Memorising Scripture Together

Memorising Scripture Together

Do you memorise verses from the Bible?

I didn’t go to Sunday School as a child, and didn’t become a Christian until I was a teenager, so I didn’t even think about memorising scripture until much later in life.


Then when I did begin, I memorised a few verses here and then, but quickly forgot them. So I tried another idea: to commit the whole of the book of James to memory. However, by the time I got to the end I had forgotten the beginning! So I pretty much gave up.

When my first husband became ill, my Bible was my most treasured possession – I held on to God’s word tightly. It became to me a shining light in the darkness like never before . . . and I began to memorise large chunks, even whole chapters.

This time, I copied the chosen scripture passage into a notebook, and as I added to it, I would (and still do) go back from the beginning and re-memorise each passage until had gone through them all. Only then would I add a new one!

Sadly, I didn’t get into the habit of memorising scripture with my children, but I wish I had, because the Word of God builds faith and encourages where nothing else will do.

But you can learn from my failure . . . why not start a programme with each of your children? You could start with one single verse, to get off to a flying start, then add another when you have learnt that one.

Why not decorate a book for each of your children and learn verses with each of them? Allow them to choose their own Scriptures – you can always make suggestions. They can test you and you can test them – you can learn together.

Imagine how this could deepen your relationship! Not only that, you will be giving your child a foundation in God’s word that can change their life. Some things will pass away, but God’s word will never pass away.


Janet WilsonDon’t delay! Start now!


P.S. If you have found this helpful, please forward this to friends and share on facebook/twitter – spread the word and the encouragement! 🙂

Christian Parenting Challenge #11 – Play With Your Children

Christian Parenting Challenge #11 – Play With Your Children

Challenge 11
Play with your children

Boy playing

Playing is learning, and playing together is learning with added fun!
Small children love it when you play with them. It’s not always easy to find the time to do that, though. With the never-ending round of chores and responsibilities, playing can easily get unintentionally sidelined. However, we are seriously missing out if we don’t play with our children – and they are missing out, too. So today’s challenge is to play together!

Benefits of playing
The benefits of playing are enormous, for you and your children . . . so definitely worth taking time out for. Here are a few benefits (many are on the learning theme, but not all!):
Helps with self-discipline: “keeping the rules”.
Refreshes mind and body.
Playing relieves stress.
Playing can aid creativity and problem-solving.
Some games create a challenge to overcome.
It’s great to win!
And it’s great to learn to lose graciously.
Playing builds social skills, e.g. taking turns.
Playing together aids communication skills.
Playing should be lots of fun.
The simple act of playing with our children can bring about all these amazing benefits. It’s also a great way to balance discipline, and for you to take yourself less seriously. Fancy being a pirate? 🙂

A few random thoughts
If your child needs help in a particular area, you might like to think about a game that could help, e.g. a number game if they struggle with maths. But only if it’s fun, OK? 🙂
Games should give everyone playing an equal footing, or it’s only fun for those who have a better chance of winning, or who are in charge of the “rules”.
Competition can separate rather than unite – watch out for this!

So what could you do?
Games don’t have to be board games – they can be games of chase in the park, ball in the garden, pirates in the living room, teddy bears’ picnic in a bedroom . . . with imagination, there are no limits!
Whatever you play, whether it’s building towers of blocks with a baby, trains with a toddler, snakes and ladders with older children, doing a jigsaw puzzle, building a spaceship, dressing dolls, or competing on a computer game, don’t do it half-heartedly.
Engage fully with your children – make it fun, keep eye contact, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by other things, and try not to be too bossy. (Oh, and don’t allow them to be too bossy either!)
If you have a time limit, say so at the beginning, so your children know you will only be able to play one game, or will have to tidy up at seven o’clock, say. That way there won’t be unrealistic expectations.

