her excitement and desire for spiritual things! I know that my attitude about spiritual things will be picked up by my kids, so that motivates me to stay sharp and not slack off in my relationship with the Lord! There are more lives at stake here than just mine! It's easy to buy into the idea that we're off the hook because we're young moms, but don't do it- it costs too much!



Maybe as you read this series on Teaching Toddler Theology, it was first time you've heard or thought about any of this stuff! Or maybe you know what you need to do, but you've allowed yourself to be too busy or distracted instead of a purposeful parent! Or perhaps you are a mom who is very spiritually intentional, and you just needed the encouragement to not become weary in well-doing, that you are doing a great job, and just needed some fresh ideas! Whatever type of parent you are reading this blog today, I hope we are all a little better, more focused, more determined, more purposeful parent to our young kids! I hope we all have a clearer understanding of what we need to do, and how we need to spiritually teach and invest in our kids!

"Mothers of your children, your work is most holy. 
You are fashioning the destinies of immortal souls....Be faithful.
 Take up your sacred burden reverently. 
Be sure that your heart is pure and that your life is sweet and clean." J.R. Miller

I'd LOVE to hear any additional ideas you have, things you think I've left out or things you do with your kids! PLEASE share for the sake of us all!

Thank you for joining me in this journey!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

day 30 :: some resources

This is Day 30 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post




Wow! Tomorrow's the last day! It's been a joy to give this topic focused attention this month! I don't know if there was a better topic I could have picked to spend this much of my attention and energies on! I'd love to hear how this series has helped you, or anything you'd like to add to what I've shared this month!

Today I want to share a book and some blog posts that have been very formative for me as a mom! I was going to share huge list of links, but I'm just having a hard time processing and coming up with them all, so I just decided to go with a few links that have been especially challenging and encouraging spiritually in the past year or two for me as a mom!


Loving the Little Years: motherhood in the trenches  by Rachel Jankovic

I highly recommend this book to every mom! A super thought-provoking, challenging, encouraging book by a godly young mom who is "in the trenches" herself with 6 little ones! Rachel has such a way to helping you have a more eternal & godly perspective on your life and role as a mother. Here's what she has to say:  

I didn’t write this book because mothering little ones is easy for me. I wrote it because it isn’t. I know that this is a hard job, because I am right here in the middle of it. I know you need encouragement because I do too.
This is not a tender reminiscence from someone who had children so long ago that she only remembers the sweet parts. At the time of writing this, I have three children in diapers, and I can recognize the sound of hundreds of toothpicks being dumped out in the hall.
This is a small collection of thoughts on mothering young children for when you are motivated, for when you are discouraged, for the times when discipline seems fruitless, and for when you are just plain old tired.
The opportunities for growth abound here but you have to be willing. You have to open your heart to the tumble. As you deal with your children, deal with yourself always and first. This is what it looks like, and feels like, to walk as a mother with God.

Rachel writes for the blog Femina- there are LOTS of great posts there, so definitely check it out!


 Blogs Posts:
Forgiveness for Moms who fail 
Motherhood is a calling (and where your children rank)
The Littleness of Motherhood


Here are some of the resources I've linked in several of my past posts this month:
Scripture put to Music
Selecting a children's bible
Some Holiday Ideas
Sharing the Gospel- Part 1 & Part 2

What are some books, blogs, articles, etc that have been the most helpful, encouraging, challenging, and insightful to you as a parent recently?



Monday, October 29, 2012

our big life change!

On Nov 16, our family will be moving from MI, to Canton Ohio! 



October has been a crazy month for us! We went on a big trip to PA to my sister's wedding and to spend time with family! Then on the way home spent a weekend candidating at a church in Ohio. (And of course I've been blogging everyday for the 31 day series all along! :) ) We've been spending the past few months of our lives in a state of waiting on the Lord! It's been a time of trusting Him and of growth, but it hasn't always been easy! Last week, this church in Ohio unanimously voted to have Tim come as their senior pastor, and we made the decision to move our family to this new place of ministry! We feel such a peace in our hearts that this has been directly from the Lord and he has blessed every step of the way!

The hardest part of this whole thing is uprooted our little family from all our comforts and familiarity, and from the people we love! We've lived in the same house our whole married life and have brought two babies into the world here! All our memories are here, and our hearts ache at the thought of pulling up all the roots we've made in the past 5 1/2 years!

But we are very excited about this new chapter in our lives and we look forward to seeing how God will use us! We already love our new church family and are thankful for the blessing they've already been to us! We will be moving into a large 19th century farm house that is owned by the church. Did I mention it's large? Like, the rooms will look pretty empty with the furniture we have! haha But one of the best parts is that there is a nice sized room with countertops and cabinets upstairs that is an obvious craft room (and future home-schooling room maybe?)! I'm so excited to set it up and get my shop up and running in my new location!

Since we'll be very busy over the next couple weeks packing and moving and setting up our new home, the shop will be closed for probably a couple months! I know some of you were planning to do some of your Christmas shopping with me, so I'm very sorry for that! :/

However I do have a LOT of inventory that I NEED to get rid of! I'm selling them extremely cheaply! All of this stock is leftover from a craft show when I was doing The Blue Ladybug Children's Boutique. These would make great Christmas gifts if you have any little people on your list!
* tie shirts (onesies and tees) in pretty much every size and several different fabric options for $5 each. (66% off)
*pacifier clips for both boys and girls- 1.50/each
*bibs & burp cloths for girls- $3/each (55% off)

Update: here's what's currently available!
 I also have GOBS of blank tshirts and onesies in every size that I'm selling for 1.50/each- these would be great for crafting OR if your family simply needs some blank onesies or tshirts!
*white onesies (gerber) 0-3mo & 18mo short and long sleeves- 1.50/each
*white rabbit skins toddler tees (long sleeved)- all sizes-1.50/each
*white men's tshirt (gildan) S-XL 1.50/each
*dark brown youth tshirts (XS & S) 1.50/each
*Brown onesies & toddler tees (Rabbit skins) NB-7 1.50/each
*Black onesies & toddler tees (rabbit skins) NB-7 1.50/each

If you are interested in any of this please message me on FB or email me for more details: marybethingrace@yahoo.com and I will send you more information/pictures/etc!

day 29 :: Jesus' Ascension

This is Day 29 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post



This will be the last bible story that I'll share today! It's been fun to share some teaching tips and ideas! I know my ideas are not exhaustive and my ways of explaining things to a toddler are not the best out there! But this is what I do and have found to work with my son! I'd love to hear what things you do!





