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Dive In with


You are about to embark on an amazing journey that will take you, your kids, and their families into a deeper, richer relationship with God. Rio, a digital classroom-based Sunday school curriculum, provides the best in spiritual formation for your leaders and kids from first through sixth grade.


Rio lessons are flexible, easy-to-follow, and have some great components that you and your kids will love. Take a look at a typical lesson flow: Heart Prep. The first step in the lesson invites leaders to reflect on the Bible passages and allow God to work in their own hearts first. CONNECT. Provides a context for leaders, kids, and families to get to know each other. breakout. Optional activities you can use to customize the Rio experience to fit your church, your leaders, and your kids. into the word. Gets kids into their Bibles and listening to what God has to say to them­—all within the context of God’s big picture. go deep. A time for kids to respond to God’s Word. Rio does this through quiet reflection, Activity Pages, prayer, artistic expressions, and worship. reconnect. Kids and leaders connect relationally and are reminded of God’s goodness as seen in each Rio lesson.


Each Rio Digital Kit comes equipped with resources to support leaders in class and families throughout the week. be full of I say it aga joy in the Lord. in—rejo —Philipp ians 4:4 ice! (NLT)



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Us to9Faithful | Lesson Draws Enoch Power With 1 | God’s | God Walks 103| Lesson Unit Unit

9:09 AM

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Leader’s Guide

• 13 God-centered lessons • Salvation Path • Leader and Family tips • Heart Prep devotionals

Activity Pages

Give kids a way to go deeper into the lesson and God’s Word through fun and reflective activities.

Big Bible Panorama Black & white version included.

Shows God’s grand story— past, present, and future. • Gives kids context for Bible passages • Helps them see where they fit into God’s ongoing story

Creative Resources Different resources each quarter to complement the lessons. • Memory Verse posters • Storytelling cards • Bible maps • Role-plays, games, etc. • BreakOUT cards


More Bible background information to enhance and deepen your kids’ understanding of the Scriptures. • History Hints • Bible Backdrop • Cultural Clues • Land Links

FOR FAMILIES • 1 card each month full of engaging, family-friendly activities • Identical for all three age levels • God-centered themes help families engage in faith conversations




WORSHIP illustrated offerings


SPIRITUAL GRANDPARENTING too old for social media?

Salvation Path

Designed for parents too! Equips them to talk with their kids when God’s Spirit leads.



the good samaritan

E THE EATOF CR OUT children of

the world ZONE COMFORT “God transforms me when I step out in faith.”


things and d me with the “God has entruste that He has created.” me people around

• Videos • Worship music • Sound effects • Reproducibles • Birthday and “We Miss You” cards

More to the Story

• Add to the Big Bible Panorama each quarter • Provide visual context for God’s grand plan • Use blank StoryPoints to customize your Big Bible Panorama

Family Cards

Media Resources

HomeFront: A Spiritual Parenting Resource

HomeFront is the perfect resource to help equip parents to be the spiritual leaders of their children. Complete with family tradition ideas, recipes, articles, and more. This FREE new digital magazine can be sent right to your inbox each month! Quickly share it with parents via e-mail or as a handout on Sunday mornings.

GETTING STARTED Getting started with Rio is easy and fun. Everything you’ll need for your classroom is included in the Rio Digital Kit. You’ll find a host of resources designed to help you lead your children and families into a deeper, richer relationship with God.

Age Levels Available

Budget-Friendly Price

Early Elementary Ages 6-8 1st and 2nd Grade

Pay for only the age levels you need and print as many student and teacher materials as you want…no limits!

Elementary Ages 8-10 3rd and 4th Grade Preteen Ages 10-12 5th and 6th Grade

1 age level/quarter: $75 2 age levels/quarter: $135 3 age levels/quarter: $165

Additional Resources HomeFront: A Spiritual Parenting Resource: Free online! Big Bible Panorama (full size, color edition): ISBN 978-0-7814-0893-6 | Retail Price $29.99

BIG BIBLE PANORAMA POSTER Get the 11-foot, full-color print edition of The Big Bible Panorama timeline and watch your kids’ amazement to see God’s grand story!

Over 11 feet!

ISBN 978-0-7814-0893-6 | Retail Price $29.99

` Poster excerpt shown at actual size.

God Creates the World Genesis 1:1–10


Lesson Flow Heart Prep -- Meet with God

Connect -- “Nametags” reproducible from the Unit 1 Digital Kit (or other

nametags) -- Avery 5395 nametag labels (if using “Nametags” reproducible) -- Small ball -- Standard supplies: markers

Into the Word -- Bibles -- “Creation Scenes” PowerPoint or poster from the Unit 1 Digital Kit -- Big Bible Panorama -- Psalm 33:11a Memory Verse poster from the Unit 1 Digital Kit -- Standard supplies: computer, sticky putty

BreakOUT: Let There Be Light (optional, 10 min.) -- Flashlight -- Prisms -- Standard supplies: cardstock -- Optional: tissue paper

Go Deep -- “Creation Sensation” activity page from the Unit 1 Digital Kit -- Standard supplies: colored pencils or markers

ReConnect -- “Psalm 33:11a” activity page from the Unit 1 Digital Kit -- Misc. art materials (yarn, foil or metallic papers, etc.) -- Standard supplies: butcher paper or poster board, markers,

crayons, pencils, glue sticks, construction paper, scissors, tape,

memory• verse But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever. —Psalm 33:11a

worship CD, CD player

= requires extra preparation

Unit 1 | God’s Plan Unveiled in Creation | Lesson 1


God Creates the World Genesis 1:1–10

Heart Prep


ong before online mapping services and GPS existed, paper maps gave us

our best navigation options. We unfolded the maps panel by panel, revealing a grid of lines and print pointing the way to our destinations. The creation account in Scripture feels similar. We see the story unfold as day by day God creates new and brilliant things. Light! Sound! Energy! Only after He’s finished do we see the whole, unspoiled design of perfection. This passage is so familiar to us that it would be easy to miss the beauty in its details. This time, as you read Genesis 1 and Psalm 104, reflect on this first creative act of God Almighty. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about what He wants you to glean anew from these passages. Imagine yourself as

no way you—or any scientist or scholar— can describe how God did it all. Ask God to enable you to present His amazing work to your children. This week notice the complexity and diversity God formed into the world for His glory. He found pleasure in His work, and He invites us to enjoy it as well. What a great God we have! His work is beyond description, His power too great for us to fathom, and yet He invites all of us into an intimate relationship with Him. Think about the power it took to push the waters back from the land and set boundaries for the oceans. Imagine God riding on the wings of the wind and sending the waters fleeing at the sound of His voice. Relish the beauty and power of our great God.

a spectator at the premiere event in world history—when God speaks and things start to move and come to life. Let God’s power

His work is beyond description . . . and yet He invites all of us into an intimate relationship with Him.

and creativity take your breath away. Contrast that sheer vacuum of space and time with the astonishing array of life around you. How did God craft magnetism, invisible winds, and atoms? How did He imagine

  Take a moment to remember how you viewed nature as a child. What intrigued you? Amazed you?

