Spiritual Journeys

Tools for Godly Living/Alyce-Kay are considering offering some courses in Christian topics and we would like to know what subjects would most interest people.  Here are some of the details (and see Q&A/update after the survey at the end):

  • You would not go anywhere for these.
  • The classes would meet as a teleconference call every two weeks.  If you can’t make the call, it would be recorded for you to listen to later (you’d just miss out on participating in the discussion).
  • There would be daily or weekly Bible study assignments and application projects which you would print from online (you would choose your level of difficulty by how much time you want to put into it).
  • There would be a dedicated Facebook page for further discussion, questions, and sharing.
  • Each class would be 90 days long.
  • They would be appropriate for high school through adults, as well as some junior highers.
  • These could also be used by groups; for example, church groups, Sunday School classes, home Bible study groups, families, and homeschoolers.  (If you’re a group, we can talk about how this can best be used by your specific group.  If you homeschool, we can help you determine which  school subjects these could apply to.)
  • If you’ve ever taken any of Alyce-Kay’s SoD (School of Discipleship) classes, these would be something like those.

Note that Tools for Godly Living courses are always biblically based, strong on helping you discover for yourself what God’s Word says.  They are meant for study, not for just sitting back and listening.  My personal commitment is always to bring you to a closer relationship with God and a stronger commitment to Him.

My background is a BA from Westmont College in Religious Studies (emphasis in theology and Greek).  I’ve taught Bible classes for all ages most of my life and have written my own curriculum for almost all of them, as well as curriculum for individual home Bible study and homeschoolers.  My doctrine & apologetics course for children was approved by pastors from 17 denominations, and I generally try to stick to what is appropriate for all denominations in most of my teaching.  (In other words, I try to stay focused on essentials.)

I want these courses to be accessible to anyone,  so there would not be a set charge.  You are completely welcome to take them free of charge.  If the Lord puts it on your heart to pay any amount for them, it would definitely help and would make it more possible for me to continue offering these courses in the future.

If you think you might be interested (no obligation), I’d like to know what kinds of topics interest people the most.  Please note that there are actually 2 surveys below.  You may vote for as many of the following as you find interesting.   You may also add other choices.  If you don’t find enough room in the survey,  feel free to add your suggestions in the comments area (scroll all the way to the bottom of the page).

Please  share this with your friends, church, Bible study group, homeschool group, on Facebook, etc.  Thanks so much for your help!

You are not required to fill out the contact info in order to vote, but please do fill it out, if you’d like us to let you know when we offer these classes.

Since posting this, I’ve received a few really good questions, so I thought I would share them here.

Q:  Would people outside the USA be able to join these classes?

A:  Yes!  The only thing is that it would be an international call to be on the teleseminars (including listening to the recording of the calls).  I’m sure there must be a way, since we would be recording them, to put them on mP3 or some other format that could be listened to online or downloaded, so that you wouldn’t have to make an international call.  If someone overseas is interested, then I will check around and find out how to do this.  I’ve been on teleconferences (seminars held on a conference call) with people from all over, and it is incredibly effective.  You can just sit in your own home and participate — or get together with a group of friends so you can participate together.  I really love this format!

Q:  Will you (Alyce-Kay) be teaching the classes?

A:  Yes! You know I LOVE to teach.  🙂

Q:  Will there be a charge for the classes?

A:  It will be up to each person whether or not they pay or how much. I want people to be able to do it, even if they can’t afford it, so I don’t want to charge a set amount. As a single mom barely getting by, I know how that is. Also, there are some people who wouldn’t pay, but would benefit from it, so I don’t want to hinder them either. If God puts it on anyone’s heart to pay, it would help me, obviously, to pay bills, etc, and I will be putting a lot of work into it.  It would also make it easier for me to offer more classes, as those who pay would help free me up from having to put overtime in at work to pay the bills.  Bottom line, I don’t want anyone to not do it because they can’t pay or don’t want to pay. It will be between each person and God. If you benefit from the classes and don’t pay anything, that’s perfectly okay!

 

Update:  The first class offered will be on Building Your Faith.  It will be taught at 3 levels (you will choose, depending on how much work you want to do/have time to do).    I’m working on writing the course and the workbook materials at this time, and will announce it here and on facebook when I’m ready to take registrations.  If you want to be notified by email, please let me know at Alyce-Kay@LifeCoachAlyceKay.com  I’ve had a number of requests for an actual bound workbook, so the workbook materials will be available for purchase as a bound workbook, or to download and print yourself for free.

