The Eternal Value of Family Time

The eternal value of family time-04.png

I like to laugh. I like to be silly and joke around… life is hard, so I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman who “laughs at the days to come.” But I’ve lived long enough to know that there are times to be serious. Take a moment to consider this: What if you don’t teach your children about Jesus at home? What if you don’t learn the Bible together? What if you neglect praying as a family or never memorize scripture?

Well, to be frank, you’re being disobedient to God. That should be reason enough to shift our focus to these important spiritual disciplines. But what does it mean to your children? With out these Biblical values, they will grow up in a home that perhaps looks a lot like the nice, moral family down the street who is far from the Lord. Are you banking on the one hour out of 168 each week they spend in Sunday School? Are you waiting for them to have a conversion experience at a Christian camp or a mission trip when they (finally) hear the Gospel message clearly preached?

Eternity is at stake.

Our kids must hear Biblical Truth and hear it often from us because the lies of the world are coming at them from every angle. The world’s message and the anthem of pop culture is not passive. I’ve heard parents say “my kids will figure things out when they are ready.” Well guess what? By then, it may be too late. They’ll likely be indoctrinated with the “me” centered cultural norms, attempting to instill Biblical Truth when your son or daughter is 17, 20 years old or even older is much harder.

Eternity starts now. Once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we have the treasure and promise of an eternal heaven with him. The sooner our children can learn and accept this beautiful truth, the better. It will save them heartache, consequences, and frustration now and give them hope for eternity in their hearts.

Remember that salvation is a one time event – believe in the Lord and be saved. But the process of sanctification is a lifetime pursuit – we learn and grow until we enter into eternity. Take this journey together as a family and trust God that your work and faith is not in vain.

He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it.

Overcoming Hurdles to Getting Started with Family Worship at Home

Overcoming Hurdles-03.png

Whether a family has one, three, or seven kids… If they have a two year old or a 12 year old… If they home school or public school… live in the city or the country, EVERY family has hurdles to overcome if they are serious about starting a regular family worship time.

At Family Time Training, we always encourage families to set aside 20 minutes once a week. Our family Bible activities are designed to take about that much time. But whatever method you decide to use, there are four main components: read the Scripture, discuss, pray and sing. It’s very similar to a regular corporate worship service (hear the Word preached, pray, sign, and take the Lord’s Supper) and you should feel free to adapt to your family while keeping to the key components of worshipping the Lord.

I want to address two primary areas that keep us from getting started: the planning and the doing. You need a plan and then you need to implement that plan. It would be impossible to create an all-inclusive list of potential hurdles and their solutions, so I’m suggesting 9 ways to overcome your hurdles and praying that God uses them to help you get started.

1)     Make the decision. The rest of this list is a waste of time if you haven’t decided that this is God’s Plan and therefore the most important part of your family’s routines. Once you make the decision, ideally both spouses together, tell the kids and even tell some friends. Ask them to hold you accountable to having family worship every week.

2)     Put it on the calendar. Be certain that you have a day and time that works for you family each week. Maybe it’s Tuesday nights or Friday afternoons. It could literally be any time that works for your family’s schedule. Use your smartphone to create a recurring event on your calendar so the time is blocked out before you schedule other things. Then, use a paper calendar to hang in a prominent place in your home some everyone can see this is a priority and be reminded.

3)     Plan in advance. I highly recommend taking time once a month to plan your family worship time. Decide what topics or activities you want to do.

4)     Gather your supplies. The last thing you want to do is make the commitment, put it on the calendar, and then not have everything you need when it’s time for family worship!

5)     Limit distractions. Your kids are easily distracted. YOU are easily distracted (Surely you realize how the simple act of searching on your phone for that book you’ve heard so much about takes you down an endless rabbit trail.) Put phones away. Clear away clutter.

6)     Let older kids help. Younger kids are eager to have your undivided attention. They love to be with and spend time with you. Sometimes older kids need a bit more persuading. Let them take the lead! They can pick out the theme, the music, or supplies. If older kids feel like they are needed, they are more likely to desire to participate.