  In what ways can you grow closer to God by pondering the works of creation?

gravity or the symphony of sounds? There’s

God, You are full of wonder and power. You spoke the planets into being, and by Your word they stay in orbit. Everything I see magnifies Your greatness. Help me to be overwhelmed by Your majesty, and open my eyes to take in more of Your beauty and strength. Help me thirst for You and seek You more every day so that the overflow of my heart will pour out to the kids in my group. Thank you for the beauty of Your creation. Your creativity is amazing!

In Jesus’ name, amen. 2


Connect M aterials -- “Nametags” reproducible from the Unit 1 Digital Kit (or other nametags) -- Avery 5395 nametag labels (if using “Nametags” reproducible) -- Small ball -- Standard supplies: markers

Before your kids arrive, print the nametags onto nametag labels (or provide your own nametags) and set them out on a table along with the markers. As your children enter the room, greet them and learn their names. Introduce yourself and let them know how happy you are to have them in your group. Encourage each one to decorate a nametag using the markers on the table. As your kids create their nametags, begin conversations with them by asking them what they like to do. Once most of your kids have arrived, take some time to play a get-acquainted game. First, form a circle and ask each child to share his name and two interesting facts about himself. For example, he might say, “My name is

Leader Tip

Charlie. I went to Yellowstone this summer, and I have two dogs.” Mention

It’s likely you’ll have a few

that it’s important to pay attention to what each person says—these facts

new faces today because of

will be important to the game. Be sure you join in the fun too! Now begin the game by calling out one child’s name. Share one fact about her and toss her the ball. She, in turn, should call out someone else’s

the new school year. Assure your children that you’re glad to see them and ready to help them if they need anything.

name, share a fact about that person, and then toss him the ball. When a child makes a mistake and calls out the wrong name or fact, she must sit down until the next round. Continue until you feel your group is comfortable and your kids are starting to consistently remember each others’ names. As a final challenge, have your kids cover up their nametags, and see who can name every person in your group.

Unit 1 | God’s Plan Unveiled in Creation | Lesson 1


God Creates the World

Into the Word M aterials -- Bibles -- “Creation Scenes” PowerPoint or poster from the Unit 1 Digital Kit -- Big Bible Panorama -- Psalm 33:11a Memory Verse poster from the Unit 1 Digital Kit -- Standard supplies: computer, sticky putty

Direct your kids’ attention to the “Creation Scenes,” using either the PowerPoint presentation (or, if digital media isn’t practical for you, the “Creation Scenes” poster). Get them involved

Leader Tip

in viewing and reacting to the images by asking questions about amazing or cool places they’ve been or things they’ve seen. As you discuss the images, ask for volunteers to

You can find a printable blackand-white version of the Big Bible Panorama in your Digital Kit. You can also buy a more durable color version from the online retailer

read aloud the verses beneath each one.

  What parts of God’s creation that you’ve seen or heard of do you like the most? Why?

where you purchased your

Let your kids know that during the next few weeks, you’ll discover amazing things

Rio curriculum.

about God through the way He created the world. Invite them to join you in a time of prayer as you prepare your hearts for what God has for you today. Thank Him for bringing your group together and the ways He has been involved in your lives from the very beginning. Pray expectantly, asking God to teach you and your children and to help you learn from each other. Introduce the Memory Verse to your children. Read it out loud together from the poster and talk about what it means. This verse reminds us about everything God has planned and made. Nothing in creation happened by chance; God planned it all.

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever. Psalm 33:11a

Leader Tip

  What word or words did you notice in this verse? Why?   What does this verse tell you about God?

Your kids will get to take home a smaller version of this

As you open the Word today, keep in mind that our goal is to help raise up children

Memory Verse poster on their

who love God’s Word, because within its pages, they will learn about Him and His

activity pages. That way they can be reminded of the verse at home.


loving plan for them. To do that, they need to learn to handle His Word for themselves. Encourage your children to bring their Bibles each week. You should also have a supply on hand for those who forget or don’t have access to a Bible.

Genesis 1:1–10


Give your kids a few minutes to look through their Bibles. Talk with them about what they discover and how it compares to other books they’ve seen. Scripture isn’t just an ordinary story! The Bible is a story that’s made up of lots of smaller stories, and it’s special because it’s God’s story, so that makes it totally true. Write the word “Genesis” on the whiteboard and then help your children find Genesis 1:1–10 in their Bibles. Have your kids turn to the table of contents in the front and show them how this list can

Leader Tip

help them find any book of the Bible. Ask the group to find the page where Genesis begins. Together go to that page and find the chapter by looking for the big number

We want you to feel both

1. Then find the little number 1 that indicates the first verse.

enriched and equipped to lead your lessons. Anywhere you see

Genesis 1 recounts God’s work of creation in the beginning. You can help

this Big Bible Panorama logo, you

your group place today’s Bible study in a historical context by discussing this

will find context and background

background information together:

information about the Scripture passages covered.

¦¦    The word Genesis means “beginnings.” The book shows the starting point of the universe and mankind. It also records the beginnings of God’s friendship with man. ¦¦    In the very first verse, we see the first name of God in the Bible— Elohim in Hebrew, meaning “the Creator.” ¦¦    Directed by God through the Holy Spirit, Moses is believed to be the author of the first five books of the Bible, a collection also known as the Pentateuch. ¦¦    Moses wrote Genesis about 1,400 years before Jesus was born. Jesus was born about 2,000 years ago. That means Moses wrote Genesis about 3,400 years ago. Read Genesis 1:1–2 aloud slowly. As you read, invite your children to close their eyes and picture the world being formless, empty, and dark.

  What did you picture when you had your eyes closed?   What does “in the beginning” mean? Explore with your group how amazing it is that God existed before time, before space, before our planet, and before us! In the very beginning, there was nothing except God, and out of nothing He made everything. Why did God create? The Bible tells us that creation showcases God’s glory (Psalm 19:1). But we also know that He made our world and everything in it for His good pleasure (Revelation 4:11). It is His nature to be creative! Ask for a volunteer to read Genesis 1:3–5 aloud as everyone else follows along.

  What did God say about light? Why was it good?   Is darkness also good? What makes you think so?

