Archive for August 2013

In the News

Egypt.  Afghanistan.  Countries that continue to be in the news.  Depending on the age and sensitivity of our children, we have to be careful about listening to or watching the news together.  However, a couple of recent conversations with my kids have made me realize I need to share more about what’s going on in order to help expand their view of the world, as well as to broaden the topics for which we pray. 

A sweet elderly lady the kids and I visit on a regular basis mentioned that her grandson is stationed in Afghanistan.  She shared a bit about what he has said life is like there for him and the family’s concern for his safety.  Trying to include the kids in the conversation, I asked them to help us remember to pray for him.  On our way home from the visit, we stopped by the library.  What caught my eye on the end of a shelf, but a children’s non-fiction book on Afghanistan!  I grabbed it and at dinner that night we looked at the pictures and read some of the key facts about the country and culture.  It was eye-opening to my kiddos!  I’m thankful that God put that book in my line of sight because I know it helped enrich their understanding about praying for the young soldier.  As my kiddos have grown older (now 3rd and 5th grade), I’ve been missing reading picture books with them.  However, this made me realize that we can continue to look for opportunities to connect our world through juvenile non-fiction to our prayer life no matter how old they get!  The pictures and information are just enough to give us an overview without getting overwhelmed. 

Egypt.  You can’t turn on the news currently without hearing about the unrest there.  According to an e-mail from the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice), “The jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, furious that it has lost power, is taking out its rage on Egyptian Christians.”  Beyond that, I’m not sure exactly what all is going on.  I hope that’s encouraging to those of you who don’t either.  However, I know enough to know that they need prayer…especially our fellow believers.   While the kids and I were unloading dishes recently, something came up about our church building.  I shared how I had heard on the news that 60 churches in Egypt had been burned!  We discussed the emotions that would bring if things were like that in our country.  Sad and scary!   Talking about news like that with the kids helps shed new light on being thankful for the freedoms and safety we have in our country!  We brainstormed ways to pray for them.  What would we want people to pray for us if we were in that situation?

If this subject strikes a chord in your heart and you want to know more how to specifically pray for people in other countries, Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation is an excellent resource. 

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for everyone. 
1 Timothy 2:1

 InTheNews[1]

 
 
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Good Deeds Day – 2013

After the blessings of trying out this idea for the first time last year, we were all excited to get going on our second annual Good Deeds Day!  Here’s the list we planned in case it helps jumpstart ideas for your family.  After, I’ll share a couple of opportunities that God presented along the way. 

*Had my son’s friend along for the fun to help out his mom who had somewhere she needed to be that day. 
*Baked cookies and took them with a thank you card the kids made to our fire station.
*Made and mailed cards for an uncle who just had lung cancer surgery. 
*Dropped off some old towels at our city animal shelter.
*Loaded coins in the vending machines at Wal-Mart.
*Stocked up on items appropriate for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes while school supplies were on sale (pencils, sharpeners, markers, small spirals, scissors, calculators).  http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/
*Bought the magnets for our back-to-school prayer encouragements for the teachers.  We buy them at Mardel, but you can also order them on Amazon.  Search “people magnet clips.” 
http://www.parentingwithscripture.com/encouraging-teachers-with-a-back-to-school-surprise/
*Paid for the order of the people behind us in the Chick-fil-a drive-through.
*While driving home, prayed specifically over all the people that would be touched through our Good Deeds Day. 

This year, God added a different component that we will be sure to be prayerful about ahead of time in future years.  He opened our eyes to a couple of unplanned good deeds along the way.  As we were pulling out of our neighborhood, we saw a lady sitting in a broken down car.  Since it’s August in Texas, that’s not pleasant or safe.  We circled back around and asked if she needed help, use of our cell phone, or a ride.  She was appreciative we stopped to ask, but her ride pulled up just behind us.  

The other addition to our day was that God put us in the path of one of our school teachers at the stores we were stopping by!  By the third time, it got to be a bit comical and the kids and I decided we would surprise her with a small gift card.  While I finished checking out at Mardel, the children excitedly went to find her and thank her for being a great teacher at our school. 

And do not forget to do good and to share with others,
for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  
Hebrews 13:16

DoAGoodDeed[1]

 

 

 

 
 
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Prayerful Parenting – Electronics/Media

If my kids has their choice, they would spend almost every waking moment with electronics.  Indeed, that’s what statistics are bearing out for our children’s generation.  Reading here and there about the results of this trend is down-right scary!  It’s been heavy on my heart this summer that Tim and I needed to come up with a better plan for helping our balance real life with the plethora of electronic options.  Here’s the problem – my hubby is an IT Manager who loves all things electronics!  The latest and greatest innovations will always be a part of our home.  The blessing of this is that our kids will learn about it from an expert.  The flip side is that I wasn’t sure Tim understood the crisis that the influx of so much electronic/media time is creating for kids in general, and especially our children.  He sees the good in it.  I’ve been reading all about the bad.  What to do?  We had a date planned where we were going to take time to discuss key points (including this very subject) in several of the books I had been reading.  I began to pray toward that day that God would help Tim’s heart be tender to these issues.  Imagine my surprise when he mentioned that the Wednesday before our Saturday date, there would be a technology seminar at a local church that he wanted to attend.  Imagine my bigger surprise when he came home from the meeting and said it was actually on media!  Imagine my huge surprise, when at our date, he pulled out pages of notes from said seminar and began to detail many of the points I had wanted to share with him!  WOW!  What a clear answer to prayer!  Tim would have certainly taken it seriously had I had shared the same things.  But, what a blessing for him to hear it from a man in ministry that he really respects (Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries – www.probe.org). 

