Friday, April 3, 2015

A to Z Blogging "E is for..."

...Every Day...Making God Part Of 
From the series "Lifehacks for Christian Moms" 
By Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times

 Developing a relationship with God is much more than just attending church and saying a prayer before meals or at bedtime. The prophet Isaiah promises, "The Lord will keep in perfect peace all those...whose thoughts turn often to the Lord." (Isaiah 26:3) 

Keep your thoughts turned to the Lord by:

  • Volunteering at church. Join the choir. Teach Sunday School. Organize a fund-raiser. Help with Vacation Bible School. Help decorate for Christmas. Give rides to church to shut-ins. Deliver meals on Wheels. There are opportunities that fit anyone's schedule and skills! 
  • Joining a church group. MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers), ladies organizations, Bible Study, altar guild. 
  • Spending time in personal Bible Study and devotions. Ask the Lord to make you desire to spend time with Him. Check out different versions of the Bible and find one that you enjoy
    (From Google Images)
    reading (ask your pastor what recommendations he or she recommends.) Ask your pastor or friends for recommendations for devotion or Bible study books; be discerning as many very popular speakers and authors may contradict the beliefs of your denomination. 
  • Listening to Christian music. We've all had ear worms--when the words of a song are "stuck" on repeat in your head. Wouldn't you rather have positive words going through your mind? You'll be surprised at how much more positive your attitude is when you listen to positive music. 
  • Starting your day by saying, "This is the day that the Lord has made! We will rejoice and be glad in it!"
  • Beginning your day with at least a few minutes of prayer. I always ask God to protect my kids and loved ones, and to work through me to bless others. 
  • Starting a Gratitude Journal. List five things God has blessed you with every day. Consider making this a family project; family members can share blessings at the supper table.  
  • Being conscious about God's hand in your life every day; in a beautiful sunrise, protection from a traffic accident, a regular job, food on the table, a working vehicle, modern appliances, loving family, the ability to worship freely...count your blessings! 
  • Making a point of saying you are "blessed" rather than "lucky". 
  • Ending the day in prayer and thanksgiving. Think back to all of the ways God has blessed you. 
  • Writing out your favorite Bible verses and post them around your house--on your bathroom mirror, computer, refrigerator,
    (Google Images)
    even on the dashboard of your vehicle. A few suggestions: "Rejoice everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17) "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ". (Ephesians 5:19-20). 
How do you make God an integral part of your day?

This post is an excerpt from the book 
“Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. 
This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, available for download May 1st.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times, with the theme, 
“Words Matter.” 

A to Z Blogging Challenge "D is for..."

...Decisions; Making Good Ones
From "Lifehacks for Christian Moms"
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Editor, Nebraska Family Times

Moms face a multitude of decisions every day; some are minor (short sleeves or long sleeves?) and some are major (how should I teach my kids about sex?). There are many "experts", in the form of TV shows, friends, family, acquaintances, and sometimes strangers, specialists, books, magazines, radio talk shows...and there are as many opinions as there are experts on breast vs. bottle feeding, choosing a doctor, potty training, when to start school (private, parochial, public or homeschool?), whether or not kids need a cell phone (flip phone, regular or smart phone?) and when, how much TV is allowed, at what age dating is allowed, after-high-school plans (military, college or work?), and so on and so on and so on. With the multitude of advice, much of it based on distinctly non-Christian worldly values, it's no wonder it can be difficult to make decisions! 

Here are some steps that will help you in almost any decision you'll face. 

1. Gather information. You'll probably make your decisions based on several factors. Consider the Bible and your faith, your personal opinion and your spouse's, and what has worked for you in the past. Refer to one or two (preferably Christian) parenting books, talk with friends who share your values and pray about the situation. Don't forget to listen to your maternal instinct. After you've gathered the information you need, you can decide what's best for you and your family. Remember: very few decisions are absolutely right or wrong. 

2.  Carry out your decision. Once you and your spouse have made a decision, carry it out. Your kids not reverse a decision based on what your kids say, what your kids' friends say, what your kids' friends parents say, what your parents say, or what another "expert" says. 
probably won't like all of your decisions, but expect them to abide by those decisions. Stick to your decision unless you have a good reason to change it; do

3.  Re-evaluating your decision. If the new rule/routine isn't working after you've given it an honest effort, you decide it's the wrong decision for your family, or a respected expert expert recommends a different solution or way of dealing with a problem, you might consider changing your decision. 

