One fun (and surprisingly meaningful) way to celebrate Advent

Wise men search for Jesus

Written by Melinda Biel I grew up in a wonderful, God-loving, Jesus-preaching Christian home but for some reason I have not really learned how to celebrate advent other than scarfing down chocolate from a cardboard window. (I actually don’t consider that advent related…I thought it was just a yummy countdown to Christmas Day.) Now that I have 3 kiddos of my own and hear the word ‘advent’ popping up frequently, I decided this year was the year I was going to “take on” advent for real.   Thankfully that’s also when Christie posted her blog article concerning advent. Just as she suggested, I skimmed for ideas first and then read the details of the ones I liked. The idea of having The 3 Wise Men search for baby Jesus (a play on ‘elf on the shelf’) seemed perfect. Simple, fun, doable, and advent-ish enough to check “take on advent” off … Read More

3 things we must do to protect our kids online

protect my kids online

This week, my husband and I attended a movie called “Over 18”,  which is a documentary that talks about the harmfulness of the porn industry, particularly to children and youth. We both came away from the film rather discouraged. It’s a big system, designed to create addiction so that it can make more money. Studies show that 90% of boys and 60% of girls have been exposed to internet pornography before 18. Say WHAT? I just want to put masks over my little boys’ eyes forever. The most powerful testimony in the movie was the 13 year old boy who became addicted to pornography at age 8. ← That’s not a typo. Age 8. And it all happened on the computer in the kitchen, while being homeschooled by his loving Christian parents. These were not negligent parents. They were normal, loving parents, just like you and me. And their boy … Read More

8 ways to experience Advent (and Christmas) through play

Did you know that children learn incredible amounts through play? It may look to adults that they are “just” playing, but the amount of learning that occurs in the brain when a child is freely enjoying themselves is astounding. (Google “learn through play” to read a ton of info about this!) For example, playing with various sized buckets at a sand and water table is giving a preschool an early understanding of volume. Scribbling helps them learn fine motor skills, and simple puzzles help them identify shapes (which is crucial for understanding letters). I am a huge proponent of letting kids play what they want (within safe limits!) when they want, because it also helps them learn self-discipline, engages their imaginations, and helps with their social skills. When it comes to childhood, free play is essential. But that doesn’t mean you can spark their imaginations with a few strategically placed items! … Read More

The easiest parenting habit with the biggest eternal impact

The one habit

He screamed and clutched me as if monsters were trying to drag him into the pit of hell. Maybe that’s how he felt. The first day of kindergarten can be rather rough on a child, but I wasn’t expecting the teachers to have to PEEL my son off me. I walked into the parent meeting, late, brushing tears off my cheeks. This parenting gig is hard on the soul. I find it extra hard to help my eldest with his emotional struggles. He’s a sensitive and creative fellow with an anxious streak a mile long. I had always hoped that his separation anxiety was more of a trick to induce mommy-guilt than a real, true-blue anxiety, but it turns out I was wrong. The anxiety was real, and it bled into his entire kindergarten year. Dropping him off at school was a nightmare, and he cried every.single.morning. His teacher reported … Read More

A practical way to encourage thankfulness in your home

Thankfulness Tree

Developing a thankful heart in our kids is a top priority for many families, and one that becomes a bigger priority when autumn (and Thanksgiving) rolls around!  If you’re looking for a fun way to encourage thankfulness in your family, consider creating a Thankfulness Tree. This is the one we had a few years ago. We added to it afterward but I neglected to take a picture when it was more full of leaves.    For one season I hung this tree in our front entryway, and during another Thanksgiving season I hung it in our kitchen. I created the paper tree out of butcher paper and attached some pre-cut leaves. The following pictures are from my friend’s house – her teen daughter made this one with her friend!   The year we had our Thankfulness Tree in the entrance, it was the first thing that you saw when you … Read More

3 Ways to Slip Jesus Into the Lives of Your Grown Kids and Grandkids

grandparenting

Susan and I share a heartbeat: we both long for parents and grandparents to truly understand their great influence in the spiritual lives of kids. It’s an honour to welcome Susan to my home-on-the-web today. Susan is a pastoral counselor, author, speaker, mom and grandma. I’d love for you to check out her FREE 5-day online mini-course called Paving the Way: 5 Ways to Attract Your Grown Kids to Jesus. You can get the details and jump into the video course here. Doesn’t it just rip you up inside when your grown child shows no interest in the Lord? Maybe you raised your kids in the faith, and maybe you didn’t. Either way, your faith, the most important part of your life, is ignored—set aside as ancient history or labeled “Emergency Use Only.” And you wonder where you missed it? What could you have done differently in raising this child? And then … Read More

3 Stories that stir the soul of your children

What if you could read a story that was more than a story, a story that would stay with you long after the final word? What if you could read a story that drew you closer to God? What if you could read that same story to your kids? What if that story would draw your kids closer to God as well, by opening up conversations about faith in your home? Would you read it? With the revival of reading aloud to our children, (even children that can read perfectly fluently), comes the need for stories that stir the imagination and the soul. There are many books in the world that do one or the other, but not nearly enough that do both. Enter…stories to stir the soul! These original stories, written by yours truly, will move both you and your kids as you read, study, and learn together. They are each read-able … Read More

The easiest way to share (and remember) the gospel

The easiest way to share (and remember) the gospel

What’s the easiest way to share (and remember) the gospel? With colors! You may have seen something called “the wordless book” or made beaded bracelets with the colors in Sunday School. But most of the color-presentations are missing something essential. They are missing God’s motivation. As a story-writer, I know that every character must be properly motivated. His/her actions have to have a reason, because that’s how things work in real life. We don’t do random things. Even if they may APPEAR random, they always have a reason. (Whether or not the reason is sane is another story altogether.) When we start our gospel presentations with sin, we have a motivation problem. Why on earth would God want to save us from our sin? The answer to that question, the motivation for Christ’s sacrifice, lies BEFORE sin. The gospel starts at creation, not at the fall. If God hadn’t created the … Read More

The 3 verse gospel

Share the gospel in 3 verses; includes printable posters!

I was sitting in the first row in my Invertebrates class at University, waiting for it to start. I have no idea why I sat in the front that day, normally being a back-row sitter. It must have been the fascinating subject material…I mean, jellyfish and crustaceans would certainly keep anyone on the edge of their seat. My lab partner came and sat next to me, and we started chatting. I don’t recall the subject of our discussion, except that she suddenly asked me THE question… “What do Christians believe anyway?” My heart stuttered, my mouth went dry. I had been a Christian most of my life, why was I suddenly panicking? I hastily drew a bridge on my notebook and went through the “bridge illustration” with her, but class was about to start. I’m pretty sure I told the whole thing in less than a minute (once I actually got started). Has … Read More

When your child believes the lies of the enemy

My two oldest boys get on each other’s nerves something fierce these days. Recently, however, the fights were different. Tensions were high because of a deep mistrust that had burrowed itself into the mind of my eldest. Every word spoken and every action taken by his brother brought him to the brink of a tantrum because he felt like his brother was “out to get” him. During a particularly hard day when everyone in the family had gotten frustrated with his attitude, he wailed to his dad, “I feel like everyone is against me” and it finally clicked. My little boy was believing lies. You see, we have this enemy who wants to devour and destroy anything good in the lives of our boys. He does not want them growing up with a strong bond of brotherly love, and he will do what it takes to tear that bond apart. Lies were … Read More