Why I Will No Longer Accept Your Child’s Facebook Friend Request–Mama Mia Monday

like-us-on-facebook

Got another one–

Last week I received another facebook friend request from a child I know, and I just can’t click confirm.

I will admit I have accepted requests in the past. I talked with some friends about it, read some articles and finally relented with the belief that since their parents were allowing it, it was still a chance for me to connect with them and even to keep up with what’s going on in their lives.

But I was wrong.

Because in doing so, I affirmed to them that it’s okay to lie, that it’s okay to lie with your parents’ permission, and that I, as their children’s ministry leader, think a little lying must be okay.

Yet, that’s not what I believe at all.

I’ve been a part in putting them in danger of identity theft, bullying (from either side), child predators, negative self image (both physical and mental) and entrance to an adult world they weren’t meant to join until they were, well, adults.

Yet, I could never imagine doing that intentionally.

Children are not yet capable of fully understanding the consequences to some of their actions or the concept of marketing. Facebook is designed to target those who sign up for it. So when a child registers with a false age beyond their years, they are now targeted with ads for someone “beyond their years.” This includes sites about drinking, gambling, meeting singles and more.

In the United States it is illegal to collect information on people under the age of thirteen–one of the reasons facebook doesn’t allow children under the age of thirteen to have an account. I find it ironic how often we get upset when the government lies or acts unethically, yet now we are enabling that process. In fact, we have become the very thing we say we abhor.

And why?

I’m not sure. Some of the reasons I hear are so that our children can have friends, have fun or be like everyone else. Some parents have admitted they just didn’t want to tell their children, “No.” They didn’t want the fight. Others have said they felt like the lie wasn’t really a big thing because they are monitoring what their kids are doing on their pages.

We, as the adults in their lives, are supposed to help our kids navigate the waters of character and integrity. We are supposed to model for them virtues like truth, honesty, patience and self control. These underage users–Wow! That’s a startling term considering the addictive nature of social media– aren’t quite yet capable to understand the whole “when it’s okay to lie and when it’s not okay to lie” thing isn’t really supposed to be a thing. Apparently we, as adults, aren’t either.

Mama Mia!

**In 2011, ABC news reported that it was estimated that almost 7.5 million facebook accounts were used by underage children who were using facebook with their parents’ permission. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/underage-facebook-members-75-million-users-age-13/story?id=13565619

Ten Signs You You Need to Slow Down to Parent–Dadderdays

ten-things
One of my all time favorite movies is Spielberg’s Hook starring Robin Williams. In this classic film, Williams portrays Peter Panning, the grown up Peter Pan. Although Peter started out with a healthy motivation to work to provide for Wendy and the kids, he became overly entrenched in the grown up world. So much so that Wendy has to warn him, “You’re missing it, Peter, you’re missing it.”

Ever feel like you are missing it? You might be. Here are few warning signs that you might need to slow down to get your parenting adventures back on track.

1. You are reading this blog post or your wife is reading it to you.
2. Work is your life. Hobbies are your life. TV is your life. Your kids’ events are your life.
3. You don’t have time to stop and evaluate what you’re doing, or you’ve stopped looking forward to the end goal in your parenting.
4. You are never home on the weekends.
5. McDonald’s is the place where everybody knows your name.
6. You are skipping church because you are worn out from work and your kids extra curriculars or sports.
7. You’re not really sure what the term “date night” means because it’s been so long since you had one.
8. You haven’t talked to your kids since, well, since. . . .hmmm, when did you last really talk to your kids?
9. You aren’t growing in your knowledge of God and His Word.
10. Love, Laughter and Kindness are not words your children would use to characterize you.

Remember…the time we have with our children in our homes is short. Our goal is never to be busy parents, but we do need to be busy parenting. We want to be effective in all we do.

As Christian parents, we are raising little “Christ followers.” In our home our main parenting goals were to help our kids know Christ, follow Christ and share Christ with the world. But there were times when we got way too busy to do that well, or to do it at all. Taking time to reevaluate where we are on the journey, and then making the necessary adjustments to get back on track is a great tool to keeping the end in mind.

When we do, great adventures await.

Bangarang!

