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Modeling Forgiveness

Follow the Leader














Follow the Leader


Tot Time


Editor’s Note


Family Time Recipe


Tough Topics


How to Use Family Time and the Family Verse


Kids in the Kitchen


The Middle


Capturing the Season


Conversation Starters


God’s Word










Spiritual Parenting





Spiritual Grandparenting


Game Time

The Everyday Parent


10 Environments




Vacation Jars

Paul Models Christ The Lord’s Prayer

Summer Camping

King Elephant



Worshipping in the Midst of Danger

Mini Deep-Dish Pizzas

Flowerpot Snack

Get Up

Delighting in Diversity

Lifelong Lessons


I Can … Can You? China

Modeling Love

Modeling through the Pain

Win-Win Inbox

Two-Way Street

Modeling Forgiveness 2


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.

Ephesians 5:1 (ESV) says “Be imitators of God, as beloved children.” We know that children love to imitate, so what do we as parents want them to imitate? As a parent, one of my deepest desires is for my kids to imitate God’s truth. The environment of MODELING, then, becomes an expression of that. We become living representatives of what that truth means. We are people who have experienced God’s love through Christ and God’s forgiveness in the model of Christ. Christ was and is our living example. The environment of MODELING serves as a hands-on example of what it means for all of us to put this faith into action. This month, as you model for your family what it looks like to live out a compelling and authentic faith, our prayer is that your view of God’s truth and love would be on display for others.

Michelle Anthony Family Ministry Architect David C Cook

Follow Michelle: @TruInspiration

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

When I was a little girl, my father had a problem with anger. He had been raised in a home where his dad left him, his brother, and his mom when he was only eight years old. In the early 1950s he was the only person in his community who didn’t have a dad. Added to this, his mother was often ill. He felt insecure and helpless. He and his little brother often went without, even though his mother worked several jobs to try to make ends meet. He heard her crying herself to sleep at night, and he cried too. Over time this hurt must have built up inside of him as an enormous amount of bitterness and anger. Without the tools of psychology and the resources we have available today, my father entered early adulthood and even fatherhood with a substantial amount of baggage. My dad, who was the most gentle, loving, and godly person I knew growing up, would also suddenly have enormous outbreaks of rage and anger. That was confusing for me as a little girl. He was a deacon in our church, and he was always pointing me to God. Always displaying who God was. He was constantly praying and immersing himself in God’s Word— but he also had these outbursts of anger. One night we were having dinner together as a family when all of a sudden my father became very angry at my mom. He picked up his bowl of chili and threw it across the room. It crashed against the wall and shattered, sending pottery and chili everywhere. I was terrified. I ran up to my bedroom crying and shut my door. It wasn’t long before my father came and found me lying on my bed. I was maybe six years old, and he quietly entered and sat beside me. He knelt by my bed and just wept. He told me how sorry he was, and then he looked at me and said, “Michelle, I did not reflect God by my actions just then. Will you forgive me? That’s not what Jesus would’ve done, and I’m sorry.” I threw my arms around his neck and said, “Yes, Daddy, of course I forgive you.”

Cover Illustration by M. Brady Clark ( Design, Layout, and Photography by Brad Claypool (



EDITOR’S NOTE “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

As parents, we’ve all experienced it—that dreaded moment when our child repeats an action that’s far from our finest moment. Mine came when my oldest daughter was three years old. We were at a family gathering, and she was brushing her dolly’s hair. Innocent enough, until she yanked the doll’s hair and with a very harsh voice yelled, “Hold still!” I wanted to crawl in a hole. Not exactly the behavior I wanted her to repeat.

Debbie Guinn

HomeFront Senior Managing Editor David C Cook

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I recently saw a Facebook post from a fairly new father. He said, “One of life’s greatest compliments is that my son copies everything I do. One of life’s greatest fears is that my son copies everything I do.” It’s true: What we do speaks louder than anything we might say to our children. This is why Paul says “Be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1 ESV). We have nothing to fear when we choose to follow the examples Christ modeled for us. He is perfect! In this issue of HomeFront, in the STORYTELLING section, you’ll read about a mom who modeled forgiveness to her son. Our PRAYER section features a model of a prayer that believers have prayed for centuries, and our GOD’S WORD section focuses on Paul becoming a spiritual father to the church in Corinth—a father who modeled Christ’s love and grace. We’re human. We’ll never do everything perfectly. But we can choose to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives and transform us into the models we desire to be for our children—models whose actions speak as loudly as their words.




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


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.



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 this verse to memory.

