Saturday, December 24, 2016

What is Hanukkah Anyway?

Chanukkah is the Feast of Dedication. This week the dedication celebrates the reclaiming and the dedication of the Temple from the Assyrians in 165 BC. We as Christians often think  God was silent between the Old and New Testaments. But, Chanukkah is proof that G-d was busy and he established the Feast of Dedication is something forever for the children of Israel to celebrate in fact in Matthew chapter 10 it speaks of Messiah celebrating the Feast of dedication.

Canukkah is also called the Festival of Lights because of what actually happened during this time.

Around 300 BC Jerusalem with being ruled by the Egyptians. The Assyrian ruled by Aniacus, took over Jerusalem Aniacus wanted the Jewish people to become assimilated  into the Assyrian culture  so he outlawed Judaism, even went so far as to say the Jewish people could get married. But the wife had to First sleep with an Assyrian soldier before she could sleep with her husband. This s so that there will always be a question as to whether or not that child was Jewish.  this is the rot of if your mother s Jewish then so are you. Practicing Judaism was punishable by death.

In 168 BC Aniacuz defiled the Temple by doing two things. He sacrificed a pig on the Altar and he also set up the Temple to be a Temple for the god Zeus (the statue had Aniacus's face on it.)

Matthias who was the high priest at the time decided that this was not acceptable and he went to war against Aniacus and the Assyrians. The Warriors became known as The Maccabees because Matthias' his oldest son was Judas Maccabee. It took 3 years for The Maccabees to overcome the Assyrians but in 165 BC they were able to recapture Jerusalem.

When they went back into the Temple they discovered that the Assyrian had defiled all but one flask  of Holy oil. A flask of oil could only burn for one night. It took 8 days to consecrate more oil. The miracle happened in that the one flash burnt for eight days until more oil could be consecrated. During this feast children often play with dreidels. Dreidels were tools used during this time to secretly teach children about Judaism so that Judaism would not be lost during their time of captivity. The Assyrians were told that the dreidel was a type of gambling die therefore they were allowed to keep them.

Chanukkah is a celebration which will be celebrated forever and we as Christians need to understand why the Feast of Dedication is so important.  Ithank we need to teach it to our children because this is the roots of our Christian faith. I encourage you to tell this story to your children and to help them to understand the importance of the roots of our faith. The importance of this Festival of Lights which we will be celebrating forever in the Millennial Kingdom. I hope you now have a good understanding of the Feast of dedication and the importance of it as well. I also hope that you teach this to your children!

To learn more about the Feast of dedication click here.

Believe in parenting

Friday, December 23, 2016

Joseph was chosen to Father the Messiah

As we consider Christmas we often think about Mary and her being chosen to be the mother of Jesus. Have you ever taken the time to think of Joseph and the fact that he was chosen to be the Messiah's father.? We find out later that Joseph was a carptenter, because they call the Messiah the son of the carpenter. We know this was a lucrative profession at the time. Because carpenters built everything from tables to boats. But, what else do we know about Joseph?

Matthew tells us Joseph was a descendant from the house of David the second King of Israel. A direct descendant of King Solomon and was in line to be King ; if Rome was not in rule. Yet, the kingdom had long even forgotten and he was  insignificant to Rome, but not to G-d.

Joseph was also a devout Jewish beliver who  knew the law. When Mary was found pregnant, he could have exposed her as an adulteress and had her stoned. instead he decided to quietly divorce her which shows both love and compassion. He was a man of character.

Joseph like Mary was willing to submit to G-d and accept  hiscalling to be the father of the Messiah. Can you imagine the magnitude of the responsibility of this task? He was charged with the care and protection of the Messiah and his mother. The level of trust and honor G-d was bestowing on him must have been staggering.

Men were required to see over the religious and trade training of all his chilgren especially his sons. It was Joseph who saw to getting Yeshua circimcised, to ensuring Mary had her offering of cleansing 40 days after his birth. It was he who ensured his son attended the synogue and kept the feasts, as well as studied the scdriptures. He also taught Jesus his trade of carpentry. Spending long hours with in the shop guiding his young hands in using the tools, counseling him in working with wood, stone, and metal.

Human boys need the love,  guidance, and protection of their fathers. We know Joseph was living at the time of Messiah's Bar Mitzvah, but this is the last we see of him. perhaps because his job in the rearing of Yeshua was considered complete as Messiah after this was responsible for his own spiritual walk. We do not really know. But, we do know Yeshua was a kind and generous man, in part because the human man named Joseph was his father!