One day when Titus and I were reading his Bible together, I decided to venture past Christ's death and resurrection! (yeah, it was a first!) I'd already been sharing the Gospel with him for a while, I decided to see how much he'd understand beyond that. At that point, he was very familiar with Baby Jesus, Jesus life & ministry, and His death & resurrection. I thought it would be nice to teach him some of the practical ways we as Christians are told to live by Christ and the apostles (Plus I was just curious at what was included past Christ's death in his children's bible.)


I read to Titus about how Jesus went back into heaven, but before he did, he told his disciples a few important things. He told them that one day he would come back in the same way he was about to leave, and he would bring them back with him. He gave them the Great Commission- to go and make disciples of all nations, and that he would be with them. And He told them that the Holy Spirit was coming soon and he would give them power to do all these things.


So after I read about all that, I tried to unpackage all that for Titus so he'd understand a little better. I explained how Heaven is where God lives and that it's far away past the sky and the stars, and because Jesus is God, he needed to go back home. So went up in the sky until the disciples couldn't see him anymore. I might or might not have said Jesus "flew" just to help a toddler's brain understand, and I made it pretty dramatic by having us pretend to be disciples waving and saying, "bye Jesus" over and over. :) And then I told him that one day Jesus was going to come back to earth the same way and take us back to live with him! Then I explained that while Jesus was in Heaven, we have to be very patient and wait because he is building a big house for us to live in!

Titus got so giddy and excited about this, that he was stumbling over his words just trying to get them all out in his excitement! He loved that we get to live with Jesus in Heaven one day and that He's building a place for us to live! This was so exciting for me to see his reaction! But I wanted to make sure he knew that we get to live with Jesus in heaven because we believe that he died on the cross, that we have to respond to what God has done. It's easy with kids to make salvation general, to make it sound like everyone goes to heaven. We need to be careful of how we present the gospel and the benefits we have in Christ- we are blessed with those things because we've chosen to follow God.

I finished by telling him that while we wait for Jesus to come for us, he has a special job for us! (Titus loves special jobs!) I told him that there a lot of people who don't know who Jesus is or that he died on the cross, so our special job is to tell everyone about Him! He seemed to understand all of this and was visibly excited about it all! It's never too early to start telling people about Jesus- and sometimes kids are the best witnesses because they are so honest and up-front about God!

Even though he hasn't yet made the choice to follow God, I see his heart is so tender to spiritual things! I pray so hard that God saves his little soul and does great things with him! In the meantime, I'm going to keep teaching him all that I can about God and what His Word says!

 
Stick around today because I'll be sharing some big personal news + a shop update!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

day 28 :: sharing the gospel

This is Day 28 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post


So this is kind of a part two from yesterday's post. I just wanted to add a few things about how to share the Gospel with a toddler even if they don't understand a whole lot.

Here's some things that they probably can understand:
  • Jesus was perfect! Explain that he never did anything bad, like disobey his parents or hit someone. He was perfect because He is God!
  • Contrast Jesus' perfection with your child's sin! They will probably admit to doing wrong things, and this will help them see how amazing it was that Christ took their punishment!
  • Explain how because of our sin, we can't be with God and we deserve for God to punish us! But because God loves us, He sent Jesus to be punished in our place! Take the time to explain this however your toddler will best understand! After saying it a couple different ways, a couple different times, Titus seemed to get it. I think he was excited that he didn't have to "get in trouble" because Jesus had taken his punishment! :) But the point was that he got that Jesus had done something very special for him and I've worked hard to cultivate a heart of thankfulness in him so that he will be more and more prepared for that day of his salvation!
  • They may not understand every part of the Gospel, but they can certainly pick up from our tone of voice and excitement that this is something special, that Jesus did something very important and they will pick up our attitude towards it. And it'll probably also cause them to be open to keep hearing about it. They'll want to talk about it, especially if it's something Mom gets so excited about!

How I share the Story of Christ's death:
  • I usually start talking about the story of Jesus' death at the point of Judas' betrayal in the garden. I explain it like this: Some bad men didn't like Jesus and wanted to get him in trouble even though he hadn't done anything wrong. One of his friends, Judas, decided to help the bad men. While Jesus was praying in a garden, he walked up and kissed Jesus so that the bad men would know that that was Jesus. They took Jesus away and did very mean things to him. They hit him and spit at him, and pulled his hair. He was bleeding and had lots of "ouchies." They didn't believe that he was God. They thought he was bad. Jesus' friends all ran away and hid because they were scared. So Jesus was all alone. Then the people who didn't like Jesus nailed him on a cross and made fun of him! But Jesus prayed that God would forgive those people! Then Jesus died on the cross. And it got really dark and thundered and ground shook! After Jesus died, some people put his body in a tomb to keep it safe. All his friends were so sad! Jesus had told everybody that he was going to rise again in three days, but they didn't remember. Three days later, some women came to put some oils and spices on his body, but when they got there the huge stone was rolled away and Jesus was gone! There was an angel there and he said, "don't be afraid! He is not here! He has risen, just like he said" And the angel told them to go tell everybody! They women were so happy! Jesus was alive again!
  • So at this point of the story, I think Titus is a little lost because he doesn't understand death, let alone Christ rising again. But I try to tell it as simply as possible using terms and words he knows. One day he'll understand, but for now I'm content to just tell the story and impart my own excitement! But he does understand that Jesus died on the cross, and for now I think all he thinks about it is that it's pretty cool and we thank Jesus for it. He already thinks very highly of Jesus because of other things he knows about Jesus: he loves us, he's with us, he takes care of us, etc.

