Purposeful Parenting

Going for Broke

We all want was is best for our kids but what does purposeful parenting look like in practice?

Follow the creator of Anton’s Antics’ as he negotiates the challenges of being a parent.

“The blog's slogan started off as a joke between my wife and I, as it can be tough making ends meet and parenting is not easy. I want to hear Jesus say ‘well done, good and faithful servant’ with what He has entrusted to me.  We have to go for broke don’t we?

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Ever feel that life is out of control?

mouldyfruit- ydney-rae-151444blogI was reading a reflection by a missionary on their time in the DR Congo, rape capital of the world.

The frailty of life, the shortness of life, the exposure to risk seems all too clear in Congo.

Security, being in control…you know that’s a fable in DR congo.

But then in Australia it’s different right, we’ve got good hospitals, good doctors, a democratic government that is stable and the rule of law is not absent.

Makes you feel like your standing on solid ground

Then the missionaries talked about having to return home to help out their daughter because her baby was fighting cancer.

How to combat that menacing insecurity in your family

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Should your kid de-clutter friends that don’t spark joy for them?

marie kondoYou line your friends up on your sofa.

It’s tight, some must sit on the arms or squished almost on someone’s lap but there all here.

You stand back.

You consider each one carefully.

Some make you smile.

Some you haven’t seen in a while, but they remind you of fond memories.

Others give you a sigh. You try not to show it, so you put out a small smile instead.

One or two make you look at the floor or away at a bird in a tree outside. They let you down.

You know what to do.

You ask each one to stand, give them a hug and ask them to sit in different parts of your lounge room.

The smilers and fond memories you ask to stay on the lounge.

The sighs, well, they can bunch up on a two-seater.

But the others…who spark no joy for you anymore, you give them a hug and ask them to leave.

You just Marie Kondo’d your friends.

Have you noticed how Kondo’s viral philosophy of only keeping what sparks joy for you is now spreading to relationships?

Life is busy, stressful.

Friends let us down.

Some don’t spark any joy for us…so why not shed them and declutter our lives so we have a bigger shot at ‘joy’.

With the approach of Easter, how does this trend in behaviour stack up against Christ’s ministry to us?

Let me tell share with you a little story that happened when I was a kid in primary school, perhaps you can relate…

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8 Biblical Boredom Breakers to Delight Kid’s at Easter

stickerstorydemohandblogAre you wondering how you’re going to keep kids occupied during Easter services?

Do you wish you could offer kids something substantial that would pitch the Easter story at their level, but doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg and takes all the pressure off you doing another thing?

Maybe you're also a parent looking for a Bibliical way to stretch your kid's faith through the Easter story?

I’m guessing that like most churches, you’ll be having the kids in with mum and dad during the Easter services. None of us want them to be bored, but even with a few ‘kiddy’ related spots or songs, any service can seem like an eternity to kids while that choc bunny is sitting at home, ready to be eaten.

What we need is something Biblical that turns a dull hour or so into a delight for them, right?

Imagine if you didn’t have to lift a finger and could give them a self-directed lesson, they can do in church that is Biblically focused and packed with fun activities including full colour stickers?

I’m Stephen Shearsby the creator of Anton’s Antics, Gospel Shows for Children and Families and over the past 7 years I’ve been writing and publishing sticker stories to make Easter a breeze for Christian ministries.

You see, one day a person came to me with a problem...

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5 Life Saving Ways to Teach Kids Easter and 4 Missteps to Avoid

drowning-crucifix-tim-marshall-76166-blogAre you drowning trying to think of some new way to share the good news with kids this Easter?

Could you use some inspiration and short cuts to help you teach Easter so that your kids hear the good news afresh this year?

We've all been there, so let me help you get the job done by giving you a focus and some quick tips to make sure your kids understand what Jesus achieved in a fresh light.

Plus, I’ll even give you the opportunity to have FREE access to one of my Easter video courses, that will take away the heavy lifting for you, saving you bundles of time and energy.

I’ve been sharing the good news with kids in schools and churches for the past 10 years performing shows using three different characters, live drawings and rap music. Several of these shows began from requests from schools and churches to perform around Easter.  I’m going to share with you my approach to preparing and engaging kids in the good news so that you can nail your prep, save time and do a great job teaching straight from the Bible this Easter season.