7)     Keep it short… or long. Follow the lead of your kids! I told you that our Family Time activities are designed to be done in about 20 minutes once a week. We really mean that. There’s no special amount of time that is the “right” amount of time. If at 10 minutes someone is crying or the kids are arguing over who gets to read, it’s probably going to be a shorter family worship. If kids are asking great questions or want to do the activity more than once, you may have a 45 minute family worship on your hands. It’s okay.

8)     Be flexible. It’s okay to change the format, the day and time, or even where you do your family worship! As #7 illustrates, your family worship won’t look the same every week and that is actually a good thing! Fight the urge, if you’re like me, to be legalistic. You want your kids to remember that family worship was fun and that you made time just for them to learn God’s Word together.

9)     Don’t expect to be perfect. You won’t know all the answers to your kids questions (But spoiler alert: You can find the answers!). You’ll miss a week… or three. Don’t give up! Remember that Jesus is the only one who is perfect. He gives us grace. And this is his plan.

Any hurdle can be overcome by our powerful God – trust him to help you to get started leading family worship in your home.

Parents and Leaders as Partners

Parents and Church Leaders as Partners-02.png

I hope you were inspired by yesterday’s post. What God has called us to as parents matters so, so much. Our kids are counting on us to love them and educate them. What could be more important than loving them and pointing them to Jesus?

And it is a joy and privilege to bring any soul to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, but allow me to shine the spotlight on what is already a glaring problem in many churches.

Last year, I was with a group of children’s and youth pastors. As I was sharing my heart for families and helping churches to see a vision for equipping and supporting home discipleship, one children’s pastor said with a quiver in her voice, “That is exactly what we need! For years I’ve felt the pressure of bringing kids to salvation. I’ve been treated by parents as if this is part of my job description – they bring their kids to me and expect me to make sure they are saved.”

Wow. I hope you know this is not the job of your children’s or youth pastor… or any pastor. Yes, we are blessed to be in churches where the Gospel is proclaimed and discipleship is taken seriously. But we cannot and should not expect these leaders to bring our children to salvation. In fact, we should desire as parents to have this awesome opportunity!

So how do we work together? I don’t have all the answers. And I don’t know your church context or family situation, but here are 3 simple ways I believe the church and the family can work as partners to raise up the next generation in Christ.

#1 – Committed relationship. Parents, it’s hard for your pastor when you aren’t at church every week. It’s hard for them to know you and your family. (Not to mention, corporate worship is a huge part of our individual spiritual development.) You can negatively multiply this impact for kids. They are missing out on making Christian friends and engaging in Biblical teaching with their peers during critical years of development. Be committed to your local church. No church is perfect, but neither are you so it kind of works out. 😊

A word to children’s and youth pastors… you probably know the sad statistics around how long you stay at one church. It’s dismal. Be committed to your church and the families you are serving even when things get hard. You won’t ever get to see the fruit if you don’t stay around long enough.

Parents and pastors, encourage one another! Partners make the load lighter and we know that “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” God desires us to work together in a committed relationship for the sake of our children.

#2 – Two-way communication. I’m going to brag on our family pastor for just a minute. Each and every week he sends a thoughtful, educational, and encouraging email to all of the families of teenagers in our church. Sometimes he’s sharing a resource for home discipleship, other times he’s informing parents on a topic they need a deeper understanding about, or he is simply sharing the upcoming teaching schedule or activity calendar. At the end of each email, he offers parents to respond in some way, “Tell me how the discussion goes!” or “Let me know how I can be praying for your family.” Or “If there’s a topic you want me to cover, give me a call.”

It would be easy to write this off as being part of his job. But I’m guessing if you have a teen you aren’t getting an email like this. If you’re a pastor, consider how this sets your families up for success just by communicating with them.

Now parents, shame on us if we aren’t responding to these kinds of messages! Your children’s, youth, or family pastor can only know you as well as you let them. Do you ask your pastor to pray with you about what’s going on in your family? Do you encourage them when your kids come home talking about how much fun they had in one of their programs? Do you invite them over for a meal to get to know them better? Do you pray for them… and tell them you are praying for them?

