Monthly Archives: August 2015

Faith Passed Down When You Feel Like a Failure

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– You commit to saying prayers as a family each night before bed… and then your children run around the room, screaming and playing, during the prayer.

– You take your son out for a special dessert, hoping to have a chance for quality conversation and hearing what’s on his heart, or sharing some Godly wisdom with him… and instead, he spends most of the time texting on his phone, refusing to talk with you.

– You’ve spent years raising your child, praying for her and sharing Christ with her… and now as a young adult, she’s left the church and walked away from her faith.

– You have been discipling a young teenager, mentoring her to become a young woman of integrity and purity… and then she tells you she is expecting a baby.

– You want to bring your children to church with you every Sunday, but week after week, you leave church frazzled as your children either misbehave or zone out through the whole service.

Do you ever feel like a faith-building failure? Whether it's tantrum-throwing toddlers or rebellious teenagers, sometimes young people resist our efforts to raise them to follow Jesus. Check out these suggestions for what to do when you feel like a faith-building failure.

Have you ever felt like a failure as you seek to pass faith down to the young people in your life? I sure have!

Whether it’s a day when my toddler declares “No! No! No!” when we try to say a Bible memory verse together, or the nights I returned from a youth ministry event  feeling like I had made absolutely no difference… There are times when the situation feels impossible and we feel like we are not pointing them to Jesus.

Here are a few suggestions for what to do when you feel like a faith-building failure:

1. Remind yourself of God’s grace. Repeat after me: “This is not my fault.” You are trying to serve God and serve this young person! Way to go! Just because you are not seeing the result you want does not mean you are a failure, even though you feel that way.  Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Give yourself His grace, remembering that He works in weakness and offers grace and peace, not judgment, in your efforts to share Christ with the young people in your life.

2. Focus on your own actions rather than the actions of your child. You cannot control the behavior of your child. Of course, you can try to lead them in the right direction, but ultimately, your child is not a puppet but rather a unique person, capable of decision-making and free will. God is not holding you responsible for your young person’s choices – only your own. You can control your own actions – Do you respond with love? Do you act with integrity? Are you providing a good example in your own life? Rather than seeking to force your child into a certain behavior, seek to follow God with your own behavior, and trust Him for the outcome.

While you’re at it, don’t compare yourself to anyone else’s actions either. It’s so easy to believe everyone else has it together – they don’t!

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3. Pray, pray, pray. As you focus on your own actions (see #2), prayer is a wonderful place to begin. When you don’t know what else to do, you can always pray. Pray for your child, for yourself, and for wisdom in knowing how to proceed. Pray about the particular situation you’re facing, and also for your child in general (here’s a free downloadable prayer calendar with daily prayers for children and teenagers from Inspired to Action).

4. Keep an attitude of perseverance and faithfulness. Are you becoming discouraged after three days of attempting bedtime prayers? Your child may just need to get used to a new routine. You have the potential to establish a habit of bedtime prayers for many years to come… so don’t give up after just three days!

Simply focus on the good you need to do today, trusting that God will work in these little actions to bring about His good work over time.  Whatever the situation, remember that you may need to invest for several weeks or even several years before you see the results of your efforts.

Be encouraged by Paul’s words in Philippians 1:6 – I trust they are true not only for the Philippians but also for our children: “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

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5. Consider an intentional break. On the other hand, if you find yourself truly hitting a wall, think about taking a break. Is your relationship with your teenager at a breaking point because you are trying to force him into going to church with you every week?  Consider focusing simply on your friendship/relationship, rather than including explicit Christian teaching, for a season.

If you are in a broken relationship, particularly with a teenager or older child, consider backing off on any overt Christian conversation for awhile – perhaps a period of one week to three months, depending on the situation. If your teenager is resisting your efforts to bring them to church or talk about God – give them a break. It is worth saving your long-term relationship to not alienate them, particularly if you have already laid a foundation of Christian teaching in her life up to this point.