The time trick
As parents, we need to cultivate the habit of playing with our children while they are small. If we haven’t spent time with them when they have wanted us there, they might not want us to spend time with them when they are older.
If the years have taken you unawares and they don’t seem to want to be with you, do not feel despondent. Never give up – remember, it’s all up from here, because you have decided to make a change! Sometimes older children can be cajoled to join in a game, but if not, keep asking from time to time. At least that way they will know that you are now wanting to spend time with them. Keep praying that one day they will say yes. You could ask what they would like to play – but be prepared to be thrashed at their favourite computer game!
The time when our children are children is such a narrow window – we absolutely must make time to play with them while we can. It’s a trick of time to say “tomorrow”, because those precious hours tick away and it’s all too easy for tomorrow to become today, then tomorrow never comes.
So, go play today, and have fun!

Over to you!
Decide whether to play with all your children together, or play with them separately.
What do they love to play? What do you like to play? If you can choose something you both enjoy, so much the better! Jot down a few ideas in your notebook.
Go find your children and make some suggestions.
Enjoy your game!
Let us know how it went: We’d love to see some photos of you playing together. 🙂

“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

For the future:
Make playing with your children an essential part of your life.

Christian Parenting Challenge #29 – Communicate

Christian Parenting Challenge #29 – Communicate

Challenge 29

dad and son
Communication is the foundation for relationships
We communicate in different ways with different people. We communicate differently with our colleagues than with our partner, for example. The child/parent relationship is different again. It would be inappropriate for us to share our innermost thoughts and fears with our children, but we do want them to be able to open up to us. How can we encourage them to do this?

Trust, time, care
Trust is essential for deep, authentic communication to flourish. We won’t open ourselves up to someone we don’t trust. Conversely, the people we share with on the deepest level are the people we trust the most. We know that they won’t hurt us, break a confidence, laugh at our fears, or manipulate us. Our children need to trust us, or they will not share with us. If we can raise their confidence in us and allow them to talk to us now, when the issues are small, they will have confidence to talk to us when the issues get bigger, and they really need our help.
We also need to give them time to open up, and to know that we care about them.

Authentic relationships
Today’s challenge is to talk about something with your children that needs to be discussed (this might be a challenge to do with each child separately). The very first challenge was spending some time listening – today is all about two-way communication. The idea is to talk together about something: to put across your view, and to listen to your child’s.
Whatever topic you choose, pick a suitable time and place. Perhaps you could go for a walk, go fishing, bring up your chosen topic at the meal table, in the car, on the way to school, or in their bedroom . . . whatever you think would be best.
Most of us have topics we know we really ought to deal with, but have been putting off. At this point something may already have come to mind that you know you need to talk about . . . that is almost certainly the subject you need to broach today! In case nothing springs to mind, here are some ideas of topics you might like to talk about:
Financial issues.
A family matter.
A school issue.
A problem with behaviour.
The facts of life.
Keeping safe on the internet.
Something about church or their spiritual life.
And there are so many more! Anything you may have been avoiding talking about . . . today is your day! You might prefer to talk about a really simple issue, but let me encourage you not to pass up this opportunity to bring up a subject you know you should broach.

Good communication
Jesus said whatever needed to be said in just the right manner. To those who needed a gentle word, he spoke gently. He blessed, rebuked and encouraged, warned, inspired and always spoke the truth. At times he was angry, particularly with those who not only refused to listen, but tried to stop others listening, too. To be like Jesus is our aim! Still, while we’re getting there, here are some tips for good communication:
Decide on the outcome you want to achieve before you start. For example, do you want your children to know how ill grandma is, and be able to talk about how they feel about that to you?
Show that you want to talk and listen, by your body language.
Be tactful, especially if it’s a tricky topic to handle.
Keep your tone of voice calm and cheerful, if you can. If you can sound caring, rather than accusing or judgemental, you are more likely to get a good response.
Be open to new ideas – you never know, your children might have an interesting new take on an issue, or help you to understand something better.
Listen to what your children have to say about your chosen topic. Reflect back what they have said, to make sure you have understood their point of view.
Make sure you understand what they are trying to say, even if they aren’t expressing it in quite the right way. Ask questions if you’re not sure.
Be encouraging. Try to avoid being scathing, sarcastic, forceful or aggressive.
If your child starts to moan or whine, or speak to you disrespectfully, stop them gently but firmly, and ask them to use a different tone of voice.
And absolutely don’t let them overhear you telling your friends what they said. If they do, it might be a long time before they talk to you again.

