6 Keys to Raising Christians

How are you raising Christians kids like your kids? I hear this question often. Isn’t it every parent’s heart to have their children share their Christian faith as adults? Yet, so many parents are having the heartache of their adult children walking away from their childhood faith shortly after leaving the nest.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Yet, when I’m looking back on our parenting over nearly 23 years, there are a few key things that stood out to me that seemed different from my own experience growing up and from those raising children around us.

6 Keys to Raising Christians - Effective ways to parenting your faith into your children. | www.joyinthehome.com

It often amazes me that amidst all of my parenting mistakes, and personal issues that I display in front of my children that they have such a solid faith in their early twenties.

I know their faith isn’t a reflection of my own faith, but their personal relationship with their Savior.

I can only give a few key things that I’m certain makes the difference in passing on our faith to our children, and seeing them walk in their own faith in a mature way that neither myself or my husband experienced in our early twenties.

6 Keys to Raising Christians

When my older two children were young, I had taken them to a park to play. An older lady was there with her grandchildren, and before long, we were talking. I don’t remember everything we talked about, but one thing she said stood out to me, and has become a motto in my parenting.

“If only more people would realize that they aren’t raising children, but they are raising adults.”

In a nutshell, the older lady was saying that parenting needs to have the end goal in mind. That is how we parents should reflect on what we want to see in our children and then work hard in developing it in them.

I remember pondering this saying for years, and keeping it as my guide in raising our children on a daily basis. Over the years, I began to picture a garden in my mind, with each child being their own garden.

With this mental picture, I began to think about a gardener and how when they plant their seeds they label them as what they will be, not what they are at the time. For example, cucumber seeds will have ‘cucumbers’ labeled over them. Tomato seeds will have ’tomatoes’ labeled over them, and so on.

The gardener doesn’t say this is where the ‘cucumber seeds are’ or ‘baby cucumbers’, but labels the garden based on the end goal in mind. Then the gardener cares for the garden based on the needs of what he is growing, taking great care to ensure that nothing of harm will come its way to becoming what he expects them to be.

Raising Christians is just like raising a garden of any kind.

Planting Seeds

Our parenting has been one where Scripture has been our tool for planting seeds of our faith. We used key verses from the time our children were babies through preschool to get the basis of why we required certain behavior at home and out of the house.

We didn’t require our children to memorize them as Scripture, but we used these as pillars in our parenting.

If a child was disobedient, I would tell them “The Bible says ‘Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.'” (Ephesians 6:1). If I needed to remind them often, I would say “Children obey your parents” as a quick reference to the verse.

After many times of using the same key phrases in these verses, our children were memorizing what ‘the Bible says about their action’.

As they grew, I would literally just ask them, “What does the Bible say about how you are acting?” Nearly every time, our children were able to come up with the right scripture to match what we wanted them to consider when they were going against what we wanted for them in the end goal.

This helped them to better understand how to judge their own actions based on their own knowledge of Scripture from a very early age.

As they grew, we added additional Scripture as pillars to our parenting, and required Bible memory work throughout their schooling years.

These seeds that we planted were molding our children into Christians because they were self-evaluating their actions, and lining it up with Scripture from a very early age.

In addition to these Scripture practices, we also read Proverbs daily until our children got into middle school, where our focus went into the New Testament strongly.

Healthy Soil

This one aspect of raising Christians is so very vital, and where many have lost their children.

When a good gardener places seeds in the soil, he does so with the utmost care to ensure that the soil is healthy for the seed to grow to the end goal. The Bible explains just how important soil is in the parable of the Sower.

As parents, we carefully protected the environment that our children were placed.

We choose friends that shared our Christian faith, when Sunday School influences resulted in our oldest learning to use a swear word perfectly in a sentence, we made the decision to keep our children with us during church services.

Although I know that homeschooling isn’t an option for everyone, it was for our family, so we took the opportunity to teach from a Bible world view on subjects that are void in the school systems today.

