Spiritual Parenting – Prayer Encounters

Here is the information we’ve shared for the fall 2013 Wednesday night adult class schedule at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Class Name: Spiritual Parenting – Prayer Encounters
Led by: Eunice Menja, Shelly and Wesley Fryer
Description: In Spiritual Parenting we will use Pastor Paul Burns’ short book, “Prayer Encounters: Changing the World One Prayer at a Time,” to grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus as well as our families. Anyone who is or has been a parent or grandparent is welcome to join our group focused on prayer, study, and fellowship. Visit our class website spiritualparenting.us for updates. Visit Paul Burns’ website prayerencounters.com.
If you live in or near Edmond, we hope you’ll join us on Wednesday nights for Spiritual Parenting during “The Gathering” which starts on September 11th!

Love is an Orientation

During the January – March 2013 session of “The Gathering” at our church, Eunice and I invite all past members / attendees in our “Spiritual Parenting” class to attend the class Curt Gruel and Rev. Matt Jones are going to be leading on “Love is an Orientation” by Andrew Marin. This class is going to raise many important issues and provide an excellent forum for us to discuss them together. Here is the planned course schedule:


I’ve helped Curt and Matt setup a special website to facilitate online discussions, which I invite you to visit and follow. The website is faithdiscussions.org. Please check it out to learn more about Andrew Marin, his book, and this course.


Observing Wonder in God’s World

This is a 3.5 minute “narrated art” video we created this evening in our Spiritual Parenting class. We took about 15 minutes to go outside and look for the WONDER we can observe in God’s creation. For more about tonight’s lesson, see today’s earlier post, “Chapter 3: The Wonder Window.”

We created this video using an iPad and the app “Explain Everything.” For more information and resources on creating Narrated Art, see the Narrated Art page on “Mapping Media to the Curriculum.” Tonight we “played with media” a bit, and hopefully had a more memorable lesson as a result!

Narrated Art

Chapter 3: The Wonder Window

These are notes from week 3 of our fall 2012 Spiritual Parenting class, using the book “Opening Your Child’s Spiritual Windows: Ideas to Nuture Your Child’s Relationship with God” by Cheri Fuller. This week focuses on the theme, “The Wonder Window.” Please refer to our class schedule for links to notes from other weeks of our study.

'Child among wildflowers' photo (c) 2012, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

When was the last time you deliberately took time out of your “normal” schedule to experience WONDER at the amazing universe God has created? Cheri points out in this chapter that children seem to naturally “experience wonder” much more than adults do. Have you ever been overwhelmed by number of WHY questions a young child can ask? Kids often wonder about stuff because they’re experiencing the WONDER of living in an amazing (and often confusing) world. We need to connect with this experience of WONDER and use those moments to share how we look at the world “through our God lenses.” This is an important part of living life as spiritual parents.

Here are some verses which Cheri highlighted in this chapter about “The Wonder Window.”

Revelation 4:9-11 (MSG)

Worthy, O Master! Yes, our God! Take the glory! the honor! the power! You created it all; It was created because you wanted it.

Colossians 1:15-18 (MSG)

For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels-everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.

Psalm 102:18-22 (MSG)

Write this down for the next generation so people not yet born will praise God: “God looked out from his high holy place; from heaven he surveyed the earth. He listened to the groans of the doomed, he opened the doors of their death cells.” Write it so the story can be told in Zion, so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets And wherever people gather together along with their rulers to worship Him.

Psalm 139:13-16 (MSG)

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

Ephesians 2:7-10 (MSG)

No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Isaiah 43:1-4 (MSG)

But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.

In this chapter Cheri encourages us to think about and use all our SENSES to experience wonder at God’s world and His creation. Many of the activities she suggests are most appropriate for younger children, but many can be experienced together with older family members too. A big part of Cheri’s encouragement, through stories she relates, is to take time to NOTICE and FOCUS on different elements in the natural world. The feel of tree bark or whiskers on dad’s face, the smell outside after a rainstorm, the beauty of the clouds as they float by on a summer afternoon. Each season has unique natural wonders to observe and enjoy. Too often, Cheri points out correctly, we are so BUSY with our SCHEDULES and hectic lives that we fail to make time to experience wonder.

Don’t make this mistake this week. Your homework, should you choose to accept it, is to intentionally find a time and a place in the next week to experience the WONDER of God’s world together with another member of your family. Then come to our meeting next week prepared to discuss and share what you experienced.

Cheri shares a good story (on page 40) about a family who created some special shirts after experiencing an abundance of floral color on a trip to the mountains one year. Those special tie-dyed shirts became a reminder for everyone in the family not only of the trip, but also of the amazing colors God uses to paint our world… because that was something they discussed and focused on together on that special trip. I really like that idea of creating symbols and articles of clothing that we can wear which will serve as physical reminders of these intangible lessons we want to continually remember and highlight. God created an amazing, WONDER-FILLED world for us to experience, and we should live our lives with our eyes wide open to His glory.

