In February, The Church at Severn Run hosted a Royal Father Daughter Ball and the results were fantastic. Over two-hundred and fifty golden tickets were sold to church members and members of the surrounding kingdom. On the night of the ball, the young ladies were escorted to the ballroom...
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This Week's Life Lifter: For God loved the world so muchthat he gave his one and only Son,so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16) Think back to a time you fought for something. Was it important to you? We fight for things we...
“They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Acts 1:14 People often have an idealized idea of what praying as a family should look like. In a perfect world, praying with children would be easy. We would sit around the table with our well behaved children (who would have...
When I was nine or ten years old, the most desired item on my Christmas list was a Dr. Dreadful Food Lab. It was a lab kit that you could make all kinds of jello molds shaped like spiders, worms and all kinds of unappetizing things that kids can't get enough of. Now being, by far, the...
In February, The Church at Severn Run hosted a Royal Father Daughter Ball and the results were fantastic. Over two-hundred and fifty golden tickets were sold to church members and members of the surrounding kingdom. On the night of the ball, the young ladies were escorted to the ballroom, entering on a red carpet where they received enchanting tiaras fit for a royal.
From there, each proud king was announced by name while presenting his princess for the entire court to see. Culinary masters (AKA mothers of the young princesses) from all over the realm came together to create a dining experience that none would soon forget.
Dinner was served, lemonade flowed freely and once everyone had had their fill of the main courses, the vast table of cupcakes was unveiled. Chocolate, strawberry and vanilla cupcakes all topped with a rich icing made the evening even more magical. Competitions were held, and the princesses were delighted to see their royal fathers dancing to songs such as Can’t Stop the Feeling! and Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae). There was dancing, there was singing and each of those beautiful young ladies was absolutely beaming.
Now, while the ball was a huge success, let’s take a second to talk about the reason things like father/daughter dances are so popular right now.
Dads, you are so SO important in your precious little girls’ eyes. You are her hero. You are her love. You are her Daddy.
Life easily gets busy and chaotic; we as parents get so bogged down dealing with everyday trials that it can be easy to forget how much your daughters need you to invest in them. The relationship between father and daughter is so sweet. I am not saying that other relationships like mother/daughter, father/son are less rewarding or less important, but there is certainly something precious about a daddy and his little girl.
You, as her earthly father, have to opportunity to instill in her how much her Heavenly Father loves and values her. Remind her how very beautiful she is inside and out by pointing out the good you see in her. Turn her towards the scripture of Proverbs 31 and emphasize that the beauty that matters is the beauty that comes when Christ shines through her.
Dads, take you daughter out so you can establish A high expectation for a Godly relationship. Talk to her; ask her questions about her likes and dislikes, open doors for her. Show her how she should be treated as a precious Daughter of the Heavenly King.
Dr. James Dobson wrote a book I highly recommend called “Bringing Up Girls” (there is also “Bringing Up Boys” that I’ve heard great things about). In a chapter called, “Why Daddies Matter” Dobson has this to say: “There is a place in the female soul reserved for Daddy, or a daddy figure, that will always yearn for affirmation. Not every girl or woman is the same, of course, but almost every girl desires a close bond with this most significant man in her life. She will adore him if he loves and protects her and if she finds safety and warmth in his arms. She will tend to see all men through the lens of that relationship.”
He goes on to ask, “Why do girls and women have such intense needs for affirmation from their fathers, and why does the hurt caused by abandonment or rejection often reverberate for a lifetime? As you’ll recall, a primary reason for this inner ache is because a daughter’s sense of self-worth and confidence is linked directly to her relationship with her dad. What he thinks about her and how he expresses his affection is a central source of her perceived value as a human being. It also affects her femininity and teaches her how to relate to boys and men.”
So, in case you didn’t know already, Dads, you have a big job loving those precious daughters of yours.
It is my sincerest prayer that we, as parents, look to our Heavenly Father when guiding the little hearts and minds of the daughters and sons he has given us.
The mother of three little princesses
For God loved the world so much
that he gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Think back to a time you fought for something. Was it important to you? We fight for things we care about or feel entitled to.
What about your life? It seems like an easy question, yet Mark 8:35 says “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News (gospel message), you will save it.”
There are few things that are more miserable than hanging onto your own life when you need to let go, but listen to the words of Jesus. He says that if you do what comes natural by hanging on to your life then the most unnatural thing will happen, you will face death.
