Five Tips for Flexible Family Faith Time
by Stephenie Hovland
Guess what? There is no such thing as a perfect Christian family! That means there isn’t one perfect way to devotions. In fact, I’m thinking the word “devotions” might need to go. Think of this as family faith time.
Let’s go through five tips to make your family faith time work. Remember to revisit these ideas regularly. As your family grows and ages, you might need to change how this works.
- Purpose: This is a time for your family to meet around God’s Word. Your family and circumstances may dictate what time of day, where, what materials, how long it will last, etc. You are not trying be a theology professor or expect perfect participation from every family member every time. Just start with something (the Bible or a kids’ Bible story book, for example) and run with it. Make changes later.
- Plan a little: Don’t worry about it being perfect, but make a few plans. Or, if you’re like me, plan a lot! I am not spontaneous, so I need to have several options. You can evaluate how it went after you’re done, so the next time is a little better.
- Pray: I hope you pray with your family, but say a quick, private prayer as everyone gathers. That personal prayer time will help you to take a breath and let God handle things.
- Physical: Be physical. Hold hands when you pray, hug when you’re finished, and try to touch members of your family in a loving way when you talk about and with God. We want to be Jesus “with skin on” in a sense, so we should touch. Jesus did.
- Play: While family faith time works great around a dinner table for some, others find it easier to focus on faith talk when they’re more active. Maybe you need to take it outside and shoot some hoops while you explore God’s connections in each family member’s life. Or, perhaps you start or end your time with play. Dancing helps get the wiggles out, so it might be a great way to start your family faith time. Or, maybe after a quick devotion and prayer time, you play Candyland together as a family.
When it seems like it’ll never work, please don’t give up! Try not to force your way. Change elements of your time together, and see if something else might work better. (I say this from much experience.) Keep trying. Keep praying. God is there for you and your family.
Stephenie Hovland loves reading and writing devotions. She also writes rhyming Bible stories for children and resources for teachers. You can find her work at Concordia Publishing House, Creative Communications for the Parish, and many online bookstores. Visit her Facebook page: @StephenieHovlandWriter and on Twitter:@StephHovland
A Child’s Life of Christ: HEARTS AFIRE
Storybook #3 in Series THEY MET JESUS
In storybook 3, Hearts Afire, your children will meet….
*Zebedee where they learn to share with their friends, including their time.
*Simon the Zealot where they learn to try to make friends with someone no one likes.
*Hurt Minds where they learn to take a smile, a flower, a cookie to someone who is sad.
*Lepers where they learn not to take their health and other good things for granted.
*Paralyzed Man where they learn to draw a picture to give someone who is paralyzed.
*Matthew where they learn to befriend someone no one likes.
*Judas where they learn to go to church, not for the cookies and prizes, but because they love Jesus.
*Pharisees where they learn God will forgive them of even the worst thing they ever did.
*Twelve Apostles where they are encouraged to go to church if they have never been.
*Widow’s Son where they learn to draw a picture to take to someone who is very sick.
Here is a sample from one of the chapters:
6 ~ MATTHEW
People didn’t like Matthew. He was a tax collector. People know taxes must be paid to pay for road building and sewers and schools and such like. Nothing is free. People had to pay for it in their taxes.
But people don’t like to pay taxes for things they don’t think the government should pay for.
The government let Matthew keep whatever tax money they didn’t need. So he doubled their taxes. He got rich that way. People resented Matthew. He was not popular.
One day Matthew went to hear John the Baptist preach. John told people there was going to be a new kingdom of God soon, and they needed to be ready to be included in it.
John kept baptizing unpopular people who wanted to be part of that kingdom of God, and the goody-goody people didn’t like it.
Katheryn Haddad was born in the cold north, but now lives in Arizona where she does not have to shovel sunshine. She enjoys hot weather, palm trees and cacti in her yard, and a computer with the letters worn off.
With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.
Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.
Currently she teaches English over the internet every morning, using the Bible as a text book. Most of her students are Muslims. She has taught some 6000 thus far, and has former students, now Christians, in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Palestine. “They are my heroes” she declares.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers of the West, and is also an energetic public speaker who can touch the heart of audiences.
Walking in Your Own Shoes
By Kolleen Lucariello
Here in my home state of New York, October ushers in the fun of pumpkins, apple picking and salmon fishing season. There’s also the beauty of leaves peaking, apple cider and cozy sweaters. Among the many things October has to offer, it has also been designated as Women Walking in Their Own Shoes month: a global call for women to say yes to their purpose, passion and power.
If you’re like me, fall also means it’s time to shed the flip-flops, put away the sandals, and slip your feet back into a pair of shoes. Preferably comfortable ones—it’s never enjoyable to spend a day in shoes that don’t fit.
Once, while visiting my parents, I slipped my feet into a pair of my mother’s shoes so I could retrieve something from the car. Immediately, I noticed we walk completely differently; she walks on the inside of her sole—I don’t. My feet in her shoes didn’t work well. Come to think of it, I’ve stood in the clearance section trying to squeeze my feet into the wrong size shoe all for the sake of cuteness. I’ve also clomped around in shoes too big out of convenience. Neither were comfortable. Did you know it’s possible to cause serious harm to yourself by wearing shoes that don’t fit properly?