Doing our best
Some of you will breeze through today’s challenge! Others of you might have to take a big gulp and be bold and brave. If this is you, well, just have a go. The best thing you can do is to practice – to just do it, then keep doing it, and realise that although many times you may seem to fumble around the issue and get all your words wrong, it’s all a step in the learning curve of life!

But my teenagers only grunt . . .
All I can say is, do your best. You may be surprised how much is going in when you talk. Exasperating it may be, but don’t give up, because although the teen years seem to last forever, they don’t, and it’s great to be still talking to them when they come out the other side!

Over to you!
Decide what it is you would like to talk about with each of your children, and what outcome you want to achieve.
Choose a suitable time and place.
Write in your notebook everything you think/feel about this issue, and how you will broach the subject.
Go communicate!
Let us know how it went Come over to the Christian Parenting Challenge facebook page!

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:14-15

For the Future:
Try to keep communicating. When something crops up that you would like to talk about . . . take a deep breath and just do it!

Christian Parenting Challenge #28 – Be A Good Example

Christian Parenting Challenge #28 – Be A Good Example

Challenge 28
Be a good example

Child dressed as Darth Vader
We are role models
Children copy everything we do. It’s how they learn. They learn to smile by copying our smile. They learn to talk by copying what we say. They learn everything by imitating us, from how to use a knife and fork to how to react in social situations, to how to pray. It is therefore essential that we are good examples!
Actually, most people prefer to be shown what to do, rather than to be told what to do. Think for a minute about a person who has been a good role model to you, past or present. What is it or was it about them that you particularly responded to?
The Bible says that we should train up our children in the way they should go. There’s no doubt that if children are brought up with swearing, fighting, stealing and cheating, they are more likely to follow this pattern of behaviour themselves.
On the other hand, if children are brought up with love and caring, they are more likely to be caring, loving people themselves.
There is no guarantee, of course! And the Lord’s grace knows no bounds. Still, we must do the best we can, and be the best example we can, because long after our children have forgotten our lectures, they will remember what we were like.

What sort of example are you?
Here are some particular areas where we need to set a good example in our words and in our actions:
In our church life. Are we caring members of our local church? Can we be overheard praising and encouraging other church members?
In our personal walk with God. Do we pray and read the Bible on our own and with our family? Do we talk freely about biblical principles, about what the Lord has done for us? Do we exude the gratitude, joy and peace that come from walking with God?
In our families. Are we kind, caring, patient, forgiving, fair?
In the wider community. Are we reaching out to the people around us? Do we show a care for people in other parts of the world who are suffering?
Are there any of these you could perhaps improve on? Do you want your children to be gossips and liars, grumblers and complainers? No? Then don’t lie and gossip, moan and complain. Do you want them to be people who care, who encourage, who use the gifts that God has given them to serve others? Yes? Then do those things yourself. Whatever you want your children to become, model that behaviour. They won’t forget.

Be the best that you can be
We can not guarantee that our children will turn out into model citizens, but praise the Lord, his grace abounds just as much to our children as to us! Even people with the most miserable of backgrounds who come to know the Lord can be transformed, so don’t beat yourself up over the past if you think you have got it wrong – just work towards being the best you can be today.

