Friday, April 5, 2013

How to Really Impress Them (along the road)

Today's post is the third in a series - How to Really Impress Them.

If you're jumping in now, I HIGHLY recommend reading these pre-requisites first and coming back:
An intro to How to Really Impress Them and How to Really Impress Them (sitting at home)

If you've read the first two posts in the series, linked above, then please do continue because included in today's post is my first ever {{{GIVE-A-WAY!}}}! Details at the end...

Today I'm sharing how to impress God's Word on the hearts of your children when you're on the road. Deuteronomy 6 actually says "while you walk along the road." So the point is really to teach them diligently about the Bible when you're out and about. If you felt bad about the lack of time you spend sitting at home with your kids, you might make up for some of that with quality time on the road.

If you do a lot of walking with your kids, that's also a great time to talk about God's Word. We recently moved less than a mile up the street from our first apartment as a married couple. One of the things I missed the most when we first moved out of this neighborhood to a house right on a state highway was the sidewalks. I no longer had the convenience of stepping out the door with the stroller and kids for a walk down the street. I do love hopping in the car for destination nature walks and hikes but there's just something about a spur-of-the-moment walk around the neighborhood on a summer evening. Walks are great opportunities to talk about what the Bible has to say about God as the Almighty, Wise, Creator who is still sovereign (in control) over his creation.

I wish I spent more time walking than I do driving (and as the air continues to warm up I'm already evening out that ratio a little bit more) but today I'm focusing on the ways I impress God's Word on the hearts of my children when we're cruising around in the minivan. For me, its mostly about the music.

>>>Pause for a quick insert  - In case you did not read my first two posts, I want to reiterate that my reason for sharing what I do is to humbly challenge and encourage other parents to obey Deuteronomy 6. Really, I hope that you can do the same for me by sharing in comments.

Driving in the car is a great time for us to just relax and listen. Yes, "contemporary Christian music" about God and the themes and truths in the Bible can be good and uplifting. Worship music, based on scripture, that we can sing to God from our hearts while we are driving is even better. But what I've come to love most is simply scripture put to music. God's words only. My kids and I have effortlessly memorized close to 200 verses just by listening to scripture music in the car. We all really enjoy the music. This makes the process of impressing God's Word on their hearts fun and easy!

Here are my TOP FIVE things to listen to in the car to help teach my children diligently according to Deuteronomy 6.

1. Our #1 pop album, that's also best for living-room dance parties, is the band The Rizers. Here are a couple of their YouTube videos if you want to check them out:

This one isn't one of their "official" videos but its one of my favorite songs of theirs:

So far they have two albums out - Meet the Rizers and Rizers Rise Up. They have one song about the band on each album and the rest of the songs are 100% direct from scripture, including references. We like Rizers Rise Up best but they are both great. You can preview all their songs and purchase the MP3s or CDs on Amazon. (Use my affiliate links above.) Or you can stream both albums for free on Spotify.

2. Our second favorite series of music is put out by Seeds Family Worship, an amazing ministry. We've got seven of their albums, each of which is a collection of verses around a certain theme. For example: Encouragement, Faith, Character of God, and Purpose. Seeds' songs are also all 100% scripture, including references. They use a variety of musicians and vocals - none of who's names I recognize. Their sound is generic "contemporary Christian music," which makes them easy to listen to while driving around.

I had to throw up this YouTube video because its Deuteronomy 6:7 - the theme of this post series - but I'm warning you, they sound WAY BETTER not live.  If you don't feel like listening to their intro, skip ahead to the 2:25 time mark to catch the beginning of the song.

This next one is one of my favorites from their Praise-themed album but its not their official video (and not live, so it actually sounds better).

The kids and I really enjoy listening to the Seeds albums while we drive. The best is when they see or hear these verses somewhere else and their faces light up like "Hey! I know that one!"

