|Setting Up Stones: A Parent's Guide to Making Your Home a Place of Worship|
Martha Singleton, Greg Singleton
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This inspiring guide shows you how to hone your spiritual parenting skills by helping your children build a solid foundation of faith. The interactive format will quickly engage you in much more than passive reading; it will invite you to lift the ideas off the page and creatively apply them to your own family situation. The Singletons explain and illustrate the biblical principles concisely, and they provide lively anecdotes to help you see why these principles are so important. You'll also appreciate that each chapter has sidebar content that gives you ample opportunity to apply key ideas and try practical activities. Paperback.
Martha and Greg Singleton have, for 29 years, met the challenges of balancing successful professional careers in journalism and marketing while raising a faith-filled family. Together, they creatively share their experiences and insights on family life at conferences, seminars, workshops, churches of various denominations, schools, organizations, and businesses. Professionally, Martha has built some of the nation’s most highly acclaimed scholastic journalism programs while Greg has worked to develop strategies with clients such as ABC Sports, ESPN, and Promise Keepers. The couple resides in San Antonio, and has two adult children, Anne and Matt.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Martha: My roots are in the Texas Panhandle, where the people are genuine, the ground meets the sky in an unbroken line and the wind never stops blowing. I was brought up in Pampa, a small town near Amarillo. My family actively attended First Baptist Church there, and my life revolved around my church activities and the Pampa High School Journalism Department. I had so many wonderful teachers growing up, and they inspired me. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I attended Baylor University and received my degree in Secondary Education. Right out of college, I accepted a position as the journalism teacher at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, and thirty-seven years later, I’m still teaching. In 1976, I accepted the journalism teaching position at MacArthur High School in San Antonio and moved 500 miles south from my roots to a big city where I didn’t know a soul. My second Sunday in town, I attended Trinity Church, and met Greg, who was the youth pastor there. He recruited me to teach one of the high school Sunday School classes. Working with kids together, brought us very close to each other, and a deep friendship developed, and then, we fell in love. We were married in 1978, and God blessed us two wonderful children – Anne, born in 1980, and Matt, in 1983. Our lives have not been without difficulties, but God has always brought us through them, and we are, most certainly, blessed.
Greg: I’m a native San Antonian and, despite the fact that some may find it irritating, I’m very proud to be a Texan! I grew up in a home where the main priority was to be at church every time the doors were open. In fact, my Dad was usually the guy who unlocked them. The earliest memories of my childhood are in church and Sunday School, and they tell me I sang my first solo in church when I was two years old. I’m thankful for the legacy of generations of ancestors who followed God and always found Him faithful. I inherited a real love of music from my Dad, who had sung in gospel quartets most of his life. I discovered a way to express my heart through singing, and I found acceptance and experienced life-long friendships and fellowship making music with other like-minded people. Other than music, sports was my other passion. I wanted to be a major league baseball player until reality struck, when, in high school, pitchers began to throw curveballs I couldn’t hit. I attended St. Mary’s University and, when I was 19, received my degree in Marketing. At that age, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but law school was an option, and I moved right in. At the conclusion of my education, I was offered a position as youth pastor at Trinity Church, the church I had grown up in. I had always found fulfillment in serving God and ministering to others, so I readily accepted the opportunity. One Sunday, I met a beautiful young lady with gorgeous ice blue eyes and irresistible dimples. When I found out Martha was a high school teacher, I knew there was a chance we would be spending a lot of time together. She became my best friend and confidant, and then I fell in love with her. God has blessed us with 29 wonderful years together, and a family that I treasure more than anything else on this earth. Throughout my life, in my family, and in my career in marketing, there has been one prevailing theme – “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: How did you become interested in writing?
Martha:I’ve always loved to read. And, in school I learned to express myself through writing. When I got on my high school newspaper staff, I found my real place to belong. Greg and I love to work on projects together. We just energize each other. As we’ve prepared lessons together over the years, we’ve just known that, when the time was right, we wanted to write together.
