My Son’s Answered Prayers

Uno, our oldest son, is about to turn 9 in November and I was able to witness God answer ones of his prayers in a most special way. These are the stories about ministry and the Christian life that I love to hear, but when they happen to those you love it seems to hold a particularly special place in your heart.

We have lived in our neighborhood for five years now and it has been very hard for us to get to know the neighbors. Beyond first introductions and conversations here and there we really only see them one time a year they get together out in the street and pop fireworks on the 4th of July. We all bring out lawn chairs and let the kids play with sparklers and watch the adult men run like wild Indians to get away from the fireworks before they go off.  Even our next door neighbors with sometimes 7 children (with their foster kids) do not even go into the backyard very much. The culture here is very different from the friendly Midwest where we lived before, and it has been hard for us to connect and overcome the barriers that everyone seems to have.

Uno ~ Late Summer 2013

Last October on an especially warm day, a boy around my son’s age, whom we will call “Blake” rode his bike down by our house while our kids were riding in the cul-de-sac. He quickly befriended Uno and they were off to racing around. He was friendly to all of us and very kind even to our younger girls. Uno has listened for years about how we need to invite friends to church, so within the first few minutes he ran inside of his own accord and picked up an invitation to our Fall Festival. When Blake returned from a trek home, he tried to give him the invitation but he said, “Oh, that’s okay, I can’t take that because we don’t go to church.” Our son did not seem phased but was secretly disappointed. I encouraged him that he had done his best and that is what that mattered to God.

For several weeks we would purposely sit outside even in the chilly weather hoping that Uno could see Blake again and spend time with him. He quickly became the primary prayer request when we prayed for lost people. Our entire goal for getting to know him and his friends is for their salvation. Despite our efforts our children have not ever had visitors outside of family members come to church before. This has always made our son feel disappointed when there are big incentives at church for children who bring visitors, so he has desired this for a long time.

We saw Blake several times off and on through the winter and spring and cheerfully wave to him as we drove by. His dad fixes up mini-motorized bicycles and we see their garage door open often. This summer we were able to spend a little more time with him and meet his little sister, “Briana” when we were prepping for our garage sales. I would leave our garage open and all the kids would play either in the garage or on the street. It was good for them to be over at our house for me to see how they behave. Blake and his friends are all very respectful and treat each other nicely (at least in front of me!) and that is something I appreciate.

The opportunity to invite Blake to church has been difficult but Uno has never given up on him. Then, this week the answer to prayer came…unexpectedly.

We had a Family Crusade this week and my son had been itching to go down the street to invite Blake and his friend Marcos. We had not taken him down prior to the beginning of the crusade, but Uno’s persistence paid off when my husband took the time to take him down the street with our guest speaker, Ed Dunlop. Bro. Ed normally does Kids’ Crusades around the country and has had experience building bus routes for churches also. He carries with him a pocket full of balloons so that he can twist them into fun things kids enjoy. His strategy is to give them away at the door so that it will give the family time to let down their guard and be open to receiving the information about the crusade as well as the gospel. I think in this case it worked!

After a while, I heard Uno and Dos come in the door and instantly they said “Blake is going to ride the bus!” I think my jaw dropped and I did a double-take because that is nothing short of a miracle. In my heart I had always hoped but with the negative responses I was doubtful, which was evidence of my own little faith.

That evening, we were pulling out of our driveway and I was able to witness when the bus arrived in front of Blake’s house. Blake came out and then out came his younger sister, Briana. His mom came out to greet the bus workers with a smile.  The workers talked to her for a few minutes and she gave the kids a hug and they stepped onto the church bus for the very first time in their lives and then into church for the first time.

In the middle of the church program Blake looked over at Uno and said, “This is really fun!” On their bus ride home, Blake was already planning to come the following night with hopes that he could bring enough visitors to win the 24 inch pizza given away every night for the person that brought the most visitors. He came the next night and brought his older sister, Brittany, and two other neighbor kids, Anna and James. On the last night all of those friends came back and Marcos too.