These are critical components of two-way communication that benefit your family and your church. Not only that, but they truly honor the Lord.

#3 – Shared tools and strategies. Parents, please hear me out. You may be relying too heavily on church programs to teach your children. What is instead of heading off to a mid-week program at church that divides up your family, you were willing to carve out that same time at home to spend in family worship? Or what if instead of dropping of your teen to participate in a service project, your youth pastor coordinated a service opportunity for families to do together? It is possible and the results have a fantastic impact.

Similarly, your church probably has a wonderful curriculum for kids and teens. It may even have a curriculum that allows all ages to be studying the same scripture at an age-appropriate level. Fantastic! It’s time to make the connection between what’s happening in the church and what is happening at home. Many curriculum developers are already including a take-home piece that parents can use for activity, discussion, and deeper learning at home during the week. Please take advantage of these resources.

Working together in partnership, the church and the family, gives our kids the best of discipleship both in our homes and in our churches. Not only will our children benefit, but I truly believe our churches will be more harmonious places that bring glory to God.

**This blog was written by Famtime.com. For more information, visit their website!

Parents, Let’s Build Faith and Truth at Home

Parent, Let_s build faith and truth at home-01.png

How did you learn to ride a bike? Brush your teeth? Play the piano? Read a book? Someone taught you, of course. Or maybe several “someones” taught you in these areas. “It takes a village” as the African proverb says. But as a parent, you were probably the first one to teach these things and brought other trusted individuals into your child’s life to help cultivate them as they grew.

Now consider this: how did you learn about Truth? Right and wrong? A Biblical worldview? Sin and forgiveness? Salvation and heaven? Surely someone taught you these things as well. If you grew up in a Christian home, you can probably remember learning these things from a Sunday School teacher, at a Bible camp, at Vacation Bible School, during a sermon, or from a Christian mentor.

If you weren’t born into a Christian family and God used a faithful disciple to share the faith with you, what an awesome testimony you have as well!

Sadly, those who grew up in Christian homes rarely have a testimony of learning the faith in their homes… from their own parents and grandparents as the Bible instructs. They, like me, grew up with an example of what a Christian does and doesn’t do (you do go to church, you don’t do drugs; you do say prayers at the dinner table, you don’t steal or cheat).

Now you are reading this today because we serve a sovereign God of grace and mercy. He loves us and calls to us even in our sin and rebellion. He draws individuals to himself even when we are running the opposite direction. God’s plan never fails.

Once we are saved, don’t we want to be obedient? Don’t we desire more and more of God and less and less of this world? So when we learn God’s heart, his intention, his plan, we should want to get on board, follow his lead and trust his goodness!

This is why building faith and knowledge in Truth in our homes is so critical. We make investments into our child’s learning in areas such as sports, academics, the arts, physical health and wellbeing. So we must ask ourselves the hard question: Am I putting the same effort (or any effort) into building their spiritual health and development?

As Christians, one #1 goal is not for our children to be happy, popular or wealthy. Our first priority, Biblically, is that they know God, know the Bible, and ultimately, by God’s grace, come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Are you in? I hope so. I’m so excited for the next 2 weeks together. On our last day, I’ll be answering some of the most common questions about home discipleship. If you have something you want me to talk about, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to compile a complete list for us.

**This blog was written by Famtime.com. For more information, visit their website!

Riley & Jesus

By: Phoebe Leggett

Riley kicked her shoes off, and pushed them away. “Mommy, I don’t like being blind,” she said, “I

can’t see where my shoes go.” Feeling cranky, Riley stumbled into the kitchen, reached for a chair,

and plopped down. “I’m hungry,” she said.

“Just because you’re blind doesn’t mean you can’t help yourself,” Mommy sighed. “Your doctor

said you need to learn to do things for yourself.”

“I don’t care,” Riley said. “It’s not my fault I can’t see. So why should I help myself?”

The following day, Riley and Mama drove to Riley’s new day care. Mama handed Riley her walking stick.

