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Mark Holmen leads this amazing training and equipping movement called Faith at Home.  He has written some phenomenal books Church+Home and Faith Begins at Home.  Both books are really practical and explain the need for the family’s involvement in faith development.  He has some great family and personal devotional books.  If you are interested in his resources or learning more about that ministry, you can go to: www.faithathome.com

I hope you will check it out!  It’s so worth the time!

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This winter I found the best family training and Bible study out there.  It’s called The Family God Uses.  There is a book, but this is the workbook.  It can be used as a personal study, family study, small group study or Sunday school class on integrating your faith into your family.  It is written by Tom and Kim Blackaby.  Tom is one of Henry Blackaby’s (author of Experiencing God) five children.

This study is so practical and powerful.  If you are looking to use as a personal or family study, you can pick this up at http://www.lifeway.com/Product/the-family-god-uses-member-book-P005189546 or at a Lifeway Stores location.

First Posted August 11th, 2009

George Barna, of much Christian research and statistics fame, has written a great book on raising Champions for the Lord.  He did a study based on twenty somethings who are living out their faith.  The Barna Group did surveys on the young adults and on many of their parents to see why they became who they became.  It has great insight as to what has happened in the church in the last two decades and what can happen for the future of the church when parents take an active role in the spiritual training of their children and in other areas of their lives.

Revolutionary Parenting is a great, challenging, and very practical read.  It is at the Philip S. Miller Library, because I requested it 🙂 and you can find it at amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Revolutionary-Parenting-Research-Shows-Really/dp/1414307608

Look for Revolutionary Parenting and be inspired!

Image result for ABCs clipartGo through the Alphabet one week at a time. It takes awhile, but is SO worth it in teaching your child the alphabet.

  • There are so many books at the library on the alphabet. There is even a section at my library just for the ABCs.  Get a book you can go through together each week that gives lots of examples of things that begin with the letter of the week.
  • Hang a paper in your child’s room for each letter you cover to help him or her visualize the letters.
  • Look at pictures of animals that start with each letter.
  • Eat foods that start with the letter of the week each day – some letters require more culinary creativity than others…like “Q”.
  • Watch movies or read books with characters whose names begin with the letter for the week.
  • You can teach your child the alphabet in Spanish or Sign Language to help him or her learn in different ways.
  • Sesame Street is king of the Alphabet world, so use it!
  • There are many websites that can help your child learn the alphabet, as well!
  • Use all of your child’s senses to learn the letters to make it more fun and more practical. The more creative you are…and also repetitive, the better the chances each letter will stick.
  • You may have to go back and do some of the letters again that are tougher when you’ve completed the whole alphabet once. (UVWXY seem to be hard to distinguish between for some reason.)
  • Other great alphabet websites:

Here are the Theme Weeks I used (or thought of) for teaching our kids the Alphabet:

A – Alphabet Week (borrowed lots of ABC books from the library) (Anna study)

B – Bullfrogs and Butterflies Week (both been born again); Butterfly Pavillion (Barnabas study)

C – Creation Week (one day of creation for each day then a review – see Creation Week Theme Week)

D – Dancing Week (watched videos and did a “date with Daddy”) (Daniel or David study)

E – Energy Week (talked about lights, lightening, food for fuel etc) (Elizabeth or Elijah/Elisha study)

F – Friends Week (playdates, expectations, and prayer power) (David and Jonathan)

G – Grandparents Week (special dates, letters, phone calls, etc) (Gideon study)

H – Helping Week (serving in different ways) (Hannah study) or Hide and Seek Week

I – Insects Week (bug hunt, books, movies Hermie the Worm movies) (Isaiah study)

J – Jesus Week (birth, 12 years at the temple, teaching, miracles, death, resurrection)

K – Kinds Week (different categories, sorting, etc) (Kings in the Bible study)

L – Listening (Senses) Week (do different activities using all the senses) (Lazarus study)

M – Mountains Week (go on a hike, talk about mountain animals) (Mary and Martha study)

N – Numbers Week (counting books, The Count on Sesame Street) (Nicodemus study)

O – Opposites Week (Elmo’s World video; Up and down, inside out day) (Onesimus study)

P – Prince and Princess Week (child of God; Disney princesses; dress up) (Paul study)

Q – Quail and Other Birds Week (Bird house at the zoo; make dress up wings) (Quiet vs. Peaceful study)

R – Right and Wrong Week (good choices and bad choices scenarios; Bernstain Bears) (Ruth study)

S – Silly Week (silly hair day, silly clothes day, Silly Songs with Larry) (Samuel study)

T – Time Week (seasons, seconds/minutes/hours/days/weeks/months; clocks) (Timothy study)

U – Under/Over Week (umbrellas, forts-under blankets; picnics – over blankets) (Under Authority study)

V – Veggies Week (Veggie Tales, veggie variety eating) (Vashti and Esther study)

W – Water Week (swimming, longer bath play, water balloons, fish study, aquarium, Nemo) (Living Water)

X – X Marks the Spot Week (Pirates, books, Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything movie) (Xerxes)

Y – YHWH Week (Names of God, talk about importance of names & Adam naming animals

Z – Zoo Week (visit the zoo, watch animal movies, read animal books) (Noah study) & Zippers, Buttons, Ties, & Snaps Week

Let your mind run wild. There are so many options for Alphabet Weeks!