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.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:9)



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


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

VACATION JARS It’s very humbling to realize that the Lord has made my husband and me to be the primary role models for our children. I’m often overwhelmed when I think about how they’ll learn and carry on the behaviors we model for them in everyday life. I want to model joy, compassion, selflessness, and servanthood. I want my kids to learn love and respect—to give generously and to look to the Lord for every need. However, I realize I’m not perfect, and I fail daily. I recognize that I need God’s help in this adventure called parenting.


James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Although we’re responsible for our children, God promises to give us the wisdom and strength we need to raise

• Glass jar • Memorabilia from your trip: ticket stubs, shells, photos, brochures, maps, small souvenirs, menus, etc.

them. He is the perfect model for us. Seek Him daily. He will never let you down! Spending family time away is a great way to live in the environment of MODELING. Being out of our normal day-to-day lives allows for interesting conversations and creates unique ways to live out all that God has called us to. To remember these times, our family creates vacation jars instead of scrapbooks. We fill a jar with memorabilia from our trip and display the jar in our home to remind us of the fun we had together. Knowing before you leave on vacation that you will be creating one of these jars will help you and your children be on the lookout for interesting items to put in the jar when you get home. by Richelle Paris

• Sand or rocks (as a base to keep items in place)



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g o d ’ s wo r d

HEAR IT God used Paul’s words and life to model what it looked like to be a Christian. As the people of Corinth followed Paul’s example, they followed Christ. READ: For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 4:15–16 (ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)


PAUL MODELS CHRIST In the bustling and affluent port city of Corinth, a culture-laden melting pot rich in money and pagan influence, the good news of Jesus Christ had arrived! God used the apostle Paul, along with confidants Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos, to help a group of people discover the life-transforming gift of God’s amazing grace. Soon after their great newfound hope arrived, the people began meeting together regularly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and direction of Paul and his team. God had created something new and established His bride (the church) in this depraved and lost town. But as the church grew and started living out their newfound faith in their immoral surroundings, gradually—subtly—they began to conform to the culture and lifestyle of the world. Soon, the church in Corinth wasn’t representing Christ the way it should have. God knew that these first-generation Christians desperately needed a model. Someone who would walk before them and give them a real-life illustration of what it meant to love God and others. Paul, through his letters to the Corinthian church, would be that model. But Paul’s life hadn’t always been the best example. He had gone through a major transformation that enabled him to be a resource to the church of Corinth. Paul had once lived a life filled with sin; he’d been enslaved to the Law, and he’d persecuted Christians. But God’s life-giving forgiveness and love transformed Paul into one of His biggest advocates. Having once been a Pharisee ordering Christians to death, Paul now valued his salvation even more, pleading with people to follow Christ. Paul’s heart broke for the unbelieving, and he desired to tell anyone he could about the good news. Paul wasn’t interested in simply being another guide to the Corinthians. Paul saw himself as their spiritual father, a father they could look up to and follow in the midst of their culture and the world’s lifestyle. A father who would not only encourage them but also bring accountability and discipline to them at the same time. Paul knew that as he made every effort to love God with all of his heart, soul, and mind, he would be giving the people around him a tangible model of Christ. He understood that as he embraced more and more of Christ’s love and grace in his life, the people around him would be encouraged to do the same. 7

• Why do you think Paul asked the people to imitate him? • How does following someone who models Christ help you follow Christ? God used Paul in countless ways to show others who Christ was, in both his words and actions. The way that Paul lived his life helped others around him love Christ more.

HEAR IT It’s important to have models in our lives. They give us a path to follow. They show us tangible ways to live out our faith in Christ. As a family, ask one another about the models in your lives. Who are these models? What makes them models? What makes your family a model? As a family, write encouraging letters to the models in your life, thanking these people and families for how they’ve impacted you. Be specific. Let the people and families know exactly what has encouraged you and your family. Modeling is all about God using us to show others who He is. How does God want to use your family to be a model? Spend some time praying and asking Him to reveal to you how He wants to use your family to show Him to others. by Bryan Pogue


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p r ay e r


“This, then, is how you should pray: ESS ADDR E PRAIS NDER SURRE


To be completely honest, prayer often feels overwhelming to me. I tend to be a very “black and white” person who wants to know she’s doing things the right way. So when it comes to prayer, and especially prayer requests, I often feel lost. I constantly wonder what or whom to pray for, how long to pray, and how often I’m supposed to pray for each person or situation. I feel overwhelmed by the number of things I could be praying for and discouraged by my own apathy and the numbness I sometimes feel towards the suffering that surrounds me.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” Matthew 6:9–13 (NIV)

This month, set aside a time, maybe around the dinner table or before bed, to intentionally follow Jesus’ example of prayer and to model this for your children. Use this framework of address, praise, surrender, request, confession, forgiveness, and vision of a corrected path. Parents, you go first, modeling each element for your children and then letting them add their thoughts as you create this prayer together as a family.

