“Mommy, I can’t sleep. Can I come and snuggle in your bed?” Anyone experiencing this question these days? Are your children experiencing bad dreams? eating disorders? emotional outbursts? lack of attention to homework or even play? negative thoughts? nail biting, hair pulling, repeatedly running to the bathroom? School has not even begun again yet, but signs and symptoms of anxiety in children may be insidiously creeping into your child’s life and the life of your family.
There is no question that we love our children and want to do everything we can to protect them in this uncertain, anxious time of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural for us, as parents and grandparents, to default to protection mode. Older and wiser, yet also facing anxiety in these uncertain times, we may try to protect our children by attempting to solve their problems and distresses for them, reduce or avoid the worries that trigger anxiety in them, or even try to organize and engineer their lives to block worry.
When I was a child, my bedtime routine always ended with a story. After dinner, my sisters and I would have about an hour to finish up anything we needed to finish and then the routine would commence. It started with the normal things: showers, hair brushing, teeth brushing, flossing, and so on. Once we were sufficiently clean, my mom would allow one of us to pick out a book from the big bookshelf in the play room, and we would sit at the kitchen table as she read to us. We knew after the story was over, that it was time to go to bed. I have many memories around that kitchen table at bedtime.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
More than anything, I want my kids, throughout their lives, to know how loved they are. I want them to savor the beauty of God’s creation, to know His peace, and to pour out His love. With recent school closures and social distancing guidelines, reorienting myself and my family to the new normal has added complications to my already messy life. I’ve also wrestled with what to share, how to share it, and what to omit for my kids’ protection to anchor my family more intentionally to Christ instead of fear. While our regular schedules have been upended due to the current pandemic and worldwide angst, we’ve also been given a unique opportunity to go back to a lifestyle that was commonplace before the 19th century—a time of embracing familial tasks and sharing with our neighbors and loved ones in an intimate way.
I grew up with one Bible in my household. It was a children’s storybook Bible. Featuring over a hundred stories from the Old and New Testaments, it was my only look at the Word of God. It had pictures that had been illustrated by children around the world paired with a short paragraph of text that summarized the story of each specific passage. That version of the Bible was my only way to God’s Word.
Being a teacher involves patience, dedication, passion, lots of hours, and above all, love for your students. In these times of uncertainty when so many don’t know when they will be returning to school, how schools may look in the future, or if students are hearing the loving words of Jesus that they desperately need, be certain Jesus is with us as our guide.
Church services can sometimes be confusing for little ones. They will have questions about what they are seeing. Teaching young children about the individual parts of the church service can seem daunting. And it starts with learning yourself what it all means! It’s a great opportunity to help them grow and understand the symbols of our Christian faith. This is the second post in a series on teaching our youngest churchgoers about the parts of the service.
Church services can sometimes be confusing for little ones. Why is it so quiet? Why does pastor wear that funny robe? Why do we say the same thing every week? Teaching young children about the individual parts of the church service can seem daunting. And it starts with learning yourself what it all means! This is the first of a series of posts on teaching our youngest churchgoers about the parts of service.
I will always remember the surprise and joy of listening to my brother’s first spontaneous prayer. In our family of six, my parents strove to lead nightly devotions and prayers. Though we didn’t get to it every night, it was enough that my brother, the youngest, was able to catch on to what we were doing. After a group prayer, the rest of us would take turns saying prayers out loud. In the middle of someone else’s petition, he suddenly burst out, “Thank You for the sandbox!” Then we knew it was time for Dalen to have a turn in our nightly prayers.
Have you ever tried to explain Jesus’ family to a preschooler? It’s pretty fun. You get out a picture of Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus. You have this perfect little picture of Jesus with His mom and … hold on. You’re about to say dad, but you realize that’s kind of true and kind of … not true? And voilà. You’ve just taught the children about blended families without having any intention of doing so. Or at least, that wasn’t my own original intention as I stumbled upon this discussion my first year of teaching.
Some might call that a rookie mistake, but I like to think of it as a great example of why it’s valuable to read stories of Scripture over and over again. Here’s why.
As a student at Concordia University, Nebraska, I enjoyed attending chapel services on campus. Nearly ten years later, I still remember some significant messages I heard there. In particular, I remember when a professor shared that he had been in a car accident. Thankfully, no one involved had been hurt. As he would tell people about the close call, many responded by saying, “God is good,” which is, of course, true. This professor wanted to make it clear, however, that even if he had gotten hurt in the accident, that statement would still be true. God is always good, not just when we are blessed to avoid hurt or injury.