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Why Would A Christian Celebrate A Jewish Feast?

The story is told of a rabbi who wondered why the Exodus story was told in the evening service.  Another, Ben Zoma, explained.  In Deuteronomy 16:3, the Jews are told to celebrate Passover  “… in order that you may remember all the days of our life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.”  Ben Zoma pointed out that “the days of your life” would only include the days; “all the days of your life” means the nights also.  That part of the explanation apparently satisfied the rabbi, but the sage continued:  “The days of your life refers to the contemporary world; all the days of your life includes also the Days of the Messiah.”

We are, folks, in “the Days of the Messiah”!  And while we, as non-Jews are not bound by the laws and traditions of the Old Testament, we are certainly not prohibited from taking advantage of them, either.  (Romans 14:5-6)

Until the fourth century, Christians called Resurrection Sunday Pascha, from the Hebrew word Pesach (translated Passover in English.)  God set up each of the Old Testament holy days as a means by which He might draw His people to Himself.  The secondary purpose, and a means to the end, was to pass on the faith to the following generations.  This is especially clear in the Passover celebration.  (Deuteronomy 16:1-3)

The theme of Passover is “REMEMBER.”  Remember and teach.  Remember God’s power.  Teach it to your children.  Remember God’s sovereignty.  Teach them to honor Him as King.  Remember your redemption from Egypt.  Teach your children that we all must be redeemed through the Lamb.  (Exodus 12)

As Christians, we long to pass our faith on to our children.  While we recognize that tradition cannot save us, it can be useful as a faithful reminder, a place to hang your hat. By celebrating Passover, we too can remember … and teach.

But as Christians, we can go a step further.  Passover is not only a time of looking back and remembering.  It is also a time of looking forward, of anxiously awaiting.

Prophecy tells us that the Prophet Elijah was to come before Messiah to prepare His way.  (Malachi 4:5-6)  Toward the end of the Passover celebration, the children in a Jewish family open the door, hoping to see the Prophet Elijah.  Why?  Because they are waiting for Messiah!  The Passover celebrates not only redemption from Egyptian slavery, but redemption from slavery to sin.  Messiah came to set us free!  (Matthew 17:10-13, Luke 1:17)

The Jewish Passover ends with the hope that next year they will be able to celebrate in Jerusalem, the Holy City.  We look forward to a new city, a New Jerusalem, promised to us in the Revelation given to the Apostle John.  (Revelation 21:10 ff)

As Christians, we are not bound to Jewish laws and traditions.  We may make good use of them, but we are free to expound upon them as well.  (Acts 15:1-33)

Passover is prophecy.  Every aspect, whether ordained by God in Scripture, or passed down by Jewish tradition, points to Messiah and His sacrifice to redeem us from our sin.

In keeping with that, this Haggadah is a tapestry of God’s commands, Jewish tradition, New Covenant, and Scripture woven together to form a Passover seder which celebrates the Lord Jesus Christ, the final and effective Passover Lamb, slain and sacrificed for us.

I hope you and your family will come up with many of your own ways to add beauty and meaning to the Christian Passover celebration.

As you read through this haggadah and celebrate the Jewish Passover in a Christian way, my prayer is that you will feast upon and celebrate the Jewish Messiah:  the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who already came and redeemed us from our sins, and who is to come.  (Revelation 5:12; Revelation 4:8; Revelation 21:2)

Next year in the New Jerusalem!

(The above is an excerpt from Next Year In New Jerusalem, a Christian Passover Haggadah, which I’ve recently updated and put back into print.   If you have the old version, this is completely compatible with it.  The Seder script is still the same.  If you would like a copy of it, visit the link below.)

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreResults.aspx?search=Next%20year%20in%20new%20jerusalem&ddl=any

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Celebrating Purim as a Christian Family

By Alyce-Kay Hanush

Purim is Saturday evening, March 15, through Sunday evening, March 16 this year.  So what is Purim, you ask?  Purim is the celebration begun at the end of the story of Esther in the Bible — the time that God preserved His people through a brave, young Jewish queen.  There are some wonderful lines in the book of Esther, such as “for such a time as this” and “if I perish, I perish.”