Much of prayer is bringing our burdens to God and trusting Him to take care of them, yet ironically I feel burdened by the responsibility I have to pray, even though I know it’s a privilege and blessing to be able to do so.

Heavenly Father, (address)

My encouragement comes from Scripture, as I am reminded in Matthew 6 that God knows what we need before we ask Him and that Jesus hasn’t left us alone in this. Jesus modeled prayer for us.

You are _________. (praise) Have your way in _________. (situation to surrender)

As I seek to model prayer for others, I take comfort in the fact that I’m not the source of what I am seeking to model, but I’m in the process of following a model myself. My job is to look again and again to Jesus and then to echo these words of Paul: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

I ask for _________. (request) Forgive me for _________ and help me to forgive _________. (confession and forgiveness)

I know that I will never be perfect at prayer, but I am trusting God to shape even this part of me, asking Him to give me more of a heart of dependence on Him that will drive me to pray without ceasing, and asking Him to continually turn my eyes off of myself that I may gaze at Him in all His perfection and praise Him, in prayer, for who He is.

Help me to be more like you in _________. (area of corrected path) Be sure to also spend time together thanking God for the prayers He has already answered and acknowledging the ways you see Him at work in your life and in your family! by Emily Ganzfried



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Every summer, for the past seven years or so, our family has packed the tent (and so much more) into our van and headed to the beach for a week of camping. It’s been a relatively inexpensive way to take a family vacation with our four kids. And, after all these years, it’s become somewhat of a tradition—with lots of other traditions involved.

Just reserving a site at this busy, coastal, Southern California camping spot is an adventure. It’s booked six months ahead, and we always celebrate getting the site, or we band together in figuring out what to do if there are complications. God always helps us come up with something, though, and once the packed van pulls into the camping spot, the real traditions begin. We get the tent up first to make sure we have adequate daylight to see everything. The kids all help unload the rest and set up our site. They’re usually simultaneously collecting their favorite rocks, because painting them is something we do every year. Once everything is set up and in its place, the next tradition involves a family hike during which we enjoy the scenery



along the way and comment on how things look compared to the year before. This is also the time we talk about all the things God has been doing in our family over the last year. The rest of the week includes a series of similar traditions, such as a long bike ride, nightly fires and s’mores, exploring “the cave,” the open-flame popcorn pan, surfing, paddling the kayak around the buoy, and going into town for ice cream. It’s a week we never forget and look forward to every year! I hope that as I model this tradition for my children, they will, in turn, take part in this same tradition with their own families one day. by Justin Fox


family time

game time CHICKEN



King Elephant involves a little bit of silliness and a lot of fun. The goal of the game is to become the King Elephant, the head of the circle.

SET UP Have everyone sit in a circle. Each seat in the circle will be a different animal. Designate one person to be the King Elephant, and then assign the other animals. If you wish, let players choose their own animals and invent their own gestures for the animals. Otherwise, have your animals use the following motions: King Elephant: h  old one arm out, extended away from your nose, while the other arm wraps around and holds your nose Bird: join both thumbs together and flap your hands like a bird flying Chicken: place hands under armpits and flap arms Alligator: e  xtend your arms out in front of you, with one hand facing up and the other down, and clap them together like an alligator’s jaws Bear: hold out your hands like giant bear claws Lion : connect your hands above your head to form a circle and make a “growling” face Snake: make a slithering snake movement with one of your arms. Fish: clasp both hands together and imitate a fish swimming upstream Monkey: puff your cheeks while pulling your ears outward Worm: wiggle one bent finger


HOW TO PLAY King Elephant is a rhythm game with the goal of successfully staying on beat. Depending on his seat in the circle, each person should adopt an animal gesture (see Set Up box). Each person must correctly perform her animal’s gesture when called upon and then make another person’s animal gesture in order to try to get that person to make a mistake. The King Elephant sets the one, two, three, four rhythm everyone should follow, altering the speed as desired. The King Elephant starts like this: one, knee pat; two, clap; three, his own animal gesture; four, another person’s animal gesture. Next, the person whose gesture the King Elephant just made must imitate the pattern like this: one, knee pat; two, clap; three, her own animal gesture; four, another person’s animal gesture. Feel free to mix up the actions for the first two beats—maybe a pat on the head or a snap of the fingers—but the third and fourth beats must always be animal gestures. When people fail to keep the rhythm or make a mistake on their signal (e.g., do a gesture when they aren’t supposed to or do the wrong gesture), then they go to the end of the circle and everyone moves up a seat. The goal is to try to become the King Elephant by knocking out the people in front of you. Be sure to get everyone to make funny animal sounds when they perform their gestures! Explain that this game is a great way to pay attention to others and learn from them. Discuss together some ways that we can pay attention to God. by Debbie Guinn



