Teaching Children to be Readers

Teaching Children to Read

Being a parent is amazing and hard and always full of new moments.  But, this moment we are in right now is something I’ve waited for. “Mommy” then I get a little pat on my leg and I see my older toddler standing there in front of me with a book in his tiny hands.  Begging for me to read to him.  So, I do. Over and over again.

There is a certain train book from Usborne books (gift from Oma) that he has carried everywhere – coffee shops, hikes, car trips, gym kid’s club – and Daddy has even had to tape it up.  It came with a little train – sometimes we can find it sometimes we can’t.  But, no matter – he has other cars that will work on its tracks – or at least work for him.

Elijah and the Train book

One of the things I want to instill most in my kids (besides a love for God) is a love of reading.  I love to read and I know how books take you to other places, teach you so much more than you could ever learn, and also put a desire in you to see the world around you.  C S Lewis and L. M. Montgomery are two of those authors for me.  I have a feeling the boys will love L. A. Wilder, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Andrew Peterson.  We shall see.  Can’t wait to actually read chapter books with them at night.  But, that is a moment in time later to come.

How can you instill a love of reading in children?

1.  Use the library.  We go to the library some for story time.  My boys are harder to sit still than some others but we still attempt it and its good song and play time too.  The public libraries, especially in bigger cities, are great resources (and free)!

2.  Buy them books.  Buy them at thrift stores, online book clubs, ask for them for presents.

3.  Read to them.  Use some time before bed, or after breakfast to read to them.  It teaches them to pay attention and sit still but also helps stir up an amazing appetite to read.

4.  Be patient with them as they learn to read.  My boys aren’t to that stage yet, but I have to be willing as their Mommy to be patient, let them stumble over words, help them when I need to, and listen to them.

5.  Encourage them to write their own stories.  This time will come too.  I still have the first book I wrote in 4th grade – all about animals.  I can’t wait to show it to our boys.  I hope they will love it and not laugh!

6.  Read different genres.  As a gospel Christian, I do like to read boys about Jesus to them.  But…I love to read them other books about the world God created and things that happen in it and teach them about a Christian worldview – seeing everything through the lens of the Gospel.  That is so important to teach to our children early in their learning adventure.

My friend Leah is an Usborne consultant.  They have delightful and interactive books for children of all reading levels.  Here is a link to an online party I am hosting for her.  I have been pleased with the Train book so far – and so has our toddler.  I’m sure you will find some your children like as well.

What are your favorite books to read to your children?

 

Glory and Grace: Deuteronomy 6

Deuteronomy 6

Today my little boy turns one.  One.  Seriously?

And I think to myself I’ve had one year to teach him – to love him – to pour into him.  What is he going to remember?

I hope he will remember the love, the kisses, the midnight feedings, the giggles and tickles.

What I hope he will always remember is that fact that his mommy and daddy love Jesus.  We want him to know the truth of the Gospel.  How will we do this?

We will pray that with endurance we will talk about the Gospel and live the gospel out in front of him and his brother every day they are with us.  How can we do that?

Teaching him (as little as he is): the authority of God and His Word – and the love of the Father.

1.  Use a chalkboard in your dining room to learn a Bible verse a week.

2.  Sing songs in the car that speak of God’s love.

3.  Watch shows that teach good things – and then talk to them about how the Gospel intersects with that.

4.  Pray with them every chance you get.

5.  Read Gospel-centered books to them – and teach them about God while reading any book you can.

Let There Be Kisses

Let There Be Kisses

I will be the first to admit of multitasking while my boys are awake.  If they are playing, I am on my phone, cooking dinner, cleaning, reading a book, etc.  And I’m not hear to lay blame on anyone else who does that.  Rest in grace, friend.  Walk in grace.  Live in grace. That’s what my husband tells me.

Here’s what I am learning: let there be kisses.  and tickling.  and book reading.

