I'm not sure if you missed it, but this week marks 75 years since the prisoners of Auschwitz were liberated. Such a dark time in the recent past. Citizens watched (and too many sat silent) as their fellow citizens (friends, neighbors, teachers, grocers etc.) were first marginalized, then forcibly ostracized from the communities they had help to build. Too many other countries sat silent as such a dark evil was allowed to sweep across Europe. Such an important time to remember and NEVER forget.
As I was watching some of the coverage of the memorials and events marking this day, I was awestruck by the story of one survivor in particular. Mrs. Tova Freidman was 5 when she and her family went got to Auschwitz. At such a young age, I'm sure she didn't immediately fully understand the horrors that awaited her, her family and the other prisoners. This didn't stop her mother though. Tova spoke about how her mother protected her by telling her the truth!! She said that her mother didn't ever hold back. This shocked me. I can only imagine my young children being there and how knowing what was likely to happen, how I would try to pretend that all was ok. This is not the choice Tova's mother made. She didn't hold back and always told her daughter what was happening and why. This would allow her to respond accordingly.
After hearing this interview, I started thinking about my kids. My first thought was this world and the conversation that Paul has in Ephesians 6. Its easy for us to think it wise to not tell our children that they are in the midst of a war. But it is a spiritual battle. Take a look at 2 Timothy 2:22,
"Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. ", HCSB
There can't be "youthful passions" (or "adolescent cravings" according to another version), if it was only adults in the war. Scripture also talks about satan setting traps for us; some of those traps are specific to the youth of the day.
Now, obviously I am not saying that we should terrify our children with stories of devils and demons lurking behind every corner, but we shouldn't shy away from talking about the great deceiver either. Especially in light of one of my favorite verses,
"...the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.", 1 John 4:4 HCSB
Remember the one who is in the world is that old liar from the start. The One who is in you, died on Calvary for your sins and mine. And NEVER forget, He got back up!!
Take the lead from Mrs. Tova Freidman's mother. Tell your children that they are in a war. They are in a battle. Then prepare them for war against an enemy who has already lost. As long as they get on the right side of the battle, they will be victorious!
Its the start to a new year and change is in the air! This is the time of year that everyone's best intentions are on full display. Even my son's elementary school is getting in on the action. Each of the almost 400 students had to answer about five specific questions about themselves with an eye toward personal improvement. This got me thinking, why not do the same around my home?
I'm sure you've seen how many churches, organizations and even individuals will choose a specific theme or trait for the year upon which they'd like to focus. This is what we're doing in our home. So we've decided on a theme for the year. Something we all (parents included) need to be working on anyway. What is our trait/theme that we've decided to work on? Gratitude!!
So step one, after deciding on the theme (get your kids involved in this part), is making sure both of our young kids fully understand what this is. Step two was to find a memory verse that would be the basis of our focus for the year. (Ours is 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.") Step three is to help them see how they get to show and experience gratitude day to day. This one is an on-going, throughout the year type process. The final step (another on-going through out the year type thing), is to hold each other accountable for living this gratitude out. If your kids are anything like mine, this will probably be their favorite!
There are so many aspects to this type of activity that are great learning tools for our kids! We've got prayerfully considering a decision together as a family. You've got scripture memorization. This has become a favorite of mine. As I get older I recognize the benefit of having scripture at the ready in my head/ heart. You also have the application of scripture lived out in real life. And last but not least, we've got the accountability piece of living in a village. As the Lord's church, this is part of our job description. One of the benefits of the local church is the fact that each of us has folks that we see on a least a weekly basis who can speak life into us and call us out when we're messing up.
I'll check back in with you guys over the next couple months so you can see our progress attempting to live out gratitude in our lives. I'd love to hear about your experiences!! Have you had a family verse or theme for the year before? How'd that work out for you?