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. 

This week our lesson pertains to Mother’s Day, which is just around the corner. I can’t imagine a more fitting gift for a mom than having her children praying for her- What a blessing! She’ll love it!

The New International Readers Version translates 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as this:
Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs. Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up. Love never fails.
Ask the children to create a scene out of mini-marshmallows, or better yet, have them make the words 1 Corinthians 13 out of marshmallows to help the remember where the “love chapter” is.
Lead the kids to read or write out the verse, this time inserting their mom every time the scripture says “Love”. Mom is patient. Mom is kind. Mom does not want what belongs to others. Mom does not brag. Mom is not proud. Mom is not rude. Mom does not look out for her own interests. Mom does not easily become angry. Mom does not keep track of other people’s wrongs. Mom is not happy with evil. But she is full of joy when the truth is spoken. Mom always protects, always trusts, always hopes. Mom never gives. Mom never fails. Pray these scriptures over mom often; she’ll be encouraged this Mother’s Day. Bless you as you minister .

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. 

Proverbs 2: 1-11

My son, accept my words.
    Store up my commands inside you.
Let your ears listen to wisdom.
    Apply your heart to understanding.
Call out for the ability to be wise.
    Cry out for understanding.
Look for it as you would look for silver.
    Search for it as you would search for hidden treasure.
THEN you will understand how to have respect for the Lord.
    You will find out how to know God.
The Lord gives wisdom.
    Knowledge and understanding come from his mouth.
He stores up success for honest people.
    He is like a shield to those who live without blame.
He guards the path of those who are honest.
    He watches over the way of his faithful ones.

You will understand what is right and honest and fair.
    You will understand the right way to live.
10 Your heart will become wise.
    Your mind will delight in knowledge.
11 Good sense will keep you safe.
    Understanding will guard you.   ~Proverbs 2: 1-11

Welcome back friends! This week we are going to look for treasures. Proverbs 2 is a powerful chapter to encourage us all towards Godly living. It teaches us stick-in-the-mud adults how to trust God and to discern the best solutions to life’s inescapable dilemmas. Our children are no different. They’re making decisions about who they want to be around, who they want to be, and they need wisdom and understanding to stay out of the mud themselves. (Figuratively and sometimes literally!)

Take 2 large marshmallows and write WISDOM on one, and UNDERSTANDING on the other. Once you’ve read the scripture together, discuss what these two words mean to you and have the kids give their own definitions. Notice that we are told to search for wisdom and understanding. Imagine if we knew there was buried treasure in our yard. We wouldn’t quit until we found it.  We need to have that same determination to make time to be wise. Pay attention to all the good things that come after wisdom and understanding (in verse 5). Success. Protection. How to choose the right paths. How to delight in knowledge.

Have the kids hide their eyes and count while you hide the marshmallows. When ready, release the children to run around the house searching. There is nothing better that hearing a child, breathless with excitement, shout out “I found it! I found WISDOM!”

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?

Mark 16:1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ “

He Is Risen!

Image result for he is risen easter rolls

Bake some easter buns with the kids- just take a package of store bought refrigerated dough (large buns work best) and follow the directions to roll them into buns- but wrap a marshmallow into the center of each one. Bake them as usual, and as they cook the marshmallow will melt into the dough and give the bun a slightly sweet taste, but most important- there will be a hole in the middle where the marshmallow was. This is the empty tomb.

While waiting for the buns to cook read the scripture together and reflect on how it would have felt if you were one of those people to go to the tomb and find it empty. Would you be afraid if you saw an angel? Would you be nervous if a grave was empty? If children want, you could even act out the scene. Once the buns are ready to eat, enjoy some sweet goodness and thank God that Jesus rose from the dead to save us all! Romans 5:8: But God demonstrated His love for us: that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only son. Anyone who believes in Him will not die but will have eternal life.

Let’s live out our gratefulness and share the good news! He Has Risen!

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?

Jesus said to her (the women at the well), ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’    John4:13-14

This week we’ll investigate the elements. Introduce children to the Periodic Table of Elements- as far as we know, everything on earth was created from one or more of these items. Like building with Lego or Minecraft, everything is made up of combinations of these elements.

https://i1.wp.com/i.livescience.com/images/i/000/034/144/i02/periodic-table-elements-121206c.jpg

God is so amazing! He created everything we know with just these same building blocks. Create some molecules (combinations of elements) with toothpicks and marshmallows.

20150323_214345_resizedWater:  H2O   -2 Hydrogen and 1 Oxygen  

Carbon Dioxide: CO2   -1 Carbon and 2 Oxygen

 

Methane: CH4   -1 Carbon and 4 Hydrogen20150323_214439_resized

For an extra challenge- here is a picture of a sugar molecule found in space, along with our own representation:

20150323_214411_resized

Drawing of the sugar molecule found in space.

 

 

It’s inspiring to consider God’s creativity. From water, to sugar in space, He has not only created the building blocks of our universe, but also offers living water that gives us assurance of eternal life, and supernatural strength to fulfill our God given destiny.
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”  Revelation 4:11
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38
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?

