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DECEMBER 2012

GOD’S WORD

A CHRISTMAS LOVE STORY

KIDS IN THE KITCHEN SWEET TREAT NATIVITY

TOUGH TOPICS

RESTORATION

“GOD FILLS ME WITH HIS LOVE SO I CAN GIVE IT AWAY”


6 GOD’S WORD A CHRISTMAS LOVE STORY

14 KIDS IN THE KITCHEN

SWEET TREAT NATIVITY

22 TOUGH TOPICS RESTORATION

CONTENTS FAMILY TIME

12

Family Time Recipe

3

Environment

Love and Respect

12

Conversation Starters

21

Tot Time

4

Editor’s Note

13

Family Time Recipe

22

Tough Topics

5

How to Use Family Time and the Family Verse

14

Kids in the Kitchen

22

The Middle

6

God’s Word

A Christmas Love Story

16

Create

7

Prayer

17

Global

23

Marriage

8

Traditions

18

Blessing

Love One Another

24

Spiritual Parenting

9

Game Time

INSPIRE

24

Spiritual Grandparenting

10

Storytelling

The Everyday Parent

25

10 Environments

11

Worship

Prayer Bracelets Mission to Mexico

Toss the Balloon A Man Named Ron Van Groningen

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EQUIP

Orange Bread

Get Your Children Talking

Extra Creamy Hot Chocolate Frozen Whipped Cream Shapes Sweet Treat Nativity

God Keeps His Promises

Restoration

Grace and Compassion

SUPPORT

Made in His Image Mexico

Lie Down

Love and Respect Inbox

Three Little Words

Who Is This God?

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We believe that the Holy Spirit is God’s chosen teacher. It is He who causes spiritual growth and formation when and as He chooses. As such, we have articulated 10 distinct environments to create in your home. We desire to create spiritual space, which we refer to as an environment, in which God’s Spirit can move freely.

Without love, our faith becomes futile. The environment of LOVE AND RESPECT recognizes children need both love and respect in order to be free to both receive and give God’s grace. Key to this environment is the value that children are respected because they embody the image of God. We must speak to them, not at them, and we must commit to an environment where love and acceptance are never withheld due to one’s behavior. First Corinthians 13 says if we don’t have love, everything else we do is futile. It’s worthless. So, without love, it doesn’t matter if we have all the knowledge in the world. It doesn’t matter if we’re helping kids understand who God is and we’re modeling what that looks like. If we don’t do all of it in a loving way, then it’s simply worthless! Wow! That’s a sobering thought. When we create an environment of love and respect, we’re helping identify the image of God in every person. This month, be looking for ways to take the environment of LOVE AND RESPECT beyond your family time with HomeFront. Challenge your family to find opportunities to show love and respect in your everyday interactions!

Michelle Anthony Family Ministry Architect David C Cook

Follow Michelle: @TruInspiration

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF LOVE AND RESPECT (an excerpt from Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony)

One day after my preteen daughter and I had experienced a bitter battle of the wills, she ran up to her room screaming that she wished she lived somewhere else. At that point I may have agreed with her—just for a moment. But I realized that my daughter needed my love in that very moment more than she needed to go to her room and think about what she had done and said. My flesh wanted her to stay in her room until she felt sorry enough for what she had done and was ready to come to me and apologize. I wanted her to feel the separation of our relationship and to just “sit in it” for a while. After all, she deserved to feel bad, right? Then, a tender voice inside reminded me of the words from Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It was like a ton of bricks had just hit me! “While we were still sinners” played over and over in my mind as I wrestled with God about what to do. Slowly, I opened my daughter’s door and walked in. She was sitting on her bed in tears. She barked at me, “What are you doing here?” I recoiled, thinking that she didn’t deserve my love in that moment. But God kept prompting me. I said, “I’m here because I love you and I want to be with you, even though you have made a poor decision and you’re angry at me.” She was surprised. “How can you want to be with me right now, when I don’t even want to be with me?” she asked through her tears. I sat with her and held her. I told her that although her actions were not acceptable, she was dearly loved and I would always want her in my life—no matter what!

Design, Layout, and Photography by Brad Claypool

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EDITOR’S NOTE Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7–8) Rarely do I read this verse without breaking into song, remembering Psalty the Singing Songbook’s Kids’ Praise! albums. It was one of my children’s favorites, blasting in the car and around our home throughout the 80s. However, it wasn’t until later in my life that I fully understood the implications of this beautiful passage of Scripture.

Debbie Guinn

God is love. If we show love to others, that gives evidence of our love for and our relationship with God. On the flip side, when we don’t show love to others, we most likely don’t really know God, according to this passage. It’s really pretty simple: Love God and love others.

HomeFront Managing Editor David C Cook

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This month’s issue of HomeFront will give your family many opportunities to show love and respect to each other and to those around you. From a balloon toss game that brings you to your children’s eye level to the compelling love story of Jesus' birth, you will see and experience how much God loves us. We hope that as you and your family grasp God’s love and grace, you will be compelled to give it away to others.

