Mungu Land

A vacation FROM summer break

“So, mom, can I have a friend over?” That sounds like a typical question for a kid to ask when summer is in full swing. The problem was, we had just walked in the door from my trip to pick up my child from a friend’s house. My mom heart was sighing at the obvious lack of gratefulness for the special outing that had already occurred, and off I went on a child-sized lecture about being thankful and content.

 

It wasn’t until later that day, that I realized something, maybe I didn’t actually get to the heart of the issue. Once we were all settled in at home, my kids began to engage in different activities and seemed to have a great time, and then it dawned on me…It wasn’t that my children were not content (at least not this time anyway), it was simply that they wanted a “what’s next.” I found it humorous that it wasn’t anything that the kids did to bring this light bulb moment, but something that I actually did. I was going about my day, checking things off my list, working my way through the schedule of my plans for the day, and I realized my child was operating just like me. Not only did my kids like a “what’s next,” so did I!

 

It’s no wonder that when it comes to summer, it can start well, but when the excitement of freedom has worn off, summer can seem like it will never end. The cries of “I’m bored,” or “I never get to have any fun” become the unwelcome anthems of our children. We wonder why we ever bought them toys, because they obviously don’t remember that they have them. We might even wonder how much it would cost to hire a referee for the day to come deal with all the sibling squabbles. It then becomes obvious that we don’t want a summer break vacation, we want a vacation FROM summer break! But really, we shouldn’t be surprised, our kids have just spent most of the year in a very structured environment, and suddenly they are back at home with high expectations for fun. So, before you start to hyperventilate at the prospect of the upcoming summer months, take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee, a calendar or scrap piece of paper and answer some of the following questions, because whether you are a scheduled type of person or not, we can save ourselves some heartache if we go into a summer with a little bit of planning!

 

1      At the end of a summer day, what makes you consider the day a success for your family (you may need to be specific with each of your kids)?

2      Is there a new chore that you can teach and give as a responsibility that will encourage their role in your family?

3      Is there a new skill that you would love for them to learn (taking swimming lessons or trying a new hobby that sounds fun to them)?

4      Do your children need a schedule to help them pass the days, or a calendar of special things to look forward to?

5      Is there a faith skill challenge that you would love them to grow in (maybe memorizing the books of the Bible with a trip to get ice-cream as a reward)?

 

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of questions, but it might be a good start to gaining new perspective on what God can do to help our kids live well with the extra time. When I was a stay-at-home mom, the answer for me came in the form of a summer schedule. I filled the day with the things that I wanted the kids to invest in, but I balanced it with special things that weren’t typically part of our days and gave my kids something to look forward to. And yes, I used scrapbook paper, made it all “cute-sy” and posted it where my kids could keep an eye on it. Some things required definite mom involvement, but others purposefully did not so that I could get things done or could do things that I enjoyed too. If we were home, we followed it. If something special came up, the summer schedule didn’t even cross our minds.

 

For all of you looking for practical ideas…here are some. I planned time for lots of crafting or creating with all sorts of things, play-doh was not off limits, there were marble run creations,  and mud pie messes, but there was also time spent reading, practicing instruments and cleaning up before dad got home. I even planned in screen time because…well, I personally enjoy it and want to teach my kids how to use technology in a good way. I also put special things on a weekly rotation: trips to the pool, the library or parks were so fun. Your plans or schedules don’t need to be exhaustive, just done with some prayer and wisdom for how your family will function well. The best part, for me, wasn’t how full the day was, or how many different things we got to do, but it was coming to the end of the day and realizing that I had helped my kids have fun and invested in them as well.

 

So, I don’t know where this summer finds you, with a house full of kids or headed to work and then home to your family for the hot summer evenings, but I do know that a little planning and perspective can go a long way. Enjoy some time spent looking at the family God has given you, with all its quirks, preferences, talents, and definitions of fun, and begin to write the plot for an awesome summer story for you and your kids!

