Do you have an Advent calendar?

A fabulous way to bring Jesus home is by using an Advent calendar. According to “A Brief History of Advent Calendars,” by Mental Floss, Advent dates back to the Mid-19th Century when German Protestants made chalk marks on a door, or lit candles to count the days leading up to Christmas.

Today, an Advent calendar might be Christian, or secular, silly or serious, but they are always fun to use, especially with kids.

One of the most wonderful traditions my family and I established starting when the kids were young, was using an Advent calendar to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. There is so much Santa in our kids’ lives, I really wanted some of their focus to be on the real “reason for the season.” I got an Advent calendar that had pockets for each day of Advent. It had a cute mouse that was moved by the kids day-to-day to keep track of the days before Christmas, but I created little cards that had Bible verses of the events of Jesus’ birth, and cards that had things the kids had to do for that particular day and I put one into each pocket. For example, one card would tell the kids to read Matthew 1:18-25. The next day, the card might tell the kids that they had to name at least two things about their brother/sister that they LIKE.

The majority of the Christmas story is found in: Matthew 1: 18-25; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2: 1-7, 8-14, and 15-20; Matthew 2: 1-12, and Luke 2: 21-33. Look at these verses, and decide how much should be read to, or by, your child each time. Add in fun things, and things that show consideration and appreciation of each other and you as their parent/grandparent. Choose a time of day that you can do this and make it a habit. Then see how your kids actually like this tradition!

If you need suggestions for what to do between the verse readings, let me know. I would love to help come up with fun things to do!

Also, download Billy Graham’s FREE Advent Devotions online, at https://billygraham.org

How old should kids be before you start talking to them about Jesus?

Kids are so smart, don’t you think? Before they are 2 years old they can understand what you say, follow directions when you tell them what to do, and are trying to be understood by you when they speak.

People who study children say that they learn about 50% of what they will learn in their entire lifetimes, by the age of 5! This is such a valuable time, and a great one to start routines that could last throughout their life.

I began doing devotions with my two kids by the time they were three and five. Yes, that is young, but the devotions were meant for that age, and were very short. The actual devotion took about two minutes to read, then I prayed a short prayer (usually for the family) and asked my five year old if she wanted to pray. If she didn’t want to, I didn’t push it, and if she did I praised her and reminded her she was talking to Jesus, who loves her. The entire devotion time lasted about five minutes and the event became habit, something that the kids looked forward to each evening.

We rarely did devotions everyday, usually it was more like four to five times a week, but because we started when the kids were young and we made it a habit, we actually continued until my daughter graduated from high school.

Psalm 105:4, “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek his face always” (NIV).

How can my family be “thankful” in all things?

Being thankful is more than just a one day event, it is an attitude. I  Thessalonians 5:18 says we are to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NIV).”

An “attitude of gratitude” (not my phrase) is a heart that is full of joy, despite problems and turmoil.  God wants and created us to trust Him. That doesn’t mean that He wants us to be unhappy either, but He is well aware of what is happening, and will happen, in our lives, and wants us to know that He is here for us. In Philippians 4: 6-7 Paul states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition (asking), with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which [surpasses] all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV). He will give us His peace, if we trust Him to help us with our problems!

Parents/grandparents tend to let the weight of all their family’s problems rest on their shoulders. As Christians, this is not what God wants us to do. Work on praying about all the stuff you are dealing with, and help your children do the same. Watch what God will do when you and your kids trust Him with your problems. It can be truly amazing!  In I Corinthians 10:13 it states, “No trial (temptation) has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you can bear, but with the trial will provide a way out so you may be able to endure it” (NET Bible). God does not state that His answer will be exactly what you want, but He will bless you through it.

Happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless you and your family!

What does it mean to have a “relationship” with Jesus?

To have a relationship with Jesus is the difference between knowing about Jesus, and knowing Jesus. It’s the difference between having an acquaintance, and an intimate friend.

These days are scary – there’s no doubt about it. If you watch the news at all, you know what I’m talking about. Adults have a way of filing away bad news in our mind according to its importance, but kids don’t have this ability yet. When they come to you and ask questions about world events (and they will) it’s a great time to help them work on their relationship to Jesus.

