Let the rush begin! It’s Christmas!! A million things to do and hardly enough time to accomplish them! Oh dear… better hurry!
If you’re anything like me, Christmas is your absolute favorite time of year! The decorations, Christmas carols, baking, shopping, and wrapping. Really, who has time for rest, right? Well, that’s what ends up happening to me most years. I burn my proverbial New Yankee Christmas Cookie Candle at both ends, and feel utterly exhausted heading into the home stretch of the Christmas season!
As I opened my daily devotional on (ironically) Black Friday, here was the verse of the day; Psalm 127:2 It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?
We are God’s most loved creations, and our Creator knows we need to rest our bodies and minds in order to fulfill our daily purpose. Tired bodies and frazzled minds can not function in the manner which we were created for. Trust me, I know! Other people need us on a daily basis: husbands, wives, children, friends, and employers. They are all counting on us to be at our best.
If you’re a mom, I bet you clearly remember those sleepless nights and around the clock feedings when the kids were just babies. I’m sure some of you are currently doing the baby-thing, still. Rest assured that this time will pass and, believe it or not, those kids will learn to sleep through the night! The tricky part for a lot of us is to not fill those newly added hours, allotted for rest, with more stuff. Sometimes our minds, unable to turn off, keep playing the tapes of what happened during the previous day, or we lay in bed making mental “to do” lists for the day ahead. Perhaps you have even caught yourself thinking, “I wish this night would just end so I could get up and get started!” I admit it, I’ve had that thought!–And it doesn’t HAVE to be Christmastime, either.
The Christmas season brings with it a whole new set of expectations; many of which we unfairly place on ourselves. Are the house decorations Home and Garden Magazine worthy? Have I included everyone on my gift list? What IS the last day to mail presents back East? 200 Christmas cards to sign, address, and the holiday letter to compose… The list goes on and on.
This year, do yourself and your family a favor… slow it down. Just a bit. Rest a little more, and try your hardest to remove the word “hurry” from your vocabulary.
Let’s try this together. I’m not sure how much of my own advice I’ll be able to follow, but I’m really going to try. I mean, seriously,– we needn’t fill up every hour of the day to consider ourselves productive, right? Let’s stay focused on what this beautiful season is all about… awaiting the coming of our Savior!
If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to pick up a daily devotional during this Advent season. Stay refreshed through God’s Word. Pour yourself a cup of tea, and just take a minute to breathe. Things will get done.
Check out these stores for $5 sales on the day after Thanksgiving:
WhatsintheBible.com – Our $5 sale will end on Friday at midnight
Lifeway Christian Stores – Find a Lifeway near you by clicking here.
Christianbook.com – On sale through Thursday* (Not the day after Thanksgiving)
Parable Christian Stores – Find a Parable store near you by clicking here.
Berean Christian Stores – Find a Berean store near you by clicking here.
Thanksgiving week is here, and everyone is asking THE big question: What are YOU most thankful for?
My family is in the process of relocating from our Southern California home all the way across the country to a lovely Nashville suburb. It’s been a time of extreme excitement, as well as supplying us all with a healthy dose of stress and (yeah, I’ll admit it…) a little fear thrown in for good measure. But through this process we have leaned on our friends for prayer and on the Lord for His guidance and wisdom. Through it all, He has been faithful!
I’ve heard the expression, “God is faithful”, my whole life. It made me wonder, what is it we really mean we we speak about the faithfulness of God?
Scripture gives us several examples of God’s faithfulness. The Hebrew root from which the words translated “faithful” and “faithfulness” in the Old Testament are derived means to prop or stay or support. The intransitive use of the word signifies to stay oneself or be supported; hence, the word “faithful”, as applied to a person, means someone a person can safely lean upon. Deuteronomy 7:9 (New International Version) Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.
The Greek word used in the New Testament means trustworthy or to be relied upon, but this Greek word is the same used in the Septuagint for the Hebrew word mentioned above, and of course gets its meaning from this usage. 2 Corinthians 1:20 (New International Version) For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
Once I broke it down, I realized how truly thankful I am for God’s faithfulness. It is something which is completely unyielding, even when I lack faith! He is the support on which I lean upon. Even when I think I’m standing up on my own, it is His arms who are holding me up.
Before the move, my family has numerous loose ends which all need to be addressed prior to bubble wrapping a single glass or loading that first piece of furniture into the moving truck. Saying that, I am amazed at how God is bringing things together for His purpose, and in His time. He is the ONE constant who we can totally rely on.
This fall at Glenkirk Church in Glendora, CA we tested What’s In the Bible: Church Edition during our midweek programming because that’s our primary church hosted vehicle for discipleship. This curriculum dares to color outside the lines of the large group teaching format by offering adjustable program formats along with small group offerings and interactive lesson guides.
