God is Always There

One of a child’s most basic needs is security. Children need to know that an adult will always be there and that they will never be left alone. Children need to live in homes that offer a secure and stable environment where they are loved and nurtured. Children who experience abandonment from a parent often struggle with insecurity and may display their insecurity in a variety of ways. Some children may become withdrawn, while other may become angry and disobedient. But even in a secure, loving, stable environment, children may struggle with insecurity from time to time.

God’s promises are comforting and reassuring to children as well as adults. One of God’s most comforting promises is His promise to never leave us. He is with us all the time—24/7. Joshua 1:9 (NIV) says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” And in Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) we read, “So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

A good way to teach spiritual lessons to young children is through kid-friendly books that explain biblical truths in age-appropriate ways. One of my books in the Little Blessing series is titled, Is God Always with Me? As Kaitlyn, Parker, Jack, and Zoe learn the many different ways that God is with them, your child will absorb these truths and be able to apply God’s promises to their own lives. The story is in a question and answer format with Scripture verses included in the back of the book.

Teaching your children that God is always with them will help them to feel more secure. Perhaps they will echo the words of  King David, “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me” (Psalm 16:8 NLT).

Crystal Bowman

    

The Most Important Influence

Who is the most important influence in your child’s life?

For years, we’ve been hearing about the importance of peer influence and peer pressure in our children’s lives. We send them off to school and wonder who their friends will be.

Who will come alongside them?

Who will hurt them?

Who will they look up to?

Will they measure up to the smart kids?

Will they be mocked by the cool kids?

 The questions are unending, fueled in part by our own positive or negative school experiences.

As important as peer relationships are, research is now showing that parental and other adult influences have been seriously underestimated by our culture. It’s about time the experts recognize what we’ve known all along!

Strong relationships between parents (and other adult role models) and children establish a foundation that will impact a child in a variety of ways, including risk of drug use and the ability to handle problems with resilience.*

So what does this mean for Christian parents? For one thing, we need to stop trying to be our children’s friends, and instead own our roles as parents, role models, and mentors.

Here are a few verses to help us see the biblical basis for these relationships:

Psalm 78:4 – We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.

Proverbs 22:6 – Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

We also need to be intentional about the non-parental influencers of our children. These influencers include teachers, coaches, Sunday school teachers, extended family members, and even the parents of our children’s friends.

While we may not always be able to choose our children’s teachers or coaches, we can monitor their interactions to ensure that the relationship is constructive. Above all, we can pray for the adults as well as for our children.

Children are natural imitators, and imitation is biblical. Even the apostle Paul wrote, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1), and “You became imitators of us and of the Lord” (I Thessalonians 1:6).

By understanding the importance of adult influence, we can be intentional about those who have the privilege of investing in the lives of the children God has entrusted into our care.

Who are the adult influencers and role models in your child’s life?
How do you monitor and evaluate these relationships?

* Data taken from a Moody webinar by E. Smith, May 2012.

Building Love Bridges

Beyond Skype, e-mails, texts or other techno-gizmos, what can you and your child do to communicate with grandparents who live near or faraway?

If your child does or doesn’t live close enough to hug Grandy everyday, love connections need to be formed and nurtured in other ways. Here are a few ideas to jog your creative juices:

1.  Display a photo of Grandy in a place where your child sees it daily. Point out Grandy’s eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hair, or family traits so that even a young child will be able to recognize and remember Grandy. Encourage a mental picture of Grandy to embed itself in your child’s memory, keeping Grandy’s face alive in your child’s heart and mind.

2. Tell your child stories about Grandy’s house, pets, favorite things, birthday.

3. Encourage Grandy to write of childhood memories and send them to your child. Do they have experiences in common? Does your child say, “Me too”?

4. Include Grandy in your conversations. For example, ask your child, “What do you think Grandy’s doing now?” After everyone guesses, phone Grandy to discover the truth.

5. Once a year, encourage your child to draw a gift picture of Grandy for Grandy’s birthday. Print a copy for your child’s own art gallery. From year to year, your child’s observation skills, fine muscle control, memories of Grandy, etc. will develop and grow. Each year, your child’s perception of Grandy will change, and the artistic flair will blossom. Perhaps Grandy will be willing to reciprocate and draw a picture of your child on his/her birthday. What a lovely gallery of memory and art your child (and you) could have displayed on a special wall.

6. Encourage your child to write his/her own Grandy story. Pre-writers could dictate their story to you. Send the story to Grandy, and keep your child’s copy in a binder.

7. Children love to receive mail. Suggest that Grandy send something to your child: a picture, a letter, cutouts from newspaper or magazine, cartoons, etc. including a self-addressed, stamped envelope which your child can independently use to send something in return.

8. Help your child to think about his/her likes, dislikes, interests, collections, the answers to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What would you like for your birthday?” Encourage your child to ask Grandy about the same topics and questions.

9. Remember Grandy in your prayers.

10.What else can you do to help to build love bridges between your child and his/her grandparents?

Preparing for Vacation Bible School

Our girls just finished a week of vacation Bible school (VBS) at a local church. It was such a blessing. This church is much larger than ours. They had 122 kids registered this year. We attended the church rally tonight to get a taste of what the VBS program was like. I loved it and it sparked some ideas for vacation Bible school at our church.

VBS is our church’s largest outreach program. We’ve been working on it since March. A great deal of effort goes into it, but let me tell you, when you watch what an impact VBS can have on children, every moment spent preparing is worth it. Tonight my husband and I saw our girls sing and dance on stage, excited to share their faith with others. Their excitement has made me even more eager for our church’s VBS program to kick off on August 20th. In a few weeks, our girls will be headed back to school. It’s good to know that right before they get back into their regular schedules they have a chance to celebrate their faith in a meaningful and fun way. The lessons they learn at vacation Bible school are ones they carry with them every day. I’m so blessed to be part of a VBS team.

Does your church have a VBS program? Are you involved in VBS? What is your favorite VBS theme?

Fueling a Passion

Throughout the day it is not unusual for me to look up from whatever it is I am doing to see six little eyes staring back at me.  You can see them observing and making their own conclusions. If mom is reading a book, they return with a book of their own to snuggle up and read.  If mom is baking, they return with an apron of their own and start mixing.  It is a reminder of how eager my young girls are to “be like mom” and try out my passions to see what they might enjoy.

Several times each week I tie on my running shoes, pack up my girls and head off to train for my latest athletic endeavor.  After the birth of my last child, I rekindled my passion for athletics and working out and my girls have been there watching every step of the way.  After cheering me on at several races this past year, my six year old inquired as to whether she could run in a race as well.  She and my husband ran together in her first one mile race back in October and I remember watching her as she crossed the finish line.   She was so proud of herself, and  my heart was overwhelmed knowing that it was out of my own passion that she attempted this.  She will be running in her fourth race this month and she loves to get her sisters out in the yard to ‘train’.  This healthy lifestyle is becoming a passion of her own.

My oldest crossing the finish line

Much like passing on my passion for exercising and competing, I hope I can similarly pass along my passion for following Christ.  Looking back at how my girls came to realize how much I love to run and race, I can see it was our daily trips over weeks and months that made the impact.  I don’t just talk about running and then compete in a race.  I train hard, consistently for a long time.  They see me running.  Likewise, do they see me praying?Worshipping?  Serving?  It is through these daily observations that our children can draw conclusions about what is really important to us.  Our actions tell of our priorities and our passions.  To have the chance to share my passions with my three little girls is a tremendous opportunity.  To help them know Christ because of my passion for Him is awesome!  What about you?!

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