Unit 1 | God’s Plan Unveiled in Creation | Lesson 1


God Creates the World Light powers life. Both plants and animals need it to live and grow. If you stand in a completely dark room, what happens? You can’t see anything! So light gives us sight and direction too. There are vitamins in light, and light makes people feel good. With the creation of light, God formed an environment in which all of life could thrive. What a wonderful plan! God, as its Creator, is often described as light in the Bible. Throughout Scripture, light signifies life and blessing; it gives direction and denotes God’s presence. The Bible uses imagery of light and darkness to represent godliness and evil. ¦¦    God turns darkness into light (Psalm 18:28). ¦¦    God wants us to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). ¦¦    God is wrapped in light (Psalm 104:2). ¦¦    God’s Word is a lamp and a light (Psalm 119:105). ¦¦    God will be our everlasting light (Isaiah 60:19). ¦¦    Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). ¦¦    God is light, and there is no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5)

BreakOUT: Let There Be Light (10 min.) M aterials -- Flashlight -- Prisms -- Standard supplies: cardstock (2 sheets) -- Optional: tissue paper

Before you get started, fold the two sheets of cardstock so they can stand alone, and cut a hole in each one in exactly the same place (see diagram). Light was the first thing God created. Have some fun with science as you explore interesting facts about light with your group. ¦¦    Light waves travel faster than anything—even sound! Darken the room. Have a child turn on the flashlight while the others count the seconds it takes for the light to reach the wall. They can’t! Light travels 700 million mph! ¦¦    Light is made up of seven colors. Hold the prisms up to bright sunlight, and the light will split into rainbows of colors. ¦¦    Light waves can pass through things. Darken the room. Have a child cover the flashlight with her fingers and turn it on. Her fingers glow because the light waves are passing through her skin! You can also demonstrate this with some tissue paper. ¦¦    Light travels in a straight line. Shine the flashlight through the holes in the cardstock to show how light travels in a straight line.

Read Genesis 1:6–10 aloud as your children follow along.


Genesis 1:1–10


  Why do you think God created dry land? What would the world be like without it?

  What have you discovered about the way God created the light, the sky, and the dry land? Show your group the Big Bible Panorama. This timeline will be used throughout the year to give your kids a visual representation of God’s “big story.” The Big Bible Panorama

Leader Tip

will help them see how everything in the Bible is connected, and that you and your kids are a part of God’s story too!

Not all children this age are proficient readers. Using

Sometimes your kids will get an opportunity to add a StoryPoint representing

a Bible version at an elementary

a key person, event, or even cultural background. This week’s lesson doesn’t

reading level, such as the New

include a StoryPoint, but you can invite a volunteer to find the very beginning

International Reader’s Version,

of the Big Bible Panorama and point out that this is when God created the

could be a big help for


your kids.

Go Deep M aterials -- “Creation Sensation” activity page from the Unit 1 Digital Kit -- Standard supplies: colored pencils or markers

God’s creation is amazing! Every mountain and every ocean is part of a vast, complex plan imagined before time in the mind of God. Give your children some time now to think about their awesome Creator and respond to Him. Hand a “Creation Sensation” activity page to each child. Put the pencils or markers where everyone can reach them. Allow your kids to spread out around the room so they’ll be free from distractions. Read the instructions aloud and encourage your kids to ask their Creator God to make Himself more real and personal to them as they draw and write. The writer of Psalm 104 talks about creation too—in a praise song! The writer uses word pictures to talk about God’s greatness in creation. As you read Psalm 104:1–9 with feeling and emotion, challenge your group to listen for those word pictures. Don’t rush. Let the beauty of this hymn flow over you and your children. If the mood is thoughtful and quiet when you finish, allow the quiet to continue for a moment as your children ponder and absorb the Word. As a group, revisit the Memory Verse. Read it together enthusiastically. Then challenge your children to recite it with their eyes closed. If you have a couple of brave volunteers, encourage them to try saying the verse from memory. Affirm their efforts whether or not they get through the entire verse.

Unit 1 | God’s Plan Unveiled in Creation | Lesson 1


God Creates the World But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever. Psalm 33:11a   How does this verse relate to God creating the world?

ReConnect M aterials -- “Psalm 33:11a” activity page from the Unit 1 Digital Kit -- M isc. art materials (yarn, foil or metallic papers, etc.) -- Standard supplies: butcher paper or poster board, tape, markers,

crayons, pencils, construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, worship CD, CD player Before you get started, tape some blank butcher paper or poster boards at your children’s eye level. Pick a CD with worship and praise songs that celebrate God’s power and creation. “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin might be a good choice. Ask your children to share what they found most exciting about what they studied today. After they share with the group, point them to the poster boards or blank paper on the wall.

Leader Tip

For the next few weeks they’ll all get to be mural and graffiti artists, so you’ll want to leave the paper on the wall if possible. Their job is to express through art their

As they work on the mural,

feelings of wonder and amazement and thankfulness to God for what He’s made.

encourage your kids to include words or phrases that they found meaningful in the Scripture passages. They can write down the words or phrases or draw pictures that represent them.

  What do you want to say to God today?   Where do you see His power displayed in creation today? Allow your kids to work on any sections of the blank surfaces that they choose. This

project gives them an expressive opportunity to praise God with color and texture. Consider playing worship music in the background during this time. Once you’re finished, end your time together by gathering your group close to you. Lead your children in prayer, acknowledging God as Creator. Praise Him for the excellent plan we see displayed in creation—and the excellent plan He has for us too. Pray that your children will surrender themselves to His good plan for them.


Genesis 1:1–10 You might try inviting any child who would like to pray out loud to do so. As you nurture


these spiritual disciplines of worship and prayer, be encouraged to know that you are teaching for life! If you haven’t done so already, show your kids the Memory Verse poster on the back of their activity pages, and encourage them to hang up the posters somewhere at home so they’ll be reminded of this verse throughout the week. As their parents or siblings drop by the room, have your kids invite them in and show them their parts in the mural and what it represents. Send the kids on their way by encouraging them to look for and experience God in His amazing world this week.

Leader Tip

Kids may be a little shy when it comes to praying out loud. That’s okay. Provide opportunities for them to pray if they choose to, but don’t force children to do anything they’re not comfortable with. As time passes, they’ll become more comfortable with praying publicly.

Unit 1 | God’s Plan Unveiled in Creation | Lesson 1



WORSHIP illustrated offerings


SPIRITUAL GRANDPARENTING too old for social media?

OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE “God transforms me when I step out in faith.”




The Everyday Parent


Spiritual Grandparenting

Illustrated Offerings

Slowing Down

Too Old for Social Media?





Illustrated Offerings



Out of the Comfort Zone


Family Time Recipe


Tot Time


Editor’s Note


Kids in the Kitchen


Tough Topics


How to Use Family Time & the Family Verse


Conversation Starters


The Middle


God’s Word














Spiritual Parenting


Game Time



Spiritual Grandparenting



The Everyday Parent


10 Environments

Mission: Possible Not Enough Comfort ... or Too Much? Harvest Offerings Red Light, Green Light & The Forbidden Letter Recognizing God’s Voice


Chicken Pot Pie

Breakfast for Dessert

What Would You Do?

