Our Kids Will Do To and For Other What We Do To and For Them–Reprint

Our Kids Will Do To and For Other What We Do To and For Them–Reprint

“Throughout their lives, your kids will do to and for others what you have done to and for them.”


In our “Character for Tweens and Teens” seminar, we stress the quote above—because we have seen it over and over in our children’s lives during our thirty years of parenting. And it is truly something to consider in the time, effort, money, and teaching that we invest in our children. When I look back at how true this statement has been in our lives, I just want to tell every parent that there are genuine dividends paid for all of that investing!

I could share examples of this with you from every age and stage our seven kids:

*How Joshua, our first born, would sit in the back of the van and tell his sisters what to expect when we got to our destination, how they should behave and how they should treat others—because his mommy and daddy had done that for him since he was a toddler.

*How Kayla, our second daughter, took it upon herself at age fourteen to do all of the cooking for a long period of time during my grief after our stillborn daughter’s birth and my life-threatening ruptured uterus—because her parents had served her, fed her, and taught her everything she needed to know in the kitchen.

*How Cami, our third child, started a ministry for the disabled when she was a senior in high school (that still runs today seven years later and ministers to over a hundred disabled adults every week)—because we taught her to look into people’s hearts to see their deepest needs, and we looked into her heart.

*How the girls planned a special meal for their brothers and even called and invited their grandparents to their “Silly Supper” while Mom and Dad were out of town—because Mom and Dad had always tried to make things special for them.

*How Kara, our fourth child, listened intently night after night to the needs of the teens on the traveling drama team that she led—because her parents had listened to her needs late at night for twenty years.

And on and on and on and on. Our children are far from perfect—as are their parents. But there is one thing that we can be sure they will always do: serve, love, reach out, touch, help, and communicate with others in many of the same ways that they have been served, loved, reached out to, touched, helped, and communicated with by us, their parents.
We have an example of this hot off the press that is so incredibly cute I just had to share it with you. Our almost-eighteen  year-old Josiah (sixth child of seven living)  asked a few weeks ago if he could surprise his younger brother Jacob (our youngest) by taking him to visit their oldest sister near Chicago where she is in grad school at Wheaton College (a four hour drive from us). We discussed it and decided to let him do it, so he set about planning the trip.

He must have talked to me about the “unveiling” of the trip to Jakie no fewer than a dozen times over the three weeks prior to the trip: “Should I drive home with him from my drum teaching and ask him to tell me where the gps says to turn?” “Should I take him to Cami and Joseph’s (our daughter and son-in-law) and make him think we are spending the night there but then take off from there?” “Should I pack all of his stuff while he is at piano then act like we are going to run errands?” On and on. He had a new idea everyday it seemed.

He set aside two hours the night before to go over directions with his dad, talk to us about details, call Kayla (whom they were going to see), and pack/load the car while Jacob was at the YMCA exercising with Kara (our fourth child). He gassed up his vehicle. He packed snacks. He gathered story tapes. He went to the bank and got cash. He packed Jakie’s things and hid them in the trunk.

At one point in Josiah’s preparations, he said, “Don’t you think this is the best surprise that any of the siblings have ever done for another one?” To which we just smiled and nodded. (Our kids have had a sort of unofficial “best sibling EV-ER” contest going on for many years.)

And then they left. His idea to take Jacob to Cami and Joseph’s and go from there, telling him only when Jacob noticed that they were not taking the route that led home, won out. 

And Jacob called us to see if it was really true—“are we really driving to Kayla’s for the weekend?” We could hear Josiah laughing in the background—one happy big brother.

Josiah’s idea wasn’t quite as original as he thought—but we didn’t tell him that, of course. For Josiah had just done nearly everything that we had done for him eight years ago when we took him and his siblings on a surprise weekend trip—right down to hiding packed things in the trunk, packing good snacks, sneaking out story tapes and games,  and taking a strange route to confuse them. Because by that time, we knew that  “throughout their lives, our kids will do to and for other whatever has been done to and for them.” Smile…
The Impact of Teaching Our Children to Minister to “the Least of These”

The Impact of Teaching Our Children to Minister to “the Least of These”


The homeschooled kids in our area start out young (as early as ten years old with their parent) serving in the One Heart Disability Ministry. Look at the joy that children bring to those with disabilities!




