Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run” -Proverbs 21:5a

Our family makes Resolution’s on New Years Eve. We write them out and keep them secret from each other for the year. Then, the next New Year’s Eve we open the envelopes and share how close we came to reaching each particular goal. The idea is to model goal-setting and learn to enjoy the process while celebrating success. Of course we often don’t reach the goals we set- but we are sure to cheer for all progress made, no matter how small.

Top 10 Adults New Years Resolutions for 2015
1. Lose weight
2. Get Organized
3. Spend Less, Save More
4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5. Staying Fit and Healthy
6. Learn Something Exciting
7. Quit Smoking
8. Help Others in their Dreams
9. Fall in Love
10. Spend More Time with Family

45% of adults make resolutions each year and start strong in January. But by February, many people are feeling sour. In fact, 24% never reach those goals. But the fact remains, if you set a goal and determine to complete it- you’re 10 times more likely to actually complete it than just winging it and hoping for the best.

Watch this video with the kids. If you haven’t, it’s not too late to create your resolutions for this year. So, this week just watch the video, write down some goals and tuck them away until next year. If you’ve already been trying to accomplish something hard this year, I hope this video inspires you to press onward.

I realize this is Marshmallow Madness– so where are the marshmallows? I don’t know, I guess you could eat some while you watch. Or carrot sticks.

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

I challenge you to spend 20 minutes a week being intentional about passing your faith on to your kids
           …and all you need is a bag of marshmallows.

This week: Teach your Children to Pray

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 

I tip my hat to the monthly moms group at the Regina Christian School for the ideas presented here- thanks ladies!

Families sometimes feel stuck in a prayer rut, where our prayers are repeating over and over. Kids, too, can fall into a habit of monotone praying. There are many great prayers, and this one does a good job of reminding us to pray for other people in our life. Have you heard of the “FIVE FINGER PRAYER”? It’s an easy way to teach kids to pray selflessly.
Five Fingered Prayer
The twist on this of course is that we’re going to eat marshmallows while we pray!
Have the children choose 5 large marshmallows each:
One to represent somebody in their family, one to be a pastor or teacher, another to represent our Pime Minister, one to be a baby or sick person, and one to represent themself. Now place a marshmallow on each finger of one hand. This is our 5 Fingers of Prayer. If you have those little cake decorating tubes of icing you can find at any grocery store, you can let the kids decorate each marshmallow. Perhaps a tie on the Prime Minister, a thermometer in the mouth of the “sick” marshmallow, or a cross on the marshmallow for the pastor. Craft stores even have markers that are edible-that might be a good investment for some of our marshmallow adventures!
Now we pray.
First, our thumb. This is closest to us. Pray for our families and friends to be healthy and blessed…then eat that marshmallow.
Second, our pointer finger. Pray for those who point the way, ask for wisdom and support for our pastors and teachers… then eat the marshmallow.
Third, our middle finger- the tallest one. Pray for wise decisions from our leaders,government and Prime Minister… and then yep, eat that marshmallow.
Fourth, our weakest finger. Pray for those are weak, sick, or hurt. Ask God to intervene and provide health and wholeness to their lives. Then, you guessed it- eat up the marshmallow.
Fifth, our baby finger, the last finger is ourselves. Ask God for things you need before you eat the last marshmallow.
The palm is the surprise ending in our 5 finger prayer. Now that the marshmallows are all eaten, show your child how to hold their hand open, palm up, like they’re receiving a gift. To remind them that God has given us so much, ask your child to thank Him for 5 extra blessings. After you have prayed this final prayer of thankfulness you can drop one last marshmallow into their palm, to surprise them with one extra gift.  Yum 🙂 marshmallow people
***Just in case you’re worried about the sugar, my bag of Kraft Marshmallows says that 6 large marshmallows has 150 calories and 26 gr of sugar, which wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be. I’ve had granola bars that were worse. Still, you could adapt this and use real markers on the marshmallows for the fingers, and then of course don’t eat them.***
Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done. How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

Welcome to the easiest family devotional you’ll ever come across- Marshmallow Madness! We can do this!

I challenge you to spend 20 minutes a week being intentional about passing your faith on to your kids
           …and all you need is a bag of marshmallows.