We live in the world, so it is important to do our part to ensure the world is not your children’s teacher. Trust me, the world wants to be your children’s teacher, so you will need to be intentional about getting to their heart before the world does with their agenda.

NOTE: If your children are part of the public school system, I would encourage you to add Creation studies as a family, and even some American History of our founding fathers, to help with the things that are pulling Christian children away from their faith. In addition, I would also recommend talking to your children about what the Bible says about sex, before the school system and students educate your children in things that tempt them away from your faith. 

We were often laughed at, and shunned because of our choices with our children, but our intentional plan of being our children’s main influence in their formative years has proven time and time again to be what they needed to reach the end goal.

Plenty of Water

Plants need water, and a lot of water, to grow healthy and strong.

Children need praise and encouragement just as much as plants need water.

What we have found in our parenting is that our children try harder when we praise them before, through and after the task in front of them.

We are building their confidence before they attempt something. Then we are building their perseverance to complete the task. Lastly, we are building a sense of accomplishment when they have completed a task.

This is so important for a child learning to obey, or a teen making his way through peer pressure.

The earlier we start being our child’s cheerleader, the easier it will be for them to look at us as their coach in the game of life, and trusting our decisions on faith.” Dollie Freeman

Along with praising and encouraging our children, we need to also learn how to be attentive to them from their first moments on, so they trust us when they are teens.

Having eye-contact with our children when they are sharing what is pressing on their heart as a two or three year old will build their confidence that you really care about the small things and trust you with the big things.

The distractions of life, the electronics that we own and our busy schedules could easily unravel the best attempts to building that bridge for a child.

Be diligent in giving your child plenty of water, and as often as you can.

Direct “Son” Light

With the pillar of parenting in place, we had set the precedent that our children should live to honor God through their actions, and that when they fail they disappoint Him, not just us, as their parent.

We literally took the weight of raising Christians off from our shoulders, and put it on theirs. The daily decision to choose Christ at an early age built the habits that are much needed when reaching adulthood.

We utilized Joshua 24:15b – “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”, as our family verse to ensure that our children knew that while they lived in our home, our family would serve the Lord.

Over a period of time, through daily practice and pointing our children to Jesus for their weakness, and forgiveness, they saw that there is peace in knowing Him.

The only time we used Scripture to correct our children’s action toward us as a parent is with the 5th commandment, “Honor thy Father and Mother”.

When a child dishonors their parents and gets away with it, it is when the pillars of all other structure you have done crumbles.

It is in this one Scripture that allows us, as parents, to still be humans, walking along the same Christian journey as our children. It gives us the ability to fail as parents, and allow our children to witness the failure, but still pay honor to our position as their parents. By admitting our failures in front of our children, we are showing them just how much we still need Christ in our own lives.

Tend to the Weeds

You can’t have a garden without weeds. Any gardener will tell you that the best gardens are ones that are faithfully weeded, so the roots don’t grow deeply, and take over the healthy plants.

The weeds of the heart are no different.

Remember, it is the little foxes that spoil the vine, and it is the weeds of life that harm the heart of a Christian.

In parenting, there is always something that we need to deal with. Sometimes, it can be when your child started to tell lies, has a hard time forgiving a sibling, or maybe just struggles with asking forgiveness.

These are all weeds, and the sooner you deal with them, the easier they are to pull and the less damage is done to the healthy plants in their heart.

There has been times in our parenting that we have had to make some hard choices for a season. Times where we needed to remove our children from relationships that creating more weeds than we could keep up with.

Hopefully you don’t have any of those experiences. If you do and you aren’t sure what to do with the situation, I highly recommend removing the weeds, for your children’s sake. Keep the end goal in your mind, and it will help you to make the best decisions for your family’s faith than anything else.

Re-Pot for Growth

If you have ever grown a house plant, you may have some experience with re-potting plants for growth. It is so important to the roots of a plant to have room to spread out and grow.

