Friday Introductions: Case for Christ for Kids

It’s a cold, blustery, drizzly day here. We probably won’t spend much time outside. I really think the wind is strong enough to blow over my 65-pound 9-year-old.

Speaking of that 9-year-old, she’s had a lot of questions lately. Questions about God, heaven and faith. She’s really struggling to understand who God is, whether He’s real and why it matters. Growing up in a home with Christian parents doesn’t guarantee your kids will never have questions.

We want our kids to have real faith — faith that gives them roots and holds them up in the tough times, faith that won’t be blown away when the winds of life are howling around them.

For some kids, faith comes easy. It’s not a big deal to believe in a God they can’t see. They accept the Bible at face value. They have no trouble believing that God loves them and would send His Son to die for them.

Other kids have to dissect it all, make sure it makes sense, then make a decision to believe or not. Much as we would like, we can’t force our faith on our kids. They have to choose to follow Jesus on their own.

If you have one of those questioning kids, one of those kids who has to dissect it all before he can believe it, don’t overreact when they start asking questions. Pray hard for your child. Hit your knees and stay there for a while. But answer those questions the best that you can. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I’ll have to look that up.” Don’t make their questions out to be abnormal or frustrating for you. Let them know that everyone has questions.

My younger daughter and I are going to be working through “Case for Christ for Kids, Updated and Expanded (Case for… Series for Kids)” by Lee Strobel. If you have a child who is struggling to understand Jesus, then I encourage you to check out this book. Lee Strobel was a journalist who set out to disprove that Jesus was the Son of God. He actually discovered enough evidence for Jesus that he became a believer. His “The Case for Christ” for adults has been a classic of Christian apologetics for years. His book for kids brings that information down to their level.

Don’t let your kids’ need to question their faith send you over the edge. Keep the tone gentle and let them ask questions. If we hide from their questions, they might decide that Jesus won’t stand up to intense scrutiny and turn away. Keep them talking and keep praying. It’s the best thing you can do to keep their faith from being blown away with the first strong wind.

Friday Introduction: Teach Me to Serve (and a giveaway)

I love doing Friday Introductions and introducing all of you to the great blogs and resources that are available, but I think that today may be my absolute favorite Friday Introduction so far. A couple of weeks ago, Kristen from Celebrate Every Day With Me did a great guest post in this space about how to celebrate the ordinary, everyday moments. This week, I get to introduce you to her new e-book, Teach Me to Serve: 99 Ways Preschoolers Can Learn to Serve and Bless Others.

Now, if you don’t have preschoolers, don’t turn away because after reading her book, I think every parent should own a copy. While the ideas in this short, 30-page book are geared toward preschoolers, they are easily adapted for older kids as well.

The world is busy telling our kids that the only thing that matters in this world is getting ahead, having a good time and putting yourself first. Selfishness is encouraged in many areas of life. But God tells us to put others first. Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” That’s the message we want to send our kids. That’s the attitude we want to teach them.

In Teach Me to Serve: 99 Ways Preschoolers Can Learn to Serve and Bless Others, Kristen lists out 99 easy ways you can help create a servant’s heart in your child. Most of the ideas are quick and simple to do. Most don’t require a lot of preparation and planning. But all of them have one goal in mind: creating an attitude of service in your child.

From serving dinner to handing out candy to crying children at an amusement park, Kristen gives you fun ideas for turning service into a lifestyle for you and your kids. I guarantee if you start adding some of these ideas into your life on an every day or every week basis, you’ll find not only your children’s hearts softening toward others, you’ll find your own heart looking for ways to serve as well.

Don’t miss out on getting a copy of Teach Me to Serve: 99 Ways Preschoolers Can Learn to Serve and Bless Others. I’m so blessed to get to give away a copy today, so be sure to enter at the bottom of this post. You can also order a PDF copy on the Teach Me to Serve website or you can get a copy for your Kindle or Nook.