We were amazed at God’s answers to our son’s prayers and the eager desire Blake had to bring his friends with him to church. We were not expecting the number of results from God’s Holy Spirit working in their lives. Blake’s sister Brittany, and his friends Anna and James received Christ to be their Saviour!!

It took one year of prayers, invitations, some bright-colored balloons, Bible-centered messages about salvation by Bro. Ed, and friendship for these results. Uno is excited to know that in inviting one friend, three souls have been changed for eternity. These souls are the eternal rewards to which he will cherish, FOREVER. We are not done praying yet, we still have our prayers focused on Blake, Briana, and Marcos… and of course their families.

Please encourage your children not to give up on those who God has laid upon their hearts, because they really do not know when God will answer them. Every day they are one day closer to the answer! (And that goes for you too!)

My Son's Answered Prayers

      Uno at the Grand Canyon Sept 2014

 

I Don’t Want My Kids To Be a Rock Star

Rock Star

Please excuse me, while I interrupt my normal writing and step on top of this soap box for a few minutes…

I keep noticing shirts, books, music, television shows, highlight the “glamor” of a rock star lifestyle to my children. As a Christian mother, I have to say, I don’t want my kids to be a rock star. Seriously, I thought this rock star phase would be over by now, but scrolling in search of books I spied a toddler level book about teaching your children to be Bible rock stars. Toddlers being rock stars? and Bible rock stars at that!?

Why does this just seem so wrong? Because it is…I understand the phrase is popular, but the idea, to me is just not Bible-centered. The Bible does not have anything to do with being a rock star. There will be no Bible rock stars at my house.

You do not have to accept the world’s philosophy as it seems crammed down your throat in every store in the clothing and toy section. It isn’t enough that they target young and older adults to find acceptance through singing  songs that appeal to the “old” man (Romans 6:6). But little kids!? It is just another way for Satan to begin grooming children for his desires for their future.

Frankly it all boils down to parents in my generation and what they like. Whatever they like they give to their kids. It doesn’t matter whether it is Biblical, it matters whether it’s cool, popular, and most importantly nostalgic.

Children many times do not know any better. They are young and innocent and will accept things without knowing the meaning behind them. Many parents will guffaw at the thought of me writing about this, but honestly, if our children were to leave home and pursue a lifestyle that embraced the world and threw their “Christian upbringing” behind, then they would hit their knees in prayer pleading for their return. Or maybe like many people I’ve seen, they would applaud their efforts for using the talent God had given them in almost every other venue and not for the Lord in their own church.

My Concern

Minimizing the subtle tactics of Satan, may be maximizing your child’s potential for not loving God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Yes, I realize, we can make mountains out of mole hills and mole hills out of mountains, but what will it take for many of us to stand up and protect our children from society’s pressure of making them the product opposite of God’s plans for their lives?

A toddler will not necessarily understand the board book they are reading says “Baby Rock Star,” but it’s the next step of buying the rock star shirt, doll or Lego set, or the fast paced guitar strumming video game. Are kids viewing these things as acceptable because we allow it little by little? It takes simple choices of seeing the rock star mentality creeping in and eliminating the influences. It may be that you have to redirect your child at the shopping rack, toy department, or video game area or replace things you already have at home that are promoting  things contrary to God’s Word. The Holy Spirit will lead and guide you if you will allow Him to.

Changing Our “Inside” Influence

Most of us do not have to make huge changes in our lives to ensure the safety of our children when it comes to outside influences… but when it comes to the inside influence of ourselves we make exceptions. We need to be reading the Bible and applying its principles of protecting and guiding our children AND ourselves. We are the guardians of our children, the fences of protection and shields of their hearts, minds, and bodies. But how can we protect them to the fullest sense if we are allowing those things into our own lives by the music we listen to, places we go, and things we watch, and items we buy?