One of the activities Cheri mentions is stargazing with our kids. This past summer I learned about and bought the 99 cent iPhone app, “The Night Sky.” It’s been awesome to use it for identifying planets as well as stars in the evenings. Another iOS stargazing app I have, but don’t like quite as much, is “Distant Suns.” There is a free “lite” version as well as a $10 fancy, 3rd version. I have an older version so maybe I need to try the new one. Whether or not you download and use apps like these, it’s a GREAT idea to get out and stargaze together. Looking up at the heavens together is a great way to experience the WONDER of living in God’s amazing creation.

'Great Basin Stargazing ' photo (c) 2009, NPCA Photos - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Chapter 2: Enjoying God

These are notes from week 2 of our fall 2012 Spiritual Parenting class, using the book “Opening Your Child’s Spiritual Windows: Ideas to Nuture Your Child’s Relationship with God” by Cheri Fuller. This week focused on the theme, “Enjoying God.” Please refer to our class schedule for links to notes from other weeks of our study.

'Vaka' photo (c) 2009, Petras Gagilas - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Cheri contends “…children actually have a greater innate capacity to enjoy God than adults do.” I know whenever I have a chance to hang out with kids and play with them, I definitely get more connected to the pure joy which is available to be experienced in the simple things of life. One of the important recommendations Cheri has for us in this chapter is to spend time playing with kids and experiencing the world through their eyes. I know for many of the parents in our class this wouldn’t sound like an appealing “homework assignment!” What I think we should take away from this, however, is that the open hearts which children often exhibit to FULLY living and experiencing life is a gift that we should seek to share.

Here are a number of Bible verses which Cheri shared in this chapter, which we read in class and briefly discussed. Each of these points to the JOY which God calls us to experience and live with. In seeking to know God and enjoy Him, we can not only share His joy with our children but with other people we work with and around each day.

Psalm 63:2-4 (MSG)

In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains.

Psalm 16:11 (MSG)

Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way.

James 4:7-10 (MSG)

Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field.

Psalm 46:8-10 (MSG)

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”

Psalm 63:2-4 (MSG)

In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains.

Isaiah 55:1-5 (MSG)

Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway—buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without money—everything’s free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love. I set him up as a witness to the nations, made him a prince and leader of the nations, And now I’m doing it to you: You’ll summon nations you’ve never heard of, and nations who’ve never heard of you will come running to you Because of me, your God, because The Holy of Israel has honored you.

Isaiah 65:17-25 (MSG)

Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating: I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy, create my people as pure delight.

Acts 17:24-29 (MSG)

We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’

These are specific prescriptions Cheri shared for us to “make the most of the enjoying God window:”

  1. Read through the Gospels in an Easy-to-Read version or paraphrase of the Bible
  2. Spend time with babies and young children
  3. Walk in nature and get lost in the details
  4. Read books that testify to the fact that God is still doing miracles today
  5. Find your own spiritual pathway
  6. Listen to God’s voice

This semester I’ve started a wonderful new monthly get-together with Curt Gruel, as part of our church‘s “Spiritual Directions” program. Spiritual advisors meet with you generally on a monthly basis and mainly listen as you share how you’re seeing God and seeking God in your life. This is a program my wife has been involved with for 4 or 5 years, and she’s been encouraging me to join for a long time. I really need this opportunity and accountability to focus and listen to God, so the prescriptions from this chapter about seeking to listen to God’s voice really resonated with me.

The prescription about finding ways to listen to stories about and learn how God is active and doing miracles today also resonated. During class some of our members shared stories about new visitors to our church and important connections which were made for them out in the community. Someone mentioned listening to KLOVE radio and being inspired with her family by the stories of faith they regularly share. I was reminded of the 3 Minutes About Jesus digital storytelling project which I started a couple of years ago and would really like to continue working on. It’s important for us to share stories about how God is acting in our lives, so we can be more attentive and attuned to the work He’s prepared for us to do. As Cheri points out in this chapter, however, these are important things to do also because we’re called to simply ENJOY GOD. I think we’re often (at least I’m often) so busy that I don’t take the time I should to enjoy God each day. I need this reminder, and many others in this chapter.

Cheri reminds us that we “can’t take our children any farther than we are ourselves.” This means that if we want our kids to learn to enjoy God, we’ve got to be enjoying God and modeling the joy which comes from a strong relationship with Him.

Chapter 1: Spiritual Windows

These are notes from week 1 of our fall 2012 Spiritual Parenting class, using the book “Opening Your Child’s Spiritual Windows: Ideas to Nuture Your Child’s Relationship with God” by Cheri Fuller. In this week’s class we got an overview of this book’s focus: Helping us be aware of and make time for “spiritual windows” which are opportunities to discuss God and share our faith with our families.


It’s amazing to see how different children can be who are raised in the same family, by the same parents, following pretty much the same guidelines and household rules. God makes us each unique and very different! In the same way we are made different, we each have unique spiritual journeys. There is not a single “recipe” or “formula” for how to lead a child to God and to know Christ. This book is full of ideas, but Cheri emphasizes from the start that our spiritual journeys as Christians are each unique and individual. We shouldn’t expect the spiritual experiences of our children (or spouses for that matter) to be uniform and standardized. Some kids come to faith at at early age, some people don’t get to know God and profess their faith in Him till much later in life. Some people go through intense times of “searching for God” in their college years. Others grow up with a strong sense of faith from a young age and never lose it.

