Impressing Faith on Your Kids

Monday, April 12, 2021 by Lisa Streu

The past few posts have been focusing on the importance of teaching and leading your children to have a personal relationship with Jesus. As a parent, in my opinion, nothing else you do will be more important than this.  


I’m reading a book by Mark Holmen called ‘Impress Faith on your Kids’ and just wanted to share a few of his thoughts.


  • People think they’re great parents if they spend lots of time with their kids, attend all their games or activities and provide them with better stuff. This can make us a better parent but there’s more. These things aren’t the most important things.
  • A great parent is one who leads his/her child(ren) into life (eternal life) not death through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 
  • Deuteronomy 30:19-20: ‘Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
  • The way we parent and what we choose to make our priority will influence who our children are and what they become.
  • To help lead our kids to eternal life we have to parent God’s way and not the world’s way. That will mean making some tough choices. But the rewards will be eternal.
  • Deuteronomy 6:1-9 are some of the instructions God has given us in His Word. ‘These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, 2 and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. 3 Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. 4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord-alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
  • Deuteronomy means ‘repetition of the law’ and we all need repetition because we may recognize the ways of God, when we hear them, yet we continually fall away from them. God is so patient and loving with us and is totally in our corner and wants us, our kids, our grandkids to live joy-filled, blessed and pain-and suffering-free lives forever! All those things may not happen, here on earth, but God’s children are promised that in heaven.


Parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever do, but what a privilege the Lord gives us through the gift of our children to raise them up in the ways of the Lord.


Be blessed and encouraged and know I’m here if you ever need to talk. We can’t get through the job of parenting on our own. Click here to let me know how I can help you.


In His Service, Lisa

Are Your Kids Interested in God?

How to Create Spiritual Interest in Your Kids?

Friday, April 9, 2021 by Don & Suzanne Manning

Hey Crazy Cool Parents!


How do you talk about God with your kids? Are the conversations open, transparent, and life-giving?


Wanna know how to create spiritual interest in your kids?


​In today’s episode, we share the powerful effects of spiritual conversation within family. Do you know how to have spiritual conversations in your family? Do you want to learn more?


Parents, we want to invite you to change your thinking when it comes to talking about spiritual things! You get to show your kids how following Jesus brings abundant life! It's the best possible life and so much better than what the world offers.


Most kids will have a natural "curiosity transition" in their life. It is a time where they decide for themselves what to believe. All kids are different, but this usually happens within their teenage years.


If you have a teen who is struggling with their faith, this podcast is designed specifically for you!


“If a child doesn't question their faith, I would be more concerned than if they do. Not being curious could mean they have a religious or apathetic spirit. They could also have a fear of offending you (the parent)." - Don


We believe God wants to capture the hearts of all your children. As parents, we want to encourage their hearts, not shut them down. There is so much life offered to them and we, as parents, get to show them how to discover it!


We highly encourage you to share this podcast with someone you know! There are so many parents unaware of the impact this topic can have on their kids. Go listen and share today!


Click  here, or the button below, to listen or read more about Creating Spiritual Interest in your Crazy Cool Family!


Listen to Podcast


Go be crazy!


Don & Suzanne


If we can help in any way, or pray for your kids, or  pray for anything you're going through, please let us know by clicking here

Parents, Point Your Children to God Before the Waters Rise

Tuesday, April 6, 2021 by Melissa Edgington

Parents, the most important thing you can ever do is to teach your kids about Jesus and live a life that shows them you are totally devoted to Him.


Can’t wait for us to be able to be at church together again. But don’t let that stop you from teaching and learning with them every day.


Lisa


Parents - Point Your Children to God Before the Waters Rise


My husband Chad and I have talked several times through the years about how strange it is that the most horrifying event in human history has become such a sweet and fuzzy children’s story. Noah and his ark are plastered all over church preschool areas, baby bedding, and children’s Bibles. There’s even a funny children’s song that says:


“God told Noah to build Him an ark-y, ark-y

Build it out of Gopher bark-y, bark-y…”


Strange, isn’t it, when you think about the terrifying nature of the story? The earth was populated by descendants of Adam and Eve. They had turned their backs on God, and God decided He was just going to get rid of them and start over. But, there was that one fella, Noah. He was faithful to God. And he and his family were saved.


I know we usually focus on the big boat and all the animals and imagine what that must’ve been like, traveling on that huge floating menagerie all over the earth. But, I can’t help but picture what it was like on the ground.


Families, moms and dads who loved their children, babies, toddlers, teenagers, grandparents. They had mocked God. They had decided they didn’t need Him. Or maybe they were just indifferent and placed higher priority on other things. Whatever the case, they were down there, living life, thinking they were right, probably believing they were good people.


Then the rain started.


And, at first maybe they weren’t that worried. But, it kept coming down. And soon there was no place for it to go anymore–all the valleys of the earth were full and the water began to rise. Imagine the moment when the waters could no longer be held back. When parents and children knew that disaster was upon them. Panic set in. Moms and Dads clung to their children and their babies’ cries rang in their ears. In that moment, don’t you think those parents wished they had chosen another path? When the terrified screams of their children rose up. When their little ones were asking for help and the parents knew there was nothing they could do. They had made their choice, and it led to this moment. And their children were paying for it.


point your children to God


How often do we consider how our devotion to God (or lack of devotion) will affect our children? Do we send messages that other things are more important than God? Do we rely on our own goodness to guide our kids to the right path?


I pray that we act now, before the storms of this life pummel our kids. We have to be real about devoting ourselves and our families fully to God. It’s too late for us to help them once they’re already drowning. We will have missed our chance.


The good news is that God can do anything. But, we have a responsibility to prepare our kids for a life that is about clinging to Christ, not some flimsy life raft that the world presents as acceptable. Nothing the world produces will hold up against the storm. So, do this: take your kids to church. Teach them about the love of Christ. Live your life to show them that He is the most important thing. Then when life’s storms hit them full force, you will have no regrets, knowing that you did all you could to throw them the life-saving Truth.




















































7 Things the Easter Story Teaches Us About Marriage

Monday, March 29, 20201 by Lisa Lakey of Family Life

We hadn’t been married a week before our differences threatened to drive a wedge between us. I can’t recall the reason Josh and I were fighting that night, but I do remember going to bed angry at my new husband. On our honeymoon.


Even then, doubt crept into my mind, making me question whether we were well suited for each other. As a newly-married unbeliever, I didn’t have a clue what the purpose for marriage was back then, or if there was one at all. Now, I know God’s plan for marriage is to reflect the fullness of who He is in an increasingly empty world. And He gives us an amazing example of what that should look like through Jesus’ life—and death—on earth. And this story, the greatest story in history, has nothing to do with jellybeans and rabbits.


Marriage and Easter


This time of year, we reflect quite a bit on the Easter story—the story of Christ’s betrayal, His sacrifice, His death, and ultimately, the Resurrection that changed the course of history and mankind’s relationship with our Creator. But what does this have to do with marriage? More than you might think.


