Funny little power super hero child (girl) in a blue raincoat. Superhero concept

Give your kids a Super Power!

Sometimes we learn the most powerful lessons from the smallest among us. Minnie Moorehouse was an amazing little girl with wisdom well beyond her years…

Her dad had just come home from work and had a package someone had sent for her mom.

“Where is Mother?” he asked after he kissed and hugged his daughter.

“Mother is upstairs,” Minnie responded.

“Well,” he said, “I have a package for her.”

“Oh,” she pleaded, “Let me carry the package to Mother.”

He gazed sadly at his wheelchair bound daughter.

“Why, Minnie dear,” her father replied, “how can you carry the package? You can’t even carry yourself.”

With a smile, Minnie continued, “That’s true, Papa. But you can give me the package, and I will carry the package — and you will carry me!”

And that’s just what they did.

 

After reading this story to kids we ask them,

“If Minnie had not been paralyzed do you think she would have asked for her dad’s help to take the package to her mom?”

Of course not. Like most children, Minnie would probably have bounded up the stairs on her own power without even a backward glance. It was Minnie’s weakness that made her depend on her dad’s power.

I don’t know about you, but my first reaction when my kids wrestle with a weakness is to figure out how to “fix” it. But when “fixing” it is my top priority I’m afraid I miss the most important thing… and so do they.

Do we want our kids to learn to work hard at overcoming obstacles? Absolutely. Do we encourage them to persevere even when the odds are stacked against them? You bet. Do we want them to think they can do it on their own? Only if we want to set them up to ultimately fail.

When our kids weaknesses show up it’s so easy to miss the opportunity to show them how to be swept up in the arms of our All-Powerful God. He doesn’t promise He will use His power to get rid of the weakness, but He does promise to give us strength in the midst of our weaknesses and empower us to do things we could never imagine doing on our own power.

Here’s how this played out in our house one morning…

My sweet daughter was 4 years old and as strong willed as they come! It wasn’t even 10 a.m. and she had already been disciplined 5 times. I was so weary of the battles. She was weary too, but not as much. I sat on her bed as she cried, crushed that I would be so cruel as too condemn her to another time-out. Between sobs she gasped,

“I try to do the right thing but I just can’t. Something takes over. I just can’t do it.”

There were two dynamics going on. The tear stained princess before me thought it was extremely unfair that I would hold her responsible for something she couldn’t help doing. She also truly believed she could not be obedient, thus there was no hope for the rest of the day.

I rubbed her back and laid out her options.

“Sweet girl, today can be a good day or a bad day. If you keep making bad choices it’s going to be a bad day. If you make good choices it can be a good day.”

“But I can’t!” she wailed.

“No, you can’t. Not by yourself. Jesus promised that He would send the Holy Spirit to help us make good choices and say ‘no’ to the bad ones. He won’t force His help on you, but if you ask for it He will help you be strong and make the right choices.”

Defiant hazel eyes looked into mine.

“No.” she declared. “I can do it myself.”

“Okay.” I sighed. “You try.”

Fifteen minutes later she appeared in the kitchen. Beaming with joy she declared,

“I did it!”

“What did you do, honey?”

“I asked Jesus to help me and He is!”

It wasn’t the last time she had to learn the lesson, but it was a powerful first step! The rest of the day did go much better.

Happy mom.

Happy and empowered daughter.

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.   –Isaiah 40:29

Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.                                           –I Corinthians 12:9,10 NLT

Go to http://dg4kids.com/bible-time/day-three-god-is-all-powerful/ for a great family devotion that includes the story of Minnie Moorehouse!

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Conversation starter: What scares you the most?

Talking about our fears is a key step to rendering them powerless in our lives. It’s the same for children. Sometimes discovering what our kids are afraid of is a no brainer. They scream, hide, cry… but sometimes their greatest fears go undetected. Like adults, kids learn to keep some fears to themselves. Pushed into the back corners of their brain the fears fester, grow and take control.  It’s our job to help bring the fears out into the light.

