Archives for May 2012

Creating a Better Family Culture

Raising Kids cover.jpgThomas Nelson recently sent us two books to review for our readers: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord and Building Family Ties with Faith, Love & Laughter, both by Dave Stone.  Stone is the senior pastor of Southeast Christian Church, a megachurch with three campuses in Louisville, Kentucky; but his passion is his family and showing families how the best evangelism starts at home.

I wasn’t sure what to think of these small, glossy books and even put off reading them for fear they would be pat answer gift books. I was very wrong.

I read most of the way through Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord in an hour or two, but each page was full of Truth and knowledge from a family who has raised three kids. Stone obviously values and praises his wife, Beth’s, work in their family and her ability to see situations in a spiritual light.

Stone urges families to be intentional from infancy, relying heavily on prayer and teaching the Word. He has a chapter for mothers and one for fathers in Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord. He also speaks heavily of discipline – not spanking, but teaching children obedience so they will be trained to say YES the first time to the Holy Spirit. I certainly was refreshed in my determination to be consistent in disciplining our 3-year-old.

 

Building Ties cover.jpgBuilding Family Ties speaks to family time and family mission. Stone promotes creating a family mission statement, eating together, and creating technology-free family time.

While I don’t think these are "gift books" persay, they are easy-to-read manifestos in raising a family and would make excellent gifts for new parents or those who are struggling. (Aren’t we all?) I give the Faithful Families series a big thumbs up!

Do you have a favorite parenting book to recommend or give to friends?

Waiting and Praying by Becky Suggs

Becky's Journal

 

 37 weeks

For those of you who have had a child before, I can imagine you can relate to the time spent waiting for the arrival of your new baby.  Many people told me this would be the hardest part of pregnancy – those last few weeks when your comfort level is decreasing, sleep doesn’t come as easily, and the inevitable question of “when” weighs heavily on your mind.  

At least, that’s how it is for me. The doctor told me it could be tomorrow or it could be three weeks from now. (While I appreciate his honesty, I would have been fine with him telling me it will be awhile and then if it is earlier, it would be a happy surprise!)

 
So what do you do to keep your mind occupied and at ease?
 
I am spending time praying for my baby on the way. It’s not necessarily a set prayer time but more voicing things that come to my mind as I go throughout the day. Here are some things I am praying for:
 
  • My husband and I as we prepare to become first-time parents. There is so much to learn, but we know God has entrusted this precious gift to us, and we are grateful for this blessing.
  • A safe and healthy delivery. With this being my first child, I don’t know what to expect other than what I’ve read, heard from friends, and learned in childbirth class.
  • A healthy baby girl.  
  • I also spend time praying for our daughter’s future. I pray she will develop a vibrant relationship with the Lord as she grows. I pray she will follow the Lord’s direction for her life. I pray she will see her parents as a true model of Christ before her. I even pray for her future spouse, that he will be growing and maturing in Christ over the many years he has ahead, as well.
 
What an exciting stage we are at in our lives!  While I pray things will progress quickly, I know God’s timing is perfect regardless of my impatience!
 

 

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Becky Suggs and her husband, Robert, live in the mountains of Glorieta, New Mexico, with their pug, Sadie, and new daughter Anderson, born in April. In her spare time, you can find Becky reading, enjoying the great outdoors, filling in squares to the latest crossword puzzle, and spending time with family. She has a passion for both kids and camping ministries.

 

 

 
 

Blessing Teas for Your Daughters

Are you ever a bit envious of our friends from other cultures who faithfully honor their children turning into young adults on their 13th birthdays? As Christians, we may not hold Bar or Bat Mitzvahs or Quinceaneras, but we can certainly recapture the spirit of this unique age by commemorating this milestone with a Christ-centered celebration. While many American families are throwing slumber parties for their 13-year-olds, one woman in California decided to throw a “Blessing Tea” for her daughter—and the trend is taking off among Christians. 

Inspired Design Pt-1.1pdf 24.jpgRoxanne Packham, President of InspiredDesign Ministries, had the idea several years ago to put on a “Blessing Tea” for her then 13-year-old daughter. The concept is taken from the Jewish tradition of celebrating this momentous year of “becoming a woman” with a huge party, centered on the Jewish Scriptures.