My older son who just turned two is just now loving to bring me a book (usually the Wheels on the Bus) and pat my legs which is asking me to put him on my lap so I can read to him.  I first told him no, then immediately was so convicted by the Spirit that I’ve not told him no since.  It devastated my heart that I would tell my sons no to something as fun as reading a book to them just because I wanted to do something else.  So, even today, as he finished lunch, he ran and got a book, and we read and sang and played with cars at the table while his little brother tried to hold his sippy cup and ended up getting more milk on him than in his tummy. That’s life.

Much of this denial that I give my sons is based on two things:

1.  I think what I have my schedule is more important.  Blogging.  Writing.  Cleaning.  Being entertained with social media.  It all comes down to pride.  I don’t want our family’s schedule to be dominated by the boys – but I do want there to be much more book reading, hand holding, tickle fests than instagram feed reading.  What do I want to communicate: verbally and non-verbally to my boys?  That they are important and time with them is something I cherish – or that things and strangers are more important?  What you communicate in your actions also gives you the door to speak the Gospel into their lives every day.

2.  I try to fill our days with too many things.  We love to be out and about during the days that Daddy is working.  We’ll either go to the park, the mall, the zoo, Bible study at church, the gym, the river, etc.  Atlanta is full of fun activities for families – so we take advantage of many of them.  But, then when we are home I have so much to get done.  I’m not thinking about stopping going so much – I just will have to limit what I think has to be done.  I’m reading Challies’ series on getting things done and it helps me to realize that I’m not God and won’t accomplish everything.  And everything doesn’t have to be accomplished.  Energy is a commodity too.

My boys won’t be little long.  The days are sometimes long and I look forward to having breaks with friends or solo times for being in the word or just running errands.  But, I love their laughs and hand-holding.  My Mister said last night that we better relish the times that they are excited to see us when we pick them up – because that always won’t be the case.  I know it won’t be forever and my boys will stop wanting to sit on my lap for reading sessions, or stop laughing when I tickle them, or they won’t want me to kiss them goodnight.

Until then, let there be kisses.  Everything else will wait!

Teaching Children Theology: Jesus Loves Me

posted in: Shepherding Children | 0

Jesus Loves Me

Music.  You know that song that gets stuck in your head and you sing it for the next 4 days…as you bide your time waiting for another song to take its place?!

Its a small world…

This is the song that never ends…

Any Christmas carol…

One of the very first songs that most church kids learn is Jesus Loves Me.  Simple.  Catchy.  Memorizable.

As I’ve been singing this with my children as we sit at the table or drive around town (Atlanta traffic usually offers much time for sitting in the car…still…on the interstate or at traffic lights)…I always get stuck on one line.

“For the Bible tell me so…”

Such a powerful truth of this song that is oft overlooked – and one that we as Christian parents need to teach our children from the beginning.

The Authority and Truthfulness of the Word of God.

If you don’t believe the Word is accurate and truthful and without error in what it says – then why believe it?  That is precisely why I hate political ads in our country.  You can never believe what is being said.  There is no use even trying to figure it out.  The good thing with the Bible is you don’t have to figure it out.

God said that the Word is true, living, active, useful for instruction.

The best thing the Bible teaches us is the Gospel.  No other way will we know that we need a Savior but by the Word of God.  And if we don’t believe what it says than how are we to believe what it says about us, or about Jesus, or about his love for us, His Children?

So, while you have the chance (Deuteronomy 6), please teach your children that God gave us His Word and it can be wholly believed and rested upon as they grow up, walk with Christ, and serve him in anyway He has for them.

 

The Word of God in the Soul of a Child

posted in: mothering, parenting, Uncategorized | 1

parenting

This is where I am. Starting to train up our older son, who is almost 17months and already has the “no” word down pat! Definitely his favorite word. Trying to change it to godlfish, chicken nugget, yes, or something better than no.  Our conversations with our older right now are consisting of “God says to honor our father and mother. And we don’t talk to our mommy and daddy that way” – those conversations don’t seem to be getting anywhere with him – but hopefully one day they will.

