Living a Godly Legacy—Part 2

mother with her children at the seaside at sunsetIn Part 1 of this series, I talked about living a legacy for our children and grandchildren—realizing that the way we live every day is the legacy we will leave. Is a legacy of faith your goal like it is mine? Then here in Part 2, let’s begin by looking at our own relationship with God, as well as our ties to the young ones we love so much.

Relationship with God

We all need to evaluate ourselves honestly (and periodically too). Do you have a deep, rich connection with God, or if you’re new to faith, are you working on it? How does that show itself day by day? Bottom line, if we want our kids and grandkids to know, love, and obey God—how well do we know and love him, and how well do we obey?

I don’t remember a time I didn’t believe in God or believe Jesus is God’s Son and my Savior, but even years after I formally chose to follow Jesus, I couldn’t truly say that I knew God. Not until 2000, when I was invited to join a group of women who would read through the Bible in a year and meet weekly to talk about what we read, did everything began to change.

If you feel the need to be more connected to the Lord, begin by reading the Word simply with the purpose to know Him better. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV).

Need a good reading plan? Go here. Want to listen rather than read? Try BibleGateway.com or the YouVersion app. You can find reading plans on those sites too.

Connections with Our Children

Next, ask yourself some questions about your relationship with your children. How well do they feel known by you—seen and heard? Do they feel respected? Do they talk openly with you, bringing you their serious questions? How deep is your heart connection?

In order to guide and teach them, we need to know what children are thinking and feeling and understand their personalities, talents, and quirks. Be the expert on your child. Ask questions that invite conversation, and listen to what they have to say. Model sharing and connecting. Draw them out.

Knowing children—or grandchildren—well makes it easier to pray specifically for them too!

Sometimes, situations from the past interfere with the present. If you’re carrying around baggage you don’t want to be part of your legacy to your children, don’t be afraid to find help from a qualified professional counselor.

What God Says We’re to Do

The Bible is not a rule book. But it does contain instructions for living as God’s people, and those include how to share faith with our children.

Make God a natural part of daily life. “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” —Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NLT

Invite and answer questions. “And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’” —Joshua 4:20-22

Tell the next generation.
“O my people, listen to my instructions.
Open your ears to what I am saying,
for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the LORD,
about his power and his mighty wonders.
For he issued his laws to Jacob;
he gave his instructions to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
and they in turn will teach their own children.
So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
Then they will not be like their ancestors—
stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
refusing to give their hearts to God.” —Psalm 78:1-8 NLT

Love and memorize God’s Word.
“I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
I praise you, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.
I have recited aloud
all the regulations you have given us.
I have rejoiced in your laws
as much as in riches.
I will study your commandments
and reflect on your ways.
I will delight in your decrees
and not forget your word.” —Psalm 119:11-16 NLT

Teach and instruct about God and His ways.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (nurture, training, admonition)
“Fathers, don’t make your children bitter about life. Instead, bring them up in Christian discipline and instruction.”
—Ephesians 6:4 NLT; GW

Prepare our children to receive salvation.
“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” —2 Timothy 3:14-17 NLT

Step Up to the Challenge

Our children’s faith will be severely challenged in our broken world. But we can equip them for the fight. Next week in Part 3, I’ll share some tested ideas you can put to work in your family every day.

Save

– Diane

Living a Godly Legacy—Part 1

iStock photo

Last fall two different events—a sermon and a MOPS talk—got me thinking about how we pass faith on to the next generation. I realized we don’t just leave a legacy, we actually live it too.

Legacy: “A gift; something passed on; something received from the past; the influence of a person or thing.”

What we do every day, even the simplest choices and interactions, form the legacy we give our children and grandchildren.

For my grandchildren (and if I were raising children in my home today), I want them to grow up to know, love, and obey God all their lives. For me that includes knowing and loving God’s Word, having servant hearts, trusting Jesus for salvation, and growing to be more like Him. That’s the result I want my influence to have.

I do want them to remember me with smiles, but more important than their memories of me is the outcome, the effect, the influence of my life upon theirs. That’s what I know you want for your children too.

I need to be reminded just about every day that all my actions have impact on the present and the future. Maybe you do too. We will be remembered one way or another. We will influence others one direction or another.

The legacy we leave is the life we are living today.

Does that mean our bad days and wrong decisions ruin our legacy forever? Nope. God is in the business of redemption, and He is more than ready to help us leave a legacy of faith to our children and grandchildren.

