25 ways to connect with your kids using technology

25tech

Technology often gets a bad rap, and for good reason. It is too easy to isolate yourself and forget those around you. Even if you don’t mean to, technology can build a wall that separates you from those you love. But what if technology became a tool to connect instead? Here are some ideas to get you started (I tried to include something for every age and both genders).

  1. Take silly photos together. Print some out and frame them.
  2. Start a digital scrapbook about a specific topic.
  3. Write a story or start a joint blog. (I would love to read a parent-child blog about almost anything!)
  4. Start a secret dialogue. Write to one another in short text messages to keep communication flowing.
  5. Surf the web to research something you both want to learn how to do.
  6. Use the web to plan a weekend, just the two of you.
  7. Make art (or visit a museum from your armchair). There are a ton of great art apps out there that are user friendly.
  8. Read a classic book aloud.
  9. Choose a music playlist to exercise to together.
  10. Find some printables to play with, like these great ones or some from my printables board.
  11. Facetime or Skype with someone far away.
  12. Use a Bible reading program together. Print out scriptures for you both to memorize.
  13. Peruse news sites to spark conversations about current events. Then use a Bible program or Bible app to investigate what God’s word says.
  14. Write letters to soldiers, persecuted Christians or sick kids and print them out. Add original artwork at the bottom.
  15. Play a game against one another.
  16. Start a secret Pinterest board you can both add to. Share inside jokes, things you want to do together or whatever tickles your fancy.
  17. Search for new music to listen to. Look for something you don’t usually listen to.
  18. Find a recipe to try and cook together.
  19. Find some plans to build a fort or something for the backyard.
  20. Make your own movie or tutorial video to upload for the world to see.
  21. Research something your child wants to save for. Check prices and reviews and print a picture to keep them motivated to save.
  22. Use a computer program or app to learn a new language together.
  23. Develop a spreadsheet to keep track of family chores. Decide how the chores will be divided together so they feel they have more say and will therefore [hopefully] take more responsibility.
  24. Plan a party for an ordinary day. Print out decorations and put on a simple soiree. This is great to beat cabin fever.
  25. Take your phone on a nature walk to research flora and fauna you find on your journey.

I hope this gets your creative juices flowing. Do you have any ideas to add? Share in a comment!

 

Balancing online ministry and home

This is another fantastic post from SisterLisa. This is a great topic that I am glad she has addressed. It’s easy to get your life out of balance but she gives you practical advice I really appreciate.

Many moms of faith have very busy schedules at home and it has limited their opportunities to reach out to minister in their own towns, but can reach out to minister to their online communities quite effectively. In this day of a growing awareness of the incredible need for powerful moms to be at home to raise and educate their children, we see an ever increasing need to minister to one another online.

We were once a part of a church that emphasized outreach in their ministry, but our lives were so busy that we couldn’t fit everything in to our schedule. It grieved us to hear the leadership was not in support of online ministry, but we continued nonetheless. However, even with online ministry we need to find a healthy way to balance our online ministries and our home. Sometimes we can be physically at home full time, but not mentally or spiritually.

There have been countless times in the past when I have been off balance. Those times when I am consumed with in- depth thought as I type out an article, I have been oblivious to the kids saying, “Mom? Mom! LISA!” and all of a sudden I am snapped into reality by my own children who wondered ‘where I was’ even though I was sitting right in front of them.

I am thankful that my husband and family have been supportive of my blogging and that they see the need for my online time to be a vehicle for me to express my faith and minister to others, but we have to re-evaluate my time and each week is adjusted as needed, because life has its way of throwing curve balls.

These are just a few things I take into consideration for balancing my home and online time for faith.

A blog post has lasting influence. The beauty of writing a powerful faith provoking article can have insurmountable opportunities to minister to millions of people all over the world, whereas ministering in town has limited reach. I’m not intending to minimize ministering in town, for the words you speak to a broken mama at the nursery counter can positively affect her faith for years to come. The love you show people in your town can lead them to healing. However, when you’re blogging your faith effectively, those words remain online for many to read and be fed through. Don’t underestimate your online time to minister to others.