Things to do for now:
  • Tell the Good News in the most understandable way to your toddler. Then repeat, repeat, repeat!
  • Pray with them, and include in your prayers your thankfulness for the gospel! It's another way for your kids to hear and be reminded of what God did for them! Your kids will probably start to pray how you do!
  • Pray for them to understand, and for God to work in their hearts to bring them to salvation!
  • Let your excitement and thankfulness for the Gospel be evident to your toddlers as you live your life!

I'd love to hear your experience sharing the Gospel with your toddlers! Please share in the comments below!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

day 27 :: Jesus' death and resurrection + a recipe



Learn how to make an Easter Garden!

This is Day 27 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post

This past Easter was so fun having a two-year old. I knew this would be the first time he might actually understand what was going on! We tried to be pretty careful with how much attention we gave to all the candy and stuff versus Christ and the Resurrection! We wanted to keep Christ the central part of the holiday and not confuse or distract Titus with all the fun non-spiritual stuff that we typically do as well. I knew Titus' understanding would still be limited. Since he doesn't know what death is, he probably would understand the significance of the coming-back-to-life part either. But I was determined to do my best to be faithful to the message of the Gospel even if he didn't understand much at that point! I wanted to emphasize the things he could understand and be patient on the stuff he couldn't for another time. Besides constantly talking about what Easter is all about and reading the death and resurrection accounts in his bible, I also tried to find some fun, hands-on ways to tell the story!

One way I found was to make Resurrection Rolls. Titus loves to help out in the kitchen and what two-year-old doesn't like to get get his hands a little messy? so these were a huge hit. And I hoped in the process that this would be another means for Titus to learn a bit more about what Christ has done for him! In this recipe, each ingredient represents something from the Easter story, so as you make it, you tell it! (recipe below)

Your toddler might not quite understand the majority of Christ's death and resurrection, but be faithful in telling them! This is where our spiritual investment starts, and we have years to keep on investing! And you never know what fruit you may see even in this next year because you chose to make the most of the opportunity now! Even if they don't understand what death is, or what resurrection is, they will pick up from us that it's important and it's for them! That what Christ did, he did for them- because they've sinned and because He loves them. Sharing the gospel is a process, and it's the same in our toddlers lives. Share the Good News, and pray for God to work in their little hearts.


Resurrection Rolls

Grab your toddler and try these fun, easy & oh-so-delicious rolls!  They are a wonderful reminder for you and a teaching tool for your kids about the true meaning of Easter! Each ingredient has significance and the end product leaves your kids in awe as they discover the rolls are hollow inside! So interactive for kids, as well as spiritually memorable! I’m looking forward to making this a tradition every year with our family! This recipe is a combination of a couple different recipes I found on the Internet.


Ingredients:
Crescent roll dough
melted butter
large marshmallows
cinnamon
sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Separate all the crescent roll triangles. The crescent roll represents the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in.

Take a marshmallow, {the marshmallow represents Jesus’ body}. and roll it in melted butter, which represents the oils used to embalm His body.. Then roll the buttered marshmallow in the cinnamon and sugar which represent the spices used to anoint the body.

Wrap a crescent roll triangle around the buttered marshmallow (Bring the sides up and seal the marshmallow inside- not in normal crescent roll fashion.) This represents the wrapping of Jesus' body in linen garments.

Repeat with remaining dough and marshmallows.
  
Place in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. The oven represents the tomb.

When the rolls are ready to eat (allow to cool), have each of your kids open up a roll and discover that it’s hollow inside! Just like the linens were left in the tomb and Jesus’ body was gone! He is risen!

NOTE: I found that baking them in a muffin tin versus a cookie sheet helped them to not ooze as much and held together better!





 

Friday, October 26, 2012

day 26 :: Jesus' ministry


This is Day 26 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post


 I couldn't help catching a snapshot of this early morning moment of my kids engrossed in their Bibles!

About a month ago, Titus and I spent a few days reading the stories in his children's bible about Jesus' ministry- basically, everything between his birth and his death. We read through his miracles, interaction with people, and his parables. At this point, Titus had a good grasp on who Jesus is and was totally engrossed in the stories! I enjoyed reviewing them as well!

Teaching the stories about Jesus healing people, feeding people, talking to people and forgiving people, help us all (not just toddlers) get to know the type of person Jesus was! Jesus met people's needs, Jesus was patient, Jesus cared for people, Jesus forgave sins, Jesus was God! How can you not love Jesus, when you see how much he loved people? They see not only his loving way with people, but also how powerful he was, like when he fed the 5,000 or walked on water, or calmed the storm. He truly was God and as we read the stories about all the amazing things Jesus did, we are showing our children that. Teaching our kids about who Jesus was on this earth increases their view of God and gives them the perfect role model to follow after!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

day 25 :: baby Jesus

This is Day 25 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post

Last Christmas was the first year Titus began to learn about Jesus!

He had just turned two. I knew this was my first chance to introduce him to Jesus at the logical starting spot- his birth! Once the Christmas season began, I used every opportunity to teach him, and I tried to think of lots of creative fun ways for him to want to learn and talk about Jesus. We read the story in his Bible, he started learning the song "Away in a Manger" as he prepared for his first Christmas program, and the most fun, was the perfect nativity play set I looked high and low for! (Thanks, Grandma!) Of course his favorite figures were the animals, but he also was particularly drawn to that small baby! As we played together, we acted out the story of that first Christmas, and talked about how special the baby in the manger was! He was so special that the angels sang about him to the shepherds, the shepherds came and worshiped, and the wise men came to worship and bring gifts! Jesus was a gift from God, and one day he was going to save us all!



Christmas is coming quickly again...  (2 months from today!) It's such a perfect time to teach who Jesus is, if we are purposeful about it and don't let the busyness of the season distract us from imparting the reason for the season on our little ones. They are only little for a short time, and you get only a couple Christmases while they are toddlers! This is your first chance to start teaching who Jesus is! Make their first Christmases count!

Last year, I know that Titus probably didn't understand what the big deal was about Jesus! Sure, he learned about Jesus, but He was just a baby to him, nothing more. But that was just the start, and I was content with that. After Christmas was over, Titus continued to sing Away in a Manger and turn to the Christmas story in his Bible. That beginning in his understanding has lead to his expanded understanding throughout this past year! Since we had a few months until Easter, that gave him time to develop a little more, and then he started to learn that the same Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and rose again! Easter was even more fun because of the groundwork that was laid in his heart and mind last Christmas.

I believe his spiritual understanding began last Christmas when I made the effort to teach a brand new 2 year old the Christmas story. He couldn't even say Jesus' name then, and baby Jesus was just a plastic toy that he got from Grandma. But now almost a year later, he prays to Jesus and says, "Jesus die on the cross for us and Jesus is with us!"

I can't wait for this Christmas to see how his understanding grows even more! I can't wait to teach more about why Jesus came to this earth and was born, to connect the stories he knows and bring him a fuller picture of what God did for him! Who knows, maybe one of these Christmases (or Easters!), he'll reach a point of understanding of what Jesus did for him and he'll pray to receive the Lord's salvation for himself! That's what my prayer is!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

day 24 :: Jonah

This is Day 24 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post



Titus' favorite Bible story right now would have to be Jonah, or as he calls him, "Jonut." (As in, "donut") He can tell me the story now! I have had more spiritual conversations because of this one story, than probably any other one so far! The themes of obedience and forgiveness are so clear that I just can't pass up any opportunity to teach them!

So God told Jonah to go to Ninevah to tell the people to "stop doing bad things" (As his little bible says), and I reinforce that the word is also, "sin!" But Jonah said "no!" and ran away, got on a boat and sailed across the sea! God sent a big storm, and all the sailors were afraid because they thought they were going to sink. But Jonah said, "God sent this storm! Throw me into the water and the sea will be calm again!" So they did, and instantly the sea became calm. Then God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah! "Gulp!" Jonah stayed in the fish for 3 days and nights. And while he was in there, he prayed to God, "Please forgive me!" Then God told the fish to spit Jonah onto the dry land! Again God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and tell the people "stop doing bad things!" This time Jonah said "yes!" He obeyed! When he told the people of Ninevah what God had said, they we were sorry for the bad things they'd done, and asked God to forgive them!

When we read this story together, I reinforce the truth that everyone is a sinner! While I'm explaining that the Ninevites were sinners, and so was Jonah, I explained that Titus is, and Mommy is and Daddy is, and Everone is! But God will forgive us if we ask him to! When Jonah was in the big fish, he prayed and asked God to forgive him and God did! And when the Ninevites asked God to forgive them, God did! I remember the day when this first clicked with Titus! I was explaining that when we sin against God and we ask him to forgive us, He will! The whole time, Titus' eyes got bigger and bigger with understanding and awe... and then all of a sudden he exclaims, "Ohhhhh! Okayyyy!" He seemed to get it as much as he could for his tender 2 years of age. I can't describe my excitement in that moment! :)


I also use this story to reinforce the importance of obedience! Every 2 and 3 year old struggles in this area, so it's nice to have a Bible story that we can refer to as needed! Jonah is a bad example, but then a good example of obeying what God says. Kids see him get punished for disobeying, but they also see his surrendered heart in the fish and the forgiveness God gives him. Then he obeys God! I want Titus to know how important obedience is, not just to to us as his parents, but also to God! And I want him to know that no matter how far he may stray from the Lord, that where ever he is, he can always call out to God, that God will hear him with compassion and will forgive him!

I'm so thankful that this story is in the Bible!
And I'm thankful that I've had so many special moments and spiritual conversations with my precious 2 year old, because of one disobedient man, a big fish and a forgiving God!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

day 23 :: josh, sam and dave!

This is Day 23 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post



Throughout the Old Testament, there is are many men and women who are faithful to God and great examples to teach our kids! A few we can talk about today are Joshua, Samuel and David! Each of the stories that are associated with these young men are memorable to kids and teach such great lessons about who God is and how we respond to him!

The story that Joshua is probably remembered for most is the Battle at Jericho when the walls came tumbling down! Like any boy, Titus loves to hear (and sing!) about big buildings and towers crashing down, and the yelling and trumpets blowing... Noise... Chaos! It's a boy's dream story! :) And the coolest part about it, is that we can tell our kids that God is the one who knocked these walls and buildings over! But Joshua had to trust what God said, and make the choice to obey! And God gave them the victory by doing things His way!

Just today Titus and I were marching around Jericho (our coffee table) and blowing our pretend trumpets! Then we told the story as we built some walls with blocks, had his toy people march around them and then knocked the walls over! It was probably the most fun he had all day, plus he learned a great Bible story that he won't soon forget!

Samuel lived in the temple and assisted with the daily work. The Lord had a special purpose for Him and called to him one evening. Samuel, however, thought it was the Priest Eli. Eli said he wasn't the one who called and to go back to bed. Again, the Lord called to Samuel and again Samuel when to Eli. Finally Eli told Samuel that the next time he was called to answer, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening!" Samuel became a great man of God who knew the Lord's voice the rest of his life! People revered him for his connection to God and God used him to share His Word with the people of Israel and the Kings that came.

David was a shepherd boy who became a mighty warrior king! God chose him while he was still a boy to one day become the king of Israel! There was quite a waiting period until this promise reach fulfillment, much of it was filled with bloodshed! Then he became king and reigned a long time, but his reign was tainted by adultery, murder, and immorality and violence within his family... Yet despite much of David's downfalls, he is still known as a man after God's own heart! He is most well-known for being the writer of over half the Psalms as well as being the small shepherd boy who killed the blaspheming giant, Goliath! Even if we can't share a lot of David's life with small children due to the subject matter, there is still much we can teach from David's life about God and a heart that is devoted to him!

David was a shepherd boy, bringing food to his warrior brothers at the battlefront. Goliath was mocking the One and Only God, defying the LORD Almighty , and the Israelite army was doing nothing because they were afraid! David basically walked up and was like, "who does this guy think he is? and why aren't you doing anything about it?" So he killed the giant with a rock and a slingshot! God gave him victory because he cared about God's Name! God's in the business of using the weak things of this world to spread His Glory!

I won't take the time to list every lesson or attribute about God that we could teach from these stories! And there are more than just these! Acting these stories out are great ways to teach and connect them with young kids!

 Start developing a desire in your kids to be used by God to do great things! God uses men and women who love him and are surrendered to Him! God has a special plan for each of their little lives, if they will obey him! Teaching about the "Bible Heroes" are a great way to do that- but, most importantly, don't forget to teach who God is from these stories! It's ultimately not about these people! God is who these stories are about; He only chose to use those people to show His Glory!

God has a special plan for your toddler's life... Do you tell them that and pray for that in their lives?

Monday, October 22, 2012

day 22 :: moses and the exodus

This is Day 22 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post


Kids love to learn stories about babies which is why the story of Baby Moses is so well-loved by kids. It shows a family love for one another and trust in God that He will take care of them and protect them no matter what! There's something so touching about Moses being hidden by his mother, then put in a basket in the Nile, and watched by his sister! Their love and care for each other is apparent. But they also have something stronger than love: their faith in God! And God saves Moses by allowing the Pharoah's daughter to find him and raise him as her son. But God is still faithful to this loving Israelite family- he allows Moses' mother to be the one to take care of him!

God rescued Moses for a very special purpose! He wanted Moses to lead his people out of Egypt where they were enslaved and harshly treated! After several years of preparing Moses for this task, he brings Moses back to Egypt to show the power of God in the form of the plagues!

This story is an amazing opportunity to teach your kids about God's power! Besides Christ's death, the Exodus is the most used example and reminder in the Bible of God's power on display, because it was the beginning of their nationhood, really. This was the epitome of the miraculous works of God in the Old Testament! If you want to increase your child's view of God, teach them about God's power during the 10 plagues and the Exodus! It's so exciting for kids to imagine what is would be like to have frogs or bugs everywhere, to be in total darkness, or have water turn to blood! You can make it as visual or interactive as you want! :)

And it's so a great time to talk about the importance of blood! We know Christ's blood is what washes us of our sin! But at the Exodus, before the final plague, God commanded the Israelites to paint on their doorframes the blood of a perfect lamb. When the angel of death came to kill the firstborn, it would passover if the blood was present on the door. What an amazing foreshadowing of Christ! Because of Christ's blood applied to our life, we escape God's wrath because he sees our hearts clean of sin! Amen! God provided a way for his people to be saved from this plague, and he's provided a way for us to be saved from judgement too! Praise Him!

We can't miss this awesome story of God's power, but also of the picture He gives of his provision in the future through Christ as the Passover Lamb!

What we learn about God:
He has a purpose for our lives
He takes care of us and protects us
He is powerful!
He is the Only God!
He provides a way for us to escape judgement through Christ's blood!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

day 21 :: the flood

This is Day 21 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post

The story of Noah and the Ark is a favorite of so many kids! I'm actually wrapping this story up in my Sunday School class today! I mean, who doesn't love a good story about building a really big boat, lots and lots of animals, a huge storm and lots of water, camping out with animals, and the rainbow at the end? Any little boy, especially, is hooked on a story like this! But there are some powerful truths in it that we can't miss when teaching our littles.

But from here on out, the theme of most of the Bible stories is about Sin and oftentimes there is also included the thread of Hope that God is weaving to accomplish his purposes in the future through Christ. And the story of the Flood, maybe more than a lot of other Bible stories, is full of Sin and of Hope! Noah was commanded by God is build the boat because of sin! The world had become so sinful and wicked and vile, that God was pronouncing a worldwide judgement! But He found one faithful man and determined to save him and his family! Sin and Hope!

This is the first time since creation that we see God's awesome power on display! He sent the Flood and destroys everything, saving one family faithful to Him, and two of every kind of animal!

What we learn about God:
He's powerful!
He takes care of those who love and obey him!
He takes sin seriously and punishes sin!
He keeps His word! (Rainbow promise)

What we learn about us:
We are sinful!
We need God and the Hope he offers!
We must obey God!

Once again, the gospel is here! This Hope that is coming is present in this story! We are sinful, but God has mercy on us and provides a way for us to be rescued!
As I said earlier, so many Bible stories deal with sin because human beings are sinful, and as well purposefully point this fact out to our kids as we read to and teach them, we are teaching them of their own sinfulness and need for Christ! And they will be one step closer to understanding the Gospel!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

day 20 :: the fall

This is Day 20 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post


Back when I was looking for a children's bible for Titus, I remember flipping through several to see what stories were included...and missing! I was disturbed that several children's Bibles left out the stories of the Fall and Christ's Crucifixion! I understand the desire to protect our kids from a subject matter that might be graphic or difficult to understand, but these are both stories that are foundational to our kids understanding of the Gospel! More on the Crucifixion later... However, how can kids understand Christ's death and sacrifice if they haven't first learned why it was necessary? The Fall is the foundation for understanding our need for a Savior. It's the first glimpse we have at hope and God's provision to redeem us from sin through His Son! It's the story where we first grapple with our own sinfulness and why we even need the story of Christ's death! We say that the first thing we must do in order to be saved, is to admit that we're a sinner. Well, it's the same with our kids! They need to know that they are sinners and Christ is the only hope! That God has a standard, but that he loves us and has made a way for us to be saved! All the boys in my Sunday School class know they "do bad things" and they'll list off all kinds of things that they do! :) That's the first step!

With Titus and with my SS class, I try to use the words that Scripture uses when explaining spiritual concepts. I've been teaching them the word "sin" since it's the word God uses. When I say, "doing bad things", I'll also say "sin", so that they understand that they are synonymous. "Sin" is so much more serious of a word and they need to understand that sin is a serious thing! God takes sin seriously and that's what the story of The Fall is all about! We can't miss teaching our kids this lesson!

The Fall teaches us a few more things about God, but it teaches us more of who we are as humans!
*God gave Adam and Eve a beautiful garden to live in, with animals and food and fellowship with God
*Gad had a rule that he gave Adam and Eve- don't eat the fruit off of one tree!
*Adam and Eve disobeyed Him, so God had to punish them and they had to leave the Garden
*We make God sad when we disobey Him
*We all sin because of Adam and Eve
*But God has made a way through Christ...