“I hate walking with this thing,” Riley said, frowning.

“I know,” Mama said. “But at least it keeps you from falling.”

“I’m the only one I know who can’t see,” Riley said, whining. “It’s just not fair.”

“It may not be fair,” Mama said, “but maybe you can learn to help others who are blind. I think Jesus would like that.”

“I don’t care,” Riley said. “It’s still not fair.”

“Please try to enjoy your new day care today,” Mama said as she hugged Riley goodbye.

“With all these other blind kids?” Riley asked. “I don’t think so.” She dropped her stick to the floor and sat down on a cushion.

“Are you new?” a boy asked.

“What do you think?” she asked.

“I think you need a friend,” he said.

“Are you blind too?” she asked, somewhat interested.

“Of course,” he said.

“Why are you so happy?” Riley asked.

“Because I know Jesus loves me, and He has a reason for me to be here.” The boy smiled.

“What reason could thatbe?” Riley frowned.

“Maybe so I can tell you that you have a friend,” the boy replied

“What’s your name?” Riley asked.

“DJ”, he answered. “D stands for do it yourself, and J stands for Jesus will help me.”

“That’s sort of fun,” Riley admitted.

“Your name can mean something too,” DJ said.

OLF43P1_18cover_final.jpg

“Like what?” Riley asked.

“What letter does it begin with?” DJ asked

“R,” she said.

“R can stand for right now,” he said. “Jesus will help you right now,” DJ said.

“That’s cool!” Riley smiled.

“Now you have two new friends,” DJ said. “Me and Jesus.” He reached over, found Riley’s hand, and squeezed it.

Like A Fire

By: Jane Landreth

Erin and her dad sat in lawn chairs on the back patio. Dad was trying to read the evening

newspaper, but Erin kept interrupting. She enjoyed telling Dad what happened at school each day. Dad didn’t really mind— he enjoyed her enthusiasm for sharing the things that she did each day. Sometimes Dad even called Erin a chatterbox.

“I hit a home run when we played softball today,” Erin said. “I think I’ll be a softball player when I get out of school. Do you think I could make a career playing softball?”

Before Dad could answer, Erin began talking again. “I made a clay dog in art today.

Maybe I will be an artist. Of course, I’d have to finish school and go to college.”

“I think you can do anything you set your mind to,” Dad said when he finally had a chance to talk. “Just make sure you are doing what God wants you to do.”

“Dad, did you know that LeAnn’s older brother was suspended from school because he was caught cheating on a test? Joy told me that he didn’t study and that he spends all his study time with a group of older boys who are always in trouble. Joy said LeAnn’s dad had to go pick him up at the police station last week. He was with a group of boys who wrote on the brick fence at the park. He will never graduate if he doesn’t

”Dad held up his hand. “Hold on a minute, Erin,” he said. “How do you know that what Joy told you is true? And even if it is true, should you be repeating it? You could really hurt LeAnn’s brother and maybe even LeAnn by saying things like that about him.”

Erin felt guilty and couldn’t look Dad in the eye. She gazed off to one side. Suddenly she stood up and pointed. “Dad, look! Over there in Mr. Jordan’s backyard! Those leaves are on fire!”

“Grab the water hose,” Dad instructed as he raced over to the burning leaves. He grabbed a rake from the side of Mr. Jordan’s garage.

A spark had jumped out of the fire pit, and the dry leaves had caught on fire. Erin watered the leaves around the fire pit. Dad beat at the burning leaves and raked them into a pile so the leaves wouldn’t spread the fire. Soon the fire was out.

“Thank you, neighbors!” Mr. Jordan exclaimed, coming from the house. “I just went into the house for a drink of water. I thought the fire pit would be all right. Guess I stayed longer than I intended.”

“I’m glad Erin noticed the fire right away,” Dad said.

“I’m glad we still had our water hose hooked up.”

“Thanks again,” Mr. Jordan said. “It could have been bad.”

“Whew! That was a close one,” Dad exclaimed as he and Erin walked back to their patio.

“I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to handle it.

