For years leaders have recognized that kids who do the best in Awana programs have help at home. A recent Awana alumni study shows not only that, but also over 90 percent of those Awana kids…
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JUMP FOR CHOCOLATE JOY!

January 3rd, 2014

A few weeks ago, we heard about a new version of the Cubbie theme song written by a Cubbie herself. Instead of singing, “We jump and shout for joy,” she sang, “We jump for chocolate joy.”

Any of us who are parents or who work with kids have those funny moments stuck in our memory – when a child says something that is hilariously entertaining.

But wait a minute – are those moments stuck in our memories? Or do we quickly forget  those one-of-a-kind phrases?girl smiling

In Proverbs 17:22, we read A merry heart does good, like medicine.”

God created words. God created children. And don’t children often make us merry with their use of words? In fact, many of their words and phrases are integrated into the family vocabulary and become words that only a family member would understand. Still others are tucked away in our brains forever.

Now, with social media, these phrases disappear even more quickly. We might put it out there for everyone to see, but the page quickly scrolls down and the phrase is lost in cyberspace.

Here are some ways to save those cute moments in your child’s life.

1. Buy a notebook for each of your kids. Attach a pen and put in a handy place. When a child says something cute or wise or asks a great question, write it down with the date.

On the way to church one Sunday, the little boy asked, “Can we stay for the tooth thing again?”  His parents were perplexed, not understanding what the “tooth thing” was, but the little boy insisted he wanted to stay for the TOOTH THING. “You know,” he said, “like we did last week.” Suddenly it dawned on the parents what he was asking. He wanted to stay for the second service – the t(wo)th thing.

2. Do you scrapbook? (Another noun that’s become a verb) Add the cute/wise sayings around the edges of the page.

Then there’s the boy who was saying the books of the Bible: “… Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Salamander …”

3. Keep a photo album of your kids (either on the computer or on your coffee table). Each month, add a kid quote.

Like the little boy who stood up to say his part in the Christmas program, looked at his mom and announced, “Mine hair is in mine eyes.”  He refused to say his part until someone fixed his hair. He grew up to be a pastor.

4. Keep a computer file of your kids’ funny sayings.

A Sparks leader was teaching his kids a new song, “Be Bold for Jesus” and asked if anyone new what it meant to be bold. “Oh, yes,” one Sparkie answered. “It’s when you don’t have any more hair.”

5. Buy a calendar with good-sized spaces for each day. When a child says something, write it in the space for the day. (And then remember to keep the calendar.)

6. Record your child. If he sings a song with mixed-up words – have him do it again on video.

7. Don’t neglect the funny things you hear at club. Are you a leader? Suggest to the leader that you keep a notebook in the Awana storage area where any leader can write down funny things he or she hears at club. How much fun it will be to look back in later years! Someday you might be able to “recycle” one of those sayings on a clubber’s graduation or wedding card.

Like the night a sixth grader had said several sections to me, but was now stuck on the very last word of the very last verse. The word was “man” and since she hadn’t had many helps through the several sections, I decided to give her a clue. “What your dad is?” I hinted.  Suddenly, she beamed and answered, “a pessimist!”

8. Digitally add your child’s funny saying to a favorite photo. Have it enlarged to poster size. You now have a fun – and personal – poster to display in your house.

Okay – you might need to be a Cub’s fan to get this one (and obviously this happened several years ago). A mom knew the Cubbies leader had been working on the Cubbies motto, so she asked her daughter to say it to her. Without hesitation, the little girl answered, “Go, Sammy Sosa.”

9. Print off the Facebook page where you shared your child’s quote – also print off the comments. Your child will appreciate it when he’s older – as long as you don’t share something that shouldn’t be shared!

A mom was helping her daughter, Katie, to learn her verse for Sparks. The verse was John 3:16.. After they repeated it several times, the mom said, “Now put YOUR name in the verse,” thinking her daughter would say “God so loves Katie.” Instead the little girl announced, “God is love. Katie 3:16

10. Thank God for the gift of children, the gift of words and for the smiles we get when children use those words.

One Sparkie was thoughtfully explaining sin to his leader: “It’s hard to stop sinning,” he said seriously, “and it’s hard to stop smoking.”

Posted in Family Activities, Family Relationships, Fun Friday, Just Stuff, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

FUN FRIDAY – THANKSGIVING PLACECARDS

November 22nd, 2013

DSC_0364Thanksgiving at our house includes a lot of people under the age of 10. So, this year I decided to involve those kids in a unique way.  I asked each of them what food he/she would like for Thanksgiving dinner. Fortunately, many of the answers were foods I was already planning such as turkey, pickles and enough pumpkin pie “that there will be some left over for breakfast.”  However (not surprisingly), the 5yo said chocolate.