Today and tomorrow, Kristen is offering Everyday Truth readers a 30% discount on the $3.99 price of the book. Enter everyday30 as the discount code on the Teach Me to Serve website. This discount is only good on PDF copies and not on Kindle or Nook.

Don’t miss your chance to get your hands on this book and start your family on a journey toward serving others.

This post contains affiliate links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday Introductions: Khan Academy

My older daughter is taking pre-algebra this year. Now, it’s been a really long time since I’ve worked an algebra program of any kind –like 25 years. When she brings home algebra problems that she needs help with, I have to dig deep into the recesses of my brain to figure out how to help her. And sometimes I’m wrong, which doesn’t make her very happy.

That’s why when I stumbled across Khan Academy’s website, I was thrilled. This free website offers video tutorials on a whole bunch of subjects, including algebra. They cover history, economics, math, science and even computer science. The videos are easy to understand, and each one includes practice problems. We used it over the summer as a refresher to keep the kids up to speed on their math.

It can be tough to admit to our kids we don’t know everything. We don’t want to appear stupid in front of our kids. When your sixth-grader is doing math problems that you don’t remember how to do, you can feel like an inadequate parent. But an important part of parenting is to admit when we don’t know something and find a way to help our kids anyway.

When my girls first started playing sports, I didn’t know a whole lot about either sport. When they needed help with a move, I was pretty useless. So, I watched YouTube videos and talked to their coaches until I understood what my kids needed. Helping them with their schoolwork or to understand difficult things in the Bible is no different. I need to find ways to help them, not pretend I know everything. Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” When we choose to pretend we know everything, we’re setting ourselves up for a fall — and our kids might get crushed in the process.

So, if you’re struggling for answers to your kids’ homework or if you’re just looking for a different way for your kids to practice their math facts or study for their science test, swallow your pride and check out Khan Academy. They might have the answers you don’t.

Friday Introduction: Sisters in Bloom

 

I took my kids to the park yesterday on a beautiful, 70-degree day. As my youngest daughter was playing, I noticed that her jeans were showing a lot of sock. Sometime in the past two months, she’s grown at least an inch. As I looked at her more closely, I realized she’s losing some of that “little girl” look and turning into a young lady. She’s like a flower, just beginning to bloom.

Even though I’m not going to get any taller, my daughter’s growth spurt reminded me that we’re all still growing spiritually. 2 Peter 3:18 tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” It’s a continual process, one where we’ll have growth spurts and periods of steady growth. We’re all blooming flowers in God’s garden. And while a single flower is pretty, a blooming garden is a sight to behold.

Today, I want to introduce you to some other “blooming flowers” over at Sisters in Bloom. This is a new favorite blog of mine. The girls over there offer encouragement and wise words in their daily posts. You’ll find encouragement as a mom, a wife and a woman. You’ll find yourself growing spiritually as you partake of the inspiring words of a variety of women. Plus, they have a free e-book for you if you subscribe to their blog.

Check out Sisters in Bloom both at their website and Facebook page. Be a part of the “blooming garden” of women that create beauty in God’s world.

Friday Introduction: A New Everyday Truth

Next week, I go to my first middle school parent meeting. My 10-year-old will be a middle-schooler next year. How did that happen?

The switch from elementary school to middle school is a big one — for both her and her parents. While I’m proud of the lovely young lady my daughter is becoming, I’m a little wary of the change. My concerns range from, “How will she adapt to all the added responsibility and homework?” to “How will I adjust to giving her a bit more freedom that comes along with those responsibilities?”

Change, even good change, always comes with some bumps and concerns. But change also opens up a world of opportunities. My daughter will have the chance to try a whole bunch of new things and meet some new friends.

And through it all, God will be there leading her (and us) through the transition. Exodus 15:13 says “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.” If we are following Him, God is always there to lead us.

Like my daughter transitioning to middle school, Everyday Truth is growing and going through some changes. As this little blog has grown in the past year and a half, God has shown me some things He’d like for me to do in the future. This blog is hosted on a site called blogger. Unfortunately, blogger’s capabilities are limited, so we’re moving over to a new site built on a Wordpres platform. That means we have to switch our web address.

