A Generous Grace

ideas on practical spirituality and loving each other

Tag: family (page 1 of 2)

Spiritual Disciplines for Real Families: (Relatively) Painless Ideas to Help Kids Share Their Faith

New to this series? For the thoughts behind it, start here.

It was yesterday, walking to a train, that we met her—I’ll call her Gretchen. Conversation unfolded among us in the blistering sunshine. We were all drawn in by the details of her home country; the stories of her life there. At thirty, Gretchen is pretty and successful. She vacations around the world.

Perhaps that’s why I was intrigued by both my daughter and my son after disembarking the train, when she’d warmly wished us well and waved to us out the window. Completely separately, they asked me if we could pray for her, that she’d know Jesus, too.

I could tell you this is because I’m some kind of fantastic parent, but if anything, I hope you’ve picked up through this blog that I’m muscling my way through this parenting thing like anything else. (I’m sure perfect parenting is on the next blog over from mine.)

Spiritual disciplines, after all, are about cultivating, right? Richard Foster, author of The Celebration of Discipline, writes that in all these disciplines, we just prepare the soil of our hearts (and our kids’). It’s the Holy Spirit who moves. Or as the verse read which my sister neatly painted around the rim of her terracotta plant pot: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

And really? That’s what sharing our faith is about, too. When I was trained as staff with Cru, they taught that evangelism is sharing Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, and leaving the results up to God.

THE KEY: For kids to be confidently equipped and constantly ready to give a reason for the hope that they have—with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16). We encourage them not to view evangelism less as a single, isolated event, more as an ongoing lifestyle of bold love. The point is not for friends to pray a prayer. It’s for them to become true and lifelong disciples of Jesus.

Here are a few ways I see this unfolding with the kids in our lives.

  1. First, the heart. This is the most long-term of any of these ideas. Any child—any human, for that matter—naturally wants to share what’s fantastic in his or her life. When a new cousin’s born, your daughter can’t wait to share it with her class at show and tell. So before sharing our faith comes the experience that our faith is unstoppably worth sharing! Kids who are excited and filled by Jesus won’t share their faith as much as a have-to as a natural outpouring of who they are. To share the hope that they have—first, they must have that hope.

 

And if I may be so bold—a lot of that is a tone set by us as parents, right? Ours is not dogged religion that “works our way to heaven”. Grace is what makes Jesus different from every other religion on the planet. Kids growing up in homes where faith is authentic and grace-motivated are equipped every day to know what their faith looks like in any given situation.

 

  1. I shared in this post about how not to share your faith, and how it’s critical love must fuel all “agendas” for evangelism (please read this post for more). My kids found the video on that post, as well as the one below, hilarious. (Note for Protestant readers: This video has a minor Catholic thrust.)

My husband and I used these to generate conversation about why these methods can be off-putting for the majority of the population. As much as tracts and other tools can give kids brilliant steps and thus boldness to share their faith, I am of increased conviction that traditional methods can actually distance people from our kids because the methods are socially alienating to a modern Western audience–which can hinder loving them well. That’s not the Cross that’s getting in people’s way. That’s our lack of understanding of people—the whole “clanging cymbal” thing.

You may remember the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying in the temple. The former’s prayer is essentially, Thanks, God, for making me better than him. The vital message for our kids: We are not the savior, but the saved. We’re about humility, not results.

  1. Equip them. (I know, I know. Now she gets to the practical part.)
    1. Help your kids to articulate their faith. For weeks in our family discussion, we’d quiz our youngest: What’s grace? We’d ask application questions, too. No, it’s not a quiz. But our kids talking to their friends first means they truly get the idea of how God saved us inside and out. Not with confusing platitudes—“I asked Jesus into my heart!”—but in ways that communicate in kid-language what Jesus did.
    2. I found this video to be a great jumping-off point for discussion with my middle-school kids. You might also try this one on sharing your faith without being pushy.
    3. Together, memorize verses that equip kids to talk about the Gospel. Here’s a good top ten list of them. You might find the music and free printable memory cards from Seeds Family Worship’s Seeds of Faith.
    4. Another gem from Cru: “The Gospel flows best through the holes in people’s lives.” In other words, people are most receptive to Jesus in the areas and seasons where they most feel their need for His answers. Talk with older kids about how to compassionately listen and come alongside friends in hard times–with true hope and comfort.
  1. Make your home the locus. Did you know that a significant portion of evangelism in the book of Acts happened from homes? In the past, I was always coached to invite people to church—and this is still a great idea! But the nuanced culture of churches can, depending on the person, occasionally increase the feeling of our friends feeling like outsiders. We’re not inviting them to a social club with all the trimmings. We’re inviting them to Jesus. I wrote here about practical ways to make your home an “open house,” and here about ways to live “sent” in your community.
  2. Pray often as a family for those around you to know Jesus. Let your prayers communicate true love and humility, and that it’s God who is the great Softener of Hearts. After all—He softened ours! He’s bringing us from death to life—and He works the same in our friends. (Prayer changes our own hearts, too.)

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Spiritual Disciplines for Real Families: Fairly Painless Ideas to Teach Kids Service

Catch earlier posts here on Solitude, Prayer, Meditation and Contemplation, and Simplicity. Find initial concepts for this important series here.

Part of what I love about living in Africa: opportunities for my kids to serve are everywhere. As in, next door. I admit to being concerned about this when we landed in the U.S. six months ago. How was I going to draw a dotted line for my kids from compassion in Uganda to compassion in Colorado?

Awesome thing is, there are opportunities to serve–in really fun ways–in every zip code, from Salvation Army bell-ringers, to running a booth at the Fall Festival for the community, to the military family across the street whose dad’s deployed. Serving transforms our homes into aircraft carriers as its members are nurtured, then launched into the community.

