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Category Archives: Christian Grandparenting

Keeping God First While On Vacation

For the past three years our family has vacationed together in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Two grandparents –us (Pappy and Nana), our two daughters and their families, including our six grandchildren. Each year we’ve made many special memories. The grands all agree that tubing on the lake is their favorite. This year we had the opportunity to rent a boat for the week, so it was one big splash after another.

Each year Jeff and I intentionally prepare for the spiritual emphases. Since we are at the lake over a Sunday, Jeff (Pastor Pappy) shares a special message and serves our family Holy Communion. It is such a precious time. This year’s message was about David and how he was an unlikely candidate to take down Goliath (but he did…with just a slingshot and a stone), or to become a king, being a simple shepherd boy, the youngest of eight sons (but God chose David to reign over Israel for forty years).

Jeff told our grandchildren that God has a special plan for each of our lives, and that God wants to use our unique qualities and abilities to honor Him and to help build His eternal Kingdom. In conclusion, Jeff singled out our youngest and shortest grandchild (Jocelyn), illustrating how God looks at the heart and not our outward appearance. “So, whether young, old, short, or tall, when God calls us to serve Him, He also equips us and helps us overcome obstacles that attempt to thwart His plan and purpose in our lives.”

Desiring to keep our family God-focused throughout our vacation week, I thought it would be helpful to share devotions. Knowing I had only a couple weeks to prepare, I initially thought of grabbing a faithful devotional book from our library, but then God directed me to google the Internet. Sitting behind my computer I began the search and within minutes I landed on: Keeping God First While On Vacation. As I felt my heart resonate with this title, I opened the link and it took me to this site: Growing Kids For The Kingdom (https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/keeping-god-first-while-on-vacation-a-family-vacation-devotional/) and to the post, Keeping God First While On Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional.

I emailed the author, Taylor Johnson, requesting a copy of the devotional and she quickly replied, attaching a copy to the email. After reading through the devotional I knew it was for our us. The devotions are perfect in quantity and content. (A total of five, counting the preparation and follow-up devotions.) This is especially true when you have younger children in your family. More lengthy devotions may not hold their attention. Plus, there’s plenty of Scripture to read and elaborate on as the Holy Spirit directs.

Prior to our departure, I emailed copies of the first devotion to our family members and suggested that they go over The Before You Leave: Preparing Your Hearts section. Jeff and I read this section together and I asked Taylor to help us pray for God’s guidance. She eagerly agreed, and we are thankful for her prayers and for her vacation devotional.

Here’s how God answered our prayers!

Knowing everyone would be anxious to begin their play each day, I knew I must follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. He impressed upon me to be flexible with the time of day to share the devotions. (This goes totally against my nature, as I like to have all my ducks in a row). I’m so thankful I listened and heeded to the Holy Spirit’s instruction.

Monday morning arrived and several family members were already at the boat dock, leaving a few of us to begin eating breakfast. Unsure of when everyone would be together at the same time, I chose to share Vacation Day 1 – Loving God and His Creation. After reading the entirety of Psalm 104, I asked everyone to look for ways God shows His love through creation. Soon after, I brought the remaining family members up to speed on our devotion for the day. Later that evening our family all came together to celebrate my birthday. Following this very special time, I asked if there was anyone who would like to share our family devotion for Wednesday? Not expecting this at all, our ten-year-old grandson Jack immediately said, “I will!” With no reservations, I handed him a copy of the devotion.

After my sweet birthday celebration, we were visited by a four-legged fury friend…a small beady-eyed raccoon. Our grandkids affectionately named him Ronnie, and of course, they left a plate of goodies on the deck to ensure his return visits. Everyone agreed Ronnie showed us God’s love and vice versa.

Early Wednesday afternoon, I caught Jack sitting on the deck with my Bible opened. He had asked me the day before to use my Bible so he could begin preparing for our devotion and to mark the Scriptures. He didn’t know I spotted him on the deck, so I quickly snapped a photo of him for memory sake.

Wednesday evening our family gathered together while Jack led us in Vacation Day 2 – Being like Christ in Character. I was so blessed by his preparation and leadership. After reading the suggested Scripture, Jack instructed us to talk about the various character traits and challenged us to live these out during our vacation. Following our devotion, Jack’s sister, Julia, confidently said “I’d like to do the next devotion.” “Can I?” I said “Sure!” Julia’s parents reminded her that she would have to take time to prepare. No problem!