If our marriage is meant to reflect the image of God, we have no better example than Christ, the living embodiment of God’s love. In His omniscience, God knew what marriage would take. Through His sacrifice, He showed us that our love for each other and even for Him wasn’t enough. We needed His love. We need Him.


Here are seven things we can learn about marriage from Easter.


1. Betrayal can come from those we love and trust the most. Jesus knew this all too well. Judas—one of the 12, the few in Jesus’ inner circle—betrayed Him by turning Him in to the chief priests. This man had walked long roads beside Jesus. Sat at His side and dipped bread with Him. To make the betrayal sting a little more, Judas identified Jesus to the authorities with a kiss (Mark 14:44).

Betrayal hurts. When it comes from someone we love and trust, it cuts all the deeper. And some of your deepest pain will likely come from your spouse. Getting betrayed or hurt is a risk we take in marriage. No marriage is immune. But our response to the offense has to reflect the faith and trust we have in Christ. We can choose to love our spouse even when we feel betrayed.


2. We aren’t above betraying the ones we love. Peter was passionate about his relationship with Christ. When Jesus told Peter he would disown Him three times before the rooster crowed, Peter just couldn’t fathom it. “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” Peter told Him. Yet, before the night had ended, Peter “wept bitterly” after he denied His Savior not once, but three times (Matthew 26:34-75).


Matthew 26:41 tells us “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I can relate to that verse. I don’t ever want to hurt my husband. But I have, and I do. Sometimes it’s unintentional: My words often rush out before my brain can catch up. Other times, I know the words that cut deep and allow them to leave my lips without fully assessing the damage they will cause. None of us are above hurting our spouse, no matter how much we try. Remember, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).


3. Others won’t believe your marriage can be saved. As they gazed upon the suffering Christ, the chief priests mocked Him. “He saved others; he cannot save himself,” they said. “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:31-32). The sad irony of their words is that because they refused to believe, they would never see their own salvation on that cross.


Our culture is a brutal place to try to save a dying marriage. Not only do an increasing number of people not believe in the lasting power of marriage, many will gladly take a front seat to watch your marriage die. They’ll mock you and your spouse and say divorce is a better option. Protect your relationship by surrounding yourself with people who encourage your marriage rather than dragging it down.


4. Marriage takes sacrifice. Jesus knew what was coming. He prayed in Gethsemane, “My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Later, before He was nailed to the cross, “they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it” (Matthew 27:34). The wine concoction offered to Jesus was one typically offered to slightly ease the pain of those condemned to death. Jesus refused to numb even a fraction of the sacrifice He was about to make.

It sometimes seems like a no-brainer that we would give our lives for our spouses. But what about in the day to day? Are you willing to sacrifice your comfort, your preferences, even being right for your spouse? On a much smaller level, sacrificing yourself for your spouse is putting their best interests above your own through a series of choices that can seem insignificant.


5. Marriage takes forgiveness. Jesus’ sacrifice guaranteed God’s forgiveness for those who love Him. Even through the pain of the cross, He called out on behalf of those who crucified Him. “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do'” (Luke 23:34).


Forgiveness isn’t just something we’ve been given, it’s also something we, as followers of Christ, are told to do. In Colossians, Paul says, “as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (3:13). Your spouse is going to mess up. A lot. You are too, perhaps even more. A good marriage involves a lot of asking for, giving, and receiving forgiveness.


6. Marriage takes faith. After the tomb was found empty, Jesus appeared to His disciples. Thomas wasn’t there. And when the others told him they had seen the Lord, Thomas was skeptical. “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” A week later, Thomas found himself face-to-face with Jesus, who offered his hands to Thomas. “Do not disbelieve,” Jesus told him, “but believe” (John 20:24-29).


There have been times it was a struggle to find the good in my marriage. It was like trying to find a match in the darkness. I couldn’t see things getting any better, and to be honest, I didn’t always want to. Holding on when you want to let go takes faith. Even a little. When the disciples couldn’t heal a boy, Jesus told them it was a faith issue. “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).


Which brings me to my last point …


7. We all need a Savior. The apostle John recorded the last words Jesus spoke on the cross to be, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Finished was His atonement for our sins. No one else could have paid the heavy debt we carried but the Son of God.


Marriage is a blessing, but make no mistake, it’s hard at times. You and your spouse can’t do it on your own strength and determination. Much like the criminal hanging next to Jesus who said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42), we need to recognize our need for a Savior. And much like the disciples who were standing before their risen Lord, we need Him to breathe life into us (and into our marriage) with the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).


Your spouse needs Jesus as much as you do—no more, no less. Remembering this can help you view him or her differently. If your spouse is a believer, then they are no longer the sum of all their sins. If you are married to an unbeliever, then never stop praying for their salvation.


God used the death and Resurrection of His Son to restore our relationship with Him. Do you doubt He can restore your marriage? Remember, the Easter story isn’t one of death and defeat. No, it’s a story of overcoming death in victory. With God, your marriage story can be one of victory, as well.


Lets us know your thoughts by clicking here.














































5 Calm Responses for When Your Child Digs Their Heels In

March 22, 2021 by Rachel Norman

I bet you’re no stranger to power struggles in your home. If so, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some tried and true responses for when your child doesn’t want to do what you say. 


Recently things started to get out of hand with my 3-year-old. You see, it seemed like every day was Opposite Day.


I wanted him to eat breakfast, but he wanted to play. 

And, I wanted him to go to bed, but he wanted to stay up. 

Let’s go for a walk, I say…but he wanted to run ahead.

I wanted him to pee in the potty, he wanted to pee on a bush. 

I’m okay with him peeing on a bush… no thanks, he’ll pee in his undies. 

I think you get the picture…


I knew something was going on with this defiant behavior. After that, he’d started feeling tender about every single thing, so I kept digging around to see which of his needs weren’t being met. 


Was he not feeling connected? Was he feeling powerless or being treated like he was younger than he was? 


All possibilities…

Obviously, I wanted to explore all this. But, in the meantime… we were having battles. 


From this experience, I have written FIVE secrets to avoiding power struggles. Read on to see how. 


5 Secrets To Avoiding Power Struggles

Note: With 1, 2, and even 3-year-olds OBVIOUSLY we can simply pick them up and make them do what we were requesting. 


This post is based on the idea that at a certain point, we can’t physically force our kids to do what we’ve asked, and we need some tools in our toolbox that lead to cooperation without sacrificinggreat nurturing family relationships. 


1) Intervene Early

A month or two ago I heard one of the best pieces of parenting advice ever. First of all, this is one of the obvious things that – after you hear it – you immediately recognize as true though you’ve never verbalized it.


Here it is: Intervene Early!


Without a doubt, if you know your child will not respond favorably to a rule or routine change in your home, don’t wait until you’ve got a full blown war on your hands to intervene. 


As moms, we usually know when something’s about to escalate, and waiting until someone (or multiple someones) are on the warpath will have less than successful results.