In Jewish families, this is a fun celebration.   You get to dress up as the various characters in the story.  You get to put on plays.  (And you get drunk, but I’m not advocating that.)  To learn more about the story of Esther, the traditional celebration of Purim, and  enjoy some fun Purim songs, you can go to the playlist I’ve put together for my grandkids.

How can we as Christian families (and I’m thinking mainly of families with elementary and younger children) make good use of this celebration?  Well, most obvious is the fact that we can use it to get to know an important story in the Bible.  But i think we can go much deeper than that.  Here are some of my ideas to get you started.  I would love it if you’d add your own ideas in the comment box — and feel free to include links to coloring pages or other goodies you find online.

TIP:  You can use this list for pretty much any story in the Bible.

1. OF COURSE, read the book of Esther as a family. You should definitely read it from the Bible, and you can probably find some books at the library, online, etc.  If you own a set of flannel graphs, I think this is a great way to learn Bible stories.  You can do the story each day, then have the kids move the pieces while you tell the story again, then have the kids tell the story and move the pieces.  We modern day families tend to look askance at flannel graph, but I’ve never found a child who doesn’t love it.  (I have a set of Betty Lukens flannel graphs — everything you need for the entire Bible, along with a book that has all the stories and tells you which pieces to use.  And the flannels are lovely and vivid.  You do have to cut out the pieces, though — I hired someone to do it for me.)  http://www.amazon.com/Large-Deluxe-Bible-English-Flannelboard/dp/B000TMKE6E/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1393199685&sr=8-3&keywords=betty+lukens

2. One of the things that I love about internet is that you can print your own coloring pages.  There are lots of sources for these.  You can keep these loose, or take them to your local FedEx shop or other print shop to have them bound into a coloring book for your kids.   My daughter, Sam, who has 4 young children, especially likes this site for Jewish story coloring pages:  http://www.chabad.org/kids/article_cdo/aid/361573/jewish/Coloring-Crafts.htm

3. Look for the character qualities in the story of Esther — both good and bad. (Examples of good qualities:  Faith, courage.  Examples of bad qualities:  Envy, lying.)  You could take one each day and talk about them. Here is a process you could use to talk to children about these qualities, starting with the good ones.  (Parents:  You don’t have to do all of these!)

a.  Explain the quality to them.

b.  Show how it’s illustrated in the book of Esther.

c.  Give some examples from your own life or someone the kids know to illustrate the quality.

d.  Look for other stories in the bible that demonstrate the quality.

e.  Ask your librarian to help you find story books that demonstrate the quality.

f.  Ask your kids what they think the benefits were to the story’s characters of having these qualities.

g.  What would the benefits be to them (your children), if they developed these (good) qualities in their own lives? How could they do that? Be sure to reinforce that we need God’s help with these things. We can pray and ask Him to help us have the kind of faith Esther had, for instance.

h.  As you see your kids exhibiting these qualities — even just a little — be sure to praise them for it. Ask them what motivated them to do that? How did it make them feel? How would they feel if they could keep doing that? What do they think God thinks about them doing that?  Questions like these will help to reinforce those qualities and the desire to grow.

i.  Look at some of the bad qualities.  Talk about those, too.  Help them to recognize those qualities in Bible characters and in other stories.

j.  Talk through what would motivate someone to have those negative qualities.  What should your children’s response be to someone with those qualities?

k.  Ask what the signs would be that they might recognize in themselves so they can guard against developing the bad qualities.

l.  Come up with your own stories about each of the qualities.  I used to have my children dictate their stories to me — try to type them exactly as they say them.  Don’t worry about story telling skills (unless you’ve been specifically working on that).  Make sure that you include the author after each story.  You can type them up and then print them out and take them to your local print shop to bind into a family book of Purim stories. (It generally costs a buck or two to bind pages into a book form.)  You might include a smattering of their coloring pages, too.  You might want to print out a copy for your family to enjoy now, a copy for each of your children which you’ll hide away and give to them when they start having kids, a copy for grandparents.  Each book would be uniquely adorned with different coloring pages the kids have done.  Talk about precious memories!

4. After you’ve told your kids the story of Esther a few times, they’ll probably be ready to act it out. Here’s where your costumes come in.  (See instructions below for super easy Bible character costumes.)  You can let them choose parts or take turns doing various parts. Try to come up with someone they can put on a play for … this will motivate them to practice a few times … reinforcing the story and its values in their lives.