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Follow us on Twitter @HFfamily for updates and encouragement as you spiritually parent your children.

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HOW TO USE FAMILY TIME ...

FAMILY TIME

sy as a e s a It's ONE TWO THREE

1

Start by deciding on a day and time that works well for your entire family. It can be an evening, afternoon, or morning. Just commit to building this time into your family’s natural rhythm. It’s usually best to build this time around a meal.

FAMILY VERSE Memorizing Scripture can be an incredible practice to engage in as a family. But words in and of themselves will not necessarily transform us; it is God’s Spirit in these words who transforms. We come to know God more when we’re willing to open our hearts and receive His Holy Spirit through the words we memorize. Have fun with this verse, and think of creative ways to invite your family to open up to God as they commit this verse to memory.

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Look through HomeFront and see what stands out. Choose two or three experiences you would like to incorporate into your family times each week. Don’t feel burdened to complete all the activities at once, but carefully select which ones will fit your family best. This resource provides your family with more than enough experiences to create transforming environments in your home throughout the month.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

I John 4:7–8

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Family Time ideas!

Remember to HAVE FUN! Strive to make each gathering unique to your own family as you enjoy spending time with God and each other. 5

Love & Respect | HomeFrontMag.com


family time

g o d ’ s wo r d

A CHRISTMAS love story

No matter what anyone might say or what amazing movies you see or books you read, there’s no love story as great as this one. Each year at Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior. But the celebration isn’t just about Christ’s birth. We celebrate because the love story that we read in the first chapters of Luke is the beginning of the fulfillment of all of God’s promises to His people throughout the Old Testament. After sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, our relationship with God was severed. God loved us so much that He immediately put a plan in motion to send His Son to us so that we could be in relationship with Him again. For thousands of years, God’s people waited for the Savior. During that time, God made hundreds of very specific promises about that Savior. So, when Jesus was born, God’s plan had finally come to pass. God gave

His only Son so He could be in relationship with us. That’s how much He loves us!

It really is the greatest love story ever! HEAR IT Get your family together (maybe with some hot chocolate) and read Luke 1:26–38 and 2:1–20. This is the Christmas story as recorded by Luke. Before reading, tell your family to point out every time they hear a part of this story that shows God’s love. DO IT Remember, the reason we celebrate Christmas is because Jesus was born, lived a perfect life, and conquered death, all so that we could be in relationship with Him forever. Our role now is to share Jesus with others so 6

they can experience God’s love too! In fact, the best way we can celebrate Christmas is to share God’s love with the people we know and love. Spend some time together as a family thinking of people you know who need to know God’s love. Let each family member share the name of at least one person. Then help each other think of ways to share God’s love with that person. Maybe it’s by meeting a need of theirs. Maybe it’s by being kind to them. Maybe it’s by actually sharing God’s story with them. Or maybe it’s all of those things. When you’re done discussing as a family, spend a few minutes praying about what God might have you do. Ask Him to provide exactly what each family member needs in order to share His love at Christmastime and throughout the year. by Matt Barnes

Love & Respect | HomeFrontMag.com


family time

p r ay e r

PRAYER BRACELETS

by Justin Fox Praying for each other is one of the most important things we can do. By praying for someone, we show him love and respect. God listens and honors our prayers for each other, and He invites us many times throughout the Bible to talk to Him about everything in prayer. It’s easy to forget about praying in this busy, noisy world. Create the following symbol to remind you to pray. • Look around your house for some string (ribbon, yarn, and even old shoelaces will do the trick). • Cut the string into sections about a foot long for every member of your family. • Tie small knots along the string for each person in your home. • Have everyone wrap the string around his wrist like a bracelet. Wear this bracelet for the entire month. When you look at a knot, let that bring to mind a family member, and lift up a prayer to God on that person’s behalf. Of course there isn’t a special power in the knots or bracelet; they’re simple reminders to pray for those you love. A simple prayer could go like this: “God, please comfort Mom. Show her how much You love her. Lead and direct her with Your wisdom and grace. Dear God, please help my brother

with his math test. Reward him for all of the studying he did, and bring the answers quickly to his mind." Philippians 4:6 gives us a great challenge: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

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Use it as a simple reminder to pray for those you love. Love & Respect | HomeFrontMag.com


family time

traditions

Recent news coming out of Mexico hasn’t been positive. Gang violence, drug cartels, and rampant use of assault weapons have made travel to Mexico very dangerous.

Many organizations that once frequently served on short-term missions in Mexico have since stopped for fear of their safety. But much work still needs to be done in this country. Thankfully, a few organizations are still traveling to Mexico to share God’s love. One of these organizations is Azusa Pacific University’s Mexico Outreach. My brother Gregg began going to Mexicali, Mexico, with this organization while his daughter, Delaney, was still in high school. They have made this a tradition each spring break for the last several years. Even now, with Delaney out of high school, they return together as leaders to minister to the Mexican people. And this past year Gregg also took his youngest daughter, Danica.

Gregg and Delaney Kinne

A tradition is the handing down of statements, beliefs, or customs from generation to generation.

