Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family

Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family // ohAmanda.com

source: lightstock.com

You know what I love about God?

OK, there are a lot of things, but one thing I like is that He is always using word pictures and symbols. God describes himself as a bird that will hide us under his wings, he tells us His Word is like snow, our sins are scarlet and encouraging words are like apples of gold.

So descriptive!

He also commands the Israelites to do all kinds of symbolic acts that help them remember and understand Him and His Word. Think about the Jewish holidays—Passover with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, the Feast of Tabernacles where they built little booths outside to live in and remember their journey through the wilderness and Jesus, of course, builds on these with the bread and wine of the Last Supper.

Why such symbolism? Why such visual signs? Michelle Anthony, author of Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family says, “Ours is a God who has placed symbols, rituals, and community celebrations in our lives intentionally to help us remember.”

We need visual reminders, we need tactile learning, we need seasonal signs to help our little hearts hear over the roar of sin in the world.

This is why I’m so convinced little things like doing crafts, making up motions for Bible verses, singing Scripture songs, and making Bible verse posters is critical to raising kids that love Jesus for a lifetime. They need–WE need those little signs, those little reminders around every part of our lives!

Of course, I’m already amped up about this because of Sense of the Resurrection happening and parents are actively making signs and putting up reminders of Jesus, but I just finished the aforementioned book by Michelle Anthony and she got me all excited again.

Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family focuses on six dysfunctional parenting styles–double-minded, driver, micro-managing, criticizing, absentee and I-can’t-say-no parent. Sadly, I found myself in each of these styles at one level or another. And as I looked back through my underlines, stars, exclamation points dog-ears and double underlines, I noticed a theme.

Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family // ohAmanda.com

It’s my heart-cry and my…well, my new focus over the last few months. It’s easily wrapped up in this quote from Barrett Johnson, “The gospel is not about making bad people moral, but about making dead people alive.”

Anthony expands on this quote and says, “the child’s heart matters–not just his or her actions…really good people are not what Jesus asked for. He asked for people of faith. And faith is so much messier (and harder to measure) than moral behavior.”  (emphasis mine)

Am I parenting in a way that leads my kids to BE GOOD? Or to be full of faith? Am I bringing my kids down a path of morality? Or down a path of relationship with the one true God? And am I growing with my children? Helping them graduate from “basic moral formation to a more vibrant spiritual formation” so they don’t miss out on a lifetime of faith?

Are you hearing this?!

It’s such a call to me as a parent. Not so I can be The Perfect Parent, but that I have my heart in the right place. Am I leading my kids to Jesus because I want them to have authentic faith and a relationship Him? Or am I teaching them platitudes that will make my kids behave in public and make sure they don’t do drugs or get knocked up before marriage?

Anthony’s book is full of great, practical ideas to help parents grow spiritual healthy families and not just lead our kids to be “Christian pagans”. She explains concepts like formal times of blessing, crafting a family mission statement, and gives real life examples of celebrating spiritual milestones. I loved how God-focused, Bible-based every chapter was.

The book ends with a quote from Jon Nielson that calmed my am-I-ruining-my-children question,

“In general, children who are led in their faith during their growing-up years by parents who love Jesus vibrantly, serve their church actively, and saturate their homes with the gospel completely, grow up to love Jesus and the church.”

I almost want to put that on my wall.

Love Jesus VIBRANTLY.
Serve the church ACTIVELY.
Saturate with the gospel COMPLETELY.

It’s not something I’m making my kids do. It’s something I am doing. As I seek to grow spiritually myself this will have a positive impact on my children. Whew. It makes me want to get going–not on raising my kids better but just loving Jesus more. Vibrantly.

Not only did I really enjoy Michelle Anthony’s book, she’s also the Family Ministry Architect at David C. Cook who produces the TRU family ministry curriculum and Homefront Magazine. Homefront Magazine is free online and is absolutely gorgeous and full (I’d say “chock-full” if I liked that word) of awesome ideas for growing a spiritual family!

ohamanda.com

I am a part of LitFuse’s tour associated with this book. I was given this book in order to do a review. I only signed up for it because of Michelle Anthony’s reputation and my excitement to read the book. All words and opinions my own. Affiliate links included. When you purchase anything via these links, I make a small commission. Very small. But very appreciated. Thanks for loving ohAmanda! 

How To Talk To Your Kids About the Hard Parts of the Easter Story

How To Talk To Your Kids about the Hard Parts of the Easter Story. Simple tips for  helping kids understand the death and resurrection of Jesus. // ohAmanda.com

Would you ever let your kids have a picture book that showed beatings? torture? dead bodies? Of course not! Then, why would we ever talk to our kids, show our kids and celebrate a season like Easter that is about the same thing?