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sto ry t e l l i n g getting tired of it, and my patience was running thin. One day I completely lost it and yelled at him. It wasn’t one of my finest mom moments. The look on his face was enough to quiet my tone. The small whisper of the Holy Spirit also hushed me. How was I modeling a sweet spirit? I took a moment to gain my composure and began to pray as I walked toward his bed. Sitting next to my little man, I held his hand, looked into his blue eyes, and apologized for yelling at him. I explained that I had lost my temper and reacted out of anger instead of praying first for God to transform my heart. And then I asked him if he would forgive me. Instantly he hugged me and offered forgiveness. A couple of days later, as I attempted to put both of our boys down for a nap, again our oldest was choosing not to obey. He had gotten out of bed multiple times even though he was clearly tired. He stood in the doorway, fists clenched, chin pointed in the air, and screamed at the top of his lungs, “I do not want to take a nap!” It was not his finest moment. Immediately, my instinct was to react, but God reminded me of my promise to pray. And though it wasn’t easy, I remained calm, told him I was very disappointed in the way he was acting, and went downstairs. It was quiet for a very long 10 minutes. Then I heard my son’s footsteps. He looked up at me and, with everything his three-year-old soul could muster, apologized. I knelt to look in his face, thanked him for apologizing, and asked him what he was sorry for. For screaming and having a disobedient heart, he said. And then he paused. His eyes looked straight into mine, and he asked if I would forgive him. I hugged my little man, eagerly forgave him, and thanked him for letting Jesus change his heart. Before going back into his room, he turned to me, smiled, and reminded me that he’d forgiven me too! Just in case I hadn’t remembered! What a beautiful reminder that God can speak to the heart of a three year old and stir a need for forgiveness. My oldest had sought forgiveness, the same way I had only a couple of days earlier.

MODELING FORGIVENESS Growing up in a Christian family, I learned to apologize if I did something wrong and ask for forgiveness. The intent behind the lesson was great, but, as a child, I didn’t fully capture the reason to ask for forgiveness: the desire to let the Holy Spirit work in my heart. Often I asked for forgiveness simply to appease my parents and echo back what I was being told to say. Now, as a parent, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the idea of modeling forgiveness. How do I teach my boys about forgiveness? How do I emphasize the importance of allowing God to touch their hearts so that they have a desire to ask for forgiveness instead of simply muttering a couple of quick words and returning to the game they’ve been playing?

Forgiveness, our family is learning, is a matter of the heart and a softening of the will to that of the Holy Spirit’s. It’s not simply doing the right thing or saying the appropriate words; it’s desiring to have reconciliation and peace with others through God’s strength. When our family seeks forgiveness, we first pray that the Holy Spirit would touch our hearts so we don’t simply say the right words—we also remember the reason to forgive. With God-transformed hearts, our family can better forgive and ask for forgiveness. by Rebekah Pogue

Recently our family encountered quite a few opportunities to practice forgiveness. Our oldest son, who had just turned three and started preschool, came down with a serious case of the “I don’t want to’s.” It seemed that no matter what we asked him to do, he always chose to disobey. Frankly, I was



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wo r s h i p

WORSHIPPING IN THE MIDST OF DANGER Intimidation. Confrontation. Persecution. Our brothers and sisters in China constantly face threats from the government for one simple reason: THEY CHOOSE TO WORSHIP JESUS. Yet no matter the suffering or struggles, nothing—not even death itself—can keep these faithful Christ-followers from responding to the goodness and faithfulness of God. Although religious practices aren’t completely outlawed (as long as they’re officially sanctioned by the government), it’s the so-called “house churches” that are illegal in China. Experts estimate some seventy to one hundred and twenty million people belong to these underground fellowships. “Much of it works on a ‘sight unseen’ philosophy where as long as they stay ‘underground’ they are largely left alone,” says James*, an American who recently moved with his family to Beijing to reach out to the people there. “But if they begin to exert some independence, the government tries to suppress them.” This could mean eviction from their homes, harassment, or even house arrest. Christians in China always practice their beliefs under much pressure and scrutiny. This forces them to truly assess their beliefs and ultimately requires them to make a decision to completely commit themselves to Jesus Christ. “They don’t have the freedom to waver or to be fickle with what they believe,” James says. “Once a decision is made, they know it can be life-altering, if not life-threatening.”