Each year the team tackles a variety of ministry projects. Community and work projects consist of everything from cleaning parks to building homes. Children’s ministry includes Vacation Bible School, sports in the park, and puppet and drama teams. My brother says it’s not surprising to hear a child ask, “Why did you come here to play with us?” It’s such a reward to respond with “God sent us to share His love with you.” Gregg, Delaney, and Danica, along with thousands of other participants, return to Mexico each year to share the love of Jesus. They don’t allow fear to keep them from reaching out and serving the people of Mexico. This month, take some time as a family to pray for the people of Mexico. Learn more about this country in the GLOBAL section on page 17 of this issue of HomeFront. Consider starting a yearly tradition of investigating and praying for mission organizations that minister in Mexico. Add an additional step to this new tradition and make it Mexico night by serving traditional Mexican cuisine: tacos, burritos, rice, and pinto beans. by Debbie Guinn

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family time

game time

TOSS THE BALLOON

ALL PLAY

by Heather Kasparian

Stand in a circle with the parents on opposite ends and kneeling down to be eye level with your younger children. This will give everyone the same advantage as well as create an opportunity for you to love and respect your children in a way that affirms the grace God gives to each of us. TIME TO PLAY! The goal is to keep the balloon in the air as long as possible without letting it touch the ground. Toss a balloon up in the air in the direction of someone else in the circle, and continue to toss the balloon around to each person. If the balloon touches the ground, start another round. LET’S ADD A TWIST! For older kids, or once your family masters the basic version of the game, add more balloons and/or balloons of different sizes. You can also begin to call out a family member’s name and a body part, which that person must use to keep the balloon in the air. For example, the first person tossing the balloon might call out, “Mom, head!” or “Andrew, knee!” Get creative! REMEMBER! Encourage your children to be gracious and respectful to those unable to keep the balloon in the air. Remind them that we all fall and make mistakes, but God loves us no matter what. Because of that, we should show the same kind of love to those around us.

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family time

sto ry t e l l i n g

A MAN NAMED RON VAN GRONINGEN

I know a man named Ron Van Groningen. His story may not be much different from your own or that of someone you know, but it has taught me how love is transferred from generation to generation. unable to attend because he didn’t have the money to buy even a baseball mitt. When adolescence arrived, there was no father around to show Ron how to navigate issues of image, dating, hormones, and work. Still, what hurt the most was that Ron couldn’t understand how a father could not love his own son.

When Ron was a little boy in the early 1940s, his father went off to war, as many fathers did at that time. His mom was left to struggle during the Depression to care for him and his little brother on the meager means of what she alone could earn. Because she had ongoing health issues, Ron’s mother was often just doing her best to get by. When Ron’s dad returned from the war, the world felt like a very different place to him. He had a difficult time readjusting to home life as a husband and father without some of the resources we have available for soldiers today. This young family desperately needed his love and attention, but they did not receive it. Not once did Ron ever hear the words “I love you, Son” from the lips of his father.

When Ron turned 18, graduated from high school, and joined the air force, he was left to figure out how to enter the world of manhood without the love and support of a father. He married young, put himself through medical school, worked two jobs, and supported his family of two little girls and a young wife all by himself. Now statistics would say that Ron would have had trouble loving his wife and children and would have even left them for someone else eventually. But something was different in Ron’s life that didn’t allow statistics to be the final chapter. Ron had known love after all. When Ron was just a boy, he had learned of God’s love for him, and he had chosen to give his life to Christ. God brought circumstances, a wife, a job, schooling, provision, and love to this young man—shaping him every step of the way, most of the time without Ron’s awareness. Ron had truly experienced agape from God. While he was raising his two daughters, not a day went by when they were not showered

with words of affirmation and love. The phrase “I love you” was used generously and without reserve. He demonstrated love to his wife and modeled what it meant to be a husband and father in every way. When there were tears, he was there to hold the one crying and give encouraging words and tender hugs. When there were scary nights of lightning and thunder, he told stories until peaceful sleep returned. When there were mistakes made, he gave grace and forgiveness generously. Ron has been married for 50 years. His grown daughters, his wife, and his grandchildren characterize him as a man who loves. Was it modeled to him by his father in his family of origin? No. Did he wish it had been? Yes. Yet God did the impossible and made a father from the fatherless. He does it every day. He redeems that which was lost. I love the story of Ron Van Groningen, because it is a story of redemption and God’s amazing intervening love. But mostly I love this story because that man is my father. I was the recipient of that unbelievable gift of love and know firsthand that God can use whatever past we bring to Him in order to offer love to our children and our children’s children. by Michelle Anthony (excerpt from Spiritual Parenting)

Soon the pressures of trying to reenter a forgotten world became too much, and Ron’s father sought another woman’s comfort and left his family behind. The stigma of being a divorcée during the early 1950s was cruel for Ron’s mother, and the impact of being fatherless cut deeply into the two brothers’ hearts over the years. Ron’s mother had to take on more odd jobs and find work as a woman who had never graduated from high school. As other young boys rode off in buses to baseball camp, Ron sat on his porch watching them pass by, 10