It’s the overall pattern of our lives that has the most effect, and it’s never too late to begin to write a new ending!

Lessons Learned

What I want to share with you about living a godly legacy is based more on the mistakes I made and the things I didn’t do than what I did right when my children were young. But I also can encourage you because my daughters are godly women and mothers today, actively building faith in their own children.

Over the years and along the way, I’ve learned a lot—by getting to know God better, by parenting adult daughters, and by becoming grandmother to five little boys.

In this four-part series, I’ll share some of those lessons with you. We’ll look at our relationship with God and with our children first. Then we’ll see what God says we’re to do and look at ideas for how to do it.

Finally, I want to encourage you—you can do this!

– Diane

10 Kids Easter Books for All Your Easter Baskets

Helping children catch and understand Easter joy can be as simple as choosing a book to add to an Easter basket or give as a gift. Here are 10 good choices for you to consider.

indexMy First Easter (Worthy Kids/Ideals). Bright photos of Spring and Easter objects, one per page. Includes a simple cross.

51GX+JRlazL._AC_US500_QL65_The First Easter (Zonderkidz). A little lamb tells the resurrection story.

610bjnWrX7L._SX497_BO1,204,203,200_My Easter Basket (B&H Kids). Links the colors in a child’s Easter basket to a simple telling of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

71lJfWU4vmLThe Story of Easter (Worthy Kids/Ideals). A simple introduction to the meaning of the day—Jesus loves us.

61ZtS8jdIyL._SX381_BO1,204,203,200_      978-1-4964-0311-7

Jesus Lives! and Easter Surprises (Tyndale Kids). Both with stickers for completing the illustrations and other activities too. These books are a wonderful value.

71tS2bIh2wLThe Sparkle Egg (Worthy Kids/Ideals, above) and The Legend of the Easter Robin (Zonderkidz, below). Picture books for elementary grades both focus on God’s love and forgiveness.

A1pbFs3oxcL

51vqC9wn1hL._AC_US500_QL65_My Friend Jesus (Thomas Nelson) introduces elementary-aged kids to the story of Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him.

HFEDKHope for Each Day: 365 Devotions for Kids (Tommy Nelson). Short daily devotions for children and families too.

Save

Save

– Diane

Make God’s Word a Staple, Not a Side

file000667247480Do you take a multivitamin or use a dietary supplement? I have, and now I keep some Ester-C and echinacea tea on hand to help me fight off colds. But day to day, I’m trying to nourish my body with a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

It’s a challenge to view vegetable and fruits, nuts and seeds as staples when they’ve been sides for so many years.

But it’s getting easier. And I feel better when I eat this way.

Why am I telling you this?

Because just as nourishing myself with physical food can be a struggle (do I want to chop up all these vegetables to roast for dinner, or could we just go out for pizza? . . .), choosing to “feed” on God’s Word can be a battle too.

Reading the entire Bible and discussing it weekly with a women’s group impacted my life in so many wonderful ways. It also proved the value of the practice of reading the Bible daily.

Probably because, as someone has said, “The Bible is the only book whose Author is present with you when you read it.”

But at times I struggle. Not just to read God’s Word, but to want to. Ugh.

Too much going on? Health issues in the way? Seemingly unending cold winter days devoid of sunlight? All of the above.

A sermon here, a few chapters there, an online search of verses related to a writing project . . . I’m in the Word, right?

But I’m starving.

Finally, I pick up my Bible again. I ask the Holy Spirit to give me insight.

I read slowly, as if enjoying a health-giving meal that I don’t want to end too soon.

If I want to help others know God better—and I do—I need the life-giving nourishment and power He spreads out for me every day. To see consistent time in His Word as the staple of my life, not a side.

How about you?

You don’t have to read through the Bible in a year. But pick a Bible book to read slowly several times, or a Bible study you’ve been wanting to explore. Listen to an audio Bible as you drive or run. Ask a friend to read with you and check in with each other during the week.

We have an enemy who wants us weak and hungry.

But we have a Father who makes us strong and full.

Save

– Diane

Fun Facts and Books about the Presidents

Did you know that
• Thomas Jefferson invented the first chair that could spin around?
• John Quincy Adams kept his pet alligator in a bathtub in the White House?
• Theodore Roosevelt’s children once gave a pony a ride in the White House elevator?
• William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out the ball on baseball’s Opening Day?
• When he was a boy, George W. Bush dreamed of playing major league baseball?
61Jfhu+W2PLI discovered all this and more in Grover Cleveland, Again!: A Treasury of American Presidents, by Ken Burns (Knopf Books for Young Readers). The title comes from the response of the author’s young daughters as they played a memory game with their dad. Grover Cleveland is the only one of the presidents who served two nonconsecutive terms of office.