Over to you!
Write about a person who has influenced you for good in your life – what was particularly inspirational about him or her? Thank God for them.
Write down the areas in life where you are already a good example to your child.
Jot down some thoughts on how you could be a better example, perhaps copying the example of someone who is/was an inspiration to you.
Decide on something you could begin to change right now.
Pray about this, write it down on a card to put in your Bible as a constant reminder . . . then put it into action!
Let us know how you feel about being an example:Come over to the Christian Parenting Challenge facebook page!If you tell others what you are going to change, that might help you stick to it!

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” Titus 2:7

For the future:
Determine to be an excellent example in all things.

Be encouraged! What other parents say:
“This is an area I feel very challenged about. I am constantly asking my children to spend less time in front of the telly or on their I-things/phones, yet how often do I pick social media and watch the box? This is something I’d like to change. The result – still a work in progress but I hope to be able to give my children my whole attention when they speak to me and I will require it of them too!”

Christian Parenting Challenge #23 – Encourage Good Friendships

Christian Parenting Challenge #23 – Encourage Good Friendships

Challenge 23
Encourage good friendships

children eating together
We need friends!
Most of us would readily agree that we need friends. It seems that God has given us friends as a special gift, along with our family, to share both our joys and our difficulties, to celebrate our successes with us and strengthen and help us in times of need. “Bear one another’s burdens” we are directed, and that’s a wonderful thing to be able to do with friends – both in giving and in receiving.
Jesus himself had friends. In one respect, he was a friend to all, but he did have close friends, too.

Encourage good friends
Our children need friends, too, of course. The younger they are, the more control we have over who their friends are. Once they start going to school or nursery, they begin to make their own friends. We can find it disconcerting when they start to mix with children in families we might feel we have nothing in common with!
This process intensifies once the children move on to secondary education; there, we may not even get to know the children or their families or backgrounds. Scary! Most of the time there is no cause for concern, but it can be troubling if the friends that our children have made begin to draw our children away from what is good. There is no doubt about it: the people we spend time with influence us. “Bad company corrupts good character,” we are told. (1 Corinthians 15:33) Some of us will know that from experience. If we didn’t get in with a bad crowd ourselves, we probably know someone who did, and paid the price.
Even now, for example, if we spend time with people who swear, perhaps at work, we find that when something goes wrong, those are the words which automatically pop into our minds, totally unbidden. If we spend time with people who are positive, who encourage and inspire us to be our best, who are happy to tell us our faults in a way that helps us change, and praise us when we’ve done well, not only will our whole life be enriched, but it will rub off on us, and we will become like that ourselves. This is what we desire for our children.

What can we do to help our children make good friends?
The first thing we need to acknowledge is that our children have the right to make their own friends and to make their own life choices, ever more so as they get older. However, if we can possibly steer them in the right direction, we might be able to save them an enormous amount of trouble and heartache later on.
By the way, if you feel this is a bit of a tenuous link to deepening your relationship with your children . . . well, it could well be that this might be one of the most fruitful days of all. You may never know what would have happened to your relationship if you hadn’t done today’s challenge.
So, to the list:
Welcome your children’s school friends (or friends from clubs, etc) into your home. If your children have particular friends who are good for them, invite them round as much as you can. If your children are small, cultivate this habit now, so when they are older it will be a natural thing. It can be a nuisance if you have to cook extra meals and perhaps do extra lifts, but you may never know what a difference this can make.
Try to spend time with your children’s friends yourself. You could talk to them, play games, read a story if they have a sleepover, eat together and chat over the dinner table. This is a good way to be a witness, as well as get to know who your children’s friends are.
Talk to your children about their friends. If there are things that concern you, talk about those issues, too. If you suspect any kind of bullying from a so called “friend”, whether physical or emotional, do whatever it takes to get it sorted straight away.
Warn your child about the perils of keeping bad company. Talk about the Bible’s advice to choose your friends carefully.
Talk to your children about being a good friend – helping friends in trouble, not gossiping, not being unkind, of always being there for them, praying for them. Make sure they understand that you reap what you sow.
Invite friends from church round, to make sure your children don’t only have Christian fellowship on Sundays.
Encourage your children to witness to their friends for Christ. Say grace before meals, invite them to church events and give them Christian books as Christmas and birthday presents.
Pray for your children’s friends and friendships. Pray that they will have good friends who will help them keep on track all the way through their lives. Pray that they will be a good friend in return.
Family friends can be great to turn to in a crisis – keep up those relationships, you never know when you or your children may appreciate their input.
The people we mix with affects the way our life turns out, for good or bad. Let’s do all we can to help our children choose well.