So the other night, I had the 5yo and his two sisters help me with a special project. We purchased candy bars for everyone. Then, on the computer, we designed a fall-flowered label which fit around a chocolate candy bar. Then, because we are very thankful to the Lord for our family, we made a “thank-you” candy bar for each family member. Each person’s name has an adjective, starting with the same letter as their first name.  The kids themselves chose the words to make the project even more fun. I didn’t give them any hints. We’re all looking forward to the surprise on the guests faces when they see the candy bars at their places Thanksgiving Day.

How do you encourage the kids in your house to be thankful?

(Hmmm … now if I could just figure out how to include the 6yo’s request for pizza …)

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FIVE GUIDELINES ON TEACHING YOUR KIDS ABOUT MARRIAGE FROM EPHESIANS 5

November 20th, 2013

 

Flower

 

 

We’ve all heard the advice that one of the best gifts we can give our kids is a great relationship between ourselves and our spouse. But how? Is there a guide to doing that?

 

As a matter of fact, there is – Ephesians 5.  Here are five how-tos from Paul’s chapter on love and marriage.

 

1. Be a team. (vss. 21-28)  Most of the chapter talks about the “team” aspect of the family. No, Paul doesn’t use the word “team,” but he does relate the authority structure. Dad’s the head, but Mom’s right up there, too.  The parents (not the kids) are in charge.

 

Being a team also means that couples shouldn’t undermind each other. “Joe, I think Emma SHOULD be allowed to go to the party” or “Connie, I can’t believe you’re letting YOUR daughter go out in that shirt.” Disagreements need to be discussed in private, not in front of your children. Parents need to have a united front when making decisions about their kids.

 

That also means that your children shouldn’t be allowed to play you against each other. Andrew might not like the answer Dad gave him, but that doesn’t mean he can go to Mom and attempt to get a different answer.

 

2. Be all about love and respect. (vs. 33)  Parents shouldn’t call each other nasty names, slam doors or threaten each other. Kids do not need to hear things like, “I shouldn’t have married you” or “Why don’t you pay attention to me like Joe does to Amelia?”

 

 

 

What kids should hear is “Mom’s not feeling good today. Let’s all help her out. Jenna, please set the table and Collin, please put the rolls in the oven.”

 

Or, “You guys have the best mom/dad in the world. I thank the Lord for bringing us together. I love her/him so much.”

 

3. Be pure. (vs. 3-4) Ah, this is a good one in today’s world. Kids don’t need to hear their parents talking about the “hot guy” on TV or saying something off-color about a member of the opposite sex. Parents need to respect each other and do everything possible to uphold that respect.

 

4. Be together. (vs. 31) A husband is to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. If Dad and Mom are both working eighty hours a week and spending the rest of their waking hours in front of the tv or computer, they aren’t joined together. Parents need to take time to go out on “dates” even if it’s a walk down the nearby hiking trail or dinner at the local fast food restaurant. They need time to say more to each other than “Could you pick Janie up from school today?” or “For the 97th time, I’m telling you the faucet is dripping.”

 

Kids need to see dad and mom enjoy each other, whether it’s playing a game of `tennis, searching antique stores for a just-right table for the front hallway or `working together to cook their killer lasagna for the family.

 

Kids also need to see their parents do ministry together. This could be teaching a Bible study or inviting a visiting missionary to dinner.

 

Your children need to understand that you are each other’s best friend.

 

5.  Be thankful. (vs. 20).

 

Children need to hear Dad compliment Mom on her cooking (or the other way around.) Children need to hear parents thank each other for their contribution to the family.

 

Sometimes kids need to hear Dad and Mom say how thankful they are in general for their spouse, their children and their home.

 

Seeing parents love each other will help children and teens feel loved and secure themselves. That love and respect for their parents includes respect for what their parents say and what they believe. That security gives them confidence as they face the world.

 

When parents love and respect each other, home becomes a safe place in the eyes of the kids.

 

A big thank you to Paul for giving us FIVE in FIVE.

Posted in Encouraging Kids, Family Relationships, Preschoolers | No Comments »

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

November 15th, 2013

November is the month we associate with thankfulness.

Here is a fun project to do with your kids which will help them think through the many people and pets and things in their own lives for which they can show thanks.

You could have your kids do just one batch of leaves or you could make enough leaves for them to write on one a day between now and Thanksgiving. Use the leaves to decorate the Thanksgiving table.

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A Mom’s Upset – But for the Wrong Reasons

November 13th, 2013

 

DSC_0377Yesterday I came across a blog post written by a mom of a tween.