Roxanne invited several of the most influential Christian women in Hannah’s life (mentors) to join them for a tea to honor her daughter. While she used her love for table decorating to create a beautiful environment, the real beauty lay in the hearts of the women who came to “bless” Hannah.  

Each special mentor woman shared a note/letter to Hannah. The notes included encouraging words, favorite memories, prophetic insights, special scriptures, and wise teaching/advice for the teenage years. 

The concept of a Blessing Tea began to take off in homes of people who had heard of Roxanne’s experience.  One woman, Camille, a long time friend of Roxanne’s, loved the idea so much she has now done it with two of her teenage daughters.  She added an additional layer of giving each of the mentors their own blessing and Scripture as a way to honor the women who have helped to guide and shape her daughters spiritually.  

According to Roxanne, “Especially because I only have one daughter, I wanted to make the most of every moment of her life.  I was inspired to use my gift for creating a beautiful table and practicing hospitality with my love for my daughter.  My biggest desire was to create an environment where very dear Christian women could pour into my daughter blessings and encouragement to carry her through the next phase in her life.  Often, a mother’s impact alone only goes so far!“

Roxanne’s book Inspired Design has a chapter about this Blessing Tea and serves as inspiration for other mothers looking to recapture the age old tradition of “coming of age” for young women. Proceeds of her book sales all go to fund the Heart of Hope Ministries International who provide love and resources to orphans in Romania.

 
Would you consider having a Blessing Tea or other event to commemorate your daughter’s entrance to her teenage years?

Friday Links 5/25

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

God’s Purpose for Families by Jessie Weaver

When my husband and I first got married, we bought a book by Gary Thomas titled Sacred Marriage. The premise of the book is "what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than happy?" A great question indeed.

I heard a sermoon from Mark 2, where the four men bring their paralytic friend through the roof of a house in which Jesus is teaching. Because it was too crowded, they had to go to desperate measures for the healing of their friend. And yet Jesus takes one look at the crew, sees their faith, and chooses to forgive the paralytic of his sins, not heal his malady.

The pastor emphasized how Jesus cared for the spiritual need first—that which was more important—even though the man expected Him to heal his physical need. He did, eventually, cure the man’s paralysis, but only to emphasize His ability over the spiritual.

We often see marriage and family as physical needs—we need relationship (true). We have a desire to have children. We want love. But I think above all of those needs, we have family to meet our spiritual needs: to teach us truths about Jesus.

If you’ve been married for more than five minutes, you’ve probably had arguments, wanted to leave or hit or throw a temper tantrum. You’ve wanted to hole up and not share how you feel and pretend everything happy. You’ve had great times and miserable times. You’ve endured struggles together and felt closer for it.

If you happen to have a willful toddler like some people I know (ahem), you might find yourself saying things like, "Why do you only want to play with what you can’t have!" "Why won’t you just listen to me?" "Why do you push me away when I just want to cuddle you?"

The marriage relationship mirrors how God wants us to grow in love with Him. In hard times, you will grow closer. You’ll learn to rely on Him. You’ll be able to be mad at Him and yet not turn your back or run away.

The parent-child relationship shows us how God must view us. No sooner do those above phrases slip out of my mouth than I can hear God speaking those same words over me. Why DO I push? Why do I want what He doesn’t want?

He is teaching me every day through a little child who makes me both love insanely and cry angrily. While this is nothing I haven’t heard and I’m sure you’ve heard it before, too, it strikes me differently each time I realize that we have these relationships for a purpose. Will we take the chance to let God mold us and draw us nearer to Him?

 

Originally published at Vanderbilt Wife, February 2010. 

 

Camp Corral: Spots Still Open for Kids of Military Vets

As Memorial Day approaches, Golden Corral is focusing attention on its special effort to build on its long-term commitment to honoring disabled American veterans. Camp Corral is a free, week-long summer camp experience for the children of families with fallen, wounded or disabled veterans or service members.

 
Piloted in 2011, Camp Corral has been expanded nationally this year from one camp to a network of nine summer camps in eight states. That means more than 1,800 children — six times the number in 2011– will have an opportunity to enjoy "a week of a lifetime" free of charge. Eligible families can still register their children on-line at www.campcorral.org to attend one of the camps offered in July or August in these states: N.C., Va., Ga., Fla., Ohio, Kan., Tex. or Colo.
 
