Training Children To Sit and Participate in Church

Children can do some really funny things in church.  When I was teaching the five year-old Sunday school class I remember asking my students how we get to go to heaven. A little girl raised her hand confidently. Her answer?

Die.

That remembrance still makes me laugh!

Sometimes, though, the things children do in church aren’t so funny – especially if you’re the parent.  I’m not sure if there’s anything more stressful or humiliating for a parent than trying to teach their little one to sit quietly anywhere, but especially at church.  Your child gets fidgety and talkative just the time there’s a need for quiet, right?  We’ve all been there, and I want to encourage you that there is hope!

I’ve blogged about this before, but I just felt the need to rehearse a few ideas about teaching your child to sit through a church service.

  • Train them. Talk to them before you leave home.  Tell them what is going to happen when you get there.  Remind them that you’re going so you can worship God and learn more about him!
    • Will they be going to Sunday school?  Remind them that you’ll be back to pick them up.
    • Tell them what kind of behavior you expect from them while they’re in class.
    • Will they go to Pastor’s Pals or up front to sing with the children?  Prepare them for what you expect.
  • Fortify them. Feed them a nourishing breakfast to hold them over through the service time.
  • Equip them. Pack a bag to take to church.  Keep it only for church times and fill it with quiet books, crayons, etc. that will help them to listen if they’re old enough.  They could draw a picture of something pastor is talking about.  If they’re older, they might have a special book to write down important words he hears in the message.
  • Help them. Don’t bring or give them sugary drinks or snacks – you’ll only be making it more impossible for them to sit still!
  • Reward them. I read about one mom who played the “Seat game.”  After training her two children to sit quietly in church, their mom told them they could sit one row in front of the parents next week since they’d done so well.  Each week that they obeyed and sat quietly and obediently, they all moved up one row.  Eventually they were seated on rows two and three!  You obviously couldn’t do this with really young children, but it would might be a great incentive for school-aged children.
  • Discipline them. If your child misbehaves, don’t wait for it to get better and stay in the service where they’re causing a ruckus! Take them out immediately and deal with it, and deal with it in a way that they won’t want it repeated.  If they get to go out and run around the foyer, they’ll learn that this is more of a reward than a punishment!
  •  Model for them. Encourage worship.  By your example of engaging in the singing and worship, teach them to follow your lead!  Sing!  Pray!  Open your Bible!  Take notes!
  • Praise them. Be sure to review the service on the way home.  Applaud their good behavior and obedience!
  • Warn them. Deal with the disobedience and use it as a teaching tool for the next service and warn them about what will take place if this happens again.

Training, training, training.  This must be consistent and loving.  It also really, really helps if you attend regularly.  Sporadic attendance will lose any training!  When this is every week, several times a week, they’ll get it!

This takes time, of course, but you probably won’t be getting called to their classroom nearly as often for behavior issues!  Instead, the teacher will pull you aside to ask what you’re doing at home that’s made such a difference. Oh, she may also tell you about the hilarious thing your child said to her in class that day!

Stay at it!  You will make it!

With love,

Firm, Fair, Fun Parenting

This week I want to continue on with the parenting series in the form of some encouragement.  I know it can be difficult and wearisome when they’re small.  Teen years can seem to last forever with attitudes or questions about your choices.  Even the adult years of children can be challenging and stressful.  For that reason, we all need to have a biblical view of parenting – from the beginning to the end.  Let’s dig in and get some good advice from God’s Word to keep us faithful to this blessed call of building our children for the glory of God!

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Obviously parenting is a daily responsibility, and sometimes it can get overwhelming.  Other days it’s discouraging because the children don’t seem like they’re “getting it.”  We then fall into a disheartened mode which also influences the rest of our family.

May I encourage you on your parenting road today?

I heard a preacher recently say that in parenting you need to:

  • Be Firm
  • Be Fair
  • Be Fun

All three are needed.

Be firm – Say what you mean and then follow through.  Don’t promise a spanking for disobedience and then not carry it out when you get home.  That kind of neglect takes a  huge amount of effort to undo.  If you’ve set a curfew for your teen, expect them to honor it.

Be fair – Too often we hit the first one strong and hard.  We’re firm.  “No!” “No!” “No!” at every request, every attempt the child makes, at every word they say.  But stop and ask if you’re also being fair.
What does “being fair” entail?  Being fair requires really listening. Proverbs 18:13 says,

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it,

it is a folly and shame unto him.

