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Encouragement to read novels highlighting grace...
The benefits of encouraging kids to read are well known: better spelling, better comprehension, better general knowledge and perhaps a better grasp of the world and how it’s many components, especially those of the good and bad kind, fit together, alike testifying to their creator.
Reading can just as well produce clever devils as those that reflect God’s glory, so there’s a lot of benefit in choosing books that don’t play the same old worldly anthems , but echo God’s words in that Divine way of moving or affecting people, big and little, deeply and lastingly.
There’s one word that’s probably key: Grace – binding together those two great commandments in showing both the practical kindness to the undeserving that is neighbourly love in action, and the greatness of the Creator that lets people choose, for better or for worse, and when they fail, redemption.
One can see this in some of the Anderson tales, “Little Mermaid”, “Steadfast tin soldier” are ones that come to mind but prob also the tales that involve rescue from malice,
The Narnia books show this Grace with a big Grrr-ace from Aslan especially in the conclusion of the LWW. Anyone failing to be moved by the stone table scene has probably forgotten what it means to be saved. And that is another marvellous virtue of encouraging children to read books such as this: one reads or re-reads such marvellous books that are just as beneficial and restorative to parents.
Patricia St John takes Narnia into a more contemporary setting: either England of the 60s and 70s and kids without much more than a single parents, some hope and bad company; or else Islamic countries sometimes during War, or retelling of Bible Stories (“Twice freed” is about Onsimus).
Katherine Paterson is pretty big on Grace. It can be seen in “Bridge to Terabithia” but is far more obvious in “The Great Gilly Hopkins” and “Lyddie”.
Gary D Schmidt’s heros likewise benefit undeservedly from others (a teacher In “Wednesday wars”, two other dudes and an old guy in “Trouble”, the foster family in “Orbiting Jupiter” and the butler in “Pay attention Carter Jones”) but these are generally (saving “Trouble” and “Jupiter”) lighter than the ‘Paterson books.
A huge recipient of Grace is Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit” but if it were not for Bilbo’s quailing helplessness before the roaring Lions of Fear, Misery, and Heartbreak, it may be easy to mistake this for yet another saga of heroic endurance. Bilbo, like all the characters in these books, has big fat feet of clay.
Walter Dean Myer’s brief account of his early life in “Bad boy” is a testimony to the help he got from parents and teachers, and that despite himself, he got to where he wanted to be. “Handbook for boys” is another where Grace takes the shape of two old guys helping delinquent kids avoid prison by giving them work in a barber shop. In “Dope sick”, there’s a supernatural element
Thanks to Stanley Hopcroft for using his gifts and experience in literature sharing this parenting tip.
"Parenting" Church Service... (26.09.21)
Sing with your kids...
Do what you say...
Follow through with what you say you will do. This will help people trust you at your word. As a spouse, and especially as a parent, this is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Hard at first as you establish the discipline in yourself, but it will produce stability and dependability over time. The kids need to know that you are serious when you say something, otherwise they will never be sure whether to follow you or not.
Do you follow through with the consequences you’ve set for disobedience? Do you limit what you say so that you don’t say something that will be too difficult to follow through on? Some of us will need to be firmer here, while others will do well to show a bit more grace. Do it all in love.
Practical tip: Count up how many times you don’t follow through with something you say. Use a piece of paper big enough for a large tally! If you can’t identify when you do this, ask your spouse or a close friend to count for you! When you’re convinced there’s some room to improve, pray. And then record down (without judgment on yourself) why you don’t do what you say each time. Then pray for what’s needed. In God’s strength.
Remember what God says about children...
Ephesians 6 says children are to obey their parents, and parents are not to exasperate their children, but to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. But the Bible says much more – it is a treasure chest!
Compassion is a wonderful child sponsorship organisation that K@Ch sponsors Lawi in Kenya through. They have a lovely page explaining some Bible Verses on children and Parenting.
Phill’s favourite from this list (and possibly the most practical) is… Deuteronomy 6:6-7
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
But my all time favourite is this one… Psalm 78:4-7
We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done… So that the next generation would know them… and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
Build a routine...
Lockdown has taken away many of the structures and routine of “normal” living.
Sticking to a routine gives stability, especially to your spouse and kids. So here’s some practical ideas to get some!
Planning the Work/Kids balance. Whether you are working from home, the office, or not working, have a plan for the day of how you will spend time/chunks with and without the kids. Try having lunch all together at a set time that works with school and work. Add a recess break together as below. Stick to your plan as much as you can, knowing that it wont be perfect because of curveballs. Be realistic, rather than idealistic.
Enjoy it too! No one said structure is boring. Add fun things into your daily plan, as well as essential things to keep you going. Examples include: a fun easy family board game like snakes and ladders. Contacting grandparents altogether on Zoom. Explore an area of your neighbourhood for your exercise hour together. Make slime together. Paint! Dig up the garden. Place them into your plan, even if they are quick and in “recess” breaks.
Put the device down...
Be present. Put the device down when you are in a group with your household members. We can be distracted in our thoughts at the best of times. Device in hand…we’re checking out at home and checking in with another set of people. Switch off the device regularly. Switch on to the people God has put in front of you. Especially at dinner. No TV. No devices at the table.
Practical Tip: Plan a time in your daily structure and routines that specifically has no devices. Not even phones. For kids and for parents.
#1 - Invest in your own Christian walk...
Perhaps the single most important thing to “do” in your parenting is for yourself to live as a Christian. To grow in following Jesus as your own Lord and Saviour, is more important than trying to be a good parent. As you seek first his kingdom you’ll grow in your parenting. As you invest in your own Christian walk, you’ll also remember that we stand by grace apart from parenting, as well as in it!
Quiet Times. Let your kids see that spending time with God in prayer and bible reading and song is your heart’s desire. They will “catch this” way better than you can “teach” them.
Practical tip: Get into a routine of having a QT. Morning or evening or both. If you’re able, find a friend or two or three to create an accountability group to check in.
Growth in Godliness. Share your struggles and joys with your children. Remind them that your struggles only confirm why you are a Christian – because people are weak at obeying Him and we need both forgiveness and Holy Spirit strength to move forward. Along the path of two steps forward, there are often one step backs. Be open and honest about this, and again, your kids will catch how you live. For him.
Practical tip: Pray the Psalms. Start with well known ones. Psalm 1, 23, 46, 51 etc
Commit to Church. Make a resolve to attend Church each week. A Life Group. This will help with God’s idea of growing together as believers, and to gain encouragement for your personal commitments above. In doing so, your kids will see you and follow with a pattern of attending Youth Group, K@Ch, and other children appropriate ways of Christian community.
Practical Tip: Don’t even make missing church an option. During lockdown, watch at the same time as your other brothers and sisters. 9:30am. And don’t hinder the kids. Prepare their print offs, video playlist, and make sure they watch the Kids Spot, and join in the K@Ch QUIZ at 11:15. And do it with them.
Serving in the Mission. Nothing will stop Jesus from building his church, and using us to proclaim the good news of the gospel and making disciples of all nations. Of course we are beginning this in our own households, so keep serving with this in mind. But also think wider than your own family. How can you continue the work God has for us even in lockdown?
Practical Tip: Snail mail. During lockdown, make use of snail mail, and write a card to not-yet-believing family and friends, workmates and neighbours. Include a great gospel verse, (like Mark 10:45) and post it in the mail. Then pray.
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