If you clicked through from Facebook, you’re already there. If you get Everyday Truth in your email inbox, I’m hopeful that everything will transfer over smoothly on Monday morning. But if you wake up and are missing your Everyday Truth, head over to our new site, www.everydaytruth.net, and drop me a note telling me you didn’t get it.

I’m really excited about our new site. It already allows me to offer you so much more than the current site. At www.everydaytruth.net, you’ll find the daily blog, but you’ll also find some free stuff, organized links to all of our Friday Introductions, a schedule of speaking engagements and some information on how to guest post on this site. You’ll also find links to our Facebook page and Twitter along with a nifty little Everyday Truth button that you can use to link up to your own blog. In the next few months, look for a store where you can purchase Everyday Truth resources and an online Bible study.

So, head on over to our new home and take a look around. Leave me a comment on what you think and what you’d like to see Everyday Truth do in the future.

I’m so excited about where God is taking Everyday Truth, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the future. I’m also thankful for all of you. Everyday Truth wouldn’t be what it is today without all of you. As a thank you for reading, I’ve got a free gift for you today. Head over to www.everydaytruth.net and check out the Free Stuff area. You’ll find a Valentine’s Day download on 10 Ways to Use Valentine’s Day to Teach Your Kids About God’s Love. You can grab it for free until Feb. 1.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you at the new Everyday Truth.

Friday Introduction: The Purposeful Mom

 

My kids are in the midst of studying for AWANA quiz, a competition between AWANA clubs that requires the kids to know the key concepts and scriptures they’ve been studying all year. The great thing about AWANA quiz is that it helps my kids memorize and retain scripture.

But a formal program like AWANA is just one way to get scripture into our kids’ lives. We want to be teaching scripture to them at home, in those everyday moments of life. Sometimes, though it’s tough to remember a scripture that applies to the topic.

We know that God intends for us to use scripture in teaching our kids because 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” As parents, we want to find ways to remind ourselves to use scripture as we teach our kids.

Jenn, over at The Purposeful Mom, has some great ideas about how to put scripture around your home, so it’s not as difficult to remember those verses you want to use with your kids.

Jenn started blogging more than two years ago as a way to share what God was teaching her through His word. The goal of her blog is to “encourage women from a Biblical perspective in the spiritual, practical and financial areas of life. I want us to grow together ‘in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ as we nurture, disciple and love our children and families.”

Jenn did an entire series on how to display scripture in your home so it’s available to use with your kids. As she saiys, “Sometimes it’s hard for me to think of a Bible verse off the top of my head (or at least an entire one with the correct reference). Having scripture displayed in my home makes it easier to encourage my kids with the truths of God’s Word in simple conversation. All I have to do is look up at my “Wise Words for Moms” on the fridge or look at our caterpillar of verses down the hall and share it with them!”

When your kids are in the midst of a disagreement, it’s not always easy to break out your Bible and find a scripture that applies, but if the scripture is on your wall or on the inside of your cabinet, it’s easy to add it to the conversation.

Jenn also deals with other parenting issues on her blog, including some great tips on getting out of debt. If you’re looking for some great parenting ideas, head on over to her blog or Facebook page and check it out. Be sure to let Jenn know you heard about her at Everyday Truth.

Friday Introduction: Chore Resources

Earlier this week, we talked about the value of chores. Today, I want to give you some resources to help you set up your own chore system for your kids.

We’ve had several chore systems in our house over the years. Some have worked well. Some have not. There’s no one perfect chore system that works for every household. I know families who pay for chores in tickets and tokens. Those tickets or tokens can then be turned in to gain special privileges like watching TV or playing video games. I know other families who pay their kids for all of their chores and still others that pay for none. Whatever system works for you is the one you should use.

But how do you go about choosing that system? If you’re just starting chores with your young kids, where do you start? If your system isn’t working, how should you change it?

