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Parents! A “Sing the Bible” Blog Series.

October 1, 2014

S&B Loves Fams

Earlier this year, I started a blog series for Slugs & Bugs families that want to go deeper. The Bible verses inside Sing the Bible can begin beautiful and inspiring conversations about the gospel, and this series explores some of the conversations these verses inspired with my own kids.

All three of my children sang on the record, though none of them yet fully grasp the depth of what Jesus has done for them. (Come to think of it, I’m sure I don’t either.) But all of them are old enough to begin wrestling with God’s word and finding their faith within.

There are a few recurring themes, and the series isn’t over yet, but if you’d like to talk to your kids about the Bible verses they are learning on Sing the Bible, this is a great place to start.

The link below puts all the posts in the series on one place, so you can read some now and come back to it later.

http://slugsandbugsandlullabies.wordpress.com/category/sing-the-bible-series/

(brilliant illustration by the one and only Joe Sutphin)

To hear clips of Sing the BibleListen HERE

To get the music: Purchase HERE

 

Chalk Talk

September 29, 2014

As our kids grow, our mantras change.

“Use your fork, not your fingers,” morphs into “don’t talk with your mouth full” before we know it. As they continue to grow, the messages often pertain to how they treat one another.

“Treat her like you want to be treated.’

“Respect your brother.”

” You are not the family policeman.”

Las year, Amy bought a a chalkboard for our kitchen, so she could point to a message instead of having to say it over and over.

This new one was born out of trying to find a new way to say an old thing. Our kids can be hard on each other. “Please, give him a break,” is a constant refrain and reminder for extending grace. Then, the other day I was telling my son that whoever crosses your path, your first job is to love them. Those two thoughts merged and became our newest chalkboard message.  I thought I’d share it with you guys, since it seems to be helping.

chalk

If you see someone, love them. If they frustrate you, give them a break.

Talking To Your Kids about “What Love Is”

September 25, 2014

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay our lives down for our brothers and sisters.  – 1 John 3:16

This post is the 11th in a series on our new CD Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs. All the lyrics to Sing the Bible are word-for-word Scripture. I hope this series helps parents talk with their kids about each passage on the CD.

—–

1 John 3:16 is a great conversation starter with kids. At first glance, it seems like a simple and efficiently packaged lesson.

1. This is how you know what Love is…

2. See what Jesus did?

3. Now go and do the same.

However, we only need to remember our own horrific record of personal obedience to abandon that notion. This is no “one and done” lesson. I am still learning, so I must allow my kids the freedom to absorb and understand (and transform) at the Lord’s pace. You could start by asking them what is so special about this verse.

They’ll probably miss it, but in this passage John detonates an atomic bomb of knowledge and insight. In one short sentence, the “disciple Jesus loved” reveals one of the greatest biggest mysteries of the human race.

John lifts up the crucifixion as the definition of Love. He is also saying, “This is how to know whether or not you have love: if you lay down your life for others without regard for your own pleasure or comfort.”

This definition of love really hits home with those of us old enough to multiply and divide. Those kids (and parents) realize how impossible it really is to forget about ourselves and our wants. This is how Oswald Chambers puts it (in today’s Utmost).

Our Lord’s teaching can be summed up in this: the relationship that He demands for us is an impossible one unless He has done a super-natural work in us.

So, this verse provides a great opportunity for kids (and adults) to pray. “Lord? Have you done a supernatural work in me? Please show me by helping me love my brother and sister when I don’t want to.”

Parents, this verse gives us a great chance to level the gospel playing field between us and our children. They need to see us needing Jesus. Tell them how you struggle with this verse, and how the Lord loves others through you. You may start a conversation that lasts a lifetime.

Why Are We Donating To Restore Academy?

September 23, 2014

RIchard, Bob and KidsWe are donating 100% of our September profits from Sing the Bible to Restore Academy. Why are we doing that?

In the Fall of 2012, I traveled to Uganda with a small team headed up by my friend Bob Goff. Bob is the founder and “chief balloon blower” of Restore Academy – a K-through-12 school in Gulu, Uganda, one of the most war-torn areas of the country. While we were preparing for our trip, Bob’s book Love Does was quickly becoming a national phenomenon. By the time we hit Kampala, Love Does had become a New York Times best seller. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and be inspired to live a life of adventure, filled with love.

