Setting Our Children Apart

by Oletta Branstiter

What does it mean to be set apart?

How do we set our own children apart for a greater purpose?

The Apostle Paul admonished:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1:2

Do your children know the meaning of sacrifice?

Do they know that doing the right thing often comes at a high personal cost?

Are you teaching your children that the sacrifice required for consistently doing the right thing is actually an investment in their integrity, dignity and higher purpose as they live to bless others?

In order to teach these truths, our children must be faced with challenges. Sports, education, and family life can provide opportunities for personal sacrifice, but for most children growing up in the first world, the challenges wrought through adversity are seldom experienced.

Let’s face it – we don’t always learn important lessons in our own lives. We often learn them by reading good books. We enter the alternate universe of some character who is facing challenges in adversity that we have somehow escaped.

As an Intermediate school Library Specialist, I frequently recommend a genre of fiction called Bildungsroman. This is a German term referring to a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character, especially in youth.

Another educator recently encouraged me to read “A Family Apart”, by Joan Lowery Nixon. This title is the first book in the Orphan Train Adventures series.

Nixon uses a compelling literary device to draw young readers into the historical narrative. A modern-day grandmother shares stories from her own ancestors that teach the lessons of character in ways that her own grandchildren would not experience. Her own progeny are transported back to a time of hardship they will never know. The story comes alive with the telling in a way that teaches the hard lessons that result in moral character.

In this first book, the main characters suffer grief, poverty and painful separation from family members. The crime of a son and the excruciating sacrifice of a mother sets five children on an orphan train toward separate paths of challenge and personal growth.

In “A Family Apart”, a young teenage Frances Kelly learns the real meaning of sacrifice as she puts aside her own heartache to serve the needs of a family escaping on the Underground Railroad.

The Orphan Train Adventures series is full of a range of emotions, historical perspective, personal challenges, exciting danger, moral obstacles and overcoming spirit gained at the cost of genuine sacrifice.

Visit your local public library or encourage your children to look for these books in their school libraries. Better yet, purchase this series for your children and grandchildren as you enjoy reading them together, over and over again.



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