5. Learn about Persia, where the story of Esther takes place. What country is this now? Find it on a map.  Look for pictures online.  What’s the weather like?  Talk about what it would be like to live there. Can you find any information about King Xerxes? What kinds of foods do they eat there? Maybe you could include those in your Purim celebration.

6. Have 3 nights of banquets (maybe with Persian food? but any nice food is fine). Is there some big news that you can promise to share, but keep putting off, to build the anticipation in your children, like Esther did with the King?

7. The movie, One Night with the King, is absolutely excellent.  You’ll find it in my playlist, but I’ve included the trailer below.  This is the perfect time of year to watch it!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1f1Pi1DHP4

8. I would love it if you’d share your Purim ideas and resources below, in the comment box, or on my facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/ToolsForGodlyLiving?ref=hl   If you share on facebook, I’d love to see pictures of your activities and celebration!  🙂

Super easy Bible character costume:  Use my fancy-pancy drawing below as a guide.

  1. Measure your child from shoulders to the floor.
  2. Get double that amount of fabric.  (For example, if they’re 36 inches from shoulders to floor, you’ll need 2 yards.)
  3. It’s a good idea to wash the fabric before sewing, just in case it will shrink.
  4. Fold the fabric in half, crosswise.  In other words, both cut ends of the fabric will be at the bottom, the fold at the top, and the factory finished edges on the sides.
  5. On each side, measure about 14 inches from the top fold, then cut inward about 10 inches.  Do this on each side.
  6. Cut straight down from there to the bottom.  This will create kind of a sleeve.  Pin these together and sew about 1/2 inch from the edge.
  7. At the top, cut out a neck hole.  Be careful not to make this too big.  It’s always best to start small, try it on, and make the hole bigger if need be.
  8. If you’re not much for sewing, this is all you need to do.  Turn it right side out and voila!  You have your Bible character costume.  If you like to sew, you can do the following steps (9-13) to make your costumes a little nicer and last longer.
  9. Finish the neckline with bias tape, or hem it, or use a fancy edging.
  10. Hem the sleeve holes.  Add fancy edging, if you want.
  11. Hem the bottom.  You can add fancy edging here, too.
  12. Clip the underarm curves so they’ll lay flatter.
  13. Seam finish the inner seams.
  14. Accessorize with rope belts, head gear, etc., as appropriate.

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Newly released!  Next Year In New Jerusalem, a Passover haggadah for Christians.  Complete instructions for a Christian celebration of Passover. Scripted ceremony includes fulfillment of Passover prophecies through Christ, footwashing, and the Lord’s Supper in the Passover context. Over 150 Bible references provide an easy guide for optional in-depth study. Pronunciation and glossary included. The full ceremony takes about 3 hours, including dinner. It’s designed to be enjoyed by all ages. I hope that this will enrich your appreciation of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and that you’ll find yourself worshiping Him as you long to celebrate Passover next year with Him … in the New Jerusalem.

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http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreDetails.aspx?BookID=32176&ID=5a08df7c-dae3-4e70-bc00-97bfdf072ca5

Slaves You Might Know

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”  — Bob Pierce

I think there have probably been times when I’ve recommended a book that would be appropriate for anyone (and sometime soon, I hope to write a review of a book like that, that I recently read), but I think this is the first time I’ve ever said that there’s a book I think everyone SHOULD read … I would almost say that everyone has a moral obligation to read. (The reason I say “almost” is because I know I have friends — God bless them! I’m kind of the same way — who would balk at me defining what their moral obligation is. If I were not to use that word “almost,” my statement would cause them not to read it, for that reason alone.)

This book was not easy to read. There were times I found it so disturbing that I had to put it aside and regain my composure enough to continue. But that’s exactly why it needs to be read. Not to decondition us or make us calloused, certainly not to get us used to seeing this kind of thing, but because we NEED to be disturbed by this. Too many turn their heads away — they’re afraid to face these facts, they scorn the people who are victims, they don’t know what to do, etc.  There were people in Theresa’s life — the school security officer, teachers, friends, and others, who turned away when they saw what was happening, and even when she begged them for help. Many of us would possibly be guilty of the same thing.