Pure Joy

Slowing Down

God's Word under Attack

Building Faith Muscles


Life on a Mission Haiti

Along the Road

God Transforms Me When I Step Out in Faith Inbox

Too Old for Social Media?

Design, Layout, & Photography by Brad Claypool


Out of the Comfort Zone |

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 a environment, in which God’s Spirit can move freely.

This environment recognizes that God transforms us when we step out in faith. Our flesh seeks comfort, but God’s Spirit wants to try our faith in order to grow it. As children are challenged to step out of their comfort zone from an early age, they learn to experience a dependence on the Holy Spirit, who will 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 dying to self and following Christ. James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). Joy in trials may seem like an oxymoron, but when we come to the end of our resources and our strength and depend on the Holy Spirit, then we’re truly in a relationship with the Almighty. That is the place where sanctification happens … and where we find true joy!

Michelle Anthony Family Ministry Architect David C. Cook

Follow Michelle: @TruInspiration


(featuring an excerpt from Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony)

When my daughter was only 18 months old, my husband received a phone call offering him a position teaching at a college in Kenya for three months. My daughter was just a baby, and I wasn’t far from that either. I was a very young mom still trying to figure out this whole thing called parenthood. During those months in a little village called Kijabe, I grew in ways that are hard to define. I grew as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, and as a child of God. I was desperate most days. I cried out to God to help me, support me, strengthen me, and befriend me. I didn’t have any of the luxuries that I had at home. I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have an oven, washer or dryer, hot water, or electricity half the time. I didn’t have a phone or a computer or even a friend. I was profoundly lonely, and I was raising a child without the community of my friends or my family in a foreign place. During those months that would ultimately shape my life as an adult and a parent, God taught me an enormous amount about simplicity and what was most important in the grand scheme of life. By the time I left my tour of duty in Kenya, I felt as though I could conquer anything in parenting with God by my side. Looking back, I see that God was setting up the posture of my heart toward this environment of being out of my comfort zone by creating a need in my heart to depend on Him. In the end, this is what the environment of OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE looks like in our homes too. It’s creating an opportunity where our children come to the end of “self” and learn to depend on God, His comfort, and His strength.


Out of the Comfort Zone |

EDITOR’S NOTE When we are at our wit’s end for an answer, then the Holy Spirit can give us an answer. But how can He give us an answer when we are still well-supplied with all sorts of answers of our own? —Karl Barth Needless to say, it’s uncomfortable to reach our “wit’s end”; however, that’s often when we submit to God, allowing Him to work in us. Scripture is filled with the accounts of great and godly people who reached their wit’s end and found God redeeming and rescuing them in amazing ways. As parents, it’s our natural instinct to comfort our children. We think we’re being responsible when we care for their every need and rescue them from hard times. It’s a tricky balance to allow our children to experience just enough suffering and difficulty to actually strengthen them. And it’s impossible to reach that balance without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Debbie Guinn

HomeFront Managing Editor David C. Cook

a spiritual parenting resource

at your fingertips available on the App Store, Google Play &

This issue of HomeFront: A Spiritual Parenting Resource is filled with stories about the environment of OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE and creative ways to live in it. God wants us to learn to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit—which can come in a quiet whisper or the loving voice of a concerned friend.

To ask spiritual parenting questions, go to and join the conversation. Remember to us too!

Follow us on Pinterest @ HomeFrontSP. Explore our boards and pin your favorites.

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


Out of the Comfort Zone |



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.

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


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.

We know that our suffering gives us the strength to go on. The strength to go on produces character. Character produces hope. And hope will never let us down. God has poured his love into our hearts. He did it through the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us.


Romans 5:3b–5 (NIrV)

Family Time ideas!

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

Out of the Comfort Zone |

family time

g o d ' s wo r d


In Luke, we read what many call Jesus’ mission statement for His public ministry.

us on the path of the mission He has for each of our lives.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18–19)

HEAR IT Read Luke 4:1–21 together. Afterward, ask your children how Jesus responded to being taken out of His comfort zone. Read verse 1 again: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit …” Remind your children that this experience helped prepare our Lord for His present ministry as our sympathetic High Priest, so that we can come to Him for the help we need to overcome the trials that come our way.

In preparation for His ministry, Jesus was “led by the Spirit” into the desert for a time of solitude. Here the Enemy tempted Jesus for 40 days. He came out of this time fully empowered to bring about the ministry that lay before Him.

DO IT Create a space for solitude in your home—a place to hear from the Holy Spirit. After designating a spot, gather the following items:

Jesus knew the importance of solitude better than anyone. That’s why we see Him repeatedly going off to a secluded place to be alone with His Father.

• Bible or Bible storybook • Journal • Markers • Worship music

We have at our disposal the same spiritual resources Jesus used when He faced and defeated Satan:

Allow your family to visit this place of solitude throughout the month. Encourage them to write or draw in the journal anything they hear from God. At the end of the month, gather as a family and go through the journal. Celebrate together, knowing that God has prepared a mission for each of us. He will lead us exactly where we’re supposed to be, even if it feels uncomfortable at times. by Debbie Guinn

Prayer • The Father’s love The power of the Holy Spirit • The Word of God In addition, we have in heaven the interceding Savior who has already completely defeated the Enemy. Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us, but God uses these difficult experiences to put the best into us. Temptation is Satan’s weapon to defeat us, but it becomes God’s tool to build us up and set 6

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family time

p r ay e r

NOT ENOUGH COMFORT … OR TOO MUCH? Assess where your family is right now. What is the climate of comfort in your home? What has led you to your comfort or discomfort? If your home has become excessively comfortable because of overprotection and hovering parents, you will recognize the symptoms. Signs of a home where children live in excessive comfort include laziness, ingratitude, selfishness, lack of motivation, entitlement, a critical spirit, and gluttony—among others. When you see the buds of these characteristics beginning to blossom, you will know it’s time for the environment of OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE. You will want to act without delay. After assessing your situation, pray together and ask God to reveal to you—all of you, parents included—any places of abnormal comfort in your lives. Then make a list of these places and pray over them, asking God to give you the strength to correct them. It may hurt at first, much like an unused muscle hurts on the first day of a workout, but in time, being taken out of those places of comfort will begin to produce qualities that had previously been lacking. Remember, the best gift we can give our children is the confidence that everything (even the bad stuff) is filtered through God’s hands. Be sure you model this dependence for your kids as you choose to step out of your own comfort zone. by Michelle Anthony


Out of the Comfort Zone |

family time


Harvest Offering by Rebekah Pogue The beginning of fall is an exciting time for our family. We are big on creating traditions, especially when it involves blessing others. Yes, it’s easy to rally family time and do fun activities that benefit us. And while that’s great, the challenge lies in taking us out of our comfort zone and doing something as a family for another family.