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family time

wo r s h i p

WHO is this

GOD? Romans 5:6–8 says that “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

• SUPPLIES • • s crapbook or colored paper (use colors that represent hair color, skin color, and favorite clothing colors) • permanent marker • Bible

Christ died for us even while we were sinners. This amazing truth daily draws new believers to Christ. Believers and nonbelievers continually ask, “Why would Christ, the Son of God, choose to die for us while we were still sinners?” Spend some time marveling in this amazing truth and mystery. Take a deep breath and praise God that He knows everything about you and loves you anyway. Praise Him for the fact that He loves you so much that He chose to die for you in order for you to be in relationship with Him. by Tori Funkhouser

• As an act of worship to this great God who knows everything about you and loves you anyway, write down words that describe who He is. • Use permanent markers to make a list of these words on the back of scrapbook paper or other colorful paper. • Help younger kids think of names of God (or words that describe God) such as wonderful, good, strong, and loving. • Encourage each family member to cover a few pages of colorful paper with God’s names and characteristics. • Keep these lists handy; you’ll use them for the CREATE activity in this month’s HomeFront.

WE OFTEN THINK OF WORSHIP AS SINGING, BUT WE CAN WORSHIP GOD IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS.

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family time

fa m i ly t i m e r e c i p e

I grew up in a large Italian family, where I learned that there’s nothing better than sharing a meal with people you love. We’ve been making Orange Bread for Christmas breakfasts for as long as I can remember. To make this delicious recipe, have your family members form an assembly line, with one filling the dough, another dredging it in sugar, another making the icing, etc. You’ll make great memories while you prepare and bake this breakfast treat.

CONVERSATION STARTERS What do love and respect look like? Children are like sponges. No matter their age, they enjoy imitating things they see and hear. This month, as you spend time with your kids, talk with them about true love and respect. Discuss with them what it looks like to love and respect someone as God does for each of us.

º INGREDIENTS º

Get your children talking …

+ 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese (cut into 20 squares) + 1/2 cup butter (melted) + 1 tablespoon orange juice

+ 3/4 cup sugar

+ 1/2 cup chopped pecans

+ 1 tablespoon grated orange rind + 2 cans refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (20 biscuits total)

Around the table, share how you see someone in your family loving and respecting another member of your family.

+ 1 cup sifted powdered sugar

For example, Mom says, “Ethan, I see Dad love you when he listens attentively to all the details of your day.” Then Mom asks Ethan, “Ethan, how do you see Emma show respect to Dad?” Ethan says, “Emma respects Dad when he asks her to set the dinner table and she obeys him without complaining.”

º DIRECTIONS º 1. Combine sugar, pecans, and orange rind in a small bowl. 2. Separate each biscuit into two halves. Place a cream cheese square in the center of one half and place the other half on top, pinching the sides together to seal. 3. Dip each biscuit in butter and roll in the sugar mixture. 4. Stand each biscuit on edge in a lightly greased 12-cup Bundt pan, spacing evenly.

Go around the table as many times as you want, recalling how your family members show love and respect to one another.

5. Drizzle with remaining butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture. 6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Invert onto a serving platter.

by Natalie Lisk

7. Combine powdered sugar and orange juice. Spoon over warm biscuits. 8. Serve immediately.

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family time

fa m i ly t i m e r e c i p e - 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder - 3/4 cup white sugar - 1 pinch salt - 1/3 cup boiling water

yields 4 servings

- 3 1/2 cups milk - 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract - 1/2 cup half-and-half Combine cocoa, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Pour in the boiling water and bring mixture to a slow boil. Lower heat and simmer while stirring for about two minutes. Whisk in milk and heat until very hot—but not boiling! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour evenly into four mugs. Add the half-and-half evenly to the four mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.

+ Line a shallow pan with parchment paper and spread whipped topping or cream on top of the paper.

+ Place in the freezer until firm. + Using cookie cutters, allow your children to cut shapes out of the frozen topping. Be sure the shapes will fit inside the mugs you plan to use.

+ If the whipped topping begins to soften, just place it back into the freezer until it firms up again. (You can freeze leftover whipped shapes to be used in the future.)

You will need: 8 oz. frozen whipped topping (or homemade whipped cream)

+ Pour hot cocoa in a mug and place a frozen whipped cream shape on top. Enjoy!

parchment paper

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family time

k i d s i n t h e k i tc h e n

Sweet Treat

KIDS IN THE KITCHEN features simple, kid-friendly recipes that encourage families to spend time together while creating yummy treats.

N AT I V I T Y Before you spend time together creating this Sweet Treat Nativity, read the GOD’S WORD section of this issue of HomeFront on page six. This passage of Scripture in the book of Luke reminds us of how much God loves us. As you build this representation of the stable where Christ was born, use the highlighted conversation starters to create teachable moments with your children. Reflect on God’s love for us and all the awesome ways He cares for us daily. Challenge your children to share God’s love with others.

What you’ll need:

How to create:

+ graham crackers

Step 1: Stable

+ chocolate frosting

Lay parchment paper to create a display base. Lay one and a half graham crackers next to each other and frost the outer edges. Place another graham cracker along the back and lean two more graham crackers against the corners of the back for added support. Frost the tops of the left and right sides and place another whole graham cracker piece across the top to create the roof. You’ve created the stable!

+ mini chocolate candy bars + mini Tootsie Roll® candies + mini candy canes + large marshmallows + small marshmallows (or cut one large) + gumdrops (various colors) + fruit wedge gummy candies + black licorice (small pieces)

Steps 1 & 2

+ fruit leather + toothpicks + flaked coconut

What is a stable? Do you think this was a good place for the Son of God to be born? Jesus came to earth as a humble King unlike any other.

+ yellow food coloring + resealable plastic bag + frosting decorator tips + wax paper or parchment paper

Step 2: Hay Tint the coconut flakes by putting three drops of yellow food coloring in a small resealable plastic bag along with half a teaspoon of water and one cup of flaked coconut. Seal the bag and shake until the coconut is evenly dyed yellow. Put the hay on the floor of the manger.

Do you think the hay felt soft or scratchy for baby Jesus to lie upon? Remember, Luke tells us He was wrapped in large strips of cloth first, so the hay made a nice cushion in the manger.

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Step 3: Manger To create a manger, use half of a graham cracker for the base and one-fourth of a cracker for each side. Squeeze a generous amount of frosting down the center of the base square and stick the two smaller crackers into the frosting in a “V” shape. Sprinkle the manger with hay.

Managers are typically used for feeding the animals in a stable. What might be some reasons that Mary and Joseph put baby Jesus in a manger? Steps 3 & 4 Step 4: Baby Jesus To make the baby, cut off the tip of a small gumdrop and attach it to the top of a small marshmallow. Place baby Jesus in the manger.

Jesus’ birth fulfilled everything that God had been promising. Jesus was the gift, the promised Savior. How does it make you feel to know God loved you so much that He sent His Son for you?

Step 5: Animals To make a sheep, you’ll use one large marshmallow for the body and five small pieces of black licorice for the legs and head. (Use a butter knife to create openings in the marshmallow for the legs and head.)

Step 5

To make a kneeling donkey, you’ll first lay four Tootsie Rolls® in a diamond formation and spread frosting on the top. Then attach a candy bar to form the body, and attach a bent Tootsie Roll for the neck and head (using a toothpick if desired). Squeeze a line of frosting on the donkey’s head to create a mane.

What kinds of animals usually live in barns or stables? Do you think the animals in Jesus’ stable were noisy? Do you think the animals smelled? Step 5 Step 6: Mary, Joseph, and Shepherds Slide a toothpick through a gumdrop, a fruit wedge, and another gumdrop to create a body. Make head coverings with a piece of fruit leather, or make hair with frosting. Give each shepherd a staff by attaching a candy cane to the shepherd’s body (using frosting).

How did the shepherds know to come to the stable? How do you think Mary and Joseph felt about the visitors coming to see Jesus? Step 6

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family time

c r e at e

MADE IN HIS IMAGE BY TORI FUNKHOUSER

Key to the environment of LOVE AND RESPECT is the value that children (and adults too) are respected by God because we bear His image! Create a self-portrait by using the pages you created during WORSHIP time. • Rip up the pages into little pieces and flip them over so that only the colored side can be seen. • Arrange them into a mosaic that resembles your face and glue them onto paper. Hidden behind your self-portrait will be the characteristics of God that you wrote down earlier. Though some of these names and traits relate only to God, we know that His Spirit empowers us to live a life that reflects Him and His image. Because God created you in His image, you carry Him around in your life so that others can see God through you!

CREATE IS A TIME TO ENGAGE YOUR FAMILY IN A COLLABORATIVE RESPONSE TO HEARING GOD’S WORD.

use the pieces of scrapbook paper from the WORSHIP section to create this!

SUPPLIES: • pages you created during the WORSHIP section of this month’s HomeFront • scissors • glue sticks • white card stock (1 sheet for each family member)

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family time

g lo b a l

Where in the World Is ...

MEXICO

Awakening a compassionate heart and a global mindset in children for people beyond the boundaries of their own neighborhoods.

N W

E S

 exico, located south of the United States M on the continent of North America, covers 761,606 square miles. It’s bordered on the east by the Gulf of Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala; it’s bordered on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean. POPULATION:

NOW THAT WE KNOW WHERE MEXICO IS, LET’S MEET AND GREET ITS PEOPLE.

112,336,538

LANGUAGE: Spanish

About 112 million people call Mexico their home.

RELIGION:

82.7% Roman Catholic 9.7% Other Christian religions 4.7% No religion

If you lived in Mexico, you would eat meals centered on three national staples: 1. Tortillas—a staple food for generations. Tortillas can be made of flour (more common in the north) or corn (more traditional in the south). They’re served alongside meals and also used to make enchiladas, tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.

DID YOU KNOW? • Mexico has the world’s smallest volcano. The Cuexcomate, located in the city of Puebla, is only 43 feet tall! It’s inactive now, and it has a spiral staircase inside just for tourists. • Mexico is great for bird watchers. The country hosts more than 50 different species of hummingbirds, several types of pelicans, and many other bird species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world.

2. Frijoles—beans of different varieties. They’re boiled and then fried, and they’re a good source of protein. 3. Chili peppers—the bigger the chili, the milder the flavor. Large poblano chilis are stuffed and served as a main course. The smaller habanero chili is ferociously hot.

TO GREET SOMEONE IN MEXICO, YOU WOULD SAY,

“Hola”

If you attended church in Mexico, you would most likely go to a Catholic church.

(pronounced OH-lah) When you talk with friends in Mexico, you would speak Spanish.

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family time

blessing

LOVE ONE ANOTHER Parents, end each day this month by reminding your children of what Jesus tells us in His Word.

The end of a church service often includes a blessing called a benediction. The word benediction literally means “good speaking.” Numbers 6:22–26 records the Lord instructing Moses to bless the people with these words: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

BLESS Speak these words of Scripture over your children as an encouragement to love others.

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34–35 NLT)

PRAY Pray this prayer out loud over your children. Ask them to agree with you by ending the prayer together, saying, “AMEN!”

(Child’s name), may you know God’s love and show that love to others. AMEN!

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INSPIRE Parenting stories and devotions to spur you on and motivate you as you spiritually parent your children.

EQUIP Resources to prepare you as you navigate through tough ages and tough topics.

SUPPORT Walking alongside you to promote healthy marriages and answer your spiritual parenting and spiritual grandparenting questions.

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inspire

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

by Rebekah Pogue

t h e e v e ry day pa r e n t

A

s parents, we desire to provide for our children and give them the world. Unfortunately, for most of us that’s not a reality, nor is it best to give them everything they want. God entrusted these children to our care, and we can love and respect them by teaching them the value of waiting and saving for a toy or by protecting their time from being overscheduled with five playdates in a row. Many times, this means saying no. God, in His perfect plan, desires for us to have a loving and respectful parent-child relationship. When you have to say no, take time to share with your kids why you made the decision. Explain that you love them and want what’s best for them. More importantly, point them to how much their heavenly Father loves them and longs to hear their heart. Show them respect by asking how they feel about the situation and by allowing them to ask questions and be heard. Conversations covered in love and respect honor God and reflect the Holy Spirit’s grace.

God Keeps His Promises by Justin Fox

“But you proooomised!” Have you ever heard that? I would be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time my children have said that to me. It’s not that I’m not good at keeping promises; it’s just that my children often confuse my best intentions as promises. I’ve learned to rarely promise anything these days. I now instead diplomatically say something such as “Now, I can’t promise, but I will try my best.” Our children have learned that Mom and Dad aren’t perfect. They know that circumstances happen beyond our control. They understand that disappointment is a common reality, and that very few things are certain in this life. With God, it’s a completely different matter. Nothing is beyond His control; part of His very nature is making and keeping promises. He always comes through and never disappoints. How do we compete with that? We don’t. We let our frailty and weakness point to God’s steady strength and character. We tell our children that we can promise little, but God can promise much. We lead them to Him. We can daily decide to love our family with all we’ve got, and that’s a commitment—a promise if you will—that we’re called to. It’s a commitment worth pursuing. We can’t always keep our promise for a treat, a trip, a video game, or a playdate, but we can promise to love our family with our whole heart. We can decide to give all we’ve got, but we’ll need God’s help. Thankfully, He says He’ll always be with us, and God always keeps His promises. 20

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equip

tot t i m e ( ag e s 3 & u n d e r )

Repetition is fundamental to almost any learning style, so when you’re attempting to teach your children, use repetition! lie down

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

g the roa lon

d

at home sit

a

get up

(Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

lie down This month, as you prepare to get your little one into bed for the night,

listen and sing along with this lullaby that reminds your children to show love to others. The following song, “Teach Me, Lord Jesus,” sung by Andreana Arganda, can be found on the album titled Into Your Dreams: Lullabies to End the Day by Kingsway Kids. The song can also be purchased individually through iTunes or amazon.com.

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to u g h to p i c s

Admittedly, when our kids break a window or sink into singsong sobs of “I don’t wanna eat tha-a-a-a-at,” our first response is seldom to see that what they need is God’s love. Instead, we want them to feel sorry for destroying our property and our will to ever cook dinner again.

RESTORATION

We need God; they need God. If God’s role in disciplining (see the root word disciple) our kids is diminished, the main thing that deters future poor behavior is fear: “But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18). Love, the very essence of God (1 John 4:7), is a much better motivator, don’t you think? Because only love—God—can produce the kind of true change we want to see. We can pause, remembering our child’s identity as God’s beloved. We can soften our voices and faces, making confession feel safer. And while natural consequences are often necessary, we can trade punishment for restoration when, instead of “coming down” on our kids, we come alongside them in love.

equip

the middle (6 t h

to

8 t h GRADE)

GRACE AND COMPASSION Has your child ever caused you to lose your patience? That often happens during life with a middle schooler. Middle school is a critical time in your child’s life. She’s striving to find her identity in Christ in a world determined to have her find her self-worth in anything else. As a result, your child will make decisions that may not always be Christ-centered. He will get swayed and be tempted to test the waters of the world. Your response to this behavior is pivotal in helping your child see his choices as unwise and not glorifying to his heavenly Father. It’s our responsibility as parents to bestow on our children the love and respect they deserve—even when they decide to act out inappropriately. But in the midst of these difficult situations, it’s very hard to show them that love and respect. At times you want to do nothing more than let them know how frustrated and angry you feel or allow them to reap the consequences of their poor decision. However, doing this

can often make things worse. When you lash out and react in anger and frustration, you run the risk of hurting the relationship—or even possibly severing it. To keep this from happening, first remember, and then embody, God’s reaction to our disobedience. Romans 5:8 (NLT) says, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” What a pure description and example of how we should deal with our children! Even while we remained in sin, God didn’t withhold His love from us or give us something second-rate. He gave us the best: His one and only Son. Jesus Christ.

the same love and compassion to your child that He has shown to you. When you begin to ask these questions and interact with your child in a loving and respectful way, you open the door for God’s Spirit to work in and fill up your child with His love. As a result of your reaction, your child likely will be more prone to invite Christ’s identity to be her identity. by Bryan Pogue

As a parent, you will have feelings of anger and frustration. In the midst of your disappointment, ask yourself: “Am I personifying Christ’s love to my child? Am I remembering the grace God has bestowed on me?” In that moment, pray and ask God to help you navigate through these trying times of tension. Ask Him to compel you to show 22

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support

m a r r i ag e

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33

As a pastor, I’m regularly asked to officiate weddings. Before each wedding ceremony, I remind the bride and the groom that they must make a conscious decision to love and respect each other. It wouldn’t seem that we should have to remind couples of this truth, but because of our differing personalities, the stress and strain of daily living, the pressure of raising children, and our jobs, the challenge to love and respect each other must become a conscious decision. While Ephesians admonishes men to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands, we really need to love and respect each another. We show love when we’re patient, kind, gentle, sacrificial, and merciful to one another. We show respect by the way we talk with one another, stay considerate of one another, and validate each other’s feelings and thoughts. by Roger Tirabassi

Discussion: 1

2

3

ONE

TWO

THREE

In what specific ways did you feel loved by your spouse when you were dating or engaged? Identify one way your spouse could show you love this week, and share that with him or her. Then do your best to follow through with loving your spouse this next week in the way he or she experienced your love when you were dating or engaged.

What did your spouse do that made you feel respected by him or her early in your relationship? Do you still treat your spouse with this same level of respect? If not, what specifically can you do to show your spouse more respect in the next week?

Pray as a couple that you will get back to the “love and respect” way of living.

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s p i r i t ua l pa r e n t i n g & s p i r i t ua l g r a n d pa r e n t i n g

Three Little Words

Inbox w/ Michelle Anthony

by Debbie Guinn

Each month we choose questions for the Inbox from the HomeFrontSP Facebook page. If you have spiritual parenting questions, go to Facebook.com/HomeFrontSP and join the conversation. Remember to us too!

Q: A:

I love you. These three little words can have a huge impact, especially when they’re said in honesty to our children and grandchildren. They provide security, remove fear, build trust, and impart value.

 ow can I show unconditional love to my child in a world H that is so productivity-oriented?

Love bears all things:

This is a great question because we often understand love through how people respond to what we do rather than who we are. The basis of unconditional love is that I can receive this not based on anything I do or don’t do. We can put God on display in our homes by intentionally choosing to also show love for things that are outside of the realm of accomplishment. For example, while it may feel natural to take a child out for a special ice cream night after scoring a goal in hockey or soccer, it will take a little more energy to serve a surprise breakfast in bed to a child “just because.” When asked by our child why she is getting a special breakfast, we can respond that we love her simply because she exists, not because of anything that she has done. Instances like this one give a fuller picture of unconditional love to our children.

Q: A:

First Corinthians 13:7–8 (NKJV) tells us love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” When our families hear us say “I love you,” it implies the following: You would be willing to take on or accept as your own the responsibilities of another person.

Love believes all things:

You would accept everything about them as true and trust them with confidence.

Love hopes all things:

You would be expectant about their future, brimming with the desire for all the possibilities of fulfillment that lie ahead of them.

Love endures all things:

You would be willing to face and withstand with courage all that life brings their way.

Love never fails:

It never falls short of what is expected. It does not disappoint or prove undependable. It never abandons or forsakes.

 y husband and I are divorced, and, unfortunately, my M children lived through a difficult season of disrespect— on both sides. How can I begin to repair this damage?

This is the unfortunate reality of living as imperfect people in a fallen world. However, the good news of Jesus is that He does in fact offer redemption, both in this life and the one to come. To redeem a part of our history such as you describe is possible with God’s help. One of the first steps is to recognize that the situation needs redemption instead of simply making excuses for it. For this I applaud your humility. Secondly, you will need to seek God and His wisdom in how to specifically do this in your family situation. One thing that will most likely need to happen will be for you to sit your children down and tell them that what they have witnessed is not how God would want your family to behave toward one another. Call out places where you have showed disrespect or an unloving attitude, and then tell them that you have asked God to forgive you for this. Next, explain that with God’s help you want to move forward showing the kind of love and respect that would honor Him. These steps will allow them to rightly see the past and understand God’s redemption as you move forward differently.

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Three little words communicate one powerful statement. They tell our family members we’re on their team. We will walk ahead of them, clearing the path, and walk behind them, supporting them all the way. When self-doubt or fear enter their worlds, they’ll be comforted by the words “I love you” spoken by someone dear to their hearts. When we make the effort to tell our families that we love them, they receive the motivation to love others. When we’ve been changed by love, we’re more likely to show that love to others. Find time every day to say “I love you” to your children and grandchildren. Let them see God’s love flowing through your life and overflowing into theirs through these three little words.

Love & Respect | HomeFrontMag.com


10 ENVIRONMENTS Below you'll find a brief explanation of each environment: 1. Storytelling—The power of The Big God Story impacts our lives by giving us an accurate and awe-inspiring perspective of how God has been moving throughout history. It is the story of redemption, salvation, and hope, and it tells how I have been grafted into it by grace. It further compels us to see how God is using every person’s life and is creating a unique story that deserves to be told for God’s glory. “God has a big story, and I can be a part of it!” 2. Identity—This environment highlights who we are in Christ. According to Ephesians 1, we have been chosen, adopted, redeemed, sealed, and given an inheritance in Christ … all of which we did nothing to earn. This conviction allows children to stand firm against the destructive counter identities the world will offer. “I belong to God, and He loves me!” 3. Faith Community—God designed us to live in community and to experience Him in ways that can only happen in proximity to one another. The faith community serves to create an environment to equip and disciple parents, to celebrate God’s faithfulness, and to bring a richness of worship through tradition and rituals, which offer children an identity. Our love for each other reflects the love we have received from God. “God’s family cares for each other and worships God together.” 4. Serving—This posture of the heart asks the question, “What needs to be done?” It allows the Holy Spirit to cultivate a sensitivity to others and focuses on a cause bigger than one individual life. It helps fulfill the mandate that as Christ followers we are to view our lives as living sacrifices that we generously give away! “Asks the question, ‘What needs to be done?’” 5. Out Of The Comfort Zone—As children are challenged to step out of their comfort zones from an early age, they learn to experience a dependence on the Holy Spirit to equip and strengthen them beyond their natural abilities and desires. We believe this environment will cultivate a generation that, instead of seeking comfort, seeks a radical life of faith in Christ. “God transforms me when I step out in faith.” 6. Responsibility—This environment captures the ability to take ownership for one’s life, gifts, and resources before God. A child must be challenged to take responsibility for his or her brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as for those who are spiritually lost. Our hope is that the Holy Spirit will use this environment to allow each child to understand that God has entrusted His world to us. “God has entrusted me with the things and people He created around me.” 7. Course Correction—This environment flows out of Hebrews 12:11–13 and is the direct opposite of punishment. Instead, biblical discipline for a child encompasses a season of pain, the building up in love, and a vision of a corrected path for the individual with the purpose of healing at its core. “When I get off track, God offers me a path of healing.”

IT IS OUR PRAYER THAT HOMES AND CHURCHES WOULD CREATE THESE ENVIRONMENTS FOR KIDS TO LIVE IN SO THEIR FAITH WILL GROW IN A COMMUNITY OF CONSISTENCY, COMMON LANGUAGE, AND PRACTICE. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW THESE ENVIRONMENTS CAN IGNITE A TRANSFORMING FAITH IN YOUR FAMILY, WE SUGGEST YOU READ:

8. Love and Respect—Without love, our faith becomes futile. This environment recognizes that children need an environment of love and respect in order to be free to both receive and give God’s grace. Key to this environment is the value that children are respected because they embody the image of God. We must speak to them, not at them, and we must commit to an environment where love and acceptance are never withheld due to one’s behavior. “God fills me with His love so I can give it away.”

SPIRITUAL PARENTING:

9. Knowing—Nothing could be more important than knowing and being known by God. We live in a world that denies absolute truth, and yet God’s Word offers just that. As we create an environment that upholds and displays God’s truth, we give children a foundation based on knowing God, His Word, and a relationship with Him through Christ. God is holy, mighty, and awesome, yet He has chosen to make Himself known to us!

An Awakening for Today’s Families BY MICHELLE ANTHONY

“God knows me, and I can know Him.” 10. Modeling—Biblical content needs a practical living expression in order for it to be spiritually impacting. This environment serves as a hands-on example of what it means for children to put their faith into action. Modeling puts flesh on faith and reminds us that others are watching to see if we live what we believe. “I see Christ in others, and they can see Him in me.”

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A Spiritual Parenting Resource is a magazine that gives families ideas for creating fun, spiritually forming times in their homes—setting as...