Hook

(If you’ve never seen it or haven’t seen it in awhile, a “Hook” family movie night could be a really great idea for some quality time with the family!)

Kids Answers–Thankful Thursday

kids answers magazine

It has been reported that more than one half a million people tuned into the Ken Ham-Bill Nye debate earlier this week. I was one of those, at least for most of the time. I’m not here to debate the debate, but rather to express my thanks to Mr. Ham for his grace in sharing the gospel, his strong conviction to the Word of God, and his ministry to children.

Ham and the team at Answers to Genesis continue to do a phenomenal job at providing resources and teaching that equip people with the truth of God’s Word and the evidence of His creation. Ham’s Kids Answers Magazine is a resource I had, quite honestly, forgotten about until after the debate. In looking back at the Answers in Genesis website, I came across the online version of the magazine. There is so much great stuff for kids here: videos, puzzles, weekly articles and a variety of activities, plus a special section just for parents.

Here’s the link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/ka

It’s simply a great resource for you and your kids–those in your home or your classroom.

Answers in Genesis also offers church curriculum, Vacation Bible School material and if you are planning a trip in your near future, be sure to consider The Creation Museum. It’s located just seven miles west of the Cincinnati Airport, and is within one day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population. When you buy your tickets they are good for two days making them a great buy. My pastor/boss/friend, his children and grandchildren spent time there last year and they are still talking about what a fabulous time they had.

So today I find myself thankful for a ministry who is willing to take the time and make the commitment to help see that kids have the answers to some of the most important questions they may ever ask, and for helping children see that God made them and loves them and that He is, indeed, the Lord of all Creation.

dinosaur

ark

http://creationmuseum.org/

Super Easy Sheep Snacks–Taste and See Sunday

one sheep

You’ve heard me say it before, I love a good theme snack–especially when teaching preschoolers. Since we are now in week three of the Christmas lessons, this shepherd week. There’s an unwritten pattern to the Christmas story in children churches around the world. It goes like this:

Week 1: The angel comes to Mary

Week 2: The angel comes to Joseph

Week 3: Jesus is born and the angels come to the shepherds

Week 4: Wise men come bringing gifts.

Week 5: Review the above weeks above or a story about Jesus growing up.

Last year our shepherds week craft was shepherds staff cut out cookies. So this year, we gave the shepherds a rest and focused on the sheep and let the kids be the shepherds.

Here’s all you need to make just one or even a whole flock.

Giant marshmallows–guaranteed fun anytime, but they make for great big fluffy sheep
Skinny pretzel sticks–legs
Small traditionally shaped pretzels–these will be the eyes and nose.
Small pair of scissors or knife

Cut a slit in one of the ends of the marshmallow large enough to put the head piece into.
Put the head piece in there.
Stick the legs in and . . . .

Ta-Da! Ewe got sheep!!!

flock of sheep

Our preschoolers loved them. Well, so did our leaders! So have a little Christmas fun this year with your own little flock, and

Taste and See. . . .the Lord is good!!

Using The Corn Harvest to Share the Gospel–Taste and See Sunday

indian corn

This morning I had the opportunity to share a short message in our church’s main service as part of what we like to call “Harvest of Praise Sunday.” The service is centered around our praise and thanks to God for all He has done in our church through the year. My portion of the service centered around giving God thanks for the baptisms and decisions that took place. Having the double advantage of coming from a farming area and having a harvest theme service, I tied in the “wordless” book idea to corn.

It started with, what else? Yellow corn.

yellow corn

Yellow corn represented heaven, and the home Jesus is preparing for us there. (John 14:3)

black corn

Black Corn represented the problem–sin, and how our sin, if not dealt with, can keep us from heaven. (Romans 6:23)

red corn

Red corn represented the blood of Jesus which was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. (Hebrews 9:22)

blue-corn

Blue corn stood for the waters of baptism that wash us clean. (Acts 2:38)

White Corn

White corn reminds us that when we accept God’s offer of salvation, we are washed clean and pure. (Isaiah 1:18)

green corn

Green corn represented the growth that needs to come after we have been saved.  (2 Peter 3:18)

indian corn

We finished up with a picture of mixed corns to remind us that we need to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all God has commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20)

It was just a short, simple message,and I’m sure that in one form or another had been heard before by many. Then tonight, at our 6th grade discipleship group as we began our New Testament study, we got hung up on a question about sin. The kids were struggling to come up with answer to what we called the “problem,” because they weren’t sure what the problem was. When I uttered the words, “Black corn,” immediately they responded, “Sin!”

