Family

Feeding our kids Daily Bread in a world of fast food

 

By Laura Laithwaite for SUmag

Letting children to read the bible is no easy task! We live in a challenging age where three troublesome Ts make teaching children to read any book and especially the bible hard.

TECHNOLOGY
Our digital age has turned us into screen junkies and screen addiction and techno troubles are a consuming problem for families everywhere. Everything online is exciting and being offline and reading any book is often viewed as boring and slow. (Especially 66 books in one!)

TIME
There is not enough! As a teacher, wife and parent to a 14 year old and 17 year old I am very aware of the treadmill that most families feel like they are running on every day! Usually just getting everyone home from various extra-curricular activities, putting supper on the table and supervising homework feels difficult enough without adding monitoring everyone’s devotional life to the mix.

TRUTH
Everyone has their own version and it is not politically correct to promote absolute truth in an age where “if it feels good it is okay for you”. Children are in a crisis. So much of this is because they don’t know where the boundaries are and they don’t know God’s truth. Reading the bible is shelved because it is categorised as irrelevant or “just someone’s version of the truth” instead of the Word of God.

So due to these three troublesome Ts we are dealing with a generation of starving children; children who do not fill themselves with God’s “Daily Bread” every day. Their souls are hungry and vulnerable. We also live in an age of Entitlement where doing something that is hard or boring is too difficult for people who have become weak and self-indulgent. We have to do the hard work NOW to train our children in the Word so that they can learn how to make scripture an integral part of their life every day.

As a family, we are far from perfect at getting it all right. The above challenges often get the better of us too (My husband and I have frequently felt like Jonah – wanting to run away or hide) but here are some practical ideas (using the acronym B.R.E.A.D) that we have tried in our family that may help yours too.

BREAD

B – Bibles. Make them available and age appropriate in your home. (Use bible story books for under 8s). Remember that troublesome T of technology. This is where it can be your friend. Online bible apps are a winner with millennials. The Holy Bible Bible App developed by Life Church called YouVersion has been a wonderful tool for our family. Tweens and teens love it as they can create their own profile, choose from wonderful reading guides, access different versions at the touch of a button and even share scriptures with friends on the app. This brings in the social media side of the technology they love. There are some excellent family devotions too.

For younger children there is also a website called SUPERBOOK, which is an online bible site where children can create their own profile and watch bible stories brought to life with excellent animation. Guardians of Ancora (A Scripture Union project) is an amazing exploratory game for tablets and phones which kids between the ages of 8 and 14 love. They won’t even realise they are learning bible stories!

R – Is for regular routine. This is ESSENTIAL – children must see reading the word as an everyday activity as important as eating right, brushing teeth etc. Establish a time that suits you, from babyhood, to read bible stories and then encourage this to develop into their own time later. If you see that they are struggling as they get older to keep this in place introduce a family devotion time after supper each night (just 10 minutes is fine) until they are back on track. (It gets you back on track too sometimes!)

E – Expect challenges! Don’t give up when the going gets hard. Be sensitive to them and allow them private moments with God too. I love what Dalene Reyburn had to say in a previous SU Mag article on Big Picture parenting. The big picture here is we want them to understand that reading the bible is about building their relationship with God not about pleasing you or ticking a box.

A – Are you open about your own faith? Share your own faith journey with your children when it is appropriate. Help them see how scripture talks to you. I sometimes write/type up a scripture that is particularly meaningful to me at a particular moment and stick it up. Ask your children what they think God is trying to say through this word. You may be surprised at how wise they can be! Ask them what scriptures keep coming up for them at the moment too. Share how you believe the Holy Spirit talks through scripture.

D – Just DO it! Show them how to DO life in the Word – every part of it. Recently my daughter has been writing her matric trial exams and before she started, we took time to make some little verse cards to give out to her friends to encourage them too. When my children went away on long trips I use to type out a verse for them to read each night just before bed with a note from me. DO life in the Word.

Don’t try your twenties on your own

By Ratti Mashego for SUmag

“Hello! And welcome to your twenties!”

At times, I wish someone had greeted me that warmly when I entered this life phase. It’s just so exciting, so fluid, and also so very uncertain. The truth is that very few people feel prepared for the rollercoaster they are about to embark on as they enter their twenties. I certainly wasn’t.

One thing I’ve learnt so far is that you definitely don’t want to try your ‘twenties’ on your own.

Going into high school, I knew that I would get on better with some people than others. Much like everyone around me, I was also wildly insecure about things that I didn’t want people to know about me. Because if we’re honest, we all have a tendency towards wanting to keep our private shame a secret. It is a fear though that keeps us from knowing people fully and allowing them to accept us.

Looking back I can see that there are two main things that really helped me at school and are now getting me through my ‘twenties’ as well.

FAMILY AND GOD’S WORD

Family really can help, especially when you learn that God’s idea of family is not only limited to people who share the same blood as you. At school, I began to understand that choosing the right company was the single most important skill I needed to develop. I learnt to recognise those who were edifying, who would challenge me and be challenged by me, who would stand with me when the walls seemed to be closing in around me, who would allow me to be a brother to them, and who would not keep score.