On Thursday, we visited the beautiful Garvan Woodland Gardens. This turned out to be a delight for all. We experienced so much of God’s marvelous creation. George, the resident male peacock greeted us at the entrance. George was thrilled when we fed him some almonds. We saw lizards, snakes, fish, bugs, waterfalls, and trails leading to a gigantic tree house, a crawdad waterhole with beach balls, and a wrong turn leading us to a beautiful lake view. Here we captured the beauty of the moment.

Friday quickly arrived and I thought maybe we should have our family devotions in the morning, but no, God had other plans. Again, trying hard to be flexible, I followed the Holy Spirit’s leading. After much play on the lake, fishing, boating, and just having fun together, my precious Julia (eight years old) approached me and asked if I would help her prepare for our devotion. My heart leapt with joy as I sat down with her at the table as she read through the suggested Scripture, and we talked through the discussion questions.

Knowing in advance we would face some opposition from the enemy to keep our family from having devotions together, I began to pray for the evening. God was honored when all family members and a family friend listened intently as Julia read the Scripture and led us in Vacation Day 3 – Sharing God’s Love With Others. It was such a tender and Spirit led time. After sharing how we had shown love towards each other during our vacation and ideas for sharing God’s love with others, Julia asked us all to pray. She specifically called out each of our names to let us know when it was our turn to pray. At the conclusion, Julia asked for prayer requests. There were several and as she closed our time in prayer, Julia recalled each request and prayed for them. I knew Jesus was in our midst. What a glorious moment! Our Julia has expressed interest in becoming a missionary. I’m sure God is pleased and will guide and direct her life, along with all our family, as they trust in Him and strive to keep Him first in their lives.

Throughout our vacation week, the Holy Spirit was faithful to remind us of our devotional time together. While trying to decide on where to eat lunch one day, several family members paused to allow differing ideas, demonstrating the Christlike Character of kindness. Another time, I overheard a grandchild say, “Let’s remember to show the love of Jesus.” And parents who praised God and thanked Him for the beauty of His creation; demonstrated by stopping to examine an unusual looking bug, and a dad taking his family on an intentionally planned hike by a creek.

The memories we’ve made on our family vacations are all very special and will remain in our hearts a lifetime. But by far, the greatest memories that I will cherish above all are those of our grandchildren growing closer to God through His love, His Word, and through His creation.

I personally want to thank Taylor Johnson for providing such a wonderful resource for our family to use while on our vacation. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I highly recommend Keeping God First While On Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional. To read about this devotional and to learn more about the Growing Kids for the Kingdom ministry, you may click on the following links:

Growing Kids For The Kingdom: https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/

Keeping God First while on Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/keeping-god-first-while-on-vacation-a-family-vacation-devotional/

Creation Vacation by Covenant Heirs: https://covenantheirs.org/2017/09/22/creation-vacation/

And for further study:

What does it mean that God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7)?

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Article by Got Questions Ministry. https://www.gotquestions.org/God-looks-at-the-heart.html

Disclaimer: Covenant Heirs Ministry recommends this article but does not necessarily endorse all the content found on the God Questions website.

 

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Trust in the LORD

sf_trustinthelord_02

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).

me-and-girls.jpgIf I had only one passage of Scripture to share with my children and grandchildren, I believe Proverbs 3:5-7 would rank very close to the top.

Having years of life experiences behind me now at age sixty-one, trusting in the LORD or on my own understanding has definitely been a teeter-totter ride for me.

As with most people, it’s easy for me to trust in the LORD when all is at rest or there’s little to worry about. I’ve learned, however, that this is actually the best time to build up a reserve of trust in the LORD. For we all know that the storms of life often arrive with little or no warning.

Building a reserve of trust in the LORD

  • Set aside a specific time and place to meet with God daily.
  • Read God’s Word daily. Choose a reading plan that works best for you in the varied seasons of life.
  • Spend quality and quantity time simply being in God’s presence without any distractions.
  • Prayer is always a two-way conversation. God desires us to share our hearts openly with him, which is usually the easiest part of prayer. Then, be sure to wait in the quietness of your mind to listen for God’s gentle and loving voice to speak to you.
  • Share your prayer requests with those who love you.
  • Use a journal to write down your thoughts as God speaks to you through his word and through prayer. Record all the significant joy-filled blessings in your life, as well as the difficult circumstances that come your way. Be sure to date these, because as you look back over the years, you will see how God has faithfully been watching over you and caring for your every need. It always amazes me and strengthens my faith to see how God works out His best for me especially when the circumstances seem so overwhelming at the time.
  • Share your testimony of God’s faithfulness in your life with others.
  • “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
 

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Creation Vacation

While on vacation with our daughters and their families, we took the opportunity to reinforce some Bible truths during a creation trail.