Each video segment was not only entertaining but full of so many important details that even our older kids and adult leaders who might not be engaged by puppets, were actively challenged to process concepts within their small groups. In fact, we’ve also considered using portions of this curriculum for our Intro to the Bible class for adults.
Our small group leaders were encouraged in the faith development this curriculum fostered within small groups, as this program truly encouraged discipleship through relationship. Week after week, parents were amazed about how much their kids were able to retain from each lesson. As a team, we were most impressed with how What’s In the Bible: Church Edition was able to tackle complex questions like Creation, and topics like Patriarchal History in an engaging and effective format.
Follow Staci on Twitter at: @StaciTrav
Thanksgiving is just a week away, and that means a lot of us are looking for recipe ideas!! I really like the idea of getting our older kids involved with the holiday meal planning and preparation!
Here’s another fun clip from Clive and Ian! Oh, and it’s probably not a good idea to rub pie on the computer screen. The whip cream gets everywhere!
For today’s blog, I have interviewed my 12 year old son, David. He’s been my official sous chef since completing a middle school cooking class last year. I love cooking with my son, even though he’s been known to get a little bossy in the kitchen! (I have no idea where he learned that trait!)
The recipes used for today’s blog are actually ones that David made in his cooking class and was graded on. We will be enjoying these dishes at our own Thanksgiving feast! –And yes, HE will be making them all by himself!
3 Cups cooked brown rice
4 Med. zucchini
3 Med. tomatoes
1 lb Monterey Jack cheese
2 Cups sour cream
1 4oz can diced green chilies
1 T Parsley
2 T green bell pepper–chopped
2 T green onion
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Directions: Spread rice in a 9”x13” pan. Cover with zucchini and layer half of the cheese. Layer with tomatoes. Mix sour cream, veggies, and seasonings, and then pour /spread over the tomatoes. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.
Baking apples 1/ person
2 Cups Corn Flakes-crushed OR Oatmeal
Honey- enough to make the mixture stick together and be crumbly.
1/2 Cup walnuts (we substitute oats due to a nut allergy!)
Directions: Slice apples and layer on the bottom of a pan, sprayed with nonstick spray. Combine crushed cereal, honey, walnuts, and cinnamon into a crumbly mixture.
Pour / spread the crumb mixture over the top of the apples. Bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes, until hot and bubbly. **Serve with ice cream or a dollop of whip cream!
Oh, David has asked me to remind everyone to please wash their hands and then make sure their cooking stations were cleaned up afterward! Thanks, Dave! (Bossy, isn’t he?)
Let’s encourage our bigger kids to make a genuine contribution to the Thanksgiving table! It doesn’t have to be elaborate– in fact, a box mix of brownies are the perfect challenge for a beginning cook!!
Do your older kids help out in the kitchen? If so, please share some of their achievements with us! The holidays are a great time to experiment with some new dishes!
When the first What’s in the Bible DVDs came out, I was privileged to be able to preview the first two volumes. As I watched the videos with my kids, my first thought was, “When’s the curriculum coming out?!?” Well, that time has come! The first volume of the What’s in the Bible curriculum was released this Monday.
A little while back I had the chance to test out the curriculum on my family. After our recent move, we decided to homeschool our children, and I thought that What’s in the Bible would be a perfect addition to our curriculum at home. Since the curriculum is written with a church setting in mind, I did have to adapt some of the activities a bit, but it worked amazingly. All four of my children (ages 3, 5, 9, and 11) were able to engage the material at their own levels. The genius with which Phil Vischer is able to engage multiple audiences coupled with the activities that go along with selected video clips caught the attention of my children and helped each of them learn something about the Bible that they had not known before.
If you homeschool your children and have been struggling to find some sort of Bible curriculum out there to use, search no longer! While the What’s in the Bible curriculum is targeted at churches, the material is easily adaptable for homeschooling situations. For that matter, the curriculum is also easily adaptable for a family looking for some new family devotional material.
A little over a month ago the Children’s Ministry at Evangelical Free Church of Wauconda, IL had a chance to test What’s in the Bible? Church Edition and we greatly enjoyed the opportunity. The new curriculum based on the What’s in the Bible? DVDs provided a great break and helped teach some Bible basics while keeping the children actively engaged.
I’ll be honest, the curriculum will work best if you are used to a video driven model (like KIDMO), which we are not. Nonetheless, our children live in a video-driven world and they easily made the transition to the video-activity- video-activity sequence. There were a few bugs that the team needed to work out, still, our children enjoyed the characters, the songs, and the learning.
As a parent, I’ve appreciated the solid teaching from Jelly-Telly.com and the What’s in the Bible? DVDs so the curriculum seemed to be another way to promote basic Bible understanding to parents. As a Children’s minister, I appreciated it’s ease of use and the engagement of our children.
