Lessons for Life…Thinking with Eternity in Mind

20 06 2015

child.hand.Bible  child.Bible

Raising a child means preparing them for… How would you finish that statement?

Parents teach toddlers how to walk, talk, and dress. They show their young children how to play sports, do homework, and behave.

We want them to be happy and healthy. To have successful careers. And become responsible citizens.

Most of all, we care about how they interact with others and that they contribute to society. Efforts are made to improve their self-esteem and to build their character.

Should we be doing more? Can we teach children how to think—to develop Christ-like thinking and to have a biblical worldview? Is it ever too early to start teaching a child to have a biblical worldview?

What in the world is a biblical worldview? I recently attended a conference on Biblical Integration hosted by Cairn University. Information shared at that conference helped me create two documents (below). They may be helpful to you as you raise a child to have a biblical worldview.

One document summarizes information on a chart. The other longer document provides more details. It includes specific examples, strategies, and bible verses presented in ‘kid language’ in the Easy-to-Read Version (ERV).

Click on the document(s) that interests you.

  1. Biblical.Worldview.4.kids.chart
  2. Biblical.Worldview.4.parents (detailed information)

Here are two other resources that may help you in your endeavor to disciple you child:

  1. Bible Verses for young children-behavior
  2. Laying the Foundation with music’ (A Powerpoint presentation I created based Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. Bible verses support the concepts contained in the presentation.)




Best Character Ever

19 04 2015

godly.living

How did certain guys get named in the Bible? Some earned their spot by having amazing character. Could we use them as examples for our children to follow?

The apostle, Paul, gave us a list in Colossians. Their names may be difficult to pronounce (who would give their kids names like that!!!). But their godly standard of living is achievable. We can surely teach children to copy their character.

  • Tychicus (Colossians 4:7) was a faithful minister and fellow servant.
  • Onesimus (Colossians 4:8-9) was also known for being faithful, in addition to being a dear brother to Paul. Tychicus and Onesimus were both trusted by Paul to carry his message to the believers in Colosse. Because they were faithful.
  • Aristarchus (Colossians 4:10) was a fellow prisoner. He and Justus (both Jews) were fellow workers for God’s kingdom. They both proved to be a comfort to Paul.
  • Epaphras (Colossians 4:12-13) was a servant of Christ. He worked hard for others, always wrestling in prayer for them.
  • Luke (Colossians 4:14), the doctor, was a dear friend to Paul. He was the only one who stood by Paul until the very end (2 Timothy 4:9-11). His devotion stood in stark contrast to Demas who deserted Paul.
  • Nympha (Colossians 4:15) had a home fellowship.
  • Archippus (Colossians 4:17) was busy about doing the work he received from the Lord.

Here’s what we can learn from them and teach to our children. Someone who has the best character ever …

  • Is faithful
  • Can be trusted to carry God’s message to others
  • Is a servant (works for others, helps others)
  • Prays for others
  • Comforts others
  • Is a loyal friend
  • Teaches others about God’s Word (even in the home)
  • Is busy about God’s work

We will not get our names added to the Bible, but God is recording our stories in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Paul wrote his letter to fellow believers in Colosse while in prison. As believers, we’re also prisoners…prisoners for the Lord. In Ephesians, Paul BEGS us to live a godly life. He lays out this challenge:

“So, as a prisoner for the Lord, I beg you to live the way God’s people should live, because he chose you to be his. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love. You are joined together with peace through the Spirit. Do all you can to continue as you are, letting peace hold you together.”  Ephesians 4:1-3 (ERV)

With God’s help, we’ll show our children how to live for Him.





Article on Bullying

15 04 2015

final.Cover.title

Recently, Lynda (Stoy) Stear, Founder and Editor of Living Seasons Ministry, invited me to contribute an article about bullying to her website. The article I shared tells the story about why I wrote the picture book Heart Eyes: Beth and the Bullies. Click on the link below to find my article. While you’re there, check out Lynda’s website.

http://www.livingseasonsministry.com/bullying-use-your-heart-eyes/





God can be real to your child.