Believe in Parenting

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas: Teaching Children What's Behind the Traditions

Let me start off  by saying if Christmas has become too secular for your tastes do not let it color your view; ultimately Christmas is about you and what is in your heart. Let's look at some of the traditional themes of Christmas and how you can share them with your children.

Saint  Nicholas

The real Nicholas was a Christian Bishop. He lived in the late 3rd century. He saw so much poverty and sickness he worked to help the poor and the sick  After his death the legend of Santa Claus followed his giving nature. Every country has their own customs surrounding the mythical Santa.  However, the original St. Nicholas lived when Rome was still an empire.

Candy Canes

Candy Canes were originally just white sticks of candy. A German Catholic Priest in 1647 started handing them out to children to get them through the long mass on Christmas Eve. Another person a candy maker wanted to decorate his tree with them so He curved them. The candy cane did not make it to the  US until 1847. Then it was still a white hooked candy.. Before 1900 all pictures with the treat where white. The pictures with the red and white were shown after 1900. There is no official time or person to attribute the  red and white Christmas Canes we know today. However, there is a legend in Christan circles written in the poem seen below.

Christmas Candy Cane Poem

Look at the Candy Cane
What do you see?
Stripes that are red
Like the blood shed for me
White is for my Savior
Who’s sinless and pure!
“J” is for Jesus My Lord, that’s for sure!
Turn it around
And a staff you will see
Jesus my shepherd
Was born for Me!
Christmas Trees

Many ancient people groups believed in sun gods. They also believed that bringing in evergreens and other life affirming plants would help the sun god heal. This all happened around December 21 the Winter Solstice. This is the pagan beginnings.

However, Christians began to look at trees in the  late 16th century as a way to express their belief in the ever-living God in the 16th century/. The country of Germany is credited with the Christmas tree. Here in the US it is said the first Christmas tree was found in Pennsylvania Dutch Country in the 1830”s. Legend says it was the German Protestant Minister
Martin Luther on the way home from a sermon seeing the stars through the boughs of an evergreen tree; used a tree and candles to show his family the beauty he saw.

Fruit Cake

Fruit cake was a way to preserve a food source. Someone could bake a bread filling it with nuts, fruit, and seeds from the harvest and then preserve it by pouring alcohol over the loaves once a month. Fruit cake will remain edible as long as it is doused every so often. They have been known to last over ten years. The cakes were served during the Victorian era as a tea cake in England. It was very popular in the US in the late 19th and early 20th century. I suspect because it is so labor intensive to make. It has gone by the wayside for many home bakers.

We have all seen a picture of Mary and Jesus as a baby. I especially like to see the whole Nativity scene with animals, Shepards, Wisemen and all. This depiction of the Savior's birth is both heartwarming and humbling.  Luke 2 gives the full details of the story from conception to birth. Though historians and the habits of sheperds tell us that more than likely these events happened at a warmer time of year; these events somehow seem more special having taken place in winter. From my point of view the most heart tugging point of the story is that the King of Glory thought it fit to show the world His great humility by being born in a stable, while the "kingmakers" found the way to Him by following a star. By the way the wisemen were more than three.


Unto us a Son is given. This verse in the Bible is found in Isaiah 9:6 and reads:
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Giving is a large part of the season. It was Luke in Acts 20:35 who told us: It is more blessed to give than to receive. I think this is a real value our children can benefit from learning. One important thing to remember is the appropriate time to approach these lessons is between five and six years of age. These lessons may include getting your big kid to gather all his baby toys to take to the local shelter or getting her involved in the planning of getting her  gift for Grandma. When teaching these lessons it is important to let the child see the results of their giving. Kids need to see the joy others get when they receive a gift.

Love is the ultimate theme of Christmas

it was Jesus who told us in John 3:16 “That God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believed in Him would receive everlasting life.” Ultimately this is the true gift of Christmas. It is impossible to separate out the myths, folklore, and questionable portions of our Christmas traditions. After all those who are Christians brought these with them into their new walk. However, placing the sacred above the folklore and trusting our Savior to take care of the rest is our responsibility. Also, teaching our children to know and recognize the differences gives them the knowledge to choose and understand how and why they celebrate.This is the greatest gift we can give them!

