Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Plan-Here's How We're doing it

If strategy is not your strong suit (it is not mine), I hope these types of posts are helpful. If strategy is a place you thrive, you can be even more diligent in this. Here we go...

As I shared in yesterday's post, September's focus is LOVE. We define love as "the decision to give at all times no matter what to have a right relationship." We use one memory verse per week. Keep in mind the age ranges of your children. Ours are all under 8 years old, so we pick verses that are manageable for them to learn in a week, but not too easy. We used some of 1 Corinthians 13 last year. God's Word is packed full of verses about love so take your pick! Below are our verses and some examples of questions we might ask. I love this because it also challenges me to deepen my knowledge of the Scriptures in order to explain them thoroughly to my kids. Not to take them out of context, but teach them each according to the full counsel of God's Word.

Week 1
Memory Verse: Mark 12:29-31
"This is the most important, Jesus answered: Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is:Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these."

We discuss briefly what it means to love the Lord with all you are and love other people as much as you love yourself. I ask them things like, what are some things we can do to show God that we love Him? How do we love Him with all our hearts? What are some things we can do for other people to show them that we love them... specifically family, teachers, students and those we cross paths with each day? We also talk about showing others preference before ourselves.

If your kids are a little older or you want to go further, my husband uses 4 "D" words to explain loving God with ALL the...

Heart: That's our Desires. How do we love God with what we want?
Soul: That's our Delights. How do we love God with what we enjoy or take pleasure in?
Mind: That's our Decisions. How do we love God with how we make choices? When given an opportunity to make a choice ask 3 simple questions. Is it wise? Is it best? Does it please the Lord? (Our kids actually made this into a small song)
Strength: That's what we Do.

Week 2
Memory Verse: 1 Peter 4:8
"Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins."

This week we covered loving people SO much that even when they hurt us, we can forgive them because of our great love for them and having received God's grace toward us. We address loving another person when we're hurting and don't feel like loving and loving another person enough to apologize when we have hurt them. Ask any questions that may further your children's understanding of the verses and define terms they may not understand. Definitions are very important for our children to understand and for us to explain them to make sure we understand.

Week 3
Memory Verse: John 13:34-35
"I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

We focused on how this command is distinct from loving your neighbor as yourself and loving as Christ loves. When we love our neighbor as ourself, we do for our neighbor as we would want to be done for us. "But God demonstrated His love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8). We expanded upon the idea from the previous week of loving unconditionally, being willing to give up our lives for others regardless of who they are, where they come from, what they look like, or what they have done.

Week 4
Memory Verse: Romans 13:8
"Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."

This week we focused on two major questions: 1) What does it mean to owe someone? 2) How does love fulfill the law? We rehearsed the Ten Commandments and specifically asked the question, "If we love God and love others would we do the things God has said not to do? Would we do the things God has commanded us to do? We described owing someone as someone providing a service or doing something to you or for you and you having the burden, responsibility, and duty to pay or repay them. We linked that to discussions about finances and the reality that being a Christian provides us the righteous duty of giving to others. After all, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," (Acts 20:35).

My prayer is that we would be faithful in communicating the wonders of The Lord to the next generation and that starts in our homes. I hope you'll join us in doing the same! In October, we're taking a look at Joy!:-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day Two - The What

My husband directs a Christian sports camp for urban youth, which means our kids are saturated in ministry during the summer so with a desire to teach them God's Word day-to-day, we asked what might fit our schedule best, as well as be practical and befitting children under 8 years old. In the fall of 2014 we decided that September through May provides us 9 months and there are 9 attributes named in Galatians 5:22-23,

"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law." 

We chose this passage to remind ourselves of how we are able to live because God's Spirit lives in us! Our three oldest children have professed faith in Jesus Christ and we want them to know that they have the Spirit of God living in them to produce that fruit. This exercise also provides them the opportunity to practice living out these passages, as well as provides an immediate standard when they live outside of the expectations. I've noticed that it doesn't only help my children, but it helps me stay focused on the Lord and His Word each day.We decided to take 1 attribute a month and 1 passage of Scripture each week. It went really well in 2014, so we're doing it again this year. We changed the scriptures in order to broaden their knowledge base of God's Word, and plan on changing most of the verses each year. Obviously, we will repeat some because it's all beneficial.