30 10 2014
Clinging to God as a Toddler

Clinging to God as a Toddler

Reaching out to Him as an Adult

Reaching out to Him as an Adult

“What’s wrong, Al?” I asked. The fellow teacher always seemed joyful. Normally, his love for the Lord splashed across his face. God’s peace glistened in his eyes. But not that day.

He checked his mailbox with his shoulders slumped and his head down. As if to hide pain or frustration. Something happened to smother his joy.

Every teacher has one of those days from time to time. A day full of problems. When they’re barraged with a multitude of incomplete assignments, relentless unruly behavior, and unending interruptions.

“I’ll be okay once I get my eyes back on the Lord,” was all Al replied. And he went on his way.

That single sentence was the sermon I needed. His godly advice came in handy when I experienced those kinds of days. Those words helped me adjust my focus when difficult days knocked the joy right out of me.

I’ll be okay once I get my eyes back on the Lord.

Don’t we all experience those days? Days when life gets the better of us. When we can no longer cope. When it becomes impossible to hide the hurt under a painted-on smile.

God, are You there? I need You. I need Your help. Where are You?

No answer. That silent treatment form God is unbearable. What can we do when God seems to be elusive?

We desperately need to know how to find Him. Not just for us. But so we can offer wise advice when our children go through trials.

What’s the secret? It’s no secret, really. Al’s stated it in a way even a young child could understand it. Focus on God instead of the problem. Then the challenges will shrink in light of His greatness and power.

How can we teach children to maintain an eternal focus? There are subtle ways which would instill godly thinking.

When our boys were toddlers, adults would often ask the typical question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I taught them to reply, “More like Jesus.” They learned that God had a purpose for their lives. One they’d discover. No matter what occupation God prepared for them, the goal would always be to become more like Jesus.

Many people ask students in high school and college a similar question. “What’s your major?” A different question could help young adults shift their focus heavenward. “How and where are you going to live out your faith?”

I’m blessed to still have the opportunity to teach education majors at a Christian university (Cairn University). We discuss many scenarios they might encounter out in the field. The students offer solutions to each problem.  Their responses reveal insight into each situation.

Rarely, however, do their answers include God. Seldom do they add, “I’d pray for wisdom to handle the situation,” or, “I’d trust God to provide the resources and guidance.” It’s not that they don’t know the Lord. They’re simply responding the way many of us react to challenges. By handling things first and turning to God as a last resort.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Forgive me for not seeking You when I need You most. Thank You for being so patient with me. And for being so accessible. Help me turn to You when I’m FIRST confronted with a trial. Teach me to rely on You before going in my own strength. Help me to lean not on my own understanding, but to acknowledge You in all things. How I want to see Your hand in every area of my life. Give me lessons I can pass on to my children. For Your glory and for Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Here’s a challenge:

Does a drama queen live in your house? It could be a toddler who throws temper tantrums. Or a teenager with raging hormones. What could you say or do (during calm times) to help her focus more on the Lord?





Creation reminds children of God’s love.

28 10 2014

IMG_5054 adj

Go on a love hunt with your young child. What’s a love hunt? It’s kinda like the games I Spy and Hide and Seek. Only you’re searching for God’s love.

Invite your youngster to join you by saying, “Let’s go outside for a love hunt. We’ll search for messages from God.”

Use the script below as you stroll outside hand-in-hand. On a rainy day, watch the video I created for an indoor adventure.

http://youtu.be/WS2hoyCxX7A

Note: All Bible verses are from the Easy-to-Read Version.


 

See that sky?

God created that sky. His power is amazing! You draw pretty pictures for people you love. God paints the sky for you! Each day He gives you a new beautiful picture.

“Long ago, you made the world. You made the sky with your own hands!” Psalm 102:25

You can’t see an end of the sky. That’s just like God’s love. His love to you will never end.

“Lord, your faithful love reaches to the sky. Your faithfulness is as high as the clouds.” Psalm 36:5

“Your faithful love is higher than the highest clouds in the sky!” Psalm 108:4

See that cloud?