We will fight to hold on to our view of the world, to get what we want, and we get mad when life does not work out exactly how we thought it should. We will fight with all we’ve got before we die. In the spiritual realm, when we are willing to fight to the death, we are fighting against life.
The way the world views religion, Jesus is here to serve us. This view thinks that God should give us what we want in exchange for us serving him. The world says that you can be religious, but yet still harbor hateful thoughts and feelings towards others. The world says that God can have a small part of your life, and you can keep the rest.
But this is not how it works.
In the beginning or the end, your life is either kept for yourself or given completely to Jesus. You cannot be partially crucified. The given life is an “all in” kind of life. Or it isn't given at all.
This is the example that God set for us.
It says in John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
His life was THE given life.
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“They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Acts 1:14
People often have an idealized idea of what praying as a family should look like. In a perfect world, praying with children would be easy. We would sit around the table with our well behaved children (who would have perfectly clean faces and perfectly ironed clothes), we would all hold hands and bow our heads, and even the youngest would remain quiet during this time of intersession with God.
But is this obviously not a perfect world, and I don’t know about your family, but my kids are loud. They usually have the remnants of their most recent meal on their clothes and they rarely sit still for anything other than Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. My house is one monkey short of being a circus. So it can be a struggle to find, or more importantly, make time to teach our young ones to talk to Jesus. But find that time we must
When I was in college I went on a mission trip to East Africa. Our group spent months preparing for this trip. We would get together as a group to learn about the people we would meet and learn about their culture. We practiced how to speak to a group using an interpreter and we had amazing prayer meetings. One of my favorite things we would do during the prayer meetings is, we would pray with our eyes open, we would pray as if God were a tangible person sitting in the room with us. It felt strange at first, certainly not how I prayed when I was growing up, but it taught me that prayer can happen at anytime in any place. My understanding of prayer grew. It showed me another way that prayer can be an extremely intimate and powerful act of group worship.
I have taken this approach and applied it to my own “group”. My family.
My children have a tendency to be intimidated by the thought of talking to The Lord. They think there are certain words to say, a specific way to pray. While I want them to have an attitude of reverence and awe, I also want them to understand that they are God’s children and he delights in them. Even when they thank him for every single one of their favorite toys and it takes 5 minutes to list them all. I want them to simply get used to talking to God, whether that be around the table thanking him for our food or telling him about their Barbies and dinosaurs.
5 Ways to Pray as a Family
1. Set aside intentional time to pray together.
Set aside a regular time to pray with your kids or spouse. For my family, this is usually while we are driving to school in the morning or before bed at night. Praying for their safety at school, praying for the teachers and their friends is a great way to kick off the day. At night, we pray once everyone is in bed. The kids will (hopefully) be starting to settle down and it just seems like a natural time for children to open up and talk about whats on their hearts.
2. Pray spontaneously.
If you see a car accident, say a prayer out loud for those involved. If your kids are testing your patience, stop and let them hear you telling God how much you love them even when your tired and frustrated. If you can’t find the car keys, say a quick prayer together about it.
3. Let them see you pray on your own.
Get on your knees in front of your couch, let them see what it looks like to be in communication with the Lord throughout the day. You set the tone and the example for your children in your home.
4. Make a prayer chart or jar.
Make a chart and keep it in a visible place in the house or make a prayer jar. Get a jar or mug and fill it with strips of paper with people and things to pray about. Keep it on the kitchen table, during dinner take turns praying about whatever topic is picked.
5. Give thanks for answered prayer.
Make a point to give thanks and celebrate answered prayer. Its important for children to understand that God answers prayers.
Prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can communicate with the Lord, and helping our children understand that and participating as a family is an amazing blessing.
When I was nine or ten years old, the most desired item on my Christmas list was a Dr. Dreadful Food Lab. It was a lab kit that you could make all kinds of jello molds shaped like spiders, worms and all kinds of unappetizing things that kids can't get enough of. Now being, by far, the most mischievous child my parents produced, I spent much of my time searching out the place my mom hid our Christmas presents. This particular year, she went with hiding them under her bed (c’mon mom, you gotta try a little harder than that). After I spent a few minutes sifting through what was surely gifts for my older brother and sister, I saw it.
My Dr. Dreadful Food Lab. And I couldn’t believe it!