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Camp Corral is a one-week camp experience where kids, ages 8 to 15, are free to be kids apart from the day-to-day challenges they face as children of fallen, wounded or disabled military veterans and service members. Camp Corral provides kids non-stop fun and activities like canoeing, swimming, arts and crafts, target sports, horseback riding and other camping and outdoors activities. The camp encourages campers to create friendships and bond with other kids who share a similar family situation. Each of the camps is managed and staffed by the 4-H Youth Development organization and accredited by the American Camp Association.
 
"All four of my boys attended Camp Corral last year and they are excited to be returning in 2012," said Clifford Parker, of Summerville, S.C. and former Army reservist who was wounded in Afghanistan. "The children loved all of the usual summer camp activities such as canoeing, archery, and making friends, but their favorite was Camp Corral Military Day where the National Guard flew in military helicopters and other large equipment used in battle. The boys were thrilled to get to see the vehicles up close and meet the members of the Guard."
 
"We’re thrilled to be expanding Camp Corral nationally and still have spaces available for this year’s camps," said Dolly Mercer, the Golden Corral organizer of the summer camp. "Sending these children to camp is just one way our company, our generous guests and our restaurant owners want to show their appreciation to these special military families and thank them for their service."
 
Camp Corral locations, camp weeks, and other information is available at www.campcorral.org. There also is a Camp Corral Hotline for questions at 855-605-1267.

Friday Links 5/18

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

6 Misconceptions to Clarify with Your Child about Christianity by Jeremy Echols

Reading The Bible

In my experience with camp ministry, I’ve encountered lots of kids with misconceptions about what it means to be a Christian. It is important for church leaders and parents to help kids understand the basics of faith in Christ.
 
Here are six misconceptions that you want to clarify with your child.

  1. Good behavior will help you earn your way into heaven. Behavior and “works” don’t earn salvation. As parents we praise good behavior, but it doesn’t make you a Christian.
  2. Avoiding bad things will make you a Christian. This one is similar to the first, but it is important to understand that we can’t avoid enough bad things in order to be pure enough for heaven.
  3. Doing more good than bad will make you a Christian. Balancing things out on the scale doesn’t mean you can tip things in your favor.
  4. Going to (or joining) a church will make you a Christian. This can be an important part of discipleship and growth, but doesn’t equal becoming a Christian.
  5. Getting baptized makes you a Christian. Baptism is a symbol of our relationship with God, but it isn’t the thing that makes you a Christian.
  6. Having Christian parents makes you a Christian. As much as our faith is important to us, becoming a Christian isn’t something that’s genetic. Part of our job as parents is helping kids understand faith so they can choose it for themselves.

 
You’ll notice that each of these misconceptions focuses on us: what we do, don’t do, or who we are associated with. Salvation is about Christ and what He did.
 
As you help your child understand what it means to be a Christian, here are a couple of resources that can help you:

 
We spend our summer at CentriKid Camps talking with kids about salvation and helping them to understand what it means to have a relationship with God. We are privileged to see campers who choose to believe in Christ for the first time at camp and others who have already accepted Christ that continue to grow in their relationship.

 

2011-December Jeremy Echols and family.jpgJeremy Echols is a husband and a dad. You can connect with Jeremy online at www.coachechols.com or via twitter.com/coachechols.  Jeremy works with CentriKid Camps, the kids camp from LifeWay for 3rd-6th graders, and he blogs for www.centrikidblog.com.
 

 

 

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Preparations by Becky Suggs

Becky's Journal

35 weeks

It’s hard to believe there are only five weeks left until my due date. At the beginning of this pregnancy, that due date seemed so far away. Time has flown by. Our little girl will be here before we know it.

It’s amazing how much work goes into getting ready for someone so small. The nursery has been our latest project. My husband and I have spent countless hours painting the walls, cabinets, and closets and hand-crafting the changing table and night stand. It’s been fun working together to design a place so special, but with its completion comes the reality of the life changes that will soon take place.

I spent the other morning scrubbing the floors in her room, smiling though I was on my hands and knees.  How many times will I clean up after her during the coming years? As I wash her clothes, sheets, towels, blankets, and everything else that goes along with a baby, I’ve thought about the sheer number of laundry loads I will do in the future. I know I won’t always feel this way, but I’m blessed to be able to do this for her.