We used it in our 90-min children’s church and, while it’s not yet been incorporated into our scope and sequence, we plan to find a place to use it on a regular basis. It’s something that we can use as a filler, as part of a regular program, or when we lack a large group teacher. If you think that there will ever be a week in your ministry where you’ll need something quick and simple, you cannot go wrong by having this as a backup. However, if you can find a place to use it regularly I’m sure you and your children will benefit greatly.
The holidays are approaching and for most of us this is the time of year where we emphasize what it is we should all be thankful for. Our families, our health, our homes and our dear friends are all part of that equation!
What are YOU thankful for? Clive and Ian want to share some of the things they are thankful for, in this Thanksgiving clip made just for you!
The big question may be, how do we teach our kids to be thankful? In this era of materialism, when quality time with family is many times replaced with “stuff”, it can be a tricky lesson to learn, as well as teach!
We have dealt with this very issue in our family. My husband and I realized a few years ago that we had entered the world of “Parental Bribers”. You know the type– if the kids do something good, they get a reward — or if we desired them to accomplish something, we would offer the reward as a prize to be earned. It’s all very Pavlovan, and teaches them nothing more than there’s always a material reward at the end of a job well done. It certainly does not teach a child to have gratitude; it teaches entitlement! We blew it, and we have since changed our ways. The kids have also learned that there is true blessing in just giving, and not always receiving.
Here are some of the things we have implemented in our own family:
1. Love really IS enough! When the kids do something great, they are told how proud we are of them! Hugs, kisses and the “victory dance” are routine rewards in our family! When we reward with a material object ALL of the time, their gratitude turns into more expectation of the prize. *We DO still, on special occasions, give something material as a reward, but not always. And it’s never used as an incentive for acts of kindness.
2. Responsibility is very important! Most kids hate making their beds and cleaning their rooms. But they love belonging to the family unit and feeling a sense of pride in what they are able to contribute to that family. Each boy has age appropriate responsibilities to help our home function. It’s just expected, not rewarded. They don’t get paid to be a part of the family.
3. Help the homeless / Feed the hungry! Some of the ways we’ve done this in our family are volunteering at food kitchens, community food pantries, helping church food drives, and yes– giving a dollar to that guy who is standing outside the market. I tell my kids, “Why worry if you’re being scammed? Give it in Jesus’ name and hopefully that dollar will bless him!” Through these actions, the kids need to be reminded that not everyone has a bed to sleep in at night, food on their table or even a home to shelter them from the cold. We are truly blessed—and we must remain thankful. We must remain the hands and feet of Jesus.
4. Hearing mommy and daddy say, “thank you” on a regular basis. Whether these words are spoken to the drive-thru person at McDonald’s or used with our own dear spouse–they make an impact on our kids!
5. Keeping prayer and reading of God’s Word as a top priority in our lives! When we take our thankful hearts and lay them at the feet of our Lord, our kids witness our gratitude for His blessings in our lives. When we remember to intercede for the needs of others, we are teaching them that God hears and sees the needs of His children’s hearts. Praying is a huge part of the process in teaching our kids to be thankful!
The Bible has numerous references about being thankful. This is probably my favorite because it brings it back to the heart of Jesus:
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New Living Translation)
How have you encouraged your kids to have an attitude of gratitude?
One of our curriculum directors, Amy Dolan of Lemon Lime Kids, posted this helpful online directory for all of the things happening around the What’s in the Bible? Church Edition launch this week. Check it out and have fun!
In celebration of the what’s in the bible? curriculum release, we’ve organized a whole bunch of super fun online activities! i’ll use this post as a directory for those activities, continually updating throughout the week. be sure to visit the sites for curriculum discounts, character videos, and photo opportunities:
Hi! I’m Deborah, the Children’s Director at First United Methodist Church of Port St. Joe, FL and we had a lot of fun trying out the new What’s in the Bible? Church Curriculum. I really think that the What’s in the Bible? team is putting together something that may change the face of Children’s Ministry. It morphs technology and old school puppetry in a way that I have never seen before. It also took difficult material and made it easy for kids to understand and grasp. As an adult, I found the videos tremendously funny and watched as the kids laughed and laughed. Some of them are still asking me if we can watch the Sunday School Lady sing the “I’ve got a book” song. Meanwhile, they are still asking me questions about the first video we watched. During the viewing, a few of them were saying, “really??” This makes me think they were actually listening and maybe even absorbing this information! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
If you are considering using the What’s in the Bible? curriculum, my suggestion would be to tweak the games so they work just right for your group. For instance, I had a volunteer lead the Clive & Ian game for Lesson 1. She had the boys lined up on one side & the girls lined up on the other. The two kids in the front answered the questions. After they answered (right or wrong), they moved to the back of the line and the next one took their turn. And the boys won, by the way. I guess they were paying more attention!
Overall, this curriculum is awesome and I am so glad I got to test it out! Hope you have as much fun as my group did!
Follow Deborah on twitter @dkloyless