Remind them you love them and will protect them no matter what, and encourage them to trust Jesus because He can be with them all the time, even when you can’t.

There are many verses in the Bible that state that Jesus, “…goes before you, He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:5, 9; Matthew 28:20; Isaiah 41:10, and more.

One of my favorites is 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” and another favorite is Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

There are sooooo many more verses than this. Send me your favorite verse about Jesus’ comfort and protection!

 

Do you and your kids know Jesus?

Do you know Jesus? Or, do you know about Jesus? Most of our kids really just know about Him, because they haven’t really had the opportunity to build a relationship with Him.

In church, and even often at home, we talk about Jesus, but not to Him. Sometimes parents even use Jesus as a threat when their kids are doing something inappropriate, saying such things as, “Jesus doesn’t like it when you do that.”

I did this a couple of times when my kids were young, then realized I was making Jesus out to be like a mean parent, watching to condemn my kids when they did something wrong.

Instead, you might want to use the old “WWJD” (“What Would Jesus Do”) approach, and ask kids what Jesus would do if He were faced with the same opportunity to sin. Because He was. Make Jesus the role model instead of an unloving disciplinarian.

Hebrews 4:15, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” (New Living Translation)

Who IS Jesus, anyway?

Most kids, at several points in their lives, want to talk about God and Jesus.  They readily ask questions such as “Who is He?” and “Where does He live?” As they get older they may get into the tougher questions, such as “My friends don’t believe in Jesus, why should I?”

I think the best way to answer this question is by letting kids know who Jesus said He was. Obviously, this blog is only going to have a very short answer for a complex question, but it is a start. For a fabulous “shorter,” easy to read, but more complete answer, go to www.scriptureinsights.com/WhoDidJesusSay.html.

Ok, here goes.   Jesus called Himself: “Son of Man” (Matt. 16:13), and “Son of God” (John 5:25, 10:36, 11:4, 17:1).

Twice the voice of God spoke audibly to people that, “This is My Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased,” (Matt. 3:17, 17:5).

Jesus claimed equality with God: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30); “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father,” and “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14: 9-11).

He clearly claimed to be the Messiah (deliverer, or Savior) in John 4:26 when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, and when asked by John the Baptist’s disciples, “Are you who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11: 3-4)

Jesus also:

  1. Claimed all authority (Matt. 28:18, Luke 10:22, John 16:15, and more),
  2. Claimed to be the source of salvation and eternal life (John 3: 15-16, 18; 4:13-14; 5:21, 40; 6:27, 40, 54; 10:28)
  3. Declared He was the only way to Heaven (John 14:6)
  4. Lives in every believer (John 15:4-5)
  5. Is with us always (Matt. 28:20; John 15:4-5)
  6. Has always existed (John 1:1-2; John 17:5)

We are going through a battle with Satan over our kids/grandkids. It is good to be “armed and dangerous” (this is what I call it when I have all my tools ready).

One more thing…pray, pray, pray over what you will say when the time comes. Don’t give kids more than they can understand, but give them as much as you think they are ready for, and DON’T force the issue. Then your kids will come back for more when they have another question.

PROVERBS 3:5-6,  “TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING; IN ALL YOUR WAYS SUBMIT TO HIM, AND HE WILL MAKE YOUR PATHS STRAIGHT.”

 

 

What does the fact that kids are using electronics have to do with “bringing Jesus home?”

Much of what our kids are looking at, when using electronics, tends not to be of Christian origin. This isn’t bad in and of itself, but a lot of what they are doing on their smartphones and computers can be opportunities for dialogue between you, and them.

To my way of thinking (and maybe yours, too?), just hollering at kids to “get off your phone, computer, video game,” etc. is leaving them with no alternative to what they may be spending hours doing.  One of my grandsons used to have a crying fit when this happened, because he didn’t see anything else to do with his time. But there are alternatives, and your kids need to know them.

