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Tag Archives: Family

  • What can churches realistically do to make families of special needs children feel welcome?

    Posted on March 2, 2015 by Family Christian

    When you have a child with autism or other special needs, even the simple everyday tasks most take for granted can present their own set of unique challenges and issues. Trips to the grocery store, outings to the zoo...and yes, even church! Between the noises, the lights and the crowds, churches can be a lot for kids with sensory issues to handle.

    For parents, this can be very isolating. We find ourselves feeling looked down upon in social situations when sensory issues lead to meltdowns and 'inappropriate' behaviors. Even in church, it's easy to feel a little unwelcome at times.

     

    In an ideal world, every church would offer a sensory friendly service... a special service where families of those with sensory issues could come and worship without fear. Music would be turned down, there'd be no crazy lights, no booming speeches and moving around would be not only acceptable but even welcome. Or perhaps they'd offer a special room (like a cry room, seen in many larger churches) or even a special needs classroom available during the church services. All options would be ideal...but let's be honest, most churches simply do not have the resources available.

    Which leads to the question: what can churches realistically do to make families of special needs children feel welcome?

    One very simple way is by offering a sensory box to use during services to those that need them. This box would contain both sensory products aimed to help deal with sensory overload, as well as fun activities that can help children stay occupied. Here's a look at some ideas to include:

     

    • Weighted Products. Weighted/compression vests, lap pads, etc can be a great for calming and helping kids to stay still.
    • Noise Reducing Headphones. One of the big issues for kids in a church setting is the noise- be it the music, the blare of speakers or just the crowd in general. For my son, we have found noise reducing headphones to be essential in public places when it becomes too much. These are similar to what one would wear at a shooting range and does not block out all noise but rather filters out some of the background noise.
    • Oral Sensory Toys. These would of course be specific to each child (to be stored with a plastic baggie with their name), but can also be a great addition to your sensory box. For my son, I've found that having something to chew on such as this can help him to focus...as well as keeping his mouth off of everything around him!
    • Books. For the child that can read, books can be a great distraction! Fill with bright, vibrant books for various age levels. Consider Veggie Tales comics or fun Bible storybooks. I loved featuring a book called 'God Made Me Special' to remind those differently-abled children that God made them perfect just as they are.
    • Art Supplies. Crayons, coloring books, pencils, etc can all again provide great busy work to make the wait a little easier. Color Wonder papers and markers can be ideal for younger kids or those with fine motor issues to prevent messes. Clay and/or playdoh when possible can also serve as a great sensory experience.
    • Small Quiet Toys. Of course there is no better way to occupy a child's attention than with toys! For this box, the key thing you want to look for is toys that can be played with quietly! Plush toys, soft balls, etc are great options. For the sensory seeking kid, offer a variety of textures. Find toys that have colorful lights. Spinning parts are also popular among kids with sensory issues (gears, wheels, tops, etc).  Inexpensive novelty toys are fantastic for this type of box...they can be replaced easily and inexpensively and because they are not played with every day still keep their appeal. (We used this types of toys often as reinforcements in therapy).
    Of course, every child will be different and what helps one child might not for the next, but this list will give you a great starting point to build upon. The sensory therapy products can all be found at stores specializing in therapy or education, but many great sensory friendly toys and books can be found right where you shop for your other church supplies- Family Christian.Just by letting families know that you have thought of them and want to make their church experience as easy as possible can go a long way in letting them know that they are in fact welcome. But don't let the welcoming end there. Offer support where possible, ask questions about how you can make church a better experience for each individual family and above all be understanding. Even creating the perfect sensory-friendly church experience may still prove too much for some children- reach out to these families where they are. A little bit of compassion can go a long way in making this journey with a differently-abled child a little less lonely.

    Randi Sampson is a Christian wife and autism mom. She blogs at A Modern Day Fairy Tale- sharing stories of motherhood, life, product reviews and everything in between.

  • Family Holiday Tensions

    Posted on December 11, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

    The holidays have built in tensions: relational expectations, food preferences, windows of time to watch football, behavior of children, political and religious discussions to name a few. Some people tip toe around with their words so as not to step on anyone’s toes, others barge in like a blind bull in a china shop hurting feelings indiscriminately. Like the plastic cover on grandmother’s couch we need respectful interaction, not fake, to increase peace and joy.

    Fortunately, their are family peacemakers who create an environment of acceptance and harmony without harming everyone’s ability to be themselves. We can contribute to the peace effort by being good listeners. We show respect by not dominating the conversation with our impressive intellect or refraining from a rambling exposé of our most recent exotic trip. Instead, empathize with a cousin who just left rehab. These annual reunions are not about us, but about those who are hungry for something more than bread pudding, indeed the Bread of Life, Jesus.

    Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

    The goal is not for tension to completely disappear, for this is a good outcome of being real. Like a good movie, authentic families will have some conflict composed of drama and comedy. But, in an awkward moment we can make someone feel special by affirming their good traits. If we are the one on the end of an embarrassing childhood memory, we can laugh at ourselves. Humility does not take itself too seriously, but takes the Lord very seriously. Be a tension reliever, not creator!

    Lastly, model for those who do not know the Lord, how to love the Lord and others well. Your holiness is a humble expression of Christ’s character. You know better, because you know God. So, extra grace is required since you have tasted the grace of God. Furthermore, there are some relatives who are mere infants in the faith, thus they require long suffering and direct responses. Yes, make the Christian brand attractive with your smile, service and sensitivity. Your family will experience some degree of tension over the holidays. In the process show them Jesus in your life.

    So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? Romans 14:19-20, The Message

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, during our holiday family gatherings use me as a peacemaker, not a peacefaker.

    Related Readings: Psalm 34:14; Romans 15:2; Ephesians 4:29; 2 Timothy 2:22

    Post/Tweet this today: Humility does not take itself too seriously, but takes the Lord very seriously. #familytension

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Misunderstood By Family

    Posted on November 5, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” Mark 6:4

    Jesus was first misunderstood by His family and friends. Once a carpenter they thought, always a carpenter. Those He grew up with had no category for Him becoming Christ. Since He was one of them, they wondered where His wisdom came from. Therefore be encouraged, Jesus encountered our same feelings of misunderstanding and rejection from family. Yet, He was pragmatic; He moved on from where He wasn’t welcomed. Jesus went to where He was honored.

    Our families do not always understand our faith in Jesus Christ. They may be polite, offering a patronizing smile, but saying disparaging things behind our backs. Or they may say to our face that our faith may be good for us, but not for them. There is a barrier of belief to those who see our life change. They fear if they come to Christ they will have to change. However, fear of the Lord precludes other fears. His perfect love casts out the concerns of those who need to receive His love. Our faith in Jesus remains peculiar to people who remain in a state of unbelief in Jesus.

    But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:48-50, NKJV

    Moreover, when those whose hearts are closed don’t have ears to hear, we move on to minister to those with an open heart. We still love our unbelieving family members, but we do not allow their unbelief to slow down our service for Jesus. We pray for them to experience the light of the Lord’s love while we proceed forward with Christ in the assurance of His will. Time is valuable, so we prayerfully look for opportunities to offer the gospel to receptive hearts and minds.

    Furthermore, as you serve others in Jesus’ name, commit to go out in pairs. Serve with another friend so you have their prayer support. Seek to co-labor for Christ to protect you from unwise decisions. Minister with another friend for encouragement and to celebrate God's goodness. Serve with another friend, because Jesus said not to minister alone. Yes, support your family in Jesus’ name. Love them, share the gospel and one day, by faith, they may come to know Him. Pray misunderstandings move to understanding and to receiving Christ as their Lord and Savior!

    “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father. ” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. Genesis 50:16-17

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, use me to minister to my family even when they don’t understand my faith walk and Your great love for them.

    Related Readings: Nehemiah 1:6; Matthew 6:14; Acts 10:2; Ephesians 4:17-19

    Post/Tweet today: Our faith in Jesus remains peculiar to people who remain in a state of unbelief in Jesus. #misunderstoodbyfamily

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Protect Your Family

    Posted on October 25, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.“Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2:13

    The Lord protects His children. He protects them from those with evil intent. He reveals the unrighteous motives of unscrupulous men and women. He protects His loved ones from temptation. But when they are tempted, He provides a way of escape. He protects His followers from themselves. He surrounds them with objective counsel. Wise ones tell them what they need to hear in love, not what they want to hear. God protects what is precious to His heart.

    There are defining moments which require the prayerful protection of our family. It may be a financial temptation to borrow too much money. This materialistic burden forces us to work too much to the neglect of our spouse and children. So, contented expectations reject detrimental desires to grow our lifestyle beyond our means. Perhaps our family needs us to radically curtail the calendar, so we are free to be a family. Yes, we get under God’s protection to rest in Him.

    May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you. Psalm 25:21

    Moreover, your integrity is an instrument of the Lord’s protection. Your good name is like a tall imposing black cast iron security gate that the enemy cannot scale, lest it is breached by your bad behavior. Your character is a thick walled citadel of Christ’s protection that rests on the hill of His help. Like money, the worth of your integrity compounds over time. It protects you from people assuming the worst, instead they assume the best. Your integrity protects your family.