The question often becomes how much we push our kids

into what they don’t want to do.

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10 Prayer Tools and Printables for Families

In light of the series on Spiritual Disciplines for Real Families, I’m hoping this easy, often printable tools (some old, some new!) will help weave prayer into the fabric of your family.

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Spiritual Disciplines for Real Families—10 Practical Ways to Teach Prayer (FREE PRINTABLES!)

Last week, I heard from my sister in Thailand some of the heartbreaking moments they’ve been struggling through in their community of refugees. An 11-year-old girl sent to possibly “work” in Bangkok with her mother. A stabbing. A man depriving his family of enough money to buy food. And I thought, my kids and I should pray.

Then I thought of our prayers the last several weeks: Mostly stuff about…us.

Of course it’s good to teach our children to seek God for all their needs. But at that moment I thought, I want to up the ante on teaching my kids to cry out to God for other people.

Spiritual disciplines are hard to practically teach kids. I, particularly, am Madame Non in my house—I’m driving/correcting the schooling, the chores, the attitudes, the dirty underwear cast 14 inches from the hamper.

I also don’t need more stuff to do. The good news: The goal isn’t to do all of these; or even to “do.” It’s about setting ourselves up to receive God’s grace–like a football player positioning himself for the catch. Pick one of these, and knead it into life (I think of it like adding flour to dough, a little at a time). I believe in what Richard Foster writes:

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Freebie Fridays: FREE Printable Love Languages “Cheat Sheet”

 

 

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If you’re new to the “love languages” concept, check out the 5 Love Languages website. love languages text

Happy Friday, everyone! This week I’m excited to offer this free, printable 5-page “Cheat Sheet” to the 5 Love Languages: Twenty practical, innovative ideas per love language: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, physical touch, and quality time. (If you’re not sure which of the love languages your spouse, kids, and friends “speak”, try this quiz.) Print them all, or only the love languages you need.

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Love freebies to help with relationships, including marriage, parenting, and education? Don’t miss the Freebies page! 

Enjoy! And thanks for sharing.

because-of-a-generous-grace-janel

 

 

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FREE E-BOOK: Questions to better understand your family’s subculture

free ebookAt last, I’ve released a free ebook, Where Have I Come From, and Where am I Going?: Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture.  You can download it simply by subscribing to A Generous Grace, using the sign-up form in the upper right hand corner of the sidebar–or right here:

subculture cover

It’s my hope that this will offer practical ideas and insights as you seek to love well.
I’m grateful for you, followers!
Because of a generous grace,

Janel

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Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture, #131-142

questions to understand subculture

If you’re new to this series, click here for the thoughts and guidelines behind it! 

Coming soon: A FREE E-BOOK of these discussion questions for subscribers/followers. (Thanks, followers! I appreciate you!) Stay tuned.

131.What rituals does your family hold around births?
132. What rituals does your family hold around weddings?
133. What rituals does your family hold around deaths?
134. What staples would one find in your family’s cupboard or fridge? Maybe it’s chips and salsa, or a can of cream of mushroom soup, or your sister’s favorite cereal, your dad’s favorite brand of beer, or the value-club sized jar of pickles.
135. What advice (or commands) did your parents give about clothing and appearance? With what clothing items were you not allowed out of the house?
136. By what principles would you say your parents lived life?
137. What events in your family changed your family members?
138. What were your parents’ dreams? Your siblings’ dreams?
139. What is something your parents would never say that might be normal in other households?
140. What proverbs or “words of wisdom” were commonly dispensed by your parents or relatives?

141. What pets play a distinct role in your memories? Or if you didn’t have pets, what were the reasons?

142. How do you remember your parents romancing each other (if they did)? What evidences of passion or intimacy did you witness?

For previous sets of questions in this series, click below:

Set 1Set 2Set 3Set 4Set 5Set 6Set 7, Set 8Set 9, and Set 10.

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A “Someday” in Autumn

someday in autumn w text

Today, in heavy strokes, a pumpkin was neatly sliced in my kitchen. Thick wedges of orange lay surrendered on the countertop, awaiting steam and recipes. And that’s when I smelled it: fall. Almost as quickly as it reached my nose, memories collided with each other, awaiting their turn in my mind to display their images of careful carving, the crunch of roasted seeds, and stringy goo hanging from my fingers. It was as if I could touch the softness of my husband’s old orange sweatshirt, hear the crackle of leaves, and heft a cuddly niece onto my hip.

But also suddenly was an unexpected prick of loss. A thoughtful friend had e-mailed me earlier in the week: Thought of you last night as I made a pot of turkey chili for a ball-game watching party tonight.  Know how much you love autumn.

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Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture, #119-130

questions to understand subculture

If you’re new to this series, click here for the thoughts and guidelines behind it! 

Coming soon: A FREE E-BOOK of these discussion questions for subscribers/followers. (Thanks, followers! I appreciate you!) Stay tuned.

119. What were nicknames given to your family members–and the stories behind them?

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Now you’re speaking my love language: 20 ways to display affection through acts of service

love languages textIf you’re new to the love languages concept, check out the 5 Love Languages website. Click here for 20 ways to express love through words of affirmation, here for the post on expressing love through physical touch. and here for the post on expressing love through gift-giving.

I’ll use “him” or “her” interchangeably in this post for ease of reading.

1.Knock out that item on her to-do list she just hasn’t gotten to.
2.What little touches could better make your home a “prepared place”–like God creates for us–that’s comforting, encouraging, and uplifting, so family and guests feel embraced? For guests, it may be the basket of extra toiletries next to the cozy towel in the bathroom; for kids, you could have a favorite snack ready when he arrives home; help him remove his backpack.

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