The coolest thing about Seeds is that they encourage you to do some sowing. Every CD that you purchase from their website automatically comes with a second copy for you to give to someone else! HOW COOL IS THAT? I've long-since passed along my extra copies of the ones that weren't first given to me (thank you Lani - its what best friends are for!). But my family enjoys these so much that I want to keep on sowing. And that is why the collection of all seven of their albums is my first ever {{{GIVE-A-WAY!}}} Valued at about $80, it can be yours for FREE! Details at the end of this post. (And if you don't win, don't worry - you can stream all their albums for free on Spotify as well.)

3. The first scripture music we ever started listening to is Sing the Word from A to Z. I heard it playing in my friend Michelle's van several years ago and I told her I had to get that for my kids! There are twenty six verse songs - one for each letter of the alphabet. The music is a little hoaky for adults but the words are put to the music of popular preschool tunes so young kids love it and its easy for anyone to remember. I still recommend this album, even though we've found many we like much more since. It has a soft spot in my heart because its the reason my then-2 year old memorized 26 verses within a month's time. I'll never forget the day I'm pushing the cart through a store and my middle child starts belting out her then favorite song, "All have sinned! All have sinned! AND FALL SHORT!! AND FALL SHORT!!"

4. The last music I'm going to share is something we only just recently started listening to, so we haven't memorized it yet. In each of my two oldest girls' Easter baskets I put two CDs from a series called Questions With Answers.

Volume 1 is God & Creation. Volume 2 is The Fall & Salvation. Volume 3 is Christ & His Work. Volume 4 is The Word of God. Produced by James and Dana Dirksen's ministry Songs for Saplings, these CDs are literally questions and answers - much like the Westminster Shorter Chatechism, put to music. They are based entirely on scripture with references included in the songs. As the Dirksens put it, they "create lively, fun songs that attempt to deliver the deepest of Biblical truth in a format that your children will love to listen to."  It's mostly Dana and sometimes children singing, usually with just acoustic guitar and some percussion. You can preview all their songs by clicking on the links above. Upon first listen I thought all the songs sounded the same but they are growing on me and I now find myself singing them around the house.  The albums won't win a Grammy, or even a Dove award for that matter, but the quality of the message is what counts.

One cool thing about the Songs for Saplings ministry is that they have a goal to make their music available in 10 languages and reach 1 million kids around the world! They also have two other CDs that I have not yet listened to or purchased. Maybe once we've got these last four under our belt we'll try these out: Songs for Saplings ABC includes a verse song for each letter of the alphabet with a few others for holidays and special occasions. Songs for Saplings 123 has 13 scripture songs that include a number in the verse and then a few more songs about the days of creation and God's rest.

5. Last but not least, I'll share one last way I impress them along the road with the things we listen to. We spend about an hour a week in the car listening to my oldest daughter's Sparks CD for her AWANA (Approved Workman Are Never Ashamed) club. AWANA is a Christian kids club ministry (sort of like Scouts, but not really) that my church hosts on Wednesday nights. Kids play games, hear Bible stories, get credit for handbook work and recite Bible verses they've memorized for points and "flair" (can't pass up an Office Space reference) to put on their uniform vests. The Sparks (grades K-2) handbooks come with a CD so they can listen to their entire handbook, which includes Bible biographies, over 30 memory verses, and all the books of the Bible. This CD is INCREDIBLY HELPFUL for memorizing the next section of verses she wants to get credit for saying that week. (By the way, our AWANA club is open to anyone PreK - Grade 6 and kids LOVE it! We are just wrapping up this club year and will start back up again in the fall.)

I mentioned in my intro post that church or private school teachers are not the ones with the God-given responsibility to impress God's Word on the hearts of your children. To leave it up to them is not only foolish, but simply disobedient to God. But that's not to say that these teachers are not a valuable supplement. They are to be in addition to what you do. My children are blessed to be influenced by many other Christian adults that love them and effectively teach them about God's Word.  Sunday morning is Sunday School followed by Children's Church. Wednesday morning is Bible Study Fellowship. Wednesday night is AWANA Club. Supplemental Bible-education opportunities like these can provide a great spring-board for you to have conversations with your kids about what they learned.