When I shared this story with a few friends while I was reading it, their response was that she was stupid to not get out.  This is why we need to read this.  We need to understand what holds people in those situations.  If we think that they’re stupid, that should be a red flag to us that we need to gain better understanding.  I learned in acting class in college that people do things because they think it’s the best thing to do.  In our omniscient wisdom (tongue in cheek), we may be able to see that their decisions are foolish, or we may be able to see other options, but it makes us more human, more humane, and more godly, when we take the time to figure out why they think it’s the best thing to do.  Not necessarily a good thing; but sometimes, our only options (or at least the only ones we can see) are all bad, and we choose the best of those bad options.  Hint:  Someone doesn’t live through the terror and pain this young woman lived through if they think there are better options.   We need to allow God to give us compassion.  We need to beg God for compassion.   “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”  Bob Pierce (founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse) said this, and I think it’s one of the godliest prayers we can pray.

There are times when we have to be willing to say, “No, don’t turn your head. This is important.” Asking you to read this book is one of those times.

The main purpose of this book is to help us understand how someone gets trapped in sex trafficking … in this country. A nice girl from a good family. An intact, loving family. A girl who was not promiscuous and was committed to saving sex for marriage.  There may be people you know who are stuck in this lifestyle and you don’t even know it.  But I think that it goes beyond that. It can also help you understand what it’s like to be abused or bullied — and why people stay in those situations when you think they have options.  I can almost guarantee you know people who are in that situation, whether you realize it right now or not.  I think this is a book we should read so that we can become better educated about things that need to be changed in our society (not just some place on the other side of the globe), but mostly so that we can become better human beings.

Btw, I know that my posts are read by a number of homeschoolers, so let me say this about using this book in school.  Yes, I think it would be valuable, in about junior high or high school.  And having your child read it could quite possibly save their life (which is why I would recommend junior high), in addition to helping them become better human beings.  Having said that, though, I think it’s a very good idea for you to read it first, so that you have a heads up as to what kinds of questions and discussions would be helpful in working through it.  This book is disturbing.  There’s just no way around that.  You might even want to read the book out loud to your kids so that you can have those discussions as you read … and so you can decide if you need to censor any details.  The woman who wrote this — about her own experiences — is quite conservative and has strong family values, but she does occasionally give some details your children may not be ready to hear.  If you read it ahead of time, it’s easy enough to know what to skip over (just a few sentences in the entire book).  If you decide to read this with your kids for school and you’d like help with coming up with discussion questions, leave me a comment asking for that, and I’d be happy to put some together.

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(Btw, I’m not an Amazon associate and I don’t get anything if you buy this book.  Just want to let you know:  You should read this. It’s also available in a print version.)

http://www.amazon.com/Slave-Across-Street-Theresa-Flores-ebook/dp/B0034KYZQ8/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1390266358&sr=1-2&keywords=the+slave+next+door

To Pay or Not to Pay: That is the Question

Should you pay your children to do chores?  This is an ongoing debate among parents.

Some people pay their children for everything they do around the house.  This can be a good way for teaching children a work ethic — if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.  (II Thessalonians 3:10)

Other families don’t want their children to expect to be paid for everything.  They want their children to grow up with a serving attitude.  We know, of course, that serving is a very biblical attitude.

Both of these approaches make sense.  Pray and ask God what would be best for your family.

For my family, I actually adopted a mixed approach, which went something like this.
•There were certain chores that each person was required to do and they were not paid for.  (This corresponds to things in the grown up world that you do without getting paid.  We don’t expect someone to pay us for cooking dinner for our family, working in the nursery at church, driving our kids to their piano lessons, etc.)  These included most of the things that needed to be done daily, such as keeping their room picked up, mealtime chores, etc.
•There were also chores that they would get paid for each week.  These were required chores and it basically provided them with an allowance.  (This corresponds to a job that you go to every day and get paid for.)  I generally included in this category the chores that didn’t have to be done every day, such as mopping and cleaning the bathroom and dusting, and as they got older, things like mowing the lawn or helping change the oil in the car.  There were times when I paid for these, and other times when I had a certain amount set aside to give them at the end of the week, but I deducted from that if they didn’t do a chore or if they didn’t do a good job of it.
•There were chores which were optional, which they could get paid for.  (This corresponds with opportunities we have in life to make extra  money, such as odd jobs or overtime at work.)  These were often seasonal or periodic jobs, such as washing windows, detailing the car, or extra things I wanted done, such as making a cake for a potluck.
•Service projects.  For most of their growing up years, my kids were involved in service projects of some sort.  Often, they didn’t realize it — it was just part of the fabric of our family.  Other times, I made it a school requirement to have a certain number of hours of “community service.”  Or I would require them to choose someone to serve each week, each month, or each semester.  It could be someone in our family (babysitting for their older sister), or someone outside our home, or a group effort, such as Teen Missions or something their youth group was doing.  It didn’t have to be an “official” charity.