It’s not enough, however, just to talk about what frightens us. Sitting around a campfire sharing scary stories tends to feed the fear rather than quench it! Like us, children also need to bring their fears face to face with their All Powerful God and trust Him for the courage, strength and faith to do battle and win.

October is a great month to focus on God’s limitless power! Halloween paraphernalia and promotion is on every street corner. Whether you participate in Halloween activities or not, your kids can’t escape the skeletons, ghosts and witches that pop up everywhere. It creates a launching pad for conversations about what they find scary. Be careful to listen compassionately to what they share and don’t minimize their fear. It may sound silly to you, but it’s real to them. Bring the focus back to God and the fact that NOTHING is stronger than Him.

Conversation starter: What scares you the most?

Follow up question: What makes it scary?

Follow up question: Is God stronger than anything you’re afraid of?

The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.                                                         —Psalm 33:6 NLT

Follow up question: How can God give you power over your fear? (example: I know I’m never alone. He’s always with me…)

For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.

                                                –Philippians 4:13 NLT

 

Keep in mind; you don’t want to plant false expectations of God’s power in the hearts and minds of your kids. Sometimes He gives us power to endure rather than power to take away that which scares us. Sometimes He gives us powerful peace rather than take away the turmoil. Sometimes He wraps us in powerful comfort and healing rather than remove the hurtful circumstance.

Fear wins when it paralyzes us, controls our actions and manipulates our relationships. God’s power frees us from fear and gives courage to move forward, make good choices and live a life of authentic love.

I don’t know about you, but this mom needed to be reminded of God’s power today! The message spans the generations!!  🙂

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Warning: Don’t try this alone!

What are you doing with the kids you love this weekend? If you want to do something easy and super fun, with minimal time commitment and eternal significance, we have just the thing for you!! It all starts with the power of One and the weakness of … one…

First, something to think about:

Divisive. Political. Hypocritical. Weak. Failure. Power hungry…

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve been watching the news haven’t you? Sadly, I’m not talking about the current political climate. Far too often these are words used to describe God’s people–the Church. If we can’t work together, how can we possibly expect the rest of society to figure it out? If we can’t teach our children how to work together, how can we expect their future to be any better than ours?

God is the only one who is All Powerful. He doesn’t need anyone else to give Him strength; but we are not God! We need His strength to do our part.  He also designed us to need each other in order to experience the power that comes from working together as the Body of Christ. The Bible emphasizes the importance of functioning as a body. Arms, feet, fingers, toes, head, mouth… all have different functions but all equally important to helping the body thrive. We like to pick favorites, usually the part we associate with, and minimize the necessity of the others. I wonder what the community of God’s people would look like if we all started valuing each part as much as we value our own?

This weekend you can help your kids take a step in the right direction. We have a couple activities that will help you laugh together and have an opportunity to talk about God’s power as well as our need for Him and each other.

Each option is designed to illustrate the limitations of trying to accomplish something on our own rather than using the power of community effort. The conversation starters at the end can be used with either option.

Option 1: Prepare a dessert.

**Place the dessert on plates in front of each person at the table and provide the 
necessary utensils.

**Tell everyone that they’re to pretend their elbows won’t bend. If they can figure out 
how to eat the dessert, without putting their face on the plate and without bending their elbows, they can have the dessert. (The solution is to feed those sitting next to you. When you help your neighbor you each get to enjoy the dessert!)

Option 2: Pin the tail on the donkey, or whatever you want it to be – pin the mustache on a picture of dad?

**Blind fold the person with the closest birthday, turn them 3 times and see where the 
tail or the mustache ends up. Let everyone who wants to try it take a turn.

**Finally, follow the same procedure but let everyone give directions to help the 
person get the tail in the right place. (They become the blind man’s eyes.)