    Furthermore, your Heavenly Father protects you with His love and faithfulness. The goodness of God, like a fortified castle, provides safety from unseemly souls. His love only leads you to places where He is with you. His faithfulness does not falter or default. Nations can fail to pay their debts, but the Lord God Almighty is 100% dependable. Thus, keep your family trusting in Jesus. When your family is under God’s authority they are under His protection. His grace guards your home!

    May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. Psalm 61:7

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me into Your protection and away from my impulsive actions.

    Related Readings: Joshua 24:17; Psalm 12:5,7, 20:1, 91:14; Malachi 2:16; 2 Thessaloinians 3:3

    Post/Tweet today: Your integrity is an instrument of the Lord’s protection. Your good name is like a tall imposing security gate. #protect

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • A Fruitful Family

    Posted on October 12, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord” (Psalm 128:1–4).

    The fruit from a family who fears the Lord is tasty and delicious. However, this type of fruit does not happen immediately but is cultivated over time. A fruitful wife sets the tone for the home. By God’s grace she weeds out criticism and replaces it with creativity. The home is her “pride and joy.” It is a reflection of her, as it is her nest.

    A home to the wife is like an office to the husband. Things need to be just right, or she feels violated. Indeed, be grateful for a conscientious wife who wants to express herself through the home. The fruit of a clean, decorated, and ordered home is calming. It provides an environment of stability and frees family members to focus on each other and people. A husband is free to do what he does best at work with a supportive wife at home.

    A mother’s influence spreads like a lovely vine throughout the house. No area is left untouched. The children are nurtured and encouraged by her sensitivity. When instilled from birth, the fruit from children becomes obedience to God and love for the Lord. Their heart for God grows when parents read Bible stories to them as they wait in the womb.

    The warm embrace of their little arms around your neck is the fruit of trust. The look of their kind and trusting eyes is the fruit of consistent love from mom and dad. Their bent toward love for God and people is fruit from their parents’ example of following Jesus.

    Furthermore, family fruit flourishes when the man of the house models faithfulness. A husband’s intentional effort to follow the Lord ignites faith at home. A fruitful wife has no problem submitting to a husband who submits to God. A God-fearing man is quick to confess sin to his heavenly Father and to his family. It is not uncommon for him to say, “I am sorry” or “I was wrong.” Authentic confession encourages confession in others.

    Confessed hearts are family fruit. It is probable the family will pray, read their Bible, and go to church if the leader of the home does the same. Family fruit has a direct correlation to the faithfulness of the family head. Family fruit flourishes when the man fears God. Regardless of the circumstances, he is committed to doing what God expects.

    Therefore, your home becomes a hothouse of character. The fruit threatens to burst through the glass panes for all to see. People are encouraged when they visit your hospitable home. Sinners need a safe environment, as acceptance comes from the fruit of Christ’s acceptance. Heaven’s dew and rainfall keep the fruit coming to a home submitted to Christ. Jesus says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Fruit is proof of faithful families.

    Prayer: Does my character cultivate fruit that glorifies God in my family?

    Related Readings: Genesis 7:1; Proverbs 31:15; Mark 5:19; Acts 10:2

    Post/Tweet: A God-fearing man is quick to confess sin to his heavenly Father and to his family. #Godfearing

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Coupons for Dad!

    Posted on June 11, 2013 by Family Christian

    We thought that we would put together some great coupons for the kiddos to give to dad. We even have a blank one for your family to be creative.

    BACON!

    BREAKFAST!

    BROWNIES!

    CAR

    RESTAURANT!

    MAKE


    What gift are you giving for Father's Day this year?

  • What Makes a Family?

    Posted on November 21, 2012 by Leann Rice

    Leann

    "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus." 2 Corinthians 7:6 (NIV)

    Fifteen years ago I watched an empty hospital bed roll into my living room. What an unlikely place for a bed. What an even more unlikely place for my husband, Ron, to be dying-in our living room.

    How could this be? Ron was young, athletic, my best friend, the love of my life and the absolute joy of our three-year-old son, Nick.

    Soon, fragile days filled with Ron's raspy breathing became what I called my "in between." During that in-between time — the space separating life and death — I wanted to savor the richness of last conversations, last kisses, and last memories.

    But Ron's condition deteriorated quickly. He slipped away much too soon. In an instant, I became both a widow and a single parent. I felt completely alone.

    Most people have a close support network, a soft place to land. Not me. Physical distance separated me from my mother and in-laws, and differences in viewpoints created emotional distances with other family members.

    As a result, my "soft" landing place often felt like shards of glass slashing at my heart. Everything cut deeply. Everything hurt.

    It was my love for our son, Nick, which helped me survive the painful emptiness and move on.