We were all pretty excited to realize they remembered practically every word of the morning’s talk, (I was really excited!) What I thought was so simple had stuck in their hearts and minds.

Why do I so often forget that the message doesn’t have to be complicated or flashy or entertaining? The message, quite simply, just needs to be the message. The message combined with the power of God, is all we need for a great harvest.

Corn? Who knew?

God did.  .  . Taste and See. . .the Lord is good.

 

Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave?

WhyCantIGetMyKidsToBehave-COVER-210x300

It’s a Mama Mia Monday and I have a great resource to share with you mamas out there.  Our friends, Joey and Carla Link, have written a dandy of a book. I am so excited to see in print the principles they taught Tim and me, and thousands of others, about parenting our children.

Why Can’t I Get My Child to Behave? is practical and personal, filled with the tools, examples, and encouragement to see us through our parenting journeys on both our brightest and darkest days.

Joey and Carla walk us through the importance of real obedience, and how to bring our children to God’s standard. They share with us the tools of structure, routine, discipline and consequences, as well as how to focus on the inward not just the outward aspects of our children’s lives.

Before I tell you all about it, I hope you will soon find the time to pick up a copy of your own and begin to apply the principles the Links are sharing with us. Why Can’t I Get My Child to Behave? is available at Amazon in both paperback and kindle editions, at Barnes and Noble and through their moms’ notes website www.momsnotes.com/orderingresources

 

 

 

Oh Pumpkin Seeds, Oh Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

Oh PumpkinSeeds

Oh Pumpkin Seeds

You kind of look like throw up

 

Oh Pumpkin Seeds

Oh Pumpkin Seeds

Your goodness helps us grow up

 

Inside the pumpkin you’re a mess

But in our bellies you’re the best

 

Oh Pumpkin Seeds

Oh Pumpkin Seeds

We love to roast and eat you!

 

Ok! So let’s just say up front this is never going to make the Top 100 song list. But it’s little songs like this that you can make up with your kids as you tackle the fun of roasting pumpkin seeds together that might make your Top 100 memories list.

Roasting pumpkin seeds with your tiny tots and your bigger kids is fun, relatively easy and totally messy–all three of which rate high in my book of making a great activity to do with kids.

So if you want to whip up some of the tiny tots with your tiny tots, turn your oven onto 350 and try this:

1–Scoop out the seeds from your pumpkin and separate the guts from the seeds.

2–You can simply throw the guts away, or use them in some other way (compost, food source, who knows what else–it’s probably on someone else’s blog!)

3–Wash the seeds really well.

4–Next, You can simmer them in a pan for about 10-15 minutes, then drain the water, pat them dry and put them in a bowl or

4b–You can put them directly in a bowl after washing–be sure to pat them dry.  (People like them both ways, it will just be a matter of personal taste for you)

5–Drizzle them with olive oil, or canola oil, or even vegetable oil if you are having a day when you just want fun and you don’t really care about the lasting health benefits to your chidren–(Just kidding)

6–Add Seasonings–salt and pepper, seasoning salt, cajun spice, whatever you like. I personally use Lawry’s seasoning salt because it’s my favorite!!

7–Toss these all together and then spread the seeds out on a cooking sprayed, foil lined or parchmented pan (if you are into easy clean up) or a cooking sprayed non foil lined pan if you like doing more dishes or if you are really into teaching your kids to do chores!

8–Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, then flip and roast another 5 minutes or until the seeds are crisp and brown.

9–While waiting for the seeds to bake, make up additional verses to the Pumpkin Carol or “seed” your kids with the Bible verses listed below!