Greg: And, after our kids grew up, and our careers have reached that stage where they can be on auto-pilot, we’ve had the time to invest in doing something that we’ve always wanted to do – writing.
Martha: We wanted to write books that inspire and help others. To be able to respond to the needs of others through that vehicle is so fulfilling.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: What compelled you to write a book on this subject?
Greg: In our first few years of family life, we realized that we should be very intentional in creating a Christ-centered home, but we struggled with balancing the demands that everyone has to deal with. It was really hectic! But, suddenly, something just clicked. We had worked very hard to develop styles and systems in our careers that worked and were efficient. Martha took some of her effective teaching methods, and I used some tried-and-true marketing techniques, and we plugged them into something that was eternal – our family’s spiritual journey.
Martha: We had so much fun raising our kids. And, after that, our family worship became a highlight of our days and seasons. Other parents always asked us about what we did at home, and we had opportunities to teach classes about it. Everywhere we went, the people urged us to write a book about it. At the school where I teach, I see so many teens who hurt for family and for God. God has just given me a heart that longs to see families healthy, whole and blessed.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: What is the main theme or point that you want readers to understand from reading your book? Are there any other themes present in the book?
Greg: The book is based on Joshua 4, when God miraculously parted the Jordan River and the Children of Israel were able to cross it on dry land. This wasn’t the first time this had happened to them. When they were escaping the Egyptian army, God had parted the Red Sea. And, you would think that if something of that magnitude had happened to them once before, that they would never forget it – that generation after generation would tell about it. But they forgot, and it wasn’t long that they were whining and complaining, and doubting and straying. So God told Joshua that he wanted them to remember this time, as they crossed the Jordan. He instructed Joshua that each family should take a stone from the dry river bed and take it to their homes. They were to put it in a prominent place there. And the reason was so that when the children, generation after generation, asked why the stone was there, they could tell them about the time God had showed up, and demonstrated His power and His love to them.
Martha: Worship is an attitude from which actions grow. It’s intended to be dynamic and exciting, and there are countless ways to worship together as a family that are engaging and relevant. The goal is to make our worship so appealing that our kids want to worship God.
Greg: I think another theme that we tried to present is that we, as parents, should be creative when it comes to pointing our kids to God. God, Himself, modeled it. He revealed Himself in so many ways to His people. It’s His desire to connect with each one of us.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Are there some specific lessons you hope readers will learn and apply to their lives after reading your book?
Greg: I would hope that they realize how important it is to establish a God-centered foundation in the home, and that parents would know it’s not an impossible task.
Martha: That’s right. We can’t depend on that to happen at church or in a Christian school. We’re responsible to create that foundation in our homes.
Greg: You have to become intentional about pointing out God to your whole family as He reveals Himself to us each day. We have to make sure that each member of the family is exposed to what connects with them.
Martha: I want parents to know that God’s story is all about redemption. We don’t have to fear the culture. We can redeem it to teach our kids about God. Invest your creativity into your family worship. Don’t give up! Keep trying!
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Do you have a favorite part of the book or a favorite chapter?
Greg: My favorite chapter is the one that encourages the reader to re-think how we define worship. God is so much bigger than the little boxes we try to put Him in. Our worship needs to be as big as He is.
Martha: I like the part where we see how God, Himself, designed family worship times that were dynamic, exciting and they included every age group and even the neighbors. That’s what the Hebrew traditions and holy days were – God’s ideas about how worship was supposed to look.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: What makes your book different than any other books similar to yours that are in circulation today?
Martha: There are specific activities and ideas included in the book that you can try right away. We tried to make the book interactive to model how our family worship can be interactive.
Greg: We didn’t want to preach or point fingers with this book. I think all of us know the areas where we’re coming up short. I hope this book is encouraging, and that parents will read it and say, “We can do this!”
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: How does the book intertwine with God’s call on your life and how you are currently serving Him?