This week: Family Time Training

“… If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”  2 Corinthians 5:17

This week we are going to showcase another wonderful family ministry. In addition to being licensed as a presenter with the National Center for Biblical Parenting, I had the privilege of meeting the founder and president of Family Time Training, Kirk Weaver, when I was in Houston for training. I appreciated his genuine heart to teach biblical truths using family fun. As you’ll see, these activities are meant to be super exciting -the neighbourhood kids will be inviting themselves over!  Head on over to his website at www.famtime.com where you’ll find a free monthly activity (and more free ones in the archives) as well as details to subscribe to unlimited activities that you can choose based on the ages of your kids or the values you want to teach. Brilliant!

Here is a portion of this months free activity:
Teaching Goal: God created the “family” as a vehicle to get His children safely
to the home in heaven He has prepared for them.

Materials: A shoe box
1 raw egg
1 zip lock bag
Newspaper
Tape
Markers
Shiny piece of fruit

Read Deuteronomy 6:7. One of the most important reasons God created families was so
that parents would teach their children about His laws—the Bible is filled with God’s law.
God’s laws are designed to get us to heaven safely so we can live with God for all eternity.
Family Time is one way we, the parents, try to teach you God’s laws for living. Can you
think of other ways our family learns about God’s important life lessons? Listen to answers.
Going to church. Children’s and/or youth programs. Christian radio. School. Grandparents.
Other Christians. The Bible. Prayer.

ACTIVITY: This shoe box represents our family. This raw egg represents a member in
our family. Pick a family member who has a personal relationship with Jesus. Write the name
of that family member on the egg. Write the name “Jesus” on a zip lock bag, put the egg in the
bag and seal it tightly. The zip lock bag represents Jesus. {Name} is a Christian so they are
in Christ. We are going to use strips of newspaper to protect the egg from breaking during the crisis. Tear the
newspaper into strips. We are going to write on some of the paper strips ways that our family learns about God.
Pack the box full of newspaper strips. Remember, these strips of newspaper represent having God’s lessons in
our lives. Let’s see what happens in a crisis when we know and follow God’s lessons.
Drop the box- if packed securely the egg should not break.
Open up the box and point out that the person is in Christ. Point out that the lessons kept the person from breaking. Remember, the box represents our family. The most important thing is that each of us is in Christ represented
by the zip lock bag. That means we believe and follow Jesus. Next, as a family, we need to
be reading our Bible, listening to our parents, doing Family Time and participating in
church so we can be safer and more protected when hard times come.

Memorize: Family is God’s way, To safely guide our day.

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

Welcome to the easiest family devotional you’ll ever come across- Marshmallow Madness!

I challenge you to spend 20 minutes a week being intentional about passing your faith on to your kids
           …and all you need is a bag of marshmallows.

This week: Build Your House

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”  Proverbs 14:1

build your house
Yes, that is Spider Man’s car in the driveway.

We’re going to build houses with marshmallows. And then eat them.

You’re going to want to give everybody in the family their own handful of marshmallows, since not only are the kids going to be touching and squishing them, but licking them will act as glue. You’ll be amazed at what you can build once you lick them!

Look up the verse together and then talk about it as you build. What does the Bible mean “to build up our house”? I teach kids it means “to add value”.  How can we add value to our homes, our family? Our city, our world? On the other hand, how does a foolish woman (or man) tear down her house like in the scripture?  What are some things that we do in our family to take away value from each other?

Additionally, God wants us to consider how we build ourselves up-  If we are wise, we will add value to ourselves by what we learn, how we act, the words we speak, and what we focus on. We should choose to build character.  An excellent novel our family read aloud helps kids understand character. Ralph Moody’s book “Little Britches: Father and I were Ranchers” depicts a father trying to instill the value of building character: “A man’s character is like his house. If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin. If he tells lies to be able to do the things he shouldn’t do but wants to, his character will soon become a ruin. A man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth.”

As you’re building, ask which is harder: building up or tearing down. One of the kids towers could fall apart, which is a perfect opportunity to observe that tearing down can happen in a moment, but building up takes focus and careful planning. Unfortunately, one lie can seriously weaken a stellar reputation. One mean comment to a family member can trigger a series of foolish destruction.Let’s all decide to be wise in building up our house, and the next time somebody is inconsiderate to someone else, or hurting their own character you can use this lesson as a starting point by asking, “Are you building up or tearing down? Is this wise or foolish?” 

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

Welcome to the easiest family devotional you’ll ever come across- Marshmallow Madness! We can do this!

I challenge you to spend 20 minutes a week being intentional about passing your faith on to your kids
           …and all you need is a bag of marshmallows.

