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! There are many wonderful devotions available, but these are for those of us ~myself included~ who have the best intentions but just can’t seem to get it together. We can do this!

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

This week: Wise Words

applesnewYou’ll need mini-marshmallows, an apple and something sweet and sticky like honey, jam or peanut butter.. For younger children, slice the apples yourself just before the snack, and provide each child with their own “lips”, some marshmallows and whatever sticky ingredient you’ve decided on. Not only are these mouths fun to make, they taste delicious. Personally, I recommend peanut or almond butter.

It’s a good idea to look up the Bible verse BEFORE the assemblling of the snack, or else have cloths available to wash up sticky fingers. If you look up the verses together before hand, it’s handy to be able to discuss them during snack assembly.

Study the scriptures below with the kids. Have a contest to see who can find the verses fastest. Younger kids can be paired up with older siblings or parents. Ask them why these verses go with the snack. You might be surprised at the insights your children have on the subject of kind words. What are sweet words? How can words be healthy for our bodies?

Psalm 119:103 (NIV)   How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)  Kind words are like honey—  sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

For older kids, challenge them with an extra twist:  In addition to the tasty treats, create one apple snack but instead of spreading the apple with a sweet sauce, use hot sauce instead. If you have a child in love with hot sauce you could use vinegar, baking soda, or worchestershire perhaps? Challenge them to have a bite. What’s the principle here? A little bit of harshness ruined all the sweetness. We can’t mix good and bad words, praise and cursing.

James 3:10 (NIV) Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Here are some more scriptures for discussion, if time allows:

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 5:4 (AMP) Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God].

Colossians 3:8 (ESV) But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

Let’s use our mouths to bring sweetness and life to others!

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. Keep a prayer journal and each week add in your prayers. 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! There are many wonderful devotions available, but these are for those of us ~myself included~ who have the best intentions but just can’t seem to get it together.

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

This week:  GUESS HOW MANY 

Depending on the age(s) of your kids, pour marshmallows into 1 container. Younger kids should have a smaller container, older children should have a larger one, or even just leave them in the bag.

Have children guess how many marshmallows are in the container, just like the carnival “Guess how many” game. You could have children whisper their guess to you, or just write down their guesses on a piece of paper. If you want to be a little extra silly, you can have children receive a ballot each time they sing a song or make a rhyme.  For older kids, you can have them find a verse in the Bible, or recite a scripture, or even answer Bible trivia questions to earn a voting ballots.

Then comes the counting: now you know why I suggested younger kids have less marshmallows! Add them up and declare a winner!  (decide if and how to reward the winner)

Then look up Luke 12:6-7 together. Isn’t God amazing?!  He knows everything about us. He even knows how many hairs are on our head. He knows what we worry about, and nothing surprises Him.

I like the way the Message puts it:

6-7 “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! … You’re worth more than a million canaries.

Encourage your children to give their worries to Him. Keep a prayer journal and each week add in your prayers. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what God has done!

How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

“When you’re a grown-up, you go to work and come home and eat supper and then… you watch tv!”

The quick answer you may hear if you asked a child… “What does a grown up do?”

Are we letting our lives slip by? Apparently our generation has more free time than ever. But it seems to me, we’re not actually happier. What kind of future do you want for your family tree? Do you talk about your hopes excitedly with expectation of success?

I don’t, but I wish I would.

I’m sure you feel the same.  So busy that we feel as if we’re spinning through this world. Juggling all the needs of a family doesn’t leave much time for wishes and dreams.

time-to-dream-bigger

Let’s elevate our expectations. If late nights have splintered the dreams of your youth, select a fragment and dust off those goals that once gave you energy and passion. Pray about what God would have you take on, and would work with your family and not against it. Let your kids see you striving nervously for that impossibly hard thing. Let them see you fall and get back up. With time and practice, your hard work will become successful.

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”— Mario Andretti

And there is good reason to make time for this. Our children are afraid of failure, and frankly they don’t see their parents overcoming tough obstacles. We need to teach through example.  It will give our children confidence to stretch along with us, and really live out Phil 4:13 and do everything through Him who gives us strength.

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”— Dale Carnegie

I want my children to appreciate when I am nervous about an upcoming speaking engagement, a difficult health program I attempt, a potential blog topic idea, or when I feel God is giving me a difficult instruction (like fasting). They will see that we don’t know everything, that we don’t always have it together. We do our best, and sometimes we fail. Ouch.

Hebrews 10:35 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

Talk about your child’s future with them often, as if it is their mission in life. Relate all the possibilities imaginable, and when age appropriate even write down some of their dreams and aspirations. Of course with kids their own goals for their future can and should change often. It is not a sign of mediocrity, but actually a signature of healthy curiosity. Discuss famous people who changed the world for good or bad, and  get books on the library on real missionaries, now and long ago.

Older kids may already have some firm ideas for their lives. It is helpful to help them break it down into smaller chunks. When I was young, I had a dream to go and do missions for a summer. This was before the internet, and trying to coordinate all the details for the trip overwhelmed me. I gave up before I got through the initial planning stage, and to this day, I regret it.

Help your young person organize his or her dreams into sizeable bites of awesomeness, and they will have an easier time swallowing it.

So, when is the last time you did something that was so challenging it scared you? Tell us about it!

TRY THESE ACTIVITIES:

 

Do the impossible! Go a day without electronics. Make it as hard as you want, but be sure to discuss it first as a family. Try giving up tv, internet, cell phones, video games. Whatever would be a challenge for you. Encourage the kids to go for this challenge with you, and make it a mission, not a punishment.

Have a meal without saying a word. See who can go the longest without talking. It sounds easy, until you want some more potatoes! To make it extra exciting have the meal without using cutlery.

To encourage dreaming big, try some improv with your family. Put a few ideas in a bowl or pieces of paper. “Once upon a time”, “strange day at the zoo”,  “at the bottom of the ocean”, “I heard a strange sound” or “One day while I was playing outside.”  One person in the family starts it off and each person has a turn continuing the story.

Have fun!

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!