Talk about it:

We need each other. God says that those who trust in Jesus are His children and part of His family. We need each other because, unlike God, we are not perfect and we can’t do everything perfectly. Some people are good cooks while others are good at fixing things. Some people can teach God’s word really well and other people are really good at helping those who are hurting. God says we’re like the human body. Each part has important things to do, and the body needs each part to work right.

Listen to this:

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.                                                                                               —Ephesians 4:16, NLT

  • What does this Bible verse teach us about working together?  (Make sure your kids understand that this verse is talking specifically about those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior)
  • Why do we need each other? 
(God has no weaknesses, but we do. Because of our weaknesses, we need each other. God promises to give us strength in our weaknesses. Sometimes that strength comes in the form of other people working with us and filling in our gaps.)
  • Bringing it to a close: 
Think of someone who has helped you this week. Thank God for that person. Thank Him for helping us through other people and for using us to help others.

Blessings dear friends!  Have a great weekend!

–For more help teaching kids about the power of God go to:  http://www.dg4kids.com/attribute/god-is-all-powerful/

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Where does hope come from?

I’ll be honest with you; I’ve been struggling with discouragement lately. I’m the type of person that rises to the occasion when emergencies happen, but the daily bombardment of curve balls and small disappointments can easily be my undoing. It seems like my days have been full of them recently and I see no end in sight. Add in our declining moral and ethical culture, world-wide volatility and a Church (all followers of Jesus) that spends more time attacking each other and “protecting” their “turf” than fighting for the eternal souls of their neighbors and loving as Christ loves…well, you get the picture. Sometimes it’s hard to be hopeful.

So, where does hope come from?

If it comes from the wrong place hope can be devastating. I think too often we teach our kids to hope in the wrong thing and then wonder why they reject the church when hope lets them down. That’s exactly what happened to some ladies in a Japanese concentration camp in the Philippines…

They had sat next to each other in church every Sunday, attended Bible studies, church potlucks, served the poor and helped their neighbors. In a blink of an eye it all changed.

After years of barely surviving imprisonment, faith began to falter. They had begged God to set them free. Every morning they kindled the hope that today would be the day. Every night they crawled onto their bug invested mats questioning why He had not. In the end, many lost their faith and their mind.

One woman, however, saw her faith and hope thrive.

The novice missionary had arrived on the island newly married and with the endless optimism of youth. Life was hard but good. Then the Japanese invaded and her plans for the future changed forever.

She clung to hope as her husband was taken away with the rest of the men. Hope was her comfort during endless beatings and days upon days in solitary confinement. Hope was her strength when food was meager and parasites ravaged her wasted frame. Hope was her joy—WAIT—how did joy enter the equation? Isn’t joy what happens after hope comes through?

It all depends where your hope comes from.

Her hope didn’t come from the anticipated fulfillment of her desires or a prayer request answered with a “yes”.

Hope was the reality of the character of God.

Hope was in knowing He was with her no matter where she was,

would give her strength no matter what happened,

and in His promise that her suffering was not in vain.

Hope was not in an outcome it was in the Almighty God.

The discouragements that weigh me down seem so petty compared to what she endured. But they are real to me, and how I respond to them will determine how I respond to the challenges that lay ahead.

Where does my hope come from?

When the world is dark and the future is darker, hope is the thing inside that makes people strain to see a light in the tunnel. The difference between followers of Jesus and all others is that our hope is not a based on a whim. Our light doesn’t flicker out. Our Hope is real, eternal and always with us. I may be discouraged but I never give up Hope. My hope is not in mankind or even in me. My hope is in the source of true hope. When I remember that reality, joy starts seeping into my discouragement and peace wraps around my fears.

I pray you will focus on hope…the real Hope, and that you will pass it on to the children you love. I’m not a prophet, but I suspect many of us will have our hope tested in the years ahead. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world have it tested every day. Will our hope die or will it thrive?

It all depends on where your hope comes from…

 

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.                            -Romans 15:13 NLT

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Family fun with Hoodwinked!