The mom is rightly indignant that one of the girl’s favorite teachers has been arrested for participating in a child porn ring. The 11-yr-old daughter and her friends are panicky because a few months ago he asked for class pictures of all the kids. Thinking he had some kind of nostalgic collection of student photos, they each readily gave him one. Now the families are concerned that he used them in unmentionable and inappropriate ways.

I don’t know for sure, of course, but I’m guessing that most people reading my blog here would be as angry about this happening to their own child as I would be. In fact, I know how angry I would be. My children would be out of that school in a heartbeat.

I can say that with conviction because a similar situation (not quite this serious, but still unsettling) caused us to do just that with our own kids.

As I read the mom’s comments, my emotions darted from sadness to anger to empathy to what-is-this-world-coming-to laments.

And then I read her fourth paragraph.

She was upset about the situation, but not in the way I would’ve been upset.  The focus of her anger was that the teacher was ruining the message the mom wanted to give her child about sex (and this is where my anger escalated through the ceiling).  Her message to her daughter was NOT that sex was a beautiful God-given gift for marriage, but that it was something she could do with her boyfriends for a great and fun experience.  She wanted her daughter to have the freedom to have sex with as many guys as she wanted (as the mom herself had had) as long as the time and place was right – which, she admitted, sometimes included high school situations.

Whoa!

Are not both of these circumstances horrifyingly wrong? Whether it’s a teacher misusing pictures or a kid misusing her body – this is sin. Romans 3 contains verses to read as a reminder of exactly how depraved we all are without the righteousness of God made possible through Christ’s death on the cross.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19 we read that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and those verses come right after Paul’s speech about sexual purity. (Though we’re more apt to use them in regard to eating healthy food or doing push-ups to keep ourselves fit and strong, than we are to applying them to lust.)

(A side note – we are all sinners. Things happen and we can’t undo what is done. But we must remember that God is a God of forgiveness. That’s why Christ paid the price with His very life. He also promises to renew us day by day – 2 Corinthians 4:16.  The Apostle Paul tells us to forget those things which are behind and reach for those things that are ahead – Philippians 3:13.)

Teaching our kids to rebel against God’s Word? That’s frightening. (Though I don’t think this mom is too concerned about what God says)

Now, I imagine some of you are thinking – an Awana blog is no place to talk about this. Yet, God talks about it in His Word. A lot. He knows what a big deal this is in our society. He knows that the media bombards our kids with revealing clothes, commercial messages and an overall “If it’s fun, do it.”

And even though many of us, as Christian parents, do teach our kids that sex is a beautiful gift God gives husbands and wives, we are working with kids in our churches who are not getting this message from their parents.  In fact, they are getting just the opposite.

What if this mom’s daughter was attending your club or was your daughter’s friend?

We’d better be prepared to give some good, biblical advice.

We’d better be intentional about teaching the gift of love God provides for married couples.

And we’d better be teaching that regifting is not ever the best thing to do

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FUN FRIDAY – SMILE!

November 8th, 2013

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Here’s a quick and fun snack to make with your kids – both “personal” kids and club kids.

Spread peanut butter on two apple slices. Put a few mini-marshmallows between the two slices. Press the the “non-skinned” sides of the slices together and you have a SMILE!

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Can Your Child Handle the Truth?

November 6th, 2013

We know the Bible is true because the Bible is God’s Word and what God says is always true.

That’s one of the first facts we teach our children.

But wait a minute! What does truth mean to a child?

We tell a child to “tell” the truth. How does a young child interpret that?

Young elementary children often get in trouble for lying – for a few reasons.

1. They often don’t mean to “lie,” but are simply telling stories.

2. They understand that sometimes if you lie, you can get away with things. Sneakiness becomes part of their personality. (Isn’t it interesting that kids don’t need to be taught how to lie? The “sin nature” is one part of our life that needs no training.)

3. They don’t understand the difference between what is true and what isn’t true.

Teach your child what it means to “be true.”

Truth means that a person is telling you exactly what happens or will happen. When you say to your child, “Your bedroom is blue,” 1192871792CUyohVyou are telling the truth. When God says to us, “I will never leave you,” He is telling us the truth.

Play a truth/non-truth game with your child. As you’re driving or cooking supper, make a series of statements – some true, some not true.

Two and two equal four.

Two and two equal five.

Chocolate candy is the healthiest food you can eat.

Broccoli is a healthy food.

Sparks vests are blue.

Sparks vests are red.

You’re having fun, but at the same time your child is learning the meaning of truth.