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wo r s h i p This kind of devotion and faith reminds us of what Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians: “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you (2 Corinthians 4:7–12 NLT).

“It’s been inspiring to meet local Christians who are fighting the propaganda of their government, societal norms, and familial expectations to live for something higher,” says James. “My desire is that I can learn from them and that we can mutually sharpen one another.” Be encouraged by the believers in China as they model a passionate and fearless devotion to the Lord. Embrace the freedom you have in worshipping Jesus whenever, wherever, and however you choose. Create space for your family to worship God, allowing your thankfulness to spill over. Thank Him for your freedom to worship Him. Then pray together for the people in China. Pray for their protection. Pray for courage and strength. by Jennifer Cho Salaff *Name has been changed for security reasons.




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c r e at e

FOLLOW THE LEADER In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul says “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). As parents, we have the great privilege of modeling for our children what it looks like to follow Christ. Each day we’re given countless opportunities to model what Jesus taught as we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind while loving others around us with the same love. by Ali Bray



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c r e at e








HOW TO: Follow the Option 1 instructions, but instead of painting the bottoms of your feet, use markers to trace around the feet. Feel free to write in the footprints the qualities Jesus modeled for us (grace, service, love, peace, prayer, trusting God, etc.).

HOW TO: 1. Tape the butcher paper to the floor. 2. Pour each color of paint onto a separate paper plate and

OTHER OPTIONS: Simply wet the bottoms of your

have each family member pick a color.

feet with water and walk along dry places of sidewalk to reveal wet footprints on the ground. Or trace each family member’s foot on different-colored construction paper and display them on the wall from biggest to smallest.

3. Gently brush the paint on the bottoms of each family member’s feet.

4. Have the parents walk across the paper first, leaving painted footprints for the children to follow. Then have the kids walk across the paper, also leaving their footprints.

5. Observe the footprints displayed on the paper. Talk about how they serve as examples of what it looks like to follow the model set before us by our parents and Christ.


DISCUSSION: Note that the prints go in the same direction and that the children knew the way to walk because of the example modeled for them. Remind your children that Jesus modeled the way to walk through life. Where can you hang your creation to remind you of this?



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

MINI DEEPDISH PIZZAS The kitchen can be a wonderful place in which to create the environment of MODELING. Children can watch and learn as you set the example of how to create food. The following recipe includes places where your child will need to follow you exactly as well as places where they can add their own personal touches based on their preferences.

INGREDIENTS: + Olive oil (for muffin cups)

Total time: 30 min. Yields: 6 pizzas.

+ Flour (for rolling dough)


+ 1/2 pound homemade or store-bought pizza dough (divided into 6 pieces)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees (Fahrenheit). 2. Lightly brush six muffin cups with olive oil. On a floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough to a six-inch circle. Place each dough circle into a muffin cup, gently pressing the dough into the bottom and sides. Optional: Spread a teaspoon of pizza sauce on the bottom of each cup.

+ Pizza or marinara sauce (optional)

Now set out the ingredients and instruct your children to do what you do as they prepare their individual pizzas.

+ D  esired toppings (pineapple, pepperoni, ham,

3. Sprinkle each dough cup with one tablespoon of cheese and one tablespoon of tomato pieces.

for an easy metric conversion chart, search the internet for “metric kitchen.�

+ 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese + 1 large tomato (chopped coarsely) vegetables, feta cheese, etc.)

4. Add your desired toppings to your pizza and encourage your children to add their favorites to theirs. 5. Add another tablespoon of cheese and tomato to each pizza. 6. Bake for 12 minutes or until dough is golden brown and crisp. Let cool for two minutes before removing the pizzas from the cups.



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


INGREDIENTS: + Whole wheat bread + Celery cut into 3”–4” pieces + Baby carrots + Grapes


+ Cheese stick cut into bite-sized pieces + Thinly sliced lunch meat

For younger children, play Follow the Leader while you make this snack together. Make sure you have all of the supplies prepared and laid out in front of you in an easy-to-reach place. Without speaking, show your children how to build a flowerpot snack. Make it fun by exaggerating your hand movements, making silly faces, etc. It will be a fun game for your child and a great reminder for you of how intently your children watch you in all you do.