One story from my childhood…I grew up attending a Christian school. And I loved Sweet Valley High books in the 6th grade. It was the thing to read in the fiction area. I think I had most of them – and never know what happened to all of them. I had loaned one of the books to a friend, who took it home and was reading it at night by flashlight as to hide it from her parents. Her mom found it, called the school, and I got in trouble. My punishment…to write out Scripture. I would tell you what Scriptures, but I don’t remember what they were. I think I mainly saw it as punishment then.

As I’ve come into being a parent, and shepherding our boys’ hearts with my husband, we definitely want our boys to have hearts that are soft to the Spirit. We want the Word to break the stony grounds of their hearts and give them hearts that desire to please The Lord, love Him, and make Him known.

How we discipline and parent has an eternal impact. Here is how.
If we think that just because we quote Scripture in our home, make them memorize the Word, even for punishment, or memorize Scripture at the table or in family worship – that our children are going to automatically love the Word and have hearts that obey it…we are wrong.
The Pharisees in the NT knew the law and obeyed it – but their hearts were far from them. There are many who know the right words to say but inside they have cold hearts toward the gospel.
Here may be a better way to parent with the soul of your child in mind:
As you have the need to discipline:
1. Pray for yourself as you need to discipline your child. Pray that your heart would be one of correction for the purpose of training in the fear of The Lord and not out of anger, inconvenience, etc. Your heart matters.
2. Identify the heart of the problem. That may mean you first have to stop the outward disobedience, but there is always a heart problem.
3. Know verses that correspond to these heart problems. Whatever heart problem there is – Scripture has an answer! The Gospel is the answer!
4. Tell them those verses with a humble heart. Be humble before your kids. We are all sinners. That will go a long way with your children.
5. Encourage them to learn these Scriptures – and you learn them along with them. That will encourage them that they are not alone in their sin journey – and journey in sanctification.
6. If your children have received Christ – talk to them about how as believers our desire should be to grow in godliness and have hearts that please The Lord. Not out of have-to but out of want-to.
7. Pray for your children. Pray, aloud, in front of them, that the Spirit would soften their hearts towards the Gospel. Pray they would come to serve God as The Lord of their life and that they would obey His Word.
8. Pray for behavior change – but more importantly heart change. And know and rest in the fact that you can’t do anything about the heart change. That is all the fabulous work of the Perfect Holy Spirit.

And in that, as parents and as sinners, we can rest!

#31Days: Quote Day 15 – Psalm 127

posted in: 31days | 0
Sebastian Robshaw - 10.13.13
Sebastian Robshaw – 10.13.13
We’ve had a busy 50+ hours in our home as we brought home our second son, Sebastian Robshaw, yesterday. What a whirlwind!
Our pastor came to visit us on Sunday afternoon. This verse is what this blog post is all about:
Psalm 127:3: Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Book Review: Rob Rienow’s Limited Church Unlimited Kingdom

posted in: Books | 0

I’ve learned over the years that there are many people out there who think they have a handle on Family Ministry, but really just know what not to do or think they have ideas.  I don’t know much about this relatively new (to the modern church world) arena, but I have found one author I like and respect in this area: Rob Rienow.  He is the founder for Visionary Family and Visionary Marriage.  I’ve read several of his other books or writings.  This one is no different: true to what it says.

Let me explain.  In the first few chapters, Rob compels his readers to make sure they know what to do with Scripture.  To let Scripture speak for itself, know it, apply it, and know that the Word of God is true and sufficient – even for determining how to run ministries in your church.  And Rob doesn’t stop with just the first few chapters.  He then proceeds to complete the rest of the book using this method.  He lets Scripture be the driving force behind the remainder of his new book, Limited Church Unlimited Kingdom.

He goes through the Old Testament through the New Testament, Early Church, Reformation to present day in how the family has acted (and in specifics what the Word commands for families).  Rienow gives some great advice on the children in worship services discussion, shouldn’t parents have the main discipleship in their children’s lives, and what role does youth ministry have.  These are all important topics in this family ministry discussion these days.

What I appreciated most about Rienow’s book is that he stated at the beginning of the book that the Word demands that it have full authority (it is sufficient and perfect) and should also tell us how to do our local church ministries.  Then, he actually does it.  He doesn’t then go on to make up his own thoughts – he sticks with what Scripture says and bases his book on that.