In the introduction, Ken Burns says,

In this book, in addition to describing the important things that the presidents did when they were in office, I talk about who they were as people. After all, presidents have birthdays and brothers and sisters and even pets, just like everybody else! There are also fascinating stories of things that happened to them on their road to the presidency—stories that tell us a lot about their times.

Richly illustrated, this is a book to pour over again and again.

5803cb51-277b-4235-bb9b-b54d75847d5a.jpg._CB284907560_Add this one to your family’s library or check it out at the library for a new way to celebrate President’s Day, coming up next week.

Look for these two also: I am Abraham Lincoln and I am George Washington, by Brad Meltzer (Dial Books).

81hJEqgqoqL     61qc-1gVrYL

Part of Meltzer’s series “Ordinary People Change the World,” the books let us see these two great leaders as children and show us that anyone can grow up to make a big difference.

Books like these three help our kids and grandkids develop respect for the office of president, along with the understanding that all leaders are ordinary people in need of wisdom and prayer.

That’s something we grownups could think about as President’s Day approaches too.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3 ESV).

Save

– Diane

Start Here: 10 Ways to Read to Toddlers on the Move

child runningSitting in a high chair, on your lap, or on the floor, your baby found books fascinating and fun. But once he or she was mobile, reading to your toddler became a challenge.

Don’t give up! Just try some workarounds to keep an interest in books alive until your child’s drive to explore his physical environment settles down and interest in reading picks up again.

Remember that reading is good for your child’s development on every level—physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual. (Children who love reading may be more open to Bible reading as they grow.)

Here are 10 tried-and-true tips for reading to on-the-go toddlers from moms who are doing it.

1. Read aloud while your child plays nearby. Comment on the pictures. Sometimes children will come over to look, then go back to playing. Even if not, they’re listening.

2. Choose books with flaps to lift, touch-and-feel effects, or something to search for in the pictures. Let children turn the pages.

3. Don’t insist on sitting still. Wiggles are OK.

4. Read while your child eats a snack or plays in the bathtub.

5. Do active finger plays, songs, and rhymes together.

6. Let a puppet “read.”

7. Keep books in the car to read during waiting times.

8. Use audio books during drive times.

9. Keep a few books in every toy bin throughout your house. Read just a little, often.

10. Include books in nap-time and bedtime snuggles.

Happy reading!

Save

– Diane

5 Children’s Books to Brighten Winter

Weather prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil makes his annual prediction on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on the 123rd Groundhog Day, February 2, 2009. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter. REUTERS/Jason Cohn (UNITED STATES)

When Punxsutawney Phil looks around tomorrow morning, will we know how much longer winter plans to stick around?

Well, probably not. But whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not, a few good books can warm up winter days and help children learn more about our good God. Here are five to consider.

The Wonderful Gifts of Winter, by Dandi Daley Mackall (B&H Kids), part of the Dandi’s Seasons picture book series.

616e-8+JFULGod Made You Special, by Jennifer Holder (Tyndale Kids). Includes stickers for completing the illustrations and related activity pages too.

9166P72PVVLPrayers for All Seasons, compiled by Sophie Piper (Lion Hudson).

61eo3RIrqKL._SX405_BO1,204,203,200_The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (Puffin Books). Not a Christian book, but a classic. (If you haven’t seen the Christmas-themed video based on the book, you’ve missed something sweet.)

51jvfaRNFYLTiny Blessings for All Seasons, by Amy Parker (Running Press). Board book for ages 1-3.

61-09g+qwULPhoto, Alessandro M., Creative Commons license

Save

Save

Save

– Diane

15 Children’s Books for Valentine’s Day

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Why not include a children’s book in your Valentine’s Day plans and purchases this year? The right book can help your child or grandchild understand more about God’s love!

Here’s a list of 15 new and classic books for kids for Valentine’s Day for you to check out. And now’s a good time—you’ll find a number of them on sale.

Good FatherGood, Good Father, by Chris Tomlin and Pat Barrett (Tommy Nelson). For the picture book set, ages 3-8.