Disheartened? Anxious?
Worried about the friends your children are mixing with? There is always hope!
The Lord has an amazing way, by his grace, of turning situations round. Pray, pray, and pray again, then be patient and pray some more and keep praying without giving up. I have been around long enough to see miracles happen.
Sometimes we learn valuable lessons from making mistakes – sometimes our children need to make their own mistakes, just as we did.
Keep communications lines with your children open, try not to get too stressed, or judgemental. If you are finding things difficult, find a good friend you can talk to, who will pray with you and bear your burden with you.
And if you suspect that either your child or their friends might be breaking the law, have a chat with the police. It may be the means of your children coming to their senses.
And lastly, keep the door open. Remember the prodigal son? Keep loving, keep watching, keep waiting.
God bless you.

Over to you!
Write down in your notebook how you feel about your children’s friends. Pray for these friendships.
Make a list of things you could do to encourage good friendships.
Choose one thing you can do today and go do it!
Come over to the Christian Parenting Challenge page on facebook, and share your thoughts with the community: 🙂

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

For the future:
Keep encouraging good friendships.

Christian Parenting Challenge #16 – Don’t Make Your Children Your God

Christian Parenting Challenge #16 – Don’t Make Your Children Your God

Challenge 16
Don’t make your children your god

Buddha statue
Our children are so precious
It’s impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t had children, just how much they mean to you. At times they exasperate you like nothing else; they tax your patience and your ability to stay sane until you think you will scream and go mad . . . but the love you have for them is at times overwhelming. And until they have children of their own, they will have no idea how much you love them!
Some of us find parenthood more difficult than others, but for all of us there is a temptation to treat our children like gods, rather than like children.

Are they telling you what to do?
Here are some warning signs that you are treating them more like gods than children:
They tell you what to do and how they want it done.
They expect to get what they want.
You appease them with offerings.
Their demands have stopped you serving others.
You do everything for them.
You are scared of them (or their reaction to something you might say/do).
You work your life around their requirements.
OK, when your children are tiny, your whole life does revolve around them in many respects! I think you will know what I’m getting at here, though – there’s a big difference between your child’s wants and needs . . . and most importantly, it’s a question of attitude of heart. We must love the Lord our God first. He must have first place in our heart and in our mind and in every place of our lives.
Have your read The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson? I read it back in the ’70s and read it again recently. One of the things that really hit home for me this time was that David felt that God had called him to leave his home and his family for weeks at a time. That was a bit of an eye-opener for me! We must be aware that sometimes we may be called to make our children second place, however hard that may seem. We must make sure we are obedient to God above all else.
And there’s that scary story of Abraham being willing to offer Isaac up on the altar (Genesis 22). I’m not asking if you would do that . . . but are you willing to entrust your children totally to God, and are you willing to obey him and not them?

Get the balance right
So, it’s a question of getting the balance right; of getting relationships in the right order. And you know what? Your relationship with your child will deepen if you have both in the right place.
Is there anything you need to change?

Over to you!
Write down in your notebook how you feel about your children – is your relationship with them in the right place under God?
If you feel you need to change, write down what you are going to change, and how you are going to do it
Pray about your decision, and confess and repent of sin if appropriate
Have a chat about this issue with your partner, if relevant. Good for you to work together to get things right!
Let us know how it went, or at least what first steps you are taking 🙂 Christian Parenting Challenge facebook page

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

For the future:
Keep putting God first. Whatever your children think about the decisions you make, keep your conscience clear before God.

