Resolutions of an Imperfect Parent

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church

Now that I’ve been a parent for over 11 years, I’m confident I don’t know that much about parenting. Ironically, before my first child was born, I thought I would be a much better parent than my own parents. But looking back on the years now, I can see the reality is I am an imperfect parent but with good intentions. My good intentions have turned into mistakes not because I was wrong about them but because I misapplied them.

This realization was very discouraging. Here I was, a children’s pastor with a desire for kids to grow in their faith, yet I was without any clear idea how to develop it in my own home. Our kids had little experience with adults worshipping outside their leaders in Heroes Gate. Added to that were the constant battles in which our children pointed out each other’s faults without taking into account their own. We became referees to petty arguments centering on who did or didn’t do something, making our home a culture of Me rather than Us.

Through it all, I realized I couldn’t parent each child the same. Each child has his or her own unique personality and experience which means consequences that worked for one child had little to no effect on another. However, the kids expected everything to be equal without any understanding that equal is not always just or fair.

My wife and I knew we needed a resolution around parenting, so we spent time in prayer and asked friends what they did as parents. One thing became clear: We weren’t bad parents. We were parents without a vision. What we needed was a picture of our kids as adults. So we began to ask ourselves and God the following questions:

• What do we want our child’s character to be like as an adult?
• What do we hope our child’s faith will be like as an adult?
• What does God want for our children as adults?

As we pondered these questions, a picture for each child’s future began to materialize. God revealed many things about our kids and ourselves and made it clear we needed to give over to Him any expectations regarding our children’s careers and living near home. We chose to entrust our kids to God, having confidence that He loves them far more than we ever could. This was probably the toughest part of the process, yet our children’s futures were tied to our willingness to trust God fully.

God continues to challenge my wife and me to not only grow our own faith but to include our children in the process. We’ve opened up our hearts to our kids and invited them to pray with us, to worship together as a family, and to open the Bible together when dealing with issues, behaviors, or character problems. We continue to pray for God to reveal what is needed for each child.

Our kids have grown in their faith, yet they are still kids. They are still developing and far from perfect, and so are we. But through it all, our family has grown more intimate and connected. I’d love to tell you we are intentional all the time, but life catches up with us, and we have to reset our intentional mode more often than not. Thankfully, God is able to help us do that through His Holy Spirit.

When we turned to God and entrusted our kids to Him, He gave us a vision which continues to steer our decisions and gives us direction. This doesn’t guarantee a child will turn out perfect, but helps us to ensure that our children experience love as we model authentic faith through the ups and downs. Trusting children to God equips us to love them regardless of the choices they make through God’s endless supply of self-sacrificial agape-love.

What Makes My Child Tick?

Love Languages
By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor
Woodland Hills Church

I have been a mother for 22 years now. In my years of “mothering” my children, I have been constantly changing, seeking, and learning. Trying to be the best mom that I could be has always been a goal. Some days have been great, while others wound up feeling like dismal failures. Over the years, I have found that when trying to build a relationship with my child, or anyone for that matter, it is very helpful to have tools to figure out what makes them tick. What matters to them? How can I show them I love them? What do I say or what actions of mine will help my child become the adult I would like them to be? A book I have loved and used over and over in my parenting is The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.

The premise of The 5 Love Languages of Children book is that if you build a foundation of unconditional love (agape) with your child by helping him/her feel loved in a way that he/she understands. In order to do this, you need to watch and study your child. As he/she grows and learns, ask questions in order to see what two Love Languages he/she is exhibiting at that time. Keep in mind that because we are always learning and growing, the Love Language can change.

The Five Love Languages are:
1. Physical Touch- Hugs and kisses, a dad tossing his child in the air, a mom reading with her child on her lap, wrestling or spinning a child around are all examples of physical touch.

2. Words of Affirmation- Words of affection, praise, endearment and encouragement stick with a child for a long time. Likewise, cutting words do not leave a child for a long time, so words must be chosen carefully.

3. Quality Time- What really makes a quality time individual feel loved is undivided attention. This can be 15 minutes or a few hours, but time spent with him/her is what will make him/her feel loved.

4. Gifts- This one can appear tricky because it can seem materialistic. The key to showing love to an individual who is a gifts person is not the amount spent on the gift or even the size but the meaning behind the gift. The gift must be given to show “heart felt love” and shows he/she is known and loved, such as the gift of a new set of coloring pencils for the child who loves to draw for hours.