+ Tomatoes cut into thin wedges + Peanut or other nut butter + Optional: other fruit or vegetable + Round or flower-shaped cookie cutter

DIRECTIONS: 1. On a plate place a piece of whole wheat bread cut into a rectangle. This will be your flowerpot.

2. Take three or four celery pieces and fan them on top of the flowerpot. 3. On top of each celery piece, create a flower using the following ideas (or ideas of your own): • Five or six baby carrots around a grape center • Cheese stick pieces around a grape center • Turkey or ham rosette • Open-faced peanut butter sandwich cut with a round or flower cookie cutter

4. Create a butterfly by placing two tomato halves on either side of a baby carrot.

OLDER CHILDREN OPTION: Have a flowerpot snack prepared as an example for older children. Then place all of the ingredients in front of them and instruct them to use the ingredients to make their own flowerpot scene. Sit back and observe. Notice how their creations are similar to your example and also how they’re different. Remember that your children are watching you and will copy many aspects of your life. by Kellie Coltman

5. Play with your food! Using additional fruits and veggies, create more flowers, grass, the sun, clouds—or anything else you choose. 17


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

I CAN … CAN YOU? At mealtime, allow each family member to model a behavior or action for other family members to imitate. Have fun making it a challenge! by Debbie Guinn











viors they see they imitate any beha if n re ild ch ur yo k as After playing, en share with them specific examples. Th u yo e giv em th ve Ha model. you do. sus that you desire to Je of its tra d an rs vio some of the beha a good job and u think you’re doing yo e er wh ily m fa a lowing Discuss as ent. Talk about how fol em ov pr im e m so ed g God to give where you might ne s. Pray together, askin ult ad r fo en ev ge en Jesus is a chall set for us. s and the example He su Je low fol to h gt en you the str



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g lo b a l

Where in the World Is ...


Awakening a compassionate heart and a global mindset in children for people beyond the boundaries of their own neighborhoods. 1. MONGOLIA 2. RUSSIA 3. NORTH KOREA 4. VIETNAM 5. LAOS





14 13 N W


 hina covers approximately 3,705,000 square C miles. It borders 14 countries: Mongolia, Russia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. It is also bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.


12 11





9 6

4 5


POPULATION: 1.3 billion



80% Buddhist 3%–4% Christian 1%–2% Muslim

More than 1.3 billion people call China home. It is the world’s most populated country. One out of every five people on earth comes from China.


If you lived in China, you would eat a lot of rice. Because of the country’s growing population, food has been hard to come by at times. Meat has been so scarce that you might eat dishes prepared with shark fins, seaweed, frogs, snakes, and even dog and cat meat. You would most likely eat a lot of noodles. Chinese noodles can be made from wheat, rice, or beans, and they come in all different widths. Dragon-beard noodles, for instance, are so thin they would quickly dissolve if you cooked them in water. Instead, they’re fried in oil and served crispy.

• In China, the government lets each family only have one child. If a family has more than one child, they have to pay fines.

If you attended religious services in China, you would most likely go to a Buddhist temple.

(pronounced NEE HOW)

• Ice cream was invented in China in 200 BC by packing a milk and rice mixture in the snow. Marco Polo took the recipes of ice cream and noodles back with him to Europe.



To talk with your friends in China, you would speak Chinese.



family time


MODELING LOVE by Emily Van Herk

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

BLESS Parents, bless your children by having them close their eyes while you read this short verse over them:

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

PRAY Begin praying, asking God to reveal to your family some examples of how He first loved you. Take a few moments in silence to reflect. Close your prayer by asking God to show your family ways to love as He has loved you. After praying, have each person share the examples God brought to mind and discuss together how your family can love each other with the example that God has set for you.



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 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1–3


haring the laughter and celebration with our children as we praise God during good times is easy. But perhaps even more important than how we model our faith during those good times is what we model for our children during times of crisis. During the inevitable storms of life we can tend to want to remain “strong” for the sake of our children. The unfortunate side effect of this tendency can be an emotional and spiritual disconnect. While it’s certainly our role as parents to act as a “buffer” for the most difficult of experiences, our children need to see how our faith plays out during the darkest of times. As they watch us struggle and fight through difficult circumstances, we have an opportunity to show them that God is worthy of our praise even when things don’t work out how we’d envisioned. Fortunately, as we strive to model this behavior for our children, we have plenty of examples in Scripture to draw from. Read Hebrews 11:1—12:3. These verses describe believers who remained true to their faith despite the circumstances they encountered. Be encouraged by their example, and remember the next time life seems to be falling apart, that God is worthy of your praise and adoration even then! by Alyson Crockett

Modeling through the Pain by Jeff Carter

Being only 10 years old, it was more than I could handle. I sat in a bare living room at 11:30 at night, with the lights off, watching my father stare out of the window and cry. His marriage was ending, and he didn’t know what to do. My father was warm and loving, but as far as I could remember, he had never opened up to me about his feelings. So I sat there in shock.