Intervene Early to Avoid Power Struggles

  • Discuss beforehand | If you know your child will not like what’s coming up the pipeline and they are old enough, have a direct talk. First, State the rule and ask if they have any ideas for making it happen. Kids will surprise us with their creativity and if they “own” their part there’s a lot smaller chance of power struggles.
  • Give ample warning | Some kids do not respond well to Out Of The Blue or All Of A Suddens. They just don’t. So… ease transitions with reminders and choices like, “We’re going to leave soon. Would you like to leave in 5 minutes or 10 or do you have a better idea?” Then, your child might, for example, say “after another 5 slides!“
  • Jump in before escalation | If two siblings are getting riled up, don’t wait until someone lands a punch. If it’s a toy they’re fighting over, jump in and ask for suggestions on how they can handle it. You’ll see, if the kids come to an agreement on their own (if they are preschoolers or up, of course, and able to do this) they will both honor it. Helping kids learn to navigate win/win scenarios is one of the most rewarding things.


Read: How to Avoid Parenting Battles the South African Way


2) “Push Them Back”

Recently Lauren and I did a Fresh Start Bootcamp with a bunch of moms and she gave this great advice to moms whose children are refusing to do something.


Push back to the real issue.


Obviously, there’s no point in telling our kids not to feel what they feel because that won’t work. 


Futhermore, telling them to just stop crying or be quiet or get over it also won’t work. Plus it erodes trust

.

So what can you do instead? Push back TO the real issue!


Let’s do an example:

Child who doesn’t want to start homework because it’s “too hard”

“You don’t want to even start because you don’t think you can do it. You are SURE you won’t be able to do it and you hate failing at things. You’d rather not do it than get it wrong! 


What you’ve done there is get to the actual issue. Not wanting to start homework, in this example, was a great way for that child to avoid feeling like a “failure” if they didn’t really know how to do it. But still… the homework doesn’t do itself. So then you state the rule…


“The homework must be done, and you don’t want to do it if you can’t get it perfect. Must be something you can do that would help you feel ready to start?”


At this point your child feels totally understood. You pushed back the presenting behavior (refusal to start homework) to get to the real one: not wanting to mess up and feel bad. If your child feels heard and understood they’ll likely come up with some ideas on their own. Even silly ones like… “I’ll feel better if I can eat veggie sticks while I do homework.”


[This approach – validation of what is happening, plus stating the rule, then turning the problem solving over to the child with “there must be something you can do” – is part of the Language of Listening® approach.]


Read: Got A “Disobedient Child?” Start With These 4 Things


3) Use Choices Or Options That Make Sense


We are never out of choices. 

This is a true statement.


However, when it comes to kids, we need to be mindful we aren’t giving them ridiculous choices. Furthermore, a ridiculous choice is one that has a complete winner and loser. 


Examples of “Choices” that don’t make sense: 

  • “Do you want to come inside for dinner right now or spend the night outside?”
  • “Do you want to share that toy or have me take it away forever?”
  • “Would you rather eat this piece of broccoli or have no dinner?”

Look, we’ve all been there


It should be noted that these types of choices make kids frustrated and leave them feeling angry and exposed.


Of course you’d want your child to come in for dinner, share a toy, and eat a vegetable… but don’t make it a choice if it really isn’t a choice. 

Instead, you’d want to create a choice that actually helped your child feel they have a bit of power. 


Remember: when children feel powerless, they behave in ways that you will now like. Also, we each have God given free will, when we perceive that to be taken from us… things get ugly.


Examples of Appropriate Choices to Overcome Power Struggles

  •  “It’s time to come inside. What do you need to do before you come in?” My children surprise me with very creative weird answers. Yours will too.
  • “You want that toy and your brother wants that toy. What could you do to take turns?” Sometimes kids are even more strict than you are and may respond with something like, “Me for 5 minutes, then him for 5 minutes“
  • “In this house we eat some vegetables. Do you want to eat this broccoli or have a carrot? Or do you have a better way to eat veggies?” If they suggest something you are okay with, do it.


Read: What’s Really Happening When Your Child Is Defiant


4) Keep The Boundary/Rule and Let Them Do What They Need To Do

There is actually great freedom when you know your boundaries. An example from Boundaries with Strong-Willed Children is this:


I don’t want anyone to stain my couches. I am 0% okay with them getting jacked up.


Instead of creating a hard and fast catch all rule that would take a lot of enforcing (no eating on couches) I explained my boundary. Now, the kids know which foods they can or cannot eat on the couch. If we’re having pizza and movie night, they’ll eat the pizza on top of a sheet on the floor (cause I also don’t want my rug jacked up).


Within the boundary (not messing up the furniture) they are free to roam. Veggie sticks? Sure. Water? Fine. Blueberries? NO. If in doubt, they’ll ask. 


How to Find Your Boundaries

  • First, ask yourself this… where am I not consistently keeping rules in our home?
  • Then, Notice when you start to feel bitter and resentful… ask yourself WHY you are feeling that way. This will reveal a lot.
  • What situations cause you to yell? Why?
  • Lastly, Think on the things that seem to matter most to you in parenting, dig a little deeper.



Read: How To Be An Empathetic Mom Without Being Soft On Boundaries


5) Don’t Be Afraid To Start Again

If you find yourself in a big power struggle and wonder where it all went wrong… you are not alone.


One joy of children is that they’re forgiving, resilient, and ready to mend any relationship breaches.


Truly, families were wired to love one another.


So if you find yourself locked in a power struggle, back up. Sometimes it’s worth “losing” a power battle just to figure out what was behind it. Have a do over, if you will. 


Be willing to lose a battle or two to win the war.


Back to my runner…

Little by little, we got there.

I made my boundaries clear, but gave him freedom within them.


By intervening early, I avoided a lot of push back. 

I realized I wasn’t reallllly on his side… so I got on it. 

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Fasting During Lent

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 by Lisa Streu and Pope Francis

During lent, many people fast from food or technology. Here are some other ideas that will really change our hearts and minds.


Fast from:

-hurting words and say kind words

-sadness and be filled with gratitude

-anger and be filled with patience

-pessimism and be filled with hope

-worries and trust God

-complaints and list your blessings

-bitterness and fill your heart with joy

-selfishness and be compassionate

-grudges and try to reconcile

-words and be more willing to listen


Let us know your thoughts by clicking here.



























7 Staycation Ideas If Coronavirus Canceled Your Spring Break Plans

Monday, March 8, 2021 by Alexandra Dubin

Families, here are a few ‘Staycation’ ideas for this Spring Break. 


COVID-19 has squashed travel plans and large group gatherings, but it doesn't mean you can't mentally escape for some fun with your family. Consider one of these safe staycation alternatives for kids of all ages.


Last March, the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on spring break plans. Families were forced to cancel their previously scheduled itineraries—sometimes involving international flights, cruises, or theme parks—because of stay-at-home orders and threats to public safety. And now, one year later, the pandemic is still still raging across the country, putting a pause on spring break plans yet again.

 

Are you desperate to shake up your quarantine routine during your kids' time off from school? Consider these alternative ideas for staycations that can still cheer them up and keep your family safely entertained.


Take a road trip.


While far-flung travel is out of the question right now, road trips could be a fun alternative that gets the family out of the house. Load up the car with sing-a-long music (and plenty of hand sanitizer) and hit the road for a destination accessible from your region. You don't need to gather among crowds on your getaway: Stop at curious roadside attractions, even for photo opportunities from afar. (No admission tickets or interaction with others required.) Admire scenic coastline or mountains and enjoy the peace of the open road.