Set aside a block of time to write uninterrupted. I have Sundays set aside for my uninterrupted time. My family knows that Sunday is my day to write several blog posts that will minister to my readers and online friends. Just as I would not interrupt my husband ministering in real time to a homeless man, they do not interrupt my writing.Family still comes first. Even though I want my family to respect my writing day, I will pause as necessary to minister to them as well. Thankfully, my husband is home on Sundays and takes care of things on that day for me, but I’m still a mom who has kids with needs. Moms can be a little lighthouse for our families and keeping a good schedule can be a lantern.

Prepare for your writing day in advance. If you don’t want to cook a large meal on your writing day, prepare something the day before. You can make a larger meal earlier in the week and save it for your writing day. We often have fajita leftovers or chicken in the slow cooker.

Take breaks. This isn’t always the easiest thing for me since I love writing, but we need to take breaks from the computer and re-enter the realm of the home. Not only do we need to be mentally home for the kids, but we need to make time for our husbands too.

Schedule your commenting on blogs and other forum conversations. The online community is filled with people from all different time zones and we can easily get sucked into the computer screen at any time day or night. They aren’t going to ‘fall’ if we aren’t online to answer their questions. We aren’t the Holy Spirit. Even if there was such a thing as a curfew where the internet can’t be accessed worldwide, people would still live life and be able to walk by faith without us.

Remain humble. A mom who has left the realm of humility and put herself on a pedestal of pride can destroy a family and her online ministry. Be willing to listen to your family asking you to step away from the computer for family time and don’t assume that you have all the answers for everyone online. It’s perfectly acceptable to downsize ministry to take care of the family first.

friendship by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

{photo credit Sisterlisa blogs at The HomeSpun Life and is a Contributing Team Member at The Homeschool Post.
Other articles that might inspire your online ministry or home:
Where did the time go?
Divinely Called to be Unique
Finding God

The very best kind of garden

The best kind of soil is soft and pliable through tilling the hard ground of insensitivity and free of the weeds of cares and sin.

The best kind of seed is God’s Word.

The best kind of nourishment for the seed is faith.

The best kind of light is Jesus.

The very best kind of garden is the one in my child’s heart.

Where are the grown ups?

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Cor. 13:11 NKJV

This video from Paul Washer got me thinking. Back in the “good old days” children couldn’t wait to grow up. They looked up to parents and other adults. They longed to share their responsibilities and respected their position as elders. And adults had great expectations of children. They took on responsibilities at a young age (partly because of the short life span). Not so today.

These days many adults don’t want to be grown up. They want to be hip and cool, accepted by the teens and children they know. Instead of setting the bar for adolescents in their lives, they allow the child to set it for them. Children decide what’s cool, what’s acceptable.

But not only that. Adults want to play. A lot. Online games, video games, chatting, messaging, farming, you name it. Adults flock to sites children think are cool and to products children have approved. How do we have time to study God’s Word, minister to our neighbor or train our children if we are always striving for entertainment?

So If the children aren’t the grown ups, and the adults aren’t the grown ups, who is doing the hard work? Who is striving and growing and mentoring and training and encouraging? Who will the next generation follow if we are following them?

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24 NIV

What if we tried as hard to lead as we do to fit in? What if we put as much effort into shaping the next generation, into blazing a trail for them to follow, as we do to update the meaningless details of our lives?

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 1 Cor. 11:1 NKJV

What if we looked up, stood up and grew up, not only for ourselves but for those who are depending on us? We need to follow Christ and take up our cross daily. Not take up our smart phones and laptops and game controllers. If we don’t make the tough decisions and stand for hard Truth who will the next generation look to? No one will take the Gospel to peoples in the jungle, where disease and wild animals could take you out. No one will work three jobs to provide for their family. No one will cross oceans to live in a country they have never visited to love the people and open a medical clinic to save lives and souls. No one will suffer in prison for preaching the illegal Gospel to their fellow countrymen, enduring untold abuses with quiet faith.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. 1 Peter 2:21 NKJV

All I want for my birthday

…is:

world peace

a billion dollars

a trip around the world

perfect hair at all times

my own space shuttle

But I’ll settle for a hot bubble bath. Oh, and maybe some time to read a good book.

Home

No need to dress up

Room to mess up

Strength to fess up

Home is where grace lives.

More corny jokes

Laughter evokes

Fun, happy folks

Home is where joy lives.