First posted March 1st, 2012 :

Two days ago, my husband made a surprise delivery of budding lilies to our house. I was totally not expecting him, so I was really surprised when he handed me the lilies and said, “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.” Song of Solomon 2:2 and then he kissed me. It was amazing! I was shocked and so blessed. Talk about a romantic gesture! After kissing him and kissing him, our daughter said something like, “When I am married, I want my husband to bring me flowers.” Then her daddy said, “When you are older, I will surprise you with flowers, like I surprised Mommy.” Then she said with a shy head tilt, “Could you bring me flowers when I am a little girl, too?” And he nodded and gave her a kiss, after saying, “But not today, because you wouldn’t be surprised.” (Because he knows our girl well.) That little girl is so in love with her daddy. It’s a beautiful thing to watch how much she loves true romance because of watching him romance me and also experiencing being romanced by him. He is so good about making her feel like a precious princess. He takes her on dress up dinner dates and quick Slurpee dates and spends lots of time cuddling with her. They read the Bible together every night – starting on her 5th birthday. They started at the beginning and I heard them talking about King Saul the other day almost a year later. He is such a fabulous teacher. Later that night, our little boy said to his daddy, “Did you bring Mommy some flowers today?” (He, of course, already knew the answer :).) “Yeah, Buddy. When you are married what are you going to do for your wife?” His daddy responded. “I am going to surprise her! I will bring her pretty flowers, too, just like you, Daddy.” He was really proud of his correct answer :)! We were, too! Talking about training our kids at home, training children how to have a marriage that is real and romantic and worthy of time spent, is SO important. Marriage is a representation of Christ and the church: “21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:21-33 So, whatever your spouse’s lilies or roses are, be intentional about surprising him or her with them every once in awhile. Do different things for, with, and about him or her. Love him or her well, so your children will know how to be a good spouse and how to find a good spouse! Love, Lily

Follow Up:  Today my husband and I took our daughter on a date to Red Lobster!  It was SO romantic and fun!  We’ve not done something like that in a very long time and it was so wonderful.  You should totally take your little ones on dates!

 

First Posted March 2nd, 2012:

One morning, I was doing my quiet time/hang out with God in Daniel’s Park after the Hayman Fire and looking down on The Sanctuary Golf Course and the ashes of the fire. The Sanctuary’s course was lush and green and the forest just to the west of it was destroyed by the fire. It really impacted me, because I was studying Hebrews (or Deuteronomy) at the time and it was about God being a Consuming Fire: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29 I realized that I wanted to live a life that is marked by God. When you see ash, you never wonder if it’s been created by fire, you know it’s been touched by fire. Ash became a symbol for me, reminding me to pray that when others would see me, they would see God’s affect and touch on my life. Ash. I hung a note to myself in my office that same day that said: “ASH” and “He must increase, but I [must] decrease.” John 3:30 One of my sweet high school students, ASHley, came to see me that day and asked a little concerned, “Why do you have my name written in that paper?” 🙂 I explained it to her and she was moved. She and I have both been through some difficult things in our lives. Part of the result of those difficult things was not veiwing ourselves as beautiful. A verse that stuck out to both of us at the time was one Jesus quoted in Luke 4:18-19 from Isaiah 61:1-3: “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Over the years, we have both grown so much. She is gorgeous, brilliant and a gifted youth minister. I have accepted that God made me His beauty, as well, and enjoy the way He’s made me now :). He has truly bestowed on us beauty instead of ashes, though I know what His ashes symbolize – not mourning, but healing and His powerful presence. At Ashley’s wedding a couple weeks ago, she was breathtaking. Tears kept rolling down my cheeks remembering all our heart to heart talks and all the pain we walked through together. As she and her groom were wed, her sisters, brother, and a friend sang “Beautiful Things” by Gungor. As I listened and watched, my heart bowed before the God of all beauty who alone can truly give us a crown of beauty instead of ashes and make beautiful things out of dust, out of us. Today, as my precious five-year-old daughter was playing in her room, she was singing that song and dancing around. She had heard the song before, but has been singing it regularly since the wedding. Today, I realized anew how important it is to realize the importance of living out and influencing God’s beauty. Someday, I will share the ash story with my daughter, but today, I am treasuring all these things in my heart and being grateful for my Ash and all I’ve gotten to see God do in her life. Mrs. Ash, you are beautiful. I love you. Always have. Always will.