Thus the idea for the Harvest Offering was born. As a family, we started a fall tradition in which we create money-earning ideas to save money for another family, store the earnings in a jar, and then gift it to the family at Christmastime. First we pray that the Holy Spirit will bring a family to mind, a family that would benefit from some extra money. We place a large mason jar at a focal point in our home where the money will be collected. Then we set to work brainstorming ideas on how to raise money for the family—a bake sale, searching pockets for loose change, selling toys that aren’t being used, and doing “extras” around the house.

Our boys are always excited about the opportunity to watch the Harvest Offering jar slowly fill with coins and dollar bills. We periodically count what we have collected and discuss the possibilities of how the family might use our Harvest Offering. Most importantly, we talk about the hard work it takes to earn money, and while giving it away feels out of our comfort zone, it makes God’s heart happy. God doesn’t want us to only use money for our own memories, but He wants to stretch us and use our money to bless others. There is no greater gift as a parent than to watch our children find joy in giving, even if

it’s uncomfortable for them. Finding a penny on the ground is a missed fountain wish, but it’s one more penny to throw in the Harvest Offering! Choosing to sell the robot ignored in the toy basket for months causes a smile to stretch across their little faces when they know another family will benefit from the money earned by it. Suddenly everyday tasks become conversation pieces surrounding the family that will be blessed at Christmas by the Harvest Offering. And in the midst of being

a little out of our own comfort zones, we’re transformed too!

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


Out of the Comfort Zone |

family time

game time Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit is an important part of living in the environment of OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE. Use the following games to encourage your children to be good listeners. Remind them that God wants us to turn to Him and listen for what He’s trying to teach us in every circumstance we experience.



This game is great for kids ages two and up. You can play with as few as three players. It’s most fun to play in an open field, but it can be played in a long hallway too. 


Choose one player to be a “red light.” He should stand about 25 yards in front of the other players, with his back turned to them.


The other players should line up shoulder-toshoulder. Their goal is to get close enough to tap the “red light” on the shoulder, but they can only move only when he says, “Green light.”


To begin play, “red light” should close his eyes and yell, “Green light!” The other players should run at top speed toward him until he yells, “Red light!” and turns around as fast as he can. The instant the other players hear “Red light!” they must stop. Anyone “red light” sees moving when he turns around must return to the starting line.


This sequence is repeated until a player gets close enough to tap “red light” on the shoulder when his back is turned. This player wins and becomes the next “red light.”


THE FORBIDDEN LETTER In this game, see how many sentences you can say without using a certain letter (which you've agreed upon). For example, if you designate “L” as the forbidden letter, the first player might ask, “Is this a new game to you?” The second player might answer, “Oh, no! Someone taught it to me years ago.” He might turn to a third player and ask, “You remember it, don’t you?” The third player might answer, “Yes, but we used to play it a different way.” The third player, having spoken a word with the letter “L” in it, is out of the game. The answers should be given quickly, without hesitation, and the player who avoids using a word containing the forbidden letter for the greatest length of time wins the game. You can then change the forbidden letter and play again.


Out of the Comfort Zone |

family time

sto ry t e l l i n g

G N I Z I N G RECO S ’ D O G E C I O V My mom is an amazing mother to three daughters. Even though she didn’t have parents who taught her about Jesus, she committed her life to Him and has a deep, loving relationship with Him. My mom has done an incredible job of passing down her faith to each of us. She modeled for us what it looks like to have a disciplined prayer life, how to see and meet the needs of others, and how to truly love our husbands and children. by Traci Carpenter

confidently say I know what the Holy Spirit feels and sounds like. Something that really excites me is the opportunity to teach my own daughter how to recognize God’s voice from an early age. I treasure the thought that she won’t ever know a life without His gentle whisper. She will never be shocked when my husband and I encourage her to “pray about it, and ask God,” because she’ll already be used to flexing those faith muscles. When I turned 20, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I remember seeking my mom’s advice, as I always had, and asking, “Mom, what should I do?” However, instead of answering, “Well, you should …” (and then telling me her idea of a great plan), she said, “Pray about it, and ask God.”

felt angry. I wanted a clear answer from my mom. I wanted to hear her thoughts and opinions. Why all of sudden was I supposed to figure all this out on my own? From that point I began a journey of seeking God’s voice. At times it came in the whisper of the Holy Spirit. Other times it came straight from the Bible, and sometimes it even came from the wise words of a friend. It took me quite a while to actually learn to recognize God’s voice. It wasn’t until recently that I could

Whoa! Wait a second. Pray about it, and ask God? What does that mean? And how am I even supposed to know what God’s voice sounds like? To be honest, I


As parents, we have the opportunity to encourage the next generation to begin the journey of seeking the Holy Spirit in their earliest of years. Take some time this month to share a story with your children about a time when you recognized God’s leading in your life. Share how

you knew it was God’s voice.

Out of the Comfort Zone |

family time

wo r s h i p

Illustrated OFFERINGS On January 12, 2010, at 4:53 p.m. local time, a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti. It was the most severe earthquake to hit the country in more than 200 years.


The epicenter of the quake was just outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The quake caused widespread damage and devastated the capital city. A month later, the Haitian government announced a death toll of 230,000. As many as one million Haitians were homeless and hundreds of thousands injured. Many people from around the world rushed to the aid of the injured, including Sandy Oak Lee, a pediatrician from California. After Sandy returned home, she wanted to somehow share her experience with her seven-year-old daughter, Sayana. After some discussion, they decided to write a children’s book about the earthquake, the response of the international community, and a mommy’s experience assisting in Haiti. They agreed to use the book as a way to raise awareness and money for Haiti relief. Sayana wanted to draw the pictures, and soon she and her mom found an illustrator, Kenny Yamada, to help with the process by generously donating his time and energy. Together the three created Mommy Goes to Haiti, (, written by Sayana and Sandy and illustrated by Sayana and Kenny Yamada. All proceeds from the sales of the book go to two projects: Mosaic Beyond Us, which builds homes in Haiti, and Project Medishare, which builds hospitals in Haiti. Sandy, Sayana, and Kenny hope the book can help families talk with their children about international events, how we can respond to extreme needs and disasters, and how individuals—even young children—can positively impact the world. God uses specific and unique circumstances to refine His children. How do we respond when we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations? Do we run and hide and make ourselves comfortable? Or do we embrace the situation and worship God even in the midst of hardship?

