May 2018 Posts

Make Memorial Day Weekend with Your Kids Unforgettable by Jon Farrar

Tyndale Kidsamerican-flag-memorial-day

Ah, Memorial Day weekend . . . the first three-day weekend of the summer!

If you’re anything like me, you have big plans for the weekend. Beach trip? Hiking in the mountains? Maybe, a relaxing backyard barbecue?

It’s fun while it lasts. I wouldn’t want to miss a moment of the activity—from hearing my six-year-old daughter shout for more ice cream to having a short “real conversation” with my teenage son.

If your experience is anything like mine, the weekend goes by so fast! Then, the clamor of work the next week pounds away the memories. So, let’s plan something radically different for this Memorial Day.

Memorial Day weekend is a call to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. What a great weekend to resolve to remember  better!

Before you pack your bags, before you start corralling the kids into your car, before you plug in that address to your GPS, take a moment to consider two things.


siblings-playing-together-in-sunshineRemembering is an important—even sacred—act.   One of the reasons I let life slip through my memory banks so quickly is that I don’t realize how important remembering is. The Bible encourages us to “remember the deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 77:11).

Recently, I’ve become convinced I take far too many things for granted, including those precious three-day weekends scattered throughout the year. I fail to realize that the work of God during daily life is just as important as his work during big turning points. The moments of sunshine and laughter God has allowed me to enjoy with my daughter are equally significant to anything that happens at work.

Sometimes I may consider these moments of joy as God’s small  blessings on my life—his little deeds. But, in light of eternity, God has an entirely different perspective.

Those moments are worth cherishing. They are worth remembering because they represent the goodness of God toward my family.

Resolve that this weekend you will remember the “small things.”


father-and-child-at-beachYour kids need you to remember. What you decide to remember about your life will become part of your family’s ongoing storyline. Every family has a story it tells itself. Your job as the parent is to shape that narrative and make sure it’s a life-giving story for your children. The few long weekends each year are perfect times to shape your family’s story in a profound way. It’s not hard to do. Here are some ideas to help. 

  • Choose a phrase or word for the weekend. The word could be anything from God’s gifts to hope to laughter. Ask each one of your kids to be on the lookout this weekend for a story about that word or phrase. This technique helps you and your kids filter all the events of the weekend and look for the extraordinary moments.
  • On the way home, ask your kids to tell stories about the weekend using the chosen word. Don’t let the last day of a fun weekend put everyone in a bad mood. Instead begin the remembering process while traveling home. Tell stories about the weekend, emphasizing what you want to remember for years to come—the calm walk on the beach, the intense game your family played together, the arduous hike that led to a magnificent view. Think about God’s gifts of time and relaxation. Avoid stories that put anyone in a bad light. Shape the story your family is telling about the weekend.

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  • Create a memento. Our memories are activated by an object. That’s why the ancient Israelites on several occasions constructed a memorial altar with stones. They needed an object—in this case, a pile of stones—to help them remember God’s powerful deeds. You can do the same thing the Israelites did years ago with all types of objects. Everyone does this differently. In the cell phone age, many simply snap pictures and upload them. Others buy small physical mementos of a place. At times, I have simply picked up a large shell or a shiny stone and told a story around those objects.

You’ve worked hard for your long weekends, so relax and enjoy these special days. Memories of times spent with your loved ones are important in God’s sight. Take a moment to frame this weekend so your family will be nourished by these memories for years to come.

Your kids won’t forget it.

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.

Psalm 77:11


Jon Farrar is a senior acquisitions editor for Tyndale’s nonfiction team with more than sixteen years of publishing experience.  Recently, Jon has enjoyed partnering with Alister McGrath on C.S. Lewis: A Life, with Chuck Swindoll on Searching the Scriptures, and with Scott Sauls on Jesus Outside the Lines. Jon also manages the One Year devotional line. Before publishing, he earned a master’s degree in history and theology. Jon loves to jog on Chicago’s lakefront when he has the time to do so. Most of his time, however, is spent maintaining the Wi-Fi network for his two kids at home.


