31 ways for kids to show God’s love #AnchorFAM

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31 Ways For Kids to Show God’s Love
by Traci Little

There is a sweet elderly lady on our street that just had to send her husband to a nursing home. He has dementia and was wandering off.

You can see the sadness in her eyes.

A few nights ago, my children saw her out weeding her garden. They said, “Mommy, we feel so sorry for her; she looks so sad! Can we please go say hello and cheer her up?”

I love these teachable moments where the Holy Spirit grabs a hold of our little ones’ hearts and plants tiny seeds in their souls. It’s those tiny seeds that, over time, will grow mighty with roots that dig down deep into the soil of their hearts.

Psalm 1:1-3 says
Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on His law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

Our goal as parents is to raise our children with solid convictions, so that when the temptations come, they have a firm and solid foundation.

Here are 31 ways children can finish off the summer well and give back to others by showing God’s love:

1. Write a letter to a friend and put it in the mailbox.

2. Draw a picture and mail it to your teacher to tell them that you miss them and are thankful for them.

3. Bless the mailman/woman by leaving them a gift and thanking them for their hard work.

4. Do some yard work for a neighbor.

5. Volunteer at a soup kitchen with your family.

6. Organize a toy drive for the children’s wing at your local hospital.

7. Participate in a 5K walk as a family to raise money for cancer or another important cause.

8. Bake cookies for a family at your church you want to encourage.

9. Paint a picture for your grandparents and mail it to them.

10. Help a sibling learn how to read.

11. Make a tutorial video about something you are gifted in.

12. Put together a box full of goodies for a person in the military and mail it to them.

13. Help out with a ministry at church.

14. Get together some neighborhood friends and clean up trash.

15. Make some crazy loom bracelets and raise money for a favorite charity.

16. Make a get well box for someone who is sick.

17. Write out special prayers for children in need.

18. Write thank you cards for your pastor/deacons.

19. Take turns cleaning your siblings’ rooms.

20. Offer to help your parents babysit for another family’s children.

21. Give up all electronics for one day and spend time doing things for others.

22. Go on a local missionary trip as a family.

23. Pay for someone behind you at a drive through. Leave a tract with the cashier to give to them.

24. Start a kindness jar. Place ideas of ways to be kind and take turns picking from the jar and exhibiting those acts of kindness.

25. Invite friends to Vacation Bible School.

26. Bring someone wild flowers to your teacher at church.

27. Listen without interrupting or arguing back.

28. Continue clipping box tops to bring back to school.

29. Write a sidewalk chalk message to a family member to express your love for them.

30. Teach your children to hold the door open for people and praise them when they do.

31. Help your parents make a meal for a family who just had a new baby.

These are just suggestions. Replace any with your own creative ideas that fit your own family dynamic.

One of the biggest struggles our children will face is learning to be content and thankful. If our children can grasp the spiritual discipline of contentment, they will be able to see beyond themselves, and reach out to others.

The book The Blessings Jar is an excellent book about this very topic. One day a little girl named Alexa Grace is having a grumpy day. Her grandmother introduces a blessing jar idea to her. The blessing jar is a way for Alexa Grace to count her blessings by placing them in a jar. Alexa Grace goes on an adventure, looking for all her many blessings. Soon, the jar is overflowing with goodies, and she realizes how truly blessed she is.

Here is our daughter reading The Blessings Jar to her brothers:

Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes we don’t realize how very blessed we are until we look around and count our blessings. Consider getting this book for your own family. Maybe you could create a blessings jar and go on a little adventure of your own? You could even use the above “31 Ways List” and when you do something on this list, write it down and place it in your very own blessings jar! Write a little note on the back of how God blessed you and your children by blessing others.

Your Turn

How do you teach your children to have a heart of compassion for others? Have you been able to witness the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of your kids through reaching out to others? How have you helped your kids to show God’s love?

Don’t bear false witness, that goes for lying too!

http://youtu.be/Mz_F_Dna7Rg

God tells the Israelites to not bear false witness about their neighbors. So what does this mean? It means we should not lie to or about our neighbors! Similar to how God asks us to always honor His name in the third commandment, we should be careful with how we speak to other people. We should also be careful how we speak about other people when they are not around! God wants us to care for our neighbors in the words that we say. He also wants us to always tell the truth, because He is a God who loves truth and always tells the truth to us.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor

Don’t steal! Don’t even steal back from what’s been stolen from you

http://youtu.be/AvHTnp0wqbk

God tells the Israelites not to steal. When you think of stealing, you may think of a bank robber stealing money – which is against God’s commandment. But all forms of stealing from our neighbors are against this commandment. We shouldn’t steal things that belong to other people, but we also shouldn’t steal ideas or cheat people out of things that are rightfully theirs. This is another commandment that God uses to remind us to honor and love our neighbors!

