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.

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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A Bigger, Better Tent

Isaiah 54 was a passage God put on my heart when I was going through an extremely difficult time as a single woman.  A single mom, to be exact.  I was having a hard time, financially.  My house was also having all kinds of problems.  I felt insecure as far as being able to provide for my kids and parent them at the same time.  I was being attacked legally by someone who should have been helping with the task at hand.  I felt that I was not up to the challenge of single parenting.  (Is anyone?  Should we be?)  It was the best alternative I knew for my children, but I felt like I was sinking fast.

In the midst of this, one night, when I was feeling worthless, helpless, hopeless, and afraid, God opened this chapter of Scripture to me in a way that changed my fears dramatically.  It didn’t make it less difficult, but it made it less terrifying.  And what’s more, it made it actually hopeful.  So much so that I wrote each verse and promise from God on a 3×5 card, and as I worked each night, I flipped through those cards, meditating on them during every small break.

I want to share this with you because I want to bring hope to other unmarried women, barren women, and single moms (maybe single dads, too, but not being one of those, I’m not sure if this will strike a chord in them).  I think that this applies to every one of you as much as it applies to me.  If you’re reading this and none of those descriptions fit you, maybe you can pass this on to someone who needs to hear it and will be blessed by it.

Isaiah 54:

Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;
For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous
Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord.

I am not physically barren.  I have 5 children, so it would seem that this verse does not apply to me.  But what God spoke to the inner recesses of my heart through this verse was that, even though I was not married and could, therefore, no longer bear children, I was still extremely fertile.  My relationship with God can produce much more fruit than my relationship with a man.  This applies to productivity in my earthly family.  It also applies to spiritual fruitfulness.  I was certainly desolate; there was no doubt about that.  His promise here was that if I pressed into Him and turned to Him the energy I would be putting into a spousal relationship, He would make me fruitful.   This doesn’t mean, by the way, that I will always be single, or that you will always be childless.  But right now, in this season, this is what we need to build, so that it can be maintained if and when that aspect of our life changes.

“Enlarge the place of your tent;
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.
“For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.
And your descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities.

In my worries about my physical house — a toilet that wasn’t working, light switches that needed changing, rain gutters that were falling off, and a resultant crack in my basement from water getting under the house — and in the midst of my concerns about the emotional and spiritual home I needed to provide for my children — God was telling me to enlarge my territory.  Not to tighten my belt, so to speak, not to focus on just the little I had, but rather to expand and to look out beyond where we resided.  The promise that my descendants would resettle the desolate cities was especially meaningful to me.  It’s a promise that my children and their children, both physical and spiritual, will bring life to places that are lacking in life.  I love seeing how this is already happening.  It doesn’t really have to do with me; definitely isn’t my doing.  But it’s the fulfillment of God’s promise to me.

However, this isn’t just a promise that will happen on its own.  I have an active role.  He doesn’t say that He will enlarge my tent; He tells me to “enlarge the place of my tent” (press out into other regions, go places that I might be afraid to go … again, literally and figuratively … the things about which I say, “I don’t want to go there”).

Interestingly, soon after this, God moved us 1000 miles from our home.  It has not been easy at all, but I feel Him expanding us, networking us, helping us to understand another culture within our own, preparing us for bigger changes perhaps.

Another way that He’s been doing this in me is through something He challenged me with 2 years ago:  Whatever I realize I’m afraid of, He’s challenged me to walk into it.  It’s like Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the waves.  I need to step into my fears and keep my eyes on Him.  Sometimes, I can see directly how overcoming  a particular fear can serve Him … like stepping out in public again, writing this blog.  But other things, like trying to conquer my fear of heights … um, I’m not sure that will be used directly in ministry, but it’s the discipline of not giving in to my fears, of getting myself to the place where I won’t hesitate to follow Him, so that I can obey His call without stalling in fear.  Taking this challenge — to walk into my fears, to do what I’m afraid of, as long as it’s not immoral, illegal, or foolish — has helped me to grow a lot in the last couple years, and it’s definitely strengthened my trust in Him.  (By the way, I am horribly afraid of heights.  I’m afraid to stand on a chair to change a light bulb, though I’ve been working on that.  My ultimate goal is to go ziplining.)

He says to “stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not.”  That exhortation to spare not means that I’m not to be cheap or selfish or moderate in stretching.  I’m not to hold back because I’m afraid He won’t provide.  I’m to grow where He tells me/us to grow and not hold back, but trust Him for His resources, financial, emotional, spiritual, etc.

“Lengthen your cords.”  In order to make your tent bigger, you have to have longer cords.  These are what define the outer boundaries of your tent, your territory.  God doesn’t just expand our boundaries for us; we have to provide the longer cord for Him to do that.  Stretching out from the tent pole, these cords are what hold the tent up.  I have to become stronger in His Word and in my relationship with Him.  I need to become completely responsible financially, sacrificing when necessary in order to remain solvent and steady.  I need to build my emotional stability, and I need to take care of my physical body.  All these things have to be strong enough to be stretched farther and farther.

“And strengthen your pegs.”  The cords, when stretched out, have  to have something strong to hold them in place.  God can draw those cords way out and give me vaster and vaster territory in every area of my life, but those cords will just pop back and the tent will collapse if the tent pegs aren’t strong enough to withstand the tension.  Those pegs have to be driven hard into the Rock.  My Rock.  My Redeemer.  And what’s more, those pegs have to be leaning outward … out toward more territory, out toward others, not inward toward myself.  Again, if those pegs lean inwardly, no matter how strong they are, no matter how deeply they are driven into the Rock, the cords will slip off and the tent will collapse.  And just as tent pegs occasionally have to be checked and hammered back into the ground, so I need to be watching for any signs that I’m getting pulled away from the center of the Rock, and allow Him to drive me farther into Himself.