It was love that inspired Bob to start a school in a city with a huge population of children orphaned by the ravaging of the LRA in Northern Uganda. And it is love and grit that keeps these amazing kids going.  I spent only one day with the students there, and it was all I needed to see the strength and passion and kindness they carry with them wherever they go. (Read more about them here).

That’s why we are raising money with 100% of Sing the Bible sales in September. The world needs these young people. They have overcome so much.  Unfortunately, many graduates from Restore can not afford higher education. Even though it is cheap by Western standards, tuition costs for these future leaders can push University study out of reach. Now, with your help, more students will attend college and bring more hope to their country’s future.

I’m quite honored to partner with Restore Academy, and you will be too. Pick up a copy of Sing the Bible today, and let’s see how many kids we can get through their first year of college. Consider buying 5 or 10 and giving them to friends. All the songs are word-for-word Scripture, so you could give them out to church members, or your sunday school class! They also make GREAT Christmas gifts.

Finally, if you’re wondering if you’d like this music, check it out and decide for yourself. Here’s a page where you can listen. Even with 30 second clips, you can get the gist… (for full songs, click through past blog posts like this one). If you’ve heard the music and you love it - share in the comments below! What is special to you about this music? Help me encourage others to pick up a copy while they still count for the young people of Restore Academy.

Our Website: www.slugsandbugs.com

Restore Academy’s parent organization: www.restoreinternational.org

(btw: I took that picture, Bob is holding the enormous balloon, and his son Richard is holding the camera. The students are Restore Academy students)

3 Easy Steps to Stop Carpool Bickering

September 21, 2014

carpool fight

It creeps up on you like a swarm of chiggers. You may not even realize it’s been happening until you find yourself biting the inside of your cheek to keep from screaming at the trio of 5th graders in your back seat.

That’s right, I’m talking about carpool bickering. It’s like a sport for some kids.

“That’s not how it goes!”
“Yes it is!”
“No it’s not!”
“How would you know?”
“My brother told me!”
“Well he doesn’t know everything about everything in the universe!”

Exaggeration runs rampant, and often they just make stuff up. These boys are stuck at the starting line in the long race to figure out who they are with their shoelaces tied together and their pants on backwards. And you’ve got to drive them to school.

So, what are the three steps to Stop Carpool Bickering?

1. Slam on the brakes.
2. Scream at them to all shut their filthy, pint-sized faces.
3. Wow – that was only two steps. I’m good.

OK, so that might satisfy in the short term, but maybe you’d regret it that evening when little Jackson Henry’s mom calls at dinner time.

So here’s what we did, after allowing them a moment of grace in our minds. It’s not easy being them, after all.

1. Bring it up. Ask your kid (who’s as guilty as any of them) to consider how negative and unkind they sound, and how it makes you feel to be in the car with them. He probably hasn’t even thought about it, but when you bring it up, he’ll see with new perspective. Very few people enjoy that kind of negativity, but we can all be drawn into it. Helping our kids learn how to handle that stuff is part of our job as parents.

2. Ask him to figure out a possible solution. Our kids are just like us. They will take things much more seriously if they have ownership in the idea. If he’s stuck, give suggestions and let him pick one for himself.

“Guys, this arguing is wearing me out. Let’s change the subject.”

“We disagree. Let’s talk about something else that doesn’t include arguing.”

“So… what if this whole car was made of marshmallows?”

3. Challenge him to lead.
Our boys will soon be men. The more they taste leadership now, the more comfortable they will be to lead their peers in more important matters later. Ask your son for help. The people in the argument have the most power to stop the argument, so tell him you’re counting on him to lead the conversation away from bickering. (Of course, this applies to girls as well. The world need girls that know how to lead.)

4. Let them fail. (This isn’t really a fourth step, but it’s an important add-on). Don’t hope for much change the first time back in the car. If he forgets, let them argue again – for the whole car ride if you can stand it. You’ve passed the baton, and if he fails, you’ll have lots to talk about when you’re alone the next time.

Don’t forget – this month, all the profits from sales of Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs will benefit Restore Academy in Gulu, Uganda. All the songs are word-for-word Scripture, so buy them by the box! (They make awesome gifts).

Listen HERE

Purchase HERE

Parenting via Email

September 10, 2014

Last night, one of our big kids had kitchen duty after dinner. Wash dishes, clean kitchen. Simple.

Sometimes, when they don’t do a good job of cleaning up, I’ll gently point it out. But when it happens a lot, I begin to sound like a nag. It’s a crummy position to be in, as every parent knows.

It happened again tonight, when my child “cleaned the kitchen” and then climbed into bed to read. But the kitchen wasn’t clean.