A Facebook post just came through from my daughter and her husband concerning their 

disability ministry, One Heart:


“Got some sad news this morning that Charlie, one of our dear One Heart members passed away this Wednesday night. Charlie always made us smile and brought us joy. I bet he’s bringing other people joy in Heaven now! He always answered questions about the Bible with, ‘Jesus died on the cross for us.’ What a simple, amazing truth. Last year at the Talent Show he sang ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ So blessed that he was part of our lives!”


My son-in-law Joseph with Charlie


If you have heard Ray and I speak in our parenting seminar, “Raising Kids With Character,” or at a homeschooling convention, you know that we are big advocates of teaching children to serve at young ages. You might also know that we believe there is a hierarchy of service outlined in the Bible that teaches children to serve the Lord at home–to serve their own families—first, followed by reaching out to those locally and finally to the “uttermost parts of the world.”



“Journey Through Easter”–drama and walk through (with petting zoo!)–is always a hit with the One Heart attendees


Without going into the entire seminar session, I will give you some keys that have led us to this thought process:

1. “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
2. “He who does not provide for his own family is worse than an infidel.”
3. Parable of the talents
4. Serve in your own “Jerusalem” then your state/region….then the uttermost parts of the earth


One of my sons helping a One Heart client fill in his VBS book



We began this teaching with our kids when they were two or three years old–teaching them to pick up around the house, unload the silverware in the dishwasher, help put away laundry, etc. Then they continued to learn household skills that they could/would eventually use in serving others.

As they grew, they served with us–starting with setting up chairs for small group or homeschool support group meetings and moving into going with us to nursing homes and other local outreaches. 

Soon the time came for them to go “out” and serve others–that is, they had learned to serve their family so well and so cheerfully and so diligently that they could take the skills that they had learned here and serve on their own.


The skills that we have built into our children during their formative years–cooking, cleaning, organizing, serving, music, drama, reading, writing, leading, Bible teaching/studying, etc.—are used over and over by our young adults in their various ministries

This has looked different for different kids–from preaching in young adult services to leading/directing dramas in church to singing on the praise team to working in children’s ministries (locally and at state homeschool conventions) to “going to the uttermost parts of the earth”–such as taking wheelchairs around the world with Joni and Friends; serving at state capitols every weekday for a semester; leading drama teams of teens in summer drama traveling around the midwest or southern USA; and even starting a ministry that would some day reach over one hundred disabled adults every week for many years.

Boys’ sports night (along with a trophy for each client!) is always a hit with the One Heart male clients

The latter is what this post is going to focus on–and the impact that teaching our children to minister to “the least of these” really has on our children–and their futures.

When our third child, Cami, was seventeen years old, she served at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat (the world-wide disability ministry of Joni Ereckson Tada) for two weeks. At the end of the retreat, she told the leaders there that she wanted to do something similar to the retreat back home–on an ongoing basis. They told her to go back to her pastors and tell them and see what she can start. 

One Heart “Special Deliveries” is a yearly outreach to nearly three hundred disabled adults in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area

Cami was a senior in high school when she began the One Heart Disability Ministry (One heart…one soul..is worth it…). She had trouble getting volunteers (it is difficult to work with disabled people–and many adults do not want to get involved), but she started rounding up her younger sister and little brothers and their friends, and before she knew it, she had a weekly ministry, sort of a “Sunday school” every Tuesday night for adults with cognitive disabilities. And it grew. And grew. And grew.

The joy that One Heart brings to the lives of those who attend is unmistakable

Within two years, she had her associates degree in church ministry with an emphasis on disability ministry, and she was asked to come on staff at the church as the Disability Ministry Director, the “official” head of One Heart Disability Ministry.

Four years ago Cami married a young man who has a paraplegic brother and cousin with severe brain injury–and also a heart for the disabled and broken, much like Cami has. They have continued leading One Heart together with their combined compassion, love, and selflessness.


In addition to the weekly services that are held with over one hundred disabled attendees all throughout the school year, One Heart delivers gifts and goodies to up to three hundred disabled adults in the Fort Wayne are every Christmas, hosts a summer VBS, and has other special events throughout the year. 

My message today is not what kids can do when they are trained in so many skills (that would take a book–and I would love to write it!); nor is it about having kids serve in general (though that is a good idea too!). My message today is this:

Teaching our children to minister to “the least of these”–the widows, elderly, disabled, and orphaned–has the potential of having a bigger impact than almost any other ministry or service opportunity they could do.