 

 

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JUST THE FACTS MONDAY – CRAYONS

November 4th, 2013

DSC_0011Just some fun facts about crayons …

*By a child’s 10th birthday, he will use an average of 730 crayons.

*Crayons are the third most recognizable smell after coffee and peanut butter.

*Crayola has 120 different shades.

*Most popular colors are: blue, cerulean (also a shade of blue), purple heart, midnight blue, aquamarine (sort of blue), carribean green, periwinkle (I’m feeling kind of blue), denim, cerise, blizzard blue (do I see a pattern?)

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FUN FRIDAY – IS IT IN THE BIBLE?

November 1st, 2013

Here’s a fun quiz to do with your family, your clubbers or Trek and Journey teens. Are these thoughts from the Bible? (They are general phrases, not version specific.) Look up the verses at the bottom of the list for the answers. (Feel free to make copies for your family or Awana group.)

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING PHRASES ARE IN THE BIBLE?

 

1. Studying too much makes you tired.

DSC028332. The suburbs … shake at the cry of the pilots.

3. Don’t eat too many sweets – you might get sick and vomit.

4. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.

5. Like mother, like daughter.

6. Go the extra mile.

7. His speech is smooth as butter.

8. Children are a gift from God.

9. A happy heart makes the face cheerful.

10. Lazy hands makes a man poor.

Ecclesiastes 12:12; Proverbs 15:13; Psalm 127:3; Matthew 5:41; Ezekiel 16:44; Matthew 16:2-3; Proverbs 10:4; Proverbs 25:16; Psalm 55:21; Ezekiel 27:28

(The reference in italics is best read in KJV.)

 

 

 

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C.S. LEWIS, KIDS AND PRUNES

October 29th, 2013

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Next month is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis – a death that went largely unnoticed because it happened the same day as Kennedy’s assassination. C.S. Lewis is widely considered to be the century’s most well-known Christian author. Although we might not agree with everything he says, we do agree with his attitude toward kids.  An attitude that resulted in a lot of letter writing.

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Once in a hotel dining room I said, rather too loudly, “I loathe prunes.”

“So do I,” came an unexpected six-year-old voice from another table. 

Sympathy was instantaneous. Neither of us thought it funny. We both knew that prunes are far too nasty to be funny. That is the proper meeting between man and child as independent personalities. (C.S. Lewis)

This is a quote from an interesting book: C.S. Lewis Letters to Children (edited by Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie Lamp Mead).

Most of the letters are about everyday happenings: I never knew a guinea pig that took any notice of humans (they take plenty of one another) and others are deeper. But one thing is clear – C.S. Lewis respected children and felt that their questions should be answered showing that respect.

He said: The child … is neither to be patronized nor idolized: we talk to him as man to man … . We must of course, try to do [children] no harm; we may, under the Omnipotence, sometimes dare to hope that we may do them good. But only such good as involves treating them with respect.

Reading the author’s letters, you understand that he treated children exactly as he said one should. In fact, he felt that answering the letters of children was his God-given duty. When you consider that Lewis was a prolific author and university professor and that he didn’t have a computer to shoot off a quick email – answering (by hand) the scores of letters he received from children (and adults) is admirable.

And that got me thinking about the way we treat children.

Yes, of course, there are times when we need to reprimand, (that’s also our God-given duty), but there are other times we treat our kids with a total lack of respect, rather than the kindness with which we would treat anyone else in our lives.

imagesWhen’s the last time you labeled your child with something unflattering: clumsy, stupid, slow, fat/skinny? When’s the last time you told him you didn’t have time to go to his game or to help her with her verses or to watch her do her new trick? (Yes, of course there are times when we truly don’t have time to stop what we’re doing – but that doesn’t mean we can’t promise to take the time later on … and then actually do so – giving our child our full attention.)

When’s the last time we brushed off one of her questions or laughed scornfully at what he asked? Doing that is a guarantee he won’t be asking more questions – questions that count.

Lewis wanted kids to know he respected them, he saw them as people and he cared enough to answer their letters. (One American child wrote to him 28 times and he answered them all.)

Paul wrote to the church at Colossae (3:12): Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. I don’t see any words in that verse that would indicate we don’t need to show compassion, kindness and patience toward our children until they turn 18.

C.S. Lewis got that. He understood the importance of treating kids like “real people,” of answering their questions whether they had to do with Narnia or life in general.

We need to “get it” too. We need to treat our kids – our personal kids or the kids we teach in class – as real people with real minds, real thoughts and real questions.

Whether we’re talking about the big questions of life or … about prunes.

 

 

 

Posted in biblical worldview, Critical Thinking, Right and Wrong, Teaching Godly Characteristics | No Comments »