Good man.  Good book.

Book Review: Loving the Little Years

posted in: Books, mothering | 2

Raves: that is all I have ever heard about this book.  And in some ways, I think those are correct.

And in some ways, I think those raves fail.

Where this book is strong is in its every day ideas for parenting of multiple small children.  Jankovic’s experiences she shares with her readers bring them many practical steps for raising children that are great with their siblings.  I would love to pick this book up when I’m facing difficult challenges when parenting goes awry.  She offers great biblical advice for mothers who are in need of direction of how to set their children on the right path.  As some of my friends have said, you will want to read this at least once a year. 

Another aspect of this book that I love is short chapters. She definitely knows and identifies with her main audience here: mothers who don’t have a lot of time to themselves.  As most mothers will testify to – quiet time is scarce: sometimes stuck between nap times or when you are taking a shower, or drying your hair (especially on those days when you actually get a shower).  These chapters are short and practical and funny and down-to-earth. You will want to read it time and time again. 

Here is where this book fails for me:

1.  Although she is most definitely a Christian and writes from a biblical perspective, a gospel perspective, there are maybe a handful of Scripture references in the book.  With all of her references to the gospel, to obedience, to the Law – there are many opportunities for her to direct her readers to Scripture, and the sufficiency of it for our parenting.  Instead, we mostly just have her experience, which is great – but I want to base my parenting on the Word and see what of the Bible I can bring to Baby’s life and mind – and point him to the source.  Also, if I want to share this book with other parents, or a neighborhood small group of moms (made up of Christians and non-Christians) they see good kids are the outcome, but not necessasrily gospel-centered children who see Christ in their parent’s parenting.

2.  There are very few mentions of how the Dad plays a role in the parenting.  If you take this book and Gospel-Powered Parenting and combine them – then you would have one that reaches both parents because it would speak to the joint effort of parenting with the spiritual leading of the Dad as the head of the home.   One may be too Dad-based and one (this one) may not have enough Dad in it.  I know she is writing to moms who are “stuck” in the house all day with children (and by stuck I’m not being sarcastic or rude, God allows our role to be in the home and we have the ministry of running our home and raising our children).  But, I do believe Dads need to have more of a hand in the parenting that happens in the house.  Even though he may be gone all day, I want my husband to be an integral part on our baby’s life and heart. 

All that being said, here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Christian childrearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organizational challenge.” – pg 50

“It is not about ignoring the sin, it is about renewing the fellowship.” – pg 76

“When you have disciplined, there should be a restoration of fellowship.” – pg 86

I know, who am I to talk, I’m not a “real” parent yet – I’m not having to make disciplining decisions on the spot and dealing with 3 children tugging at my skirt and flinging flour all over the kitchen or one who has a diaper blowout.  But, I hope to apply some of these great tips that she has offered and hopefully employ my husband’s help and his kindness and grace tied with the hope of the Word of God.

Book Review: Give Them Grace: Elyse Fitzpatrick

posted in: Books | 2

Top 3 parenting books: EVER.  Give Them Grace.

You don’t even need to be a parent to sit and just drink in the focus on grace in this book by Elyse and her daughter.  I finished it being encouraged in my personal life and also more to want to be a parent one day and how hard that task is going to be!

Elyse focuses on grace: that undeserved richness that God has given to us through Christ by His life, death, resurrection, and glorification.  All He has we have: His righteousness and holiness.  How important it is that we live in this reality – in our daily lives and men and women, and also in how we parent. 

Elyse is doctrinal and theological in this book: but she also gives you very practical conversations, prayers you can pray for your children.  One of the conversations I heard recently while attending a parenting seminar was “who really thinks of these things in the heat of disciplining your child – when they are throwing a temper tantrum?”  That is true – but that is where grace first needs to be applied to your life as a parent – to my life.  Then to our kids’ lives!  Even in the heat of the moment when they are screaming because they didn’t get to play the last game on the Wii.

I underlined so much in this book: but I’ll just pick out the good ones.