It's easy to zone out on the way home from church or school, to accidentally toss their Sunday School papers in the trash and hope they don't notice or ask about them. But why not use your time on the road to strike up conversations about what your children learned from other teachers? Did anything stick? Their little take-home papers and crafts might help to prompt their memory. If they can tell you the Bible story they learned, great. But can they apply principles from that story to their life? Even greater! If they can't, then you should help them understand the personal application of what they were taught. Teach them not only to be hearers of the Word, but doers also.

My girls' eyes bug out in excitement when I respond with "No way!! I learned the same thing!" after Bible Study Fellowship, or holiday services. Even if you didn't learn the same thing as they did, use the ride home from church or study to tell them what you learned. And not just what was taught or preached, but how it changed your heart and how you plan on living it out.

I'm not going to spend much time on this, but we do have a DVD player in our van and we ONLY use it for long road trips. Our favorite video series for playing in the van is the What's in the Bible? series. It's put out by the makers of Veggie Tales. Can I just tell you how much even I have learned not only about what the Bible says but the history of how it came to be, as well as the history of the early church - all from these kids videos? If your kids haven't seen these yet, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND them. It's a whole ministry worth you connecting to online as well.

Now I don't want to leave you thinking that I never interact with my kids in the car! I'm not suggesting that they are plugged into media every time you're on the road. There is something to be said for riding in peace and quiet (late afternoon especially) and sometimes we are heavy in conversation. But the time spent driving in the car with your kids is also a GREAT time for everyone to pray together. On days when we do leave the house first thing in the morning (because contrary to some misconceptions, homeschool families are not locked in their homes all day every day), I try to make sure that we start praying as we are driving off. Everyone gets a turn to pray out loud. It's amazing how different the day turns out when we start out fixing our eyes and hearts on Him and all we have to praise and thank Him for, and asking Him for wisdom and guidance right off the bat. Try that for a week and you just might have a treasured new habit!

So to make a LLLOOONNNGGG story short - if you spend a lot of time in the car with your kids, use it to your advantage. You've got a captive audience on the road. Fill their ears with scripture. Talk with them while you're out and about. Teach them diligently while you're cruising in the mini van.

Do you have any favorite "heart-impressing" music that you listen to with your children in the car? How do you harness the opportunity of a captured audience on the road to teach them diligently? I'd love to hear about your favorite "along the road" resources, ideas, or habits.

Now. About that {{{GIVE-A-WAY!}}} for the 7 Seeds Family Worship CDs valued at about $80! All you have to do is sign up to receive my blog updates by email. SO EASY! Look in the right hand column of my blog where you see the background flowers. Scroll up until you pass the "Blog Archive" header. Just above it is a box that says "Follow by Email." Enter your email address in that box and hit Submit. You will get a confirmation email immediately that you will need to respond to within the next 24 hours to confirm you're not a spammer. SO EASY!  It'll take you less than a minute. One email address per person please.

BONUS!!! I'll put your name in 2 extra times if you "Like" Hailey's Treasures Blog on Facebook AND "Share" the link to this post from the Hailey's Treasures Facebook page on your Facebook wall. SO EASY! Just "Like" and "Share" for two more chances to win.

The {{{GIVE-A-WAY!}}} closes at 10:00pm EST on Thursday, April 11.  I will randomly select a winner from all the entrants and announce the winner within 48 hours after that .

Check back soon for the next edition - How to Impress Them (when you lie down). Now don't close out before you submit your email address, "Like" and "Share!" You could be the winner!

Note: All of the Amazon links to products are my affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I receive a very small commission. This is NOT the reason I share these favorite resources. I would share them for free, but if Amazon wants to reward me for it, then I will take it! So if you do decide you want to purchase any of the resources I've mentioned from Amazon, I appreciate you using my links in my post as your way of thanking me. Thank YOU!

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