“You know, Erin, sometimes I call you a chatterbox,” Dad said, “but I enjoy having you

share what happened during your day. It’s normal that sometimes you are tempted to

share more information than necessary or even gossip. The Bible says the tongue is like a fire, and you just saw how fast a fire could get out of control. What you say can be exaggerated and spread rapidly too. That’s why you need to be careful about what you say.”

“Like what I said about LeAnn’s brother,” Erin said, looking down at her shoes. “I don’t know if Joy was telling me the truth or not.”

“And even if she was telling you the truth,” Dad explained, “sometimes it is best to not share it with others.”

Erin nodded, remembering the things she had been telling Dad.

Dad is right. I am a chatterbox, she thought.

I’m going to be more careful about what I say. I don’t want my tongue to be like a fire!

PT42P1_18cover_final.jpg

Only Two Kinds of Skaters

By: Linda Porter Carlyle

These Joseph stories will help you understand what your Sabbath School lesson can mean for you today. Find the first stories about Joseph and Mac at www.primarytreasure.com. Click on “Stories!”

and scroll down to read 40 or so stories that happened before this story. Be sure to always get permission from the adult you live with before going on the Internet.

MacKenzie Isabelle Evans moved the curtain aside so she could see better. “I don’t think anybody’s awake over there,” she announced.

“Well, the whole world doesn’t necessarily share your delight in getting up at the crack of dawn!” Dad responded, rinsing the last of the breakfast dishes.

“I guess I’ll have to go over and wake him up!” Mac ran out the back door, across the grass, and scampered like a squirrel up the ladder that leaned against the side of G.M.’s house. The window at the top was wide open to let in the night breezes. Mac leaned through it, put both hands on Joseph’s bed, and shook it. “What’s the matter with you?” she grumbled.

“You promised you’d go ice skating with me this morning! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

Joseph sat up and tried to wipe the sleep from his eyes. “I’m awake,” he mumbled.

“Then get your clothes on! I’ll make you a sandwich you can eat in the car for breakfast. And don’t wear shorts!” she reminded him. “Wear long pants, and a long sleeved shirt, and a vest. And gloves. The ice rink is

cold as winter even though it’s summer outside!”

Mac and Dad were waiting in the car when Joseph came out the back door. They watched him stumble off the bottom porch step. “He doesn’t look like a real morning person,” Mr. Evans commented.

Joseph opened the car door and slid in. He fastened his seat belt.

“I think you forgot something,” Mr. Evans said sympathetically. He reached into his back pocket and handed Joseph his comb.

“Thanks!” Joseph said.

“I can hardly wait to get there!” Mac said, bouncing on the seat. “I haven’t been ice skating for a long time. I hope I haven’t forgotten how! I probably haven’t. It’s probably like riding a bike. People say once you’ve learned that, you never forget it. Even if you don’t ride for years and years!”

Mr. Evans reached over and patted Mac’s knee. “I’m sure you’ll remember everything after the first couple of minutes,” he said encouragingly. “You know how to ice skate, don’t you, Joseph?”

“Um hum,” Joseph answered, his mouth full of peanut butter, jam, and bread.

He swallowed. “Mom and I used to go ice skating every week when I lived in the city. But I never went at six o’clock in the morning before,” he added.

“Six o’clock is when the serious skaters skate,” Mac informed him. “The rink isn’t full of school kids ju

st goofing around. The figure skaters will be practicing. And the people who like to ice skate for their exercise, like my friend Andi.

She’s a nurse at the hospital. She works at night. Can you imagine working all night long? You’ll like her!”

Soon Mr. Evans pulled into the rink’s parking lot. He paid their entrance fees, and Mac and Joseph traded their shoes for skates at the counter. Mr. Evans knelt down to help Mac with her laces.

“Oh, good! There’s Andi!” Mac exclaimed, looking up.

“Hi, guys!” Andi gave Mac a beaming smile and sat down next to her on the wooden bench. “Who did you bring skating with you today?”

“This is my friend Joseph,” Mac explained.

“He lives next door to us. He lives with his grandmother and his mom.”