You shall not steal.

Don’t even lust in your hearts!

 

God tells the Israelites not to commit adultery. This means that when we are committed to another person through marriage, we should stay true to him or her and not fall in love with someone else. God gave us the gift of marriage, and He wants us to honor that commitment because it is a way of honoring Him. God asks us to put Him first, and to not stray and worship other gods or idols. Just like that, God asks us to put our marriage first before all other human relationships, and we are not supposed to stray from it either!

You shall not commit adultery.

Stepfamily Rewards #Blended

Luke 4:18 tells us that he was sent to proclaim good news to the poor, the prisoner, the blind, and the oppressed. Jesus came to turn spiritual outsiders into insiders. All of us—you and me—were outsiders until his grace found us and made us his sons and daughters. One response of embracing this good news is humble gratitude.

 

 

When gratitude takes root in stepfamily members it can result in insiders (biological family members) making the powerful choice to embrace outsiders (stepfamily members). For example, when stepparents and stepchildren emulate Christ and invite one another in, something powerful happens. The uncomfortable outsider finds belonging, jealous and hardened hearts soften, selfishness dissipates in the face of sacrifice and love, and God is made central in that home. This is a profound reward every blended family would relish. But there’s more.

 

 

Healthy stepfamilies can experience many rewards including some of the following:

 

 

 

 

  • High quality marriages. Couples can create mutually satisfying, intimate, God-honoring marriages within stepfamilies.

 

 

  • A new marital heritage to celebrate. For children of divorce a healthy marital relationship can counteract the negative and destructive patterns of marriage they witnessed in their parent’s divorce.

 

 

  • Healthier kids. A loving, well-functioning stepfamily over time can negate many of the detrimental psychological impacts of divorce on children.

 

 

  • Shared respect and care between stepparents and stepchildren. Children, once empty due to the abandonment of a parent, can bloom under the loving care of a stepparent.

 

 

  • Experienced love, extended grace. When stepfamily members extend love and grace to one another and “bring the outsider in” they are emulating God’s grace to them. In so doing, children are blessed, hurts are healed, and the family is redeemed to God’s glory.

 

 

 

 

This is good news!

 

The Lord’s Spirit

has come to me,

because he has chosen me

to tell the good news

to the poor.

The Lord has sent me

to announce freedom

for prisoners,

to give sight to the blind,

to free everyone

who suffers

Reflections on Dad #AnchorMEN #FathersDay

Reflections on Dad  
Reflections on Dad
by Erin Mohring

Meet Erin Mohring

Meet Erin Mohring

I’m going to be honest: it’s not easy to get my boys to “reflect” on something. Reflecting requires quiet, stillness, uninterrupted thought… yeah, three boys under the age of eight don’t do much of those things!

With Father’s Day approaching, though, I knew it was important to help them spend some time thinking about the man they call Daddy and just why they love him so much.

We say I love you and go about our days, but the people we love are worth more reflection than just a few simple words. And this is even more significant to me as we raise boys.

They have an amazing, godly father who they love to the moon and back, but I want them to know just exactly what is so special about him, what they can admire and what can inspire them to be men of godly character, and the things that make him the the dad God had in mind for them from the beginning.

If you have boys, you probably know the answers that come first when a boy talks about what he loves about his dad…

“He is the best wrestler!” – Big J, age 8

“I love my daddy because he plays video games with me and I love him.” – Caleb, age 4

“He brings home candy from the hospital for me!” – Little J, age 5

“I love that my dad takes me to the park.” – Joshua, age 10

Sure, these things don’t necessarily require a lot of thought, but you know what they do show me? Boys that know their dads love them because they take the time to do fun things with them and think of them when they aren’t at home.

When my boys gave answers like these, I used to get frustrated because they weren’t really appreciating my husband for his best qualities. But to them, these are the important things. The things that make them feel loved and cherished by their fathers, just as the father does in the sweet book, I Love You All the Same.