Image result for fruit of the spiritTeaching the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) as a theme for 9 weeks can be a very powerful time for you and your child.

Some fun ideas:

  • Learn the sign language for each word and teach your child at the beginning of each week.
  • Attach an actual fruit to each “fruit” to help your child remember the fruit of the Spirit (i.e. Love = lemon; when you are squeezed or in tight spots, it just comes out your pores!)
  • There are so many resources on Pinterest for teaching kids the Fruit of the Spirit.
  • Define each word at the beginning of each week.
  • Act out scenarios to help your child remember how to actively bear each fruit in practical ways.
  • Make crafts with pictures of fruit or with fruit itself.
  • Play a water squirting game with lemon juice lemon containers.
  • Talk about seeds, planting, fruit bearing trees, etc.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Go to an orchard or pumpkin patch and harvest the fruit/vegetables.
  • Try different kinds of fruit.
  • Explain each “fruit” in light of a good example of it from Scripture (Elizabeth – patience).
  • Show movies and read books that can help explain each concept.
  • Talk about accountability in the Christian life like “fruit inspection.”

Enjoy the time together learning what kind of fruit you really want to bear as a family!

101_18282 BIG IDEAS:

  1.  Use The Jesus Storybook Bible to create a Jesse Tree for your family to celebrate Jesus throughout the Bible for the month of December.  We did it as an ornament exchange in our women’s group a few years ago and it was WONDERFUL!   There are 2 blog posts that explain how we did it:  Preparation and Party and Ornament Exchange Party and Dessert

2. This is an idea that works best for older elementary aged children and it takes a bit of pre-planning, but it’s really fun!  Each day of the week can be a time to focus on some aspect of the Christmas season and the week’s patterns continue throughout the month of December, so the children will know what they’ll be doing or talking about based on the day of the week.

Example:

Sunday – Advent – Tell the Nativity story using a different nativity each week.  Have your child tell the story.  Use an Advent Candle devotional to go through as a family.

Monday – Angels – Tell the stories about what each angel said when appearing to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and then to Joseph again.

Tuesday – Crafts/Gift Making – Make Christmas gifts for people (snow globes, candy cane reindeer, photo calendars, I Spy craft bottles, Christmas cards).

Wednesday – Baking – Bake cookies and other Christmas time treats to share.  (puppy chow, sugar cookies, Birthday cake for Jesus, gingerbread house, candies)

Thursday – Serving – Take canned goods to a food bank.  Take baked goods to a shut in or widow.  Shovel a neighbor’s walk or driveway.  Do chores for someone else in the family.  Pray as a family about a special gift you could give a family in need in your community then deliver it together or in secret.  Do the 12 Days of Christmas gift surprise for a family in your neighborhood.

Friday – Adventures – Drive around and see Christmas lights.  Go see specially decorated places around town (city capitol, Outlets tree).  Go to the Star lighting if you live in Castle Rock!  Go to a mall and then have a family discussion about materialism and greed verses giving and self-sacrifice.  Visit family members.

Saturday – Secret Servants (Secret Santa) – Have each member of your family pick a name and try to do fun things for that person throughout the month of December without being caught or found out.  On Christmas Eve reveal who had who.

The point of this Theme is to savor the season.  If it is too overwhelming, just pick one thing to focus on and then just enjoy the time together as a family!

Image result for sortingThis goes with the letter “K” in the Alphabet Theme Weeks.  It’s really a sorting focused week.

HOME FUN:  read Richard Scarry books about different Sorts of things.  Talk about different colors, animals, people, games, anything that has to do with different KINDS of things.  Play sorting games.

OUTSIDE ADVENTURES:  Play different KINDS of ball games.  Look for different kinds of plants.  Go to a car dealership to see different kinds of vehicles (trains, trucks, tractors, construction vehicles, cars, airplanes, etc).  Go to a mall and talk about different kinds of stores.  Go to a pet store to see different kinds of pets and animals (or the zoo).

Bible study focus:  Talk about God creating things different on purpose and calling it good.  Talk about being unique and special to God.

Image result for zippers buttons snapsThis week is about learning “manipulatives.”  It’s a very hands on and fun week.  This is the “Z” week in the Alphabet Weeks plan.

HOME FUN:  play dress up, play with blocks, play with nuts and bolts, play light bright, play with an erector set or similar toy, play board games with lots of pieces, play Wii, paint, draw with crayons, colored pencils, markers and chalk, practice with different kinds of buttoned shirts and zippers, pretend to drive in a car and push the buttons (just be careful to check everything before you drive the next time), play on a computer, get books about moving things, play with paper dolls, play dress up with dolls or stuffed animals and real clothes, there are great resources for manipulatives on Pinterest in Busy and Quiet Books!

OUTSIDE ADVENTURES: play at a playground with lots of manipulatives (Rhyolite Park in Castle Rock), go to the Children’s Museum, go to the Museum of Nature and Science Kids’ Zone