My parents are generous givers but by nine years old, I had learned that there was no guarantee of receiving what you had on your Christmas List. But this year I had, and of course I was too excited not to share. I ran to my older bother and told him what I had done and what I had seen. Once I had gone, he went to my mother and told HER what I had done and seen. My mother took this as an opportunity to teach her young daughter a lesson and without saying a word, returned the food lab and let me discover this on my own when come Christmas morning I had nothing to make jello in the shapes of spiders and worms.
I am sure many people can say the same but, growing up there were some years of plenty and some years of less when it came to the number of gifts under the tree. And you know what? To this day, there are only a handful of presents that I remember.
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” -Dr. Seuss, How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Keeping Christmas special in a culture that teaches us it is better to receive than to give and that more is never enough, is a challenge. So how do we keep Christmas special in an over-commercialized society?
Give Christmas back to Jesus
There are so many things vying for attention during the Christmas season. Between mom stressing over out of town guest, parents stressing over how to pay for gifts, Santa and those reindeer and Elves on shelves, there are no shortage of distractions. Give all of Christmas back to Jesus. Not part of it. All of it. Make time to celebrate with your children and family the birth of Jesus. Make a point to talk about and obsess over the fact that Christ came to the earth in the form of an infant to save us all. Be passionate about this and stop to think about two scared teenagers who traveled a considerable distance on a donkey to give birth in a smelly, dirty stable to a baby who would grow up to redeem us from our sins.
Turn off the TV and stick to family favorite Christmas movies
We generally only allow our kids to watch approved movies. When they watch cartoons on regular TV, they are bombarded with an endless barrage of crazy toys on commercials that they are convinced they need. Literally year round I was hearing, “I want this! I need this! Can I get this for Christmas?!” Once we cut out TV with the commercials, the constant comments of “I want! I want!” were significantly reduced. It is a difficult task of raising children who are grateful for what they have, it is even more difficult when we put things in front of them they don’t need. We have a long list of Christmas movies that we regularly watch in our family. Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Pluto’s Christmas Tree, The Small One (a story about the donkey Mary rode to Bethlehem), the old claymation Rudolf, Lord of The Rings (For adults only at this point. I have no idea how or why we started watching this at Christmas but we snuggle up with the lights off, a fire in the fire place and enjoy watching goblins, orcs, hobbits and all of the amazing Christian symbolism that J.R. R. Tolkien’s beautiful mind gave us) and last but not least, my personal favorite, The Muppets Christmas Carol. It doesn’t get much better than a bunch of sarcastic puppets telling a great story.
Or better yet, turn off TV and read books together
My Mother is a Reading Specialist and she has a knack for finding the most amazing books. There are several that I read as a kid that are still popular today:
- The Wild Christmas Reindeer, by Jan Brett
- The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg
- Bear Stays Up For Christmas, by Karma Wilson
- Letters From Father Christmas, by J.R.R Tolkien
And of course, by far the best Christmas story happens in the book of Matthew and Luke.
Celebrate Advent as a family
Growing up in the church, I remember the Advent wreath at the front of the sanctuary with four candles that someone would light every Sunday while reading a scripture verse. At the end of the service my sister and I would get to blow out the candles (blowing out candles and drinking the left over grape juice after communion were perks of being the Pastor’s kids). We get Advent from the Latin word “adventus” meaning “coming," it is the time for preparing for the coming of Christ and I can’t think of a better way to teach children and family about the birth of Jesus than inviting Advent into our homes. The advent calendars counting down to Christmas filled with chocolates are great but if you are looking for something more substantial, LifeWay.com has an article- 6 Ideas for Celebrating Advent as a Family, you can download a free Advent Family Guide that includes family activities, weekly devotionals and daily readings.
Create your own family traditions
Today with free WiFi, tablets and smartphones, it has never been easier to jump online and peruse the hundreds of websites and blogs filled with family friendly Holiday ideas. Do some good old fashioned research and find some ideas that fit your family. Some of my favorite traditions with my family are making Christmas cookies for our neighbors (that the kids decorate themselves...which make for some interesting looking cookies, who knew Christmas trees could be orange and purple?), my oldest daughters and I make a large batch of homemade cinnamon rolls to enjoy on Christmas morning, Maryland has several great places to see Christmas lights from the comfort of your car (adding some hot apple cider sounds even better). This year I want to try a hot cocoa party, where we get all bundled up, stay up late and drink hot cocoa, look at the stars and just spend time together.
In the end, the key to making Christmas special instead of commercial is time and a little preparation- take extra time to slow down this Christmas to really connect and make memories with family, friends and the community around you.