Need a Babysitter? I've Got Just the Girl for You.

Greenville friends --

Let me give a quick plug for my daughter, Hannah . . .

Now a teenager, Hannah has started babysitting. (And more than just her brothers. If you have only young children, don't worry. Your days of paying babysitters will come to an end. One day.)

Part of the reason she likes to babysit is because she loves being with younger children (the picture above is all the evidence you should need). And part of this is to earn money, especially since we are reducing her allowance later this year, to facilitate her independence as we encourage her to work more outside our home.

We have seen how God is growing her into a woman of the Lord. She reflects His image as a nurturer, and she has jumped at opportunities to engage, play with, and lead young children. This includes:
  • a 3-year-old in our neighborhood, whom she plays with and babysits a good bit 
  • "her" kindergarten students at Clubhouse Kids after school 
  • volunteering as an art assistant every week, for kindergarten and 1st grade classes at a local elementary school

She also began taking a babysitting training course through the Red Cross. While she knows a lot of the material being taught, we think taking this class will boost her confidence.

This spring and summer (and beyond!), if you need a fun-loving and energetic young lady to babysit for a few hours, let us know!

After School and Summer Camp, Strategically

Happy Campers
A young man we know played football this past year, for the first time. In our area, a number of middle schools come together at a particular high school to practice as one team. While this sounds logical in terms of maximizing resources (fields, coaches, etc), it also unintentionally excludes many children from participating.

How? Because there is no busing from the middle schools to the high school. So any middle school student who wants to play must either have a ride, or must take the bus home and then walk to the school.

Many families are not able to solve this transportation issue, particularly when both parents have to work, or in a single-parent family. Therefore, those disadvantaged students tend to participate in after school programs at lesser frequencies. This phenomenon is known as The Activity Gap.

One Mom's Solution

The mom of this young man is doing what she can to solve this problem. She had the flexibility to bring her son to practice each day. But she didn't just think of her son's need; she provided a ride for other kids who needed it, too.

I loved how she thought through the extra-curricular activity strategically and missionally.

Summer Camp Strategy

Is your child going to summer camp this year? I hope so. I know that summer camp experiences can be enriching for the mind, body, and soul.

But I also hope that you are thinking through this issue strategically. What do I mean? Check out my post on Just Kind Humble: Summer Camp for a Purpose, to learn more.

The Most Important Duty for Parents

Tim Challies recently shared his story, about The Most Important Thing his parents did when they were raising him:
"I saw my parents living out their faith even when I wasn’t supposed to be watching."
While many oppose his thoughts (see the comments section), I wholeheartedly agree with him.

Of course, he (nor I) is not saying that there is a formula to your children making the choice to follow or reject the Lord. However, pursuing Jesus with your whole life is more important than anything you do for your child, in terms of their spiritual condition.

Even more, I would say that doing all kinds of spiritual tasks (taking them to church, signing them up for VBS, buying them Bibles, etc.) will be ultimately negated if they don't know that you trust in Jesus and follow Him.

When I was a Children's Pastor, I remember having a conversation with a young, single mom (who was questioning whether she should join a Small Group and serve in the church, because she was afraid it would take time away from her son. I told her, "The best way to become a better parent is to become a better disciple of Jesus."

I encourage you to read Challies' entire article, The Most Important Thing My Parents Did.

You can also read my thoughts on this topic, in these posts:

Marriage: Friendship and Co-Working

Since I've had a goal to love my family better this year, I'm continually hunting down resources that can help me do that. And I'd like to share those helpful articles with you, too.

From Ed Welch, Three Relationship Rules:

  1. If something bothers you, give it to the relationship. Talk together, as opposed to making pronouncements. The key is putting the relationship first.
  2. When one person is working, the other person should be working too. Big one for me.
  3. If the other person asks you to do something and you can do it right away, then do it right away. Another big one for me.

From Michael Hyatt, How to Become Your Spouse's Best Friend [podcast and video]:

Lots of great tips in this video and podcast, including these three practical steps:
  1. Make a list of what you want in a best friend.  
  2. Become that person for your spouse.  
  3. Keep sowing the seeds until the relationship blossoms.  