Use this season to pray, seek wise counsel, and make a plan for your next steps. In the meantime, seek to simply be “friends” with them – go out for a meal together, watch TV together (and resist using it as a time to teach morals or good decision making!), or participate in a hobby together.

Please note: I’m not saying to eliminate all rules, like curfew and behavior standards, and let your child rule the roost. I’m just suggesting that if your child is specifically having an issue with your Christian faith, this isn’t the moment to force them to attend church or participate in family devotions.

Together, work out a time frame for a break: perhaps a six-week period where he can skip church. Be sure to set an end-point, and reevaluate at that time.

6. Ask for forgiveness if needed. I know we said earlier that this isn’t your fault. 🙂 But, do consider your own actions for a moment. Have you genuinely made a mistake? As you examine your own actions in this matter, do you realize that you have sinned? If so, confess and ask forgiveness from the Lord and also from your child.

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7. Seek wise and Godly counsel. Set up a meeting with a pastor, Christian counselor, or wise friend/family member. Ask if they can honestly see anything you should do differently. If so, see why they think this – just personal opinion? Or something Scriptural or backed up by statistics? Ask for advice, or share your plan and ask for any feedback. It may be helpful simply for you to have a chance to talk about your concerns and pray with someone about it.  Be sure to ask for confidentiality, especially as you may be painting your child in a negative light.

8. Keep going! You are doing a great job. You are a parent or adult mentor who cares about Jesus and cares about the young person in your life. Keep up the good work! Don’t give up! Through His grace, you can do it!

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**Based on your own experiences, what advice do you have for someone who feels like a faith-building failure? Leave a comment below.

You’ll find me linking up with Mom 2 Mom Monday, Mama Moments Mondays, and  Modest Mondays.

Developing a Faith-Filled Family course

Do you want a faith-filled family? I would imagine most readers of Faith Passed Down do! We want our families to focus on faith in Christ in our words and actions.

In the busyness and overwhelm of life, however, it can be difficult to be intentional about being a “faith-filled family.”

I’m excited to share a five-day course that I put together called Developing a Faith-Filled Family

The course is simple, with a brief reading each day and a printable worksheet to complete (or if you don’t have access to a printer, you can just view on your computer or mobile device). The goal is to get you thinking about your family and to make a simple, practical plan for growing spiritually in one area as a family.

By participating in this course, I hope you will be inspired to:

  • dream of a faith-filled family.
  • learn from Scripture about being a faith-filled family.
  • choose an area of spiritual growth for your family.
  • make plans for growing spiritually as a faith-filled family.
  • celebrate the work God is doing in your faith-filled family.

If you sign up for the course, every day for five days, you’ll receive an email with a reading and brief assignment. If you can’t commit to taking the course immediately, no problem! In the last day’s email, you’ll receive a copy of the entire course to complete at your own leisure.

The Developing a Faith-Filled Family course is available for $8 here.

BUT WAIT! Right now, there’s a very simple way to get it for free! Just sign up to receive daily and/or weekly emails from Faith Passed Down.

For the month of September (and these last few days of August), Developing a Faith-Filled Family is free to anyone who subscribes to emails from Faith Passed Down.

I’m excited about using Faith Passed Down as a place for not only blog posts but also other resources like ebooks, courses, printable documents, and other products. While some of these are totally free, because there are costs involved with running this blog, I do plan to release some resources like this one that are available to purchase.

However, I want to honor the loyalty of regular Faith Passed Down readers! So I plan to offer a different resource from my shop for free to email subscribers each month, beginning with Developing a Faith-Filled Family. At the end of September, a new resource will be available (and subscribers will no longer be able to get Developing a Faith-Filled Family for free).

Are you already an email subscriber? Scroll down to the end of your email and you’ll see a link to the product and a coupon code. (I think the link actually already includes the coupon code, so don’t stress if you can’t enter the code anywhere.)