Enter technology!  Frustrated with this cycle, I took a few pictures of the cluttered counter and the remaining straggle of items in the sink, and I emailed them to my child, for them to find tomorrow whenever they check their email. Here’s what I said.

Thanks for doing the dishes. I just wanted to show you the few things that were still left out so you’d know to clean up a little more thoroughly next time.

If you ever need help with something like the croc pot, by all means come and get me. I love to help! :-) But everything should be clean before you’re done from now on.

Thank you! I appreciate you and figured you’d want me to clarify our expectations. You the bomb. – dad

photo 2 photo 1 photo 3 photo 4

We’ll see if it makes a difference for next time (I’ll report back next week). Anyone else have experience with parenting via technology? I’d love to know what’s worked for you – and what hasn’t!

 

5 Small Parenting Decisions (with a Huge Impact)

September 7, 2014

First of all, my kids are just as messed up and awesome as yours. They need Jesus bad. But, they are also amazing and make us so proud in so many ways. I’ve thought of 5 small decisions we made as parents that have had enormous impact on who they are becoming. (Ages 13, 11 and. 7).

1. No TV During The School Week.
WAIT!!! Before the big eyeroll, we are not superhero parents with endless patience. And there’s no judgement here. But here’s how it happened…

When the kids were little we eagerly accepted help from Baby Einstein, Bob and Larry, Dora, Diego and Elmo. Then, in kindergarten, screen time dramatically dropped because after school there was just enough time for dinner and reading to them in the bed. The battleground was before school and we dug our trench, hunkered down and simply outlasted them. Around that age, each kid asked to watch tv every morning for weeks – and then months. We said no, over and over.

We don’t watch tv on school days, we said.

And eventually, somewhere near the end of first grade, they stop asking.

What we’ve gained is immeasurable, (they read books like crazy, for example), and leads me to #2.

2. Instrument Practice Every Morning, Before School.
WAIT!!! We are not the Von Trapps! We don’t have titanium willpower! It started with a small decision when our oldest was 6. I gave her 20 minute piano lessons every day (give or take) before school, because after school she was an exhausted kindergardener and I was working till dinner. With no music practice, after dinner there was time for coloring or drawing or reading magic treehouse books, and then the bedtime routine. Now, she’s 13, and she practices violin for 30/40 minutes before (public) school every day (give or take) starting at around 6:45am. We’ve had to hold our ground over the years, but it’s worth it. Both younger brothers expect it and don’t complain (much).

3. We limited video games, and particularly limited handheld video games.
Again, this is not typical, I know. Plenty of wonderful parents have different rules, but for us, we decided to wait till the big kids were 10 and 12 before we got minecraft on our iPad. They had played angry birds and tiny wings, etc. on our iPhones, but it was always limited and understood as a privilege.

That means we said no a lot.

They never had a gameboy or DS or anything like that, and though they complained, eventually they figured out ways to entertain themselves. I remember a Saturday when they made a whole army of tanks out of toothpicks and mini Reese’s cup wrappers. We were always replacing sidewalk chalk. They spent hours exploring the “creek” (drainage ditch of doom) behind our house. They made easy bake (not my fav) cookies, cardboard box cities and armor and LEGOS – oh man… Legos. But most of all, they read and read and read.

Now we play Wii here and there on the weekends, maybe two or three times a month. Same for Minecraft. And they are always SO thankful when we say yes. Which brings me to the next decision…

4. Without A Persuasive Reason To Say No, We Say Yes.
I’ve written about this before, but it’s still a huge deal for me as a parent. It was #1 of my “15 Tips for Parents,” and to keep this post short, I’ll link to that here.

5. We Eat Dinner Together Every Night (when I’m not traveling, obviously).
This is another one that seems hard until you decide to do it. Of course, there are exceptional circumstances when someone’s gone or I’m working late, but we have made it a priority, and it happens. We give ourselves lots of grace for exceptions, but that’s because the habit is entrenched and it’s important to everyone.

The gain is breathtaking when I think about the cumulative impact. So many hours eating and laughing and learning to be humans together. It continues to be a very big deal.

The biggest takeaway for me about this stuff is, small decisions matter. These particular things may not all make sense for your family, but as you trudge through this parenting journey, if you feel a conviction on a decision that needs to be made, don’t let the fear of difficulty stop you. The difficult moments pass quickly. Often by simply outlasting the clamor against them, small decisions can transform a household.

 

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