10–Remove the pan from the oven, let the seeds cool a few minutes, then enjoy them with the fam. Pumpkin seeds can be eaten shell and all, or the shells can be removed and only the inner seed eaten.

pumpkin-seeds2  WooHoo! Boo-tiful!! Now go out there and make some messy goodness with your tiny tots today!! Interested in some great Scriptures to share with your kids about seeds. Here are a few of my favorites:

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”
Genesis 1:29

“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:1-9

“It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
Mark 4:31-32

“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Galatians 6:8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho and the Rice Krispie Treats Came Tumbling Down

rice krispie treats

I haven’t posted a Taste and See Sunday in awhile. Well, the truth is I haven’t posted much of anything lately. But as the busy season winds down for me, it’s definitely time to pick up the laptop again.

Truth is, I’m a Rice Krispie Treat lover. My friend Kathy’s husband Stan, is not. He swears they taste like cardboard, and if you just mention the words he launches into the most amusing monologue of why these gooey, chewy treats should not be part of anyone’s diet. So I let him rant, thinking all the while, “Oh well, more for me!!”

Today our preschoolers and toddlers got to share in my love for the treats while they were learning about God’s power at work in a man named Joshua. Joshua, you may know was the leader of God’s people after Moses died. He was the commander of God’s army and led them into the Promised Land. There are a few things I’ve often wondered about Joshua, mainly after the whole “Twelve men went to spy on Canaan. Ten were bad and two were good,” thing. Like, what were the next 40 years like for him? I mean, while almost everyone around him was dying off, or waiting to die off, what was doing in the waiting period? The 40 years time out was his punishment, too, and he hadn’t even done anything wrong.

I suppose he and Caleb spent their days learning from God and being prepared for the days of Promise Land taking that were to come. It seems he must have still been a little nervous when the time came to start marching, since God encouraged him at least three times in the first 9 verses of his book.

“I will be with you. Be strong and courageous.”

“Be strong and very courageous.’

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

And strong and courageous he was. The Israelites followed Joshua’s leadership and took Jericho by simply marching around the city as God directed.

Enter Rice Krispie Treats.

Today our preschoolers used Rice Krispie Treats turned Jericho walls as a visual reminder of their story. Teeny tiny pieces of goodness became the stones in the wall and as God’s people marched around them, they tumbled down first onto their plates and then into their bellies!!!

It was a super fun, super tasty reminder of God’s faithfulness to lead, deliver, provide and faithfully keep His promises to His people. Even better, there were some left over!!

Hmmmmm!! Taste and See–the Lord is good!

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Children Care for Others

james 127

Tonight our church staff hosted a dinner for the widows of our church. We do it about twice a year. We love it, and so do our ladies. It starts with the inspiration for a theme and menu, then out go the invites and before we know it, it’s time to get cookin! Honestly, I think it means as much to us as to them. It’s simply a blessing to share the evening and make it special for this precious group of women.

Part of the blessing tonight was the involvement of children. One of our staff has 4 young children, and it was  a real privilege to watch how their children interacted with our widows. They came ready to serve, ready to love and ready to help. Their children worked along side our staff to serve plates of food and cups of water and lemonade to our ladies. After the meal, they helped the widows pick out sachet packets our children’s ministry had made the week before as take home gifts.

While standng at the table, I observed them chatting with our ladies, helping them choose their sachet, and talking about how they had been part of the group that made them. (They got to sew on sewing machines which was super cool for the kids and super impressive to our ladies.)

In a nutshell, I was blessed and impressed to see the kids genuinely caring for our elderly.

Good form, mom and dad! Good form!

So how do we teach our children to care for others, especially the elderly, lonely or widowed?

 

It starts through things like:

1) Taking the time to involve your children in others lives. Get to know your neighbors, Schedule visits to someone you know who may be lonely or isolated.

2) Developing your child’s gifts by allowing them to share love and care with others. Does your child like to bake? Bake something special and deliver it together. Do they like to draw? Create a picture and mail it or take it to someone. Are they workers? Let them help rake leaves or assist in a project with you to show someone that you care.

3)  Not allowing your child to speak disrepectfully to others. Model and encourage speech that reflects kindness and patience. Teach your child to be a good listener.

4)  Valuing others yourself. When your child sees you place high value on another person, they will be also put value on that person. Speak kindly to, and of, others in your child’s presence.

