Being Flexible

We’re on vacation this week. Our regular schedule has gone to the dogs, and everything feels a tiny bit off. This got me thinking how important it is for us to be flexible. We have our plan. God has his. Sometimes it seems like the two are moving in different directions.

1 Corinthians 1:25 reminds us a foolish plan of God’s is still wiser than the wisest of human plans. We need to open our hearts and our minds to God’s plans for our lives. It isn’t always easy. We need to remain flexible; be willing to either stick to a road that seems like it’s going nowhere or take a path that leads in a new direction as God guides us to do.

This applies to how we interact with our children too. We have our plans for our children, but God has his plans for them too. We need to seek his guidance in how to direct our children. We need to remember that while God has blessed us with these children for a short while, they remain his, and we must help them discover God’s plan for their lives and help them not to stray from it.

I pray each day that I remain like clay in the potter’s hands, open to being molded and shaped by his will, not mine.

 

Remembering His Greatness

Several weeks ago Linda McQuinn Carlblom had a great post about praying with children (you can find it here).  One of the things that really resonated with me about it was the idea that we should follow up with our children and see how God is working in their lives through prayer.  It is often easy to forget the answered prayers and focus on the current list of requests.  So how do we avoid this?    How can we use all those answered prayers to strengthen our faith and the faith of those around us?  We can do it by remembering His greatness!

In the book of Joshua we hear the story of Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan river.  In order to facilitate their crossing, God stops the water and affords the Israelites safe passage across.  Once they completed their trip, He asks them to take twelve rocks from the river bed and carry them to their camp.  Joshua 4:6-7  “In the future, when your children  ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

Not only did this pile of stones serve as a reminder of God’s greatness to those who crossed the Jordan that day, but also to the generations that followed who could still see this testament standing.  It is the same for us today, by sharing the stories about how God is working in our lives we can strengthen the faith of those around us.  With that being said, I would like to share a personal story of my own as a testament to His greatness.

When my second daughter turned one I wanted to give her a book that would show her how talented, special and uniquely created by God she was.  Not finding this book in stores, I wrote my first draft of what would become my book Perfect You.  On the same day that I gave her this book and celebrated her birth, we found out we were pregnant with our third child.  As my due date grew closer I was filled with anxiety wondering how I could continue my part time job as an engineer while having 3 little girls at home.  Could we afford to have me work?  Could we afford to have me stay home?  Did I want to stay home?  I prayed for guidance through out.  I began sending out copies of my manuscript out to publishers feeling that this was a direction I should be heading.  I also started my blog, the little hearts project, to encourage families to serve together as this is something else that I felt He wanted me to do.  On my oldest daughters fourth birthday, while five months pregnant, I was called into my bosses office and was laid off.  The day before I was contacted by a publisher who was going to publish Perfect You.

I could never have imagined this turn of events, which is why I was so glad that it was Him in control and not me.  My separation from that company was wonderful and I ended up consoling them in the end!  Being laid off allowed me the financial flexibility to be home with my girls and get things underway with my book.  All these circumstances came together in a way only He could have orchestrated.

Do you have a pile of rocks?  A Perfect You?  A reminder of His greatness?  I encourage you to find yours so when those troubled times come, you can always have a way to remember that He is great!

 

www.thelittleheartsproject.blogspot.com

www.hollyskeltonbooks.com

Happy Birthday America!

Happy 236th Birthday, America! 

We live off Main Street, USA in a quaint New England town filled with proud historical markers. Two streets to our right our founding father, George Washington, hitched his horse in front of my daughter’s home. Down the hill the birthplace of Lyman Hall, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, still stands proud. Flags fly from country porches, line the center of town and wave their red, white and blue at passers-by from Memorial Day through September.

My preschool grandchildren frequently walk these flag-lined streets and can already identify the American flag from all the others. It makes this grandma’s heart proud! I’m sure their natural curiosity influenced conversations with their parent’s about the flag, but I’m glad to know they’re already learning to identify the symbol of this great country.

I remember when my son was in second-grade, I asked if his class recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. He hesitated, wondering if he should tell the truth. “Well, the principal says it every morning over the loud speaker, but our teacher doesn’t make us say it with him every day.” My heart sank and my mind raced wondering how to respond, how to instill the importance of this symbolic act in an eigth-year-old. So, I simply asked him to pay attention to the words the principal was saying and to recite the pledge in his heart every morning, even when his teacher didn’t lead the class.

How exactly do we instill patriotism, the love of country in our children especiallly if they attend public schools? Live it. Just as we live out our faith at home, we should also live out our love of country.

Here’s a few ideas: 

  • Display an American flag on your home for significant patriotic holidays (Flag Day, D-Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Veteran’s Day) explaining the origination of the flag during the Revolutionary War and the symbolism behind the colors and stars. For preschoolers, simply stating it represents our country and the stars stand for our states – where we live.
  • Salute the flag as it passes during a parade. Teach your sons to remove their hats and place them over their heart and daughters to place their right hand over their heart as well.
  • Pray for our nation’s leaders as a family.
  • Vote at every election and take your children into the voting booth, explaining the importance and great privilege it is to choose our own leaders.
  • Practice simplified democracy in appropriate ways, like voting on which movie the family will watch or which snack they’d like to eat.
  • Make a patriotic dessert for these special holidays. I’ve seen confetti cake mixes with red/white/blue sprinkles in the mix and star sprinkles to go atop the icing. Easy-peasy.
  • Talk about the WHY of the day when they’re off from school or on the way to the fireworks, etc.