But we need to set some ground rules. First, I’ve got four things you should avoid then I’m going to show you five ways to help you really ‘zone’ in your preparation for Easter. 

Let’s get cracking with four mistakes I’d encourage you to avoid if you want to effectively teach kids the Easter message in a memorable way:

1.    The cart before the horse
2.    Trying to say too much
3.    Making God into a toothless tiger
4.    Unnecessarily graphic

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Why being a joyful Mumma is not enough

mom-kid-joy-jenn-evelyn-ann-blogWhat would make you be joyful?

Mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword these days. Staying present, being in the moment.

The Bible calls it, contentment.

Happiness is fleeting, usually pegged about by our circumstances. When we’re winning, we’re up, when we’re losing, we’re down.

Whereas joy, the emotional sibling of contentment is unbuffered by the wind or lack thereof, that pushes our ‘boat’.

A joyful mum = kids?

Some would say, how’s that…I need a break from them!?

Then in our better moments as parents we say, ‘they are a constant source of joy’ (and frustration!). Am I right?

Recently our pastor put 3 pictures of different kids with just their head shots up on the church projector screen. He asked us to vote for which kid portrayed ‘joy’ to us.

When we panned back, we saw the full photo of each kid. One was riding a bike, the other opening the Christmas gift, the other a foster child who just got adopted. All were joyful…but most voted for the Christmas gift opening kiddo.

The point? Joy comes in many forms…and levels.

As a mum, what is joy for you?

Well, here’s the thing…what happens when your joy, your highest joy, is in being a mumma…or anything for that matter.

You’ll always be a mumma I guess, but your kids will grow up. …then what are you? Where does your joy go then? When they visit or call? You’re pretty much out of a job and the joy gravy train is looking pretty rusty.

What I’m saying is, when you’re outsourced, made redundant…your career is on the wane so to speak…if you’re joy is in being a mumma, won’t that mean your joy goes a bit south as the kids age?

Jesus made the same point after he sent the disciples out on a mission…they came back so stoked, so pumped, so joyful. Ministry success…how good is that, right? I mean if you get out there and preach the good news, launch a website, run a mission and things go off…you’d be pretty joyful.

But not Jesus.

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What does a child carrying a cross look like?

chocbar-thibault-penin-785423-blogDon’t go there, right?

Jesus welcomed the little children and blessed them…he didn’t mention a cross bearing life for them.

Children are presented by Jesus as ‘model’ disciples because they are the readiest to receive the kingdom of God.

It’s one of the main reasons I do what I do. I spend time trying to work out ways of making the good news accessible to kids, because Jesus says they’re ready to come in. You can spend your ministry digging holes in concrete or you can spend it scooping out rich, fruit bearing soil. I knew where I wanted to be the moment, I had my first child.

A moment of surrender

But that moment of birth I remember also wanting to carry them in my hand forever, not letting their feet touch the ground. All they’d have to do is call.

“Call and he will command his angels to not let your feet touch the ground’.

Makes you think about our heavenly Father, letting go and the Son willingly facing the rejection and harm that was necessary to redeem our world.

None of us wants to think of them carrying a cross…instead we like to show them a baby Jesus in a manger or lead them to faith in a Jesus who will wrap his arms around them and bless them like in Mark 10.

Jesus welcomes and commends the kids as the ‘ultimate disciple’…but every disciple, must pick up his or her cross and follow their Lord. Otherwise, they are not a disciple, just an acquaintance.

We might want to protect them, feed them all the positives, encourage them to read the Bible, pray and be kind but who wants to talk to them about rejection, failure, even persecution?

What might this look like?

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Are you raising a Charlie Bucket Christian?

willywonka-naomi-tamar-blogEvery kid wants a golden ticket, none of us want a cross.

Remember Charlie and the Chocolate factory?

Poor kid finds the last golden ticket and leaps out of poverty into unfathomable riches after becoming the last kid to remain on the crazy visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

How to short change your kids

Sometimes, I think we present the good news about Jesus to kids a bit like this.

Believe in Jesus and you’ll have eternal life. True right?

A golden ticket to heaven and everlasting life.