No secrets to keep

Enjoying sweet sleep

Drink it in deep

Home is where peace lives.

Forgiving a wrong

Heart ties are strong

Where I belong

Home is where love lives.

©Anna-Marie Hawthorne

The kindness of strangers

Like much of the country, we have endured a blizzard the last 36 hours. It was an amazing display of snow and wind in all its wintry glory. But to me the real story is not those who got stuck in the snow (like me), but those who were helping their neighbors.

When I got stuck there were no less than 5 people who stopped to check on me. The first pickup of 20-something dudes in hunting camo worked for about a half hour to try to pull me out–for free. I made them take the little cash I had in my wallet. They apologized they couldn’t get me out and moved on to the next stranded motorist. (BTW, stuck vehicles littered the road everywhere, including a fire truck, ambulances, city buses and even a city snow plow. This was no ordinary snowfall!)

But they weren’t the only ones. There were guys like them all over town. Neighbors helping neighbors. Those stuck in their cars on the highways pooled resources and worked together to wait out the storm. Another man an his son also came by to try to pull me out but they couldn’t either. No problem. A nearby hotel had a nice warm room and plenty of hot water (for a fee!).

It was touching to see men out in subzero blizzard conditions out looking for people they don’t know to help them out–for free. They could have been warm at home with their families but they were searching for strangers to help. It may be cold outside but my heart has never been so warm.

Sheltering and books

LIT’ERATURE, n. [L. literatura.] Learning; acquaintance with letters or books. Literature comprehends a knowledge of the ancient languages, denominated classical, history, grammar, rhetoric, logic, geography, &c. as well as of the sciences. A knowledge of the world and good breeding give luster to literature.

There seem to be two camps concerning literature:  those who think you should shelter your children and those who think that difficult books are a tool for discussion. Of course older children can handle things that younger children cannot. And difficult discussions on slavery, racial slurs, abuse, etc. do need to happen. I think for me it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”

I have heard both sides of the argument and they both have merit.  I think I come down on the side of caution. My children count on me to keep them safe. The mind is the most. I do not ever want to allow them to put something there that they are not ready for. I believe literature (true literature) is a terrific way to introduce difficult topics in their natural settings. Books can open casual doors for conversations that might seem contrived otherwise. Then Biblical Principles can be introduced/applied where they fit.

And then there are some books that I do not believe qualify as literature, are salacious or are otherwise twaddle. Those don’t make the cut. But important works are worth reading and discussing together. Because we are “living” with the books and their characters, I want to make sure we are “acquainting” ourselves for a specific reason and not just to have something to read or because it was recommended by someone else.

Where do you fall in the book sheltering debate?

Just for Dad: a gift of prayer

This Father’s Day I hope you will take time to pray with your children for Dad. I hope you will visit or call your own father and pray for him. I hope that if your own father has passed away–as mine has– that you will find a father to pray for today.

Please also make sure to pray for a single father. They need an extra dose of TLC today and every day.

What will I pray? you may ask. First I suggest that you take a moment to think about the person you are praying for. What are needs they may have? What about them are you thankful for? Use these things to form a prayer.

What if I (or he) feel uneasy or awkward about praying out loud for him? You can always write your prayer in a note. or record it and play it for him. Or you can just push through the awkwardness–and keep it short!

What if my dad (or husband) isn’t open to the idea? Then pray for him anyway, to yourself. Bring him before the Lord in your quiet time. Again, you can write a nice note instead, letting him know how much you love him.

A simple prayer can be a meaningful way to connect with the father in your life and may open the door to more prayers together in the future.

Prayer grotto a la home

Christians in South Korea have the benefit of going to Prayer Mountain. There they have created small prayer rooms that one can close themselves off to concentrate and pray. You can make a special place in your home for quiet prayer. Even a small corner or under a desk can make a great prayer grotto at home.

Find a place in your home that’s not busy. a back corner, closet floor or even below a desk can serve as a quiet spot. If you’d like, put up some scriptures, reminders, small maps or pictures. Put a pillow you can sit on and you’re good to go. Children love secret spaces, so this might be right up your child’s alley. It’s a quiet spot where they can go to be alone and talk to God. Encourage them to take their Bible and prayer journal with them to write down anything God tells them.