 

Written by Karis Stiles, Director of Kids Ministry at Parker Hill, wife to Student Pastor Kevin Stiles and mother to three children ages 19 to 12.

Mungu Land: Come to the Castle

It’s time to “Come to the Castle” and hear stories from the King.  This month’s theme was inspired by Chris Tomlin’s new book, Good Good Father and we encourage you check out the board book version, Good Good Father for Little Ones.

As we travel through the stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Hagar, Gideon, and Daniel, your preschoolers will learn that . . . …

God is always with me.
God hears me and gives me what I need.
God teaches me the way to go.
God protects me.

It’s a fantastic month that is sure to help your preschooler know that God is with them all the time, and God’s got it.

May’s Preview Video is available. Check it out!

*Content taken from First Look Orange Curriculum May 2017

Let's Talk About Sex

Let’s talk about sex.

Maybe you have lived through some of these scenarios:

•   During bath time your three-year-old son asks you why his younger sister’s bottom looks different than his.

•   You are driving down the road when your seven-year-old daughter asks how babies are made.

•   As you are working on the family computer you stumbled upon your teenage son’s recent search history on Google.

How do you respond in these moments? As parents these scenes make you sweat. You can feel the lump forming in your throat as you picture these scenarios becoming a reality. For all the dads reading, you instinctive reaction is shouting, “Go ask your mother!”

Part of our squeamishness with sex dates back to the very first man and woman. God created us in his image. Adam and Eve were the only humans who knew sexual identity apart from bashfulness and brokenness, but this all changed when sin entered the world through their disobedience. We feel the effects of their actions in every area of our lives, including our sexuality. Part of the consequence of sin is the awkwardness that now accompanies sexuality.

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”                                                                                                                              Genesis 3:7

Ever since that moment God’s plan for sexual identify and sexually integrity has been distorted.

When it comes to the topic of sexuality, we can too easily feel ill-equipped to field these questions and conversations with our children, or maybe that’s just me! However, we can’t ignore the subject. In fact, to do so will be detrimental to our children. God has given us the immense responsibility of helping our sons and daughters understand God’s design for sexuality. So what can we do?

Let me disappoint you up front by letting you know that there is no secret formula or recipe. There is no way to entirely remove the tension that will surface. With that in mind, I encourage you to try three things as you navigate this critical role in your parenting.

1. Talk about the subject openly and often. 

Maybe you are familiar with “the talk.” Yes, the iconic let’s sit down and discuss the birds and the bees discussion. Perhaps you even had “the talk” with your mom or dad. The premise of this right of passage is that you sit down and have a single conversation about the subject (as if you could cover all your bases in one session). Let me suggest a better way.

Our kids are going to hear this information from somewhere, so let it be from you and me rather than their friend on the school bus or their gym teacher. Instead of having a single talk before our kids head out on their first date, to prom, or off to college, let's talk about sex and sexuality often and honestly. If we create a safe environment for our children to ask questions, they’ll ask questions! Don’t just play defense but go on the offensive and look for opportunities to start the conversation.

2. Take the phase into account.

When talking about sex and sexuality, you don’t need to be bashful, but you should discuss the subject in an age-appropriate manner. What we share with a three-year-old should look drastically different than what we share with an eleven-year-old. That’s why is so important to take the phase into account.

A phase is a timeframe in a kid’s life when you can leverage unique opportunities to influence their future. Each stage of a child’s life holds unique opportunities to discuss sexuality.

Dr. Jim Burns of Home Word focuses on four phases as a guide for talking with your children about sex and sexuality:

Preschool Phase- The goal: Introduce them to their body

Elementary Phase - The goal: Inform them about how things work

Middle School Phase- The goal: Interpret what is changing

High School Phase - Coach them towards healthy relationships

To learn more about these phases and tips on how to navigate these conversations, check out this podcast: Sex Conversations Trough the Phases.

