Category: Parent Equipping Class

February Prayer

By | February 16, 2014

Prayer is having a conversation with God!

Isn’t it incredible that we can actually talk to God? The God who made the world and the God who made us, wants to talk to us.

God says: “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things that you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

I don’t know what you think about when you think of “family prayer”, but growing up in my house it was something that was rarely talked about, much less put into practice. It was rarely modeled, except for maybe at Thanksgiving.

Our hope this month is that you will start praying together as a family. That you will carve out time in your normal routine to gather up your family and pray. It could be at the dinner table, or it could be at bedtime. Pick a time that works best for you.

The kit we sent home is a great tool to help you establish this practice of praying as a family. As you get your family into the habit of praising, thanking, and asking God for help, we hope this will truly impact their hearts and attitudes.

Imagine if we taught our children to pray, and they grew up trusting God with everything in their life. What if they truly believed that the God who made the whole world really cares about what’s happening in their life? He does!

The truth is we all need to be turning to God no matter what we’re facing. Big or small, He cares about what’s going on in our lives. When we pray it changes us! It causes us to trust in God and believe He’s listening and cares, and it motivates us to care about others. Prayer is powerful.

Start right now! Pray together. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just talk to God! He promises that He’s listening!

How do you carve out time for your family to pray together?

January Blessings Jar

By | January 12, 2014


TALK  with  your children for 15 minutes a day. PRAY at least twice a week in meaningful time together as a family. Then we simply ask that you DO one family night a month.



  • What day of this past year would you like to live all over again?
  • What do you look forward to the most this year?
  • What does a blessing mean to you?


Speaking a blessing over your children nurtures security, confidence, and hope for the future in their young hearts and minds. God instructed Moses to speak a blessing over the children of Israel. (Numbers 6:24-26) Here are some blessings you can use with your family.

  • “(Name of child), may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
  • “(Name of child), may the Lord keep you from all harm as you trust in Him. May he watch over your life, your coming and your going, both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:7-8

If you are interested in reading more about blessing your family check out “The Blessing” by John Trent & Gary Smalley.  Genesis 27 tells the story of a blessing received and a blessing missed.  The effect of that blessing set the course of men and the nations that sprang from them.  At that time blessings were a special onetime occasion.  John Trent and Gary Smalley encourages parents today to build elements of a blessing into their family’s daily life.


Family Night: Blessing Jar.  As a family be creative and design your family’s blessing jar.  Whenever you recognize a “blessing” in your life throughout the year, just write it on a piece of paper, fold it up, and stick it in The Blessing Jar.  You can do this daily or weekly.  Everyone contributes, all ages!  Those who can not write can still have their words documented. Write those laugh out loud moments, those simple daily blessings, accomplished goals, those memories that make your cry, laugh and smile.  Let your friends and family that come to visit your home contribute.    Its the little things that mean so very much.

On New Years Eve, read the blessings from the entire year and go through it together as a family.  It will be a great reminder of God’s faithfulness…in times of joy AND in times of difficulty!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  James 1:17 

Connect with us: Share your Family Night photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @vistachurches @vistadublin @vistaworthingtn  #talkpraydo #vistakids

Why Holiday Traditions? – Cindy Eisel

By | December 16, 2011

Why do we use Grandma’s china plates for Thanksgiving dinner? Why do we make a Gingerbread house every Christmas? Why do we visit the cemetery on Memorial day?

A couple of Sundays ago, Vista parents of 5 -year -olds got together to discuss family holiday traditions along with developmental changes. This resulted in some great conversation regarding Advent, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Santa. No one condemned or supported any one outlook for holiday seasons; the Parent Equipping team’s purpose was to encourage parents to intentionally think through the “why” of family traditions.

In her book Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Noel Piper defines an heirloom as “something of special value handed down from generation to generation.” Her premise is that since children generally learn through repeated experiences, family traditions become the heirlooms that define value in their lives. She writes that traditions are a “vital way of displaying our greatest treasure.”

These are the questions we discussed in class:

  1. What is my greatest treasure?
  2. What is most precious to me?
  3. How do I reflect and express that treasure in my life?
  4. How can I pass that treasure on to my children and others within my circle?

Noel Piper states: “We do not know exactly what our children’s strongest, lasting memories will be. But we do want to make sure that our daily, weekly, yearly activities occur in a God-filled context-that we recognize him in all of our life and show him everywhere to our children.” In Exodus 12:26-27 Moses tells the Israelites to prepare for “when their children ask why” they celebrate Passover. Moses knew that children watch and question why we do things or why things are important. He says “when” not “if”. If we are not intentional about processing what we treasure, then we cannot establish traditions that pass our treasure to our children. We will not know what to say when they ask “why.”

My daughter Elisabeth helped the Parent Equipping team teach the 5’s class. She showed the families all of the traditions we have used for major holidays. I did not have to prep her for this – she knew why we did these things. She may or may not choose to hand theses things down to her family, but she has caught what we treasure through these heirlooms and traditions.

So what does that Advent calendar, that Easter Egg hunt, that visit to the cemetery mean to your kids? What heirloom are you passing on by the traditions you set up? Have you thought about what was passed on to you and what you desire to pass on to the next generation? Whether old or new traditions, we need to be prepared for the “why” that will come.