The swing is put together. The crib is set up. We know how to open and close the pack-and-play. We’ve been to childbirth preparation class. We’ve preregistered at the hospital. Next up is packing our bag for the hospital, just in case she’s early.

As much as I’d love to say we are ready, we’ve still got a long way to go – but I am so grateful to have this little one growing inside, even with all the time our preparations have taken. And yet, the parenthood journey has just begun.

 

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Becky Suggs and her husband, Robert, live in the mountains of Glorieta, New Mexico, with their pug, Sadie, and new daughter Anderson, born in April. In her spare time, you can find Becky reading, enjoying the great outdoors, filling in squares to the latest crossword puzzle, and spending time with family. She has a passion for both kids and camping ministries.

 

Ten Tips for New Dads by Dr. Mary Seger

Dr. Mary B. Seger is a nurse practitioner, mom, grandmother, and teacher in Michigan. She has recently released the book The Parent Guidebook, an "owner’s manual" on raising children from infancy to adulthood based on her experience as a mother and a nurse practitioner.

Here’s a sample of what can be found in the guidebook: Dr. Seger’s tips for new dads.

_________________

Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children. – Bill Cosby

Papa Luca

Trying to understand your wife, who has now become a mother, can be extremely frustrating at times. Being moved down on your wife’s list of importance can be devastating. Let me give you some tips on how to move into this new life of parenthood.

 

  1. Tell her she is a good mom and doing a great job. Most women are terrified of doing the wrong thing as a parent. We all want to be good moms and secretly fear being bad moms. When you point out what a good job she did in a particular instance, it will touch her heart in ways you cannot imagine. It will help increase her confidence in doing what she is doing and help her believe someone has her back in the crazy world of parenthood.
  2. Find food. You need to eat, preferably healthy food. She is exhausted from lack of sleep, hormonal swings, and at times, fears doing the wrong thing with this precious baby. Bringing home food, cooking it, serving it, and cleaning up afterwards will cause her heart to fill with love for you. Don’t ask her where she wants it from or what she wants. Figure it out and go get food.
  3. Change diapers, empty the dishwasher, and clean the toilet without being asked.
  4. Text her. I love you. Everything is going to be fine, we can do this. You’re a great mom! How can I help? “How can I help” is a great text because you are giving her time to think about it.
  5. Watch the baby while mom goes to the grocery store. Tell her to take her time, that you’ll be fine. She may even stop at the bookstore or TJ Maxx on the way home. This is when you get to bond with your baby. Many times when the mom is present, complete bonding with dad does not take place. You need the one-on-one to get the greatest effect.
  6. Encourage your wife to seek the company of other moms, with or without the baby. She may need time to go out with her girlfriends to just be. A mom’s group can be helpful, as well as both of you spending time with other couples. This helps by getting her to spend time around more moms. You can make this happen by offering to take the baby or setting up couples’ night out.
  7. Offer love, protection and support with no agenda. There is a statue I see periodically, that warms my heart: It is Joseph, holding Mary, who is holding baby Jesus. It provides a beautiful picture of love, protection and support. It is what women crave; a time to let her guard down, breathe, and know someone she trusts has her back. At the end of the day, many women are on empty, with nothing left to give. When you approach her to give her a hug with an agenda for evening activity, she may close down and push you away. Try giving her a hug, let her melt into you and rest. That is all. In time, as you do this, good things will come.
  8. Date night. This is imperative for maintaining your marriage. Remember when you were dating and courting her? You need to do this again. It is not unusual for a couple with children to put their marriage on the back burner. Years later, as the kids grow up, you begin to wonder who is this person sleeping in my bed?
  9. Parenting as a team is essential. As you spend time together, you and your wife will develop a team approach, which is imperative to raising children. Two components of teamwork include defining the goal – what values do you want to impart to your children? – and getting things done in less time. Life is much better in a loving, supportive, respectful relationship. As the years pass by, in time, you will be sitting on the porch, watching your grandchildren. As your children become frustrated with something their child does, you will laugh and say, you used to do that. Life is good.
  10. Stop and give thanks, every day, for the miracle that has come into your life.

 

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.