I have a small chalkboard in our entryway. I use it to write the fruit focus for the month. This month, Love is the focus. We go in order of the text. I also have a dry erase board in our kitchen where I write the verse for the week each Sunday. We rehearse the verses at the breakfast table and on our drive to school and most of the time, the oldest 3 (and ME!) have them memorized by Friday! So cool! Whoever gets it memorized gets some sort of reward. Candy is a hot commodity at our house because we don't eat it often, so last week it was gummy worms! Whatever you use, make it something special and different and make sure they know they are receiving it for learning God's Word. And don't forget that if YOU also learn the memory verse, you can demonstrate enjoying the same reward you give your children. BUT, if you do not know the verse it may cheapen their experience if you find yourself indulging in the reward. I'm talking to myself as well.;-)

It's such a fun way to make sure I'm still growing and hiding God's Word in my heart and demonstrating that for my kids. God's word WILL bear fruit in our lives AND our children's! You can take that check to the bank and cash it.;-) Tomorrow we'll detail the nuts and bolts even more so you can have a strategic monthly plan.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why God's Word?

In my "And Then There Were Three" post about the kids heading off to school, I confessed some fears I have as a public school momma. While I am praying and trusting The Lord with my children being at the school, that's not the only thing I'm doing. We want to hide the word of God in our children's hearts because the Lord commands parents to teach children about Him wherever they are and throughout each of the days activities. This helps calm my fears as well. : ) As they're learning math, spelling, and reading, I want to feed their little spirits with the life-giving food of God's word. I'm sharing what we're doing to provide a framework for anyone who would like to do the same, but first I want to give you other reasons why this is so important to us.

We believe God's Word is "alive and active" (Hebrews 4:12), but never changes and will always remain the same. I know that sounds redundant, but in today's world, where the stories change and people think that they are the same, or people change the ageless stories to put their own spin on them, I thought it worth saying. God's Word teaches, guides, corrects, and challenges us throughout life. His Word will never pass away (Matthew 24:35) and is like a mirror showing us how we spiritually look (James 1:22-25). God's eternal truth lies within every page of the Bible, including principles, laws, wisdom, and the history of His chosen people. Most of all, it's the greatest love story ever written about an everlasting Father who created a perfect world for humans to use to bring Him glory, a fallen people who loved the creature, more than the Creator, and a fallen world waiting, hoping, and longing for a Savior (Romans 8:18-25). Even after Jesus came, many rejected Him, but others saw the glory of His miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 2:22-24) including His life, death, and resurrection. Because of Christ, those who believe in Him receive His grace...His unrelenting grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

As David said in Psalm 19:7-10, "The Law of The Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of The Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of The Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of The Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they then gold; yea, than much fine gold. Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."

For these and many other reasons, we are passionate about our children knowing God's Word inside and out, and desire to see them enjoy it for the rest of their lives. Over the next two days, I'm going to share a few of the ways we are teaching our children how to hide God's Word in their hearts. Check back tomorrow!: )

Friday, September 4, 2015

And Then There Were Three...


Well, it's the end of the first week of school and we made it!! Three Pope kids are now in school! It is SUPER weird to only have two little ones at home, but there are a lot of things to look forward to in that. I have to be honest, there have been a ton of tears shed this week. Letting go of complete control over my children's environment is a HUGE struggle for me! Not, only that, but I just miss them. I love my kids and I miss them terribly.

God has been continually whispering to me a verse from Philippians that says, "Don't worry about anything, but in EVERYTHING, through prayer and petition with Thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (4:6-7) He keeps reminding me that although many of our schools have tried to squeeze Him out, He is there! He does not leave my children when they step through the doors of their school and I can rest in that. THANK YOU LORD!

So, here are three things I'm looking forward to for this school year. 1. I get to spend more one-on-one time with my youngest two children! Reading books, learning shapes, colors, numbers and even Bible verses with these two will be a blast! 2. I get to invest in helping other mom's of young children by leading a Mops Bible study. 3. I will be able to see my three oldest learn what it's like to stand out and stand up for their faith in our local school which is a lesson that will help then stand firm for the rest of their lives!

Three things I'm trusting The Lord with in prayer are 1. My fear that my children will be harmed. I'm trusting Him to protect my children... Their minds, bodies and spirits. 2. I'm giving up trying to be everything to everyone and trusting Him to simply use me as a vessel of His love and grace wherever He sees fit.  And 3. I'm laying down my right to control every area of my children's lives and allowing Him room to work through different places and people... Remembering that it is what my children see and experience at home with their own parents that will impact them the most. Father, help us as we trust you with this school year! In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Sorry about my hubs in the background... We, of course, were in a hurry, but needed to capture the moment!:-) 2nd, 1st and Kindergarten... Look out!