Christianity Family Ties

Good News Bible Kids

Need a great present idea for your child? My friend Jana recommends these dolls highly…the Good News Bible Kids come in both male and female doll versions. They have Bible names and they teach 15 Bible verses in song, the New Testament book song, and The Lord’s Prayer.

Jana’s girls were given one this past Christmas, and her then two year old son quickly picked up on the Bible verses…

I think it’s a great idea. Never underestimate the ability of your toddlers to memorize scripture!

Christianity Family Ties Writing

My 7 Minute Devotion

Was that pixy-like voice completing sentences across the phone really my toddler’s? Being her primary caregiver (read full-time mommy) 24/7 I hadn’t realized how I’d taken her for granted till I called home this past weekend from the hotel to send her good night hugs and kisses. I’d never heard her via the phone lines, and what a shock, to realize all at once how grown up she sounded and how much I’m losing in everyday translation.

It made me wonder at God’s joy when He hears from a long-lost believer~one who’s been busily doing what he felt was the Lord’s business but hadn’t made time to daily connect with God on an intimate level. What’s that saying about horizontal relationships keeping us too busy for that most important vertical relationship? What joy we miss when we seek for fulfillment in the wrong places.

Delight yourself also in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

At the writer’s conference I attended this past weekend, we were challenged to write a 7 minute devotion having to do with either family, laundry, a man’s tool box, computers, scripture, shopping or a song title as our theme. The above~ my attempt. As you can see, I was missing my baby!

Family Ties Parenting

A Little Girl is Born

Do you ever wonder what the future hosisters.jpglds for your children? Do you pray for that newborn you hold close at night, that she’ll let Jesus be the Guardian of her way?

I’m sharing here snapshots from my mom’s life, born a homesteader’s daughter out west–that’s her–the dark-haired baby in the photo at your right, with her older sister. In her childhood, she and her five siblings had polio, measles, mumps, chicken pox, you name it. They survived. I can’t imagine being their mother, and wondering if they would. Or how she felt when their school bus flipped over into a canal and all the children escaped the water-filled bus

Fast forward to my mom, in her Bible college days…where she met my dad. They married and had four children in fivmomdadwedding.jpge years, while dad attended seminary and started his lifetime career as Pastor-teacher.

Here thfamilypic66.jpgey are with my brothers and sisters: this photo was taken the summer before my brother David was hit by a car on his way home from kindergarten. He’s the cutie standing in front of my dad. Who could know that he’d die at only six years old? God knew, and had prepared my parents to accept it with what they call “dying grace”.

My parents will celebrate 50 years of marriage this June, and as I address the stacks of anniversary invitations, I can’t help but reflect on God’s faithfulness in their lives.

Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us, sung at their wedding, and at mine, has been a song I’ve prayed over each of my newborns as they grew. It’s a perfect lullaby, especially when you substitute the “Us” with “Her” (or “him” if you’re raising little boys)…

We don’t know what the future holds for our children, but as Christians, we can rest knowing God holds them in the palm of His hand.

In the meantime, what are we doing to equip these entrusted to our care with the Biblical worldview and grounding they’ll need in the days to come?

Christianity Family Ties

Happy Easter

In yesterday’s post, I suggested you look up the lyrics to Watch the Lamb, print them off and discuss them with your children.

We’ve long been fans of Ray Boltz, though we admit to only owning two of his CDs. When our oldest was 3 years old, my husband and I heard Watch the Lamb for the first time, performed at a church banquet. When we realized it had been written by the same man that wrote Thank You (for giving to the Lord), we immediately bought his Concert of a Lifetime
album. Would you believe that our 3 year old latched onto that cassette and wore it out? She’s listened to it every night at bedtime for six years now, and in fact, we’re about to need to buy our third replacement for her. I highly recommend this album…though we have heard some of Ray’s other songs (different albums) that are a tad too “Christian rock” for our family preferences.

Here are the lyrics for you, in case I didn’t quite convince you yesterday…

Watch the Lamb
Ray Boltz

Walking On the Road to Jerusalem,
The time had come to sacrifice again,

My two small sons, they walked beside me down the road,
The reason that they came,
Was to watch the lamb…

And they said,
“Daddy daddy,
What will we see there,
There’s so much that we don’t understand,”
So I told them of Moses,
And Father Abraham,
And I said dear children,
“Watch the lamb….
There will be so many,
In Jerusalem today,
We must be sure this little lamb,
Doesn’t run away,”
And I told them of Moses,
And Father Abraham,
And I said “Dear children,
Watch the lamb….”

When we reached the city,
I knew something must be wrong,
There were no joyful worshippers there,
No joyful worship songs,
And I stood there,
With my children,
In the midst of angry men,
Then I heard a crowd cry out,
“Let’s Crucify Him!”

