(As presented at the WCG Conference in 2005)
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. Luke 2:52 KJV
This is a very simple scripture but it is filled with so much wisdom for a parent. Jesus, who is our example in all things, is also our example in what a healthy growing child should look like. We read Isaiah and know that to help this process of increasing in our children we must get them before the Lord. That is our ultimate goal for them to know our heavenly father. We want them to grow in God’s wisdom of his word, to grow by giving there bodies the healthiest of things to feed on and to give their minds and emotions over to those things that will have them thinking in a Godly way.
We have to bring our children to a place where they can do as Jesus did. You know the story about Jesus’ parents looking for him and they didn’t realize he was missing until they had gone quite a distance in their journey. And when they realize he wasn’t with them, they went back and found him in the temple. Jesus’ parents found him in the midst of the teachers hearing and asking questions.
We want them to be in the midst of the hearing and asking of questions. And when we allow them to be in the midst we may be astonished at their understanding and answers to the questions regarding God. We are to give them every opportunity to learn not only “book” knowledge but also “spiritual” knowledge. From this scripture we see three areas that we can help our children be the best that they can for the Lord. Those three things are, to increase in stature, in wisdom and in favor both with man and with God.
1. Increase in stature: the natural height of a human, an achieved level. This we understand to be our children growing up. They first begin to talk, then they walk and then they run. As a parent we do what we have to, to keep up with the child. We are also concerned with what they eat so that we can make sure they are getting the proper nutrients that they need. This seems clear cut, but there are still something’s that we can do that turns our children more toward God even as we help them in this area of their lives.
I am always looking for ways to do things better for myself as well as my family. I realize that as a parent you carry a lot of responsibility for what happens in the lives of your children. I won’t speak for anyone else but myself, I was becoming a fast food junkie. I was tired so we were eating junk food. I was frustrated because it just didn’t seem like I could keep coming up with something that everyone would want to eat, including myself. I hadn’t really learned how to prepare meals for my family. That wasn’t something I was taught to do. I had to stop and really look at what was going on.
I’m not against going out to dinner, but did you know we actually do our children a disservice when we don’t teach them about healthy eating and healthy behaviors? Some of the women my age have voiced this concerned, that they were not taught how to prepare meals and even though this seems like no big deal, as a mother trying to keep everything working properly, it can be. Some of us missed the older women teaching the younger women how to mother and how to be wives, so several of us are winging it. Now if you had that training, give your mom a big kiss.
I made the decision to stop that cycle at myself. I wanted to make sure I was equipping my children to handle this situation better than I was equipped to do. One of the things that I have been doing since my oldest daughter was about 3 years old is teach her something new to add to the things she can cook. Being a child the first thing she wanted to learn about was how to make something sweet. We were on one accord with that decision. It gave me the opportunity to teach her and use the time to plant into her life important messages. Now some of you may have sons and say that won’t work. I have to tell you it is just as important. See you don’t want to send your sons unprepared into life or into a marriage and work some poor women to death, especially my daughters.
Now I try to use meal times, the preparation of it and eating as times for us to really talk to each other. I also use it as a time for some really important lessons. One year I had a baking party for all the children in my family for Christmas. The smaller ones made crust for the mini cheesecakes. They loved destroying the graham crackers. Little ones have the gift of destruction so I thought that would be a good place for them to flow in their gifts. The middle ones put in the ingredients for the chocolate chip cookies and the teens, especially the boys were able to man the equipment. Boys like equipment so that was right up their alley to see how fast they could make the mixer go.
What an opportunity to be able to show them what the body of Christ looks like. Everybody has a part and no part is unimportant or insignificant. No one is too young or too old to be used in the service to accomplish a task. Just as we were accomplishing a task of getting those sweet smelling goodies made, as the church we are accomplishing something sweet in the nostril of God. Use those opportunities that you have to show spiritual principles. We have to make it plain. We have to be willing to tell our children things so they can understand the great mysteries of God.