Greg: As our ministry to families has grown, I’ve seen people in such a different light. My heart really hurts for them when they’re struggling. And, I want so much to see parents overcome all the obstacles that our world throws in their paths. I want to see families living out a vibrant, active faith.
Martha: We believe that we’ve been called to help families find ways to love God, love each other and love their neighbors and friends that are practical, observable and relevant in today’s culture.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Do you have a favorite Scripture verse? What is it and why is it important to you?
Martha: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” As we look for new ways to acknowledge Him in everything and every way, He has continued to reveal Himself to us. We have been incredibly, faithfully blessed, beyond imagination.
Greg: Amen! That’s been a promise that we’ve built our marriage and family on.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Are there any authors that either influenced you personally or influenced your style of writing? Who are they and how did they influence you?
Martha: For me, personally, C.S. Lewis’ fiction has influenced me. It demonstrated to me that the life of a believer could be an exciting, joyful, almost wild adventure.
Greg: The books I read cover a wide range of authors and subject matter. Mostly, I enjoy reading books that challenge me and stretch my faith. For entertainment, I read John Grisham. My grandfather was raised in Oxford, Mississippi, where Grisham’s from and so I can identify with his frame of reference. I’ve read everything he’s written.
Martha: When we write, we try to be conversational, but my journalistic training makes me economize on words. Greg’s background is law school and creative writing, so he likes a lot of words. So we kind of balance each off that way. We keep each other in check.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: When you are not writing, what do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies?
Greg: Well, I do really love any and every sport, on television or in person, little league or professional - it doesn’t really make any difference to me. I unashamedly admit that we subscribe to every ESPN and Fox Sports channel that exists. You know, I think I’m even warming up to soccer a bit! Most of all, I love to spend time with my wife, and she’s not even making me say that. And I love music – every kind. I’ve had so many opportunities to sing with so many wonderful musicians. I’ve enjoyed the fellowship I’ve had with so many Christian musicians. It’s an amazing thing to share faith and music with someone. That’s always a big part of my life.
Martha: One thing we enjoy together is driving the backroads when we travel, exploring towns off the beaten path. We like to try new places to eat. Greg has turned me into a sports fan, too. Matt, our son, played football all the way through high school and it’s amazing what a rabid fan you become when you’re a football mom. But, when I reach my sports limit, I’ll pull out a book and read it while Greg’s still watching a game on TV. And, we both really love to have our house full of family and friends. I love entertaining!
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Thank you for taking the time to answer a few of our questions. As we close, is there anything else you would like to add?
Martha: I would like to add something particularly to single parents and to families where there are special circumstances. We realize that non-traditional families are more prevalent now than the families like those we used to watch on TV. The Cleavers – Ward, June, Wally and the Beav – are in the minority now, not only in all facets of culture, but in the church, too.
Greg: That’s okay, because the Cleavers weren’t that great anyway. The 21st century would have eaten them alive!
Martha: Exactly! It’s interesting to me that when God told Joshua to set up stones, he told the people to take them to their dwelling place. He didn’t specify that He was only going to work in the places where there was a Mom and a Dad and two kids. And that’s great because in our world today, there are endless combinations of people living under one roof. In your house, there might be mom and two kids, or dad, grandma and four kids, or three single roommates, or mom, auntie and three cousins, or a blended family of yours, mine and ours, or a couple who have no children, or a couple whose children are out on their own. Or, the list may even change from week to week, as children and step children move in and out according to a judge’s orders.
Certainly, “different” often does means “difficult.” Your situation at home may be extreme, and people and responsibilities are constantly demanding your time and attention. But, this is where you are, and it’s vitally important to live in the present and make every moment count. We want you to learn from this book that after you’ve made a determination to create an atmosphere of worship, finding opportunity will become easier, because you’ll be utilizing every day’s experiences to offer worship to God. Once you purpose in your heart to do it, it won’t be long before those unexpected opportunities begin to flow into a ceaseless, refreshing, renewing fountain of worship from your home to the very heart of God.