RELATED: 50 Ways to Get Through Coronavirus Cabin Fever



Make it a spa-cation.


Keep out of the crowds with a staycation structured like a spa experience for a bit of family pampering and self-care. Set up an air of luxury at home with robes for everyone. Create stations for nails, skin care, and hair services—a la mom, dad, or a sibling with skills. Pick up some goodies like Insta-ready sheet masks, so even if you're not getting the family photos you expected this spring break, you'll still have indelible memories of the silliness you shared when the going got tough.


 

Plan family games.


Are you dreaming about hitting a major theme park like Disney World or Universal Studios? You can still recreate some version of the experience with this clever idea. Of course you can gather all your board games and puzzles for cozy family time, but you can also get creative with more structured ideas like an obstacle course, water balloons, or DIY human Twister in the yard. You could even organize the troops under your own roof for an extended Olympics-style set of competitions. You might not get Splash Mountain, but you get some fun and levity in an environment of healthy competition.


RELATED: 17 Fun Indoor Games and Activities for Kids



Hit the beach.


If you live near a region with a beachy coastline like Florida or California, now's a great time to get outside. You'll feel more comfortable being in an outdoor environment, where crowds are dispersed widely. Bring a picnic, a beach blanket, and games. Not only will kids have fun, but they'll have a chance to get physically active—while spiking a volleyball or chasing a frisbee—if they've been otherwise cooped up in the house.



Plan an artists' retreat.


Not only does art inspire creativity, but it's also a well-documented form of therapy. To adapt your vacation plans with an art staycation, assemble age-appropriate art materials and let your group go wild. Or scour Pinterest for some more organized projects for older kids with longer attention spans. Protect your indoor environment with plastic drop cloths if weather doesn't permit outside art making.


RELATED: Stuck at Home? These 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch



Go camping.


A local campground is a smart alternative to a trip involving a cruise ship, flights, or an overcrowded environment. Being in nature soothes rattled nerves, and it provides a chance to escape crowds in an open-air environment. Bring musical instruments, s'mores for roasting, and a sense of adventure. This may not be the far-flung trip you usually plan for spring break, but it will be one you'll never forget!



Set up science camp.


For curious kids, try a staycation that includes an element of learning. Facilitate STEM instruction in a playful way by creating an at-home science camp. Scour Pinterest for projects like glittery slime or rainbow-hued bath bombs that keeps their brains engaged. Here's some more inspiration:


23 Fun STEAM and STEM Activities for Kids

10 Easy At-Home Science Experiments for Kids

3 Easy Science Experiments for Kids



What are some of your ideas and plans for Spring Break? Let us know by clicking here. We'd love to hear from you.


























A Prayer for Monday Morning

March 1, 2021 by Amy Green

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:28-29)


It’s another Monday.


By now, you’ve successfully pried open your eyes (no matter how many times you hit “snooze”), and even that probably feels like an accomplishment. If you’re like me, the first whispers of coherent thought in your waking mind weren’t that great. Worry about your job. Dread of the unending loop of weekly tasks. Frustration with a family member. Or just plain weariness.

 

On some Mondays, it can be hard to believe that you matter, that God is listening, and that it was really worth getting out of bed.


It’s time to replace those lies with the truth—truth about who God is, who you are, and what you’re doing here on this earth. These verses aren’t some kind of cosmic pep talk… they’re reminders from a God who loves you that he made you for a purpose. That means no day is wasted, not even a terrible Monday.


“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)


Promise: Even when we don’t see the results of what we’re doing, God is always at work. He can give us the strength for the mundane tasks of life.

Remember that this day is a gift from God.


This week, don’t look first at your crowded calendar or messy house or burdens or the list of ways you’ve failed and fallen. Look first at Jesus and at his Word. 


Read these verses, and read all of Romans 8. It’s the summary of everything God has promised to believers. It reminds us that it’s okay to grieve the brokenness of the world, reassures us that the Spirit prays for us when we don’t even know what to ask, and restores the hope we have as victorious and beloved children of God.


And that’s the truth that makes it worth getting up in the morning, no matter what day it is.


To listen to this devotional, or others click here or click here.


If you need anything, or if there is any way we can pray for you, please let us know by clicking here.






































What is Lent? Lent for Kids, Made Easy

February 26, 2021 by Janel Breitenstein

I know Lent is almost here when fast-food signs start advertising fish sandwiches. But maybe it isn’t something your family traditionally practices. When the kids start asking, “What is Lent?”—you might be scrambling for answers that don’t include “Filet-O-Fish.”


So allow me a brief rundown of lent for kids, in language they (and we) can understand—and some tips to help it sink in. Then, grab FamilyLife’s Lent paper chain, “Countdown to the Cross,” with easy-does-it activities to help you count down to Easter together.


“What is Lent?”: The easy answer

Lent is the 40 days—not including Sundays!—from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before Easter. Christians around the world consider Lent a time to reflect on what Jesus did for us.


Remember how John the Baptist expressed a need to prepare the way for Jesus through repentance and humility? Lent is a time, too, to get our hearts ready to truly appreciate Jesus’ death for us and celebrate Easter.

Because Jesus’ death was the greatest sacrifice ever—some people fast, giving up certain foods or behaviors. Some do it only on Fridays. (Many Catholics historically fast from meat, dairy, or eggs … hence the reason Arby’s needs a fish sandwich every spring).


Less-than-fun fact: Mardi Gras is literally translated “Fat Tuesday.” That’s because some people party it up on the last day before fasting for Lent. It was originally just the last opportunity to feast before fasting, but unfortunately, now it’s more associated with wild partying.


Talk with older kids about ways Christian holidays can sometimes go off the rails. It can be fine to have fun with friends or go on an Easter egg hunt—but keeping Christ the reason for it all is important. Even Lent has, at times, been a path to self-righteousness.


What are the important days in Lent? Got ideas for Lent for kids?

Considering there are 40 days in Lent, the most notable calendar days are at the beginning and end.


Ash Wednesday

This day kicks off Lent. Speaking verses like “for you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), a priest or pastor applies ashes in the shape of a cross to a person’s forehead. It’s a day for humbling ourselves, for remembering God is great—yet made us from dust.


Family Time Tip: To dig deeper into this day as a family, you could listen to (and even memorize) this song from Seeds Family Worship, written to the words from 1 Peter 1:24-25: “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” 


Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday/Covenant Thursday/etc.

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. We remember the Thursday when Jesus ate the Last Supper with His twelve disciples and was then betrayed by Judas, arrested, and put on an unjust trial. Check out Matthew 26 for the whole story.


Fun fact: “Maundy” comes from a Latin word for “command”—because it’s on this night that Jesus famously commanded His disciples, “As I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).


Family Time Tip: Kids interact with the text far more when they get a chance to act things out. (And who hasn’t secretly wished to arrest a sibling?) Let them use props: bread and juice, flashlights to act as torches, play swords.


