Marshmallow Madness

Cheap and Easy Family Fun!

Spend 20 minutes each week passing on your faith and values to your children. I know we all –myself included– have the best intentions, but get washed away in the flood of “to-do’s”, don’t we?! No longer!
I have the solution: just buy a few bags of marshmallows, and each week I’ll provide the fun and good lesson to tie it all in. All you have to do is smile, have fun with your kids, and talk to them as you do it. Sounds do-able, doesn’t it?

Stop at the store on your way home today and pick up some marshmallows and toothpicks.  This time you’ll need the big ones. You will need enough marshmallows for either pairs or individuals to each have about 25 of them, so get the big bag! Two packs of toothpicks will be plenty.

marchmallow tower

You’re going to set a timer for 5 minutes and build towers using big marshmallows and toothpicks. Yup, that’s it. The first time everybody can try building the tallest towers. It doesn’t have to be the prettiest or even stay up very long, but it does need to stand when the timer goes off.

Now take it all apart and do it again, but this time the goal is to have the sturdiest tower. After another 5 minutes, Congratulate the builder of the least wobbly tower. They probably aren’t as tall this time. I bet the winner focused on having a well built structure, paying closer attention to the base then its height.

Discuss Proverbs 13:16, TLB. “A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t and even brags about it!”

Ask your kids why it might be good to think ahead? Did they think ahead when they planned their towers? If not, did they fall down quickly?  If they did think ahead, did it pay off? If the discussion is going well, you might talk about some times when you did or didn’t plan ahead and the results that ensued.If your kids are starting to get that glazed look in their eyes, wrap it up as quickly as possible. There will be another time-next week, in fact!

Now have some fun with your kids!  And don’t forget to pat yourself on the back!
Check back next week for another great idea to parent on purpose with marshmallows!

For years, parents were taught that the key to raising happy children was to do everything we could to build up their self-confidence through praise. It’s not working. (more…)

With all the Christmas hub-bub flying by my calendar, I find myself buzzing with nervous anticipation. Pinterest entices me into believing I can- I really can- learn to knit and sew and bake and cook gourmet- all while saving money of course.  Making quality time for the kids. Finding quantity time with the kids. Ultimately, hiding from the kids.

That’s when I give up the super mom act! I go into hibernation mode, throw out all the “have to’s” and “shoulds”. I marvel at the incredible gift of salvation and how God has changed my life.  Initially it’s all positive, but as I continue to reflect on the past year I gravitate toward over-analyzing my many failures. I ponder the year ahead and determine what will attain more of God’s favor. It’s not that I’m being completely selfish, I do genuinely want to please Him. Perhaps if I worked harder in ministry, or found more time for that service project. Maybe if I took this class or joined that prayer group I could get that heavenly A plus. I want to accomplish everything He’s called me to do, but I suspect I’m missing the point…

And probably you are too.  Most of us make goals for ourselves each new year. I’m no mind reader but I bet yours are similar to mine- you want to improve your health (read lose weight), your finances (save money), and your relationships (spend more happy time with the family-emphasis on happy).  Most importantly, I want to grow closer to Jesus than ever before.

The Message Bible translates Romans 12:1-2 : “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

sarahSarah Young, author of “Jesus Calling”, the hugely popular daily devotional, is changing the way people view their prayer time. I find her so interesting because she was a Super Christian for 16 years before she understood devotion. I mean she was PERFECT! She went to seminary and earned her master’s degree in counseling and biblical studies. She was a missionary in Japan for 8 years. Got married and had children. Earned yet another degree in counseling at University. Even moved to Australia and started a church!

Yeah, I would think she deserves a heavenly pat on the head…

And yet, as she looks back on her life, she reflects,

“I cherished my experiences of helping deeply wounded women find healing in Christ. I was also thankful for my kind, loving husband and our two delightful children, who were the main joys of my life. However, not once during those sixteen years did I vividly experience the Presence of Jesus.”

As she was preparing to pack up and move down under, she began searching out God’s Presence like never before. And she discovered her previous devotions were pretty much one-sided. Formerly, her time with God was mostly HER praying, HER  reading, HER asking and thanking, and HER writing down HER thoughts. Now she practiced the art of waiting:

 “I began seeking God’s Presence in earnest. My days started alone with God, equipped with Bible, devotional book, prayer journal, pen, and coffee. As I waited in His Presence, God began to reveal Himself to me. An hour or two alone with Him seemed too brief.”

Of all the experiences she’s had, of the many soul’s Sarah has won for Christ through counsel, prayer, both in her profession and in service as a missionary, she cites her quiet time with God to be the most personally victorious she has felt as a Christian. Hmm…

Let’s experience absolute victory in our walk with our Creator this year. Jesus has much to say to me and you, and I resolve to listen.

The latest Milk Bone ad is troubling me. Each time I see it, my annoyance increases. I’m not against dogs, although I don’t own one, but apparently I’m emotionally attached to this commercial.  You know, the one where the mother gets home from work and greets her dog with a Milk Bone dog biscuit.  Have a look:

Let’s follow this path in terms of parenting, because there are many lessons in the world of dogs that also apply to children.  Now here me out, I’m not suggesting our children are animals and need to trained as such (although I sometimes feel like a zoo keeper!). Our children are God’s gift to us, we endeavor to raise men and women who will change this world, and we are to have dominion over all the animals. Uh oh, my apologies to my pet-parent friends who would counter that their dog is like an equal member of the family. .. Ummm, Can we concede that a very large aspect of both pet and child parenting is training? Agreed?

The tagline reveals,     “Nothing says I’m happy to see you too, like a Milk Bone biscuit.”       Really?!

Doggie, upon hearing the familiar click of the key turning, bounds over to mom and showers her with loving licks because she has been truly missed all day. Would that dog still greet mom day after day for her delicious company? Hopefully. Possibly the pup is salivating for the gain of the biscuit. Digest this: How about our children? Do you ever catch yourself saying things like “If you’re good at the grocery store mommy will get you a cookie.” Is your child behaving similarly, salivating only for cookie? Or because of a genuine hunger to please you.

Would you need to keep candy in your pockets to encourage your children to come to you? Notice that neither son nor husband appeared to welcome mom home; maybe she needed to keep a stash of goodies at the door or give out gift cards.

Here is the real test- Stop Supplying Biscuits! Does your pet still come? Even more important, do your children? Does the cookie crumble when it’s futile to strive for bounty?

But wait, you implore, these are rewards! Parenting books, teachers, and talk shows encourage us to use reward charts. Stickers, toys and candy are all endorsed by SuperNanny to teach appropriate behavior.   Yes, they are often successful. There is a very fine line, however, between rewarding  and bribery.

Interestingly, the music underlay sings “I can see your heart through your eyes”. Now that is some good parenting advice! Present your best self to your family. Entice them to your side with contagious smiles and laughter, not a short-lived sugar rush. Your eyes will inspire them more than any amount of charts or stickers, and have lasting results.

In my next post I’ll be discussing what I believe is the proper use of reward charts. I’ll show you how to reach the hearts of your children to crave honor, not cookies.

 What do you think is the difference between a reward and a bribe?