But That’s Not All

It really isn’t all about society’s rock star exaltation, there are all types of lures that Satan is using to entice our children. You may not battle Guitar Hero but you may battle the exaltation of sports, fashion, extremely popular children’s movies or books, you fill in the blank. The enticements are not just coming from outside sources though. C’mon, too often they are originating from us, as parents, and our indulgences instead of our holiness.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” I don’t want my kids to be a rock star because I don’t want them to be adult rock stars. Their hearts require my diligence, because out of those little hearts come the issues of life. God forbid that my negligence in allowing something that was even borderline between righteousness and unrighteousness would be where the lure of their downfall began.
Consider the Biblical example of Abraham and Lot. Where did Lot get a taste for Sodom? In Egypt where Abraham took him in one of his flights in fear.

Many people would roll their eyes and say, “It’s all about balance, letting kids be kids and do the things that kids do.” We need to be making the deposit of Biblical influences greater in our children’s lives greater than the weight of the world’s influences. You’re right, it’s about the type of balance. Our child’s balance should contain so much of God that the world’s influences will never outweigh the amount of love they have for the Lord.

The Christian Life is Best because of Christ

I want my kids to know that the Christian life is more exciting than a rock star’s life!

A rock star’s music speaks to the flesh, God’s music speaks to the heart.

A rock star lives a life in front of people lonely for true friendships. A child of God serves people and always has God to walk beside them and good Christian friendships too.

A rock star seeks to please others through their fashion and music. A child of God seeks to please God through their obedience.

A rock star uses money for indulgences. A child of God earns money to take care of their responsibilities and minister to others.

A rock star loves the roar of the crowd at a concert. A child of God can feel content with serving God even when they are alone. They can feel satisfaction from hearing the still small voice of God throughout their lifetime and someday, Lord willing, will hear “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

A rock star lives in pursuit of personal gain. A child of God lives in pursuit of God. Period.

A rock star uses his talents to woo people to buy albums so they can get money in their bank to fulfill their heart’s desires. A child of God uses his talents to woo people to Jesus Christ and minister to the hearts of those who are already saved. God then fulfills their heart’s desires.

My Final Thoughts

We are not superior to any type of people who choose to live a rock star lifestyle. But for the grace of God, I could be in that situation doing that very thing. Righteousness is not even obtained through what we do or do not do. It is given to us at salvation in exchange for our sinfulness. Our children do not know the perils that lie ahead of them in this life or the tactics Satan will try to maneuver against them. Please guard your own heart so that you can be wise enough to guard the hearts of your child(ren).

I will get off my soap box now and walk quietly down the sidewalk of life again… until I see another Bible rock star book for toddlers. (wink, wink)

 

Sprinkling Spirituality Into Our Summer

Sprinkling Spirituality into our Summer

We live in the desert so playing in the grass in our yard is NOT an experience that our kids have, they do not get to run through the sprinklers like most other children do in the good ‘ole summer time. So, instead, we sprinkled God and spiritual things into our summer in some new ways for our family both last year and this year.

Last year we…

Fell  in love with Lamplighter books, and have invested in buying not only books but the audio dramas. They held a Summer Reading Challenge that ended at the end of August. The reading challenge awarded points for each book read, audio listened to, and had awesome extra challenges that were easy for each of our boys (ages 7 and 6) to take part in easily. But, that’s not the best part, adults could participate too!

We spent family time listening to the audio dramas. We drew pictures of our favorite parts of the stories and even earned extra points for listening to them with a senior. We earned enough credits to buy many of their ebooks, that are also character oriented and Bible based with special meanings that are applicable to Christian living. Some of our favorites are The Hedge of Thorns, Sir Malcolm and the Missing Prince, and Teddy’s Button, although it really is difficult for us to even choose because they all keep you on the edge of your seat at times as you listen.