This is hard. Why not skip the hard parts and just focus on Easter morning?

This is a valid thought. I’ve even read kids’ ministry curriculum that doesn’t talk about Jesus’ death because they don’t want to introduce the topic too early. And I get that. But I have a different take…

We have a bouquet of daffodils on our kitchen table as I type. They make my tired, winter-y little heart so happy!

To get to this garden full of daffodils, we have to go through winter. To get to the joy of Resurrection Day, we have to go through the beating, crucifixion and death of Jesus.

My kids won’t understand the whole story and the parts they do get may be a little hard for them. But guess what? It was hard. And it is hard to understand, even for adults.

But I know my kids’ hearts are open enough. They are tender enough. They are soft fertile ground where God’s Word can grow. I want to plant this story in their hearts right away!

Here’s a few tips for talking to your kids about the hard parts of the story:

1. Stay on their level
You don’t have to show them the Passion of the Christ. (In fact, please don’t do that!) You can show them cartoon pictures from kids’ Bibles. You don’t have to tell them about the whips that had bone and glass on the ends. But you can tell them Jesus got hit in the head with a stick. You can let them see the seriousness without seeing the gore.

2. Recognize their understanding
Kids only understand what they understand. I always say when my son hears Jesus was nailed to the cross, he thinks about the Handy Manny cartoon. He cannot fathom the actual pain. And that’s fine with me! I only want him to understand it on a child-like, naive level.

3. Focus on the Meaning
You don’t have to talk about the death, the torture, the cross as center. You can talk about the reason Jesus died, the events leading up to the death and the most important part–the empty tomb!

4. The Lord’s Supper
If your kids are old enough and your church tradition is ok with it, have The Lord’s Supper, or communion with your kids. Jesus used it as an object lesson to show that his body would be broken and his blood poured out. You can use it as an object lesson, too! (This is day 4 in the Sense of the Resurrection devotional!)

5. Take the Bible’s lead
Mark 15:24 says of Jesus’ death, “and they crucified him.” That’s it. No details. It’s not so much about what they did to Him, it’s what He did for us: “‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and GAVE up his spirit.” John 19:30 It’s not about what happened to Him but about what He did for us.

Go gently into this hard topic, yes. But boldly into the miracle, love and gift of the topic, too. It’s not so much the how you talk to your kids about Jesus’ death—it’s just important that you do! Jesus loves your kids and died for them. Just like he loves and died for you!

If you need a tool to help you and your kids celebrate these short few weeks before Easter, pick up my ebook, A Sense of the Resurrection. It will lead you through simple, age-appropriate ideas to celebrate and understand the hard and wonderful parts of the Easter story!

ohamanda.com

Sense of the Resurrection Schedule Suggestions

sense resurrection schedule suggestion_edited-1

Advent calendars are easy. 24 days till Christmas. Open one door–do one activity–eat one piece of chocolate per day. Easy peasy. Lent is a little harder. 40 days? That’s a looong time to do something every single day (unless that thing is eating chocolate, I could probably do that). 40 days is over a month! It’s […]

[Continue reading...]

40 Ways To Celebrate Jesus This Easter

40 Fun Ways To Celebrate Jesus This Easter // ohAmanda.com

I’m passionate (PASSIONATE!) about using Christmas and Easter to lead our kids to Jesus. I think these bright-and-shiny, larger-than-life holidays are the perfect platforms to make Jesus the center of  life and conversation. I’ve written extensively about both of these holidays and written some ebook devotionals to match (see Truth in the Tinsel and Sense of the […]

[Continue reading...]

God’s Love Family Devotions

Fun God's Love Family Devotionals from ohAmanda.com and MissionalWomen.com

I’m over at Missional Women today with a FREE download and five days of God’s love/Love Each Other/Valentine’s Day devotional family time ideas. Go on over and get it today! ps: Hang on to your Easter bonnets because Lent begins on Wednesday and I’ve got all kinds of great Easter, Sense of the Resurrection, Jesus […]

[Continue reading...]

Speaking Godly Character Over Your Son

This post was originally published on the MOB Society in 2010 and subsequently lost in the bowels on the internet. I just ran across it today and thought it was fun enough (and 2 year old Asa cute enough) to post for posterity. Enjoy! I usually get inspired to do activities with my kids when we […]

[Continue reading...]

There is Just One Moon and One Golden Sun

It's a Small World Party // ohAmanda.com

See Part 1 and 2 of our Small World Party! So, our Small World party wasn’t as Mary-Blair-ish as I wanted it to be. But I did have two little nods to Mary Blair’s colorfulness. These cute signs I hung on the front door are actually embellishments from Britt-ish Designs and turned out so cute when I […]

[Continue reading...]