Believe in Parenting

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Giving your Child the Gift of Brain Power!

Over the last year we have been focused on Multiple Intelligence. This is the theory by Dr. Howard Gardner which speaks of what engages our brains. This theory speaks of each of us using certain activities to engage our brains to activate. What better gift can a parent give than to give their child a life long gift of finding out what can get their brain to engage on a regular basis and allow them to do better in learning and thinking in general. Here are the basics. Below is a link to our gift giving guide for your use.

Multiple Intelligence (Nine Frames of Mind)

Dr. Howard Gardner a Harvard psychologist is the person who is best known for this theory. Dr. Gardner in an article by Kathy Checkley had this to say regarding intelligence.

“Intelligence refers to the human being ability to solve problems or to make something that is valued in one or more culture.” (ASCD, 1997)

In his opinion all people are intelligent. Tendency for intelligence can be seen early in life. Children tend to show how the intellect is sparked instinctively. Does  child in your class talk endlessly; are they constantly trying to figure out how things work, are they alrways doing some form of physical activity? They are showing you their propensity for intelligence. In our culture the tendency is to value only those who have a head for language or logical intelligence.

Dr. Gardner believes the school systems in the US is set up to value these types of intellect leaving out the others. This can be a dangerous attitude for our children. Many children do just fine in school. However, we need to recognize that not everyone has the ability to engage their brain’s to engage through the word or puzzling it out.  Educators of all types especially those in a Children’s Ministry Classroom can provide a richer learning environment by providing a variety of activities which will spark children’s brains into learning. We need to encourage all intellectual bents.  Providing these experiences will help us to begin to recognize the true gifts and callings of the children we teach. This recognition can be the catalyst to helping children find the purpose the Lord sent them here to accomplish.  Each person mentioned above is a human being sent here to Earth to accomplish a task. Each person had the primary intellectual bent which helped guide them along the path to completing their mission. This is also true of each one of us and the children in our care.

According Dr. Gardner there are nine forms of Intelligence they are as follows:

Linguistic - Word
Logical/Mathematical - Numerical/Measuring
Spatial- Picture
Body-Kinesthetic- Physical/Hands-on
Musical- Rhythm/Patterns/Sounds/Music
Interpersonal- People Knowledge/Talking
Intrapersonal - Self Knowledge/Introspective
Naturalist- Nature/Outdoors
Existentialist-Asks the big questions

Each of these intelligences is important to various career and personal goals or ambitions. However, all of us are gifted with some of each. The idea is to see and use the predominate form of intelligence in each of us. The way to do this is to focus on the strength of each area. The following information gives some examples.

Linguistic uses words or language to spark the brain. The process of growth involves lots of words both spoken and written.
A person with linguistic intelligence might be a voracious reader.

Logical-Mathematical uses logic or numbers to spark the intellect. These people primarily need to find the logic or numeral use. A logical-mathematical person may like puzzles or to discover why something works.

Spatial involves being able to see a vision or to create one in the mind. These people use design, pictures, and other artistic means. A person with spatial intelligence may get inspired by drawing an image of their understanding of the information.

Body-Kinesthetic mainly through hands-on and concrete methods.
This person needs to see, taste, hear, smell and interact with concepts to spark them. A person with body kinesthetic intelligence benefits from doing activities they can be involved in a physical way.

Musical involves using sounds, patterns, or rhythms to spark the intellect.
 These folks use the creation of music, sounds, and rhythmic patterns. A person with this kind of intellectual bent may need to place information into song or rhythmic pattern to get an understanding.

Intrapersonal involves relating the information through self-reflection.
This person may need quiet time to reflect on how this information fits into his or her own personal world.

Interpersonal involves interaction with others.
This person may need to discuss the information with others or be involved in a group project.

Naturalist involves outdoor or nature involved activities. This person may need to be involved in an outdoor activity or an environmental project to fully understand the information.

Existentialist this person’s intellect is sparked through providing a variety of learning activities geared toward each asking the big questions and want thing to understand the answers. This person might pick a field like archology because the want to learn more and study how the pyramids were built.

Each of these intellectual bents can be effectively used in a classroom setting. When teachers a variety of activities, use open-ended questions, which allow all the children to think outside the box, and use a variety of learning styles; children get an opportunity to allow their intellect to enhance their learning. 