God made the clouds. Every day we see clouds in different shapes and colors. That’s another amazing thing about God.

“Do you know how the clouds hang in the sky? This is just one of the amazing works of the one who knows everything.”  Job 37:16

That cloud reminds us of His love.

“Your faithful love is higher than the highest clouds in the sky!” Psalm 57:10

It reminds us that God provides what we need to eat and drink.

God sent food to drop from the clouds when His people were wandering around the desert and hungry.

“But then God opened the clouds above, and manna rained down on them for food.” Psalm 78:23

He sends rain so we can drink water and so plants will grow.

“He fills the sky with clouds. He sends rain to the earth. He makes the grass grow on the mountains.” Psalm 147:8

Christ went up into heaven on a cloud and will come again on a cloud. When that happens, it will be the end of all hurts and problems.

“After Jesus said this, he was lifted up into the sky. While they were watching, he went into a cloud, and they could not see him. They were staring into the sky where he had gone. Suddenly two men wearing white clothes were standing beside them. They said, “‘Men from Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? You saw Jesus carried away from you into heaven. He will come back in the same way you saw him go.’” Acts 1:9-11

See that bird?

God loves you more than any bird in the sky.

“So don’t be afraid. You are worth more than a whole flock of birds.”  Matthew 10:31

Birds don’t worry. God takes care of them. So don’t worry about what you will eat. You’re even more important to God than the birds. He will take care of you and make sure you have food.

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or save food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. Don’t you know you are worth much more than they are?”  Matthew 6:26

See this tree?

God made it to give us shade. He made other trees to give us fruit. We can hang swings on trees or climb small ones. Adults use trees to make things like furniture and paper.

A tree reminds us not to worry. The tree doesn’t worry. Its roots always find water. When we trust in the Lord, we’ll find blessings. God will always do what He says.

“But those who trust in the Lord will be blessed. They know that the Lord will do what he says. They will be strong like trees planted near a stream that send out roots to the water. They have nothing to fear when the days get hot. Their leaves are always green. They never worry, even in a year that has no rain. They always produce fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8

See those flowers?

Don’t worry about what you will wear. God made the flowers look even more beautiful that the richest king. He can surely make sure you have clothes to wear.

“But I tell you that even Solomon, the great and rich king, was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers.”  Matthew 6:29

See the water?

God has power to open the sea. He has power to help you with any problem.

“Moses raised his hand over the Red Sea, and the Lord caused a strong wind to blow from the east. The wind blew all night long. The sea split, and the wind made the ground dry.”  Exodus 14:21

Christ walked on TOP of the water. He will do amazing things in your life.

“Between three and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus’ followers were still in the boat. Jesus came to them. He was walking on the water.”  Matthew 14:25

Christ’s followers were afraid of the storm. Jesus used His power to stop the waves. He can keep you from being afraid, just like He calmed the waves.

“The followers went to Jesus and woke him. They said, ‘Master! Master! We will drown!’ Jesus got up. He gave a command to the wind and the waves. The wind stopped, and the lake became calm.”  Luke 8:24

See that rock?

God is like that. He’s my sturdy Protector.

The Lord is my Rock, my fortress, my place of safety. He is my God, the Rock I run to for protection.”  Psalm 18:2

See the lamb?

A tiny lamb needs a shepherd to take care of it. Just like we all need Someone to take care of us. The Lord is our good Shepherd. He has power to take good care of us.

“Like a good shepherd, he takes care of his people. He gathers them like lambs in his arms. He holds them close, while their mothers walk beside him.”  Isaiah 40:11

“The Lord is my shepherd. I will always have everything I need. He gives me green pastures to lie in. He leads me by calm pools of water. He restores my strength. He leads me on right paths to show that he is good. Even if I walk through a valley as dark as the grave, I will not be afraid of any danger, because you are with me. Your rod and staff comfort me. You prepared a meal for me in front of my enemies. You welcomed me as an honored guest. My cup is full and spilling over. Your goodness and mercy will be with me all my life, and I will live in the Lord’s house a long, long time.”  Psalm 23

See the path?