Do you see that the story of the Fall leads right into the Gospel? We can't overlook this story, but must take the time to teach it because it is foundational to our kids understanding of themselves as sinners and their need for Christ!

Friday, October 19, 2012

day 19 :: creation

This is Day 19 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post

This Fall, I started teaching the 2s and 3s Sunday School class at church, and it's been FUN! I usually have 4 boys (including mine) who have a lot of energy and a lot of appetite for the stories that I share. I jumped at the opportunity when I was first asked! Since I've been spending the day after day of this past year purposefully investing spiritually in Titus' life (and having a ball doing it!), I felt like I better understood how to explain things to his age group than I would've before having kids. I'm loving it so far! Of course I'm learning that it's an interesting (and somewhat frustrating) thing to be your own child's teacher! :)

I started by teaching about creation, and with visuals and hands-on activities, its so fun for young kids to learn. It's a pretty basic story to teach too! You start with God- that before there was anything else, there was just God! We begin here to implant the idea of God's eternality on our kids minds! This is where a high view of God begins- at the beginning!

Things we learn about God: 
He is eternal
He is powerful
He has made everything we see
He loves us- his creation!

What we do in response:
We thank him for all he has made!
We take care of what he has made!

Toddlers can understand a lot of the concepts in the Creation story, like each of the elements that were created each day: Darkness and Light, Sky and Water, Dry land and vegetation, Sun moon and stars, and then comes the fun ones- birds and fish, animals, and then people!
And there's so many ways to teach these! When I taught my SS class, they loved the visuals of water and sky and animals and stars, and trees... and animals! :) You can bring in objects for them to see- a stuffed animal or a flower or leaf. You can find pictures for them to color, you can go on a nature walk.

To teach anything to toddlers, you need two things to help it stick: interaction and repetition. As I teach Bible stories or spiritual lessons, ask lots of questions to get Titus to interact and make more of a connection in his brain, to help him remember. And I tell the same stories and repeat the same lessons and truths about God time and time again! Then we get to the point that he is telling me the story and filling in the details! That's when I know I've been successful... then I trust God to work in his heart and make the lessons real in his life!

This is where the ONE story of Scripture begins, and how we begin to connect to all the individual stories!

What are some creative ways you've taught your little ones the Creation story?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 18 :: connecting the bible stories to ONE story

This is Day 18 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post

Don't forget about the shop sale just for my 31 day readers going on now until Sunday night 10/21- use code 31DAYS for 10% off your order! You are shopping with a purpose at Oak Street Studio, as 50% of all sales go to fight human trafficking and fund adoptions! Learn more here!


Starting tomorrow, I'm going to start going through some of the individual Bible stories and sharing a few ways we add to what we're reading them and use it as a time to teach Theology. Titus loves for me to read him Bible stories, so when we finish a story, I try to ask a few questions and tell him a few quick extra things about God while he's still engaged. It only takes a minute or two longer, but after I do this time and time again, it starts to stick, and he starts telling me the story and the spiritual truths I've told him! Repetition is the key to teaching toddlers, I'm finding! :) 

It's easy in the mind of a kid to learn all the Bible stories, but not find anything deeper in them besides the one application a Sunday School teacher might tell them. I know as a child, I saw the stories as disconnected and isolated in Scripture, and I think that's how kids seem to be taught the stories in their children's bibles and at church. I'm sure you might've viewed them the same way at some time or another. There's certainly nothing wrong with kids simply knowing the Bible stories, since they do provide a foundation for their knowledge and faith, but we must do what we can to connect these stories to the ONE story of Scripture! Of course it might be slightly over a 2 year old's head to try to give them thousands of years of early Israelite history or Western Civilization,  but we can try to impress on them that all these stories are apart of something bigger and that God is at work and that there is a purpose for everything that happens! Start to teach them why this story is important or what God is doing in this story! Of course, the story of Scripture is the Story of God's love, it's the Story of Christ, and its the Story of how we can find God! Christ is all over Scripture, so let's point our toddlers to Christ whenever we get the opportunity! (More on sharing the Gospel coming soon!)  There's a problem of sin that God has solved in Christ. Throughout the Bible there's the constant problem of sin, but there's a clear message of hope! Let's purposefully weave these themes of Scriptures into our children's minds; let's begin to teach some continuity in Scripture. Teach the stories and then start to connect them. 

This may sound kind of silly to some of you. You may not understand what the big deal is. Like I said earlier, there's obviously nothing wrong with teaching Bible stories- they are important to build that spiritual foundation and knowledge of the Word. But when you come to teaching about Christ and his work on the cross, its important that they understand there is a sin problem and where it came from, and that they acknowledge their own sinfulness. Helping a toddler understand the Gospel can be difficult enough, so if you've laid the ground work already, it can help them begin an understanding of what Christ did and why it's important.

Well I hope this makes sense. I feel like my mind is kind of all over the place, so hopefully you get the point of what I'm trying to say! :) Bottom line, let's begin to connect all the individual Bible stories to the ONE story that Scripture is telling!




 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

day 17 :: when toddlers aren't interested



This is Day 17 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post

Don't forget about the shop sale just for my 31 day readers going on now until Sunday night 10/21- use code 31DAYS for 10% off your order! You are shopping with a purpose at Oak Street Studio, as 50% of all sales go to fight human trafficking and fund adoptions! Learn more here!


So towards the beginning of this series, when I was sharing about how this whole thing starts with us, I received a comment from a discouraged Ally who basically said, "that's so great that your son is so receptive to spiritual things, but my 3 yr old daughter doesn't seem interested during Bible time and often doesn't want to pray."

So I want to talk about this today... When our young kids aren't interested! Sure, we can be all gung ho about teaching them the Bible and praying with them, but if they are uninterested (or resistant, even!), we panic!
What do we do!?

When I received this comment, I knew I needed to address this issue, but I was stumped! Yes, my son is very spiritually receptive (and I'm so blessed!), but I know this is a real issue for many parents, and who knows, I may one day have to deal with this in Norah's life! I remember a friend of mine from MOPS shared last year that her 3 year old son was very resistant to spiritual things, particularly to praying before bed at night. She was worried and discouraged, and didn't know what to do. So she asked our group for prayer, and one of our Mom Mentors (a grandmother) encouraged her not to push spiritual things or force him to pray if he didn't want to for a little while.