DOWNLOAD THE RESURRECTION EGGS PRINTABLE ACTIVITY PACK IN ENGLISH OR SPANISH!


Good Friday

Though it may seem ironic to call it “good,” the Friday before Easter is when Christians commemorate Jesus’ death on a Roman cross. Songs and gatherings often carry a sad feeling, to meditate on the sorrow of this day—and the need for Jesus to die because of our sin.


The “good” part describes the incredible gift of God’s forgiveness because of Jesus’ atoning blood and death, paying the price for our wrongdoing (sin) for all who believe: “ In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Family Time Tip: As a family, wear black on Good Friday to remind you these are sad days, because Jesus needed to die for our sins.


Easter Sunday

Easter is technically not part of Lent (like the other Sundays, which are celebrations of Jesus’ death and resurrection—so not traditional days of fasting). It’s after the 40 days.


But it is the “happy ending” of Lent: Jesus rose again!


This can be the “party day” in your home—not only did Jesus die for our sins, but He grabbed victory over our worst enemy, death, and every other enemy. We also know that those of us who trust Him to save us will be raised from the dead, too.


Family Time Tip: You probably don’t need many more Easter activity ideas—though you’re encouraged to come up with unique ideas that really make it feel like a celebration! 


But in every fun Easter activity, talk about how our Easter celebrations are all because Jesus rising from the dead is worth celebrating. That’s the real reason to whoop it up and chomp a chocolate bunny ear.

 

But we’re not Catholic. Should we practice Lent?

For lots of Protestants, Lent is still a thing. Some argue it can be tied to self-righteousness or legalism (if we’re trying to gain God’s favor, say, or prove our goodness). But done well, there’s a lot of richness in a season dedicated to prayer, remembering, and self-discipline.


In fact, many Protestants still fast, but not just be from food. This is a great time to introduce the “training wheels” of the discipline of fasting to your kids! Think of it as a spiritual life skill.


We choose against something we really like or crave for a little while so we can be satisfied by him—our true feast—rather than all the pleasures in our lives that dull our appetite for Him. (Like snarfing a bag of Cheetos before a 5-course meal at a snazzy restaurant.)


Rather than fasting being about our own greatness, fasting is a sweet offering to God: He’s the hero. Though God clearly says it’s worthy of reward, Matthew 6:16-18 reminds us fasting is about humbling ourselves privately before God.


Family Time Tip: Lent for kids could look like a fast from complaining, TV or movies, sugar or soda, social media, fast food (sorry, Arby’s), backtalk, even video games. It could mean one night a week, the meal is just vegetables and bread. Fasting chooses to snip the ties of habits that control us. It learns to appreciate the Giver more than our gifts.


To think about a meaningful fast, ask questions like, “What’s one thing that occasionally becomes too important to me. Or even masters me?” Or “What’s one activity that, instead of doing it, I could be hanging out with God?” The answer will probably be different for each of you

.

What is Lent? An opportunity for your family to dive deeper

Lent is a prime time to introduce spiritual disciplines—prayer, fasting, remembering, simplicity, celebrating—into your family’s lifestyle and rhythms. You’re modeling and cheering on “lay[ing] aside every weight” in order to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus” (Hebrews 1:1-2).


No, Lent is not an event enforced by the powers that be. But what Lent could be for your family? That’s your happy choice.


Let us know your thoughts by clicking here.

6 Ways to Stop Sibling Fighting

February 22, 2021 by Don & Suzanne Manning

Siblings as best friends is one of the most important ideas you can

implement in your family. With seven kids and a 17-year age gap

between the first and last kid (and siblings every two years in between)

you can imagine the fights that happened in our home among the

siblings.


Everything from not sharing and saying mean things to jealousy all

happened over the years. But we worked very hard to build a culture

where fighting was the exception not the norm. We believe and showed

our kids how to believe that siblings can and will be best friends for life.

When you implement the six ways to stop sibling fighting in your family

you will start to see your kids go from antagonizing each other to looking

out for each other and from avoiding each other to being best friends!

You and your kids will love the new atmosphere and the relational

friendships that come from proactively investing in siblings as best

friends!


We are excited to see how God connects your kids to each other!

- Don & Suzanne


Click here for a pdf version of this article.



1. PRAY


We've got to invite God into our kids' relationships with each other. He is where our help comes from.


There are many ways to pray that will help keep your kids from fighting:

  • Pray for each sibling relationship specifically,
  • especially the more difficult ones.
  • Pray for an atmosphere of peace in your home.
  • Pray for God to show you ways to help your kids
  • connect with each other.
  • Pray for you to have the patience to deal with the
  • fights.
  • Have siblings pray for each other


2. Make a Good/Not Good List


Have your child write down the things he likes and

doesn’t like about the other sibling. This is great for a kid

date night.


Make a two-column list on a piece of paper. Write down

the things he likes on the left and the things he doesn’t

like on the right. This may take some silence as your child

thinks, but you can help him process his thoughts by

asking him questions.


Together, thank God for everything he listed that he likes

about his sibling – spend some time here, don’t rush

through the good things – and show him how his sibling

is a blessing to the family, just like he is as well.


Next, look at what he doesn’t like about his sibling. Talk

about how you both can work together to help his sibling

in those areas and how God could be using those

difficulties to help him grow and mature.


We all need to learn to appreciate the God-designed

differences in our families. This is also a great place to

flip their thinking by discussing ways to see unlikeable

qualities as beneficial qualities.



3. Have Practice Play Time


Put them together under your care until they can

learn how to play well together.


Here’s a great principle to put in your home: The

more your children fight, the more time they

spend together. “Kids, if you can’t get along, it’s

obvious you need more practice!”


You can make it fun by going out together as a

family, or by putting them in a room where you can

listen in to help avoid a meltdown.


If they have another conflict, encourage them to

work it out and let you know how they succeeded.

Then, really praise them for their success!



4. Remove The Conflict Issue


Take away whatever toy or game they may be

fighting over, and put it away for the day.


Here’s another great principle for your home: The

relationship is much more important than the toy.

We value people over things. So, if the toy is the

issue – or the TV show or the video game or

whatever – the toy goes away until they can learn

how to share it.


This relates back to honoring others’ space and

property. If it is the property of one child – her doll

or her Lego set she got for Christmas – then we

teach the child to be willing to share. And we teach

the other sibling how to take care of something that

doesn’t belong to her. But if things get in the way of

the relationship, the toy will be removed until they

can reach a resolution on how to use it together.



5. Make a Stance


Make a stance that fighting is unacceptable.

Sibling fighting is the equivalent of lying and other

major “kid sins.”


When your kids know how much their getting

along means to you, over time it will become

important to them as well. Tell your kids that

because we value relationships at such a high

level in our home, fighting is unacceptable,

period.


“But they hurt me first!” “I understand, and I will

help them understand where they are wrong. But

you are going to be a person who stops the fight,

not continues it.”


We stop fighting by building a culture in our home

where sibling relationships are cherished.



6. Encourage Each Other Often


If you want your kids to stop saying mean things to

each other, teach them to speak encouraging

words.