Gather paper and markers and find a quiet spot. You may choose to have instrumental music playing in the background. Remind your children that art can be a gift of worship to the Lord. As an act of worship, encourage your children to illustrate a time when they were taken out of their comfort zones. Talk together about how God used that time in their lives to help them grow.


Illustrations from Mommy Goes to Haiti

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family time

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

CHICKEN POT PIE There are some foods that have become a tradition in our family. The smells and memories of these foods bring a sense of comfort to us. One of those meals is homemade chicken pot pie. by Stephanie Barber



ยบ SAUCE ยบ

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (cubed)

(makes one crust)

1/2 c. butter or vegetable shortening

1 c. sliced carrots

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. frozen green peas

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. sliced celery

1/2 c. cold water

1 /3 c. butter 2/3 c. chopped onion 2/3 c. all-purpose flour 1 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. black pepper

ยบ PIE CRUST ยบ 2 (9") unbaked pie crusts

1/2 tsp. celery seed 3 1/2 c. chicken broth 1 1/3 c. milk


Prep Time: 40 min. Cook Time: 55 min. (Serves 8)

ยบ CRUST ยบ

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

1. Blend butter, flour, and salt together in a food processor until very

2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to

crumbly. Add as much water as needed until dough holds together.

cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

2. Roll dough gently on a floured surface to about an inch larger than a

3. In another saucepan, over medium heat, cook onions in butter until

deep-dish pie plate. Fold carefully in half, lift to pie plate, and unfold.

soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly

Press into pan. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, then remove.

stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Pour chicken mixture into pie crust. Pour sauce over mixture. Cover

ยบ Time-Saving Tips ยบ

with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several

โ€ข Use a ready-made pie crust

small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

โ€ข Replace sauce with two cans of cream of chicken condensed soup

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Out of the Comfort Zone |

family time

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

Kids in the Kitchen features simple, kid-friendly recipes that encourage families to spend time together while creating yummy treats.

Breakfast for Dessert

Fried Eggs & Bacon Candy

Take your kids out of their comfort zone this month by serving them breakfast for dessert. Even very young children can help with this easy recipe, especially if you melt the chocolate ahead of time.

48 yellow chocolate candies


Time: 15 min. (Yields 2 dozen)


·Melt white chocolate chips in the microwave at 50 percent power. Stir until smooth. ·Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Using a tablespoon, drop melted white

1 pkg. (12 oz.) white chocolate chips

chocolate onto the wax paper (so each drop is about an inch wide on the paper).

1 pkg. (15 oz.) pretzel sticks

·Place two yellow chocolate candies on one side of the white chocolate drop. ·Break the pretzel sticks into pieces and put two small sticks, or "bacon strips," alongside the yellow candy "egg yolks."

·Repeat until you've used all ingredients. ·Transfer to refrigerator to chill until the chocolate sets—about 20 to 30 minutes.

by Debbie Guinn


We often face situations that demand a right choice. During these times we need to listen to the Holy Spirit as He directs us to do what is right.

"You find a black wallet lying on the ground. No one is around.

Get Your Children Talking …

Inside the wallet you find several things, including $50, a SpongeBob

Pose these questions to your family, let everyone offer an answer, and then discuss the answers together. Feel free to personalize the situation challenges to fit the age and interests of your family.

sticker, a coffee house gift card, and spare change." "You’re having fun playing with your friends at the playground. You

Try to offer new situation challenges each week this month while you live in the environment of OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE.

see a boy or girl your age who isn't playing and doesn't seem to have any friends nearby."


Out of the Comfort Zone |

family time

c r e at e

LIFE ON A MISSION Sometimes we get comfortable in our everyday routines and surroundings and forget that God calls us to live our lives on a mission. Sharing Jesus is something we're all called to do.

them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" Matthew 28:19–20. Use beads in the following colors to create a craft that reminds you of your mission to share the good news (even when it feels out of your comfort zone). Remember: God is always right there with you. by Debbie Guinn

Jesus told His disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching

GOLD Represents who God is and that He loves us and has a home for us in heaven. John 3:16






Represents darkness, sin, and separation from God. Romans 3:23

Represents Jesus’ shed blood, His death, and His resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:3–4

Represents our invitation to turn from sin, trusting Christ alone. John 1:12

Represents spiritual growth, including confession of sin, prayer, and reading God’s Word. 1 John 1:9

Represents the Holy Spirit, our Comforter. John 14:26


INSTRUCTIONS: • String the beads on a cord or piece of yarn or string. • Knot one end and attach a clip to the other end. • Attach the beads to key chains, backpacks, or any place where you'll see them every day.


Out of the Comfort Zone |

family time

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.



 aiti encompasses 10,714 square miles, H making it slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Maryland. Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola (between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea), which it shares with the Dominican Republic.



9,719,932 Million

LANGUAGE French/Haitian


 Almost ten million people call Haiti their home. Forty percent of people in Haiti are younger than 14.

80% Roman Catholic 16% Protestant 3% Voodoo traditions

If you lived in Haiti, you would eat a lot of beans and rice. When eaten together, rice and beans provide all essential amino acids and deliver complete protein to sustain an active life. You might also eat something called banan peze, which is a plantain that's been sliced and fried.

DID YOU KNOW? • Spaghetti is most often served for breakfast in Haiti. It's cooked with a hot dog and served with ketchup. Chili is made with goat meat. • Haiti's royal palm trees can grow up to 60 feet tall—the height of a five-story building.

If you went to church in Haiti, you would most likely go to a Roman Catholic church. TO GREET SOMEONE, YOU WOULD SAY:


pronounced (bohn-JOOR) When you talk with friends in Haiti, you would speak French or Haitian Creole.


Out of the Comfort Zone |

family time


PURE JOY The best gift we can give our children is the confidence to see that everything (even the bad stuff) is filtered through God’s hands. We need to release our control of their circumstances. We need to start looking at the hard things that happen in our kids’ lives as things that God wants to use to refine them. Then we need to walk with them, prayerfully, and model for them how they should respond, in grace, to these trials.

This month, read the following Scripture over your children as a reminder that all families will most likely go through seasons of difficulty as well as seasons of prosperity and comfort.

Consider it pure joy, [my children], whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2–4)

by Michelle Anthony

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.


Out of the Comfort Zone |

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.


Out of the Comfort Zone |


by Rebekah Pogue

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


s a parent, the schedule of our son or daughter’s day solely depends on us. In the hustle bustle of getting kids off to school, cleaning soccer jerseys, and attending dance recitals, it's easy to let busyness direct the focus of our day. Suddenly we're taking control of every moment, resting in our own power instead of leaning on the Holy Spirit’s. What if we stepped out of our comfort zone in a small, quiet way by simply resting? I know, it’s a strange concept in this parenting adventure, but think about it. Before we let our schedule dictate our day, what if we start each new day by praying, “God, what do You want my day to look like? As I go about each hour, how can I rest in You?” It may be as simple as turning off the car radio and listening to God’s voice as He directs your next steps. Resting feels uncomfortable and is often portrayed as being lazy, but it may be the most beneficial way you can step out of your comfort zone and allow God’s Spirit to recharge your batteries.


Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)

said, confident that there was no way she would be able to meet this demand. But she surprised me. Five minutes later, she was dressed, had eaten her oatmeal, and had her backpack on. She smiled. “I’m ready!”

by Alyson Crockett

I woke up feeling defeated. I had spent the previous evening agonizing over our family calendar, trying desperately to figure out how we were going to fit everything in. Every minute of our week was accounted for. My stress level was at an all-time high, and I had just started my day.

Her promptness only added to my frustration. I didn’t have time for this. I had planned so carefully to get everything done today. But I knew I couldn’t say no, so I grabbed my things and we walked out the door. She grabbed my hand and we walked, slowly, the entire way to her school.

I ran into my daughter’s room to wake her up for school and began shouting orders at her like a drill sergeant. “Hop out of bed! Get dressed! Let’s go, let’s go!” Her little blue eyes opened and looked at the clock. “Mommy,” she said sweetly, “can we walk to school today? Please?”

As we walked, she talked about all kinds of things. It was a sweet moment, and my heart melted. To think that I had almost turned down her simple request. In my haste to control every detail of my week, I had forgotten that I wasn’t the one in control at all. God is in control of every detail in my busy life. He transformed me as I stepped out in faith that morning. I'm so thankful He made this appointment for me.

Walk? I knew her request would set me back at least half an hour. “We would need to leave in five minutes,” I


Out of the Comfort Zone |


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! by Justin Fox

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)

along the road

While driving this month, use this rhyme to remind your little ones that we can depend on God. Sing it to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb."


Out of the Comfort Zone |


to u g h to p i c s GOD’S WORD UNDER ATTACK Those of us in relationship with Jesus know the Bible is true in part because our souls respond to it. The Holy Spirit in us affirms that He authored those words. But for friends and family on the other side of belief, accepting the Bible as truth is more often a cerebral matter. That’s okay! The Bible can stand up to academia. • Historical accuracy: The Bible accurately documents ancient wars, geographic locations, and cultural practices, many consistent with secular texts. • Fulfilled prophecy: About two thousand prophecies from the Old Testament have come true. Of the 333 prophecies predicting the Messiah, the only ones that remain unfulfilled relate to His second coming. • Consistency: While the Bible, in its original writings, is perfectly consistent, some of the translations that have been made over the years contain slight inconsistencies that actually validate Scripture all the more! Variations attest to the authors’ multiple points of view and remind us that scribes didn’t change the text to hide them. Their copies are honest and true! To learn more about Scripture’s legitimacy, explore The Case for Christ for Kids by Lee Strobel and Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door by Josh McDowell.


the middle (6 t h


8 t h GRADE)

BUILDING FAITH MUSCLES As human beings, we desire to live in predictable environments. When left to our own ways, we seek comfort above all. Your middle school child is no different and, most likely, dislikes being placed out of her comfort zone more than anyone. At this stage of life your child is prone to be self-centered and inwardly focused, only caring about himself. This is because he's discovering and shaping his own identity. He's engulfed by and focused on forming his own personal framework of values and beliefs, and he's figuring out how to fit in with the social system around him. This often enables middle school kids to only look within themselves. Yet we see in Scripture again and again that when God calls His people to go out out of their comfort zones, their faith develops into a deeper dependence and stronger

reliance upon God than ever before. Take Moses, for example. God called him to free His people from a life of slavery and lead His people out of Egypt. But Moses disagreed with God’s call. However, God’s response to Moses persuaded him to answer the call. God continually told Moses that as he stepped out of his comfort zone, God would be the one working in and through him. The God of the universe would be with him the entire way. The promise God gave Moses is the same promise we have today. As we step out of our comfort zones, God promises to be with us. To help your child not only understand but also experience this dependence, we encourage you to place them in environments where they’re out of their comfort zones. Here are some examples of how to do this as a family:


Eat a meal at a culturally different eatery. Drive through a culturally different part of your city/town. Invite new church families over for a meal. Encourage kids to use their own money to give to your home church and beyond. Help feed the homeless. Go on a mission trip. After you’ve experienced being out of your comfort zones, talk about opportunities for your kids to step out in faith in their everyday lives, and empower them to take action.

by Bryan Pogue

Out of the Comfort Zone |


m a r r i ag e


I can’t think of an area in our lives where living out of the comfort zone is more applicable than in marriage. In fact, here's one promise the Bible gives about marriage: “Those who marry will face many troubles” (1 Corinthians 7:28). Some people are so afraid of leaving their comfort zone that they never marry. Let me give you a word of comfort: Marriage takes every spouse out of his or her comfort zone! No marriage succeeds without great sacrifice, without dying to one’s self. Men and women are very different, and marriage often magnifies those differences. In order to have an effective marriage, we need to do things that often feel uncomfortable or unnatural to us. For example, we have to learn to love our partner the way he or she wants to be loved. My wife, Becky, feels loved when I make her breakfast, help with the dishes, or go on walks with her. I don’t really like making breakfast, doing the dishes, or 21

walking as a form of exercise. But in order to have a great marriage, I must leave my comfort zone and do things that show her my love. You are transformed when you step out of your comfort zone. And when you become more sacrificial and more loving, you become more like Jesus.

STEPPING OUT What specific things can you do to improve your relationship with your spouse? •M  ake a list of 10 things each of you could do to help the other person feel more loved. Keep the list in your Bible and try to do at least one thing every day this month—without fail. Though you may be out of your comfort zone, your marriage will start to look and feel radically different—transformed by love!

Out of the Comfort Zone |


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

Inbox w/ Michelle Anthony

Too Old for Social Media?

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

Nothing propels a grandparent out of her comfort zone faster than the ever-changing technology of social media. In fact, I believe my one-year-old grandson actually understands it better than I do. He's actually too young to pronounce the word phone, yet he can turn it on, unlock it, and find his favorite apps.