From Tim Keller, You Never Marry the Right Person:  

"Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? . . . So the biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage—more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world—is so painful and hard.

From All Pro Dad, Difficult Things Men Need to Understand About Marriage

  1. Commitment is more important than love. 
  2. Being right is overrated. 
  3. Change is part of the definition of "alive." 
  4. "My hopes and dreams" must submit to "our hopes and dreams."
  5.  Denial is never a real-world solution. 
  6. It's not what happens to you, it's how you respond.

From Paul Tripp, Romantically Pulling Weeds:  

"A healthy marriage doesn't develop overnight; it takes the daily work of pulling weeds and planting seeds. We wish that with just a little sprinkle of romantic Miracle-Gro like Valentine Day's, our marriage would blossom, but that's not the reality."

For more, pick up the best marriage book I've ever read: What Did You Expect??

Related Links:

[Book Review] The Story of King Jesus

The Story of King Jesus (by Ben Irwin) is apparently intended to be a shorter version of The Jesus Storybook Bible. And if you like the latter, you will probably enjoy the former.

But I don't.

I'm not a big fan of storybook bibles and devotionals. They tend to "soften" up theology, and the wording is often too flowery for my taste. Nevertheless, I have used them in the past and plan to do so in the future.

While The Story of King Jesus is not a storybook Bible, it does communicate the whole story of the Bible and God's redemption. That is, it communicates as well as you could in the time-frame of a bedtime story for 4-8 year olds (the intended audience).

Theological Hurdles

However, a few problems with this book leads me to give it two stars out of five:
  • There is no mention of the word "sin," an important idea that parents should be teaching their elementary school children. This book refers to people doing "bad" things. 
  • The authors misses an important purpose of the Old Testament Law. He writes that it was for God's people to know how to live. However, Paul writes that the Law was given to expose our sin nature and to show how much we needed a Savior (Galatians 3:19).
  • The only "job" from our King, according to this book, is to "love each other with all we've got." But that ignores the first of the two great commandments: to love God with all we've got (Mark 12:30-31). 
  • The page that talks about the world being broken is depicted by angry and sad people (OK, I'm with you there), plus a bulldozer and a factory emitting fumes and clouds. Really? While I do think that we are to be stewards of creation, we can do better than make this a major issue.

All that being said, there may be a place for The Story of King Jesus in your home. That is, if you can look past the questionable theology and $15 price tag.

Do You Want a Free Copy?

And if you want to avoid the price tag, you can get a free copy of this book. The publisher (David C Cook) will send one of my readers a copy. You can enter to win by leaving a comment here or on the Facebook post, by replying on Twitter, or by emailing me.

The deadline for entering is Saturday April 18.

My recommendation: try to get this free copy, or borrow from another resource, and read it with your kids. But be sure to follow up reading it with a discussion of the theological issues I listed above.

**Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of The Story of King Jesus in return for this review.

Should Students Wear School Uniforms?

Are you in favor of or against school uniforms? Or are you indifferent?

If I had to make a guess, I would suppose that:
  • Nearly all students children and teenagers are against the idea. 
  • About half of parents are in favor of the idea. 
  • Most school administrators like the idea, but most of them don't know if it's worth the effort to push for it. 
Over the years, I've come to see the value of schools having uniforms for their students, and I would be completely in favor of any of my kids' schools instilling this policy.

(Of course, we are not high-stakes players in this game, since only one of our children will be in public school next year.)

Why? Read my latest post on the Family Matters blog to learn more. And please share your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or on that site.

Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA

How I Probably Need to Change as a Parent

As a parent of adult children (who now have children of their own), Mark Altrogge reflects on Things I Would Do Differently If I Were Raising My Children Again. He lists a total of 7 things, but these three stood out to me as ways I probably need to change:
  1. I wouldn’t emphasize manners as much.
  2. I would try to draw them out more as teenagers.  
  3. I would try not to expect our kids to change their attitudes immediately. 

Intrigued? Read the full article here.

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A Good Friday, Indeed

It's a great day for those of us who are in Christ.
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."  (II Corinthians 5:21)

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed." (Romans 3:23-25) 

"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit."  (I Peter 3:18)

Related Links: