Page 1


D R O W S hecy ’ D O G 10 Predictive Prop IP H S R O he Stars 20 W t Follow ld L he Wor t d A n u B LOas Traditions Aro 24 G Christm CONTENTS Game Time




Environment KNOWING




Tot Time Rhyme


2013 Contributors




Tough Topics


Editor’s Note




The Middle


How to Use Family Time and the Family Verse




Capturing the Season

21 Blessing




God’s Word


Kids in the Kitchen


Family Time Recipe


31 Truths

Flannelgraph Christmas

Predictive Prophecy

Christmas Pizza

2013 Memory Ornaments Praying Hands Mana’s Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Oreos

Taking Action




Free Wheelchair Mission Christmas Traditions Around the World

Get Up

A Good God

Capital “T” Truth


Follow the Stars


Christmas Tree Cookie Cones


Do You Know What I Know?




Spiritual Parenting


Spiritual Grandparenting

Knowing Forgiveness Inbox w/Michelle Anthony

No Shadow of Turning


33 10 Environments

The Everyday Parent Blog


Resource Page


Resource Page

Rose and Thorn

Conversation Starters Getting to Know You



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.

Nothing is more important in our spiritual lives 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 of knowing God, studying His Word, and cultivating a relationship with Him through Christ. Just as the environment of KNOWING describes, we live in a world that denies and dismisses the existence of absolute truth. What a tragedy! We face an urgency to pass on the truth of God and His Word to the next generation. As we learn God’s truth, we open up to knowing God Himself and entering into relationship with Him. As we create space that allows our families to study God’s Word, we’ll develop a hunger and thirst to know Him more.

Michelle Anthony Family Ministry Architect David C Cook

Follow Michelle: @TruInspiration

2013 CONTRIBUTORS Dawn Heckert – Overland Park, KS • Erika Abdelatif – Fullerton, CA • Rae Lynn Lott – Orange, CA Heather Kasparian – Tustin, CA • Dave Terrell – Costa Mesa, CA • Justin Fox – Richmond, VA Rebekah Pogue – Huntington Beach, CA • Bryan Pogue – Huntington Beach, CA Roger Tirabassi – Newport Beach, CA • Richelle Paris – Mission Viejo, CA Tommy Larson – Newport Coast, CA • Stacy Igarashi – Costa Mesa, CA • Alyson Crockett – Anaheim, CA Dave Tosti – Laguna Beach, CA • David Sorensen – Costa Mesa, CA • Joel Stanton – Costa Mesa, CA Kyle Steven Bonenberger – Anaheim, CA • Amanda Hunt – Mission Viejo, CA Jennifer Cho Salaff – Cleveland, OH • Ali Bray – Newport Beach, CA • Nick Benoit - Orange, CA Julie Carson – Mission Viejo, CA • Courtney Wilson – Chicago, IL • Carrie Rowe – Kalispell, MT Michelle Anthony – Irvine, CA • Daniel Bruda - Cluj, Romania • Jessica Endress - Jacksonville, FL Karen Yates – Tustin, CA • Marcus Little – Orange, CA • Eileen Reid – Clackamas, OR Joanna Waterfall – Burbank, CA • Cheryl Chiapperino - Colorado Springs, CO Jennifer Shepherd - Colorado Springs, CO • Jeff Carter – Irvine, CA • Sarah Markley – Irvine, CA Kit Rae- Fullerton, CA • Megan Marshman – Long Beach, CA • Ric Olsen – Orange, CA Sarah Reeve – Costa Mesa, CA • Kelli Coltman – Newport Coast, CA • Sophia Brand – Orange, CA Emily Van Herk – Huntington Beach, CA • Roxanna Grimes – Fountain Valley, CA Amy Palmerton - Howell, MI • Alissa Goble – Aurora, CO • Laura Weber – Costa Mesa, CA Emily Ganzfried – Littleton, CO • Rick Crockett – Buena Park, CA • Cate Jenks – Kansas City, KS Jeff Bachman – Irvine, CA • Traci Carpenter – Costa Mesa, CA • Matt Barnes – Irvine, CA Jeff Fernandez – Costa Mesa, CA • Crystal Lewis – Whitefish, MT • Tori Funkhouser – Boulder, CO Kailyn Paris – Mission Viejo, CA • Brady Clark – Georgetown, TX • Michael Anthony – Irvine, CA

Design, Layout, and Photography by Brad Claypool (



EDITOR’S NOTE KNOWING seemed to be the perfect environment to marry with Christmas. We come to know so much about the character of God through the narrative of the Christmas story. Recognizing how much God loves us and that He was willing to send His Son to be our Savior is foundational to our faith. This month’s GOD’S WORD (pages 10–11) lists Old Testament prophecies that predicted the arrival of the promised Redeemer. TAKING ACTION (pages 22–23) highlights Free Wheelchair Mission—a cause that’s near and dear to my heart. The gift of mobility not only changes the life of the recipient but also the lives of those who live in community with that person—and all for just $71.88! Our staff played the GAME TIME game (page 16) together. We cried with laughter as we recognized that one of us, who shall remain nameless, thought the lyrics to “Away in a Manger” described a “round, young virgin.” You’ll have a blast as you discover how your family members may have remembered the lyrics of their favorite Christmas carols.

Debbie Guinn

Senior Managing Editor David C Cook

Loving HomeFront? This Spiritual Parenting resource can be sent directly to your inbox for FREE every month! Subscribe today at:

Let’s be social! HomeFrontSP



This issue is filled with new traditions and ideas for keeping the focus on Jesus during this busy season. Our goal is to give you plenty of options so you can choose one or two that best suit your family. I know I will be introducing the WORSHIP idea (page 20) to my grandchildren this year. I love the thought of waking up Christmas morning to a trail of stars that leads straight to baby Jesus—the true focus of this holiday. Because our year is coming to an end, we’ve assembled a list of HomeFront’s 2013 CONTRIBUTORS (page 3). I was honored and humbled by the opportunity to work alongside these amazing people—each one lives with a huge passion for families. I think I can speak for all of us by saying that we’re looking forward to all that 2014 will bring as we help you continue to create environments in your home that put your children in the path of the Divine!






y as s a e s a It’s



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 listen to 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 the verse to memory.


Start by deciding on a day and a time that work 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.


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.


Remember to have fun! Strive to make each gathering unique to your own family as you enjoy spending time with God and one another.

Family Time ideas! 5


family time

c a p t u r i n g t h e s e as o n



family time

c a p t u r i n g t h e s e as o n Christmas is the perfect season to focus on knowing truths about God. Everywhere we go, we’re surrounded by carols proclaiming the truth that God sent us His one and only Son to be our Savior. However, we know this isn’t the norm. We recognize we’re raising our children in a world that, for the rest of the year, denies this absolute truth. Knowing who God is and believing His Word are essential to our faith. Enjoy this 31 Truths garland as a way to reinforce these truths in your family. WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

» 31 small envelopes » Number stamps » Stamp pad » Ribbon or twine » Clothespins or hole punch » 31 small strips of paper » Pens or markers


» God heals » God is with us » God changes hearts » God is our King » God is holy » God’s love is perfect » God’s Spirit unifies us » God shows us the path to life » God uses unlikely people » God never leaves His people » God cares for me » God calls us to join with Him » God rejoices when the lost are found » God is faithful » God is mighty to save » God works everything for our good » God knows what we need » God’s love gives us strength » God is our Father » God created us to worship Him » God honors our service » God keeps his Word » God is in control » God calls us to a greater purpose » God loves me, and I belong to Him » God made our world » God prepares the way » God blesses us through others » God is trustworthy » God deserves the glory » God is just

WHAT YOU’LL DO: Write the God Statements on small strips of paper. Place each strip in an envelope and seal. Stamp the envelopes, numbering them 1 through 31. Punch holes in the top corners of each envelope and thread the ribbon or twine through to create a garland. (Alternatively, use clothespins to clip the envelopes to the ribbon.) Hang the garland in a prominent place in your home. Designate a time each day during the month of December to gather your family and open the envelope that corresponds with the calendar date. After reading the God Statement, encourage your family members to share how they know the statement about God is true. by Debbie Guinn



h p a r g l e n n a S l A F M IST CHR

If you grew up in Sunday school, you may remember hearing Bible stories told with flannelgraphs. This month, create your own flannelgraph board to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. First, wrap one side of the foam core board with the black flannel. (You may choose to frame the board with the optional frame.) Then cut out the nativity cutouts using colored flannel or glittery paper. Finally, follow the directions and use the cutouts to illustrate the story as you share it with your children.


» Foam core board (approx. 1 ft. x 1.5 ft) »B  lack flannel (cut to the size of the board with enough to wrap around the sides)

»N  ativity cutouts (pages 34–35) »C  olored flannel or glittery paper (enough to cut out each nativity piece)

»O  ptional: frame (to go around foam core board)



family time

sto ry t e l l i n g (Start with the black background.) In the beginning, after Adam and Eve chose to sin, God promised that one day He would send a Redeemer. The Redeemer would save His people from their sins and would restore the relationship between God and man. God’s people knew that God always keeps His promises, and they began to wait for this promised Redeemer to arrive. As they waited, thousands of years passed. One day, a young girl named Mary (place Mary cutout on board), who lived in the small town of Nazareth, experienced something amazing. An angel appeared to her! (Place angel cutout on board.) Mary was very frightened, but the angel told Mary not to be afraid. He told her she would have a baby boy. Mary was confused and asked the angel how this could happen since she had never been married. The angel explained that God had chosen her to carry this special baby. Mary was engaged to a young man named Joseph. (Place Joseph cutout.) Joseph was confused by what was happening to Mary, and he didn’t know what to do. One night, while Joseph was sleeping, an angel appeared to him in a dream. (Move angel cutout.) The angel told Joseph that Mary had been chosen by God to give birth to the promised Redeemer. Joseph and Mary would be Jesus’ earthly parents! Toward the end of Mary’s pregnancy, when her belly was big and the baby was close to arriving, Joseph received word that they needed to go to Bethlehem. Bethlehem was far away, and Joseph and Mary were probably very tired when they arrived. Mary knew that the baby would be coming soon, but because there were so many people in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph couldn’t find a room to stay in. So they stayed with the animals! (Place animals.) There, among the animals, Mary gave birth to Jesus. (Place baby Jesus.) Meanwhile, some shepherds were watching over their flocks of sheep. (Place shepherds.) Again, an angel appeared. (Move angel.) The angel told them that the Redeemer had been born! Many other angels appeared and sang praises to God to celebrate the baby’s arrival. The shepherds decided to go to Bethlehem at once to see Jesus. A special star had also appeared in the sky. (Place star.) A group of wise men knew this star meant that the Messiah had been born. They also knew that if they followed this star, they would find Jesus. These men traveled to Bethlehem. (Place wise men.) When they found Jesus, they worshipped Him and gave Him gifts. The men knew that God had kept His promise to send a Savior to restore the relationship between God and men. We too can have a restored relationship with Jesus. And just like the wise men, we can know Him and celebrate His birth. by Alyson Crockett



“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4). These words from the apostle Paul proclaim one of the great assurances of the Christian faith: that the birth of Christ was no accident or emergency response scenario by a God surprised by sinful humanity’s rebellion against His rule. Rather, it was the deliberate act of a loving Father and a sovereign King, conceived in eternity past and carried out in finite time. At a particular time. At the right time. God had lined up the political, economic, social, religious, and even logistical conditions of the Roman world to be perfect for initiating the pivotal aspect of His redemptive plan. And since “the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7), we shouldn’t be surprised that He announced this event far in advance.

e v i t c i d e r P CY E H P PRO

us Little by Marc



family time

g o d ’ s wo r d The New Testament actually insists that unless Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, our faith is useless. Indeed, some 20 times the authors of the New Testament used the phrase “to fulfill the Scriptures” or an equivalent phrase to prove that Jesus is the promised Messiah sent to rescue humanity from sin and judgment. Predictive prophecy, the foretelling of events according to the plan of God, is one of the greatest assurances we have that our faith is rational and sound. Consider some of these specifics about Jesus’ birth, life, and death—given in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament: • He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6) • He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23) • He would be of the tribe of David (Genesis 49:10; Matthew 1:1–16) • He would come out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15) • He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Jeremiah 19:1–13; Zechariah 11:11–13; Matthew 27:9) • He would die among criminals (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:32–33) • He would be pierced, but His bones would remain intact (Psalm 34:20; Zechariah 12:10; John 19:36–37) • His garments would be divided (Psalm 22:18; John 19:24) It’s clear God gave abundant evidence for His people to recognize their Messiah when He arrived. However, the teachers of Israel who knew the Old Testament prophets best still rejected the One described in these prophecies. Jesus said, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40). Each person has the opportunity to accept or reject the person of Christ as King. Each Christmas we have the opportunity once again to welcome Him as our Lord.

HEAR IT! One of the most moving prophecies concerning Christ’s person and ministry is found in Isaiah 52:13—53:12. It paints a beautiful picture of the cause and nature of Christ’s suffering 750 years before it occurred. Read this passage with your family and then compare it to one of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion (such as John 18—19). If you have younger children, use a children’s Bible for the crucifixion text in the interest of time and sensitivity. See how many similarities your family members see between the Isaiah prophecy and what Jesus experienced. Talk about how many times Isaiah indicated that it was “for us” that the Servant endured these things. Pray and thank God for planning this salvation from eternity past, even though He knew what it would cost Him and His Son.

DO IT! One of our cherished family traditions involves an Advent chain. My wife and I—and now our five-year-old son, Calvin—make the chain after Thanksgiving, using one construction paper link for each day of Advent, alternating red and green. On each link we write a name of Jesus. Many of the names come from Old Testament prophecies or have Old Testament imagery embedded in them. Some examples: Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Alpha and Omega, Lamb of God. (You can find these lists online, or your study Bible might have a chart.) We also write a Scripture reference for each name. We hang the chain by our dining room table, and each night after dinner, we read a verse and talk about the significance of that name of Jesus. We also always remind our kids that Jesus is coming back, and as the chain gets shorter, their anticipation of Christ’s arrival grows.



s i r h C

e e r T s a m t



S E CON h Pogue by Beka


family time

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

INGREDIENTS: 12 sugar cones 12 Tbsp. prepared cookie dough (any kind) 12 Tbsp. chocolate chips 8 oz. white frosting 8 oz. green frosting (add green food color to white frosting) + Ideas for toppings: • 1/2 c. shredded coconut • 1/2 c. chocolate candies • 1/2 c. chocolate chips • 1/2 c. white chocolate chips • 1/2 c. chewy fruit-flavored candies • 1/2 c. gumdrops or gummy candies • 1/2 c. candy sprinkles 12 long lollipop sticks Aluminum foil for an easy metric conversion chart, search the internet for “metric kitchen.”


1. If needed, lower the top rack in the oven so the sugar cones won’t be too close to the top. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place a tablespoon of dough in the bottom of each cone. The dough should rise and fill the cone about three-fourths full. Set the cones aside.

3. Tear off a piece of foil at least three inches wide for each cone. Squeeze each piece of foil into a tight “doughnut” shape, creating a hole in the middle for the tip of the cone. Place each foil doughnut at the bottom of a pan and insert a cone (pointy-side down). Squeeze the foil tightly around the cones so they stand up straight. If needed, add more

crumpled-up pieces of foil to prop up the cones. If you’re baking a few of the sugar cones at a time, a bread loaf pan works well; if you’re baking all 12 of the sugar cones at one time, a large pan with a similar depth, such as a roaster pan, will be needed.

4. Bake the cones in a preheated oven for about 18 minutes or until the cookie dough is done. Keep a close eye on the cones to make sure the tops don’t burn.

5. Remove the cookie cones from the oven,

6. Insert a lollipop stick into the center of each cone and poke it through the chocolate chips and the cookie. Let the cookie cones cool completely in the baking pan.

7. Place the candy toppings in individual bowls. Hold each cookie cone upside down by the stick, and use the back of a spoon to spread frosting on the cone. Make sure it’s thick enough for the candy toppings to stick. Then immediately add the toppings to the frosting.

but leave them in the baking pan. While they’re still hot, add chocolate chips on top of the baked cookie dough, filling the cone all the way to the top.



family time

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

s a m t s Chri


ake it u can m as o y , a z own piz . This Christm te your a e r want c ss by u yo ver you y in the proce e w When o h e and d taste e famil s to us g in look an lude the entir p p what to , inc decide season o t reate. m e g th like to c ld u o allowin w ey apes th what sh vone elina Pa by Ang

INGREDIENTS: • Pre-made pizza dough • Olive oil • 3 /4 to 1 c. marinara or pizza sauce (make your own by pureeing crushed or diced tomatoes in a food processor) • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese • Flour (to dust countertop) • Your family’s favorite pizza toppings (pepperoni, pineapple, ham, onions, black olives, green peppers, mushrooms, etc.) for an easy metric conversion chart, search the internet for “metric kitchen.”

DIRECTIONS: 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. Follow directions on the pre-made pizza dough for thawing or warming to room temperature. Prepare a clean work surface and lightly dust with flour. Roll out the dough and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Form into desired Christmas shape. 3. Spread the pizza sauce, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese, and follow with toppings of your choice to create a Christmas design. 4. Place pizza on center or top rack of pre-heated oven. Check pizza after 15 minutes and rotate if necessary. Bake for a total of 20–25 minutes or until edges are browned and cheese is bubbling. 14


family time

co n v e r sat i o n sta r t e r s

g n i t t e g

W O N K TO u yo

During mealtime, invite everyone at the table to write down or draw two truths about herself on a small piece of paper or sticky note. She might note her favorite food, favorite television show or song, a prized possession, a dream for the future, etc. (Adults can read and write for the young children.) Fold the papers, put them in a bowl, and mix them up. Beginning with the youngest family member, allow each person to take a paper and read it aloud (or describe the picture). The rest of the family gets to try to guess which family member wrote (or drew) the note. Continue until you’ve gone through all of the papers in the bowl. GET YOUR CHILDREN TALKING After everyone has had an opportunity to learn two things about each family member, ask your children, “What do you know to be true about God?” Encourage them to take time to explain how they know those truths about God. Remind them that just like we can get to know more about each other, we can get to know more about God by reading His Word. by Debbie Guinn



family time

game time

w o n k u o y

? W O do N K I T A WH L AY ALL P

This game is fun for the whole family. In fact, you may want to invite your extended family to play during your holiday celebrations!


On small pieces of paper or sticky notes, write down titles of Christmas carols your children will know. Fold up the papers and put them in a hat or bowl. Then gather everyone into a circle.


TIME TO PLAY! Choose someone to pick a Christmas carol from the hat and read the title aloud. Going clockwise, each individual will take a turn saying one word from the lyrics. When a person can’t come up with the next word, he’s out, and the game continues with the remaining family members until you’re down to one person— the winner.

To make this easier, you might print or write the lyrics to each carol so you can check the words. Or, keep a smartphone handy to let you double-check the lyrics online. Sometimes it’s hard to know all of the words to a song or a carol, even when you have a lot of people playing the game. But it’s never hard for God to know us. He loves every single one of us and knows us by name! He knows everything about us—from the number of hairs on our heads to the things that scare us the most. And God wants us to know Him! by Heather Kasparian



family time

c r e at e


s a family, spend some time reflecting on the past year. Share with each other the moments that were the most impactful, both good times and difficult times. What people did you meet? What did you learn? How did you serve? What moments made you roll on the floor laughing? What situations caused you to cry? Choose a few of these memories to capture inside each family member’s ornament. Print or draw small pictures to capture those memories. Also, write any words to remind you of the ups and downs of this year. Then put these pictures and words, along with any small mementos, inside each ornament.


» 1 clear, acrylic, fillable ornament for each family member

»F  amily photos printed small enough to fit inside

Reflect on the fact that God knows your family intimately and has been with you throughout the whole year. Ask, “How does it make you feel to know God has been with us through all of the special moments as well as the painful moments?”

the ornament or other small mementos from the past year

»S  crapbook paper, markers, scissors, or other art supplies

Praise God for His faithfulness in the past year, and then pray for the year ahead. Ask God to continue to reveal Himself to your family so you will come to know Him even more in this next year and will see His gracious hand in every circumstance.

Create is a time to engage your family in a collaborative response to hearing God’s Word.

by Emily Ganzfried



family time

p r ay e r

She walks up to me, hands me a worksheet, and groans: “Mom, can you quiz me on this week’s Bible verse?” “It’s a really long one,” she says. “I have to say the last four weeks of verses all together. I’ll never be able to remember it.” I take the note and see she’s charged with memorizing the first 10 verses of the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5: 1–10. She’s eight years old. “Blessed are the

g n i y pra S D N HA

poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Does she even know what that means? I look in her face, examine those brown eyes wanting to get a good grade, admire the purple braces on those front teeth. She’s so innocent, my little girl, and time is passing by so quickly. Frankly, I couldn’t care less about her grades. Of course I want her to succeed in school, but I’m well aware that her third-grade marks will mean virtually nothing when she’s applying for colleges, active in her career, and caring for her children. Like many parents, what I care about most is her heart—her soul—her spiritual character. I want a love of God and a love for His Word to implant themselves within her little heart. I want her to know God’s promises, not just recite them like the Pledge of Allegiance. I want her to know she is dearly loved, treasured, as she is, by her Maker. I want her to know that God’s love has nothing to do with her performance, how much she knows about Him, how well she memorizes verses, or how much she does for Him. It has everything to do with God Himself! The reality is, I cannot make her grow any more than I can make a bird fly. Oh, sure, I can recite these verses over and over with her. We can take away words and notice patterns and embed the verse into her short-term memory. But I have no control over the roots this seed will grow.

PRAYER ACTIVITY One of the ways we can know God, and not just know about God, is

Yet I can water it after it’s been planted. I can feed the soil. I can set the seed

through prayer. This month, create

in an environment that encourages growth, protected from some of the elements

a tangible way for your family

that could kill it. And I can pray over it—words of blessing, intercession, and

members to know you’re praying


for one another. Have each family

I invite my daughter to snuggle beside me. We read together: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” We discuss what Jesus meant. How can you hunger for something that isn’t food? What is righteousness anyway? I do what I can to water the seed. And I pray it is a memory she will carry with her—that time she sat with her mom on the green sofa, giggling, embracing, and reciting the Beatitudes.

member trace her hand on a piece of construction paper, cut it out, and write her name on it. Then, on each finger, have her write a way the rest of your family can pray for her this month. (Parents, you will have to assist your smaller children.) Place the hands on your refrigerator or

by Karen E. Yates

bathroom mirror to serve as daily reminders of how specifically to pray for each other.



family time

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

Since our oldest was two, he and his “Mana” have shared a special tradition of spending a December day baking and decorating Christmas cookies. Every year it’s a different recipe, and every year both of our sons anticipate loading up the car, and heading to spend a day in grandma’s kitchen. With Christmas music playing and a crackling fire in the fireplace, it’s a quality-time event that bonds our sons to their Grandma. At the same time, it ushers in the reason we celebrate Christmas—knowing and worshipping Jesus. Our boys grab their step stools and put on their kid aprons, and side by side with Mana they get to work. Mana’s skilled hands wrap the boys’ little ones as they mix, stir, bake, frost, and decorate. While the boys help, they talk about Christmas and the reason we honor Jesus’ birthday. “He knows you inside and out. He knows every curly hair on your head,” Mana tells Tanner and Ty. “And He was born a baby just like you were!” They giggle and lick chocolate and sample crumbs. Smells of peppermint fill the kitchen, and, as a family, we create memories


surrounding the gift of celebrating a Savior who knows


treats ready to share with neighbors and friends. A

» 1 bag Oreo cookies » 16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips » 1 doz. peppermint candy canes

tradition of Christmas baking turns outward as we give


who knows us inside and out.

» Wax paper » 2 gallon-sized plastic bags » Rolling pin » Large bowl

by Bekah Pogue

us personally. As the sun sinks, we drive home, bellies full of delicious

away sweet reminders of the holiday season and the One


1. Double-bag two gallon-sized plastic bags and place three or four unwrapped candy canes inside. Make sure to squeeze all of the air out of the bag. Have each child use the rolling pin to crunch, break, and roll the candy canes into tiny pieces. Pour the peppermint pieces into a large bowl and set aside.

2. Pour all of the chocolate chips into a large glass bowl. Melt in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Melt another 30 seconds or until the chocolate is smooth when stirred.

3. Place wax paper under the bowl of melted chocolate. Have each child take an Oreo, dip half of it into the melted chocolate, and then dip that half into the peppermint pieces.

4. Place the dipped Oreos on a large platter covered with wax paper and refrigerate overnight before serving. 19


family time

wo r s h i p

w o l l S o f R A ST THE

Consider creating a starry path for your family to follow on Christmas morning. Spend time worshipping God together for the great gift of His Son.


»G  low-in-the-dark stars (enough to create a path from your children’s rooms to the Christmas tree)

» Bible »N  ativity set that includes Mary, Joseph, a donkey, other animals, an angel, a shepherd, the wise men, and baby Jesus

» Angel food cake with 3 candles

ON CHRISTMAS EVE, once all four

still excited, because this tradition defines

the wise men followed a star to find Jesus.

of our kids are in bed, my husband and I

the season for them.

Second, Jesus is the Light of the World.

make a trail of plastic glow-in-the-dark stars

At the first stop they find Mary, Joseph,

And, third, we’re to be a light for others, to help them find Jesus.

that travels throughout our house. We start

and a donkey. Here we read Luke 2:1–5

at their bedroom doors, loop through the

and then carefully follow the stars to the

kitchen and bathrooms, go down and up

next stop—just as the wise men followed

singing a song. Some years it’s been “Happy

the stairs, and end near our Christmas tree.

the stars in The Big God Story. At the next

Birthday” to Jesus; others it’s been “Silent

Along the starry path, we place different

stop they find the animals, and we read

Night” or “Away in a Manger.” Then we blow

pieces of our nativity set, in the order they

Luke 2:6–7. Picking up all of the figurines,

out the candles and eat the cake. We get

appear in the Christmas story. We end with

they move along the trail, stopping to pick

to the presents eventually. But, before we

baby Jesus. At the end of the trail we also

up the angel and the shepherds, where we

do that, we savor knowing that we serve a

have an angel food cake with three candles

read Luke 2:8–20. At the fourth stop on the

loving God who knows us intimately and

on top—each with its own special meaning.

trail, we fast-forward just a bit and pick up

wants us to know Him—so completely that

At the first early morning rustlings we

the wise men, reading Matthew 2:1–2, 9–11

He sent His Son that starry night.

hear, my husband and I jump out of bed,

before heading to our final destination by

usually to find four faces staring at the tiny

the Christmas tree.

figurines outside of their doorways. Eight little

No matter how many gifts are under the

eyes twinkle with anticipation about where

tree, all eyes stare in awe at the tiny baby

the starry trail will lead this year. Of course

Jesus figurine and the angel food cake

they know the story by now, since we’ve been

with three glowing candles. We light three

creating this trail for nine years, but they’re

candles to remember three things: First, 20

Then we worship God together by

by Courtney Wilson

We often think of worship as singing, but we can worship God in many different ways.


family time


A blessing can be a prayer of commission, a Bible passage, or words of encouragement. Blessings can be spoken over a child for the purpose of declaring God’s protection, joy, and wisdom over him.

BLESS Open your Bible and read Deuteronomy 7:9 over your children:

As parents, it’s an honor and a privilege to read Scripture and pray blessings over our children. This month, as you begin to bless your children, be reminded that God wants you to grasp these same truths and to know Him in new ways.

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”

by Carrie Rowe

PRAY Then pray this blessing over your kids: Heavenly Father, I pray (children’s names) would grow to know You, love You, and keep Your commandments all the days of their lives. I pray they would know that You are God, the One who created the heavens and earth, and that You love them very much and want the best for their lives. Help them to trust You and know that You are faithful and You always keep Your promises.



family time

ta k i n g ac t i o n

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God. —Bob Pierce (founder of World Vision)



family time

ta k i n g ac t i o n YEARS AGO, DON AND LAURIE SCHOENDORFER WERE VACATIONING IN MOROCCO when they witnessed the plight of a disabled woman struggling to drag herself across a dirt road. Ignored by the crowds and barely evading traffic, the woman’s hardship was something the couple couldn’t forget upon their return to life in southern California. 

 A mechanical engineer and inventor by trade, Don held a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, worked in the biomedical field, and was responsible for more than 50 United States patents. After his experience in Morocco, Don began researching the global dilemma of disability in developing countries and, soon thereafter, started tinkering in the basement; developed a durable, safe, inexpensive wheelchair; and eventually walked away from a successful career to found the nonprofit organization Free Wheelchair Mission. In developing the wheelchair, Don’s goal was to create a basic design at an extremely low cost in order to reach the highest number of disabled impoverished people in the shortest possible amount of time. Rather than starting with custom-made components, Don put together a wheelchair using elements already in existence, ingredients currently being manufactured, and parts already being produced, all preferably in high volume. Using this approach, Don generated an extraordinarily low-cost wheelchair.
Especially designed for use in the rugged terrain of rural and under-resourced areas, the FWM wheelchair combines the durability of a resin lawn chair with the strength of a custom steel frame, all tucked into a sturdy pair of mountain bike tires. A recent academic study has shown the wheelchair to be safe and beneficial to users as it provides both mobility and improved health and quality of life. Each FWM wheelchair costs just $71.88 to manufacture and deliver to some of the most remote corners of the globe, and it’s provided at absolutely no cost to the recipient. The FWM wheelchair is manufactured in China for maximum economy, packed in bulk in 40-foot ocean-going containers, and shipped directly to the designated receiving country for highest efficiency. An estimated 100 million people around in the world today need a wheelchair but don’t have the means to get one. FWM is changing that statistic. This year, it distributed its 700,000th free wheelchair! Become a part of this story and transform a life this Christmas by giving the gift of mobility. The Christmas card program at FWM allows for a gift of a wheelchair to be purchased for just $71.88 and given on behalf of a loved one. This would be a great family project. Choose from one of three beautiful cards, and for each card purchased, a wheelchair goes to a disabled person in need. The recipient of the card gets to register the card online and choose a highlighted continent for the wheelchair to go to. The recipient also will receive emails throughout the process until the wheelchair finds its permanent home. For more information, visit



family time

g lo b a l ( s p e c i a l

s a m t Chris



s n o i t i Trad



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ey from ay journ -d er in e in n ilies gath t ary’s m M fa d t, n h a ig eph hn els. A ber Jos das. Eac herds and ang m a e s o m P e r s a s as shep hristian house to called L e, often exico, C bration go from m le y M u e e t and c h s In T a : o c ” h O a party elter. m wit e ess in h r r e s e d MEXIC h g h n le T in e . r th k ight, ouse “see to Be e. Child d final n ssional e final h n e a th c Nazareth eighbor’s hom o h th r c p a in re ndle-lit nt n er the n til they a differe oup forms a ca ilies. Aft ers,” un m p e fa e e k n th r in l it eg ged as “ a specia ata, awa dusk, th er. osts sta emains ped piñ h r th a e s h h g a s it rto w tm , s ta s ris n as house ature a dia, Ch night M le, India which fe d a mid low in In eadily availab n r cally in e e tt ifi th a c a e r y a feast, lly, sp on is en’t r r a ti itionall a n s d la s a io u e it tr p e d o s r np mbolize as t . Ad familie Christia Since Christm instead . This sy e e fs e o th r o t r e il o t a . g Wh or man elievers e their fl INDIA: r local b banana ps abov fo a m e n la t o a y ti r la a o celebr urning c ften dec ght oil-b ns will o li ia . s t n is a r ti h C hris e World India, C ight of th n L r e e th th u so us is that Jes the truth

n istmas o ate Chr r b Christ. le f e o c birth they r, e a th d f n o le like ca tion nt worn rthodox anticipa e O m in r e y a th a g d e ite ir us s fast all ight wh iopians king the n familie a—a br use Eth th, brea ia a m ir c p b m e io a s B t’ h : th s is E r PIA as Eve, rate Ch s wear a ETHIO Christm hiopian ns celeb t n ia E and p O t . s io 7 o th y m of David Day, ard, E mes. Januar e a s w g r a m e s o m ft a t h A is l a s. istm n Chr in the historic ise Mas nal Chr Then, o nt cities and the d a sunr lenty of traditio ta n s r o u te rate s t p e a J ost im o celeb t ce of m r la e a a toga to rge feast and p p e th y th f ir h l a la is one o is the b em eac essiona fast with Bethleh lem and r a proc thlehem a o e fo s t B u r l r : e e e v J M th a e f a tr g o EHE —a plac s south tourists e world BETHL as born over th es and six mile w iv ll ‘s s t a a It u s . N m y e . o J il y fr his fam elieved Nativit People h of the ere it’s b f Israel. c h r o w u y , h r to C t to ro his at the to the g as Eve d down n a Christm h c r the chu through er star. by a silv marked



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.




t h e e v e ry day pa r e n t b lo g




Rose and Thorn by Cate Jenks | December 2013 A few years ago our family started a tradition of asking a simple question at the table during dinner: “What’s your ‘Rose and Thorn’ for the day?” It gives each family member the opportunity to share something good and something bad that happened that day. From very early on, our kids have really enjoyed this question. They’ve never had a hard time finding answers and, even more recently, have started reminding us that it’s “Rose and Thorn” time.

Over the years we’ve really gotten to know each other through this ritual. We enjoy the tradition and all of the great conversation that comes from it. We know our kids’ friendship challenges in the classroom, what games they like to play at recess and with whom, and when they pass and move on to new levels in their math facts. We’re also fortunate enough as a family to be able to eat dinner together almost every night of the week, so we’ve had many opportunities to ask this question and have been able to develop some consistency with this time.

But just like most other kids their ages—7 to 10 years old—our kids can be quick to share yet slow to listen to the others at the table. Lately I feel like I look around the table and see a child lying on his dining room chair with arms and legs dangling from the seat. Or one child will ask if she can be excused from the table right in the middle of another child sharing. It’s rare that a child will even notice if someone else hasn’t shared yet.

This begs the question: Am I like this in my own relationship with God? Am I quick to think about myself, or to talk first, or to just get up from the table when God is trying to talk? Or what about the days when I simply forget to ask Him a single question? Living in the environment of KNOWING tells me that nothing is more important in my spiritual life than knowing and being known by God. But, like in our family sharing time, sometimes there’s more “being known” than “knowing.”





t h e e v e ry day pa r e n t b lo g




As a parent, I’ve realized that the most important thing that I want my kids to know about me is how great my God is and what He’s done in and through my life. As I encourage them to think beyond themselves, I want them to look toward God, not me. If I personally don’t experience and get to know God, then I have nothing of Him to share. And if I don’t set the example for them of getting to know God, then how will they ever learn?

The successes of our table discussions remind me that it’s so important for us to have consistent time with God in His Word and for us to make sure we’re giving God His chance to share. After years of disappointment that our family wasn’t one that read the Bible together every night, we’ve just recently begun reading the Bible together most nights of the week. Just as our “Rose and Thorn” discussions have been such a valuable way for us all to get to know each other, our family Bible discussions have become a way to get to know God better and see that His Word is truth in the midst of all of our “Rose and Thorn” situations. Not only are we able to see what God says about Himself in His Word, but we can become better at asking Him the questions of life and thinking beyond ourselves.

So, at the dinner table, when I find myself making sure that each person has shared, or asking a child to sit up and pay attention, or encouraging my children to ask someone else to share first, I’ll remember that this applies to our relationship with God as well. My continued prayer for myself and my kids is that we’ll all be just as excited in life by knowing God as by being known by Him. And that’s a real “rose.”




tot t i m e r h y 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


at home sit


get up

(Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

get up

Have fun singing this rhyme to the tune of “Happy Birthday” as you wake your child each morning. It’s a great reminder that Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Listen here when viewing on!





to u g h to p i c s

the middle (6 t h


8 t h GRADE)

A Good God

Capital “T” Truth

We worship a God diametrically opposed to evil. If God is holy, good, and loving, why does He allow evil? Even thoughtful answers don’t always satisfy.

Middle school was one of the most challenging seasons of life for me. As I left elementary school, I no longer had the safety net of my childhood friends. I was introduced to a lot of other new students. As a result, I found myself exposed to plenty of new ideas, new opinions, and new ways of living. As I struggled to determine my own identity, I found myself overwhelmed by new possibilities. I constantly felt insecure in my own views and grappled to adopt anything that looked appealing.

So how can we make sense of Herod’s massacre of innocent babies as part of the Christmas story? As you talk with your child about the existence of evil, it’s okay to admit you don’t have it all figured out. Understanding the character of God helps. In Matthew 13, Jesus reveals God’s heart in the parable of the wheat and the weeds. This story shows that it’s the enemy, not our Lord, who brings evil into this world.

In hindsight, I realize that was a symptom of the lack of a secure faith background. I wasn’t raised in the church and didn’t know God. I often wonder how that life stage would have been different had I known I was known by God. Would I have made the same choices if I’d known I could have leaned into a capital “T” truth?

God waits to administer justice so good is given a chance to mature. The Lord will destroy evil when He is ready.

In a time when children are being bombarded with new perspectives, knowing the truth of God’s Word offers stability. It frees them from the temptation to be swayed by every new fad or philosophy, to stand firmly on the foundation of God. The beauty of God’s Word is that it doesn’t promise to provide the answers 100 percent of the time, but it offers our children a common foundation by which they can better understand the world. This isn’t just helpful for kids; it’s tremendously comforting in the midst of confusion for parents as well.

It also helps to remember that Jesus is called the “Suffering Servant” even as He defeats evil. Suffering deepens our friendship with Him. God truly cares when we hurt. Psalm 56:8 says He stores and counts our tears. We can make a difference in this evil world by extending God’s love, mercy, and justice to hurting people around us.

Middle school offers the perfect opportunity to challenge your child to grow deeper in her understanding of who God is. If you notice your child growing overwhelmed or being swayed by false thinking, encourage her to dive into God’s Word. Resist the temptation to give her the answers. It’s crucial that she begin to investigate Scripture for herself. Instead, challenge your child to seek out what God’s Word says. You’ll find many helpful commentaries and devotions online for a variety of topics. Encourage your kids to pray and listen for God’s guidance as they search through His Word for themselves. Then continue to follow up with them regularly, and check in to see how God is revealing Himself. by Erika Abdelatif




m a r r i ag e

g n i w o S S n E k I V EN


As adults, most of us have grown uncomfortable and out of practice with saying, “I forgive you.” Sure, we teach this phrase to our children when one child hits his sibling or takes her toy, but as adults we have a tendency to water it down. When someone comes to us with an apology, instead of replying with a simple yet powerful “I forgive you,” we replace it with phrases such as “It’s okay” or “No harm, no foul.” For some reason those phrases feel easier. But those words lose the power of granting forgiveness to another person or asking for it when we’ve wronged someone. These words lose the authority that comes with modeling the most important thing Christ has done for each of us: He’s forgiven us. Lately I’ve experienced both sides of this exchange in granting and asking for forgiveness. It’s rare that my husband and I argue, but when we do, it tends to be a fairly big deal. In this most recent instance, during a time of reflection after the argument, my husband came to me with a very heartfelt apology. I could have shrugged him off and said that it was fine or that it didn’t matter or that I was over it or any number of platitudes. But what took the power and sting out of the situation was saying, “I forgive you.” I could feel my hurt, anger, and the tight grasp I had on the situation lift. I was still hurt, sure, but I had no hold over my husband (and the enemy had no hold on my heart) any longer, and we could process the rest together in unity. I also saw my husband relax since he knew he’d received forgiveness. We were then able to communicate the situation to full reconciliation. Using stand-in phrases instead of the actual word forgive has a tendency to shut the conversation down, and then you each go your separate ways to nurse your hurting hearts. Granting forgiveness opens further dialogue without the spark that ignited the argument in the first place. It opens up conversation without anger. Forgiveness can be granted with hurt, but it’s hard to grant it truthfully and still hold on to anger. Our act of forgiveness should model that of the Lord’s forgiveness of us. His forgiveness is complete and all-encompassing when we ask Him for it. In Luke, we see Jesus grant forgiveness to the paralyzed man whose friends lowered him down through a roof and to a sinful woman who wept at His feet as she poured perfume on them. In both of these instances, Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20; 7:48). Jesus doesn’t brush us off or use simple platitudes; He forgives us in a way that brings truth, freedom, and reconciliation. We should strive to do the same, and the words we choose matter! The closer we get to God and the more we know His deep love and forgiveness for us, the easier it will be for us to forgive others in our lives. As we’re connected to His heart with deep authenticity, forgiveness will become the natural state of our heart in conflict. Also, our children will see us modeling what we’re communicating to them, and they’ll come to know that forgiveness reflects the heart of God. True forgiveness is infectious; when we live in daily realization of God’s forgiveness of us, we’ll pass that along when we experience conflict ourselves.

This month, take time to ask your spouse if you have any unresolved issues between you that got brushed to the side when they needed true forgiveness. Choose to grant forgiveness in an area you know you have dodged in the past. Talk to one another about saying, “I forgive you” in the face of conflict instead of using a “stand-in” phrase. If you already use those words in your reconciliation, talk about how you feel when you hear them after giving an apology.

by Alissa Gobel




s p i r i t ua l pa r e n t i n g

/ w x o b n I E L L E


I’m a new Christian and don’t know enough about God to feel comfortable teaching my children about Him. Where do I begin?



Moses addresses this in Deuteronomy 6, in what is known in Hebrew as the Shema. This is the first prayer children learn in a Jewish home and the words they hear every night at bedtime. God reveals through Moses that faith teaching occurs best in the natural daily flow of life—from the living examples of parents who are modeling it. In the Shema, Moses says: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4–9).


My son is asking me how he can know that God is real. He wants answers on how to discern God’s voice over his own thoughts. To be honest, this is even difficult for me as an adult. How would you explain this to a child?


I remember the time my daughter came running into the house and telling me that our neighbor had just told her he didn’t believe in God. She was crying, and through her sobs she whimpered that this neighbor had asked her why if God was real, why couldn’t she ever see Him or hear Him speak. He mocked her by saying, “Have you ever seen Him? Have you ever heard His voice?”

Moses commissions the parents to first be lovers of God with everything that is within them, and to then pass this very compelling faith down to their children in the everyday occurrences of life. This is the natural flow of our lives. How ridiculous would it be if, every morning, I said to my children, “Come, let me tell you about God,” and we had a formal Sunday school moment or something like it, but that was the only time I ever talked to them about God?

I was saddened that this doubt had been put in my daughter’s mind. But even more than that, for a moment I felt the responsibility of proving that God existed and that she could see Him and hear Him. But God gently reminded me that this was something He would be faithful to do and that it was my job merely to put my daughter in the environment where she would best be able to experience Him.

Rather, the Shema says learning to know God happens best in the natural flow of life. This means that teaching our children who God is doesn’t happen only in the environment of STORYTELLING, when we sit them down and say, “Now I will tell you the great mysteries of God.” We need to do that, but the natural flow of their lives offers the most fertile soil for knowing God personally. Every single opportunity, every single hour we’re given in a day, is an opportunity for our children to discover who God is.




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


w o d a h s o G



e idea where th itional e r u s n d e ey’re tra y not ev ts ether th I’m reall g . ily coun to N m d A fa n a y G , m e E t it a B h AR IT ipped cream is w does matter is th hout fail, they will E Y E H t E OF Tries are red and wh really matter; wha tmas morning, wit r it. R U S Y is TL oesn’t ry Chr stand fo trawber d why, d T EXAC ouldn’t cause s that eve I’M NO . Maybe it was be idea came from, anve come to know ons. None. They w a es a little ti om here the randchildren h ream. No varia es. It tak came fr u W e n . s ti r n lo o c ne of th my g as co ped c and now . It’s actually o n Christm ildren and now rries and whip a even g e d b n y ch Eve a be sy da dition u s y w a a a b tr M t tr . s tm a is it is h th th hr on o es wit idea for gs for C years ag ed waffl reakfast ew thin b n than 30 y w e be serv r e tr o n e m W e ha menus. tive wit sometim s be crea ay meal ve that d to lo li o t. e e the up ly s v h a te fa ’s reak mily on’t h perienc b x fa d e I r I absolu to u e g fe s o li w e in ew . ow com ges in more e off kn kness. N when it ve, the er chan ic t li v S u e . e o e n w c h t pressur r r c a o e n ge things th kfully, w iage. Div ever bra The lon e. Than e. Marr hange. from very few inner, but we n m m c a ti is h s e it e ift th w g th as d rfect stay filled ost of e tm is p m to is d n d r fe a n o li h e a t t r C a d un n by a th us, “Every goo gnize th uch we can co s.” olding o s we reco , h ll m s shadow t ’t e te ’r n n g e e 17 is r in 1: w e a s ift r e p e e h k d s li m th n l e a a k w .J fee As gr h hange li and kno dictable akes us lness, o es not c o ’s unpre ns of life f it all m o d o w h o o d w h d a y faithfu w d b h d , o T d ts G an s n h is a e a g t o li d a d ly re r to he goo ut what heaven ess”: “G lone—o Death. T child. B r of the aithfuln ld on” a a e F o They’re s h th y . a “ a h e w g F T to I n ve eat Is m the s cha since r o w s n fr o “G d r , d n don’t ha s o a w n h w o s. We ca hym le. S ose oming d ve for u sung th favorite e is stab lo e y H v is t I’ m a H f above, c .” t o th e e us is he e can tr of God ed in on turning with T bles. W mbedd r point f e ia te o r to Him. c is a t a w v t r u o p a o o d nce call sha are n ng ch e o o e n w r tr e s is n This co e e th e r h n w im O r; the n everears us mean? nt. In H y Fathe ility in a ow He h . Consta g” really b n le in God, m k a em b t n e r s a v s tu W o t hear th ne. unm shou dow of y never ever, is ve us alo er that a a w tmas n “no sha m o le is n h r r u a , h e o d m v in a t. Go ill ne ily’s C nce. Y e n w m ie v r ta e li fa s e H n o y p t t o x m e us inc uth tha just like allows see and n the tr w. And, dren to ys He is o il a n h s k c count o e d y H e n h to who and gra y see. T faithful children less, the is r e u d th o o e r G n fo o g n is vital Knowin od, but rld. This dfast G o a w te s g a in chang r faith in it. ent you m li p m ount on o c y can c e th , t s breakfa n bie Guin by Deb



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 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 His 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.”


8. Love/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.

An Awakening for Today’s Families


“God fills me with His love so I can give it away.”

9. Knowing—Nothing could be more important than knowing and being known by God. We live in a world that denies absolute truth, but 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, believing His Word, and cultivating a relationship with Him through Christ. God is holy, mighty, and awesome, yet He has chosen to make Himself known to us! “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.”



r e s o u r c e pag e








r e s o u r c e pag e

Cut these nativity pieces out to use for the Flannelgraph Christmas found in STORYTELLING (pages 8–9).










GOD’S WORD COMES ALIVE in the bestselling Action Bible with thousands of captivating illustrations and 215 action-packed Bible stories; The Action Bible New Testament with 67 New Testament stories; the 52-week Action Bible Devotional that pairs Bible stories with daring spiritual lessons; and The Action Bible Handbook with over 700 “whos,” “wheres,” and “whats” for every kid ready for a biblical adventure.

Available in print and digital editions everywhere books are sold 36


Dec 2013  

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