On that dark, lonely night, it seemed like my dad’s world was ending. He couldn’t see how God could possibly be present amidst all the pain. He was a pastor, and his perfect little family and perfect little life were breaking apart. He had left the ministry and what he thought was God’s calling so he could try to save his marriage. But it hadn’t worked. I don’t remember a lot of detail about that time in my life, but I do remember the lesson I learned about the faithfulness of God.

apartments. God carried us through, and we saw His faithfulness. My father modeled for me a trust in God that would serve me the rest of my life.

Throughout that season in our family I saw how my father clung to God and His promises. God promised to carry us through the difficult times. He promised to provide for us and He did—even when my dad was working two jobs to pay for his and my mom’s separate

Yes, God is trustworthy. My mom and dad both remarried and went on to serve the Lord in new ways. Although things seemed dark and hopeless, by watching my dad I learned a lesson I would never forget: We can count on God.




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


at home sit


get up

(Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

get up

This month, as you wake up, start your day with this rhyme to the tune of “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Allow it to serve as a reminder that we can see Christ in others, and they can see Him in us.




to u g h to p i c s Summer days aren’t measured by the tick of the clock but by the slam of the screen door. Kids run in and out, grabbing popsicles for what seems like the whole neighborhood. They have a fabulous knack for making friends fast and often are beautifully oblivious to cultural and socioeconomic divides that might give an adult a little more subconscious pause.

Delighting in Diversity

Your kids are bound to encounter others raised in homes drastically different from the home you share with your family. How do we follow Jesus’ own example of seeking significant relationships outside the social norms while making sure we’re careful and wise about our children’s new relationships? Be positive. Encourage friendships with kids inside and outside of your Christian circle. Kids generally lack a verbal filter, so your child might share God’s love in casual conversation or an invitation to vacation Bible school. Be present. Host playtime with new friends or kids whose home life you’re unsure of. In a spirit of welcome, show the new friends around and mention your basic house rules. Be open and loving. Different doesn’t mean bad! Get to know these new friends, and join in the fun so they get to know you too.


the middle (6 t h

Lifelong Lessons


8 t h GRADE)

by Matt Barnes

Middle school is, by far, the most awkward time of a person’s life. It makes sense. Things are transitioning. Boys and girls start noticing each other. (Really noticing each other.) Voices and bodies are changing. Social cues haven’t quite been figured out yet. The quiet kids are insecure because the louder kids give them a hard time. The louder kids give the quiet kids a hard time because they’re insecure too. But, right there, in the middle of all the craziness of those years, is the opportunity for incredible, lifelong lessons. You see, middle schoolers are starting to figure out who they are and what they stand for and, for better or worse, they are incredibly impressionable. When I was in the seventh grade, my best friend was Luke Takahashi. Luke was one of nine kids living in a small house. Luke’s older brother Tim was a junior in high school. He drove a beat-up Volvo station wagon, lived in a trailer in the backyard of their house, listened

to amazing music like U2, and was, in my mind, the coolest guy ever. Strangely, Tim was totally cool with letting two seventh graders tag along with him on his adventures. One Friday night, Tim came in the house and told us he was getting up early the following morning to run some errands and that we should come. We hated getting up early, but hanging out with Tim was cool, so we were in. The next morning, we jumped in Tim’s old Volvo and headed to a doughnut shop where we bought five big boxes of doughnuts. The next thing I knew, we were making the 45-minute drive from Orange County, California, to MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles. We were going to give doughnuts to the homeless people there. For the next few hours we handed out doughnuts, heard some of the most incredible life stories you could imagine, and prayed with a bunch of people who really needed and appreciated it. There was no organization. No great plan. Just one 24

17 year old and two 12 year olds hanging out with the homeless of LA eating doughnuts and talking about life and Jesus. The environment of MODELING was alive and well that day. Tim never preached at us or did a Bible study on why we should feed the homeless and pray for them. He just did it and included us. He modeled God’s love through his life, and the impressionable middle schoolers who experienced it soaked it up like sponges. That’s how the environment of MODELING works: We allow others to see Jesus in our lives. Take some time to consider where and how you’re experiencing God’s love in your life. (Make a list if it helps!) Then ask God to show you how you can invite your middle schooler into His story through your life. You’ll be surprised at the opportunities that are right in front of you every day that can impact your child’s life forever.



m a r r i ag e

WIN-WIN I grew up in a family where my dad said the phrase “Do as I tell you, not as I do.” I remember thinking “This makes no sense to me,” and it never did. Unfortunately, my dad did many things that weren’t so good, and I ended up modeling many of them myself, especially when I became a father.