How does your family celebrate freedom and how do you teach your children to love this country?  

Happy 4th of July,
Dawn Aldrich/@DawnAldrich
Author of Auntie’s House
 

The House in the Middle of Town

Don’t you love it when God gives us a surprise that we could never have planned or imagined? I am sure we can all think of times when God blessed us in an unexpected way.

One of my favorite personal stories is what happened to my book, The House in the Middle of Town. No—it didn’t win an award or end up on the best sellers list. It’s much better than that!

Here’s the story:  The picture book was published by Standard Publishing House in the fall of 2007. It fit with their 2008 vacation Bible school theme of loving your neighbor, which is why they decided to publish it. Standard planned to promote it along with their Bible school curriculum materials early 2008. It was all set and ready to go when the vacation Bible school programs began. I was so excited when I thought about the little children all over the country who might be listening to their Bible school teacher read the story to them.

Then came the surprise. In July of that summer, the Extreme Make Over Home Edition people were working on a “house in the middle of town” for a young Christian family in Cincinnati, Ohio. Guess where Standard Publishing House is located—yep— Cincinnati, Ohio. So one of the marketing persons from Standard went to the site and gave a book to the ABC producer. She asked the producer if they could donate some books to the volunteers who were working on the house. The producer said she would read the book and let her know.

One of the verses in the book goes like this: These are my neighbors who worked very hard, to fix up the house and clean up the yard. Tired and dirty, we’re glad that we came, to help out a grandma in Jesus’ name.

So the gal from Standard left and figured once the producer came across the name of Jesus, that would be an automatic NO.  Well here’s the surprise: She said YES!

On the evening before the family comes back to their new home, the community gives the volunteers a big party (I didn’t know that—we don’t see that part on the TV show). Many local businesses contribute food and beverages, etc. So a few of the good folks from Standard went to the party with several cases of books. They gave away 1000 copies of The House in the Middle of Town. Even Ty Pennington got a copy! How cool is that!

Since that wonderful event, the book still has not made the best sellers list, and it has not received an award. But 1000 people have a book that tells them why we are supposed to love our neighbor—we do it in the name of Jesus!

Here’s to experiencing God’s surprises!

Crystal Bowman

 

 

Teaching Complex Biblical Truths

Some Bible truths are easy to teach our children.

Don’t steal.
Tell the truth.
Obey your parents.

 Some are not so easy.

Salvation is a gift of grace.
Trust God even when you can’t see Him.
God is Triune – three persons, but one in essence

How do we communicate these truths to children, when we may be struggling to understand them ourselves?

It may help to follow these steps:

1. Pray!

This sounds almost cliché, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Prayer is more than just a pat answer. It’s our lifeline to the One who loves us, sent His Son to die for us, and sent His Spirit to live in us. Prayer should be our first recourse in all things!

2. Search God’s Word.

The Bible is more than a collection of dos and don’ts. It’s our guidebook to understand who God is, how He works, who we are in relation to Him, and how we are to live. Don’t just look for one verse. Allow the Bible to interpret itself by seeking as many verses as you can on the same subject.

3. Process and apply these truths for yourself.

We cannot teach what we have not learned. ’Nuf said!

 4. Seek out trusted, age-appropriate resources.

Talk to the children’s pastor at your church. Locate children’s books by authors you trust to rightly handle God’s Word. But remember, whether from a pastor or an author, these resources help you apply God’s Word, they are not a substitute for it!

 5. Don’t imitate a dump truck.

If your child asks a question, give him only as much information as he can process. He doesn’t have to understand the whole picture in one sitting. As a matter of fact, there are some biblical truths I am still processing!

6. Don’t oversimplify.

In my last post, I mentioned we need to be careful as we teach Bible truth to children.

Sometimes, in our efforts to communicate truth, we oversimplify to the point of communicating error. For example, in trying to teach about the Trinity, some use water’s three states as an illustration. But water cannot exist as water vapor, water, and ice simultaneously. God does not move from Son to Spirit to Father. God is always three Persons at the same time. We see this in the gospel account of Jesus’ baptism. Matthew 3:13-17 tells us Jesus, God the Father (“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well-pleased”), and the Holy Spirit (“descending like a dove”) were all present at the same time.

As parents, grandparents, teachers, and adult influences in children’s lives, we have a tremendous responsibility to teach them truths that will influence them for the rest of their lives. Embrace the opportunity!

On a personal note, Crystal Bowman and I are excited about the Faith Basics for Kids series because each book teaches a Bible truth with age-appropriate vocabulary and a fun story, and also explains that same truth at an adult-level through an addendum at the back of the book. We’d love to hear your feedback on Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today?