Well, I never heard how it turned out, so I gave Michelle a call to find out what happened and to see if she had any insight to give me that I can share with you all. I was so excited about what she told me. So Michelle listened to the advice and didn't push it anymore. She continued to pray with him at night, but instead of forcing him to pray, she would just pray. She said she even got him involved by asking, "What should Mom pray for?" and he seemed okay with that. After a few months, she was having spiritual conversations with him and one night they were talking about how Jesus washes us clean of our sins. Little Simon said he wanted to ask Jesus to wash his sins away! And that's what he did that night! Praise the Lord! After that, Michelle said she noticed a difference in him! He was more interested in spiritual things and was praying again! She told me she was talking to a friend later who had had a very similar experience with her child!

I came away with so many things from our conversation. Here are a few...

First of all, our toddlers are so young! We need not worry too much or expect too much of them- just be faithful to make the most of the moments, and be spiritually intentional in their lives. Let God work his Will in His time!

Second, if they are uninterested or resistant, PRAY for them! Pray for an open heart, pray for God to work in their little lives and pray for God's timing! Perhaps it means giving it a little break and not forcing them to participate in spiritual things for a while!

Third, find ways to incorporate prayer or the Bible into their life that they will accept! Be creative- use interactive play, sing scripture, or change-up the bedtime routine.

Last, there could very well be a spiritual battle going on their little life! My friend Michelle believed that's what was going on in her son's life, and in her friend's child. This may sound a little scary, but it should also be encouraging because God may be at work in your child's life, even if they seem resistant! Trust God and PRAY like crazy for their souls! Follow the Lord's leading in taking opportunities to have spiritual conversations, because you may never know when that moment will be that they are ready to accept Christ personally into their life!

Well I hope this is helpful for any parents who are struggling with this issue! I can't imagine how frustrating and discouraging this must be, but I know that we have a God who is Good and will work his will in his time! I think all this can be summed up in these two ways: Trust God & Pray!!!
Thanks Ally for raising this issue! I hope this helps!

Do you have any other insights for parents in this situation? 
Please share them in the comments below!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

day 16 :: holidays

This is Day 16 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. I can't believe that it's already past the halfway point! It's quite the challenge I've taken on, but its been fun and SO good for me! If you haven't been following along and want to view my menu of posts so far, click on this intro post to catch up! Thanks to all of you who've been reading along and sending encouragement! :)


So in the next couple days, I'm going to start going through some of the individual Bible stories and draw out spiritual lessons and how to teach more of who God is from them. This has been a huge part of how I teach Titus who God is, his spiritual need and many spiritual truths. I'm looking forward to this because intentional teaching is what I'm so passionate about!

Today, I want to touch on something that I will mention more about when I get to certain Bible stories, but I felt like it was important enough to give it its own post.

The holidays are a great time to talk about spiritual things with our young children. And by holidays, I'm referring to the Holy-days, spiritual holidays, ie Christmas and Easter, specifically, but also Thanksgiving. Especially since spiritual holidays are so driven by consumerism, we must make the concerted effort to teach our little ones the true meaning of the holidays. If they aren't taught by us, there aren't many other places they will hear it from.

There are more ways to teach the true meaning of Christmas and Easter than just reading or telling the stories, although that is important too!

There are SO many fun things that you can do to remember and teach the spiritual meanings. Find an activity that you can make a family tradition to remember the Lord during the holiday season. There are loads of great ideas floating around the internet, but with a little thought and creativity, it wouldn't be difficult to think of something on your own. Here are a few ideas of my own:

Thanksgiving: Go around the dinner table and share what each person is thankful for, read a psalm and/or spend a few minutes in prayer. 
Create a "Thankful tree" or a "Blessings jar" by adding God's blessings to it throughout the month prior.
Teach about the pilgrims and "indians" who celebrated God's blessing on them, placing the emphasis on God!

Christmas: Make a birthday cake for Jesus.  
Fill a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child
Give a gift to someone you know in need.  
Do an advent calendar
Attend a Christmas concert or Christmas Eve service.  
Go Christmas caroling to unsaved neighbors, singing songs about Jesus.  
Have a nativity scene out for your kids to play with.

Easter: Make resurrection rolls or cookies.  
Attend a Good Friday service.
Attend a Resurrection Day service.  
Create an Easter Garden {a cross and tomb scene together with dirt, rocks and sticks.ad

So those are some ideas that I came up with off the top of my head while sitting here, some I've done with Titus, others I did with my family as a kid.

Toddlers need hands-on activities to help cement the spiritual/abstract concepts we're trying to teach them. I've tried to do this in a couple of ways this past Christmas and Easter for Titus. I looked for a great Nativity Scene for him to play with, not one that was for decoration! Like choosing a children's bible, finding a nativity set was equally as hard! Would you believe there were characters missing (like shepherds!) in some popular ones? I finally found one that included everyone in the story! The people look a little strange (haha!) but I've been very happy with this 17-piece nativity play set and of course Titus loved it!


For Easter this year, we had a lot of fun making Resurrection rolls out of crescent rolls and marshmallows! Each ingredient is symbolic of something in the Resurrection story, and when you finish baking them and break them open, the roll is empty! Such a fun, hands-on way to teach the story!

Of course I can't emphasize enough the importance of simply reading and telling the Christmas and Easter bible stories during the holidays! What better time to teach our kids about Jesus? The season just gives us that opportunity to emphasize God's work through Christ! Kids learn the best through repetition, so we should make it a point, especially during spiritual holiday seasons, to tell over and over again these stories of Scripture! That's how they'll learn them... hearing them over and over again!


 And let's not get so busy and distracted during the holiday seasons, that we neglect this amazing opportunity to spiritually invest in our kids! This is also how we help battle materialism and selfishness in our kids lives that these holidays seem to lend themselves to!

What ways do you make a spiritual emphasis during these big holidays? Share any family activities that you do to reinforce the true meaning of spiritual holidays.