When we were done they all got a chance to eat what they had done as well as take their creations home. I wish you could have seen the faces on those children. There was such pride in accomplishing something themselves. Even the boys tried to pretend they didn’t care, but you could see the pride on their faces. That’s what I believe is being lost. We are really busy I understand that, but we need to slow our lives down a bit and get back to or begin teaching our children how to cook, how to provide with their own hands. Even the world has an understanding of this concept. If you ever watch the food channels they actually have “cook with your kid” campaigns. They are trying to encourage parents to spend time with their children cooking and preparing meals.
You teach them something vital about working and work ethics. Each of my children has chores to do, even when they were two. Even if it was just picking up their toys. What does this have to do with their physical growth? I believe it has a lot. When you look at statistics our children have become obese sitting in front of a T.V. waiting for mom to bring them something to drink like she is their servant. I jokingly told a friend that when the women libbers changed MRS. to MS. They weren’t doing us any favor they don’t understand that MS. stands for Mommy Slave.
Well Jesus came to set the suffering captives free, and I took my freedom. My children all are a part of this family and I want to place in them that their health is important and they have a part to play in it. If you have medicines you are to take them on time. Stop sitting in front of that boob tube and go play and exercise your body as well as your mind. And then it is another opportunity for me to grow my children toward the Lord. I’m also teaching them stewardship of their time and their bodies before the Lord. God expects us to be good stewards of everything that belongs to him, so why not begin to use these times to talk to your children about it.
That’s what God’s word in Deut. 6:7 says, “Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children” Tell them as you walk along the way, talk to them when you wake up, when you lie down, when your eating fits in just as nicely.” Every opportunity we have should be with the purpose of showing our children how God is a part of their lives and even the things that seem simple or meaningless are still important to God.
We have several things that we do that have become family traditions. At Christmas time we start on December first preparing for the holiday. We have a board that we go over each day with something we should be thankful about. We tell them that this is the celebration of Christ’s birth. So when it’s someone’s birthday, you bring him or her a gift. We begin everyone to thinking about what gift they want to give to Jesus. On Christmas Eve we have a family celebration. We read the Christmas story, we also then share what gift we will give to Jesus that year. Then each one shares what their gift is and we take turns praying for someone else’s gift. They have given gifts such as being nicer to their sister, because God wants them to love each other. Or to pray more, or read their bible more, because that would be something Jesus would like for his birthday. I’m teaching them how to do personal inventories to see where they line up with God’s will.
The children also get really excited about helping with baking so that we can give them as gifts. They remember this more than anything. If you asked what did they get for Christmas, they can’t remember but they do remember what we did. We also have a dress up dinner with candlelight and everything for New Years Eve. For the last few years my eldest daughter has cooked dinner. I’m talking real food. She cooked ribs, double baked potatoes, made rolls and a homemade chocolate fudge cake served with ice cream.
It has gotten so my youngest child will from time to time say, mom I need some pretty mood, light the candles for dinner and turn off all the lights. And I do it. I’ll bring out the china and set the table just because.
I also like what we do at the summer time. We have “Williams camp”. I create a program that runs for 5 – 6 weeks. This came about because I needed to find something for my children to do during the summer. I didn’t have any money to afford the costly park programs. So I asked the Lord to show me what I could do. We’ve been doing it now for about 4 years. We learn Spanish, taught by my oldest daughter. I have to tell you I was amazed myself how the Lord opened up my creativity in this area.
We also allowed the children a chance to see how it feels to do things for others. All of the things we made were given to members of our church and then to our seniors in nursing homes. We have arts and crafts, and we even have our own theme song for our camp. Williams camp if fun, we can play in the sun, and I forget the rest, but I know the children remember it. I also teach them some cooking. They learned how to make turtle cookies this summer. What has happened is even some of my teenage girls from church were involved and they were excited about being involved again. Now I know everyone won’t do this type of program, but what can you do with your time?
Come back next week for part IV, of Raising Healthy Children. If you missed the part III look under The Week in Review on April 20, 2008