To subscribe and receive free access to Developing a Faith-Filled Family, enter your name and email address here:

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Times and Places to Read the Bible with Kids

 

Do you want to read the Bible with your children, but can't find the time? This list of ideas from Faith Passed Down for times and places to read the Bible offers many ideas for making it happen!In Deuteronomy 6, Moses talks to the people of Israel about sharing God’s commands with their children. He says: “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” (Deuteronomy 6:7). 

In other words, throughout your day and in different places!

Here are some ideas for times and places to read and discuss God’s Word.

(Please note: although it would be wonderful to do all of these, I certainly don’t read the Bible with my family during all of these times. For starters, I would aim for once or twice during your day.)

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first thing in the morning – Do you have an early riser in your family? Have her join you on the couch while you read the Bible together… and while you enjoy a cup of coffee to perk up, too! 🙂

at breakfast

in the car on the way to school – Keep a Bible in your car, and while you drive, have your passengers take turns reading aloud. You could also listen to an audio version of the Bible through your car stereo system.

in the doctor’s office waiting room. I am always excited for a chance to read a magazine at the doctor’s, and usually am pretty disappointed – somehow reading recipes or entertainment news from last December isn’t so fun in the middle of summer! I am sure the Bible would be much more rewarding. 🙂

in line at the grocery store – If you have a Bible app on your phone, you can share a verse or two while you wait at the grocery store (or anywhere else, for that matter –  the gas station, the bank, Target, or waiting for public transportation).

at lunch 

during afternoon rest time

in the car on the way home from school

Do you want to read the Bible with your children, but can't find the time? This list of ideas from Faith Passed Down for times and places to read the Bible offers many ideas for making it happen!

in the car while waiting for after-school activities to begin – If you ever have downtime while waiting for your next activity – maybe picking up a child in the carpool line, or waiting for 10 minutes until soccer practice begins… then keep a Bible in your car (or get out your phone) and read for a few minutes together.

while a sibling does after-school activities – Do you find yourselves sitting on the sidelines of soccer practice with one child while his big brother practices? Pull out a Bible app on your phone and share a brief story or memory verse with the child.

during afternoon snack time/tea time – in my dream world, every day we would enjoy an afternoon tea time with home-baked cookies and vegetable sticks spread out on fine china and doilies. We would sit and read Scripture and poetry together and my children would proclaim what a perfect mother I am. 😉 In reality… most days I throw some goldfish crackers into a plastic bowl and hand it to my daughter while I sneak a bite of raw cookie dough myself. But  I can dream, right? In any case, I am sure a Bible story goes just as well with goldfish crackers as it does a perfect tea time spread. 🙂

during homework/read-aloud time – Many children have a designated amount of time to read every night (like 20 minutes a night) or a certain number of books to read. Don’t forget to include Bible reading in this time!

If your child has a certain amount of books to read… depending on your child’s age and the type of Bible you’re reading (a storybook or the “real” thing), you could count either an individual story (like “Noah’s Ark” in a storybook Bible) or a book of the Bible (like Matthew, Ephesians, Proverbs) as a “book.” I don’t personally think reading through the entire 1000+ page Bible should only count as one book. 🙂

Older children may need to do book reports or research projects. Encourage your child to select a Bible story, Scripture passage, or Christian book for a reading time or book report.

Do you want to read the Bible with your children, but can't find the time? This list of ideas from Faith Passed Down for times and places to read the Bible offers many ideas for making it happen!

at a coffee shop – An older child or teenager may enjoy going to a coffee shop or out for a special treat with you for a periodic “Bible study” time. You could order drinks or go out for ice cream, then spend a few minutes together reading the Bible and talking.

at dinner

during bathtime – If you have young children, you probably find yourself supervising their bathtime. Keep a children’s Bible in the bathroom and read a Bible story while they play in the tub. For older children and teenagers, they (understandably!) would probably prefer privacy while bathing or showering, but you could help them set up an audio version of the Bible for them to listen to during this time, if they are interested.

at bedtime – Reading a portion of the Bible is a great way to end the day!