 Did you hear your child out completely before you answered them?  Do you understand where they’re coming from?  Or did you cut them off? If the teen was late for curfew, let them speak before you discipline.  Hear them out.  There may be a viable reason for their tardiness.   If we’re wise, we will obey the Scripture above and hear them out.  Let them know you care about what they have to say and that they are worth listening to.
Be fun – Lastly, we need to take time out for fun.  If things are stressful in homeschool, drop the books and do something just for fun!  If there’s been tons of stress in relationships, add a dose of something everyone will enjoy.
  • Go on a picnic for lunch.
  • Build a fort in the backyard.
  • Eat ice cream sundaes for supper.
  • Go shopping for sunglasses with your teen daughter and have lunch at her favorite place.
  • Learn to laugh – long and hard with your children
  • Isn’t it easy to scowl?  Let your kids see you smiling- and at them!

Firm, fair, fun.  If those words don’t describe your parenting, ask the Lord to help you incorporate the needed areas into your home today!

Which of these three areas is hardest for you?

With love,

The Resale Value of Your Christian Life

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After over 200,000 miles on the road, even a favorite automobile has to be laid to rest and replaced with newer wheels, a stronger engine and less numbers on the odometer.  That is the story of our dearly loved and used Toyota Highlander.  It served us well, but there were issues that needed to be addressed – and so as we prayed, we began looking for its replacement.

No matter what we chose, any car we sat in was definitely going to be an improvement. We would never choose one with more miles than our Toyota.  The upholstery would be newer and the accessories in the dashboard would surely be an upgrade, maybe even including a back-up camera or navigational system!  But the blessing was that Toyota Highlanders seem to hold their value and have a good resale.  So, we had planned to trade the car in, which would, of course, help us purchase a car that was a newer/better model.

When most people shop for a car, they’re looking for the real deal – something that will be dependable and road-worthy.    However, if I’ve learned anything, I have come to understand the importance of buying one that has good resale value (I’m a typical girl-y girl who usually goes for what looks good! I’m learning!!).  Resale is really important in the long-run.  If others want what you own, it will profit you and them!

That is also true in the life of a genuine Christian –  a person who has put their complete trust in the cross-work of Christ on behalf of their sins.  A Christian should be like a “New model” of the “old” sinner they were.  Like that old car, they have gotten an upgrade!  Old things are passed away and all things are become new!

People will look at that kind of Christian and want what they have because:

  •  They don’t do the things they used to do.  Their motivation is eternal rather than temporal.  Their longing is for a heavenly reward, rather than the praise of men.
  • They don’t grind away at their job, complaining and grunting their way through their day!  They work hard.  They serve others with a smile and a sweet spirit.
  • They have purpose now – they’re living with the Holy Spirit of God inside them, and longing to be more like their Savior every day they live!
  • They’re constantly being changed by the conviction of the Spirit of God.  Though they fall, they will rise up and keep going, with God’s help.
  • Their life has purpose and meaning.  Even though the tears may fall in times of trial, they have an inner peace, because they know the One Who is triumphant over sin, death and the grave.

A true believer who lives out the Christian life makes others want what they have!

Does that describe you?  Can the world tell the difference between you and an unsaved person?  There are many Christians “on the lot” that are just your standard, no-frills-added believers.  They “got saved one day” but they:

  • Don’t tell others about Jesus, or about their own salvation.
  • Don’t live out the Gospel in their every day life.
    They fail to ~

    • Love people – especially the “hard to love”
    • Forgive those who hurt them
    • Serve as Christ did
  • Don’t separate from the world.
    • They do what everyone else does.
    • They succumb to peer pressures and the World’s philosophy.
    • They look and act like everyone else.
      • This doesn’t mean you have to wear culottes and tennis shoes!  Nor does it mean you can be careless about necklines and hemlines.
      • If the world says ballgames are on Sunday, they go!  If teams have practice on Sunday, they practice.  If they’re too tired to attend services, they listen to their flesh instead of depending on the Spirit to help them.
  • Their lives look just like everyone else on their street.

Friends, I’m not talking about us being perfect Christians any more than I think we’ll ever find a perfect car.  But what I’m begging us to consider is, Do others want our life as a Christian because they see its value, its power, and its transforming work going on in our lives every day of the week?

It’s time for each of us to be the best model of a Christian so that others will look at us and know that what we have is what their empty hearts need, too!  Let’s live up to the precious resale value that we truly possess!

How are you living out your Christian life today in a way that makes it desirable to others?

Lovingly,

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Behind the Clouds

I first posted this a couple years ago, but I feel the need to share it again.  I have many friends and loved ones going through hard things right now, and in the light of Easter coming this weekend, I pray this post will be an encouragement!