“I’m glad to meet you, Joseph. Any friend of Mac’s is a friend of mine!” Andi reached out her hand, and Joseph shook it.

“If you’re a friend of Mac’s,” Andi went on, “you must know the Lord too.”

Joseph grinned at her. “Yup!” he said.

“I see Sasha’s here today,” Andi said, looking through the glass windows at the skaters already on the ice. “She’s a nurse who works with me. She doesn’t believe in God yet. But I share the good news about Jesus with her every chance I get. And there’s Caroline too! She works at a deli downtown. She’s a brand new baby Christian.”

And I stood up. “I’ll see you guys on the ice,” she said.

Joseph looked at Mac. “Does she ask everybody she meets if they know the Lord?” he wondered.

Saved!

By: Carol Singletary

Stay where we can see you,” Mom warned. “Remember, if you can’t see us, we can’t see you.”

“And don’t go too far out,” Dad hollered. “The water gets deep fast.”

Anthony and Alex ran toward the water.

“I can beat the waves,” Alex yelled.

The boys ran onto the wet sand and then ran back before the next wave could catch them.

“I am hot,” Anthony said.

“Me too,” Alex agreed.

“Let’s jump the waves so we get wet,” Anthony said. “We won’t go out too far.”

The boys were careful not to go too far out. The water never went over their ankles. But they weren’t paying enough attention to whether they could see Mom and Dad. They were going farther and farther down the beach. They didn’t notice when they passed the lifeguard stand. They didn’t notice when they passed the snow cone stand. They were now quite far from where they were supposed to be.

“Alex,” Anthony called, “the waves are biggest right there. Let’s go there so they splash over us.”

“You can’t catch me,” Alex called as he splashed ahead of Anthony.

“No, you can’t catch me,” Anthony called back as he ran in front of Alex.

Anthony was having so much fun staying ahead of Alex that he didn’t notice that the water that had been splashing his ankles was now over his knees. Alex was so busy trying to catch up with Anthony that he didn’t notice when the water that had been at his knees was up to his chest. And when he caught up with Anthony, neither boy realized until it was too late that the water went over their shoulders.

“Anthony, help me get back. I am standing on tiptoe.”

A big wave picked them up so that their feet did not touch the sandy bottom anymore.

“I can’t tell which way is back,” Alex said, trying to get his head up enough to see anything but sky and water.

“This way,” Anthony said as he pulled Alex’s hand.

Just then another wave pulled them back again.

“The waves keep pulling us back,” Alex said. “The water isn’t getting any shallower.”

“The waves are bigger,” Anthony said as he blinked salt water out of his eyes.

“And faster,” Alex said, trying not to cry.

Anthony looked around trying to decide what to do. He saw a very big man coming right toward him and Alex. He felt himself lifted out of the water. He turned his head and was eye to eye with a very tall lifeguard. He was smiling at him.

“It’s OK now,” the lifeguard said. “I think you went out a little too far.”

Anthony looked around for Alex. He saw that another lifeguard was carrying Alex out of the water.

Mom and Dad were running down the beach as the lifeguards put the boys on the sand. “There you are,” Mom cried.

“We couldn’t find you. We were so worried.”

“Thank you,” Dad said to the lifeguards.

“Thank you,” the boys said together.

That night during worship, Alex said, “I think Jesus is a lot like those lifeguards. He comes to our rescue even when we do something we aren’t supposed to.”

“I am glad the lifeguards saved us even though we didn’t stay where we could see you,” Anthony said.

“I am glad the lifeguard saved you when I got distracted and didn’t see where you were going,” Mom said.

“Jesus loves us and watches us all the time,” Dad said. “And best of all, He forgives us when we do something wrong.”

“Just like you forgave us for the mistake we made today, right?” Alex said.

“Yeah, and tomorrow we will go to the beach again, and we won’t make the same mistake we did today,” Anthony assured his parents.

 “The lifeguard will still be watching,” Mom said. “Just like Jesus.”