Resources we like:    Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper , Bringing God Home by James L. Evans

Family App: Thriving Family has an app download for Advent activities for the whole family this season and other activities for holidays throughout the year.

Tradition ideas from Vista Families: Veterans Day, Birthday celebrationsThanksgiving or any holiday dinner, Christmas: birthday cake for Jesus, Jesus Stocking, Operation Christmas Child, Family gift for the World, Three gifts

Some resources we use: Nativity Set from Family Life Today, Resurrection Eggs Activity for Easter, Thanksgiving activity bundle


By | April 24, 2010

Kim Treichler recently reviewed a couple of books for Kids Community geared toward Grandparents.  Kim is the wife of Gary Treichler and they are the parents of two: Christy, 36 and Geoff, 34. They  have 3 grandchildren: Matthew 6, Abby 5 and Betsy 2.

We wanted to make sure that all Vista Grandparents know that they are invited to attend any Parent Equipping class. Germaine Copeland describes grandparents as a vital link between generations (p. 9). She encourages Grandparents to seek wisdom from the word and from His Spirit to build into the life of their grandchildren.

My Mom and Dad pray every night for one of their 14 grandchildren just like my Grandma and Grandpa Nieboer did before them.  My older nieces and nephews will give them specific prayer requests while the younger ones tell them how to pray for their school and extra activites. I have seen my nieces and nephews look at the checklist on more than one occasion to see how many check marks are behind their name.

Germaine Copeland advocates for grandparents to take a hands on approach to their grandchildren. She recommends walking alongside your grandchildren rather than talking at them. She says, “Whether you have full responsibility or part-time responsibility for your grandchildren, engage them in activities that you enjoy, talk to them about your interests and listen to the things that are important to them. Take time to laugh with them, go for walks with them, tuck them in bed, and pray with them (p.12).”

Parenting Tip: Ask Godly grandparents if they would pray about specifics for each child. Ask any Grandparent if there is a certain hobby or skill they would like to teach their grandchildren. The important idea is inclusion where and when they want to be included. If Grandparents are absent or far away, teach your children to pray for them and their needs. Communication and evaluation of expectations on both sides in love is the key to healthy relationships within between parents and grandparents.

Kim’s Reviews:

Prayers that avail much for Grandparents by Germaine Copeland – scripted prayers that you can say for your grandchildren. Helpful for a grandparent new to praying for grandchildren. It provides useful scriptures to encourage more Bible study in several areas.

Wells of Wisdom by Weaver and Stapleton – collection of stories by people about their own grandparents and encourages making meaningful memories with the next generation.

Grand Days published by Group Publishing – a quick read reference for grandparents that includes several practical ideas on how to share faith and grow in faith with your grandchildren ages preschool – middle school.

Crissy and Brian Bontrager: Under God’s Umbrella

By | March 2, 2010

Under God’s Umbrella

Recently I sat in on the Parent Equipping class for 3 year olds. My children are currently 7 and 10; I was there simply to support my friend as she led the class. The topic of the class was  How to move beyond behavior modification to Godly Discipline. As the class began I realized I had become a little neglectful in the type of discipline I give my children. I was in need of a refresher in using God’s word and being consistent with discipline.

During the class the concept of The Circle of Blessing from the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart was shared. This concept comes from   Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV):

Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother –which is the first commandment—that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy a long life on the earth.

The Circle of Blessing is the idea that while obeying and honoring one’s parents, the child remains in the circle. The circle represents a place of safety and protection. However, if one steps out of the circle of blessing and chooses to disobey, the child is no longer in the safety of the circle.

This concept is not new for me. I have attended a couple Shepherding a Child’s Heart seminars, have read the book several times, and the first Bible verse my kids memorized was Ephesians 6:1. I realized during this class that as my children have gotten older I have stepped away from using this concept.  Discipline with my older son (age 10) has started taking on a different look; however, my younger son (age 7) can be a handful and I decided to reintroduce the Circle of Blessing into our family discipline strategy.

We talked about the Circle of Blessing as a family at dinner; I explained what it meant and even drew a picture, but my 7 year old just didn’t get it. So, I used the example of an umbrella. I asked him, “Why do we use an umbrella?” He replied with an eye roll, “So we don’t get wet in the rain.”  Then I asked, “What happens if we step out from under the umbrella?” He replied with another eye roll, “We get wet.” I then explained to him that the Circle of Blessing is like the umbrella: as long as we are under the umbrella (or inside the circle) we stay protected. The umbrella protects us from the rain while the Circle of Blessing protects us from the dangers of disobeying. Finally, he got it.

We have gotten back into the practice of reminding our children of the Circle of Blessing. I will often ask them this question: “Where do you want to be standing–in the rain or under God’s umbrella?” Discipline keeps our children safe and teaches them life lessons. The Circle of Blessing and living under God’s umbrella can help us teach our children the importance of obeying.

Parenting Resources:   Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp  Wise Words for Moms, by Ginger Plowman

Parenting Tip: With the coming of spring, use Crissy’s illustration as a family object lesson. Get a little wet together to bring home the idea as choosing to be under God’s umbrella.

WordPress Themes