    But I grieved when thinking about spending our future holidays alone. No boisterous birthday celebrations for Nick. No traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We needed a bigger family to do life with.

    When you experience a tragic loss due to death or betrayal, it's hard to trust anyone again. At least it was for me.

    Yet, a little brown-haired boy needed godly male influences, and a loving family with whom to celebrate. I also needed to stop being filled with conflicting emotions about being afraid to trust.

    In 2 Corinthians 7:6, Paul didn't have any extended family present during a time of conflicting emotions and fear either. Yet, God saw Paul's need for a family-like companionship so He sent Titus to encourage and take care of the apostle. Titus was a problem-solver who had a heart for God and a heart for God's people in Corinth.

    God also saw our need for a new, bigger family. With ample love, He sent Nick and me some "Titus" people who have a heart for God and a heart for His people. They helped to transform our downcast souls with His all-encompassing comfort.

    Slowly, I cracked open my heart's door just an inch or two allowing these amazing people into our lives. Over time, God knit all of us together creating a "Titus family" related by our hearts, not our heritage.

    My "Titus family" consists of people who love each other unconditionally, support and encourage each other, sit beside one another's hospital beds, hold each other accountable and share in every achievement, failure and pain.

    Do we look alike? Not so much. But do we share the same heart and many happy holiday celebrations? Definitely!

    The most valuable lesson I've learned since my husband died is that marriage certificates and blood relationships are not the only way to make a family.

    God makes a family.

    Dear Lord, You promised to be a father to the fatherless and to even bring joy to widows during festivals. The holidays are often a hard time for people in a season of suffering. Please open my eyes to see anyone who needs a soft place to land or a safe place to share. And then, give me the resolve I need to respond with the same incredible love You've shown me — no matter how busy I am. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Words of Comfort for Times of Loss by Cecil Murphy and Liz Allison

    Reflect and Respond:
    How do you most often close your heart to shield yourself from being hurt again? Withdrawing? Being angry? Holding on to bitterness?

    Who might you turn to to help you move past your pain, trusting that God can redirect it into a new purpose in your life?

    Take time today to contact someone who needs companionship.

    Power Verses:
    Lamentations 3:32, "Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love." (NIV)

    1 Thessalonians 4:9-10, "Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God's family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more." (NIV)

    © 2012 by LeAnn Rice. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Interview with Francesca Battistelli

    Posted on January 6, 2011 by Family Christian

    Francesca

    FCS: Hello, Francesca, thank you for talking with us and sharing your thoughts on music, family and faith.

    Francesca: Absolutely, it’s great to be talking to you!

    FCS: Your music has really taken off since your debut. Congratulations on your success and Dove Award. What has that experience meant to you?

    Francesca: It’s been quite a journey and one that has meant very much. I’ve learned a lot and feel so blessed to do what I do every day. I am so grateful.

    FCS: You’re also married now and have a new baby. How wonderful! What can you tell us about them and their influence on your music and faith?

    Francesca: My husband and son (Matthew Elijah) are my greatest joys in the world! You will definitely hear some references to them on this album. They mean everything to me.

    FCS: I’m sure fans would like to know how you are balancing motherhood and family life with the demands of your profession. What’s your secret?

    Francesca: No secret! Just a lot of prayer and a great support system. The three of us travel together, and that makes all the difference.

    FCS: You have also just released a new CD, Hundred More Years. Tell us about the title and the prevailing theme of this album.

    Hundred

    Francesca: Hundred More Years is a song about cherishing the sweet moments in life. Everyone’s moments are a little bit different, but it’s crucial to savor the good times. The album is definitely a snapshot of my life right now. There is definitely a theme of accepting God’s grace and reflecting on His goodness and blessings. I’m in a season where I feel so blessed, and a lot of these songs reflect that.

    FCS: Your first single is “This Is the Stuff,” which is very cool; what is that song about?

    Francesca: This song is fun! It talks about the everyday frustrations that we all face--traffic, losing our keys, speeding tickets, etc.--but it goes beyond that. It reminds us that it’s these little annoyances God uses to refine our character and make us more like Him. We pray to be more patient, and He gives us opportunities to learn patience.

    This Is The Stuff video

    FCS: Do you have a favorite song on the album that reflects what God is doing in your heart today?

    Francesca: That’s tough. I love so many of them! I would say “Constant” is one of my favorites. I wrote it when I was still pregnant and touring and trying to finish the album and move all in the same month. Everything in my life felt stressful, and the song is such an honest cry of my heart, that no matter what’s happening around me, He is my constant.

    FCS: Thank you again, Francesca. May God’s blessings be on you and your family as you continue your music ministry.

    Francesca: Thank you so much! Blessings to you as well and thank you for all your support.

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