If you don’t re-pot a growing plant, you can actually be stunting its growth, or causing root decay and kill it all together.

A child’s faith is very much like a growing plant.

It needs the opportunity to stretch their faith to grow strong roots.

I want to be sure you understand that I’m not encouraging you to send your young child into the mission field at 6 years old. I known a family who actually thought that doing that with their child at a young age in their neighborhood was wise, allowing play time at the unsaved neighbors home time and time again.

Sadly, that resulted in the opposite way. The unsaved family converted their Christian son, who is still not walking in faith today.

What I am encouraging is allowing your children the opportunity to act out their Christian faith, in your care, to those they can minister to in your circle of trust.

They can recite Scripture, sing songs they are learning in church, make cards for the sick, visit neighbors, do kind acts for their neighbors and most of all share their faith with anyone that will listen.

We have allowed our children to openly talk about their faith wherever they go, and praise them for doing it.

The more they practice, the easier it will be when it matters the most. One day, they could be witnessing to a future Christian and that my friend, is the end goal, isn’t it?

Raising Christians isn’t easy, but with these keys you can become intentional in the areas that we have seen reap the harvest with our children. These were the things that we were doing differently than others around us, and our results were also different than those around us.

There are times when my older children talk about their faith and standards, and I stand in awe because many of their standards aren’t ones that we expected of them, or even mentioned to them.

They are walking in their own intimate relationship with their Savior, and as their parents, we are blessed to know that the fruits of our labors were blessed in such amazing ways.

Keep up the good work, mama!

6 Keys to Raising Christians | www.joyinthehome.com

How to Build Attentiveness in the Formative Years

How would your life be different if those around you paid closer attention to the things you communicated to them? Attentiveness is a trait that many people just do not have these days and younger people in our lives are no different.  I would love to share with you how to build attentiveness in the formative years, and with the purpose in parenting, you can build a habit of attentiveness into their future.

How to Build Attentiveness in the Formative Years - Tips to help you build character in your toddlers and preschoolers, while they are in their formative years. | www.joyinthehome.com

It was during the early years of my parenting that I realized that attentiveness is the crucial trait on which all other character traits hang.  Once a child learns to be attentive, obedience will follow.  With attentiveness, kindness to others seem to be easier because of the awareness it promotes. As you foster this act of attentiveness in your toddler or preschooler, the effectiveness of your day improves, the atmosphere of your home brightens and other training areas become less daunting.

How to build attentiveness in the formative years:

  1. Read aloud to your toddler and preschooler daily – this pleasurable activity promotes undivided attention in a child, allowing the child to learn how to block out all other ‘noise' and concentrate on your voice completely. As the child to ‘retell' it to you, which requires even more determination in building the skill of attentiveness.
    1. Character Classics Attentiveness – Attentiveness is the perfect book with catchy phrases that will encourage your toddler or preschooler to give full attention easier.  Each book in this series comes with a CD full of attentive lyrics to put classical music. Children just loves these books.
    2. Help Me Be Good Series  – these books are ideal for toddlers and preschoolers to learn that there are consequences to not being good.
  2. Play games that foster attentiveness – toddlers and preschoolers need examples and praise during the training of any character trait. Games are the perfect activity to do just that in them.
    1. Memory Game – This is so much more than a game and should be considered the best game for training a toddler or preschooler in attentiveness.
    2. Red Light, Green Light – This game is great because a child has to play close attention to the instructions to play the game successfully.
    3. Simon Says – another example of a game that requires full attention to play successfully.
    4. Dice Games – a simple one is giving your toddler or preschool 6 or more dice. Roll one of them and have them turn the other dice over to match the one you rolled.
    5. Pattern Games – there are several ones that work great for teaching them how to find a pattern and what goes next.  The concentration and the need to pay close attention will give a lot of skills in short times.
  3. Communicate praise and encouragement in fostering attentiveness – words are powerful in training.  When a child has affirmation that their actions were exactly what was expected, they will works to replicate those actions for more praise.
    1. “Pay attention to what I'm saying.”
    2. “You have great attentiveness!”
    3. “Are you paying attention?”
    4. “You really were paying attention!”