Creating an activity based classroom, where children get to choose the order in which they do them. Children will automatically gravitate to their favorite and most comfortable form of activities. While also allowing them to find others they like. Creating these 9 intellectually bent classrooms give kids more independence, stretches their thinking, and makes learning more engaging. 

After reading this I suggest you use Scholastic's printable Multiple Intelligence Questionnaire. Use this to help determine your child's intellectual bent. Then use our MIGuide to think about gifts which will support that bent. We here at PT&A hope your holidays are filled with love, laughter, and fun. Most of all we hope as you enter into the new year you will focus on and continue to:

Believe in Parenting

Monday, December 5, 2016

Are you damaging your children?

Parenting is a tough job. I have talked with many adults who are afraid they are doing it wrong. In today's climate where parents are being arrested, we have more children than ever entering into care of the state, and children seem to be "not like we were". Being a parent is a scary proposition. The holidays are a time when adults fear messing up or getting it wrong and damaging their children's holidays for years and even decades in the future. Let me tell you this. Take a deep breath, blow it out, and relax.

I want to assure you unless you are locking your children in a closet, ignoring the fact they need to go to the doctor or dentist several times a year, beating them and leaving bruises so you will not let them go to school the next day, or screaming obscenities in their faces on a regular basis you are not abusing your children. Your everyday mistakes will not harm them over time. Being a human being means you are going to screw up. What counts is how you handle them. Here are a few tips.

Live Authentically As adults it is incumbent upon us to live the life in front of our children we want them to live ourselves. Having our beliefs, thoughts, words, and actions aligned is a large part of the task. We can not tell our children to tell the truth always. Then turn around and ask them to tell someone we are not here when the phone rings. Instead, we take the phone and say, "can I call you back, I can't talk right now."

Say you are sorry. Teaching children how to handle making mistakes is mainly taught by example. When we do or say something hurtful or uncalled for we apologize. Many adults wonder if apologizing puts parents in a weak position. I do not think so. I think being able to recognize a mistake and take responsibility for that mistake is a lot more powerful and adult then not apologizing.

Take time to listen.  Listening is more than just hearing. It means taking the time to really pay attention. 85% of communication is body language. You fail to really hear the whole message if you are distracted. Children notice if you are texting, watching TV, or doing some other activity and think you are not really listening. Take the time to look into your child's face as they are talking, pay attention to facial expression and body language. Then you can get the whole picture.

Recognize it is what happens over time which shapes your children. While it is true one traumatic event can shape our lives it is usually a catastrophic event (a parent, pet, or close relative dying, the house burning down and losing everything, a severe accident or traumatic illness). Otherwise, it is the simple everyday things you do which will most impact your children. I suggest you do these five things:

  1. Spend 15 minutes of undivided time with each child. (Good plan for bedtime)
  2. For every time you need to criticize, find five things to praise.
  3. Use positive discipline (
  4. Give honor and respect to your child's other parent and family.
  5. Tell them you love them and hug them.
Parenting is the only job you will ever love and hate with equal passion on both sides. However, it is what you chose to do on a daily basis which shapes them into the people they will become. Chose carefully what your daily exchanges are and you are bound to get it right!

Believe in Parenting!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Are your children ready for an EMERGENCY?

Earlier this month when a bus crashed in Tennessee. many children did not know their parents names. birthdays, phone numbers or addresses the article stated this made it very difficult for doctors and other Emergency Personnel to contact parents. These five pieces of information are key to First Responders in helping children when they are separated from theur parents.

I encourage all parents to ensure their children know and can recite from memory five basic pieces  of before the first day of Kindergarten.

Their Full Name
The full name of both parents
Home Address
Home/Cell Number of Mom or Dad
Birth Date

In addition, parents should place this same information in their children's backpack (by taping the information into a sealed envelop on the bottom labeled ICE). This is in case for some reason your child can not give the information themselves. It is imperative for adults to prepare childen for emergency situations. One way to do this is to "drill" by asking over and over the information whith your children. At some point they will sigh heavily because you are making them say it over and over again. However, the more you ask the better they will know it. When an emerbency happens it will have become second nature to give the information. This is the reason to make them say it over and over.

I encourage you to begin working on this immediately even with your older children. Be sure they can answer thses questions. It will make a very scaary and difficult time a little easier for both of you!

Believe in Parenting