It was a skill that my parents desired for me to have and retrospectively I completely understand why it meant so much to them. We are social beings and the truth is that we can miss the fullness of where we could be if we surround ourselves with the wrong types of people.

The other thing also came via my parents.

THE TRUTH AND AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE

Now this doesn’t mean that I was always ‘that’ Christian person at school. Quite interestingly for the first year of being at high school, I never attended Christian Fellowship. But I knew that God was always there and that He would never let me go through life alone.

My Christian friendships grew throughout high school and all knew was that I wanted to know more about Jesus. Despite this renewed interest in the Jesus of my childhood, I never read the Bible. I mean I owned one, and I knew where all the popular scriptures were (John 3:16 etc.) but I never once set my mind to reading the rest. The stuff that wasn’t on coffee mugs and bookmarks. And I just don’t know why. I only really started doing this on my gap year.

Now to put the first few years of my university life simply, I didn’t enjoy my degree. I have struggled to understand why following the word of God has led to the place where I just don’t enjoy what I’m doing. I’m still working through this one.

Truthfully if you’re in your twenties with me right now I would be so happy for you (but genuinely surprised) if you feel happy with what you chose. In this period, we are prone to want to change, modify, and even run away from the choices we’ve made to try make new “better” ones. But the thing is, we’re in our twenties.

If there’s anything that I’ve learnt about myself, it’s that I am extremely flaky. But also, that God really isn’t. God has been so faithful in teaching me about Himself, the world and the people in my life at present. He has never let me down. God will never let us down, no matter how turbulent the twenties get.

So, to you in your twenties I say, “Hello! And welcome to your twenties! Walk this road with God, and walk it with your family. You are not an island, and you will be okay.”

Welcome to the club of “parents who make mistakes!”

By Delme Linscott for SUmag

If you have ever made a mistake as a parent then you need to carry on reading this article. However, let me not get too far ahead of myself, because I first have a BIG confession to make…

I have made many mistakes as a parent and sometimes I feel as if I have ‘totally’ failed as a father! In fact, the reason I am writing this article is because I have just FAILED again, and I am busy vacillating between huge guilt and overwhelming frustration, mainly with myself. I should have just known better!

Without going into too much detail about my latest failure, I want to share how we can all deal with our mistakes and move forward from these places of brokenness. In this particular incident, I made a decision with my heart, instead of my head and although I meant well, believing that I had my kids best interests at heart, I made the wrong decision. Oh, how I wish I had gone to ‘Parenting school’ or some other place where they taught you how not to make these mistakes. You know what I mean? That place where we can be trained to become perfect parents?

Just as I was feeling very down about myself, I remembered that Jesus’ mom and dad had also blown it a few times. Turning to Luke 2, I noted that they had actually left him behind after the Passover festival and then only realised he was missing many hours later. Immediately, I felt a surge of relief and thought to myself, “Well, even though his parents made a few mistakes, Jesus didn’t turn out too bad in the end!”

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travellers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.

Clearly, this incident took place in another context and generation, but it did make me feel a little better about myself, too be honest. There are just so many things that we try and model as parents, but in the end we know that we will make many mistakes. The biggest thing I daily pray for is that my kids will understand that we are trying our best and that we are desperately seeking to point them to Christ. Even though parenting is complex, we desire our kids to come into a relationship with Jesus and we pray that our mistakes won’t hinder them from encountering Jesus.

So, friends, this is what I am learning as a parent – 15 years on in my journey.

  • I am learning to say ‘sorry’ over and over again.
  • I am learning to cut myself some slack and to trust that God has my kids in the palm of his hand.
  • I am learning that my kids are lot more resilient than what I give them credit for.
  • I am learning that second chances apply to me, just as much as it does to them.
  • I am learning that I will never be perfect, no matter how often I try.
  • I am learning that LOVE covers over a multitude of my mistakes.

And so my only advice to parents out there is this: Don’t give up trying to be a great parent, but remember that when you fail, God can help your family through the difficult moments and that “All things work together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).” I really believe that!

In the words of Maya Rudolph, “You’re always going to make mistakes, constantly, and beat yourself up about it, and the one thing you have to remember is that the thing you can do better than anyone else is love your children, because they’re your children. So you just have to remember to give yourself a little bit of a break sometimes.”

Welcome to the club of “Parents who make mistakes!” Now that you know that you are part of the biggest club in the world, let’s put our failures behind us and let’s get parenting again! May we all be blessed with Courage, Resilience, Patience, Love and Grace. Go with the strength of God.

Dealing with Disappointment

 

Written by Delme Linscott for SUmag

WHAT IS YOUR REACTION?