If you use these three tips in building attentiveness in your toddler and preschooler, you will find that not only is it fruitful in their actions but you will have built a connection with your child that will put a natural desire in them to be attentive to you.

7 Summer Service Ideas for Your Family

With the extra time that summer usually brings us, I would encourage you to use some of that time for summer service to others. Demonstrating to others that they matter is a lesson often forgotten and so important to learn.  Starting somewhere is a good thing, so I'm going to share seven ideas with you for summer service that your family can do together, but start with the one or two that fit who you are best. You will be glad you did!

7 Summer Service Ideas For Your Family - Make summer meaningful with these ideas! | www.joyinthehome.com

7 Summer Service Ideas for Your Family

  1. Raise Money for an Orphanage – Our hearts are tied to Door of Hope Palawan, but you may know of another. Do a yard sale, bake sale or just collect change and donate it to an orphanage.
  2. Collect Denim to Make Shoes – There is a great opportunity to help those who need shoes for their health and an organization is meeting this need with denim!  Learn how you can be a part of this great way to recycle old denim for a new purpose with Sole Hope.
  3. Collect School Supplies – Every year our family does Operation Christmas Child, which packs shoe boxes for children around the world. They only give one box to one child and that child will hear about Jesus before getting their first gift and owning something for the first time.  Read about how I met one of those children who received a box and literally changed his life. Take the summer when school supplies are cheapest and ask those you know to donate for your own boxes for later in the year.
  4. Collect Winter Coats and Blankets – Often times, summer finds families cleaning out their closets and getting rid of excess. This is a great time to collect items for the homeless in your area.
  5. Visit a Nursing Home – Most people think about this around Christmas time, but all year long is a great time to visit the elderly.
  6. Start a Food Pantry – There is needy all around us and what a great opportunity to do a service in the summer to start a food pantry in your home or church. Collecting canned goods or boxed items and delivering it to those you know could benefit or having them come to you for their needs is a great thing!  If this is too big for your family, considering helping organizations that do this every day, like Food for the Hungry.
  7. Be a Good Neighbor – Do you know of those in your neighborhood that could use an extra hand?  Maybe an elderly couple could benefit from your family doing their yard work, a stay-at-home mom needing some child care help, or maybe new parents or those who are sick needing a home cooked meal.

If you want more serving ideas, check out A Year Schedule for Family Charity Fun

A Year Schedule for Family Charity Fun - Raise children that think about their community and helping those that are less fortunate with these easy ways to make a big difference. | www.joyinthehome.com

A Summer Project to Benefit Orphans

Summer is a good time to get out of the books and into serving others. I would love to share with you a summer project that we are going to be doing in our home this summer and ask you to join us!  You won't be sorry if you did and you will be teaching your children the joy of blessing others.

A Summer Project to Benefit Orphans - It doesn't take much to make a world of difference to an orphan. | www.joyinthehome.com

There is an orphanage in Palawan, Philippines that is close to my heart.  This orphanage, Door of Hope Palawan was started by my childhood Pastor's family and is being ran by them today.  I would love to introduce you to them and share a summer project that is easy and rewarding, but most importantly it will benefit the orphans who call Door of Hope Palawan their home.

I would like to share with you the words of my childhood Pastor, John Stutzman:

“The vision for this work came to me very suddenly and with great impact in a most unlikely place. It was the year 2001 and I was at the fruit and vegetable market in Puerto Princesa, the capital city of the island of Palawan. At this market poor children can often be seen selling large plastic bags to people who use them to consolidate their purchases. One of these children approached me and, as was my custom, I gave him much more than he asked, and told him to keep it to buy some food. He didn’t leave immediately, but stood a few yards away staring at me with a smile that made me wonder if he thought I was an angel or something.