First, you set the example by being an encourager

yourself. Then give them opportunities to be

encouraging as well. “Let’s go find your brother and

tell him something good about him.”


Being encouraging and teaching your children to

be encouraging will do wonders toward

eliminating fighting.


When we think about the good things in others, it

overcomes our thinking about how they may be

hurting us.



Want To Go Deeper?


This is such an important topic and one that can

change the course of your family culture forever.


If you like these topics and saw progress, we have a

whole digital course on this that goes much deeper

into Siblings as Best Friends.


Siblings CAN and SHOULD be best friends for life!


For more information on this course, click here.


Let us know some ways that you use, or if these steps have helped you by clicking here.





























































Do You Want the Best Family Ever

Free Webinar and Website to Teach You How

We’re told that 50-70% of kids will leave their faith after they leave home. But think about this: what kind of decisions would your kids make if they truly loved & followed Jesus?


YOU HAVE SO MUCH INFLUENCE OVER YOUR FAMILY, BUT YOU HAVE TO START NOW.


Raising and teaching your kids to fall in love with Jesus is the most important thing you will ever do. Parenting is hard work and we aren’t meant to do it without His help. Here’s a fun couple who are passionate about doing this and have some free resources to help you out:


Click here to check out their website.


The ONE key strategy that will change the way you parent forever!


If the idea of successfully raising kids who love Jesus, you, and each other makes you excited, this live training is for you!


Are struggling with any of the following?


😤 Your kids are constantly fighting with each other.

❌ You feel like you are always saying “No.”

👂 You can’t get your kids to listen and obey.

✝️ You are struggling with your kids being interested in pursuing their faith.

😡 You’re tired of the bad attitudes.

😄 You want your family to ENJOY being together.


In our FREE live training, we’ll show you how to successfully raise kids who:


🧡 love Jesus

🧡 love you

🧡 and love each other.


It IS possible!


All seven of our kids love the Lord, love us, and love each other. We all have great relationships.


But it wasn’t always that way.


It took what we’re about to teach you for us to get to where we are now!

We could have never guessed that what we’re about to teach you is as important as it has been for our family and hundreds of other families we’ve taught over the years, too!


WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:


💫 Find out if you’ve been spending too much time controlling outside behaviors and what to do instead.


💫 See how you can influence their hearts to love Jesus by simply shifting the way you think.


💫 This ONE THING will determine the strength of your family now and in the future (HINT: read Matthew 22)


If you’re ready to change the way you do family, jump in and choose a time that works best for you to watch the webinar by clicking here.


  • Do you want your kids to obey & not resist all.the.time? (um, yes!)
  • Do you want to raise godly, confident kids who make wise decisions at every age? (*I'm in!)
  • Do you want your children to stop fighting each other? (YUP!)
  • Do you want your family to be fun instead of stressful? (is this even possible? Short answer parents...YES!)

(of COURSE you do!)

BUT IF YOUR KIDS:

  • Don’t obey...

  • Fight all day every day (or at least it feels like it)...

  • Aren’t following Jesus...

  • Are being deceptive...

And you feel like you’re losing your kids + you don’t know WHAT to do

THIS WEBINAR IS FOR YOU!


WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
STEP 1:
Signs you’re an Outside-In Parent
Find out if you’ve been spending too much time controlling outside behaviors and what to do instead.

STEP 2:
How to become an Inside-Out Parent
See how you can influence their hearts to love Jesus by simply shifting the way you think.

STEP 3:
Becoming your family’s BIGGEST influence
This ONE THING will determine the strength of your family now and in the future (HINT: read Matthew 22).


Let us know your thoughts by clicking here.


10 Ideas to Make Valentine's Day Fun for the Whole Family

February 8, 2021 by Rachel Miller

Valentine’s Day is usually thought of as a holiday for romantic love. But why not celebrate this Valentine’s Day as a special family day? Using this winter holiday as a time of family togetherness is a fun way to share the love.


Kids Activities Blog is in favor of activities that can bring families closer together. A day devoted to love is the perfect time to celebrate family!


VALENTINE'S DAY FAMILY FUN


This Valentine’s Day there are lots of ways to celebrate family love.


COMMUNICATE LOVE WITH YOUR WORDS THIS VALENTINE’S DAY


Here are some simple ways we can show love to our families.


No Complaints – Use the 24hr period of Valentines Day to ban complaints. Parents included!  

Be the first to apologize – If you have done something hurtful or inconsiderate take this time to apologize. As a parent, it is often hard to admit when we are wrong, and yet, apologizing can bring you closer together!

Tell a love story – Tell the kids one of the reasons that you fell in love with their mom or dad (even if you are separated from your child’s other parent, this is good for your kid to hear).

Share the love – Tell your family members that you love them. It is amazing how important those words are!


FAMILY DAY ACTIVITIES


Go on a date together as a whole family – Is there a family event or place that your kids enjoy where you can be together? We love going to play centers and the park if the weather is nice.


Share a meal – Have a picnic as a family. On cold days it can be really fun to spread a sheet out on the living room floor. The change of scenery makes the meal more exciting for the kids, and the paper plates make clean-up fun for the parents!


Create a surprise – Encourage your kids do help you with a surprise for your spouse or another family member. You can decorate a welcome home banner, decorate pictures, bring him something at work, be creative. Think about doing a family secret pal activity.


Be close – Cuddle together as a family. If your kids are young, have a tickle-fest! My preschoolers love being with their mommy & daddy.


Be thankful – Look for three things to thank each of your family members for throughout the day.


Be thoughtful – Make an extra effort to actively listen to to your children and your spouse. Ask them leading questions to encourage them to talk to you.


VALENTINE’S DAY AS FAMILY DAY


There are lots of ways you can celebrate this Valentines Day in a special family way. The main thing is to step back and think about what might make a special memory beyond flowers and candy.


What special things do you do to celebrate Valentine's Day? Let us know by clicking here.

Seven Days of Valentine's Devotions for Families

Day One: Without Love

February 5, 2021 by Marsha Hays

This is the first day of a week of Valentine’s Devotions for Families using Biblical passages on love.


If your family is at all like mine, you need Biblical reminders of how to love one another all year long, but the Valentine season is a great time to emphasize God’s teachings on love. Spend a week in February (or anytime really) encouraging your family to love with Valentine’s devotions. I suggest you start the Sunday before Valentine’s and celebrate love all week, but you can use them however is best for your family. Links for each day will be added at the end of this post as they are complete. I pray these Valentine’s Devotions for Families bless your family in Christ.


Day One: Without Love


Opening Activity

Gather a variety of children’s percussion instruments, such as drums, cymbals, or maracas. If you don’t have any of these on hand, make your own or just use the pots and pans from the kitchen for drums and a box of salt or oatmeal or something similar to shake.


Prepare a list of familiar children’s such as Jesus Loves Me, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Ring Around the Roses, Mary Had a Little Lamb, The B-I-B-L-E, etc. You can print the names of the songs on separate slips of paper for older children, or just whisper the title to younger children.


One at a time, give each family member a song and an “instrument.” The person plays the rhythm of the song while others try guess the name. (This should be slightly difficult to illustrate the point.)