As siblings can do, the little ones in this book want to be the best at the same things, but the sweet dad takes the time to share the unique things about each child that makes him love them all the same.

Good dads notice, appreciate, and help foster and connect over the special qualities and interests each child possesses, whether it be music, sports, games, or food!

Some of the deeper things I see my boys appreciate in their daddy aren’t mentioned when I ask them what they love most about him, but are noticed in the way they interact on a daily basis. After my husband had been running for about a year, our oldest asked if he could start running on the treadmill. He always wanted to know how many miles Daddy ran that day and would keep track of his own miles in a notebook. My son might not ever answer that he admires the way his father made his health a priority, but it has definitely been reflected in the way he lives!

Our five-year-old wasn’t sure what I meant when I asked what he admired about Daddy, so I gave him a few examples. After a little while, he came back to me and said, “I want to be smart and hard-working like Daddy when I grow up.” As he is just finishing up his kindergarten year and aiming for his dream to be a veterinarian some day, I love that he sees the value in education and diligence in the example my husband has set for our boys. And I’m hoping some of his diligence wears off on me, too!

And the very best? Seeing my boys pray with and for their dad.

The strongest man is one who knows his strength lies in God, and I love knowing my boys see this relationship with Jesus in my husband. Because of him, they know what a godly man looks like and they have a model of faith to build upon of their own faith.

In a culture that often belittles and ridicules the role of dad, I want my boys to think often of the characteristics that make their dad a godly man, an inspiration in their life, the one they love and are blessed to call Daddy. Let’s help them reflect on these things this Father’s Day and throughout the year!

Your Turn

What are some of your kids’ favorite reflections on dad? We’d love to hear what has come out of your little one’s mouth!

Helping Kids Caught in the Middle #Blended

To understand the behavior of children in stepfamilies (including adult stepchildren), you must understand loyalty and the natural tug-of-war it creates.

 

 

Cameron’s mom has been asking him for a month whether he wants to spend the majority of his summer vacation at his dad’s house or with his mom and stepdad, but she can’t seem to get a definite answer out of him. He talks in circles about where he’d like to be but won’t give her an answer. She’s growing impatient with him.

 

 

Loyalty refers to our devotion and attachment to the people we love. It refers to where we choose to put our allegiances. In stepfamilies, people generally place their first loyalty with their biological family members. Cameron feels caught between his biological parents and wants to spend his summer vacation with both of them. But to choose one means he can’t be with the other; it also it means jeopardizing the feelings of one parent should he choose to be with the other. For Cameron, choosing is a no-win tug-of-war.

 

 

Feelings associated with the loyalty tug-of-war often include feeling protective or defensive of one parent while spending time with the other, guilty for enjoying a stepparent knowing their biological parent feels left out, or sorrowful when embracing a new family means letting go of a deceased parent.

 

 

If a spirit of fear, that is, believing that loving one person will hurt another, places children in the tug-of-war, a spirit of love will take them out of many of their loyalty battles. Fear in adults dishonors the attachments of children, love honors them. Fear strives to keep children emotionally near for personal benefit (often an act of aggression toward an ex-spouse); love confidently gives them permission to love others knowing that they have enough love to go around. Fear pulls harder on the tug-of-war rope while love releases it. This is how you help your children find relief from the tug-of-war.

 

 

Biological Parents:

 

 

 

 

  • Give your children permission to like, respect, and love the many different members of their stepfamily. A mom might say, “I’m so glad you enjoyed your time with your dad and stepmom this weekend. I think that’s great.”

 

 

  • Ex-spouses should act civil toward one another. Criticism of the other parent, court battles, sarcasm, and an uncooperative spirit implicitly asks children to choose which parent they prefer or agree with.

 

 

 

 

Stepparents & Grandparents:

 

 

 

 

  • Don’t try to “replace” biological parents (living or deceased). The more you try to force your way in, the more resistant children tend to become.

 

 

  • Grandparents: affirm the new couple and family. Showing partiality to the original family signals to grandchildren that they should remain loyal to the previous family and not open themselves to the stepfamily.

Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone.

Dear friends, don’t try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says,

 

“I am the one to take revenge

and pay them back.”

 

The Scriptures also say,

 

“If your enemies are hungry,

give them something to eat.

And if they are thirsty,

give them something

to drink.

This will be the same

as piling burning coals

on their heads.”

 

Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.