What happened next effected my life dramatically…”

Read the rest of his story here.

What makes Door of Hope Palawan Worth Your Summer Attention?

Most orphanages are started by the hearts of missionaries living in the locations they are serving and seeing the needs, just like Door of Hope Palawan.

I can personally speak to the hearts of John, his daughter Anne and her husband, Luke, who run Door of Hope Palawan. They love people and love serving them, as they share the love of Jesus with them.  They are missionaries first and have a heart for these fatherless children.

Within a small and faithful church in New York, this pastor's vision was started.  They didn't approach me for help, I asked them how I could help them.  You see, when you read YWAM missionary stories to your children, you can't just sit back and believe that God will meet the needs of those doing His work, without you.  We all have a part to play in His plan… and this is my part!

What is your part?

Door of Hope Palawan Orphanage

A Summer Project to Benefit Orphans

Door of Hope Palawan has many needs, but nothing as important as sponsoring an orphan. They are not licensed to offer adoptions, so once a child comes to their orphanage, it is their child to raise and disciple for the Lord. We joyfully sponsor one child and would love to show you how you could do this easily for a summer project.

  • Sponsor One Child for $25 a month – It still amazes me that the basic need of a child in the Philippines can be met with only $25. This may be something your own family would like to do on your own, like we do. It is easy to do through Paypal.  If you ever find that it isn't something you can still do, you can easily cancel your sponsorship and know that you have helped a great deal already.
  • Sponsor One Child for a year for only $300 – This is a great summer project! Raise money from those you know to unity to sponsor one child for a year. This can be done as a homeschool group, a church's youth group, young adult group, a church, or a neighborhood.  Take a mason jar to the events you go to and ask those there for just their change (some may be dollar bills in their and that is okay) because most people carry change and will easily give that to a good cause.
  • Donate to a Current Need – Door of Hope Palawan has current needs in addition to providing and caring for their orphans.  I would encourage you to help spread the word to local businesses to donate what they can for these needs.  It is a write-off and many times they are looking for great causes to support for just this reason.

Sponsor a Door of Hope Palawan Child for only $25 a month www.joyinthehome.com

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Get involved in other charities year round, with A Yearly Schedule for Family Charity Fun

A Year Schedule for Family Charity Fun - Raise children that think about their community and helping those that are less fortunate with these easy ways to make a big difference. | www.joyinthehome.com

How to Raise Christian Children as a Fallible Parent

How to Raise Christian Children as a Fallible Parent www.joyinthehome.com

Raising children in today's culture isn't easy, yet raising Christian children seems to be even more challenging then ever.  In the 20 years of parenting, I have heard so many parents say, “Well, we did it as children.”, “They will outgrow this stage.” or “I can't expect them to want to be a Christian until after their college days.”

For me, I didn't want my children to walk down the same path I walked down, because the consequences or situations were not best for them and knowing that there was a better way, I wanted to do everything I could to help them make better choices than I made as a teen. I believe that having a firm focus on discipling your children is important to their Christian walk and yours.

As I looked over my own life, the stages that I experienced, like: rebellion, dishonor, lying or poor judgement could never be outgrown, but overcome with better choices through a lot of good advice from those who knew better.  For a parent to overlook the stages that pre-teens and teens go through, just because you are afraid of even more of the bad things, you need to realize that it is through habit that character is formed.

Waiting to influence our children with our faith when they are older is only taking chances with their eternity. Statistics show that many children walk away from their faith in college, not find it afterwards.

Knowing and admitting your failures as a Christian is a healthy thing for your own growth, but also for your children to understand that salvation is a gift, and to be a Christian means a fallible person who repents for their shortcomings and does what they can to live as Christ.