Looking for something fun to do with the family this weekend? The movie Hoodwinked is one of our family favorites. Brad and I have found that movies are not only entertaining, but they also create teachable moments.

Hoodwinked is a fun twist on the Little Red Riding Hood story and a great tool for illustrating how easy it is to be wrong if you only have part of the information. The political and cultural climate we live in makes it difficult to know who’s right and who’s not. Who’s telling the truth? Who’s manipulating the facts for their own gain? If it’s confusing for adults we can be sure it’s confusing for our children!

Below are some questions you can use to talk about how God is always right because He sees everything and He knows everything.

Here’s what you will need:

  • Rent or purchase the movie, Hoodwinked!
  • Have movie snacks on hand…because snacks and movies just go together!
  • If you want your kids to think you’re super awesome, have everyone make a blanket tent in front of the TV, fill it with comfy pillows and watch the movie from inside!
  • Conversation starters for after the movie:
  •    After the first scene, who did you think stole the recipes?
  •    When did you first think it might be the bunny?
  •    The inspector did a great job of figuring out what was the right story. 
How did he do it?
  •     If God had been the inspector, when would He have known the right story? How? 
(Because  God is everywhere, all the time. He sees everything that happens and He knows what story is right. God knows everything and He doesn’t have to ask questions to find out what we do.
  •     Was Granny wrong to lie to Red? Even adults can do the wrong thing, but God never does. He’s always right and He always does what is right.
  • Bringing it to a close:
  • Thank God for the comfort of knowing He’s always right and we don’t have to worry about Him getting the facts wrong.

Talking about the reality that God is ALWAYS Right and completely trustworthy can give your kids (and you!) comfort and security in a tumultuous world. We cannot depend on people, the media or even our leaders to always be right, but we can depend on God and His Word.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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3 ways to protect your kids from the sharks in their life…

I wrote this blog several years ago and it is as timely now as it was then… 

I remember standing at the ocean’s edge as my kids frolicked in the waves. To a casual passerby I was simply a woman enjoying a day at the beach, but in reality I was a momma bear protecting her cubs! I constantly scanned the water for evidence of sharks. In that very spot, a Hammerhead had been trapped with a Tarpon between a sand bar and the beach during low tide. The resulting eating frenzy could have been a Discovery Channel special!

Humans become shark bait along our beaches every year. My first glimpse of the Florida coastline from an airplane made my stomach churn with fear. Looking out the window revealed hundreds of sharks swimming not far from the beach. I decided then and there that my children would never put a single toe in the ocean, let alone their whole body! My how things changed!

What was the difference between the mom in the plane and the mom on the beach?

  1. Knowledge: I’ve researched the enemy. I know when sharks are most likely to attack and I keep the kids out of the water at dusk and dawn. I know what behavior is most risky and what behavior will likely keep them at bay and I educate my children. I also know that, as much as we know about sharks, they’re still unpredictable…so I stand watch.
  2. Experience: Keeping my kids from the ocean in order to protect them from the sharks created a no-win scenario. The best way to help them grow to maturity and enjoy the wonders of God’s creation is to teach them how to identify the enemy, protect themselves from the enemy and equip them to deal with attacks from the enemy.
  3. Trusting God: There’s no fear like the fear that grips a mother’s heart at the thought of her children being harmed. As I stand at the water’s edge, keeping vigilant watch for the sharks, I commit my children into the Hands of the One who loves them more than I do. He’ll be there for my kids, even when they’re hurt. He’ll be there for me, even when they’re hurt.

What are the sharks in your children’s world? Don’t let the PC culture we live in make you hesitant to identify the threats. Every year we lose a vast majority of our college kids to the lies of the enemy of their souls. We haven’t done our job and they have become easy bait.

Teach your kids to identify the enemy and protect themselves from the enemy attacks. Wrap them in prayer, keep vigilant watch, and give them room to explore and grow.