Creation BagArriving near the top of Hot Springs Mountain (Arkansas), everyone hopped out of their cars and quickly located a shady spot with some large rocks to sit on. I quickly handed out small brown bags with these words written on them: Creation Vacation, “In the beginning God created…” (Genesis 1:1).

After sharing a brief devotion about creation and the significance of Sabbath, I asked everyone to look for special finds along the trail that remind them of God’s creation. They later amazed me with all the unique items that filled their bags.

Their remarks:

“The red berry reminds me of the blood of Jesus.”   Butterfly wings

“Butterfly wings, an awesome find!”

“This fern sprig will remind me of our special trail with our grandchildren.”

It is extremely important to teach our children and grandchildren God’s Word, beginning at an early age.

In Old Testament times, the primary purpose of education among the Jews was the learning of and obedience to the law of God, the Torah. The word Torah can refer to all Jewish beliefs, however, it commonly refers to the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The home was considered the first and most effective environment in the education process, and parents were considered the first and most effective teachers of their children.

The trailDeuteronomy 6:5-7 gives clear instruction into how parents are to teach their children about God:Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 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.”

Parents are instructed to use various ordinary activities of life as avenues to teach about God. All of life permeated by spiritual meaning and teaching about God can flow naturally from life’s everyday activities as parents choose to be intentional in training their children.

Basic means of imparting spiritual knowledge to children is by example, imitation, conversation and stories. Parents can utilize the interest aroused in their children by actual life observances (birth of a child, holidays, illness, death, marriage, Sabbath, vacations, and so on).

If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.

emy new cross heart

 

 
 

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When you love your Lord less, you love the world more…,

If-we-dont-teach-our-children-to-follow-Christ-the-world-will-teach-them-not-to

While driving home from our church’s Vacation Bible School last night I heard a stirring message on the radio. These words pierced my heart: “When you love your Lord less, you love the world more, and it infiltrates your life and you tolerate sin.”

As a Christian mom and grandmother, it is my desire to help reverse this trend, that is sadly reflected in our world today. I want to love the Lord more and thereby love the world less. How can I do this? Only by the divine presence of a Holy God who permeates my mind, body, and spirit.

A while back, Jeff and I led a parenting series called “Faith At Home.” A large part of the training sessions deal with developing a spiritual plan for the family, and making a family covenant with God.

Here’s a sampling of what I feel lays the foundation for mapping out a family’s spiritual plan. It all begins with valuing the things that honor God in our daily lives.

STEP #2 — VALUES

What do we really believe?

Values are the non-negotiable truths you hold that direct your family’s behavior. They are motivational. They provide an answer for the “why” of every circumstance in life, and they place boundaries around behavior.

The values we teach and model for our children (& grandchildren) have a major impact on their lives. Our values teach them who they’re meant to be and how to be that way. Passing a clear set of core values to your children is the thing that most clearly defines the uniqueness of your family.

Values aren’t taught just by bringing children to church or having a little talk. Children learn values through daily interaction with their parents. They learn them in everyday, ordinary encounters with Mom and Dad. They learn by listening to what we say and watching what we do.   “…when you sit at home and when you walk along the road.” (Living out Deut. 6:4-9)

So it’s important that parents model what they teach and teach what they model. When parents have integrity—that is, when their teaching and example are consistent—the communication of their core values becomes compelling to children. (Most children will grow up and live what has been modeled to them by their parents/grandparents.) Proverbs 22:6

Children become confused when Mom and Dad don’t teach (or model) the same values. Parents can find unity in their values by finding out what God has to say. Discussions about values can often lead Mom and Dad to a richer understanding and refinement of their core beliefs. Parents also learn to appreciate the perspective of their spouses when they see how some differences can be useful.

** Becoming a Christ-centered family begins by defining your family’s core values, and determining that these core values are in line with God’s core values found in Scripture.

“Discipling children is about sharing with them the model of the life you live in Christ, on a daily basis.” – Debbie Salter Goodwin

To learn more about making a spiritual plan for your family, go to my blog site: www.covenantheirs.org and click on the tab at the top of the page: Making a Family Covenant.

