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A Curious Girl, Adoption & God’s Plan for Family

“Daddy, can a woman with no husband have a baby?”

Uh… Quick… Don’t panic! Don’t panic! Hmm… What exactly is she asking here? How much do I need to tell her?  Why is Krista upstairs? Uh…. 

“Well, that’s a good question sweetie! Why are you asking?”

This is what started our conversation over the breakfast table before church this morning. I was caught totally off guard and for a short while had absolutely no clue how to respond. Luckily a well-crafted question bought me some time to think as well as figure out just what my 5 year-old daughter was wanting to know.

Turns out she was at a church consignment sale with my wife yesterday and they had posters up advertising an adoption information meeting. We also have been sharing openly about a family from church that has just adopted a little boy from a teenage mom. While we have gone into just a little detail recently about how boys and girls are different, we haven’t had that talk yet. I surmised that what she really wanted to know was whether it was okay or not for a child to be in a family with no daddy. I think she was also wondering why a mommy would choose to give her baby up for adoption.

I am often amazed at the weight of things kids think about. Our daughter is surrounded at church and homeschool events by families that have adopted. We talk about adopting into our own home and how much of a blessing it would be to both the child and our family. We had never really given much thought about how, for a five-year old, it wouldn’t make much sense. I wanted to be sure to respond carefully.

“You know, I love how you are always thinking of other people. I can tell this is important to you. Remember how God made everything and had a plan for how it would all work? Sometimes things don’t work out the way God had planned. This isn’t because God was wrong or couldn’t make it work. Sometimes people think it would be better to try a different plan. God’s perfect plan for babies is that they would have a mommy and a daddy who are married to each other. There are lots of reasons that a baby might be born without a daddy. Sometimes it can still work out good, but God’s ways are always better.”

I was amazed at the attention span of my little girl. I didn’t want to keep talking if she had checked out of the conversation so I asked her if this all made sense. She nodded that it did but I could tell that she needed a little more explanation. I began telling her about the family from church that just adopted a little boy. I explained that the mommy just felt that it would be better for the baby to be in a family that had a mommy and a daddy who were married to each other.  I shared how difficult it must have been for the little boy’s mommy to make that decision but because she loved him so much she wanted to do what she felt was best for him.

Our conversation seemed to answer her questions for now. She will likely have additional questions soon so we will continue talking about it as she puts pieces together. I love these talks we have because it just broadens the communication pathways between us and our children. Without reacting we set the stage for future conversations that might be more difficult. I also love them because it gives us a chance to share with our daughters God’s heart. I didn’t go into any detail about mistakes that people make with pre-marital sex or how families end up divorced. But through talks like this we communicate a very important message: God loves his people and wants what is best for them.  This will be a thread woven into future conversations with our kids. We want them to know that God’s love is bigger and better than anything we could want. Because of this, he can be trusted with our plans.

I would love to hear from others who have had conversations like this with their kids. Share what your conversation was like in the comment section and how you felt it drew your children closer to the heart of Christ.

~JK

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What Children’s Ministers Wish Their Volunteers Would Do!

I have been a volunteer in children’s ministries for most of my life. It wasn’t until this past January that I became a volunteer after having been a full-time children’s minister. I have to admit, it was somewhat challenging but I welcomed the chance to do all the things I have been hoping my own volunteers would do for the last four years. How easily we forget the difficulties that volunteers have. This afternoon I met up with another volunteer who is considering joining me in teaching the 2nd & 3rd graders this school year. We had an excellent discussion and I was flattered by some of his comments. As a children’s minister turned volunteer I reflected on things that most children’s ministers wished volunteers knew.  These are a few things that, though they try to communicate, often get lost in translation.