“Every way we try to make our kids good that isn’t rooted in the good news of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ is damnable, crushing, despair-breeding, Pharisee-producing law.” – pg 36

“Every responsible parent wants obedient children.  But if we’re confused about their ability to be good, we’ll end up lying to them about their desperate lostness outside of Christ.  We’ll tell tehm they are good and that they can obey God’s law.” – pg 47

“Yes, God commands us to train our children, but care needs to be taken that this training doesn’t morph into something more important to us than God Himself.” – pg 56

“The humility that acquiesces to being led, managed, and trained flows out of an understanding of one’s own lostness and a growing understanding of and trust in God’s great offer of life.  Only the good news of the gospel produces a truly submissive humility of heart.” – pg 86 – I thought this also applied to work relationships and marriage relationships.  Really any relationship: if we choose to live our Philippians 2.

“Management charts may help you run the home more smoothly.  They may also become your god.  Management is simply your effort to control outward behavior.  It is not meant to get to the heart, although a child’s obedience to the outward rules may be evidences of faith.  Every parent has to manage her child’s behavior.” – pg 89 – What is your end goal in your home management?

Anyway…you get the drift.  Elyse does a great job at engaging her readers and pointing them to the Son. 

So, for every parent, person in ministry who works with parents, people who might be parents one day, people who just like kids – or anyone who knows parents or kids.  I think that is everyone! :)  Go buy this book when it comes out! 

Thanks Elyse and Crossway!

Tedd Tripp Live: Parenting During Early Childhood

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Tedd Tripp was at Sov Grace Apex this morning. First, a note about Sovereign Grace Churches. There is something about them. The people are very gracious when you walk in, very welcoming, the prayers are very grace centered – not big long drawn out theological prayers. Its very nice. I have been to this church before when it was a newer church, went to one of their small groups. A friend of mine goes there and really loves it. God has allowed it to grow over the years. Excited. Love SG churches!

Tedd Tripp
Shepherding a Child’s Heart
Sovereign Grace, Apex, North Carolina
11.13.10
(As a side note: I was told by a friend attending the conference that this truth is so good to hear, but much harder to apply when there are diapers that need changing and kids pulling at your skirt or throwing food at the dinner table. There is grace not only for your kids – there is also grace for you. None of us are perfect parents. Live in grace, dear friends. God’s grace is sufficient, even for your parenting.)

“Living Joyfully Under Authority” – Early Childhood
There is a process of development within your child. They are developing physically, socially, intellectually, and spiritually.
He is learning how to work with the people in his world, how to be cute, coy, demanding, manipulative, how to interect with the different parents he has. High fives dad, rubs noses with moms.
They are learning how the world works. Child proof locks don’t always work. They are acquiring language.
They are also developing spiritually. They are creatures of God, a God who is holy, He has given His Son for me. He is also learning to bow before idols. There is probably not another period in life where he is developing so radically. Tremendous development in the first five years. There is incredible potential here, tremendous potential, designed for glory.

How do you focus? There is a single overarching thought: sturdy enough to meet the needs of this child. The primary objective is teaching the child to live under authority. God has made the world designed with authority structures. It is foundational for human beings. In the home, workplace, the state, the govt, the church. It is liberating for a human being to learn this.
Ephesians 6:1-3
The boundary of the blessing circle (which kids are to live) is to honor and obey. Two blessings are go well and long life. You want this for your child. What does God’s word say, and what does this mean for you? You are to obey it.

Children are in direct command here. This isn’t even to parents to instruct their children. The Apostle Paul is talking to children. Most children though aren’t going to pick up the Bible on their own. Parents: it is your job to train up your children.

Teaching your child this verse is a training process with your children. You are constantly bringing them this truth of authority, blessing, and obedience. That is how training takes place. You are refreshing them with this truth.