This week: Fiery Darts

“… In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”  Ephesians 6:16

This time we are not specifically teaching about the whole Armor of God, we are focusing on the shield of faith and defending against the fiery arrows of the evil one. Depending on the age and maturity level of your children, decide how open you will be when you are teaching about Satan’s attacks.  You might want to play the game below and have a quick discussion now as a family, but be prepared to explain it more in depth later to older kids. The point of this game and lesson is to be able to recognize some of the “fiery darts” the enemy uses to mess with our faith, and that the “shield of faith” is what we need to use to resist him.

The kids are going to love this game- we’re taking turns pelting each other with tiny marshmallows!  Have one child sit on the floor and the other members of the family receive a certain number of marshmallows to try and hit him/her. It shouldn’t hurt, especially if you are using the mini-marshmallows.  Thankfully, we aren’t going to light them on fire and send them over!
Now give the child something to try and block the mini-missiles. This is representing the shield of faith that we are commanded to use. It could be a plastic plate, an aluminum pan, a rubbermaid tote lid, anything at all.
Afterwards, ask the kids what those fiery darts of the evil are anyway? What does our enemy throw at us? I think, since we are to use faith to rebuke them, they are things which cause us to doubt. I think our enemy puts wrong thoughts in our mind: mean thoughts, thoughts to distract us when we are trying to pray or read the Bible (It’s amazing how many , harsh thoughts criticizing our teachers, parents, or pastors. Terrible thoughts can cause us to question our own salvation and our belief in our heavenly father. Some might even wonder if Jesus really saved them at all!  We don’t have to accept every thought that burns into our head. We need to extinguish lingering darts and recognize that they are an attack of our very real enemy!
But how? The shield of faith protects us, but only if we use it. And holding up this shield is as simple as speaking God’s Word. “I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” 2 Timothy 1:12 and  “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). That is putting on the shield of faith.  When a thought falls into your mind, ask yourself if this is from God. Would God say this? If not, then rebuke that fiery dart for what it is, a lie from the devil.  As a family, declare the truth of our amazing God and encourage each other to be strong with their shield of faith.
Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

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?

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he grows old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Train.”  It’s an interesting word… because it can be interpreted so many ways.  To some it can mean discipline.  To others it can mean to educate, but I believe it is meant to mean a good mix of both with a slant towards educating.  Too often we think of training as punishing undesirable behavior. However, training for a sport means we practice good habits until they become natural to us. We research the best methods for success and we re-run those methods over and over to get across that finish line first. When we fail, we analyse what went wrong.  If we can put so much effort into training for things like sports, why aren’t we, as parents, putting in all the work for our children? Training our children the way they should go is more comprehensive then having them sit in a corner for a designated length of time.

We should be applying the same principles to train up our children, so they can succeed at the most valuable race they will ever make: the future that God has planned for them. Three words will get you started on the right path:

Practice, practice, practice.

Practice trouble areas.  Here’s a common example.  How many times have you felt helpless just trying to get the kids out the door in the morning?  Simple disobediences’ can lead to quick tempers and just a bad start to the day.  So… practice it.  (Never in the morning! ) Call a family meeting, pick a time and explain how “disobedience at the door” affects everyone.  Have them practice getting coats on, sitting quietly, or whatever else you want to see in the morning routine.  Make it fun, grab a stop watch and time the family.  By practicing trouble areas, without the “time crunch busy go-go” morning environment, you will start to see… better mornings out the door!  If a certain child displays selfishness, have him or her practice showing love and selflessness by thinking of 3 things they can do to add value to those around him.  Praise character as it increases, and acknowledge even the smallest change of heart as it becomes evident.  This is a smart way to walk out the daily faith commanded in Deuteronomy 6.

Link everything to character. Instead of asking a child to put away their toys, ask them to show diligence to complete their task. Don’t just talk about not being late; instead explain how being punctual demonstrates respect. If you’re going to have a chart and put stickers on it when a certain habit is established, make sure to reward the character not the habit. For example, “You did a great job of making your bed, and brushing your teeth this week!”  This could be better explained by adding “You showed respect for our home by getting your responsibilities done on time!”

Here is a link that lists character traits (and their opposites) along with a Biblical definition and Bible verse for each. Spend time focusing on a different attribute each month, or post it on the fridge and consult it when you see a particular weakness that needs addressing.

Teach your children character now, and it will equip them for success in their own race.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Got a great idea to teach character? Please comment and pass it on!