As my wife Becky and I talked about how we would raise our children, we both agreed we would not use that phrase. We knew instinctively that telling children one thing but modeling another would never be an effective way to raise a child. Conflict is unavoidable for couples, so when Becky and I had differences, we felt it was important to model a way to handle them that showed respect, love, and compassion. We decided early on that finding a win-win solution would be the way to end disputes. I often forget to close the door that leads from our garage to our laundry room. It was an ongoing annoyance to Becky, but I would always seem to forget. In turn she would forget to turn off our electronic components for our TV and video recorder, which was annoying to me. After sharing our frustrations with each other, we came up with a win-win solution. Whenever I found the electronics on, I would merely turn them off and not mention it to her in a disrespectful way. Whenever she would find the door from the garage open, she would close it and not make an issue of it to me. We had found a great win-win solution. We modeled this kind of conflict resolution for our son (more times than we would have liked). Our son got married several years ago to a beautiful girl named Khara. One night when we were out to dinner with the two of them, they were telling us about a conflict. I remember what my son shared: “Dad, we were struggling with an issue, and Khara and I found a great win-win solution.” I smiled inwardly. He had caught it! Our children will do as we do, not as we say, so remember to model your legacy well. by Roger Tirabassi




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


TWO-WAY STREET We may be missing out if we fail to recognize that living in the environment of MODELING can be a two-way street. Children don’t just learn from us; we can learn a lot from them. They live with the lighthearted joy we all desire. They model a life of freedom.

Q: A:

My spouse and I have decided that we should handle conflict in private—away from our children. Does this go against the environment of MODELING? Should we be hiding conflict resolution from them as to shield them from uncomfortable discussions or disagreements?

HERE ARE NINE IMPORTANT LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM OUR GRANDCHILDREN: Say what you mean to say. Like it or not, kids say what’s on their minds. James 5:12 (NIrV) says “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes. And let your ‘No’ be no.” Be joyful. Children have a unique way of finding joy in all they do. Proverbs 17:22 reminds us “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

I believe the answer to this question isn’t “either/or” but “both/and.” There are “adult” types of conversations (and arguments) that children do not need to be a part of. In my opinion, these things would include issues of sexuality, major concerns about finances, how to discipline the children, or anything that would make a child feel insecure or unsafe. However, issues such as how to spend money, irritants, responsibilities around the house, or misunderstandings are all topics that would provide great soil for learning how to handle conflict resolution. Often parents don’t “fight fair” in any of these areas, but hopefully knowing that little eyes are watching will allow us to model how to not merely “win” a conflict but how to really listen and understand the other person.

Fearlessly share the gospel. When kids believe in something, they’re not concerned about what others think. Romans 1:16 proclaims “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Be filled with song . Try it—your attitude will immediately change! Psalm 96:1 says “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.” Be compassionate. Kids are often moved with compassion when they see a need. They have a strong desire to alleviate suffering. Ephesians 4:32 tells us “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Dance with abandon. Second Samuel 6:14 tells us that “David was dancing before the Lord with all his might.” We have so much to be thankful for and could benefit from a good dance party!

Q: A:

Take naps. When you’re tired, stop! Genesis 2:2 explains that even God rested: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”

I am new to the Christian faith and did not have the spiritual disciplines modeled for me. When it comes to things like prayer, reading my Bible, and relying on the Holy Spirit I often fall short. Do you feel as though this will be a detriment to my children?

Have “playdates.” Inviting a friend or neighbor over to play speaks directly to a child’s love language. Matthew 22:39 says “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Investing our time in others is a great way to show love. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Matthew 6:34 advises “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” Kids are masters of living in the moment!

Quite the contrary. Your children are learning and growing in each of these endeavors too, and this way you can do it together. She will see what one does in very basic steps when they want to be close to and follow Jesus. This will be an exciting journey for you as a family growing each day in your faith.

by Debbie Guinn



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. “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.”



Worship Songs for Children

Just a click away Designed to create environments for kids to respond to the basic Truths of who God is, these TruWorship albums are great to use at church, at home, and in the car! Download TruWorship songs from iTunes. Keyword search: TruWorship

Available July 2013

June 2013  

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

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