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?

Ding! Ding!

In this corner, we have “Getting out the door in the morning!” In the other corner, we have “Bed time!

Standing in the other corner is “Coming home from school!” and in our final fourth corner, we have… “Meal Times!

These can be fun family moments, instead of what feels like 12 rounds for the heavyweight title. This two hour training session will show you how to create a realistic routine, that will tear down the boxing ring! Get equipped to win for your family!

Monday, January 20th at 7pm at at Regina Apostolic Church (808 Assiniboine Ave. E.)

If you would like more information about the workshop or have any registration, payment, or childcare questions, please call 306.789.1772 and ask for Mackenzie (Family LIFE Administrative Assistant). Cost is only $20 per person or $30 per couple and supervised childcare is included so register the kids! Register online today at www.familyliferegina.com or phone Regina Apostolic Church 306-789-1234.

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!