Serious harm can also happen when insecurities keep you from walking in your own shoes. Just as there’s comfort when we slip our feet into our own shoes, comfort can be found when we slip ourselves into the purpose, passion and power God has given us.
Paul wrote, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone” (Ephesians 1:11-12, MSG).
When we say yes to Christ, we say yes to purpose because we discover what we are living for. We say yes to passion because we recognize who we are, and we say yes to power because we understand the kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power (1 Corinthians 4:20).
Cinderella was the only one who could wear the glass slipper.
You’re the only one who can walk in your shoes.
Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am, resides in Central New York with her husband, Pat. You can connect with Kolleen at www.speakkolleen.com as she pursues God’s heartbeat to change our identity—one letter at a time.
Life in the Silence
Infant Loss Awareness Month
By Kristine Zimmer Orkin
Jacob entered the world silently.
There was no collaborative gasp of joy with the final push that announced his arrival. No newborn wail of indignation as his warm little body emerged and felt coldness for the first time. No congratulatory cheer at the declaration “It’s a boy.” Only hushed whispers among medical professionals. Just a mother’s muffled sobs and a father’s stoic silence. A chilly hospital delivery room, warmed by the respect of random people brought together, celebrating this tiny gift of life now faded.
We weren’t prepared for the silence, Jacob’s dad and I. We never heard his cry, his laugh, his voice. Not his infant babbling and toddler mispronunciations, nor his squeaky transition from boyhood into manhood. We never came to know his giggles, his outbursts of anger, squeals of excitement, or cries of frustration.
We came to know the quiet. But we weren’t prepared for the larger silence. The irreparable hole in our family. An obvious incompleteness, especially during holidays and family pictures. On Mother’s Day. In the headcount of grandchildren, making sure to include him. The uncertainty of how to answer “How many children do you have?”
We felt his strong presence, yet couldn’t see or touch him. Sometimes, in an ordinary moment, we’d hear the tune we’d sung to him while he grew in my belly. A message from Jacob? “I’m here. Don’t forget me.”
Our marriage struggled to survive as others divorced after the loss of their child. We grieved the buried sadness in our older son, afraid to show his hurt or ask his questions because it might make Mommy cry. We feared pregnancy, of investing emotionally again. Of another hushed delivery room.
We were not prepared for the blessings that arose out of the silence. For the families after us that we’ve been blessed to comfort through their stillbirths and infant deaths. For the occasions to educate doctors, nurses, and chaplains on child loss. For changes in hospital protocol we’ve enacted to help parents through the silence. And for opportunities to share our story, to support you in your story.
Though he never took a breath outside my womb, Jacob breathed life into our family from the moment of his conception, and he continues to bless us now, thirty years after his quiet entry into the world. He lives loud and strong through us. His life has a purpose. HAS. Present tense.
Kristine Zimmer Orkin
Kristine believes that blessings can be found everywhere, even in the most tragic of life circumstances. She and Philip Orkin have three sons: Joseph, Jacob, and Jonathan. In June 2007, Jacob welcomed his daddy Home at Heaven’s gate. The two have had ten years of quality time together.
Kristine Zimmer Orkin believes that blessings can be found everywhere, even in the most tragic of life circumstances. She and Philip Orkin have three sons: Joseph, Jacob, and Jonathan. In June 2007, Jacob welcomed his daddy Home at Heaven’s gate. The two have had ten years of quality time together.
7 Tips for Handling Anxiety
by Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Worry, fear, and anxiety are epidemic. Anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental health disorders.[i]
It started in Genesis, when Adam and Eve developed an unhealthy fear of God, prompting them to hide in the garden after realizing their nakedness.
God commands us not to worry or fear over 300 times, because He knew we would.
Scripture Gives 7 Tips for Handling Anxiety:
- Recognize it exists. My people perish for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)
- Realize those thoughts aren’t your thoughts. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
- Ask God what prompted the concern. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:13)
- Combat anxiety with the truth of God’s Word. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
- When tempted to worry, vocalize God’s truth. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
- Trust God to handle your situation and thank Him for His answers. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
- Stand firm, resist the devil, and command him to leave! Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s. (Matthew 16:23) So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Anxiety isn’t from God. Instead God gives us power, love, and a sound mind. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Will you exchange your anxiety for His power, love, and sound mind?
About the Author:
Dr. Bengtson, author of Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression is a clinical neuropsychologist and international speaker. She gives practical tools, encourages faith, and offers hope to acquire peace and joy. She blogs at www.DrMichelleBengtson.com. Find her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DrMichelleBengtson), Pinterest (http://www.Pinterest.com/Drbhopeprevails), and Twitter (http://www.Twitter.com/DrMBengtson).
[i] Kessler RC, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Alonso J, Chatterji S, Lee S, Ormel J, Ustün TB, Wang PS. The global burden of mental disorders: an update from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Epidemiol Psichiatr Soc 2009;18(1):23–33.