Cheri makes an analogy about raising kids I thought was interesting: She says “raising kids is like nailing Jell-O to a tree.” The best laid plans are often derailed. That doesn’t mean we abandon our plans, but it does mean we shouldn’t expect everything to be “planable” or to work out according to OUR plan. God’s plan is perfect, and He choooses when to reveal it to us. His plan for each of us is unique.

Here is a good question which I think Cheri raised in this chapter to discuss together as a class, and also with members of our family:

Why is spiritual development so different for different people?

This is the primary thesis of Cheri’s entire book, which is found on page 14 of Chapter 1:

Just as children have critical windows of opportunity for learning language, music, and logic, as my book “Opening Your Child’s Nine Learning Windows” discusses, they also have important spiritual windows of opportunity… These windows are best opened early in life, though as you’ll discover, if a child’s personality or circumstances keep her from a specific stage in the process, any time in life can be the right time to catch up.

Cheri points out that kids are natural seekers. “Kids spend a lot of time thinking and wondering about God,” she writes. Cheri contends children are “more contemplative and more inclined toward intellectual and moral interests in later childhood,” and cites a statistic that “85% of kids’ attitudes about God, church, and the Bible develop in the preschool years.” This is in line with statistics I’ve read from George Barna’s Research Group, which consistently points out the importance of Kids’ Ministries programs for spiritual development. The harsh lesson from studies about spiritual formation is that for MOST people in the United States at least, if they don’t “meet God” and form a spiritual connection to God early in life, they will never form one. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t evangelize to older people and work to both share God’s word and show God’s love, but it DOES point to the critical importance of helping children know God early in life.

I totally agree with Cheri’s point on how adults tend to underestimate kids. She writes:

“…in the majority of cases, adults tend to underestimate the enormous spiritual capacity of children.”

Cheri doesn’t put too much stock in “stages” of development, since each child is unique. Her takeaway and recommendation on this is to not adopt a “cookie cutter” approach to spiritual development. We can’t see inside each other’s hearts and minds, as God can. We can and should work to create “spiritual windows” for faith conversations, but we can’t force the developmental process to move forward by our sheer force of will. Cheri reminds us that some children will naturally progress at a slower or a faster pace that we’re expecting or wanting when it comes to spiritual development. Because of this understanding, Cheri recommends a focus on “spiritual windows” for spiritual development.

Cheri recommends Jim Cymbala’s book, “Fresh Faith.” Jim reminds us that spiritual nurture is far more important than material things we can provide for our kids. I like the “coaching” approach which Cheri recommends for spiritual development: We should strive to “provide support, teaching, and encouragement in our childrens’ lives” in much the same way as a coach seeks to help his/her players develop their abilities on a team.

'Cross Country Coaches' photo (c) 2007, John Brooks - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Our goal as “spiritual coaches” of our children is to bring them to Jesus so they will know him and live the life He has prepared for them.

On page 18, Cheri makes a CRITICAL point which many parents don’t understand today: The Church alone can’t provide the spiritual development our children need. The church can help but this is a PARTNERSHIP between parents at home and our church communities.

Jesus promises in John 10:10 “Life in all its fullness.” This is what we should want, pray for and work for with our children: Abundant life. Cheri encourages us to use her book as a “training manual” remembering spiritual development is a LONG process which takes time. We need to become empowered as parents to recognize that WE DO have “the ability to influence, nurture, and shape” our children’s spiritual development. This is an important and special role which God has given to use as parents, and we should take this responsibility seriously.

If you have any questions, comments or thoughts about these ideas, please chime in with a comment on this or other posts you find on this site.

May God richly bless you and your family this week as together we seek to follow Him and show the love of Jesus to everyone we meet.

First Fall Meeting: Wednesday, September 12th

“The Gathering” at FPC will kick off tomorrow on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, and Eunice and I will again co-lead our Spiritual Parenting class. We will start at 6:30 pm following dinner. If you are interested in a fellowship and study group of parents of all ages (we have young parents and grandparents too!) we invite you to join us!

We’ve created this website this year to share news, links, our schedule, and reflections about the book we’re studying and other topics. Check back here regularly for updates. If you are on Facebook, please “like” our Facebook community page. We are setting up our site so as new information is added here, it will automatically post to our Facebook page. We want to keep you informed and continue to build a supportive community that prays for each other throughout the week.

Please use the links at the TOP of this page to check out our schedule and curriculum for this year. You’ll want to purchase a copy of “Opening Your Child’s Spiritual Windows: Ideas to Nuture Your Child’s Relationship with God” by FPC Edmond member Cheri Fuller.  Note this book is also available in eBook (ePUB) format, which will work on an iPad or Nook. (We don’t think it’s available for Kindle yet.)

We hope to see you Wednesday nights this year for Spiritual Parenting! Please don’t hesitate to contact us if and when you have questions!

Eunice Menja and Wesley Fryer