Why do you suppose this is the case?

It is consistent with Scripture–“do not only invite those who can invite you back”; “care for the widows and orphans”; and Jesus’ ministry to the blind, mentally challenged, poor, hungry, homeless, etc.

It builds an empathy in our children that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. Truly, we can tell them there are poor children who do not have enough to eat, but until they serve food to them in a summer ministry in the park, they cannot comprehend that. We can tell them that there are people whose brains do not work like ours do and they cannot do for themselves, but until they go week after week and listen to these people tell the same stories over and over or teach them to color or tell them about Jesus, they cannot FEEL the feelings that we should as Christians feel for those less fortunate than we.




Our four youngest children started working in One Heart with Cami as soon as they could be trusted to fully obey their older siblings and really work hard without parental supervision (not be tempted to play ball in the gym during the gym night but instead stay focused on the people they were there to serve). This was between the ages of eight and ten for all of them. 

And as a result, they are four of the most sensitive, compassionate kids I have ever known. 

Would they have developed this sensitivity and compassion without serving “the least of these” in an ongoing manner? 

Maybe. Maybe not. But I know that this consistent outreach–having to give up their own interests one evening a week, being responsible for their parts (teaching, serving refreshments, leading games and crafts, etc.), and learning to love and reach out to those who are “different” and extremely-mentally challenged–has had a huge impact on the kinds of people that they are growing up to be. 




P.S. Cami and Joseph are expecting their first baby in January, and Cami recently posted the status below. It is such a blessing to think that my grandson is going to start learning to serve “the least of these” from babyhood.




Funny story from One Heart last night….(this is even better than last week’s story!) I (Cami) was closing the evening in prayer with a full classroom of people and as I stood in front with my eyes closed, I feel someone patting my belly. I look down (mid prayer) and I see Susie, a One Heart member with down syndrome, just patting my belly and smiling as if she was talking to the baby. It was adorable and hilarious all at the same time. I got through the prayer without cracking up too much and dismissed everyone. Love it that the One Heart people are so excited about our baby. Can’t wait until he is here and can meet everyone. He is loved already!”


Your Kids Will Do To and For Others What You Have Done To and For Them….

Your Kids Will Do To and For Others What You Have Done To and For Them….

“Throughout their lives, your kids will do to and for others what you have done to and for them.”

 

 

In our “Character for Tweens and Teens” seminar, we stress the quote above—because we have seen it over and over in our children’s lives during our thirty years of parenting. And it is truly something to consider in the time, effort, money, and teaching that we invest in our children. When I look back at how true this statement has been in our lives, I just want to tell every parent that there are genuine dividends paid for all of that investing!

I could share examples of this with you from every age and stage of our seven kids:

*How Joshua, our first born, when he was six or seven,  would sit in the back of the van and tell his sisters what to expect when we got to our destination, how they should behave and how they should treat others—because his mommy and daddy had done that for him since he was a toddler.

*How Kayla, our second daughter, took it upon herself at age fourteen to do all of the family cooking for a long period of time during my grief after our stillborn daughter’s birth and my harrowing ruptured uterus—because her parents had served her, fed her, and taught her everything she needed to know in the kitchen.

*How Cami, our third child, started a ministry for the disabled when she was a senior in high school (that still runs today seven years later and ministers to over a hundred disabled adults every week)—because we taught her to look into people’s hearts to see their deepest needs, and we looked into her heart.

*How the girls planned a special meal for their brothers and even called and invited their grandparents to their “Silly Supper” while Mom and Dad were out of town—because Mom and Dad had always tried to make things special for them.

*How Kara, our fourth child, listened intently night after night to the needs of the teens on the traveling drama team that she led—because her parents had listened to her needs for twenty years.

And on and on and on and on. Our children are far from perfect—as are their parents. But there is one thing that we can be sure they will always do: serve, love, reach out, touch, help, and communicate with others in many of the same ways that they have been served, loved, reached out to, touched, helped, and communicated with by us, their parents.

 

We have an example of this hot off the press that is so incredibly cute I just had to share it with you. Our almost-eighteen  year-old Josiah (sixth child of seven living)  asked a few weeks ago if he could surprise his younger brother Jacob (our youngest) by taking him to visit their oldest sister near Chicago where she is in grad school at Wheaton College (a four hour drive from us). We discussed it and decided to let him do it, so he set about planning the trip.