 

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Learn about why I started a new blog, plus more about my heart in my recent intro posts: 
new
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  And learn about how to shop with a purpose at my new shop, Oak Street Studio 
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Monday, October 15, 2012

day 15 :: our kids need the church



This is Day 15 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post
 

I hope you enjoyed the guest posts that my husband shared the past three days from a dad’s perspective. If you missed them, go to this post to catch up! It was so exciting for me to have him participate with me on this 31 day blogging adventure! He’s been there to bounce all my ideas off of, and his been a huge support as I have jumped into this headfirst! Any wife knows how much easier it is to accomplish something big, when she has the support and love of her man as she does it! Besides, we are “teaching toddlers theology” together since we are teammates on this journey of parenthood! I’m so thankful for him, and I hope you were blessed by his wisdom.


So yesterday, he talked about why church is so important to implement into our family’s lives, as well as the importance of it for our spiritual growth! I’d like to continue that thought of church and share some things from a different point of view.

As a parent of a toddler, I realize how much I need help to raise my kids… books, others’ advice, family support, my husband, and most of all, the Lord. But also, the Church, the body of believers. I don’t want to be the only one investing in my kids’ lives. I want them to be influenced by many other godly people! Kindof like the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” so the Church is to us in helping come alongside and instilling the same spiritual values that we, as parents, are as well!

We all know that kids have a way of listening to others opinions before they listen to their parents, and we need to surround our kids with other people who think the same way as we do, when it comes to things of the Lord, the Word and spiritual matters, so that what they are hearing, especially in the early years of life are consistent with what we, their parents, believe. Choose a church that lines up with what you believe on all the major Biblical issues so that the messages our children hear are the same that they hear from us! Not only are they hearing a consistent message, but they see other adults (and people of all ages, really) believe the same as they are being taught at home, and realize that their weird parents aren’t the only ones who believe this way! :)

For many single parents out there, church is an especially great opportunity for other godly adults to invest in your kids, but also to be a support to you!

The bottom line is that we NEED each other, as believers! The Church is a gift from God to glorify Him, share Christ with the world, but also to take care of each other and we need to allow the Church to be that extra influence in our kid’s lives and assisting us in the task of raising our little ones to love and serve the Lord!


If you're new here, welcome to The Homemade Calling, my new blog! 
Learn about why I started a new blog, plus more about my heart in my recent intro posts:
I'd love to have you follow along here- you can "follow" this blog, or subscribe via email or RSS feed on the right hand side.
And learn about how to shop with a purpose at my new shop, Oak Street Studio 
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

day 14 {guest post} church: the missing element for spiritual growth





It's been so exciting for me to have my husband share from a dad's perspective on this topic of spiritually training and investing in our young kids. This important job of purposeful parenting should be a team effort and we want to continue discussing this aspect today! This is his final post here on my Teaching Toddlers Theology series, and I'm so grateful for his contributions!
Here's my sweet hubby, Tim:




I have a special heart for the church. God has called me into full-time pastoral ministry. I eat, sleep, and drink church and I love it. It has its quirks, hypocrites, and struggles, but it is God’s creation and it’s how he works in our world today. When Jesus said that he would, “Build his church,” he wasn’t messing around. Church is not an opiate for the masses or something silly and outdated that we cling to for comfort and safety. It is the body of Christ in this world. It is a center for spreading the Gospel and making disciples of Christ Jesus. It as Paul would say, it's “From Him, through Him, and to Him.”

Dads and moms that want to teach their kids to love God, learn theology, and live faithfully must also teach their kids to love and value church. Why? Because God made the church for the building and strengthening of Christ followers. Of all the things that parents can do to raise their kids to fear and obey God, church is the best of all them. I’m not saying that once a week at church is better than lifestyle parenting or that it replaces your responsibility to work them through the week. What I’m saying is that if you want all of your daily work to have its best effect, then church needs to be a necessary part of your teaching/training paradigm.

Don’t believe me? Let’s just think about what happens at church:
  1. Multiple generations of believers coming together in unity of Spirit to praise God, learn from God, and fellowship together. 

  2. Kids get to learn with other kids on their learning level with passionate teachers that aren’t usually their mom or dad. They get to learn of the great foundations of the faith, the most-loved stories of Scripture, and the Gospel on a weekly basis. 

  3. Kids get to make crafts and eat snacks that relate to the stories and principles of Scripture. You cannot put too high of a value on hands-on-learning for kids. Skeptical, I have two words for you: Play-Dough. Kids learn by using their hands and getting engaged in their stories. 

  4. Kids see people of all ages excited about the things of God. They see people carrying their Bibles, hugging each other, helping the elderly, singing together, and people getting baptized. 

  5. Kids get a chance to serve with others according to God has wired them. With the broad variety of options, they can find their passions and then use them to benefit the whole body. They get a chance to find meaning in what they do and develop skills that will last a lifetime. 

I could go on, but I think that you get the point. The question is not, “Is there value in it” or “Is it profitable?” The question is, “Will we make it a priority for our family?” I think that the choice to get in church starts with dads. If they are not excited and passionate about church, the family will have a hard time in keeping it a priority. Kids are smart and if dad isn’t coming to church, or he comes with a grudge and refuses to sing and serve, they kids will start to ask why. Kids mirror us in almost all of life. If you rout loud and strong for college football (like I do) your kids will to. One of Titus’ first words was "touchdown". What we model, our kids will follow. If this is the case, how much more will that be the case with church?

Churches are never perfect and that’s because they are full of imperfect sinners just like you and me, but do not miss the fact that God made the church. God sustains the church. God enables the spiritual growth of those who attend church. God will bless you and your kids if you make it a priority and invest yourselves in it. You need church and there is no way around that truth if you take a serious look at Scripture. Private spirituality is part of following Christ but the paradigm in Scripture is that growth always happens in the context of the local gathered and recognized assembly, the church. Don't undermine or under-emphasize God's plan for your growth and your kids. Direct and blunt? Yeah, but it's the truth.

The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. 
                                                                                                               --- Psalm 9:7-10



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This is Day 14 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post.