5)  Putting others needs before your own. Teach your children to put others first by having them let others go first in line, have the best seat, hold doors for them, let them go ahead in a check out, putting away grocery store carts and offering to let others be served before they are when eating meals.

It’s really the little things, done consistently, that make an impact on our children’s hearts and how they care for others. Tonight I saw my little friends each show care and honor to others in little ways that added up to a big imact. I saw them living out James 1:27 as they helped show love and meet the needs of  widows in our church.

But it’s not just about tonight. It’s about the days and nights to come. Because these little opportunties to love and care for others are helping to prepare them for a life time of being people who care, who serve and who love–living out a pure and faultless religion as they shine like stars and keep themselves from being polluted in a world hardened by a lack of caring.

 

 

Teaching Children to Give it Up for God–Tiny Tot Tuesday

bible bank1
I remember going to church as a little girl and putting my offering in a little Bible bank like the one above. It was never much. When I was really small, my parents gave me a quarter to put in the offering container each week. No doubt, I didn’t understand exactly what I was doing or why I was doing it, but I did understand that when you went to church you got to bring offering and you got to put it the bank for Jesus. Never once do I remember thinking that I had to put the money in. Not at all, I remember that I got to put the money in, and I loved it. I loved bringing even that little bit in every week and bringing it to Jesus.

As a teen, I learned to give generously and first to God. I still felt it a privilege to give back to God from what He had given to me. Then for a few years my head, my heart and my life grew cold to God, and I struggled giving Him anything at all. When I first returned to my faith and the One who saved me, I still had a bit of trouble giving. I wanted to give. I wanted to tithe, but that 10% seemed like so much to ask. Then one day, I realized I would rarely get out and go to a sale that had only 10% off, because 10% was so little. I figured a store could surely do better than that. Ten percent?? Well, that was almost like cheating your customers.

Enter the Holy Spirit.

For at that time I realized that 10% was actually a very small amount to give to God for all He had done for me. In fact, perhaps, I was almost cheating Him by giving so little. It was at that place in my life that I began to understand more the purpose and joy of giving.

Giving to God is a way to show honor, respect, and thanks. It’s a way for me to help others through His church, the same way someone else’s giving has helped me. It’s a way to meet spiritual and physical needs, and it’s a way to live out taking the good news into all the world.

Knowing that most of what a child believes is ingrained in their brain by the time they reach twelve years old, we need to begin to teach our tiny tots about giving when they are well, tiny tots. How can we begin to teach our children about giving? Here are a few things that I remember helped teach me about giving.

Ten Ideas for Helping Your Children Learn to Give it Up for God

1) Model giving. Allow your children to see you give joyfully and regularly. We never need to be afraid to give. God promises to meet all our needs, and to never leave us or forsake us.

2) When they are small give them a small amount of money to put in the offering each week. When they are older, teach them to give from their allowance, gift money or paycheck.

3) Teach your children what offering money is used for. Introduce them to missionary families your church supports, help with outreach services of your church like the food pantry, talk to them about how offering is used to help people learn about Jesus and how offering helps your church building to have heat, air conditioning water and toilet paper!

4) Affirm them when they want to give of their own initiative. Praise the giving spirit within your child.

5) Share stories of people who have been helped through giving to your church. This will build your faith as well as theirs.

6) Be patient. We are living in a material world, and yes, we are material girls (and boys). It may take time for generosity to grow within your child.

7) Pray for a generous, thankful heart to grow in your child. Prayer is powerful and generous, joyful people are a blessing to be around.

8) Encourage your children’s pastor to continue to teach on giving. Children need to hear God’s truth from more than just mom and dad.

9) Give to needs outside church, too. Help your child to understand that God wants to meet needs at church and outside of church, too. Bell ringers, emergency causes, homeless shelters, para church organizations and sponsoring children are all ways to give on top of regular church giving.

10) Teach your children that giving to God is a way to praise. Teach them to “give it up for God!” Because He is a God worthy of our praise.

church bank

1 Corinthians 16:2
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;…

You can still buy Bible and church banks at http://www.churchsupplier.com Ha! Who knew? I’m seriously thinking about bringing back the Bible bank at our church. Old school is almost always cool!