Here are keys to remember when raising Christian Children:

  • Disciple your children from the time they are young
  • encourage your children with scripture
  • admit to your children where you struggle as a Christian
  • quickly ask for forgiveness when they see you err
  • be quick to forgive others

Here are some good things to encourage you on raising Christians children and helping you in your own walk as well:

Faith

Faith {For Kids}

 

 

How to Teach Your Children to Guard Their Hearts

How to Teach Your Children to Guard Their Hearts www.joyinthehome.com
Our children are living in a culture where sin is now excepted as ‘life-styles', ‘rights' and ‘what is expected‘ as part of growing up.  As Christian parents, who desire to raise our children the Biblical standards that we believe, we have a difficult job to teaching our children to guard their hearts.  This is something that takes care and devotion to do it successfully.  Don't be mistaken, without a plan to succeed, the ways of the world will quickly take grip into their hearts and your job becomes even harder.

Here are some ways you can teach your children to guard their hearts:

  • Be selective of friends.  Do you or your children understand how to identify the characteristics of a good friend?  The Bible tells us that “to have a friend, you must be a friend” (Proverbs 18:24).   Again, we are looking for ‘a friend that loves at all time' (Proverbs 17:17). In Proverbs 22:24-25, we are warned not to be friends with an angry man unless we learn his ways. This warning is good for the other things that we, as Christians, desire to not learn.
  • Be selective of what is read. The written word is powerful.  This isn't just speaking of the Bible, but other written books that can quickly influence our minds and impact our desires.  Learning at an early age to be discerning about what is read for enjoyment or for learning can really teach your children how to guard their hearts against the powers of words that they read and mediate on.
  • Be selective of what is watched on Television. Knowing the power of a written word, you well know that the television has long been an influencer in all of our lives. Setting boundaries and teaching why these boundaries are there is a great way to help your children guard their hearts in a visual world. We have a parental pass code on our television, so that no show is accessible to our children that goes against our desires for them.  We seldom watch a show when it is being aired, so we can control not only the commercials but also anything that we deem inappropriate for our viewing.  Not only has this saved us time when watching our favorite shows, but allows us to demonstrate to our children how even an adult needs to guard their hearts.
  • Be selective of what is accessible online. The online world is a wonderful thing for most of us, however it holds snares at every click. This one area has been the down fall of many marriages, so why wouldn't it become a trap for young children unawares of the dangers that are literally a click away.  Setting filters and safe guarding the time and places a child or teen spends online is the best thing that you can do to help safe guard their hearts, even before their is an issue.
  • Be available for your children.  We know our children and their weaknesses.  Since the time they were just a years old, we have shared our faith them, offering them scriptures to overcome the struggles that they faced daily.  As our children have grown, our advice and consul has grown with them. Having faced the same challenges they are facing, we know what is important to address and give them tools to succeed before sin grips and entangles them.  In our home, we find time to talk when I cut their hair, around the table, on outings together and when they are facing their sin straight on. This has allowed them to have open communication with us, as they know that our desire for them is to please God and walk in His ways.

Knowing the pull that the online world has on so many, my teenage son is using scriptures to strengthen himself against the war for his purity and his mind. Being raised on Proverbs, he knows that this path leads to death (Proverbs 5) and has a strong grip on his gender.  He wants to be victorious and has been guarding his heart with limited online activity, by his own choice. However, there are times when he loves to search for things and do some comparative shopping and no doubt will find more and more uses for the internet.

As Christian parents, we are so happy to offer him a safety net, when his spirit is willing but his flesh is weak.

Covenant Eyes is an online accountability and filtering service that is easy to add to your computers, laptops, smart phones and other devices. This service is being used to help many men and women alike, break the chains that the internet has on them through an accountability program that is tracked and viewed by a trusted person in their lives.

I really love the heart behind Covenant Eyes because this isn't a service that was designed to shame a person for their temptations, but a service that will allow trust to be built between a trusted person and someone who desires to have a covenant with God or within a relationship. The reports are a way to build communication and help the whole family grow strong together.