Full-Time Children’s Ministers Wish Volunteers Would:

  1. TRULY know how thankful they are. A banquet, thank-you note, or Sunday morning donuts don’t do it justice.
  2. Give them a boost from time to time. Its hard work. Period. Sadly, many parents hand off the spiritual upbringing of their kids to the church staff. Children’s ministers have to walk the tight-rope of wanting to meet a spiritual need while at the same time handing the responsibility back to the parents. Don’t forget to share your appreciation of them with the senior pastor!
  3. Take a break. My children’s minister friends may not want to admit this but they really do. If you are a FANTASTIC volunteer (if you are not on staff and have read this far, you qualify!) they want you for the long haul. Do yourself and the ministry a favor and let the Lord fill your cup to overflowing. The overflow is where our service ought to come from.
  4. Hype it up! Children’s ministry really is the most exciting ministry of the church. We have an incredible chance to shape kids when they are the most receptive! The ministers rely on volunteers to keep the momentum going and spread the excitement!
  5. Invite and mentor others. As a volunteer you are the best billboard for the ministry as well as the best way for newbies to receive on-the-spot equipping. Tap someone on the shoulder and ask them to sit in. Tell your children’s minister that you would be willing to be paired with someone to share the wealth of knowledge and experience you’ve gained while serving.
  6. Communicate with parents! This is a biggie. The parents might have more weekly interaction with you as their child’s teacher than with the children’s minister. You have the ability to get a pulse on the child’s home life, pass on ministry information to parents and give them cues to apply the lesson between Sundays better than anyone.

Children’s ministers really are standing on the shoulders of their volunteers. They don’t want to take this for granted. Every now and then as a volunteer you might feel that you are being asked to do too much. This might be the case. Or… it might be that you are the good and faithful servant who is being trusted with the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). This is an honor the master bestows on the ones that he trusts.

What are some things you’ve noticed your children’s minister really loves to see in their volunteers?

~JK

Children & Chores (The Kellar Way!)

Someone was interested so I thought I would share our newly devised chore system. We have two daughters (Ages 5 & 3) and have recently begun a new system for getting things done around the house. Except it accomplishes so much more. It certainly is not perfect and we revise it nearly weekly. For now it works for us to accomplish some goals we have for our family. Before I describe the system, here are some of the things its getting done BESIDES helping our house look abnormally clean.

  • Confidence – We have noticed HUGE changes in our daughters’ assurance in their own abilities to accomplish tasks.
  • Money – Yes, allowance is associated with part of our system. They are learning at an early age how to manage it.
  • Bonding – Nothing brings a dad closer to his daughters like being able to encourage them, dote on them, show them grace, and challenge them to raise their own standards.
  • Routine – There’s never any guessing what is expected and when. There is a rhythm to our day and the whole family is better for it.
  • Me time – I have more time to do things on MY list because I am no longer doing things THEY can do!

So… How does our system work? The key to our system is adaptability. We needed to be able to make small changes to our system without it messing up the routines the girls desperately need. So each day the girls have seven chores they need to do. They are supposed to do these chores every day. We chose seven for the simple reason that the chore charts Krista found at Target had seven spots. Each day at chore time, they go down the list and after each chore is completed they get to put a sticker on the chart.

A few words about chores and age-appropriateness. Our daughter’s chore charts each have different chores on them. At 3 years old, our younger daughter is working on basic tasks – making her bed, getting dressed, picking up her toys, etc. These are on her chore chart because she is still learning to do them. Eventually, they will become things that she is just required to do without any compensation. Our 5 year old has a “first things” routine every morning. When her alarm clock goes off (yes, we set an alarm clock for her) she is to make her bed, get dressed and say a good morning prayer. She does these and doesn’t get a sticker. As adults there are things we have to do around the house that we do not get paid for and as children they must learn that certain things we do because we are members of the family and other things we do because its our job and we get paid.  Our 5 year old waters plants, washes windows, and empties bathroom trash cans among other things. These are sticker chores. She is old enough that when we tell her its time to do chores, she is able to complete them with little oversight from us, freeing us up to supervise and help our younger daughter.

So what happens if your child’s bed looks like it was made by a preschooler? Well… if your child is a preschooler, CONGRATS! She did it perfectly! Give lots of hugs and encouragement and tell her how proud of her you are. Jump down the hall together and put a sticker on the board! Doing age-appropriate chores is lots of fun when you hype it up like this. It’s easy to sacrifice having an immaculate home when you are focused on giving a boost to your kids’ self-concept. Don’t rob this from them by going back behind them and re-doing the job. If it bothers you that much get tags to put around the house that say “Cleaned with pride by an incredible 5-year old!” or “I dressed myself today!” All your house guests will get the idea!