Beginning the Christian Parenting Challenge!

Beginning the Christian Parenting Challenge!

As we have reached the summer holidays, I thought I would put up a challenge a day for the next 30 days! Please subscribe and share with your friends! 🙂

Challenge 1
Listen to your children

kitten talking to mother cat
We all need to be heard
The very first challenge is to spend some time listening to your children. Listening isn’t the same as talking. It’s a strange thing – we all like our voice to be heard. We all need to feel that our opinion has value, that our feelings count, that we are understood. But most of us are better at talking than listening! In fact, there’s quite an art to listening, which not many of us cultivate.
Your children need to be heard as much as anyone, and what better person to listen to them than you? However old they are, find a time to listen when they will feel at their most comfortable (get down to their level if you need to), give friendly eye contact, ask a question, then listen to the answer. Non-verbal communication is a major two-thirds of all communication, so to help your children open up, make sure you show that you really want to listen. Leave your phone somewhere else, turn off the telly. This is particularly important if they might be surprised or even suspicious that you want to listen to them!

Open-ended questions
Start today’s challenge with a question on a subject that your children are passionate about.
Rather than asking questions that can be answered yes or no, choose open-ended questions. For example, instead of asking, “Did you like the film?” ask, “What did you like about the film?” Instead of asking, “Is that game good?” try, “How do you play that game?” This will give them the floor.
Don’t be quick to fill a pause in the conversation. It’s good to allow children time to think about their answer, especially children who are not natural chatter-boxes.
Try to get them to express opinions and feelings while they chat. “How do you feel about that?” is a good question to ask. Listening to their point of view will deepen your relationship and make the two of you more connected. You might like to listen to each of your children on their own if they might be embarrassed about opening up in company, or if they have a brother or sister who often answers for them.
Make sure they know that no topic is taboo. And do not patronise, laugh, tease or otherwise make your children feel small . . . or they might be reluctant to share their feelings with you in the future.
If you listen to them while they are small, they are more likely to come to you when they are older and the issues bigger. Do not underestimate the power of today’s challenge.
N.B. Try to avoid talking too much yourself – this isn’t an exercise in telling your children what you think and feel, or passing on your opinions . . . it’s about you listening to what they think and feel, and about them sharing their opinions with you.

If they don’t want to talk . . . try, try again!
There’s no point getting cross with your children if they don’t want to talk. Be patient. Keep looking for opportunities to ask a good question, and show by your body language that you are genuinely interested. Try different questions. A favourite in our house is, “If you were rich, what would you buy?” Everyone has an answer to that, and the results can be both hilarious and revealing! It can also be done as a family, perhaps round the dinner table or when in the car.
You could try listening to your children while driving in the car, or when walking along the road, when it’s just you and them. The lack of eye contact (and they can’t make up excuses to go away!) might help them to open up.
At the end of the day, if your children don’t want to talk to you, you have to respect that. But never give up trying. And keep praying for another opportunity. Our God is a God of miracles.

Over to you!
Before you start today’s challenge, take a few moments to write down in your notebook how well you feel you have been listening to your children recently.
Write down three open-ended questions you could ask each of them today.
Decide what time you feel would be best to listen. Certainly you won’t get much out of them if their favourite TV show is about to start! Might bedtime work well, or when you are doing chores together?
Listen to your children – one at time if appropriate.
Afterwards, write down how you think it went, and if there’s anything you could do better in the future.
Thank God for what went well.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19

For the future:
Keep taking every opportunity to listen to your children.

Be encouraged! What other parents say:
“This one’s easy . . . so I thought. I realised very quickly that I often listen without really hearing. Between juggling work, kids, running the household, and trying to keep up with life, I found that really listening to my children had been forgotten. Taking some time to have real conversations with both my daughters has certainly improved our relationship.”