 

The Three Powerful Prayers of Motherhood by Stephanie Rische

Tyndale Kids

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I am far from having a PhD in motherhood; in fact, this is my first Mother’s Day with a child in my arms. But that’s long enough for me to know this: being a mom comes with all the feelings.

There’s something about being a mom that takes any given emotion and injects it with steroids. Sure, I experienced worry before I became a mom. But now if my baby so much as sneezes, I’m convinced that this is the twenty-first-century version of the bubonic plague. I used to feel pain, too, but that was nothing compared to the vicarious pain I felt on his first trip to the ER. I felt delight before, but nothing could have prepared me for the way my heart would swell the first time he smiled at me (even if was just gas).

baby-smiling-with-motherAs I read Scripture, it occurs to me that this phenomenon of maternal emotion is nothing new. In the story of Hannah, we see a woman who experienced the full gamut of mom-feelings—all within the span of two chapters. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in this swirl of emotion. But even more consoling is that God doesn’t just tolerate our spectrum of feelings; he affirms them.

Maybe you’ve bought into the idea that expects a little, well, decorum when we come to him. We figure that approaching him with our requests is like interviewing for a job or applying for a grant: we need to pull ourselves together first, and we certainly shouldn’t have any mascara running down our cheeks in the process. But Hannah’s story is proof that God welcomes us just as we are, with our full range of emotions.

woman-praying-with-bibleAnd believe it or not, there’s actually a gift that comes with strong emotion: it can drive us to our knees. All the emotion bubbling inside us can drive us to more fervent—and more frequent—prayers than we’d muster up otherwise.

This was certainly the case for Hannah. She prayed three mother-prayers for her child, and all these years later, they are the prayers all of us moms need.


Please.

Hannah’s journey to motherhood was a long and arduous one, having longed for a child for years. At the Tabernacle, she poured out her heart to the Lord, not holding back an ounce of her anguish. She prayed so fervently that the priest assumed she was drunk. “I am a woman who is deeply troubled,” she said. “I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief” (1 Samuel 1:15-16).

expectant-mother-hands-on-stomachGod heard the heartfelt “please” of this mom-to-be and answered the desire of her heart. We, too, can come to the Lord with our requests, both for ourselves and for our children, knowing that he hears and that he cares about the things closest to our hearts.


Thank you.

The Lord graciously answered Hannah’s prayers and gave her a son, Samuel, which means “heard by God.” Every time she said his name, it was a reminder of God’s faithfulness. “She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him’” (1 Samuel 1:20).

mother-and-daughter-walking-togetherJust as Hannah brought her full grief to the Lord, she also brought her full gratitude to the Lord. In 1 Samuel 2, we read her song of praise, which opens with these joyful words: “My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong” (1 Samuel 2:1). After God answers our prayers, it’s so easy to move on to the next problem, the next request. We get stuck in “please” mode and forget to say thank you. But Hannah’s example reminds us to bring both the sorrows and the joys of motherhood to the Lord.


They’re yours.

This is perhaps the most difficult prayer for a mother to utter. We’re wired to protect and nurture our children, which is a good, God-given instinct. However, we sometimes forget that these children aren’t really ours. God has entrusted them to us, but ultimately, they belong to him.

willow-tree-mother-and-sonAfter all those years of waiting, it would have been easy for Hannah to cling tightly to her son. He was her miracle-child, after all! But she never forgot that Samuel was first and foremost God’s child, and when he was just a few years old, she brought him to the Tabernacle so he could serve the Lord for the rest of his life. “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:27-28).


Whatever emotions you are experiencing this Mother’s Day, I invite you to bring them to our gracious God, who welcomes our tears and our joy—and everything in between. Let those feelings be transformed into prayers in his presence.

Please. Thank you. They’re yours.


Stephanie Rische is a senior editor and team leader at Tyndale House Publishers, as well as a freelance writer for publications such as Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Marriage Today, and Significant Living magazine. You can follow Stephanie’s blog at www.StephanieRische.com.


Don’t miss these books about motherhood from Tyndale Kids!

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