Setting up a chore system isn’t difficult. Finding the right one for your family may take some trial and error. Luckily, there are plenty of great resources available to help.

  • Ask friends and family how they deal with chores in their homes. Someone you know may have a fantastic idea that you didn’t know about. Sometimes the best advice comes from our own circle of influence.
  • Check out the list of age-appropriate chores at Focus on the Family. This list is a great starting point if you’re trying to figure out what chores your kids are capable of doing.
  • Create a chore chart of some kind. Our chore chart right now is simply a dry-erase board with each girls’ list of chores. This works especially well for us because I can create a new list every day. There are lots of chore chart resources available, but I like the variety of printable charts available at Free Chore Charts.
  • If you’re looking for a system that’s already set up and all you have to do is implement it, check out Accountable Kids. This is more than a chore system. It uses chores and privileges to create an accountability system for your kids. I have a friend who uses this system and loves it.
  • Use your system, and change it if it’s not working. Your chore system is only useful if it’s teaching your kids responsibility and you are able to manage it. Don’t stick with something that’s not working just because you’ve always done it that way. If it’s not working, change it.

Chores are an important tool for teaching our kids responsibility. Use the start of the new year as a time to get a fresh start on getting the jobs done around your house because when everyone chips in, the work goes a lot faster. Like the Bible says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). Use these resources to get your family working, and get a good return for your labor as you work together.

Friday Introduction: The Power of a Positive Mom

We’ve been struggling with negative attitudes around here this month. I don’t know if it’s the onset of winter, the long Christmas break or a lack of sleep, but the complaining and always finding the negative in things is getting on my nerves.

The final straw was when the answer to the question “How was your day today?” was “Lame.” This response came after my daughter had spent the entire day playing with her friends. After having kids in my house all day, I was ready to throw in the towel — and throw it at my daughter.

That’s when I decided it was time to tackle the negativity, and I discovered something important. Ending the negative attitudes in my house starts with my own. Like it or not, moms are generally the barometer of attitude in our homes. When our kids hear us complaining about things or being super critical, then they think it’s OK to act the same way.

I realized that my kids are picking up their complaining and negative attitudes from me. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure they could manage to whine and complain all on their own, but they’re getting the signal that it’s OK to do that from me. How many times do I criticize the driving of someone else on the road? How often do I complain about having to do my chores? How often do my kids hear me complaining about something on the phone with a friend?

It’s easy to have a negative attitude. There’s a lot that’s not right in this world. There are a lot of things on my to-do list today that I’d rather not do. There are a bunch of people that I’d rather not deal with. But that’s not the attitude God wants us to have. No matter what we do or who we deal with, God wants us to be a picture of His loving, gracious attitude. Genesis 1:27 tells us “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” We are the image of God to others. If we portray a consistent negative attitude, then that’s the image others are getting of God.

So, how do we change our attitude? We don’t. We let God change our attitude. If your attitude is setting a negative tone in your home, then ask God to help you see things in a positive light. Ask Him to remind you that even those chores you hate can be an act of worship to Him. I love the song “Do Everything” by Steven Curtis Chapman. If you haven’t heard it, check it out: Do Everything

I love this song so much because that mom picking up toys 15 times a day is me, and it’s way too easy for me to forget that doing so can be an act of worship to God. It’s much easier to look at it as a form of drudgery.

The best resource I’ve found on boosting my positivity level as a mom is Karol Ladd’s “The Power of a Positive Mom.” This book doesn’t just talk about the importance of having a positive attitude, it comes loaded with practical suggestions for keeping your attitude on the positive side. She reminds us of the importance of prayer in keeping our attitudes firmly planted in the positive, and she offers great insight into how our attitudes affect our kids.

There’s a lot of negativity in this world. It’s easy to get drawn into a cycle of negative thoughts and attitudes. Work to break that cycle today because we can’t work on our kids’ attitudes until ours are in the right place.

Friday Introduction: Motherhood on a Dime

Driving home from my parents’ house last night, my husband said something about us having been married almost 16 years.