Saved.jpg

Grandma's Fishing Hole

By: Eddie L. Harvey

One summer my family and I drove from California to Louisiana to visit Mom’s family. By the third day everyone was a bit cranky from riding in the van. I felt relieved when Mom announced, “We’re here!”

We left the freeway and turned down an old, dusty pebble road. We crossed some train tracks and saw two white houses surrounded by green grassy fields.

The sky was gray as we all excitedly climbed out of the van and into what felt like a hot,steamy bathroom. Mom explained, “During the summer, some places get very humid, and that’s why you feel wet and sticky.” My dislike of the weather quickly changed as I curiously looked around at my surroundings.

Grandpa was out in the field with his cows and Grandma was taking clothes off the line. A pack of dogs, barking loudly, followed Grandpa as he walked toward us, waving and smiling.

Grandma waved too as she quickly gathered the clothes from the line and took them inside the house. When Grandma returned, we stood around talking, hugging, and laughing. Finally Grandpa said, “Let’s get your suitcases in the house.”

I could not remember the last time I had spent time with Grandma and Grandpa. They lived so far away. But the stories Mom shared with us about how strict Grandma had been with her and her siblings stuck in my mind. I was worried about spending time with Grandma. What if I did something she didn’t like? But with all the new and exciting things to do around their farm, I quickly forgot my fears.

Every day I had new adventures with my cousins. We rode motorbikes, played in the goat pen, fed the chickens, looked for snakes, played baseball, explored the old barn, and watched the cows as they nibbled grass in the field for hours. “This is the best vacation I have ever had,” I told my dad.

One evening Grandma announced, “I’m going fishing in the morning. Anybody want to come?”

“I do,” I eagerly replied.

“Have you ever been fishing?” she asked, frowning.

“No.” I shook my head.

“Well then, we have lots of work to do,” she said.

I followed her outside to a little spot near the chicken coop where she kept her worms beneath some old cardboard boxes. “You always have to check your worms and get your fishing lines ready,” she said. “We won’t have time in the morning. We are getting up early.” Grandma sounded a bit grumpy.

I wondered if I really did want to go fishing with her.

Early the next morning before the sun came up I followed Grandma out the door. She grabbed her tin bucket full of worms and the fishing poles. We were quiet as we shuffled down the pebble road. I liked the sound of the gravel crunching under our boots.

When we arrived at the fishing hole, the sun was just peeking through the trees. Grandma showed me how to bait my hook and how to cast my line. “The fish are good and hungry in the morning,” she said. We waited and waited. Then waited some more. It was so quiet I could almost hear the leaves from the trees falling into the water.

Suddenly Grandma whipped her fishing line back and pulled out the biggest fish I had ever seen. Moments later, she pulled out another fish and another.

“Can I move over there?” I asked. “The fish are not very hungry over here.”

“Hurry up,” Grandma sighed. No sooner had we switched places when I heard Grandma’sline whip out of the water with another fish. I was ready to give up. “You have worked too hard to give up now,” Grandma said as she slowly began to pack her fishing supplies.

“You know, Jesus had some disciples who were fishermen,” Grandma said. “Some days they caught plenty of fish and other days they didn’t. The important thing was they followed Jesus’ instructions no matter what.

I stood there staring at the calm waters and thinking about what Grandma had said, when suddenly something yanked my line.

My eyes grew big as I struggled to pull my line in. “Grandma! I got something,” I shouted.

Grandma told me what to do as I pulled and tugged to reel in my line. My arms and fingers ached. But I wanted to show Grandma that I could fish too. Finally, I pulled a small fish about the size of my hand out of the water. It was so tiny we decided to put it back. Grandma chuckled quietly to herself as I stood there in disbelief at how hard I had worked for such a small fish.

Somehow in that moment, at Grandma’s fishing hole, my fear of her disappeared. I felt as if we had been fishing partners forever. I was happy that Grandma took the time to help me when I felt discouraged. 

I imagined Jesus’ disciples had plenty of days when they were discouraged, but when they followed Jesus and His teachings, everything worked out in the end. Just like with me and Grandma.

GramasFishingHole.jpg