At the end of the week we take the charts of the fridge and sit down to dish out allowance.  Our older daughter gets 1 dime for each sticker on her chart. Our younger gets 1 nickel for each sticker. On their turn we hand them a handful of dimes or nickels and they get to cover up each sticker with the coin. This helps them know that they are getting paid for the work they have done. Once all of the stickers are covered up we have them count out ten coins from the chart. 1 out of every ten goes into their church bank, 1 out of ten goes into their “bank” bank and the other 8 they get to do with as they please. They could put the rest in their “spend” bank but most weeks they decide to evenly disperse the money between all three. We continue to do this counting out 10 coins and separating them out until all the coins are off the chart. We then remove the stickers and start the week over!

Feel free to comment with what has worked for you in your house! I love to hear new ideas about getting kids to become more responsible!

~JK

Homeschool Curriculum Shopping!

This morning we hit up our second homeschool curriculum sale.  We went to this same one last year at Clearview Baptist Church in Franklin and were able to find most of our resources we needed for kindergarten.  This year we have a larger book list and I am hoping that if we get there early enough we will be able to find most of our curriculum. We have not settled in on a literature guide yet so I’m hoping I may find one at the sale I like. The list of supplements we have are books that are recommended for further reading that we can live without. If I find them on a good deal, I will snatch them up!

I created several wish lists on Amazon to help organize what I am looking for. I have printed these off and am bringing them to the sale as my shopping list.  This will not only help me to refrain from buying things I do not need but each list also contains Amazon’s price so I can compare!

I thought I would post links to the lists here.  I know homeschool families are always interested in what others are using.  I basically created the lists from the suggestions of two books that are forming the curriculum strategy of our homeschool. The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise-Bauer and The Core by Leigh Bortins. We are using a classical education model and the resources chosen for next year tie in with the content we will be learning with our Classical Conversations co-op.

So here are the lists! Wish us luck!

First Grade Core Curriculum Texts

First Grade History Supplements

First Grade Biography Supplements

First Grade Science Supplements

Helping Kids Make the Right Choice – Even when it’s difficult.

I received an email from a parent the other day. He posed an interesting question.  I sent him a reply and let him know I would blog about it to see if anyone else had some thoughts.  Here is his email with a revised version of my reply underneath.  Let me know your thoughts!

Saturday we’ve been invited to attend the circus.  It’s free for us and anybody we want to bring.  Even the snacks are free.  I challenged my kids to invite somebody who has parents who either don’t have the means to take them or the desire to take them. Somebody different from their normal friends.

My son says “at church they always tell us to ‘find that person at school who doesn’t have a friend and be their friend’, but then they are always wanting to hang around me because they’ve got no other friends and that’s annoying”.  We talked about how maybe there’s a reason why they don’t have friends and it’s because they aren’t very good to be around. My answer was “hang in there buddy and keep trying”, but I don’t feel good about that answer. As an adult I do the same thing.  There are people I like more than others, phone calls I don’t take, and situations I avoid because someone is there who will make fun of me or belittle me or will be gossiping and I don’t want any part of it.  Just thinking.  There may not be a good answer, but as a family ministry maybe we need to provide a solution to what we’re asking our kids to do.

 
It seems that the situation centers around a disconnect between the heart that wants to follow Christ and obedience to where that will lead. Its obvious from this situation that their hearts desire Christ and to follow him.  This is hard when we have to make unpopular decisions.  They are at an age (and it will only get more difficult) where you cannot force them to make the right decisions. Pushing them to invite a friend would be counter productive and not really get at the real issue.  I think when it comes to getting your kids to make the right decisions, you always have to start with the heart. A good but difficult question to ask is, “What’s going on in your heart that makes this decision difficult?” Keep the focus on their heart and the tension they feel between right and wrong. Dont let them place the responsibility of their decisions on the “annoying” kid or the friends that will make fun.  In the end, you may just end up acknowledging how difficult it is to do the right thing, pray with them and let them choose. It’s ok to lose the battle of behavior since winning the war for the heart is what matters most. 
 
Now, your turn.  How would you reply to this parent? They may be reading this post so lets collaborate on some great ideas!
~JK
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