Do you want to read the Bible with your children, but can't find the time? This list of ideas from Faith Passed Down for times and places to read the Bible offers many ideas for making it happen!

For adult mentors: If you are mentoring a child who doesn’t live in your home, you won’t have all these times available, but some of them probably still apply. Consider the suggestions below through your lens:

  • Are you a grandparent who picks up your grandchildren from school if their parents have to work late?
  • Or are you mentoring a teenager who would be happy to go out for dessert once a week with you to talk and read the Bible?
  • Maybe you are a private tutor and could offer an easy-to-read version of the Bible as a read-aloud options to your students.

Do you want to read the Bible with your children, but can't find the time? This list of ideas from Faith Passed Down for times and places to read the Bible offers many ideas for making it happen!

Whether you choose a consistent time and place for reading Scripture every day, or whether you choose to use random opportunities as they arise, I hope you are able to find a time to share Scripture with the young people in your life!

**When is your favorite time or place to read the Bible with your children?

I’m linking up each week with Mama Moments and Modest Mondays

3 Ways I Share Faith with My Kids Every Morning

Sign up here for email updates and a FREE 5-day course called “Developing a Faith-Filled Family.” Also, the links in this post are affiliate links – you can read my affiliate policy here

Do you want to share Jesus with your kids each day, but you feel too busy or overwhelmed? These simple faith-building practices take just a few minutes each morning but make a big difference in pointing kids to Jesus! // FaithPassedDown.com

Every day, I aim to do three things to pass my Christian faith down to my children. As you’ll see below, it’s nothing fancy, but I like that each day, we’ve had some “God Time” first thing in the morning – usually this all happens before 9 am, and takes less than 30 minutes total.

The rest of the day so easily fills up with playtime, cleaning up messes, errands, and just plain tiredness on my part. So we don’t always get to anything else specifically “God-related” as the day continues. By doing these three tasks, I know we’ve started off right to keep our hearts focused on Christ throughout our daily activities.

3 Parts of My Morning Routine:

Do you want to share Jesus with your kids each day, but you feel too busy or overwhelmed? These simple faith-building practices take just a few minutes each morning but make a big difference in pointing kids to Jesus! // FaithPassedDown.com

1. Personal devotion time (10 minutes).

It’s tough to share my faith in Jesus with my children when I’m not growing in that faith myself, so I aim to begin my day with a simple, brief time learning and reading Scripture.

To tell you the truth, for many, many years, having morning devotions has been a big struggle for me. As in, I just didn’t do it. I would feel guilty about not having a morning quiet time, so I would set high expectations for my devotion time: an hour each morning! read the whole Bible in a year! write out a chapter of the Bible every single day!

Inevitably, I would fail three days into my new devotion plan, and then I would feel guilty, so I would set brand new high expectations, and on and on the cycle would continue. In an effort to give myself grace in this area, I just decided not to focus on daily personal devotions for awhile.

Then, a few months ago, I started reading Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson, and she just casually mentioned her morning devotion plan (see page 76 of Own Your Life). It was so simple and sounded perfect to me! So I adapted it (to make it even more simple) and have been doing this nearly every morning:

When I wake up, I immediately go sit on the living room recliner next to our sliding glass window.  I get out my Bible, a spiral notebook, and a Christian book. Then…

1. read a Psalm and circle any attributes of God within that Psalm, like “my refuge,” “my Shepherd,” “the Sovereign one”, etc.

  • Just in the past few days, I’ve started writing one of these phrases on my hand with a pen, thanks to Joy Forney’s suggestion. It’s not the most fashionable “accessory,” but it keeps Him on my mind throughout the day (at least, until I’ve washed my hands enough times that it wears off).

2. write down five things I am thankful for in my notebook. I learned this idea from Crystal Paine at MoneySavingMom.com. I just date it and write “Thank You God for…” and then list the five things. Sometimes they are profound, other times relatively silly. In any case, it centers my heart on gratitude to God.