We tried to leave the city,
But we could not get away,
Forced to play in this drama,
A part I did not want to play,
Why upon this day were men condemned to die,
Why were we standing right here,
Where soon they would pass by,
I looked and I said,
“Even now they come,”

The first one cried for mercy,
The people gave him none,
The second one was violent,
He was arrogant and loud,
I can still hear his angry voice,
Screaming at the crowd,

Then someone said,
“There’s Jesus,”
I scarce believed my eyes,
A man so badly beaten,
He barely looked alive,
Blood poured from His body,
From the thorns on His brow,
Running down the cross,
And falling to the ground,
I watched as He struggled,
And I watched Him when He fell,
The cross came down upon His back,
And the crowd began to yell,

In that moment I felt such agony,
In that moment I felt such loss,
Till the roman soldier grabbed my arm and screamed,
“YOU! Carry his cro———–ss!”

At first I tried to resist him,
But his hand reached for his sword,
So I knelt and I took
The cross from the Lord
I put it on my shoulders
We started down the street
And the blood that He’d been shedding,
Was running down my cheeck…

They led us to Golgatha
They drove nails,
Deep in His feet and hands,
And on the cross,
I heard him pray,
“Father, forgive them…”

Never have I seen such love
In any other eyes
“Into thy hands I commit my spirit,”
He prayed,
And then He died.

I stood for what seemed like years,
I lost all sense of time,
Then I felt two tiny hands
Holding tight to mine
My children stood there weeping,
And I heard the oldest say
“Father please forgive us,
The lamb,
Ran away…

Daddy daddy,
What’ve we seen here,
There’s so much that we don’t understand,”

So I took them in my arms,
We turned and faced the cross
And I said
“Dear children
Watch the—– la—–mb…”

Cooking and Food Family Ties

Preschooler Fishing Snack

What do you get when you serve stick pretzels and goldfish crackers on a plate alongside a dollop of peanut butter? A great fishing snack for preschoolers!

How it works: have them dip the pretzel into the peanut butter, then try to “catch” a fish cracker with it. We’ve enjoyed this snack for 9 years now. It’s been so long I can’t remember where I got the idea…probably out of a Family Fun magazine.

Thought I’d share it for those of you involved in playgroups, Awana Cubbies, or just for a change at mid-afternoon snacktime.

What kinds of fun snacks do your kids play around with?

Family Ties

Kids and Mud

I’m sure all of you with kids have let them stomp through mud puddles, but have your kids ever come back inside looking like Winnie the Pooh after hiding from bees in aGood Housekeeping, April 1922 mud puddle?

Wish I had taken a pic of toddler yesterday. (I was more concerned with getting mud out of her mouth) She did a face-down flop, poor thing. If I hadn’t been so upset (it stuck to her entire face–eyelids, nose, mouth–nasty!) it would have been funny. Actually, all four of us girls were laughing at one point, even toddler. (though I freely admit I ranted about never letting them out of my sight around mud puddles again, argh!)

Not fun to clean up after…we’re not talking watery mud, but the thick, gloppy kind.

Anyone else enjoying the spring muds lately?

Christianity Family Ties

Sunday Drive

I love Sunday afternoons!

Are any of you subscribed to the Taste of Home magazine? Our issue arrived yesterday–the cupcake contest issue–and nine year old baked up a batch of the champion recipe: Special Mocha Cupcakes. Mmm–I had to brew the coffee for her, but she did the rest!

This afternoon, unfortunately for us, my hubby got called out to fight fire–second time this month that’s happened on a Sunday afternoon. Dh has been a volunteer fireman since he was in junior high school–he comes by it naturally as his dad is the fire chief. A few years ago, we added a brother-in-law to this same department…so it’s a real family affair. They take a lot of pride in keeping nice rescue equipment…and believe me, these men that volunteer in the small communities volunteer far more often than just responding quickly to actual fire calls. They spend hours each month on truck maintenance and training. And get no compensation for their troubles. Maybe that’s why my MC (main character) in my current WIP is a volunteer fireman. I so admire that selfless community spirit in my hubby!

March-April is pasture burning time in the mid-west. Farmers and ranchers burn off the dead prairie grasses and before a week has gone by, the blackened earth begins sprouting green. I love to see how quickly it renews itself. We attend church in a small town 30 miles away, and our entire commute includes scenic pasture land as far as the eye can see…and at 55 mph it’s easy from week to week to gauge the greening process.

So three questions:

  1. What do you see on your Sunday drive?
  2. Are you a city dweller, or do you live outside city limits?
  3. How many miles away is your church?
Family Ties

I’m the Sander

Hubby is building a computer desk for our daughter’s room! He got today off, so we worked on it all morning. Measuring, cutting, him getting to break in his new router toy!

In these projects I’m his sidekick. Our daughters ran around playing with baby goats and climbing on and off the back of dh’s flatbed truck to watch the action. The “action”? We’re using the flatbed as a worktable!