We also memorized scripture with the Abeka Bible Memory Cards. These cards are the ABC’s, just with a Bible word associated with them and a verse. A is for all, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23” B is for Believe, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” We would just sit the kids down on the carpet in front of us and repeat them regularly. The awesome thing that is our 3-year-old daughter had many verses memorized and will still quote them from time to time on her own.

We did take part in our Vacation Bible School. I taught the 4 & 5-year-old class and my husband was the organizer of the event. It was a fun spy theme complete with crazy skits my husband loved to be in. The kids always have a fun time in class and participating in the Penny Race. This year we’re planning a Kid’s Crusade in the fall, so no summer-time VBS for us this year.

This year…

In a search for devotions to do with my kids, someone suggested Keys for Kids audio devotionals from KeysforKids.org. The stories are read by the friendly voice of Uncle Charlie, they offer great illustrations and examples of how Biblical living can be done in a child’s life. They ask questions at the end of the story and have a “key” for the day that the child is supposed to think about. For example, the key for today is: Be blind to outward appearance. The only thing we have to do is look up the Bible verse in our KJV, because they read out of the NKJV, and I always want to make sure they have not left anything out. The neat thing about Keys for Kids is that they have an app that can be found on the App store as well as on the Google Play store so we can listen to it almost anywhere. This has been a highlight to our summer days, making it easy to learn and listen together.

For the past 2 years we have bought the Imagination Station series of books for our boys. They are awesome!! We have all 13 books so far, and we are waiting for the next books to be published. If you are familiar with the Imagination Station radio program, these are books with different adventures for kids to read on a 2.3 reading level. Each book has something to do with cousins Patrick and Beth traveling to a Bible site or finding themselves learning about a Christian hero. Another neat thing about the Imagination Station series is that the kids can figure out a “Secret Word” from reading the book and then go to The Imagination Station website and type it in and listen to a special audio story. The boys have picked these books back up again this summer and are enjoying them for the 100th time!

In May The Ministry Papa was able to attend a Music College with Ron and Shelly Hamilton in Colorado and he came home with a set of Patch the Pirate CD’s. It was Volume 7 of the Story and Song Treasure Box with the following CD’s, The Colonel’s Colossal Character Quest, The Villain of Venice, The Kashmir Kid, and Shipwrecked on Pleasure IslandIf you’re not familiar with Patch the Pirate then I like to describe them as musicals for kids. You have the story that happens with great dialog, creative voices and storyline, then all of a sudden you can feel a song coming on. Each song fits into the story with either a godly or funny theme. In The Villain of Venice, one of the songs is about how a man ate so much garlic he reeked so bad that no one wanted to be around him and his mother just called him on the telephone.

When we need the kids to have an early bedtime because they’ve been wild and wooly part of the day, then we will put them in bed at 7:30 to listen to some Patch.  What I love about them though is that they are doctrinally safe, written by someone with a heart for God and children, and they always have a message that is right on. The songs will stick in your head and when you have a problem sometimes you start singing them so the kids will remember how you are supposed to do to be kind to others and love the Lord.

The Ministry Papa and I have listened to The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom on audio book and I have also been listening to The Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot. Both books have challenged me to have a better faith in God and allow God to work through unexpected or unwanted circumstances and trust Him. It is amazing how testimonies from other believers can help you realize that your situations in life are not that bad and how you can have hope and trust no matter the circumstances.

I hope that our investment in taking the time to listen, read, and take part will make a difference in the hearts and lives of our children. Sometimes it’s a trip to the zoo, or the holding of a lizard the kids caught to teach them about God’s world and His knowledge. It is always about sprinkling spirituality in not only our summer but our life. We thoroughly enjoy how we can sharpen the axes of each person individually as we do things together. The summer break has not been a break from God, it has been an open door to view life differently outside our normal day-to-day routine. This is why I love summer!

*This article does NOT contain affiliate links. Only things we like and enjoy that we would like to share with other believers.