“Have you really been married that long?” came the question from the back seat.

“Yes, we have,” we answered.

“That’s a long time,” said my oldest.

Sixteen years is a long time, but it seems to have sped by. I think the older we get the faster time seems to pass. I remember that a year seemed a whole lot longer when I was a kid.

As we bring 2011 to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the year just past and look forward to the year to come. I love the start of a new year. I love to get out my new calendar and see all the blank pages just waiting to be filled. At the start of a new year, we get a clean slate, a chance to do new things and walk new paths.

I’m not much for new year’s resolutions. I find I always lose interest after a few weeks, but I do think the beginning of the new year is a great time to set goals — whether they be spiritual, physical or monetary. It’s a great time to focus on things we want to do differently, whether it’s reading a new book or changing the way we deal with our children.

Set aside some time in the next few days to sit down with a notebook, your calendar and God. Ask God to help you decide what your goals should be for the year. We can make all the plans we want, but if God isn’t in them, we’ll never succeed. Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Spend some time praying over your new calendar. Commit your days and your plans for this year to Him. Ask Him to guide your steps as you walk into the new year.

Sometimes making plans and setting goals can seem overwhelming. Where do you start? If you need some help getting started, check out the goal brainstorming questions over at Motherhood on a Dime. This is a great resource for getting started on figuring out your goals for the year.

If we start our year with our eyes focused on the goals God wants us to have, then our homes, our families and our co-workers will all benefit. Make time in your life to hear what God has to say about where He wants you to go in this new year.

Friday Introductions: Untangling Christmas

“I can hardly wait. It’s almost Christmas!”

This is what my oldest daughter announced in the car one day this week. I had to take a minute to check the calendar to be sure I hadn’t missed a couple of months somewhere. To my great relief, I found it was still October. We hadn’t shot our car through a break in the space-time continuum on our way to soccer practice.

With a declaration like that, I assumed she had her Christmas wish list completed and wanted to present me with it. To my surprise, when I gently reminded her that we still have 2 1/2 months until Christmas, she had a different response.

“It’s not the presents I like the most. I just love the family and friends and all the fun stuff we get to do at Christmas time,” she said.

Wow. When she could have been listing all the things she wants for Christmas, she was looking forward to all the people she was going to get to see and spend time with. She was looking forward to the feeling of love at Christmas way more than she was looking forward to getting stuff for herself.

A few days later, I ran across this e-book, Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-free Holiday by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice. I’ve read plenty of books about making your holiday stress-free, and most of them simply tell you to either be super organized or they tell you to simply stop doing all those things that make the holidays special.

This book is different, and if you struggle each year with creating a holiday season that emphasizes the love and joy of the season, I highly recommend you check it out. Ehman and Rice start with the premise that too often we do things during the holidays because they’re expected, not because anyone we love actually enjoys them. Their idea of creating a hassle-free Christmas includes sitting down with your family and finding out what traditions are important to them, and then doing only those things.

Their book is packed full of ideas for dealing with all those stressful holiday chores like baking and shopping for gifts. Their practical, easy to implement plan for a hassle-free holiday comes across in a fun, no-nonsense writing style.

If you want to get ready for the holidays and create an atmosphere that has your kids talking more about the memories and the love found in the holidays than what they received as gifts, then check out this book.

If we take the advice that Ehman and Rice share, we’ll find ourselves creating a Christmas season that takes time to focus on the love and the joy inherent in the birth of Jesus.

Remember the angels said “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…” (Luke 2:10), not tidings of great stress. Even if you don’t get the book, take some time now — in October — to decide what’s important in December. It will make it easier to say no to the things that don’t add to the joy of the season.

Then, get back to your regularly scheduled plans for October.

You can purchase Untangling Christmas for Kindle (Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday), Nook or as a PDF file. You can also check out the Untangling Christmas website, which contains more ideas and recipes. This blog was not solicited for this review and received no compensation for the review.