First, depending on their age, talk to your kids. Let them know your concerns about their electronics, and the information and games they can access. This is a fabulous opportunity to find out what their favorite games are, and why. Many teen boys really like games that are pretty violent. Whether or not you allow them to play these games is truly up to you, but it offers an opportunity to discuss violence with your kids, and perhaps find out what other kids at church play on their electronics. Discuss good games to play with their youth group leaders. They will most likely be the best at knowing what good and bad games might be, and it might also be a good time to ask whether or not leaders have had discussions about violent and inappropriate games and websites with the kids.

Next, you and your child can both come up with alternatives when they have “timed out” of their electronics. Make a list you can both use.

Set a time limit and stick to it! For young kids this might be 45 minutes, for older kids perhaps 1-2 hours.

When time is up, offer the alternatives on your list. It might be something horrible, like doing chores or helping with dinner, but even these options count!

Have a board game night (or afternoon). Kids sometimes balk at this idea at first, but they usually enjoy the game and time spent with family.

Encourage outdoor play with their friends. It’s HEALTHIER!

Encourage participation in Church activities and groups. Kids should be attending church more than once a week. They need to see church as an important part of their life, plus, they will grow as Christians.

Encourage participation in after school activities, such as clubs, groups, or sports.

Play group games on gaming systems (yes, gaming systems!). Many board games have been converted to Wii, Playstation, or other systems, and can be played by many players. One of the things my grandkids I enjoy most is playing Mario Party, or Family Game Night games like Life, and Clue

I would still very much appreciate your input. I want to know what works and doesn’t work when it comes to alternatives to electronics.  Please subscribe to this blog, so you get automatic updates!

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

Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone have kids who seem “addicted” to smartphones?

I just put smartphones in the question, but this includes any type of electronic equipment that engages your child’s attention for hours at a time.

There have been several studies done on the emotional state of kids and teens today, and most of them conclude that teen depression and anxiety are very high in kids who spend a lot of time on their electronics.  According to A. Cornish, in a report titled, “How Smartphones are Making Kids Unhappy”(1), the issue is the importance that kids place on the information they get from their electronics.

For those of us brought up before smart phones and personal computers, it can be difficult to understand what is going on.  The key to their unhappiness is not necessarily the fact that kids have smartphones and electronics, it is the length of time kids are allowed to use them. According to the study, kids with more mental health issues are the ones not getting enough “face time”, or time spent in person- to-person contact, where they can read each other’s emotions and get social support.

We as parents/grandparents sometimes look at electronics as a way to keep kids busy, and also to educate them, and that is fine. But as with anything in life, moderation is the key. There are several ways to limit the amount of time spent on electronics, but I believe there is one important thing parents need to do, give kids alternatives to texting and computer games.

Add your comments to this blog. I will start a list of alternatives to electronics with my next blog, and I would very much like your input. Thanks so much, and God bless you and your kids/grandkids!

  1. www.npr.org. “How Smartphones are Making Kids Unhappy.” A. Cornish. August 7, 2017.

1 Corinthians 6:12     “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (Electronics)

Have you ever noticed how many kids seem to lose interest in Jesus and church after they graduate from high school?

I am not an expert. I am a Christian mom/grandma who has been watching as too many of our kids move away from the church, and their relationship to Jesus Christ. Kids who grow up going to church, learning about Jesus, becoming Christian, but abandon Christ and the church when they become adults.

I believe many are leaving because they have never really had a real relationship with Jesus. Most of our kids have been taught about Him, but don’t genuinely know Him. They see Jesus as being “What I do on Sunday.” When they graduate from high school, too many leave the church, because they don’t see the importance of Jesus in their everyday lives.

That is what this blog is all about. How can we bring Jesus home? What can we do to help our kids and grandkids develop a true, loving relationship with Him in their everyday lives? It means not only helping our children interact with Jesus everyday, but being willing to be the role models for our kids, so they can see Jesus working in and through us, their parents and grandparents.

I would like this blog to be more like a forum.  I will be asking Christian leaders, as well as regular “folks” to input ideas, and I would really like your input, (reader), as well. Please subscribe to my blog, to get every new blog that I publish. Thank you so much, and God bless you and your family!

“TRAIN UP A CHILD IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO: AND WHEN HE IS OLD, HE WILL NOT DEPART FROM IT.” Proverbs 22:6 (KJV).