Another thing you can do is say that you will pay them chore chart rewards or tool tickets for the first 1-3 months that they’re learning a chore; after that, it becomes just part of being a member in your family.  The book featured below has lots of ideas about creating rewards using “tool tickets” for work done.

You could also allow them to continue earning rewards for a chore they’ve mastered if they teach it to another child — a sibling or cousin, or maybe a friend’s children.  (This last option will make you very popular with your friends!)  Teaching others is always a great way to cement what you’ve learned.  It will also make your child more confident in their skills and will give them a great sense of accomplishment.  Teaching others will provide them with leadership skills as well.

Most of the above article is excerpted from The 21st Century Kid’s Book of Chores.  For more information about the book, see previous posts.  For ordering information, click on the link below.

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreDetails.aspx?BookID=21860&ID=40d1059a-c536-4448-9382-e259b257b92c

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How to Teach Children to Complete A Chore

So you want to teach your children how to do chores, but you’re not sure how to go about it?  Here are some ideas, from The 21st Century Kids’ Book of Chores, to help you out.

Ages At Which To Teach Chores

Everyone teaches their children how to do chores at different ages … and within those ages there is a big variety of maturity levels.  Teach the chores at the level that’s appropriate for your children.  For example, a 4-year-old may not be able to fold towels as intricately as you do.  Come up with a simple way for now, and as they get older, you can teach them the way you really want them to do it.

There are many resources for figuring out what chores are appropriate to teach at which age.  I’ve pinned some of these resources on the Tools For Godly Living page on Pinterest.  http://www.pinterest.com/tools4gl/chores/   I do suggest that you take these lists and charts with a grain of salt.  Children — and even families — have varying maturity levels.  Something that’s not appropriate for one child at 4 may be completely appropriate for another at 2, depending on the maturity of the child, the perfectionist factor in the parents, time and family resources, etc.

Avoid the temptation to follow behind your child and redo their work to bring it up to your standard.  They should be doing the best they can, and this is a great opportunity for you to practice accepting them as they are, just as God accepts us in our imperfection.  If you can do this, you’ll help them understand how God loves us when we honor Him with our best, but He doesn’t expect us to be perfect.

Steps in Teaching a Chore

Before you teach a chore, do it yourself and think through every step.  Break it down into the smallest steps possible.  You don’t want to just say, “Pull the sheet up.”  What exactly does it mean?  Do you want them to tuck in the bottom first?  Do you care how far up the top is pulled?  Do you want them to smooth out the sheet after they pull it up?  Do you want the sides of the sheet to hang over the sides of the bed?  Don’t tell them too many steps at once.  Show them how to do each step and make sure they understand by doing it, before moving onto the next step.  Children who are 4 and older can usually handle 2-3 steps at a time, if they are simple.  Children who are 6 or older may be able to handle more.

I’ve found that the best way to teach something like this is to take 4 steps:

  1. Do it in front of them.  Make the bed yourself, explaining as you go.
  2. Have them do it with you.  Make the bed, with them, helping them with any parts they have a problem with.  You may need to do this a few times on subsequent days.  It’s very important to be patient.  Encourage their efforts.
  3. Have them do it in front of you.  Have them make the bed by themselves, with you watching.  Remind them of anything they’re forgetting.  Praise them for doing a great job.
  4. Let them do it completely by themselves.  Once they’ve mastered step 3 and are able to make their bed without any help from you, you can leave it for them to make their bed without supervision.  You should check it before letting them check off the blank in their book or put a sticker on their chart.  Once they’ve been doing the chore consistently, you’ll only have to check occasionally.

Give your children tons of positive reinforcement.  Tell them how proud you are of them.  Brag on them in their hearing.  Post their achievements on Facebook — you’re welcome to post these on the Tools for Godly Living page, as it will feel kind of like a club when they see other children’s accomplishments.