Presentation is incredibly important. We want to be winsome in how we present this truth to our children. “My roof, my table, you must obey me.” If you do it this way, you are planting seeds of rebellion. This presents a head to head conflict. We have invited rebellion. We need to present this as God-centered not man-centered. He has made all things for His glory. He has told us how to live for our good and His glory. You can trust God to work through Mom and Dad. It is rooted in God’s authority.
A lot of young people have a misunderstanding of authority. We don’t see it has beneficial, we see it as destructive and annoying. Parents try to avoid being authoritative. They try to bribe, plead, and make their children obey. Parents themselves are uncomfortable with authority in their own lives. Parents give away their authority millions of times. Cereal choices. Sporting choices. Piano lessons. 5 year olds don’t think that oatmeal and octave scales are good for them. They need to know gracious ways to respond to wisdom. This is where parenting comes in. Authority. Under the age of 5, you need to teach them they are under authority, not that they are independent decision makers.
Gracious authority is a blessing to them. Those children lack wisdom, maturity, and life experience. It is a blessing to live under this authority.

Obey = Submission to God’s authority that causes a child to do what he is told by the parents immediately, without excuse, without complaint, and without question. There doesn’t need to be any discussion or pleading. There doesn’t need to be any screaming. There doesn’t need to be any counting, threatening, or raised blood pressures. You train them to obey, to submit to authority. Teach them to submit to God’s authority.

Honor = submission to God’s authority that causes a child to speak to his parents with respect for their role as God’s agent of nurture, direction and discipline. Kids do not need to speak to their parents as though they were peers. Parents are set up as authoritative figures. Children cannot give their parents orders.

Go Well = The spiritual blessings that come to a child as he lives under God’s authority: along with the natural blessings that come as the adults in his world recognized that he is obedient and trustworthy. Spiritually and practically.

Long Life = the blessings of prosperity and protection, richness and fullness of life that God provides for the child that lives under His structures of authority.

What God has done in this passage is marvelous. He has drawn a circle of blessing. You want these for your kids, kids want them for themselves. Teach your kids the Importance of living inside the circle. Inside there is peace and blessing. Outside the circle is danger.

Discipline: a rescue mission aimed at returning the child to the circle of blessing. The function of discipline is not punitive, but corrective. Its goal is positive, not negative. We aren’t to discipline out of revenge, or hatred, or anger, or punitive. It is restorative, it is loving.
Hebrews 12.5 – my sons, don’t despise the Lord’s correction, He disciplines those whom He loves. God brings us the reproof of life. The ultimate goal is holiness as God is holy.
Physical discipline of children. This is not a popular idea. Verses: Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15, 17. The Bible is not unclear about spanking children; it is just an unpopular thing to do in our culture. The warning of Colossians 2:8-9 must be taken seriously. Captives are wartime – we are not to be taken captive by human traditions and the ways of the world: hollow and deceptive. Like chocolate bunny’s for Easter. These are hollow and deceptive. There is no chocolate in it. There is a lot of wax in the chocolate.
Spanking is not fashionable. Ideas go in and out of style. God’s word calls us to discipline our children. We are usually more influenced by the philosophical fashion trends of the world than we are to the precious word of God. The world’s voices will subtly tell you how to think about these important truths. How will you guard your mind and heart and actions. The trajectory of the world is moving away from God’s Word. God’s Word is clear on this matter (see verses above). “I love my kids too much to spank them” is not a VALID statement. This is anti-biblical. The real truth is you love yourself too much to spank your child. And that is SIN. Your child is on a pathway to destruction, eternal destruction. Your role as parent is to discipline them in a way that leads them to Christ. The gospel. If you don’t discipline your child, you will have no peace. Folly, the living as there is no authority, will bring no peace in your home. Rescue comes from the Word of God. The necessity of meeting your child’s defiance by the discipline that parent’s should lovingly use to steer their children to Christ.
The How of Spanking (Hebrews 12:11)
1.Take your child to a private place.
2.Tell him specifically what he has done or failed to do. Don’t give a general end of the day spanking. There will no benefit of that.
3.Secure an acknowledgment.
4.Remind him that your objective is restoration to the circle of blessing.
5.Tell him how many swats he will receive.
6.Remove his drawers (that’s underwear for those of you raised in the south, or britches)
7.Restoration: tell him how much you love him
8.Pray with him. Impress on him the mark of Christ, the gospel.

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