He waters the furrows with abundant rain. Showers soften the earth, melting the clods and causing seeds to sprout across the land.  Then he crowns it all with green, lush pastures in the wilderness; hillsides blossom with joy.”

Psalm 65

1-2 O God in Zion, we wait before you in silent praise, and thus fulfill our vow. And because you answer prayer, all mankind will come to you with their requests. Though sins fill our hearts, you forgive them all. How greatly to be envied are those you have chosen to come and live with you within the holy tabernacle courts! What joys await us among all the good things there. With dread deeds and awesome power you will defend us from our enemies,[a] O God who saves us. You are the only hope of all mankind throughout the world and far away upon the sea.

He formed the mountains by his mighty strength. He quiets the raging oceans and all the world’s clamor. In the farthest corners of the earth the glorious acts of God shall startle everyone. The dawn and sunset shout for joy! He waters the earth to make it fertile. The rivers of God will not run dry! He prepares the earth for his people and sends them rich harvests of grain. 10 He waters the furrows with abundant rain. Showers soften the earth, melting the clods and causing seeds to sprout across the land. 11-12 Then he crowns it all with green, lush pastures in the wilderness; hillsides blossom with joy. 13 The pastures are filled with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. All the world shouts with joy and sings.

This psalm speaks of new life, of creation, of spring. There is a feeling of overcoming in this psalm of David, as if he has been through a hard time previously. Sometimes seasons are more than a time of year. Tell kids about a hard winter in your life (waiting for a long time for something, a time when your prayers didn’t seem to get answered), and a new spring. (like maybe when you had children- or started your career- or went to high school). Just like cycles in nature, there are many seasons of life. As David teaches us in this psalm, we need to keep praying, trusting, and believing that God will bring us through! As spring is blooming all around us, it would be fun to try and make marshmallow flowers- the kind you see on fancy cupcakes. While we aren’t baking for this devotional, if you had some cupcakes bought or made ahead of time it would definitely be a bonus.  

20150518_161943_resized_2Supplies are large and small marshmallow, sugar and some kind of food coloring. Drop some coloring into a small bowl of sugar and mix to create colored sugars. Though most of us have some food coloring in the back of the baking shelf, if you’re desperate for color try juice or melt a colorful hard candy in the microwave and add it to the sugar. Once you have the suger just give the kids some marshmallows, a knife or scissors, and a plate each. The sugar will stick to only the sticky “cut” face of the marshmallow.

1) Cut a large marshmallow in half to make a large sticky circle.
2) Cut mini-marshmallow lengthwise DIAGONALLY to create petals.
Press the petals sticky side into the sugar.
3) Place the petal color side up onto the round sticky large marshmallow.
This is what the petals will stick to. Alternatively, if you have any icing they will stick to that as well.20150518_163108_resized_1

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 family 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. 

“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” Matthew 5:21-22 (Message)

Just let it go. We need to let go of our anger. Of course, in this translation Jesus didn’t specifically mean brothers or sisters only, but this could be a good scripture to reinforce the importance of siblings getting along!   Often we get angry because we think something isn’t fair, we don’t get what we want, or what we think we deserve. Just let it go. Would you rather be right, or wise? “A fool gives full vent to anger, but the wise quietly holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11  It’s difficult to form the habit of letting go of anger, but it is possible. In fact, with practice it becomes easier and easier.

Start letting go today, by unleashing marshmallows with your own homemade launcher. https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRZvp6s1mfeO1GLQfT2K1B7EkxBYGPHAvOjUZfF5W9MkNsoZqBeRg

Just cut the bottom out of a paper or plastic cup. Also cut the knot from an already blown up balloon, leaving enough balloon to pull it over the bottom. Depending on the size of the paper or plastic cup, you may need to tape the balloon on if it slips off. Now just throw in a marshmallow, pull the knot and….. Release! This is a super fun way to practice letting go, and make sure to challenge the kids to practice letting go of anger too. Pray together that we would trust God to give us what we need, and not try and fight for it. If we all can focus on loving our neighbours more than ourselves, I promise God will take care of the rest.

God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your family 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?

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?

My thoughts are not like your thoughts. And your ways are not like my ways,” announces the Lord. “The heavens are higher than the earth. And my ways are higher than your ways. My thoughts are higher than your thoughts. The rain and the snow come down from the sky. They do not return to it without watering the earth. They make plants come up and grow. The plants produce seeds for farmers. They also produce food for people to eat. The words I speak are like that. They will not return to me without producing results. They will accomplish what I want them to. They will do exactly what I sent them to do.” Isaiah 55:8-11

We know the Bible mentions snow, 25 times in fact, but often we think of it figuratively. The Bible speaks of our sins being washed as white as snow for example, but the people of Israel must have experienced pure, blinding, fresh snow in order to understand that powerful metaphor.

In my part of the world we’re covered in snow from November to March, and it can be difficult to stay excited about frigid temperatures. We have to remind ourselves that yes, spring actually will come. In Isaiah 55, God encourages us to remember His reasons are better than ours and we need to trust that everything He does is for a reason. Even snow. The scripture tells us that the snow waters the soil and makes plants grow. We don’t usually associate snow with gardening, but actually, all moisture waters the earth. Check out this video with the kids to learn how snow is formed.  snowflake

Today you and the kiddos can create your own snowflake masterpieces using marshmallows and toothpicks.

Let’s keep in mind that although we don’t always understand God’s purpose, he has good plans for us and, just like the scripture above, He intends to accomplish good things in us. In Jer 29:11 He says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” We can trust that.

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?

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!
 

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!