3. read a section of a Christian book. Right now, I’m reading the book I mentioned above, Own Your Life. There is a new heading/section of the book every page or two, so I just read a couple of pages, picking up where I left off the day before.

That’s it. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes total. While I wish it were much longer and more elaborate, it’s been so much more effective than anything else I’ve tried because it’s quick and simple. Maybe once I get this habit firmly cemented, I’ll do a bit more!

Do you want to share Jesus with your kids each day, but you feel too busy or overwhelmed? These simple faith-building practices take just a few minutes each morning but make a big difference in pointing kids to Jesus! // FaithPassedDown.com

2. Prayer for our family and our day before breakfast (2 minutes).  

Before we eat breakfast, I try to pray over our kids, my husband, and the day ahead. While  we generally pray a quick blessing/thanksgiving before all our meals, this prayer is slightly longer and focuses on our needs for the day.

Sometimes I get caught up getting ready and am late to the breakfast table! In this case, we just pause during the meal for our morning prayer.

3. Morning Time with a Bible story, memory verse, and song (15 minutes).

After breakfast, we usually get dressed, brush teeth, clean up dishes, and so on, and then I try to have Morning Time. For now, this is just my three-year old and me while our younger daughter naps and my husband is at work. (If you all have to get out the door to work or school in the morning, this could be done at breakfast time, too).

We have a “Morning Time basket” with a couple children’s Bibles and songbooks. We snuggle up on the couch or in my daughter’s bed and do the following activities:

  • We read a story out of a children’s Bible – sometimes I choose a story that connects to our God’s Little Explorers preschool curriculum, or sometimes we just read a random Bible story (right now, “Jesus Heals the Sick” is requested frequently by my Doc-McStuffins-loving girl.)
  • We say a memory verse – I’m a little slow to change this verse regularly, so we’ve been learning Psalm 23 for about a year! Every month or two we move on to the next verse, making up hand motions and saying it aloud together until we know it by heart.
  • We sing a song together out of our songbook – again, sometimes the song connects to our preschool curriculum, or sometimes it’s just random. A couple years ago I put sticky notes in our hymnal on pages with my favorite songs so it’s easy to find a familiar hymn quickly.
  • We look at the calendar and read a chapter book. We briefly talk about any upcoming events on our calendar, like a visit to Grandma’s house or a family birthday, and then I read aloud a page or two of a chapter book (we’re reading through the Little House on the Prairie series. With a three-year old, this is usually pretty brief, but we have slowly made our way through the first two books!)

All told, I would guess these three activities take less than 30 minutes a day (you can see my time estimates for each section.) I love having these activities done first thing to set a good precedent for whatever craziness the rest of the day may hold.

I loved Make Over Your Mornings - a simple 14 day course to use my days intentionally! // FaithPassedDown.com

How to Make Over Your Mornings

I have not always used my mornings so effectively, for faith building or any other activity. In fact, just a few months ago, I was often sleeping in until about 5 minutes before my husband left for work – while he got ready and fed breakfast to our kids! I was staying up late at night working on projects or browsing the internet. As a result, I was sleeping in and not using my mornings effectively.

Even after I was awake, I had no clear plan for what to do after I woke up. There were definitely no personal devotions or breakfast prayer time happening! I was always feeling behind on getting my day started and sometimes felt like I never caught up.

However, I realized how much stress I can save myself by getting a jump-start to my day and doing the most important things first. Rather than spending all day worried about not getting anything done, or feeling tired and rushed because I slept in until the last minute, I can use my mornings to do the best things, like family faith-building, right away. Then what I do (or don’t do) for the rest of the day isn’t quite so critical!

Crystal Paine from MoneySavingMom.com has been a big inspiration and influence for me in using my time well.  I even got to say hello to her last week when she spoke at an event in San Diego! I’ve learned from her writings from reading her blog for years, and a few months ago, took her online Make Over Your Mornings course (affiliate link). Through her teachings, I’ve been able to devote my mornings to the best things, using my time intentionally for faith-building in my kids and in me!