Girl talking to mom

Take 60 seconds to decide…

It will be easy to decide not to. You will make hundreds of decisions this week and you probably won’t even be aware you decided. It just happens. Time gets away from you and suddenly another week has gone by and good intentions are swallowed up by stronger desires and the tyranny of the urgent.

This week can be different.

Decide now. What are you going to do this week to help the children you love get to know God a little better?

Decide to do it. (5 seconds)

Decide your kids are more important than whatever threatens to squeeze it out. (10 seconds…just in case you actually need to think about it)

Decide to ask God for help. You can’t do it on your own. (15 seconds: 1 second to decide and 14 seconds devoted to asking)

Decide to get to know God better yourself…cause you can’t give away what you don’t own. (30 seconds…because the greatest hurdle is always in our own heart)

 

Now that the decision is made, take a few more minutes to decide when, where and how. Put it in the day planner and then do it.

It’s best if you can do a little each day but if you think you only have time for it once this week…do it once…one seed is better than none. One seed can grow.   The garden of their hearts will be bare if the seeds aren’t planted at all.

The Discover God 4Kids website has a lot of free resources and step-by-step help. Try having a conversation about the fact that God is in control of everything using this: http://dg4kids.com/bible-time/day-one-god-is-creator-king/

If I can help you in any way, please let me know on our Facebook page, Discover God 4Kids.

Have fun planting some seeds!! You can do it!

True or false?

Can a positive self-image harm your kids?

We all want our kids to have a healthy self-image, but what is the key? Unlike a current presidential candidate whose enormous self-image is hard to miss, I struggled to have a positive self-image. Why is it that some people have too much of a good thing and others can’t get a crumb? Even with parents who tirelessly taught me lessons about having a “positive mental attitude” and “positive self-image” it didn’t stick…not deep in my soul. Outwardly I found some success, but inwardly I was insecure and didn’t believe I was very likeable. Mom and Dad passed on good information, but it missed the key ingredient. My parents didn’t know the key at the time, and you can’t give away what you don’t own.

So, what did they miss? They missed the root cause of a healthy self-image: seeing ourselves through the eyes of the Creator. If the root cause of our positive self-image is not the Creator we are destined to live with at least one of the harms it inevitably produces.

A positive self-image that is not based in reality: In 2013 an analysis of the American Freshman Survey uncovered a startling reality. We have raised a generation of kids who have a totally unrealistic view of themselves. While test scores dropped and time spent studying dwindled, the students claimed they were “gifted and driven to succeed”. They didn’t have an accurate assessment of what they can do or who they are. (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/08/are-raising-generation-deluded-narcissists/#ixzz2Iv7ICAd5)

Where does the disconnect come from? Possibly from a generation of parents who were so afraid of destroying their children’s self-image that they didn’t help them see the power of their strengths AND their weaknesses; a generation of parents who focused more on creating positive outcomes than developing character.

It takes time to help our children discover their gifts and accept their shortcomings. Become a student of your children. Let them try new things. Let them fail. Let them try again if they want to. Be there with them. Watch them. Learn about them. Affirm your love for them when they do well AND when they crash and burn. Most important, teach them that “apart from God they can do nothing” John 15:5 (He is the giver of their gifts – not them) AND with God “nothing is impossible”. Humility and faith – a powerful pair.

Helping our children develop a healthy self-image requires time and emotional energy; two things parents can’t seem to find in this warp drive culture. I know it’s easier to heap on the accolades, give an unearned trophy and blame failure on the system, the teacher or the coach, but when they’re adults the illusion you’ve helped your children build will do more harm than good.

A self-image based on the greatness of the individual leads to narcissism or depression or both. A self-image that’s birthed in the character of the Creator grows in humility, confidence, compassion, generosity, excellence, love and mercy. It’s not dependent on the successes of the day because its foundation is the unwavering power and faithfulness of the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb.