“You will spread abroad,” He says, “to the right and the left.”  An amazing thing about this is that He’s not just expanding our fruitful, productive territory in one direction.  He’s spreading us out in every direction!  And little by little, I see this happening.  I have a little influence in California.  I have friends to encourage in Tennessee.  He has given me a place to minister in Minnesota.  And my influence is reaching in very small ways into India and Africa.  Who knows where else?  Not in big ways, no.  Nor does it have to be big.  But the fact is that He expands our influence in many different directions when we’re open to that.  And little things can make a big impact.  A fearful Sunday School teacher witnessed to Dwight L. Moody and won him to the Lord.  Besides being a successful evangelist, Moody’s ministry (and thus, that Sunday School teacher’s ministry) can be traced all the way to Billy Graham’s conversion.  My little influence, where God has expanded my tent, can reach someone else who may do great things for God!  I didn’t set out to expand my influence.  God did this, really through no effort of my own.  I lengthened my cords and strengthened my pegs … or if truth really be told, I allowed Him to do it, and followed His leading (and often not perfectly, but the best I could).  If we give Him that, He does the rest.

Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.

Wow, did I, and wow, do I continue to need to hear this.  For me, being divorced was probably the most shameful thing I have ever experienced.  My belief had been that divorce was practically the unforgivable sin.  I had grown up hearing, “Divorce is not an option.”  I was part of a subculture where it didn’t matter if every part of the marriage vows had been broken, the only part that mattered was “Til death do us part.”  The person who severed that officially broke the marriage.  I spent years after my divorce, trying to convince God not to love me.  (I know, right?)  Because I had had something of a public ministry, I received hate mail from people because of my divorce.  I was humiliated, disgraced, reproached, and full of shame.  And the worst thing for me was that I believed God could not use me any more, and being used by God was my very favorite thing in life.  Without that, where was the meaning?  I believed that I had to live with this because of a mistake I made when I was young, one that will, of course, continue to have consequences throughout my life.  But it really did feel like the unforgivable sin to me.  Other people’s mistakes could be forgiven and they could move on.  I would live my life being punished for making a bad choice.

God said here in Isaiah 54 that He was taking all that shame away and that I could forget about it.  Furthermore, He said I could even forget the shame of my youth.  I do still live with consequences … and those consequences will be with me for the rest of my life.  But the shame doesn’t need to be, nor does the reproach.  My status as a divorced, single woman does not need to be reproachful.  God can still use me!  God uses best the one who can’t do it themselves.  I can hold my head high with the confidence that I’m working for the King of Kings.

There’s so much more in this chapter to share with you, but I’ve had a long day and I’m tired, so I’ll share more another time.  In the meantime, I think there’s enough here to think about:

1.  How have you felt devastated?  How do you compare yourself with those who are married, or if you’re unable to conceive, how do you compare yourself with those who have children?  How do you feel that you’re lacking because of that?  It’s important to face those things in order to understand what God is offering you.

2.  What seeds has God planted in your heart?  If you press into Him and build your romance with Him, allowing your spiritual womb to be fertile, those seeds will grow, just as a baby grows in the womb.

3.  Where and how is God enlarging your territory?  Do you see the possibility of your influence expanding to other places, beyond that of your home?  This may not be geographic expansion.  Maybe He’s expanding you into new venues or taking you different places for your work.  Maybe He’s giving you more opportunities right where you are.  Those are things that expand your territory, your sphere of influence.  Remember that if you’ve given your life to Him, every time you walk into a place, you’re bringing the Holy Spirit with you.

4.  What areas of your life need more strengthening and stability?  These are the cords that you need to make stronger so that your tent can be stretched.  Do you need to be more disciplined, spiritually?  More responsible financially?  Do you need to work on integrity?  Are you struggling morally?  Ask the Lord how to become stronger in these areas so that your tent cords can be stretched out.

5.  Are your tent pegs strong?  Do you have a strong relationship with the King of Kings who wants to expand your tent?  He’s the Rock, the foundation that you need to drive your tent pegs into, and you need to drive them in hard.  They need to be inspected regularly to be certain you aren’t pulling out of the Rock and weakening your tent.  What specifically do you need to do, to press into Him?  Are you spending time in His Word?  Are you praying … and not only talking, but listening?  Are you surrounding yourself with biblical, wise influence through teaching and friendships?  Are you spending time in Worship of the Lord of the Universe?

6.  Are your tent pegs positioned so they’re leaning out toward others?  Remember that if you point them toward yourself, leaning inward selfishly, your tent will collapse.  Direct your attention outward toward others.  What specifically can you do to align yourself better in this way?  How can you use your gifts to serve others?  How can you be “Jesus with skin on”?

7.  Are you feeling shame because of your position as a single person or a barren woman?  Do you feel like you’re being punished, or like others look down on you?  Does your lonely bed feel like a badge of a lesser status?  First of all, if there is sin that you need to confess, do so, and accept His forgiveness.  And then, this is often what’s hardest … forgive yourself.  God has forgiven you, so let it go.  Yes, there may be consequences that you have to live with.  But you don’t need to walk in shame anymore.  God has called you by name.  He wants to use you.  He wants to expand your tent!  That’s something to rejoice about!  As verse 1 says, shout for joy!  Break forth into joyful shouting!  God has amazing plans for you!

Isaiah 54:1-4

“Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;
For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous
Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent;
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.
 “For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.
And your descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities.

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.