3. Trust God to use you.

Sometimes it’s easy to want to rely solely on the experts like Dr. Jim or even your child’s teacher or student pastor. At Parker Hill, we believe in the power of combined influences. You don’t need to have these conversations alone, and there is power in many adults who speak the same message to our children. However, let me encourage you to not offload this responsibility simply because you're uncomfortable.

God has given you the unique opportunity to parent your child, and no one knows them like you. Trust God to use you in spite of your shortcomings, quirks, and sweaty palms to make a difference in the life of your child, even when it comes to talking about sex.

Additional Resources:

Pure Foundations Series

 

Written by Jason Castelli, Director of Family and Adult Ministries at Parker Hill. 

 

Mungu Land: Tackling technology in your home

Guest blogpost by Lanette Moucha. Lanette is the wife of Kurt Moucha (Worship pastor at Parker Hill) and mother to three boys, ages 3, 6, and 9. Lanette shares her experience with how they manage technology in their home.

 

Anyone who knows the Mouchas is well aware of our family focus on keeping it simple on a very tight budget. That budget focus is the filter through which we view almost every topic, including technology. How do we deal with technology in our family, especially with the little ones? The answer is simple. We don’t have a lot of it and it has to be shared with others in the family. It is also the first thing to be taken away when poor attitudes arise. Owning technology for fun and learning is a luxury, not an entitlement.

When our oldest son, Lincoln, was a toddler, he would play Curious George and Super Why! games on pbskids.org on Kurt’s laptop. We liked those TV shows and knew they focused on math, science, and reading skills. He had to share the laptop and the time allotment had to be time that was convenient for Kurt. The computer didn’t belong to Lincoln and the time spent playing was special for him. When they were old enough, Wyland and Kinley got to play on my desktop, but again, the time was at my discretion and it was a treat for them, not an expectation.

This past Christmas, our family got our first Kindles! I know. I feel like the only family that has never had a tablet of any kind. Lincoln had been playing games on Kurt’s phone and that was getting tiresome. Kurt needed his phone more often and lending it to Lincoln was getting super inconvenient. So, Amazon had a great cyber Monday deal and boom! Lincoln got his own Kindle, Wy and Kinley got one to share, and Mama got one, too! To top it all off, the generous gift of a WiiU also made its way into our home. The boys are learning to create and build with Minecraft and play with their favorite characters from Toy Story. They’re developing all kinds of skills running (or driving) around with Mario and Luigi. They’re learning and they’re having fun.

So, now, with a gaming system and a handful of tablets, how have things changed? Not a whole lot. They still have to ask permission to play. They still have to share and play together. And if arguing and fighting commence, the fun is over. We find that setting a timer for the gaming system works well. Enough time that they all get to play but not so long that they zone out all day. Longer periods of playing usually end up in arguments. Shorter time limits encourage them to be cooperative.

Technology certainly is great for learning and fun. It’s also super helpful if Mama really needs to get something done! Truthfully, we just like balance and good attitudes. Limits that make sense for our family and kids who understand that technology is good and fun but not something they deserve or are entitled to. What is a good time limit? That’s going to differ for every family. Find what works for yours and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. 

Mungu Land in February: So Big!

The month of candy hearts and oversized stuffed bears has arrived. It’s the month we set aside each year to celebrate our love for those we hold near and dear. And what says “I love you” better than a box of chocolates or cards that play music when you open them?

As thoughtful as these things are, Jesus has a few different ways of showing us how much He loves us. Jesus shows His love for us by simply wanting to spend time with us. Jesus wants us to come to Him – anytime, anywhere – just come. Jesus shows He loves us by helping us. And, Jesus loves us no matter what.

Jesus’ love is SO BIG! That’s what we want our preschoolers to walk away knowing this year. Jesus loves them with a love that is bigger than they can imagine!

*Taken from First Look Orange Curriculum Preview

Check out this preview video of the month!