God wants you to follow Him and do what He has planned for you. Find His path and stay on it.

“I have followed your way. My feet never left your path.”  Psalm 17:5

“God is the one who gives me strength. He clears the path I need to take.”  Psalm 18:32

“He restores my strength. He leads me on right paths to show that he is good.”  Psalm 23:3

“Make sure that I am not going the wrong way. Lead me on the path that has always been right.”  Psalm 139:24

Reading the Bible will help you follow His path.

“Your word is like a lamp that guides my steps, a light that shows the path I should take.”  Psalm 119:105

See that sand?

It reminds you that God is always thinking about you. It would be too hard to count each grain of sand. There are so many! That’s how many thoughts God has for you. He’s ALWAYS thinking about you. He knows all about you. It’s wonderful to think that the Creator of the whole world thinks about you all the time.

“Your thoughts are beyond my understanding. They cannot be measured! If I could count them, they would be more than all the grains of sand. But when I finished, I would have just begun.”  Psalm 139:17-18

See that shade?

God protects you all day and all night.

“The Lord is your Protector. The Lord stands by your side, shading and protecting you. The sun cannot harm you during the day, and the moon cannot harm you at night.”  Psalm 121:5-6

See that moon?

God made them.

“Look up to the skies. Who created all those stars? Who created all those ‘armies’ in the sky? Who knows every star by name? He is very strong and powerful, so not one of these stars is lost.” Isaiah 40:26

Even the moon praises God. The sun, moon, and stars praise God. Let’s join them.

“Sun and moon, praise him! Stars and lights in the sky, praise him!” Psalm 148:3

See the sunset?

God never sleeps. He watches over you when you’re sleeping.

“He will not let you fall. Your Protector will not fall asleep. Israel’s Protector does not get tired. He never sleeps.”  Psalm 121:3-4

 

 





Here we go again.

15 09 2014

bus.keep.eyes.Lord.PS

Watch out! It’s coming.

What’s your it? Another school year which means a more hectic schedule, behavior issues, and assignment pressures? A reoccurring trial that brings chaos, stress, and tears? An illness that interrupts life, drains energy, and causes uncertainty?

Would it make a difference if the trial announced itself, “Look out. Here I come!”?

Probably not. When you’re in the path of a tornado, no umbrella will keep you from being swept away. When you’re headed for a car accident, bracing yourself won’t stop it from happening. Can anything be done when life’s warning system bellows, “Watch out!”

Remember, ducking won’t help. So, “Heads up!” Shift your focus to God.

I know what you’re thinking. “Yeah, right. That’s easy for you to say. You have no clue what I’m facing.”

I gotta admit, it’s not a typical reaction for me to turn my attention heavenward during a trial. That would require me taking my eyes off the problem. I usually assume full responsibility to solve or manage the situation. Shifting my focus to God would mean I’d have to relinquish MY control.

A fellow teacher helped me see just how simple it can be. When I taught in a public school, I discovered the third grade teacher was a Christian. Al’s eyes seemed to sparkle with the love of the Lord. He greeted everyone with a soft smile and a sweet, “Hello.”

We’d pass each other in the hall and whisper a quick prayer request.

“Pray for my after-school meeting.”

“Pray for one of my students who is failing math.”

“Pray for me to get my papers graded in time for me to get to my son’s game after school.”

One day Al and I stopped at the teachers’ mailboxes at the same time. Al didn’t look me in the eye. His head hung low and he mumbled a brief, “Hi.”

“What’s wrong, Al?”

“I’m having a bad day. Once I get my eyes back on the Lord I’ll be fine.”

His two-sentence response became a sermon. His message reverberates in my mind whenever things get tough.

Faced with the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS), Al’s advice helped me cope.

“What out! Here it comes. MS is headed your way.”

His godly advice taught me to have a right-focus during difficult times. It framed my thinking. I didn’t waste time dwelling on the diagnoses and details. I simply dealt with the pain, fatigue, and regular injections. All the while keeping my eyes on the Lord.