Scripture Study

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

In the previous chapters Paul has just finished an explanation of spiritual gifts, but wants the readers to understand that the gifts must be used with love rather than for glorifying or bringing attention to themselves.

The first gift Paul mentions is speaking in languages or tongues of men and angels. What does the gift look like in the lives of Christians today? (Wait for answers, then continue.)


Speaking in the tongues of men may refer to those who are gifted speakers who can use eloquent words. Whether in personal conversations or before a crowd, God has given some Christians the ability to speak exceptionally well, especially when sharing about Jesus.


Christians explain speaking in the tongue of angels in different ways. For some Christians this means speaking in tongues, as the disciples did when the Holy Spirit first came upon believers. Others call this an unknown tongue or prayer language. (Discuss your family’s beliefs on speaking in tongues.)


Without love, the best speaker is like a clanging symbol or noisy gong. It’s just a lot of noise. When we tried to play a song without notes, it was hard to recognize. We might have eventually gotten the meaning from the rhythms, but it was meant to have a memorable tune. So speaking without love will not really convey the message we are trying to share.


In the next verse, Paul writes about the gifts of prophecy, knowledge, and faith. What do these gifts look like in the lives of Christians today? (Wait for answers, then continue.)


We think of prophecy as telling the future, which was often true in Biblical times, but it also refers to preaching God’s Word both then and today. The gift of knowledge is the supernatural ability to understand things that are a mystery to other, especially the things of God. God has given some pastors and teachers today the ability to understand and explain important spiritual teachings or theology. Other Christians have the ability to give godly counsel or advice using the wisdom and knowledge from Scripture. Those with faith more readily believe God for the impossible. Maybe you know people who are called prayer warriors because of their faith and faithfulness in prayer.


Without love, what are Christians who have the gifts of prophecy, knowledge, and faith? (Wait for answer.) NOTHING. No matter how good we look on the outside, we are nothing if we don’t have love.


In the last verse, Paul writes about the gift of giving and self-sacrifice. How do we see these gifts used today? (Wait for responses.) We have many chances to give to others. Whether it’s collecting canned goods for the local food pantry or helping a neighbor in need, giving makes us and others feel good. Some Christians, like missionaries and Christians in other countries, give their very lives for the gospel. They surrender their bodies to a life without modern comforts and sometimes even death.


What good does it do us to give our possession or even our lives without love? (Allow time to respond.) It profits us nothing. Zilch. Nada.


When you serve without love, the person you are serving is helped, but your service is so much more effective when they can see the love of Christ through you. And when serving with love, YOU receive eternal rewards as well.


Family Affirmation and Application

Think of a gift or talent God has given each family member and put it in the place of the gifts used in 1 Corinthians 1:1-3. For example: Zoe can sing and play the guitar well in church, but without love it is just noise. Sawyer can make really creative Lego creations, but if he doesn’t love, it is for nothing.


Either a parent can say one statement for all of the children, or let each child say one about him or herself or a sibling or parent.


Worship in Song

If time permits, listen to one of the following songs. Put them on the television for family member to see the lyrics if possible.



Prayer

Father, thank you for the many gifts you have given our family. We are blessed in so many ways. Please help us to use each of our talents with love so that it may bless ourselves and others. Let us make showing love more important than being thanked or recognized for what we do. We love because you first loved us. Thank you for your love, especially for your love in sending Jesus to save us. In Jesus name, amen.


More Valentine’s Devotions for Families

Thank you for joining me for Valentine’s Devotions for Families. I am sharing this with my children and youth group because I want them to remember the importance of living a life of love. I hope it helps your loved ones remember as well.


Please let us know, by clicking here, if your family benefited from these Valentine’s Devotions for Families, or if you have other ideas you would like to share. We would love to hear from you!


To continue with Seven Days of Valentine’s Devotions for Families, click on the links below.


Day Two: Love Is . . .

Day Three: How He Loves

Day Four: Love God

Day Five: Love Others

Day Six: Love Yourself

Day Seven: True Love

4 Ways to Honor God on Valentine's Day

February 1, 2021 by Tara Ziegmont

With Valentine's Day, coming up, it's a great opportunity to teach your kids that God should be our #1 love!


I love loving the people who are special to me.


I love all things sweet and sappy and sentimental. I love red puffy hearts and pink shiny bows and glittery Valentine cards. I love heart-shaped pancakes in the morning, heart-shaped sandwiches at lunch and heart-shaped pizzas for dinner. I love presents covered in heart wrapping paper and red heart-shaped chocolates.


I love all the tangible and intangible ways I can show my kids and my husband my unending and unconditional love for them.


Valentine’s Day is a holiday created with me in mind.


However…


It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the sweet celebration of love for each other that we forget where all this love really came from.


We love each other because He first loved us. — 1 John 4:19


Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just about us. If we are as intentional about loving Him as we are about loving each other, the whole day can still bring glory to the Creator.


Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. — James 1:17


4 Ways to Honor God On Valentine’s Day


1. Make a list of the ways He has shown His love for you. The book An “I Love You” Prayer is a perfect starter for this activity, whether you do it by yourself or with your kids. Go broad – see God’s love for you through the bird singing outside your window or the kitty purring in your bed. See His love through the little arms hugging your neck and the heat in your home on a cold morning. Doing this with your kids would be especially sweet (at least it would be for me) because you could learn the good and perfect things they see in the world. You could simply make lists on notebook paper. Or you could make hearts and hang them on a piece of poster board. Or each member of your family could write their list on a separate piece of colored paper or on a large paper or poster with a different color marker (think pinks, purples, reds, and silver).


2. Do good in the world. One year I shared in a blog a list of 13 ways that kids can do good. Every single one would be perfect for Valentine’s Day because you’re sharing God’s love with those in need. This is my very favorite Bible verse:


Never walk away from someone who needs help; for you may be the hand of God to that person. — Proverbs 3:27 (from The Message)


Be His hands and share His love with someone else.


3. Read God’s Love for You Storybook together. Better yet, copy passages from it and tuck them into places where strangers will find them. In my church, the youth group goes on ATLs. That’s short for Ask the Lord. They begin by praying together. Then they get into a car and drive wherever they feel led. They stop wherever they feel led to stop, and they do something. Sometimes, they knock on a door and ask to pray with someone. Sometimes, they help people the do a task. I’ve even heard of them stopping strangers on the street and asking if they can pray with them. Do your own mini ATL by asking the Lord where you should leave your little love notes. Maybe one should go in between two boxes on a grocery store shelf, in the cover of a magazine in a waiting room, or on a public bulletin board. Let Him lead you to leave blessings for someone to find by divine appointment. (Can’t get the book in time? Copy Bible verses on notecards and do the same thing.)


4. Love each other. Love is a verb. Love your loved ones. Call your parents and in-laws. Go out of your way to serve your children and celebrate them today. Do something special for your spouse. You don’t have to go all out like I do, but let your family see the love of Jesus reflected through you.


So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another. — John 13:34


* * *


Your Turn

God’s love is always all around us, but it’s especially important to share it on Valentine’s Day. What tangible ways do you share God’s love with others around you? Click here to let us know!