He must have talked to me about the “unveiling” of the trip to Jakie no fewer than a dozen times over the three weeks prior to the trip: “Should I drive home with him from my drum teaching and ask him to tell me where the gps says to turn?” “Should I take him to Cami and Joseph’s (our daughter and son-in-law) and make him think we are spending the night there but then take off from there?” “Should I pack all of his stuff while he is at piano then act like we are going to run errands?” On and on. He had a new idea everyday it seemed.

He set aside two hours the night before to go over directions with his dad, talk to us about details, call Kayla to talk details (whom they were going to see), and pack/load the car while Jacob was at the YMCA exercising with Kara (our fourth child). He gassed up his vehicle. He packed snacks. He gathered story tapes. He went to the bank and got cash. He packed Jakie’s things and hid them in the trunk.

At one point in Josiah’s preparations, he said, “Don’t you think this is the best surprise that any of the siblings have ever done for another one?” To which we just smiled and nodded. (Our kids have had a sort of unofficial “best sibling EV-ER” contest going on for many years.)

And then they left. His idea to take Jacob to Cami and Joseph’s and go from there, telling him only when Jacob noticed that they were not taking the route that led home, won out. And Jacob called us to see if it was really true—“are we really driving to Kayla’s for the weekend?” We could hear Josiah laughing in the background—one happy big brother.

Josiah’s idea wasn’t quite as original as he thought—but we didn’t tell him that, of course. For Josiah had just done nearly everything that we had done for him eight years ago when we took him and his siblings on a surprise weekend trip—right down to hiding packed things in the trunk, packing good snacks, sneaking out story tapes and games,  and taking a strange route to confuse them. Because by that time, we knew that  “throughout their lives, our kids will do to and for others whatever has been done to and for them.” Smile…

Mistletoe–For More Than Just Kissing–a Reminder of Peace

“Then I thought of the mistletoe—hanging above the entrance to a home—right there in the doorway where all family members must pass to enter. And how we can use mistletoe this holiday season to remind us to “disarm ourselves, embrace, and refrain from combat.”

During our “holiday tradition” reading this year, I was reminded of the many characteristics of the mistletoe. I’ve always been a mistletoe fan—if my “mistletoe-ee” is nearby, of course. It hasn’t always been such a good thing—and the plant itself has some extremely negative traits. However, we can use the mistletoe for good by following the tradition of soldiers centuries ago.

The mistletoe is known as a “taker” and not a “giver.” It is a parasite that lives on the very life of another plant, causing the slow destruction of this host. The strange thing, however, is that once the “host plant” dies, the mistletoe dies as well.

Early settlers enjoyed decorating for Christmas with the mistletoe because of its decorative flowers and attractive berries. It grows in late November and stays green throughout the winter—all the way until spring. Back in those days, there were no other green plants available in winter to use as decorations.

Of course, we are all familiar with the common use for mistletoe—as a gathering spot beneath for kissing. Obviously, this can be a very good thing or a very bad thing. For years, our kids thought it was so cute to cart what looked like mistletoe around and hold it above Mom or Dad to illicit kisses between us. That is a good use for it! However, the obvious bad use is the promoting of promiscuity among those who have no business kissing.

The most interesting thing about mistletoe to me this year, and the reason for this post at all, is the custom from centuries ago that caused temporary peace to reign. This custom required enemies who met under a clump of mistletoe to disarm themselves, embrace, and refrain from combat for the remainder of the day.

Immediately upon reading that this year I thought of family members who are at war with one another. I thought of grown kids who are less than friendly with their very own parents. I thought of adult siblings who are not on speaking terms. And on and on. And I thought of our responsibility as Christians to not allow this brokenness to continue.

Then I thought of the mistletoe—hanging above the entrance to a home—right there in the doorway where all family members must pass to enter. And how we can use mistletoe this holiday season to remind us to “disarm ourselves, embrace, and refrain from combat.” We can use the simple mistletoe as our cue to enter with peace in our hearts, kindness on our tongues, and love in our souls. Furthermore, we can teach this to our children—that God calls us to live peaceably with all men, when it is in our power, and that Christmas time is the best time to re-invite that peace into our hearts and spread it to those family members whom we might not have always had peace with.