It’s getting easier to get my eyes back on the Lord. It’s no longer my last-resort strategy.

Faced with parental challenges, another friend provided much-needed Truth.

“Watch out! Here it comes. Your son has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”

Decades ago, Chris, struggled with organizational and social skills (due to his ADHD). I shared my discouragement with a close friend at church. She told me a five-word sentence that restored my hope. During hard times, her father would reassure her by declaring, “God’s still on the throne.”

Since then, when things seem out of control or desperate I remind myself, “God’s still on the throne.”

The Creator of the universe, who spoke everything into existence, has my life under control. He’s working out His perfect plans.

What about unbearable pain or unspeakable loss?

“Watch out! Here it comes. Your son has drowned.”

That’s what Dave and Trish endured. Howie and I met them in college. The four of us shared a deep love of the Lord. So after graduation we kept in touch. The arrival of our first son came around the time of their first son, Ryan. When Ryan was two he drowned in their backyard pool.

What could make that more horrifying? Trish’s parents and Dave’s parents had both experienced the death of a toddler when they were young parents. So the grandparents were grieving the loss of their grandson while re-living their own nightmare.

In the hospital, minutes after Ryan died, Dave turned to his father for advice.

“Dad, you’ve been through this. What can you tell me?”

“You talk about your faith. Now you’re gonna live it,” was all he said.

So, if you’re hearing, “Watch out! Here it comes,” remember:

Keep your eyes on the Lord.

God’s still on the throne.

Live your faith.

Dave’s father’s advice helped him survive. Because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.

 





Hidden Pain

4 09 2014

Invisible.Illness.pic

September 8-14, 2014 will be the 12th annual Invisible Illness Awareness Week.

On their website you can read about the history of the Invisible Illness Awareness Week. Here’s a little peek:

“Invisible Illness Awareness Week was started in 2002 when Lisa Copen, founder of RestMinistries.com, saw so many people who felt misunderstood by everyone. Familiar with the book “Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired,”* Lisa understood what the authors of the book called an “invisible chronic illness” or ICI.”

Watch their YouTube video to get the feel of the campaign to raise awareness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H18QKmYxaKA

The theme for this year is JUST ONE. For me the response to that theme is ‘Just one desire.’

I created an item as my gift to fellow individuals who have an invisible illness. Click on the link below to view photographs I took. Many have scripture I added. All pictures can be downloaded and saved.

http://secure.smilebox.com/ecom/openTheBox?sendevent=4e4445784e6a6b314d4442384d5467334e7a55774e44413d0d0a&sb=1

Below you find out how my item fits into the JUST ONE campaign.

 ♦♦♦♦♦♦

Just One Desire

It seems like a simple question to answer … until you’ve been diagnosed with an invisible illness.

You appear to be fine so others casually ask, “What do you do?”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) has chiseled away at my ability to work. But there’s one thing my disability can’t snatch from me: my desire—my desire to have a purpose. I’m guessing that’s true for most people. We want to fit in, contribute, and have a life with meaning. And we can.

When I was first diagnosed, I wanted to make Christmas gifts for family and friends. Limited stamina prevented me from continuing my decades-old tradition of baking cookies. So I switched to calendars made out of photographs I’d taken.

Invisible symptoms of pain and fatigue don’t interfere with photo shoots. I ride a scooter, shoot indoors, and even snap pics from a car. While taking pictures, I’m rarely aware of my pain.

Though my pain is constant, it’s minimal. When countless lesions on my brain made it increasingly more difficult to multitask or concentrate for long periods of time I wondered what would become of me.

Who am I if I can’t think?

God revealed His plan for my life with an invisible illness. He’s given me opportunities to teach part-time, write, and speak. My passion is to support others who have hidden pain. Like fellow moms raising children with mental illness (MI). Or victims of bullying and the bystanders who witness aggression.

Through my blog, I connect with mothers facing similar trials. Writing has also helped me equip bystanders of bullying. The central character in the picture book I wrote sees others differently. Beth has heart eyes.

Don’t you wish others could see you with heart eyes? God does. He knows your struggles and desires.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).’”