Q: A:

I believe that taking my children on a mission trip would be a great way to get my them out of their comfort zone. What age would you recommend beginning this? K. Carpenter, Irvine, California

Going on mission is absolutely a great way to expose your children to this environment. Your children will experience cultural differences that will allow them to flex their faith muscles. There are a few things to consider when evaluating the proper age to go abroad. The first issue has to do with your parenting climate. Are you able to be flexible, discipline appropriately and consistently, and can you manage stressful circumstances while still caring for your child? If you can say yes to all of these questions, then bringing your child on a mission trip will lessen the strain on the team as a whole. The second issue is one of support. Do you have a spouse (or friend or family member) who is willing to sacrifice in this manner to give your child this experience? This may mean one of you staying behind on a certain task or adventure for a sick or napping child. And, finally, is the leader of the group willing to allow children on the trip? If so, has she (as well as you) investigated local medical care facilities and emergency procedures? This short checklist doesn't include such issues as developmental issues, pre-existing health conditions, and legal issues of custody that might also influence this decision. Reflecting back, I'm grateful for the abundant experiences that my children were able to have cross-culturally from the time they were under two years until their college and young adult years. Watching how God used those times and the relationships they made to shape their hearts for dependence inspires me to encourage others to bring their children into similar experiences.

written by Debbie Guinn

Our fear of technology can actually create a divide between generations. With a little effort we can easily bridge the gap. Here are three simple entry points into social media:

TEXTING: The exchange of brief written text messages between two mobile phones. A friend recently told me that her 89-year-old mother-in-law began texting when she realized it was a great way to communicate with her teenage grandchildren. In fact, she purchased a book on texting acronyms and abbreviations. She now sents text message that send the family into laughter. The kids have to look up the meanings of the messages because even they aren't familiar with the acronyms. Another grandmother I know uses texting as a method to watch college football with her grandsons. She sends short messages during the game about plays or players. Her grandsons think she's absolutely the coolest and respect her stepping for out of her comfort zone to connect with them in this way.

FACEBOOK: A free website that lets users share photos and comments on day-to-day activities. Users can set their preferred level of privacy so that only approved people—Facebook "friends"—see the material that a user posts. Some people use Facebook to meet new friends and connect with old ones, but many use it to strengthen relationships they already have. I recently attended a wedding where the grandmother of the groom was too frail to attend. He later told me that his grandmother felt like she was able to be a part of the celebration through the photos he posted on Facebook. Her messages and comments blessed and encouraged him both before and after his wedding.

INSTAGRAM: A free photo-sharing program and social network that allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter, and share it with other Instagram users. This app is available for your smartphone. Part of the fun is getting to see photos of all that's going on in your children and grandchildren’s day. I “follow” my granddaughter on Instagram, and I get to see what's important to her in the moment. Even if it’s just a picture of the bagel she had for breakfast with the caption “YUM," I am part of her day without being there. Social media should never replace person-to-person contact, but it does help you keep in touch with busy adult children and grandchildren. Technology can be daunting when we don’t understand how to use it. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and sign up for classes or just ask your grandchildren, I’m sure they would be happy to teach you.


Out of the Comfort Zone |

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 aweinspiring 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 God’s glory. “God has a big story, and I can be a part of it!” 2. Identity—This environment highlights who we are in Christ. According to Ephesians 1, we have been chosen, adopted, redeemed, sealed, and given an inheritance in Christ … all of which we did nothing to earn. This conviction allows children to stand firm against the destructive counter identities the world will offer. “I belong to God, and He loves me!” 3. Faith Community—God designed us to live in community and to experience Him in ways that can only happen in proximity to one another. The faith community serves to create an environment to equip and disciple parents, to celebrate God’s faithfulness, and to bring a richness of worship through tradition and rituals, which offer children an identity. Our love for each other reflects the love we have received from God. “God’s family cares for each other and worships God together.” 4. Serving—This posture of the heart asks the question, “What needs to be done?” It allows the Holy Spirit to cultivate a sensitivity to others and focuses on a cause bigger than one individual life. It helps fulfill the mandate that as Christ followers we are to view our lives as living sacrifices that we generously give away! “Asks the question, ‘What needs to be done?’”

5. Out Of The Comfort Zone—As children are challenged to step out of their comfort zones from an early age, they learn to experience a dependence on the Holy Spirit to equip and strengthen them beyond their natural abilities and desires. We believe this environment will cultivate a generation that, instead of seeking comfort, seeks a radical life of faith in Christ. “God transforms me when I step out in faith.” 6. Responsibility—This environment captures the ability to take ownership for one’s life, gifts, and resources before God. A child must be challenged to take responsibility for his or her brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as for those who are spiritually lost. Our hope is that the Holy Spirit will use this environment to allow each child to understand that God has entrusted His world to us. “God has entrusted me with the things and people He created around me.”


7. Course Correction—This environment flows out of Hebrews 12:11–13 and is the direct opposite of punishment. Instead, biblical discipline for a child encompasses a season of pain, the building up in love, and a vision of a corrected path for the individual with the purpose of healing at its core. “When I get off track, God offers me a path of healing.” 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. Innate in 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, and yet God’s Word offers just that. As we create an environment that upholds and displays God’s truth, we give children a foundation based on knowing God, His Word, and a relationship with Him through Christ. God is holy, mighty, and awesome, yet He has chosen to make Himself known to us!


An Awakening for Today’s Families BY MICHELLE ANTHONY

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


Out of the Comfort Zone |

ELEMENTARY Rio for elementary helps kids learn to experience God, discern His voice, and know the Spirit’s powerful work in their lives. Every lesson is age appropriate and designed to engage children in kindergarten and first grade. Rio comes complete with everything you need to lead your class.

Digital Kit Lesson PDFs and Editable Word documents: Walk the leader through the lesson flow with an emphasis on allowing the leader to teach from the overflow of their own heart. Tailor the lessons to fit your group with the editable Word documents also included. Activity Pages: Give kids a way to go deeper into the lesson and God’s Word through fun and contemplative activities. The Big Bible Panorama (Black & White version included): Is an engaging large-scale bible timeline. Kids will interact and learn the context from the passage of the week and see how everything fits into God’s grand story. StoryPoints: Attach on The Big Bible Panorama to further show where the lesson fits into the timeline. More to the Story: Lets you go deeper into the Bible with historical, archaeological, cultural, and geographic information. BreakOUT Cards: Are printable posters, maps, memory verses, role-plays, game cards, and more. Media Kit: Music, sound effects, slideshows, and links to videos that will enhance your lessons. Family Card: Is a monthly resource that offers families simple ways to weave life and faith together with activities, discussion starters, and much more.

The Big Bible Panorama (color edition) Get this 11-foot, full-color printed edition of The Big Bible Panorama time-line and watch your kids’ amazement to see God’s grand story! One per class recommended.

HomeFront: A Spiritual Parenting Resource The perfect resource to help equip parents to be the spiritual leaders of their children. Complete with family tradition ideas, recipes, articles, and more this free new digital magazine can be sent right to your inbox each month! Quickly share it with parents via e-mail or as a handout on Sunday mornings. Plus, there’s an app for that! For Android, iPhone, and iPad.

Rio Elem  
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