Besides being his amiable and talkative wife, when it gets to the sanding part, I’m his huckleberry. (Yeah, we use that term a lot in our family!) I can’t tell you how many home improvement jobs I’ve tackled with my handy-dandy Black and Decker sander tool. Every housewife should have one!

I sanded our floors on my knees while 7 months pregnant with dd #1, for instance. I sanded and painted what seemed like miles of tongue-n-groove siding we rescued off an old OLD dilapidated building on our property. It now resides in our bathroom, halfway up the walls, giving a country flair.

I’ve sanded all the woodwork in our house once, some of it twice…that includes our kitchen cabinets, door facings, doors, baseboards, windows…can’t imagine doing it by hand thanks to my electric sander!

Anyway, I’m having a nice computer break while dh and the girls are off getting a couple of horses shod. Desk parts are stained and drying in the shop…

Of course, I can’t hear anything cuz I couldn’t find my earplugs…and who knows what this is doing to my lungs…but progress is progress, right?

Christianity Family Ties Parenting

Life Is Not Fair

First of all, I hope you all are training your children to not be overly concerned when “life isn’t fair”. When we cater to these bursts of “inequality” by rewarding and promising equal “perks”, we are feeding the selfishness. And that selfishness will turn our darlings into little monsters.

For instance, my middle daughter, age 6, has never been on a sleepover. Her older sister has only this past year been allowed this privilege, and only to her Grammy’s house. We always told 6 yo, that her day would someday come, and in the meantime, she needed to be happy for her sister! Guess what? It was that simple. Sure, I told her we’d have some mommy-daughter time, but it wasn’t anything earth-shattering. I didn’t pay her money or anything for “choosing to be happy”. I didn’t go out of my way and finance a Chuckie Cheese expedition or anything brag-worthy that she could hold up to big sis: “See what you missed out on?”

I think we adults are our own worst enemies in things like this. We want so badly for our children to be fulfilled and not feel left out. None of us want to be the proverbial Jacob, who favorited his son Joseph. Equal treatment is nice (not necessary), and parents should not have favorites…if you need further convincing, read The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley.

But definitely read 1 Corinthians 13 to your children, and show them that God’s love means we’ll be happy, not jealous, for our friends and loved ones when life grants them special blessings. You cannot start too young instilling this!

Last night we decided to bless my 6 year old with the privilege of having a cousin spend the night. My oldest was going to be gone at my mom’s (second slumber party of her life) and dh and I thought it would be fun, since this is Spring Break, to invite one of 6 yo’s favorite cousins over. In trying not to leave any cousins out, it almost turned into a “that isn’t fair” free-for-all. We ended up having two cousins over, and the girls all had a great time…for the most part.

Inevitably, two’s company, three’s a crowd. My six year old got to play peacemaker between her two cousins. Thankfully, she’s used to being “bossed around” (she does, after all, have an older sister!) and she made the best of it. This morning she told me she had the best time ever! (Thank you, Lord!)

One last thing…when hard situations come up–and I hope they do–use them as the great learning curves that they are and emphasize to your child that acting this way only hurts others! Hopefully they’ll remember how awful it felt and resolve to never behave in a similar fashion.

True fulfillment and happiness comes from being able to be content with the life you have. Are we being faithful to teach this, or are we feeding the discontent by making issues where there shouldn’t be any?

Family Ties

My West Coast Childhood

Play in the SurfThis picture reminds me so much of my first six years spent living one block away from the Pacific Ocean.

My dad pastored a church and ran a training ministry for pastors. He preached twice a day every day just to fit in with all the demands for truth. His sermons were broadcast out to sea for miles and miles.

Many commercial fisherman attended our church, and as a result, several of my friends lived on fishing boats, tethered to cables running the boat’s length lest they fall overboard!

The year I was born, 20 other babies in our church joined the celebration! I’m the youngest of five, btw.

Our diet was rich in seafood, admittedly a bit too many oysters, eels, clams and octopus for this gal! I’ve shared the story before of how commercial fishermen would stop by evenings with some of their catch to share. Sometimes their catch would consist of a five gallon bucket full of live octopus. They’d pour it into our kitchen sink and mom would rave over how cool it was. Yeah, to the point of her sticking my little arm down into the writhing slime so I could “experience” the suction. Twas just lovely, I can assure you. (Thanks, mom.)

That was in the early 80’s. Mom and I walked to the beach every day when we found out Dad was taking a pastorate in the midwest, where only wheat made waves. We collected seashells, starfish, beach glass and driftwood for the last times. I still have those treasures….in hand and in heart.

It took me several years to get over the west coast, to quit comparing its oceans and redwoods to the browns and golds of the prairie that I love so much now.

Where did you grow up, and what are your favorite memories of that time and place?