 

 

 

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Teachable Moments

Jack & Julia at batWhile at our grandchildren’s ballgame the other night, I observed my son-in-law seize a teachable moment. My husband and I had front row lawn chairs, as we watched Jack, who is seven, play against his sister, Julia, who is five. It was the “big game”and Jack had already set the stage for a win against his sister’s team. Funny, at this level, they don’t even keep score.

We watched and cheered, along with other family members, as Jack and Julia both hit the ball at their at-bats. Jack slugged the ball deep into the outfield twice, and boy was he excited, and so were we.

As Jack slid into home plate, he proudly paraded by the fence as his fans applauded. As one grandpa put it, “He’s show-boating.” We later found out from his mother that Jack was just imitating his favorite ball team, the KC Royals.

Jack’s dad took this moment to quickly pull Jack aside and explain to him about having a humble spirit, and not to draw so much attention to himself. I’m not sure what all was said, but I can tell you one thing, our grandson loves and respects his earthly father, who is teaching Jack and his other two children to respect their Heavenly Father.

In the parent study, Effective Parenting In A Defective World, the author, Chip Ingram, instructs parents to keep their focus clearly on the bulls-eye (Jesus and God’s principles), rather than carelessly missing the target by following the world’s standards.

I am thankful that my son-in-law is training his children to become like Jesus; in this instance, humble.

Philippians 2 (NIV)

Imitating Christ’s Humility

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

SAM_1167“Yes, may all the nations praise you.
Then the earth will yield its harvests,
and God, our God, will richly bless us” (Psalm 67:5-6).
Praise to God
A follow-up from my blog post last week.

God often places a song of praise on my lips. The song is often from days gone by; while other times, a fresh new song pops into my mind. Most recently, To God be the glory, great things He hath done (https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/39), keeps playing. Amazing! Every time I sing a song of praise to my Father in heaven, He fills me to overflowing…with joy, tears of gratefulness.
Join me today in giving praise to God. You will be blessed.

Facebook friends: May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“1 May God be merciful and bless us.
May his face smile with favor on us. Interlude
2 May your ways be known throughout the earth,
your saving power among people everywhere.
3 May the nations praise you, O God.
Yes, may all the nations praise you.
4 Let the whole world sing for joy,
because you govern the nations with justice
and guide the people of the whole world. Interlude
5 May the nations praise you, O God.
Yes, may all the nations praise you.
6 Then the earth will yield its harvests,
and God, our God, will richly bless us.
7 Yes, God will bless us,
and people all over the world will fear him” (Psalm 67).

Faith at Home Moment:
Teaching children and grandchildren to offer praise to God blesses them and honors God.
While taking a walk around the block or hiking in a park, stop and take special notice of all God has created for our enjoyment. After talking about the intricate detail and beauty of a butterfly, autumn leaf, or sun rays illuminating a waterfall, take your child’s hand and give praise to God for His amazing creation. During a worship service, sing to the Lord with all that is within you! God is an audience of One and we are the participants (worshipers).

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

“I Love Jesus!”

Pappy & Max (Grandchild of month)

Pappy & Max (Grandchild of month)

These heartfelt words were spoken by Max, our 4-year-old grandson, who joins us on Tuesdays, along with our other grandchildren.

Eleven years ago I vowed to God, to “boast in the LORD,” so the next generation in our family will come to know Jesus, love Jesus, and serve Jesus.

One way I do this, is to play Christian music.

While sitting at the table coloring and listening to a Christian CD, Max proclaimed, “I love Jesus, Nana.”

Tears filled my eyes as I praised God for His goodness. I said to Max, “I’m so glad you love Jesus. He loves you, too.”

Several days later, Max and Emeree were taking a bath at our house. Instead of watching their cousin’s football game, they had found the dirt on the baseball field more appealing! During bath time, big sister Ella pointed to a picture hanging in our hallway, adjacent to the bathroom. She sked Max and Emeree, “Who’s this?” Max and Emeree shouted, “It’s Jesus!”

I am thankful that Christian music and a picture of Jesus stimulate the hearts and minds of our grandchildren, drawing them close to God.

All of our grandchildren love “Bible-story time” in our home and theirs.

I praise God for the opportunity to share Jesus with Ella, Jack, Max, Julia, Emeree, and Jocelyn.

Facebook friends: May the Psalms draw you near to God.

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:1-3 NLT).

 

 

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