This past Saturday morning I headed out early to purchase the last items I needed for my Easter dinner.  I was filled with excitement as I anticipated Easter Sunday and the joy of worshiping and remembering the empty tomb! The sky was kind of gray and cloudy as I headed out, but I needed to get this done.

As I drove into town, my mind went to the first Easter Saturday – that very day after Christ had been crucified.  I thought about the disciples, the many other people who had heard Jesus and believed He was Who He said He was, and of those that had seen His miracles and had turned in faith to Him as their Savior.  How must they have felt on that day after?  I’m sure many were filled with mixed emotions.  They had seen Him suffer, some had buried Him.  He was dead. Many must have felt hopeless, gloomy and discouraged.

“Oh!” I thought, “if only they could know what we know now they would never have doubted!  They would be as excited as I am as I anticipate Easter’s arrival tomorrow!”    They wouldn’t have been filled with sadness, gloom or despair if they could know what we know!

It was then that the Lord whispered in my heart,

“If you could know what I’m at work doing right now in your life, you wouldn’t be filled with despair in your trials either.”

How right He is!  Why do I doubt Him?  Why am I filled with sorrow in difficult days?  It’s because I believe the enemy’s lies when he says – “Nothing good could come from THIS!”  “Your life should be happier!”  “This is never going to get better – give it up!”

No!  My God is at work fulfilling His great plan for my life – to make me into the image of His Son.  It may take cloudy days, days of pain or suffering, but He’s got a reason, and I must trust Him!

clouds

Still in my car and carrying on this dialogue with the Lord, I looked up to see that the sun had burst through the clouds in splendor and beauty.  It was a visual of the lesson He had just spoken to my heart.  Something lovely is behind the dark clouds; wait and watch!

What dark cloud of difficulty are you staring at today?  Keep your eyes on Christ! He is at work on a plan that will leave you speechless!

With love,

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Family Friday – Adding Wisdom to Your Marriage

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When my husband and I got married 35 years ago, we had had no official premarital counseling.   I did have the blessing of many talks with my mom beforehand, as well as my parent’s example, but not the kind of teaching that a pastor would typically impart today. I’ve remembered much of what I witnessed and have applied that to my married life, but through the years, I’ve found it so necessary to keep looking for wisdom to apply to my role as a wife.  Anything left dormant is bound to get moldy after a while! I don’t want my marriage to do that!!

The Lord tells us in Proverbs 8:33 –

 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

One way I’ve continued to get instruction is through reading Christian books on marriage.  I’ve tried to read several a year by just reading little portions each day to keep my marriage healthy.  A few of my favorites have been:

  • Proverbs!!!  I read it every month!!
  • A Woman After God’s Own Heart
  • Creative Counterpart
  • What’s it Like to be Married to Me?
  •  For Women Only
  • Love and Respect
  • The Excellent Wife
  • Praying God’s Will for My Husband – Praying for him changes me!

There are more, but those are some of my favorites that really helped me grow in my role as a wife.

Another way I’ve sought out wisdom is by listening to radio broadcasts and now podcasts.  I started with Focus on the Family.  That’s a no-brainer, right?  They support the Christian marriage with topics that really help the couple!

Now my favorite podcast is Revive Our Hearts. I cannot tell you how refreshing their broadcasts are.  Nancy has recently done a series on Titus 2.  It has been so practical and full of truth!  Just yesterday she shared a piece of advice that the late Vonette Bright shared with her on her wedding day.  Let me close by sharing it with you.

She said, “Submit to whatever brings him (your husband)
pleasure in everything . . . and you’ll be just fine.”

Nancy went on to add –

By no means was she to encouraging me to satisfy any sinful, selfish desire my husband might have. She was not implying that I would be my husband’s slave, or that my role was merely to fulfill his every whim.

Here was a dear widow who had enjoyed a deeply loving fifty-four-year marriage, and who knew first-hand the joys of having a disposition—an inclination—to follow her husband’s leadership.

That is good advice!
What do you need to submit to that would bring your husband pleasure?  Do it!

Your marriage needs the refreshment that daily wisdom will give it!  Are you continuing to grow in wisdom regarding your role as a wife?  What will you do as a result?  Will you start a habit of reading and/or listening?

Refresh your marriage,

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Refreshing Your Own Heart

Spring dining room A

This week I shared some advice given to me on “How to Refresh the Hearts of Others.”  But has your own heart ever ached and wished someone would come and minister to you?  I understand.