5. Acts of Service- Show a child love by serving him/her and doing for him/her things he/she is unable to do on his/her own. Model the concept of serving others with the hope that as your child grows into adult, he/she will do the same for others.

I highly recommend the 5 Love Languages series of books. They have helped me to be a better mother, a better friend, and show love to those around me. I encourage you to check out the book.

Coming This January

Here’s a quick look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate over the next few weeks:

January 5th (this past Sunday) – Toddlers through 4th grade met Simeon and Anna and discovered how this pair of elderly God-followers’ patience and faith was rewarded when they got to meet young Jesus.  The lesson’s take-home point was: “Don’t give up on God.” Club 56 kids discussed the question: “What does it mean to be transformed?”

January 12th – Toddlers through 4th grade will learn of Joseph and Mary’s trust in God as they followed His leading and escaped with young Jesus to Egypt.  The lesson’s take-home point will be: “You can trust God to do what’s best for you.” Club 56 kids will talk about the question: “Am I important to God?”

January 19th – Toddlers through 4th grade will hear the amazing story of Jesus’ baptism and His triumph over temptation in the desert.  The lesson’s take-home point will be: “God is stronger than anything.” Club 56 kids will look into “How can God transform me” during their time.

January 26th – Toddler through 4th grade will be introduced to the 12 young men Jesus chose to become His special disciples.  The lesson’s take-home point will be: “Jesus wants all of us to follow Him.” Club 56 kids will discuss “How can following Jesus give us meaning and purpose?”

Advent Week 4 – Love

In Heroes Gate this Advent, we’re focusing on four themes: Hope, joy, peace and love.  We are excited to partner with you by providing resources we’ve created and collected to equip and empower your family in remembering God’s amazing love and gift this Christmas.  Below you’ll find various activities for you and your family to do as you prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Missed any of the previous 3 weeks of Advent activities?  Check them out below this post.

Family Devotional – Take time together this week to read about the visitors who came to visit young Jesus and his family.  Week 4 Devo

Activities

Early Childhood Activity: Read the story of how an angel announced the good news of Jesus’ birth to some shepherds and how wise men came with gifts to visit him.  This week, on a night when the sky is clear, dress up warm, grab a thermos of hot cocoa and some blankets, and head outside to look up at the stars.  Discuss what it would have been like to follow the star to meet Jesus.  You can even look for constellations among the stars.  Bring a constellation map or use your smart phone or tablet to download a stargazing app to help you find them.  Take some time together to work on the coloring pages from this week’s Bible stories.  Week 4 Coloring Page

Elementary Activity – Read this week about the visitors of shepherds and wise men who came to visit Jesus and his family.  On a night when the sky is clear, dress up warm, grab a thermos of hot cocoa and some blankets, and head outside to look up at the stars.  Discuss what it would have been like to follow the star to meet Jesus.  You can even look for constellations among the stars.  Bring a constellation map or use your smart phone or tablet to download a stargazing app to help you find them.  Have kids create their own constellation map including constellations of their own design.  Afterwards, have kids retell the story of Jesus’s visitors using their storyboard drawings.  OR have your child/children reenact the story.  Find some costumes and props around house to use.  Blank Storyboard

Family Service Ideas – Each week, we will share 10 easy ideas for spreading love and kindness together as a family during this holiday season.  Choose 1 for the whole month or 1 per week.  Week 4 Service Ideas

Advent Week 3 – Peace

In Heroes Gate this Advent, we’re focusing on four themes: Hope, joy, peace and love.  We are excited to partner with you by providing resources we’ve created and collected to equip and empower your family in remembering God’s amazing love and gift this Christmas.  Below you’ll find various activities for you and your family to do as you prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Missed either weeks 1 or 2 of our Advent activities?  Check them out below this post.