But we make no mention of the gap, called ‘your life until then’ and what shape that will have.

We don’t mean to harm our kids.

We certainly don’t intend to deceive.

We don’t want to worry them.

But perhaps we’re kidding ourselves too?

If we were into ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ we just might be tempted to leave it that way. Just sell the ‘good bits’ and hide the ‘bad’.

Some churches do just that.

Look at what Jesus can do for you…the good life, the good wife, the good business, house…oh and did I mention, the icing on the cake…everlasting life.

Jesus doesn’t sugar coat it…

Jesus makes no such omissions.

Check it out, from Luke’s gospel

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” Luke 9:23

This was straight after warning his disciples that he was heading to Jerusalem to be betrayed, beaten, killed and three days later, rise. And his warning came straight after the disciples lauded him as ‘THE Christ’, the biggest success story ever!

The Christians ‘gap’ year

Our ‘gap year’ between becoming a Christian and experiencing the eternal life is described as ‘cross bearing’. Rejection. Failure. Opposition.

So how are we bearing it?

Are we expecting it to be heavy? Are we expecting it to be there at all…the cross, now in our gap year before heaven arrives?

We may not like the sound of it. But it helps a lot if we can be aware of it, no, accept it…expect it.

Still bangin’ on about rejection, Stephen!??

Last blog post I told you I was on the hunt for more rejection!

And I gave us all good reasons to get used to it, not just the creative ones but parents, homeschoolers and ministry leaders.

We need to see it as part of our journey forward.

Christ, he gives it to us even straighter…you wanna be like me…you wanna be Christian

Then see this big heavy wooden thing I’m dragging…there’s one over there for you.

That’s when we realise, ‘I should expect opposition’

I should expect it to be tough to do things differently, Christianly.


If I parent so my kids don’t just go with the flow…I’m bearing a cross and it will weigh something!

If I try and tackle new opportunities in ministry or just keep persevering with people who don’t seem to be listening…then that’s the cross, the shameful, you’re a loser, why don’t you give up…it’s never going to grow…cross you bear.

That’s the rejection, the failure that we should welcome. Let it come.

Not in a vainglorious way. Not in a masochistic way. It would be great if we didn’t have to bear the cross. But Christ had to, for good reason and we’re not yet ‘bodily’ with him, so there’s no escaping it.

It’s not easy, or nice. It sucks actually.

But remember…after 3 days its all going to get a whole lot better.

You won’t earn your eternal life or ticket to heaven doing it.

But it will declare your faith in Jesus who paid the way for you to be welcomed there.

So, it’s 2019 and this is my third ‘new year’s resolution’ post for you…I think I’m ready to move forward and get stuck in…following the Lord, bearing my cross. Well, at least getting on with life, knowing it is a cross bearing one, right.

How about you?

What’s your cross?

And…are you ready to bear it?

We need each other…so let’s not carry it alone…that’s why we have the church.

We get to carry each other.

Share this post today!


Image: Naomi tamar on unsplash

Why you should aim for more rejection in 2019

rejection-cristian-newman-141875-unsplashblogSomething has been holding me back.

It’s hard to put my finger on it.

Last year I avoided setting too many goals.

I guess I didn’t want to disappoint myself.

‘Perhaps’, I think I thought, ‘if I aim somewhere, I won’t miss by too much’.

And then another year screamed past and although a lot of good stuff happened, I was left feeling like a failure.

‘You are still are miles from where you want to be, dude! What up?’

Maybe you know the feeling too.

Perhaps you’ve been working hard, around the home, on the family, running a homeschool or beavering about a kid’s church ministry or a school chaplaincy role but you’ve been meandering along, hoping something will happen or ‘click’ amongst all the grit and grind.

Oh, I’m sure you’re doing good stuff…but is it ticking your boxes…is it what you dreamt? Have you peaked?

No way!

The thing is, if you have a vision, as I do…or even a set of targets you’d like to reach then what is stopping you from pursuing it and realizing?

Why was I content to let 2018…just be?

Well, perhaps you’re tired, pooped. Running out of steam. Yep. A big shout out to you too!

But why are we tired? Losing enthusiasm for our dream?

That’s what bugged me all year.

And now I have found a solution...