Valentine’s Day–Empathy Training in Our Homes

                               Teaching Children Empathy on Valentine’s Day

                                             Reprint From 2010 Blogpost




“One heart is worth it all; one life; one family…touched by the love of Christ expressed through a caring church.”
                            One Heart Disability Ministry








Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to focus on empathy. Empathy is taking love one step further. It is feeling how someone else might feel—and acting on that feeling. The “day of love” is the perfect time to focus on empathy—to add this important dimension to the character training of your children.


One of the things that we never allowed our children to do was to make fun of the weak or the disabled. Calling somebody “retarded” or “crippled,” or some such other name was strictly forbidden. However, we didn’t just not let them speak ill of or make fun of those people, we taught them to show love and compassion to them.


From their earliest years, when we saw somebody who was needy, we would explain to the children that we do not know what that person goes through. That we cannot understand that person’s pain and suffering. And that we should lift those people up, not tear them down.


If you read much of what we have written, you will quickly learn that we feel that one of the most valuable parenting tools that we have at our disposal is that of discussion. This is especially true when it comes to empathy training. We have always discussed people’s hurts with our children (at appropriate ages), and even charged them with the duty of making this world a better place through their Christian love and charity.


All four of our grown children are heavily involved in ministry. Joshua (our first born) and Kara (our fourth born) are involved in ministries to homeschooling families through our family ministry and through the Academy of Arts (teaching Christian drama to youth and children). Our second and third kids are both in full time ministry to the needy. Kayla will be joining the ranks of full time missionary, training other missionaries in HIV care and prevention upon her college graduation in May. Cami is our church’s disability ministry director (One Heart Disability Ministry). She and her husband work tirelessly holding services each week for over a hundred individuals in the Fort Wayne area with cognitive disabilities.


Obviously, if our children felt that they were supposed to work full time in vocational careers, we would be proud of them. We have always wanted them to do what God has called them to do. However, the fact that they are so adept at seeing others’ needs and trying to meet them brings us great joy—regardless of whether that is a full time ministry, part time ministry, or just what they do as Christian adults above and beyond their occupations.


Yes, “How do you think that makes that person feel?” is the beginning of empathy training. Teaching our children to see people’s needs with true compassion is the continuation of that empathy training. (And as an aside, we began “How do you think that makes that person feel?” with their siblings. We always told the kids that if they can learn how to get along with/be kind to their siblings, they can work with anybody in this world!)


We are not programmed to be selfless. We are not programmed to automatically think about others. We are born with a sin nature–a selfish nature. As parents, we have to make a conscious effort to get our children’s thoughts off of themselves—and onto those around them.


Many years ago, when the older children were ten through fourteen, we took a trip to Chicago. We spent a long weekend visiting museums, swimming at our motel, and, of course, talking. We had many opportunities to see those with needs and discuss these situations. Before we left that weekend, we had written a song (amateur poet, here) that described what we saw and felt that we still sing today—and that reminds us to look around us and see the hurting people—and try to find ways to help them.






                                                             “I Prayed for You Today”


I prayed for you today, though I didn’t know your name,
I saw a hurting look, so I had to stop and pray.
I prayed for you today, when I saw you on the street,
Playing on your trumpet, for everyone you meet.






(Chorus) I know it doesn’t seem like much, just a simple little prayer.
But I want you to realize there is a God who cares.
I know it doesn’t seem like much, I wish I could do more.
But the very best thing that I can do is take you to the Lord.






I prayed for you today, when I saw you with your cane,
Your yesterdays have flown right by, and now you’re old and lame.
I prayed for you today, when I saw you on your porch,
You looked so sad and lonely, so broken and forlorn.




(Chorus) I know it doesn’t seem like much, just a simple little prayer.
But I want you to realize there is a God who cares.
I know it doesn’t seem like much, I wish I could do more.
But the very best thing that I can do is take you to the Lord.




I prayed for you today, when I saw you with your friends,
Trying to be popular, trying to fit in.
I prayed for you today, when I saw you at the zoo,
Being a daddy all alone is difficult to do.




(Chorus) I know it doesn’t seem like much, just a simple little prayer.
But I want you to realize there is a God who cares.
I know it doesn’t seem like much, I wish I could do more.
But the very best thing that I can do is take you to the Lord.






Empathy doesn’t just happen. Yes, we can say that one child is more tenderhearted than another. We can see leanings towards empathy—as well as leanings towards selfishness—in our children. But empathy is something that we can teach our children—a learned behavior, if you will—that we can instill in them beginning at very young ages, in our homes.

























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