I clearly remember an incident with one of my boys a few years back. While I waited for him in the school parking lot, I could see from a distance that something was wrong. My heart sank, even before I knew the reasons. I watched his every step towards me, noticing how slumped his shoulders were and the sadness on his face. His steps seem to get slower and slower as he approached me, as if he didn’t want to express his pain aloud. Before he could respond to my greeting, he blurted out that he had been dropped from the rugby team. Between his sobs, I tried to reassure him that it would all be fine and then with a pain in my heart, I put my arms around him and gave him a big fatherly hug.

Every parent at some stage has to guide his or her child through dealing with disappointment. Your child comes home from school to tell you that they have experienced some set back during the day. It could be poor results in a recent exam, being dropped from their sports team, dealing with an issue with their friends or being on the receiving end of nasty gossip. When this happens to your kids, what is your reaction? Rushing off to try and stand up for them may be our gut-reaction, but is this the best for them in the long run? Will this teach them how to handle the next dose of disappointment? So, the question remains, how do we help them navigate a Godly path through disappointment?

NOBODY GETS A PASS NOT EVEN JESUS

Our children only need to look at the earthly life of Jesus to know that a decision to believe will not in some pseudo magical way protect them from disappointment. If one looks at the actions of the disciples, we can clearly see how they let Jesus down. Judas betrayed him, James and John argued about who was the greatest, Thomas doubted his resurrection. Jesus had to deal with pain, hurt and abandonment too. The reality of disappointment though should not give permission for some melancholic take on life and mistrust of people but rather remind them of the “I’ll never let you down” nature of God.

It was Simon Peter who promised to be by his side always, but when Jesus needed him most, Peter ran away and hid. In one of the post-Resurrection encounters (John 21), Jesus comes specifically to Peter and forgives him for turning his back on him. Peter’s betrayal did not stop Jesus from loving him and for believing the best of him. This teaches us that although people and circumstances will disappoint us, we can be reassured that Christ’s love will always remain constant. It’s never easy to try again with people who have disappointed but such is the way of love.

GIVE THEM AN IMMOVABLE LOVE

I can’t remember the exact words I spoke to my son the day he was dropped from his team, but I can tell you what I was feeling and thinking. I wanted all of my kids to know that their disappointments will not influence the love we have for them! We love our kids fiercely – no matter the marks in the exam, the team they play for, the friends who let them down or even the unfair gossip we may hear about them. Just as God loves me, despite the disappointments I bring with my faults, so my kids need to know that my love for them is immovable.

This theme reminds me of the words from the Apostle Paul, where he writes “and this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5). To hope in the constant love of Jesus will never end in disappointment.

For all your parenting books, visit our on-line Shopping Cart

Boundaries: Shaping the Future

By Delme Linscott for SUMag

Teaching kids boundaries and life skills can be an exhausting business. I often feel like it is Groundhog Day in my household – we repeat the same instructions to the kids, but they don’t seem to listen as much we would like. It is tempting to give up, but as parents, we believe that we have a crucial role to play in teaching the children boundaries as well as general etiquette. If we need some extra motivation, we remember that our mandate is a Biblical one. We rely on the strength of God, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (Proverbs 22:6).

THE DAILY STRUGGLE

What DVDs are appropriate to watch and which ones are not!
What words and actions are appropriate and which aren’t.
How to eat at the table.
Potty training!
Saying ‘thank you’ and ‘please.’
How much ‘screen’ time is acceptable on a daily basis!

As parents, we fully understand the magnitude of our God-given responsibility and we believe firmly in guiding our kids as much as possible. We live in a world where ‘anything goes’ and this is the sentiment that our children will hear everywhere they turn. However, this is not what the Scriptures tell us and so with grace we need to show our kids the path that God has chosen for us. We pray that the results will be worthwhile in the end and that we would have guided our kids to become Christ-like adults, who have a respect for others and for themselves.

KIDS GROW UP

But, is this just for our kids? What about the adults in our communities? Increasingly, I see that we are living in a world where adults have no idea of boundaries either. A huge dilemma we are facing in society and especially in the Church is “How do we go about teaching boundaries, faith-skills and Godly living to adult Christians?” I sometimes despair when I read in the media of how Christians behave. It seems as if there are adults acting worse than toddlers do! But what can one do? After all adults don’t want someone to tell them what to do and how to live, or do they? I feel that many Christians are actually crying out for Discipleship. Men and women want to be mentored and guided in their faith. We want to learn from others and know that we are on the right path. We want to know what the Scriptures teach.

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deuteronomy 4:9).

The basis for the boundaries I am trying to instil in my children are effectively the same kind of principles we need to drive home to adult Christians. They may look slightly different, but in essence, they are the same.

What is appropriate behaviour?
How much is enough?
What words build up and which break down?
How do I follow Christ sincerely?

So, the next time you are getting frustrated asking your children to ‘clean up their messy rooms’ or to ‘turn the phone off’, think of it in a broader sense. What we model and shape in our kids today will play out in society tomorrow. If we turn them towards the ways of Jesus today and help them understand Godly boundaries, then we will not only bless them, but also our communities of the future.

“Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair and you will find the right way to go” (Proverbs 2:9)