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Kids ‘outdo’ adults on NY resolutions

sydney-harb-firework-blogIt’s New Year’s Eve and we’re sitting around the restaurant table, playing simple improv theatre games to pass the time while waiting for our meals to arrive. Then one of our kids starts thinking about 2019, and for once, perhaps the very first time, we start talking about what we what to keep and what we want to be different in 2019.

I’m astonished when one of the kids shares that their goal is to keep inviting their friends to youth group, hoping some will come regularly, others to step up into youth church as well.


 It wasn’t her only goal, there were other ambitions as well, but it was a great reminder of what’s really important in life…

...'from the mouth of babes'…right?

My goals were far less grand.

Things like cracking on with a video series for preschool age kids. It’s been on the back burner for a while, breaking my heart…so in 2019 I want to get back on the horse and give it more than just a kick start.

Often people have personal well-being or health goals like:

‘I want to quit smoking’, others ‘alcohol’.

What about turning away from specific sin?

What about quitting gossip, slander, covetousness, non-contentment, jealousy, anger, hatred?

How often do we target our character, our godliness?

If only to be a sporting hero, we’d wash that sin away and rebrand overnight.

Australia’s summer has been rocked by the poor performance of our national cricket team against a top Indian line up. One of the main reasons for our lack luster batting has been the loss of our two best batsmen, Smith and Warner. They were banned from playing for 1 and 2 years respectively for ‘cheating’; scuffing the cricket ball up with some sandpaper to try and win advantage against South Africa.

But now, nearly one year later, out they come with TV ads telling us they want to ‘take responsibility’ and ‘come back better than before’…all the while earning lucrative sponsorship money through the advert!

I never knew repentance could be so profitable.

For most of us, it’s just hard slog.

We may not be forgiven by those we’ve hurt.

Our progress may not be noted.

We don’t have a PR machine to spin us into the people we want others to believe we have become.

I don’t normally set New Year’s Resolutions, how about you?


Goals are different.

Without aiming for something, we’re bound to hit our target, right? i.e. nothing.

I don’t want to hit nothing…do you?

Last year I didn’t put much thought into it. I knew what I wanted to do but didn’t set myself any specific targets. Maybe I just didn’t feel enough control over my circumstances to set concrete goals. I remember making that decision not to make a decision all through 2018 and regretted it.

We still did good things.

For example, Anton did a new devotion series in James, then we even revisited it with your help and tweaked it up a few notches, now we’re going to expand on it and take it up few more notches. It’s exciting, teaching kids the Bible verse by verse. Wow!

But in retrospect, I’d rather set some specific goals for 2019 and reach for them, risking the disappointment of missing those targets, than not.

Without specific targets, I found myself getting business done, but without the focus, pressure or edge needed to drive me.

So, this year, I decided ‘enough of that’.

Would you like to join me?

Here are some ideas or goal areas for you to mull over before 2019 gets too far underway:

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3 Recent Threats To Kids' Freedom Parents Can’t Ignore

roxanne-desgagnesice sheetsgimpWhen the temperature plummets or suddenly spikes, it’s the small talk of the day, right?

‘What is this, winter in the middle of summer?’

‘I know it’s crazy!’

But when the temperature just rises a little, over time…well that’s manageable and no fodder for small talk. You’d be a right bore to make small talk with the mums at the school drop off about how evenly the temperature is rising! What our bodies do is adjust to the rise in temperature and accept the new conditions.

What’s this all got to do with raising kids to be godly or being purposeful in our ministry to kids?

Our western, democratic societies are gradually raising the heat against Christianity and it’s easy for us to comfortably adapt, lower our expectations and relinquish our space to others who speak louder.

We are not seeing outrageous, sudden spikes in persecution against Christ in our societies, but we are seeing a slower, gradual shrinking of the breathing space of Christ and his church in those societies.

I’ve got three examples in the past week that have had media coverage in Australia and which directly affect our kids.

  1. Principals wanting to remove Religion from high schools
  2. Primary School Principals removing the Scripture ‘default’ and instead requiring parents to choose between Scripture, Ethics or nothing upon enrolment
  3. Government seeking to pass legislation that will prevent Christian schools from discriminating over who they employ = Christian schools won’t be able to reject gay teachers.

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