This week has been full of activity, ministry and needs.  One morning when things seemed to be spinning out of control, I stopped – literally stopped with tears in my eyes and my heart pounding with frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed.  I turned my heart to the Lord.  I told Him my burdens, my frustrations, and my need.  At the end of my prayer I said, “Lord, please show me what to do.”

It wasn’t much later after that the Spirit of God spoke to my heart, directing my steps in a clear, biblical answer. My plans were to head out the door to join others in a good thing – we were to pray together – but the Lord said,

“Be still.  Pray here.”  

I thought, “Really? That makes so much sense! Yes, Lord!  Thank you!”

I let my friends know I wouldn’t be joining them where they were gathered, but I did join them at the Throne of Grace from my home.  It kept me from running there, running back, then running to prep for another obligation later in the day.

It gave me rest.

It calmed my heart.

No one but the Lord could have done that.

Now I slowed my pace.  I took time to pray for the needs of others.  I cleaned the mess that was around me.  I added a few touches of decor in my dining room. I listened to a podcast while I worked.   It wasn’t long at all until my own heart was truly refreshed.  I was thankful that it had come completely from the Lord’s directives speaking into my heart and not from a person.  It made me so thankful for the reminder that God cares about every detail of my life – even the little things that can trouble my heart.

My need was so simple, really, and I know there are times when there are HUGE needs, but there is nothing too big for Him to handle!  When you have a hurt, confusion, anxiety, burden or longing that causes your heart to be filled with emptiness and longing, what do you do when God sends no one to your doorstep, your pew at church, or your side?

  1. Recognize the need to go to prayer and tell Christ about what’s on your heart.  He already knows, of course, but this isn’t for His benefit, it’s for yours.  Stopping to put that longing into words and tell the Lord is so helpful. Divine intervention is what you need, and if you don’t ask, how will you receive it? This time of prayer also makes us realize that we are completely dependent on Him.  That’s always the best place to find ourselves, because He is omnipotent!  In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Psalm 86:7
  2. While in prayer, ask God for His wisdom for the next step.  What do you do after you finish praying?  Without God’s help, you’ll be just as hopeless as before if you don’t have His direction for the next moment. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Prov. 4:18
  3. Look for verses of promise regarding your situation and meditate on their truth.   If you can’t think of one off the top of your head, or you don’t have your Bible with you, Google it!  We ask Google for other things we need information on, right?  Use it now!  Google Bible Verses on God’s Provision  or Bible verses on Comfort.  A list will come up that can anchor your heart with Truth!!!  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations. Deut. 7:9 
  4. Listen to music that will minister to your heart and calm you.  It’s amazing what good music will do.  I love to listen to instrumental music that points my heart to God.  It brings peace and a reminder of Who He is!
  5. Don’t isolate yourself!  Get with others that will encourage you.  It’s easy to want to sulk and be alone, but you need other believers to help you – even if they never hear a word from you about your trouble.  Invite a friend to lunch or coffee.
  6. Talk with a godly friend about your trouble and ask them to pray with you.  You decide with whom should share – it might be your husband, it might be a friend or your pastor’s wife.  Two are better than one.  Eccl. 4:9 Humble yourself and admit you have a need.  We ALL need encouragement from time to time!
  7. Put yourself in an environment that helps your attitude.  Open the blinds and curtains and let the sunlight in!  Straighten up the clutter that might be right in front of you.  Create the order that will clear your head and heart.
  8. Get some fresh air.  Take a walk in your neighborhood or walking path at the park.  Go walk through the nursery at Lowe’s or your local greenhouse.
  9. Do something you enjoy.  Stop for a sweet tea and take a drive in the country.  Go to the library.  Buy a bouquet of flowers for your kitchen table.  Stop for a Dairy Queen treat.  Rearrange your living room.  Do a craft you love.
  10. Do something for someone else.  See this list to remind yourself of what you could do!  The focus gets transferred from your problem to someone else.

I pray this will help you to know how to refresh your own heart when you need it!

What do you do when you’re anxious or feeling overwhelmed?

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It’s Christmas Again Today!

Christmas is over, and sometimes it can be a bit of a letdown afterwards, right?  But wait!  What if we considered that we have so much to be thankful for every single day?

Someone posted the best little video on Facebook this week that was a reminder of just how much we have, and how thankful we should be for all the little things every single day. It’s too good not to share with you all!  It’s less than two minutes long, but it’s powerful.

Here we go:

So now, look around you and consider that everything is a gift from our loving God, and be grateful and celebrate the joy of it all!

Merry today!

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