St ValSaint Valentine, by Robert Sabuda (Atheneum). This one comes close to historians’ limited knowledge of the real man named Valentine. For ages 6-10.

BBearsValentine Blessings, by Mike Berenstain (Zonderkidz).

Love HideWhere Does Love Hide? by Mary Manz Simon (Tyndale Kidz). With large lift-the-flaps that uncover ways we can all give love away to others.

LoveLettersThe “Love Letters From” series by Glynis Nellist (Zonderkidz) helps children realize that the Bible is like a love letter from God to us.

GodGaveLoveGod Gave Us Love, by Lisa Tawn Bergren (WaterBrook).

Love LetterA Love Letter from God, by P.K. Halliman (Ideals).

Board books for littler ones

StoryOfThe Story of Valentine’s Day, by Nancy J. Skarmeas (Ideals).

ValentineForJesusBBMy Valentine for Jesus, by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton (Zonderkidz).

Big LoveHow Big Is Love? by Amy Parker (B&H Kids).

Just BecauseI Love You Just Because, by Donna Keith (Tommy Nelson).

LotsLoveLots of Love, by Kim Washburn (Zonderkidz).

Love You PrayerAn “I Love You” Prayer, by Amy Parker (Tommy Nelson).

ValStoryKindleOnlyMy Valentine Story, by Crystal Bowman (Zonderkidz), Kindle only.

baby-baby-cover-768x768My own Baby, Baby! (Worthy Kids/Ideals) features a high-quality mirror on the last spread so babies can see the answer to the question “Who does God love?”

Have I left out your favorite love-themed book for Valentine’s Day for kids? Let me know in the comments!

– Diane

Start Here: Reading to Babies? Yes! Here’s How

CindiSPDid you know that a book is a great investment in the spiritual development of a baby? It’s true.

It’s never too early to read to a child, even a child still in utero. Babies learn to recognize the voices they hear repeatedly in the womb.

Then, during babies’ first year, introducing them to books is the first step to creating life-long readers. (And children comfortable with books are more likely to feel at home exploring God’s book, the Bible!)

I gleaned these tips for reading with babies from the post “Weaving Reading into Baby’s Day” at GrowingBookByBook.com. (It’s a good site to bookmark!)

1. Babies are easiest to engage when they first wake up in the morning or from a nap.

2. Include books among babies’ toys.

3. Keep books in your diaper bag to pull out during waiting times.

4. Sing songs and rhymes from babies’ books during bath time.

5. End the day with a book at bedtime.

You might already be doing these things. If so, you’re not only helping baby develop a love of reading but also impacting your baby’s love of God’s Word as he grows.

And if you haven’t started reading to your little one yet … well, today is the best day to start!

baby-baby-cover-768x768Need a new book for your baby? My Baby, Baby! board book celebrates all the things babies can do and just how much God loves every one!

Save

– Diane

8 Kids Devotionals to Start a New Year

The right children’s devotional book helps you as a parent or grandparent involve kids you love in forming the joyful habit of spending time with God’s Word each day.

Here’s a list of 8 newer devotionals for you to check out.

lovelyWhatever Is Lovely: 90-Day Devotional Journal, by Allia Zobel-Nolan (Zonderkidz) for tween girls.

forceMay the Faith Be with You: 180 Devotions That Are Out of This World (Zonderkidz), for ages 6-10.

hopeHope for Each Day: 365 Devotions for Kids, by Billy Graham (Tommy Nelson), for ages 6-10. I was privileged to get to work on this book with the teams at Nelson and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

all-of-meJesus Wants All of Me, by Phil Smouse (Discovery House). Based on Oswald Chambers’s My Utmost for His Highest, for ages 6-8.

happyDuck Commander Happy, Happy, Happy Stories for Kids: Fun and Faith-Filled Stories, by Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard (Tommy Nelson), for ages 4-8.

bedtimeBedtime Devotions with Jesus, compiled by Johnny Hunt (Tommy Nelson), for ages 4-8.

snuggleSnuggle Time Prayers, by Glenys Nellist (Zonderkidz), for ages 2-4.

51xal4gqil-_sx361_bo1204203200_My own Say & Pray Devotions (Tommy Nelson), for ages 1-3. It’s never too early to start connecting your child’s daily experiences with our heavenly Father!

Of course, there are many other tried-and-true devotional classics for kids too. Does your family have a favorite? Let me know in the comments.

 

– Diane