By the way, most kids really enjoy learning to do chores.  After all, this means they’re a big kid!  So don’t approach it as a dreaded task.  This should be exciting and rewarding for your child!  Make chore time fun.  Put on some happy music and sing along while everyone does their chores.  Put on a cheerful attitude yourself and your kiddoes will likely follow suit.

The above is an excerpt from The 21st Century Kid’s Book of Chores by Alyce-Kay Hanush.  To order the book, see below.  The book contains information about teaching chores, ideas for motivation, etc., but the bulk of the book is the program for kids, which is an organized system of learning new chores, practicing them, and constantly reviewing chores which are already learned, along with memory verses and mini Bible studies for building a solid work ethic.  The 21st Century Kid’s Book of Chores is recommended for ages 4-10.

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreDetails.aspx?BookID=21860&ID=40d1059a-c536-4448-9382-e259b257b92c

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Celebrating Advent

Christmastime, for many people, is a rush of shopping, wrapping, entertaining, and frayed nerves.  We spend a lot of time worrying about family and social politics; finances cause many struggles during this time of year; and a vast number of people are depressed or commit suicide during the holiday season.

In an effort to bring the “true meaning of Christmas” into the holiday picture, we may read Luke 2 before the family dives into the huge stack of Christmas presents.  We may dutifully attend church on Christmas morning.  Some of us will parade in church in shepherd and wise men costumes.  The children will stand on stage looking shy while an adult sings, “Away In A Manger” and a little girl chews on the hem of her dress.

These things aren’t bad, and many actually contribute to our worship experience.  But often, we lose sight of the One we are celebrating and why we celebrate Him.

The purpose of Advent (the four weeks preceding Christmas, which begin on December 1st this year) is to help you celebrate Jesus.  It can be one more thing to add to the commotion, or it can help you pull away from the commercial reality to find yourself centering on Christ.  This is hard to accomplish in a 10-minute reading of Luke 2 … especially with all those presents staring kids in the face.  Our family has found that the month-long celebration of Advent really makes a difference in focusing our attention on Jesus.

It’s important to remember that activity alone will not create worship.  Much is up to you.  It’s also important to remember that worship is not merely a feeling:  It’s a response to God.  The more we know God, the more we will respond with feelings and active expressions of love.  As you celebrate Advent and Christmas, as you read about God’s love and the creative ways in which He expresses it, show Him — in word and in deed — how much you appreciate all that He’s done for you!

An added benefit of celebrating Advent, by the way, is tradition.  Traditions bind us together, creating lasting ties that span miles and generations.  They provide a structure for harmony, security, and love.

Suggestions for Celebrating Advent

The symbols of Advent are five candles.  You may use four green or white candles and one red one, or the colors suggested below.  You can arrange them in a circle surrounded by evergreen, line them up on your mantle, or give them some other prominent place in your home.  The important thing is to have them in a place where your family can gather to read Scripture together.

Choose a time each day to read the designated Scripture.  During the first week, the first candle is lit each day while the verses are read.  The second week, you will light the first and second candles each day; and so on.  On Christmas Day, all the candles will be lit, and can be left to burn themselves out – all day!

If you want to use five different colored candles to go with the theme of the readings for each week, here’s what I suggest:

Week One:  Gold, blue, or brown for PROPHETS.

Week Two:  White for ANGELS.

Week Three:  Brown or green for SHEPHERDS.

Week Four:  Purple, royal blue, or gold for MAGI (WISE MEN).

Christmas Day:  Red or gold for CHRIST; maybe a large candle or a specially shaped or decorated candle.  This candle goes in the center of your display.

The Scripture readings are the heart of Celebrating Advent.  In this book, you’ll find a Scripture reading for each day of Advent, arranged by the themes above.  There are also carols matched with the themes and additional activity suggestions to enrich your Advent celebration of our Savior.  If you don’t already have family devotions, this is a great way to get started … all you have to do then is carry it into the new year!  If your family is spread out geographically, you might consider doing your advent readings together by Skype.

How ever you celebrate Christmas, be sure to remember God’s love and grace in giving His one and only Son.  Don’t let the celebration block your view of the Celebrated.

To order Celebrating Advent, click on the link below.  It will take a couple weeks to receive your copy.

I hope that worship and tradition will be two of your joys this Christmas season … And may our worship and ties of tradition bring joy and glory to God.

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreDetails.aspx?BookID=24391&ID=26ce21e7-f5d0-425c-8f24-470d7f7fed22