Featured Products


An "I Love You" Prayer board book (ages 2-5): click here

God's Love for You Bible Storybook (ages 4-8): click here


How to Engage Your Kids in Online Church in 3 Easy Steps

July 9, 2020    by Christie Thomas

Let Sunday, my family sat in the basement during our livestream church, and in the course of the hour-long service, one or more of my boys participated in the following:

  • asking for snacks
  • flipping through a photo album
  • playing with the dog
  • racing back and forth across the basement
  • hiding under a blanket
  • climbing the telepost
  • begging for a kids show

It’s not that my kids are “bad”, and it’s not that our church service was boring. It’s that…well, they’re KIDS. And most kids aren’t great at sitting still through a whole sermon, even when it’s on TV. The novelty of “church-on-TV” seems to have worn off, at least for my boys.

 

Why should they participate in “adult church” anyway?

When I first posted this idea online, several people suggested churches that have dedicated online children’s ministry programs on Sunday morning. That’s fine. I have nothing against children’s ministry. In fact, I worked in paid or volunteer children’s ministry for over 20 years. Our church has a weekly online class for kids too.

While there are definitely benefits to age-appropriate teaching, I firmly believe that inviting our kids into full participation in the service has benefit too!

Participating TOGETHER in church makes our kids feel included right from the start. There has been a lot of chatter recently about why teens leave the church, and it seems that part of the mass exodus may be related to our age-segregated programming (aka Children’s Church and Youth Group).


They’ve been separated for so long, they don’t know how to be part of the bigger church family. When they’re not specifically catered to anymore, they leave because they no longer feel a sense of belonging.

 

Our kids and teens need to know they belong in the greater Body NOW, not just when they turn 18. To do that, we need at least some aspects of our church life to be intergenerational.


As parents, you an I have the choice to let our faith become intergenerational. We can continue having our own church services, OR we can do something different…something revolutionary.


We can worship TOGETHER.


But since your kids might be a lot like mine, I’m going to share 3 easy steps you can take to help your kids engage in online or Livestream church services (even without a kids program).


Intergenerational church doesn’t need to be exhausting!

 

1. Be all there.

Be all there. For real.


I mean us, as parents. It’s tempting to answer texts during the service since the pastor won’t notice the white glow on your face.  But you know who will notice? Your kids.


If you’re not fully there, they won’t be either. (This article goes more deeply into preparing your own heart for online worship.)


2. Manage Expectations

Sitting through a whole sermon can be hard for kids, especially if they’re not used to sitting through sermons. Or maybe your kids ARE used to sitting through sermons, but they need the expectations (and mild peer pressure) of the church family to help them focus. In the safety of your home, they won’t sit still.


As parents, we need to recognize that it can be weird to sing out loud at home or to sit quietly on the couch watching the pastor speak from the computer.


We need to decide what we will expect from our kids.


Do we want them to sing?

Do we want them to take notes during the sermon?

Do we just want them to stop begging for snacks?


It helps to know our kids. If you have a child with ADHD, expecting him to sit through the sermon is unfair. If your preschooler is always hungry at that time of day, make sure she has a snack. Thankfully, you’ve been stuck at home with these kids for a couple of months now, so you should know what they can and cannot do!


3. Encourage Active Listening

I started homeschooling this year (in September, before it was mandatory 🤣) and here’s one thing I’ve learned:

My kids can sit and listen for a VERY long time when they’re listening to something engaging AND their hands are busy. I keep a bin of Lego in my living room for read-aloud time, and my 6, 8, and 11-year-old boys will happily create while I read for an hour, and still beg for more when my voice is exhausted.


I know my kids are not alone in this. In fact, I got the idea for “active listening” from other homeschool moms.


Friends, active listening WORKS.


So here’s what you do:


Set out some supplies on the floor or table. (See my list below for ideas. )


Instead of begging your kids to sit-down-and-listen-already, simply ask them to create something that reminds them of the service.


For example, if your pastor is preaching on the parable of the sower, ask your child to create something that reminds them of the parable. A young child might glue pompoms to a page as seeds, or scribble a picture of dirt. Older kids might draw or paint the story or set up a re-enactment with building blocks. Teens who might normally be disengaged might enjoy journaling in their Bibles or drawing out the Scripture text in funky lettering.


As they create, your children will be listening better AND they’ll have something concrete to remind them of what they learned. (Also, you’ll get to listen to the sermon for once). Win-win-win!

 

You may find that you get drawn into the activity as well, and connect more with the service than ever before!

There are MANY ways you could encourage active listening, which I’ll list below. Just know that you can change the type of toy/art supplies each week or just use the one type that works best.


If you like to have a visual reminder that it’s okay to worship God through crafting and journalling, you can print this poster of all the ways kids can engage in Scripture.



8 Types of Supplies To Encourage Active Listening During Church


Here’s a list of possible supplies you could set out:


1. PAPER AND PENCILS.

Young children can draw pictures, and older kids can draw or write out the text in fancy lettering. Throw in some markers and some kids will be sad when the sermon is over!


2. PLAYDOUGH.

Allow your kids to pound and roll and sculpt while they’re listening. This little gem was created by my 8-year-old in response to the Easter lessons at church.

 

3. WIKKISTIX

These ingenious little craft supplies are perfect for keeping hands busy on long drives, and it turns out they’re also perfect for church! Turn them into glasses so you can see the world through God’s eyes, shape them into little people or animals, or make buildings. WikkiStix are easy for kids of any age to shape, which actually makes them better than playdough, in my opinion.

 

4. RANDOM CRAFT SUPPLIES

Set out scissors and glue, then add whatever you can easily access: popsicle sticks, string, beads, pipe cleaners, rubber bands, etc.


5. BLOCKS OR LEGO

Kids can use blocks to spell words, create scenery, or re-enact Bible stories. My own kids have used blocks to create a lion’s den and to finish the phrase, “God, you are amazing because…”

Find the perfect block set for your family!

 

6. ART SUPPLIES.

Set out a cup of water, washable paint, brushes, and paper and ask your child to create a piece of art that reflects the service.

 

7. NATURE SUPPLIES.

One sunny autumn day, my preschooler rushed into the house demanding that we come outside to see his altar. My husband and I were a little shocked at first (I mean, an ALTAR??) but it turns out that he had set up the scene of Elijah on Mount Carmel. He built the altar out of sticks and was throwing colorful autumn leaves onto it to depict the fire coming from heaven.

If you can watch your online church outside, why not let your kids use what’s around them to respond to the service?


8. JOURNALING BIBLES

One of my boys loves to read a portion of text and then draw his interpretation right in his Bible. I let him color the entire page because he has a second Bible. I love that he will have this journaling Bible as a keepsake, and it is also a great learning tool!

 

Find a journaling Bible!

 

So that’s it! When you try this at home, please let me know how it goes. Leave a comment here or connect with me on social media!


May God give you the wisdom to know your child 
and the grace to set their imagination loose 
to experience the wonders of God 
even through online church.


Love,

Christie


Please let us know if any of these helped you and if you have more suggestions!


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