Family Devotional – Take time together this week to read about the Journey to Bethlehem and the amazing miracle of Jesus’ birth.  Week 3 Devo

Activities

Early Childhood Activity: Read the story of how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem and how Jesus was born in a stable there.  Afterwards, bake cupcakes or a birthday cake for Jesus and talk about all the gifts that Jesus has given you as a family.  You could even take some of the money you would have spent on gifts for each other and choose a charity or organization that helps other to bless with the money.  Take some time together to work on the coloring pages from this week’s Bible stories.  Week 3 Coloring Page 1        Week 3 Coloring Page 2

Elementary Activity – Read this week about the journey to Bethlehem and Jesus’ birth in the stable.  Find a map or look online to find he distance between Nazareth, where Joseph and Mary had lived, and Bethlehem.  Discuss what it might have been like to travel that far on foot or riding a donkey.  Ask kids what they would have taken along for such a journey.  Upon arriving in Bethlehem, the only place available for Mary and Joseph was a stable.  Talk about what it would be like to spend a night in a stable with all the animals and no bed.  Afterwards, have kids retell the story using their storyboard drawings.  OR have your child/children reenact the story.  Find some costumes and props around house to use.  Blank Storyboard

Family Service Ideas – Each week, we will share 10 easy ideas for spreading love and kindness together as a family during this holiday season.  Choose 1 for the whole month or 1 per week.  Week 3 Service Ideas

Advent Week 2 – Joy

In Heroes Gate this Advent, we’re focusing on four themes: Hope, joy, peace and love.  We are excited to partner with you by providing resources we’ve created and collected to equip and empower your family in remembering God’s amazing love and gift this Christmas.  Below you’ll find various activities for you and your family to do as you prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Missed Week 1 of our Advent activities?  Check them out below this post.

Family Devotional – Take time together this week to read about the amazing news the angel Gabriel had to share with Mary and Joseph.  Week 2 Devo

Activities

Early Childhood Activity: Read the story about Mary and Joseph hearing from the angel Gabriel.  Make snow angels outside and ask the kids what they would think if an angel came to visit them and what they would say to an angel.  Take some time together to work on the coloring page from this week’s Bible stories.  Week 2 Coloring Page

Elementary Activity – Read this week about Gabriel’s visits with Mary and Joseph.  Ask kids to answer the following questions about the story: Who was involved?  What happened?  Why did it happen?  How was it going to happen?  Where did it happen?  Then have kids draw the story using the boxes for different scenes.  Afterwards, have kids retell the story using their storyboard drawings.  OR have your child/children reenact the story.  Find some costumes and props around house to use.  Blank Storyboard

Family Service Ideas – Each week, we will share 10 easy ideas for spreading love and kindness together as a family during this holiday season.  Choose 1 for the whole month or 1 per week.  Week 2 Service Ideas

Advent Week 1 – Hope

Advent, from the Latin word adventus, means “coming,” which is fitting for believers during the Christmas season as it is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Traditionally, Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day.  Advent is not just celebrating a moment in time when a baby was born but a turning point in history.  Jesus’ act of love, being born as a helpless baby, paves the way for God’s rescue plan to change history forever.

Advent is also a spiritual journey through Scripture: Focusing on the birth of Jesus, reaffirming that he has come as our Savior, that He is present in our hearts/lives, and that He will come again in the future.

In Heroes Gate, we’re focusing on four themes of Advent: Hope, joy, peace and love.  We are excited to partner with you by providing resources we’ve created and collected to equip and empower your family in remembering God’s amazing love and gift this Christmas.  It is our hope and prayer that you will grow closer to Jesus as a family this season.  Merry Christmas!

Family Devotional – Take time together this week to read about how the birth of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, was a sign of hope for the world.  Week 1 Advent Devo

Activities

24 Daily Advent Activities – Want to celebrate Advent every day as a family?  Here is a great list of advent activities and devotions for each day leading up to Christmas.  24-Days-of-Advent

Early Childhood Activity: Read the story about John the Baptist’s birth in Luke 1.  Have your Preschooler see how long he/she can go without saying a word.  Then ask questions about the story and see how they respond.  Talk about how hard that must have been for Zechariah not being able to speak till after his son was born.  Color the pictures as you discuss the story together.  Week 1 Coloring Page

Elementary Activity – Read the story from Luke 1 about John the Baptist’s birth.  Ask kids to answer the following questions about the story: Who is involved?  What is happening?  Why is it happening?  How is it happening?  Where is it happening?  Then have kids use the storyboard below to draw the story and its different scenes.  Afterwards, have kids retell the story using their storyboard drawings.  Advent blank storyboard

Family Service Ideas – Each week ,we will share 10 easy ideas for spreading love and kindness together as a family during this holiday season.  Choose 1 for the whole month or 1 per week.  Advent Acts of Kindness for Families1