Did Jesus eat honey?

Honey was the sweetener of the day when Jesus walked the earth, and He would’ve eaten it often. I’ve wanted to make my own marshmallows for some time, and now that I’ve found a recipe for a healthy version made with honey (only 4 simple ingredients and twenty minutes!) it seems appropriate to focus on honey marshmallows this week. The recipe only takes 5 minutes to prepare, but then it needs to set for about 20, so while you’re waiting, quiz the family on these honey verses to see how sweet their scriptures skills are:
Ask them to guess the answer, and then look it up to see who’s the fastest:
How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Who is this verse talking about? (Psalms 119:10)
Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man as a present, a little balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. Who’s the man that is receiving the gift? (Genesis 43:11)

I was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around my waist, and my diet was locusts and wild honey. Who am I? (Mark 1:6)
When he turned aside to look at the carcass of the lion; a swarm of bees and honey were in the body of the lion. Who is he? (Judges 14:8)
So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey. Who am I? and What land is this? (Exodus 3:8)
The house of Israel named it _____, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey. What is it? (Exodus 16:31)

Enjoy the marshmallows!  The only ingredients are Knox gelatin, honey, salt, and vanilla. Here are the links to two healthy recipe’s at UrbanPoser and WellnessMama.

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?

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”  Philippians 2:3-4

How can twenty sticks of spaghetti, tape, string, and one marshmallow help develop Godly leadership skills?

The Marshmallow Challenge has become a popular game at leadership conferences and team building events. The challenge asks builders to work together in small groups to come up with the tallest freestanding structure. Teams have less than half an hour to complete this task using only the items provided and the whole marshmallow must be on top of the structure.

See, marshmallows aren’t just for kids! This activity has been conducted in business schools, engineering departments, as well as in kindergartens. Can you guess which group tends to perform most successfully?

Business school grads did poorly. They argued and fought over who was in charge. Engineering students spent most of their time planning, talking and then finally building, which didn’t leave them much time for last minute changes when, inevitably, the structure didn’t support the weight of the marshmallow on top.

Kindergarteners excelled in this challenge. They just started building. They didn’t worry about failure. Without any training whatsoever, they created the most unusual structures that did in fact withstand the marshmallow’s weight. We can learn from these young architects.

This week, gather the items if you have them, or feel free to swap out any (except the large marshmallow of course). I’ve used straws instead of spaghetti, and left out the string- It’s all about creativity.

This Marshmallow Madness is all about God’s backwards leadership model. In Matthew 20:26 Jesus challenges us that “whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant”.   Those who want to grow in leadership should practice serving others and putting themselves last. Stay in one group or break into 2, but the youngest will be in charge. The others can have ideas or requests, but the youngest will be first in this activity, and will accept or deny the suggestions of the other members of the family.  Remember, the kindergarteners achieved the highest success in the challenge across North America. If leaders in business and engineering can humble themselves to learn from five year olds, we should too. Let’s regard those God has put in our families as higher than ourselves and practice serving others as Jesus commands.

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?

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”  Hebrews 13:5

There is a difference between needs and wants.  Gather around a table, and place a few carrots, cucumbers or other healthy snacks in front of each family member.  In the center of the table, place a platter of marshmallows.  Ask what life would be like without marshmallows. Then ask what life would be like without vegetables.  Ask everyone to take a bite of their healthy snack then discuss and then a marshmallow:  What is the difference between vegetables and marshmallows? (Veggies don’t taste as good; vegetables are a need, marshmallows are wants.) If you had to choose between unlimited veggies for a week, or only 10 marshmallows, which would you choose?  Share:  We can survive without marshmallows because our bodies don’t need them to keep us alive.  But if we didn’t have vitamins from healthy food we wouldn’t feel well at all.  This is the difference between needs and wants.  Have each person draw a picture of things they touch or use in a typical day (beds, clothes, food, toys, books, etc.)  Circle the ones that are needs.  Remember to explain that what some people consider to be a “need” could be considered a luxury to someone in a different socioeconomic situation. (Example: pillow, variety in food, snacks, warm baths, etc.) Discuss:  If you had a limited amount of money to spend, and you owned nothing, which things on your list would you buy first? (A bed, house, clothing.)  What does this tell us about the way we spend our money? (Most is spent on “wants”; we really don’t have many things we have to buy.)  Share:  A wise spender doesn’t use all of his money for “wants” or luxuries before taking care of the needs.  To be wise spenders, we must first take care of the things that are most important, and then we can think about buying some of the things that are “wants.”  Close in prayer thanking God for His provision in providing for the family and taking care of our needs, and asking for wisdom in using money the best way possible to live a life glorifying to Him.

{This weekly activity was adapted from an excellent free resource called Heritage Builders. They provide free bulletin inserts each month to encourage parents to make family time a priority. Check ’em out!}

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?