I will be what one Christian author and speaker would call a pioneer parent. Pioneer parents are mothers and fathers who did not have the examples of Christian parents to follow in their own childhood. I, simply put, without the help of the Holy Spirit, have no clue how to raise my future children in the faith. I didn’t grow up going to Sunday School, saying bedtime prayers, or attending church. How will I parent in a way that reflects and teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ to my children?
It’s no surprise that Christmas is going to look different this year. Many of us won’t be having our usual big family celebrations or attending our typically packed Christmas services. Our ways of serving at Christmas, like doing food drives or giving trees, are likely impacted as well.
This year, we’ll all have to get a little creative, because people need assistance now more than ever! The pandemic has impacted many families’ incomes, so clothing, food, and gifts will likely be in short supply.
“How are you?”
I rarely ask that question in a conversation without receiving a response along the lines of “fine” or “doing good” or “so busy these days.” Rarely does someone respond by saying, “I am so well rested” or “My schedule is so balanced these days.”
If we were tired before 2020 brought with it a pandemic and many other difficult national crises, we are certainly tired now. If we were feeling a strain on our schedules before 2020 brought with it endless meetings over video conferencing and virtual environments for school, worship, and everything in between, we are certainly feeling that strain now.
Remember when we all hoped that we’d be able to go back to “normal” by Memorial Day? Now Labor Day has come and gone, Thanksgiving is on the horizon, and we’re all still at home. Some of us might be back in person, but a lot of us are learning new things every day as we work and attend school from home.
My social media feeds have been filled with school-related posts for the better part of this year. When the statewide shut-downs first occurred because of the pandemic, many posted about the experience of suddenly doing all schoolwork using exclusively digital mediums. As spring turned to summer and the uncertainty of fall loomed ahead, posts began to primarily feature the thoughts and feelings surrounding all of the details and decisions for the upcoming school year.
Navigating the world of parenting can often feel like running a gauntlet. How to birth your child, feed your child, and help her sleep; what he should play with and read; the daily schedule; clothing choices, schooling choices ... the list of opinions and “best practices” in these areas are daunting and often discouraging.
One of my favorite aspects of God’s Word is the way that it shapes my parenting. There are many, many challenges of parenthood that you cannot be prepared for ahead of time, and yet every time I turn to Scripture, I find hope, encouragement, and insight that guides our family’s day-to-day life. God’s Word gives me a lens and a foundation as I navigate parenthood.
As a child and teenager, I was always reminded of the Fourth Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.
Obviously, I should have been doing that anyway … but I was too busy talking back and rolling my eyes to remember.
Once I moved out and lived on my own—first at college, then as a working adult—I thought my days of obeying my parents were over. After all, I didn’t live under their roof anymore, so I got to make my own rules in my own home!
My smartphone tracks how I use it and, more specifically, the length of time that I spend each day on it. At the start of each new week I receive a notification with a weekly screen report that features the average amount of hours I was using my phone throughout the past week. Some smartphone devices call this a “digital well-being report” and I will admit that most weeks the number that pops up is almost always higher than it should be. The report is even more condemning when I open it up and can see a list of what apps I was using all of my time on. I won’t make you guess: social media apps are not strangers to the top of this list on my report.
Today, I competed in a noon ping-pong tournament in my pajamas while eating leftover pizza. I went on walks with three of my four kids. I ran the dishwasher twice. Our day also included Zoom Wars—the dreaded competitions when more than one kid has an online meeting.
Like you, COVID-19 has brought a weird new normal to our home. It’s also brought lots of idle time—and bored kids are fighting kids. I just broke up an argument that was headed for a Cain and Abel situation over the remote.
Did you know that November is National Adoption Month? November 23 is National Adoption Day.
According to the Adoption Network, there are 428,000 children currently in foster care in the US alone. More than 60 percent of these children spend two to five years in foster care before their adoption is finalized. And although a third of Americans have thought about adopting a child, only 2 percent have actually done it.
Brenda and Tim Jank are part of that 2 percent.
For the Jank family, National Adoption Month is near and dear to their hearts. They have a blended family of five children, some of whom have special needs. Three of their children—Josh, Sam, and Noah—became part of the family through the gift of adoption.