Do you want to share Jesus with your kids each day, but you feel too busy or overwhelmed? These simple faith-building practices take just a few minutes each morning but make a big difference in pointing kids to Jesus!

Make Over Your Mornings (affiliate link) is a totally doable, 14-day self-paced course to use your mornings and your whole day more intentionally. The course includes a simple daily lesson with a short video, a brief reading, and a couple assignments. The whole course is meant to take just 15 minutes or so each day for two weeks.

Through the Make Over Your Mornings course, I learned to develop a morning and evening routine, establish my daily priorities, and create realistic goals. The course never tells you to wake up early – instead to make the best use of the time you have and live intentionally each morning. (For me, this did mean setting my alarm earlier in the morning, but for you, it may mean simply waking up at your usual time, but with an intentional plan.)

I loved the Make Over Your Mornings course, and would encourage you to take a look! It’s usually $17 and comes with a money-back guarantee. But for today only (Tuesday, August 25) you can get the course for just $10! Check out this fantastic deal on Make Over Your Mornings here (affiliate link). It is hard to put a price on your time, but for me, Make Over Your Mornings has redeemed hours and hours for me by helping me live intentionally and starting the day off right – it’s definitely been worth paying $10 for that!

By using my mornings well, I’m able to get a jump start on the day, using these three simple practices – personal devotions, breakfast prayers, and Morning Time – to point our family to Christ right from the start.

**Is there a faith-building practice you do each day? When do you do it? Leave a comment below.

I’m linking up each week with Mama Moments and Modest Mondays

Other Posts from Faith Passed Down:

1. You Can Do It! Encouragement for Your Faith-building Journey

2. 6 Ways to Introduce Jesus to Even the Youngest Baby

3. Welcome to Faith Passed Down

Ava’s Baptism Blessing

writing a blessing1

As I’ve shared before, my husband and I have written blessings for each of our daughters to share with them on their Baptism days. These blessings are so special to us, and I want to share them here as an example in case anyone is looking to do the same thing.

Here is the blessing for our secondborn, Ava:

“To our peaceful little girl, Ava:
 
Today we celebrate your Baptism and welcome you into God’s family! You are so loved, little one. As we think about you, we pray for the following things to be true in your life:
 
First, Ava, we pray that you will always know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were knit together by our Creator. He has made you for a significant purpose, and we pray you will seek to live out that purpose for His glory.
 
Second, since before you were even born, we have thought of “peace” when we’ve thought of you. We pray you experience the peace that passes all understanding in your own life, and that you will be a peacemaker among your family and friends.
 
As we think about peace, we remember these verses from John , when Jesus says, “I am leaving with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again” (John 14:27).  And He says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
 
Finally, while Mama was pregnant with you, our family memorized the words of Psalm 23 together, which begins, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and it seems so appropriate for a girl named Ava.
 
The name “Ava” literally refers to “a field near the river,” which makes us think of Psalm 23:2, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters.” [Note: Ava is a nickname for our daughter’s full name, which we don’t share online.]
 
So today, we pray Psalm 23 as a blessing over you:
 
Lord, You are Ava’s Shepherd. You give her everything she needs.
Let Ava lie down in fields of green grass, and lead her beside quiet waters.
Give Ava new strength, and guide her in right paths for the honor of Your name.
Even when Ava walks through the darkest valleys, we know You are with her.
Give her the ability to not be afraid.
Comfort her with Your Shepherd’s rod and staff.
Prepare a feast for her right in front of her enemies, and anoint her head with oil.
Lord, we pray that You cause Ava’s cup to run over.
We know that Your goodness and love will follow her all the days of her life
and that she will live in Your house forever. Amen.”
For more information about writing a blessing, check out 6 Ways to Introduce Jesus to Even the Youngest Baby and scroll to number six, or read Elle’s blessing here.
**Have you ever written or spoken a blessing over your children? How did you do it?