What did we do with that information?  We hammered it out into a plan for our family.  This isn’t a one size fits all thing.  Some families will be more strict than us, and others will be more lenient.  Feel free to use this as a tool as you prayerfully consider this area for your family.  We held a family meeting and Tim shared our new plan with the kiddos.  I sat amazed as Tim turned it into a discussion style rather than laying it out dictatorial style.  It was a powerful example to me as I would have been tempted to turn the whole thing into a long soliloquy!  His back and forth approach allowed for the kids to feel ownership in the process and receive the privileges with attached responsibilities with positive attitudes.  

Electronic Plan and Privileges

Electronics Privileges (During School Year)
Monday – Friday = 1 hr/day
Saturday – Sunday = 2 hrs/day

Freedoms:
-Schedule it as you wish during the day.
-Use any form of electronics we have.
-You have the time to use, but don’t have to use any or all of it. 
-Parents won’t dictate when it’s used, unless it’s interfering with what’s planned for the day.
-You have the freedom as long as you are not abusing the privileges.

Responsibilities:
-Accountable for your own time.
-Be mature and wise about when to use it according to our schedule for the day.
-No “shared” electronic time if your time is up. (ie – If child 1 uses all his time, he may not sit and watch child 2 play Wii.)

Exceptions:
-Summer and Holidays = 2 hrs/day
-Family movie or tv share time does not count toward time limit.
-Music and audio books do not count toward time limit.
-iBooks do count toward time limit, so choose library books instead.  (Important from a financial stand-point and also limiting the electronic glare that can cause wakefulness at night.)

Friends over:
-Use electronics by permission.
-Allotted time will depend on length of hosting.
-Friends’ electronics will be collected by 10 PM on sleepovers.  One of your iPods may remain for music only.

Bedtime and electronics:
-Nothing but music or audio books

Electronic Communication: (Texting, Face Time…and in the future, E-mail, & Facebook.)
-Must ask permission to add new friends to text list.
-Avoid face-timing others when friends are with you.  Interact with who is actually with you.
-No texting after bedtime.
-Only communicate with family or friends that you know are real and approved (explain why).
-No girls texting boys and vice-versa (we will discuss this more as you get older).

For Safety:
We have filters and monitors on electronic devices in our home for our protection.  Know that we will do random checks to make sure you are safe in terms of content and appropriate in terms of time. 

Consequences:
If you show that you are not able to handle your freedoms responsibly, you will lose privileges.

Conclusion:
Discuss Discernment regarding media/electronics.  Ideas under that topic in Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.  Remember that we are accountable to God at home AND wherever else we go.  

 I’m no King Solomon, but I believe balance is part of what he’s talking about in
Ecclesiastes 3:1 when he says “There is a time for everything…” 
I think it’s fair to say the same goes for electronics. 
There is a time for them.  And, a time to put them away.

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Prayerful Parenting – Overcommitted?

Training wheels.  
That’s what a friend of mine said God was giving me after I shared this story with her. 

God has been dealing with me in regards to whether I have overcommitted myself to too many things and that because of them, my parenting has been effected.  The problem is, they are all wonderful, service-oriented projects for which I have a heart.   However, as one of my favorite sayings goes, “Too much of a good thing is bad for you.”   I realized that these “good things” were out of a healthy balance and the “too much” was turning “bad!”  I was perplexed as I wondered what I should cut out and was praying through this process.  God answered my confusion with two different summer commitments that were pulled right out from under me.  He didn’t even give me a chance to say “yes” (which I would have…and He knew I would have)!   At first, I was disappointed.  After all, I do those things because I love serving in those ways.  But then, I realized God was taking the control completely out of my hands so I could get a glimpse at what not over-committing looks like.  What a breath of fresh air and a sweet gift from God!  When e-mails for two more commitments came up (ones that I would normally jump at), I knew God was wanting me to exercise my “no” muscle.  I practiced it as graciously as I could (even though it was difficult!) and found out that one position was already taken care and the other wasn’t even necessary anymore!  Again, God was gently helping me see what I had previously been unwilling to.  I’m thankful for those training wheels and am still a work in progress.  Even though I’m not committing to new things, I need to continue discussion with Him about whether I’m already operating on a level with “too many good things.”  I’m excited to see what my Father is going to teach me. 

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.  Psalm 86:11 (NIV)

One of the most amazing things is to lift up concerns to the Lord and see how He answers them.   As I explain to my kids, the answer may come quickly, slowly, similarly, or differently than we expect.  There are times we may not see how God has worked through the prayer this side of heaven.  But He promises He does hear and is at work. 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who[have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28 (NIV)

 I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!  Psalm 116:1-2 (NLT)

That’s why today and next week, I’m sharing a couple of my recent parenting prayers that God has answered in unexpected ways.  I hope that it will be an encouragement for you to lift up those areas where you feel frustrated, stalled out, or unsure what to do. 

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