A few more things to consider (or not consider): 

  • What "everyone else" says. If anyone questions or criticizes your decision, simply say, "This is what works for our family," or "This is what we've decided to do" , or, "Everyone has their own solution, and we're confident about this one." Don't get caught up in a debate; you don't have to justify your decisions. 
  • Have confidence in yourself. One of the most important things you can do for your kids is to have the confidence to assure their safety and teach them to be productive members of society, regardless of pressures from your kids, other kids, other kids' parents, or your fears that "the kids will be mad." 
  • Practice enforcing your decisions when your kids are little. When they're young, you can back up your decisions with action, carrying a child away from a situation in which he's misbehaving, for example, or not driving them to a friend's house if you don't want your child to spend time in a dysfunctional environment. As they grow, your children will realize that you do mean what you say; while that is no guarantee that they'll always be happy with your decisions, they'll be more likely to respect what your decisions are. 

This post is an excerpt from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. 
This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, available for download May 1st.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at 
Nebraska Family Times, with the theme, "Words Matter". 

A to Z Blogging Challenge "C is for..."

...Church...Taking Your Kids
By Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Publisher Nebraska Family Times

Our primary job as parents is to help them to know God. Jesus clearly wants children to hear His word; in Matthew 19:14  He tells His disciples, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." His love for children is further evident when He says, "Truly I say unto you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven...whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

One of the primary ways to introduce children to faith is by taking them to church. Make a commitment to take your children to church every week, beginning when they are babies. When they grow up seeing you make worship and going to church a priority, the routine and importance of regular worship will be ingrained in their lives. Taking kids to church is not easy; when they're young the struggle may be getting them to sit still and behave appropriately. As kids get older, church competes with other activities and sometimes a negative attitude towards attending church. 

Try these "real life" tips when you attend church with your children. 

When they are babies and toddlers: 
  • come prepared with quiet toys and snacks, to be used when your child is no longer interested in sitting quietly. 
  • fold their hands into yours and cue him to close his eyes during
    From Google Images
    prayer; when praying out loud do so so your child can hear your words.
  • take your child out if he is crying or babbling loud enough to disturb others. When your child is old enough to understand "it's time to be quiet", attach a consequence to having to leave church because of misbehavior. (When my kids were little, we routinely drove through the Mc Donald's drive through for a happy meal after church. If we had to take them out during the service we drove BY McDonald's, very slowly so they could see what they were missing.)
As your kids get older: 
  • Explain what is happening during the service. "Listen to the choir praising God." "Now the reader is reading from the Bible. What is he saying about God?" "Now the pastor is telling us how God wants us to live."
  • Make "church rules" clear. These might include, "Only whisper during church." "Let mommy listen to the pastor while you read your book." "Stand when everyone else stands."
  • Some parents sit in the back of the church where the noise of kids doesn't seem so disruptive; others find their kids pay attention better when they sit in the front, where the kids can see the activity of lighting candles, people talking and moving around and so on. 
  • As children get older, expect them to need fewer distractions (like books, toys and snacks) and to pay attention and participate and follow along with Bible readings. 
  • Talk about church during the week. Refer to the pastor's sermon, re-read the Bible readings, or play a CD of some of the songs that were sung. 
Tips for teens: 
  • Unfortunately, school,  sports and other activities take place on Sundays in many towns, and staying up late the night before may lead to struggles in getting a child to church on Sunday morning. While every family has to make its own decisions regarding priorities, please remember that a relationship with God is the most important relation anyone will have. Many churches offer Saturday, Sunday or Monday evening services, which might fit better in a busy schedule. 
  • My parents had a rule that no matter how late we were out the night before, we went to church the next morning. After prom one year I slept for about an hour between the post-prom breakfast and church. I was more than ready for a nap that afternoon...and the lesson my parents instilled about the importance of church has stayed with me even more than 30 years later. 
  • While attending worship is a priority, kids should also be developing a day-to-day relationship with the Lord, spending time in devotions (preferably family devotions), prayer and Bible study every day. 
From Google Images
While taking kids to church will probably seem like more trouble that it's worth some weeks (or months!). Rest assured, even when you question what your kids get out of church (or even what YOU get out of church!) your actions are having an impact. 

What's your best hint for taking kids to church? 

Special message for those whose kids are grown: Make it a point to compliment parents who bring their kids to church. To these parents, every eye is on them and judging when their kids' actions are anything less than perfect. Reassure them that you're happy to see their kids in church and that they are making a difference. They will appreciate your words! 

Special message to those who are bothered by the noise and activity of kids in church: In most churches there is an area in which parents with young kids sit, and an area in which kids usually don't sit. Choose to sit where there aren't kids. Please refrain from making any critical comments to parents whose kids are active or even loud; these parents are doing one of their most important jobs in bringing their kids to church. If you are disturbed by noise or activity, talk with an elder or the pastor, not the parents. This is not meant to sound harsh, but it is very important. I know several parents who were very hurt by comments from others, about their kids. Remember what Jesus said: "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."
This post is an excerpt from the book 
“Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. 
This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, available for download May 1st
I'm also blogging at Nebraska Family Times
where the theme is "Words Matter." Click to 
read more!