When I was young I learned how to think positive thoughts, cultivate my strengths and work hard to pursue my dreams, but it wasn’t until I saw myself as the Creator sees me that I died to my self-image and became alive to the person He made me to be. In many ways she is different from the person I imagined I was, but I like her… a lot. I’m comfortable in her skin… she feels like the true me. I become more like her the more I get to know the Creator. Becoming her is natural but not easy. The imitation me likes to rear her head. She ropes me in with old fears, insecurities and empty promises. Every day I choose to die to her and watch in awe as the Creator brings out a bit more of the woman He created me to be for eternity… it is unexplainable joy and security, and it has stuck…deep in my soul, forever.

Parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors, friends…Pursue your relationship with the Creator every day. Ask Him to open your eyes to the person He created you to be and then help the children you love do the same.  http://www.dg4kids.com/attribute/god-is-creator-king/

 

For we are His masterpiece. He created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. –Ephesians 2:10

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What keeps Satan “up” at night?

God is capable of doing anything – as long as it does not violate His other attributes… His power is not an abstract idea but a force to be reckoned with.     —Bill Bright, God: Discover His Character

 

God is All-Powerful. Sometimes I have to stop and think about that reality. It’s so easy to be caught up in the daily challenges of life and overwhelmed by the powerful forces dragging our culture down. Is God really the Biggest and the Strongest (as we teach the young children)? Yes, He is! The enemy of our souls knows it and he works overtime to keep us from trusting in it. Satan knows if we try to live life in our own power, we will stumble and fall.

 

God has no weaknesses. There are no chinks in His armor. We have access to His power any time, anywhere.

 

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. Ephesians 1:19-21 NLT

I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.  Ephesians 3:6 NLT

 

Pretty incredible isn’t it?!  The king of darkness fears the relationship we have with the Savior. One that is born in quiet communion with Him each day, strengthened on the meat of His Word, and takes flight in the Power of the Holy Spirit. This is what keeps Satan “up” at night. He will pull out every trick in his playbook to keep you from cultivating your relationship with Jesus and living each moment in His power.

 

If you feel the enemy is winning. If your spirit is weak and joy is fading. You are not alone. Ask for His power, courage and comfort. He will fight for you. He will win.

 

“I can do everything through Him who strengthens me.”   Matthew 7:8

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It’s why I do what I do…

Today I was reminded why I do what I do.  Seven children were forever changed.

Last night forty children in the Awana “Sparks” group at Matt’s church listened intently as he read our new book, Getting to Know Jesus for Little Ones.  The story of Tommy, Keesha, Marco and Su’s adventure to find God captured their imaginations and their hearts.

The story follows the four friends as they search for four keys that will help them begin a relationship with God.  Each discovery gives them important information about having a relationship with God as well as a clue to find the next key.

After Matt read the prayer at the end he told the kids that he was going to read it again.  If they had never asked Jesus to forgive their sins and be their friend and king they could do it right then by silently praying with him.  With heads bowed they talked with God in prayer:

 

“Yes, Lord Jesus, I need You.

Yes, I want to be Your friend.

Thank You for dying on the cross

And paying for all my sins.

Yes, I open up the door of my heart.

Please be my friend and King.

Help my to obey You

And trust You with everything.

Yes, I want to know You better

Each and every day.

Yes, I want to love You more.

Please help me listen and obey.”

 

After Matt prayed he asked them to raise their hands if they accepted Jesus.  He assured them that God knows their heart and they don’t have to raise their hand if they don’t want to.  Seven children raised their hands!

That is why I do what I do.  I prayed a similar prayer when I was eight and it changed my life forever.  My heart’s desire is to help as many children as possible to trust in Jesus and live in His love.

Because all the royalties from the book will go directly into ministry and not to Brad and me personally, I feel free to share with you our prayer that God will use this book to draw hundreds of thousands of children into relationship with Him!

The official release date is February 1.  However, we are giving away one book per day this week!  To enter, go to our FB page, Discover God 4Kids, and comment on today’s post about the book.

When you talk with God tonight, will you join me in giving thanks for the seven precious children who began a relationship with God last night and for Matt as he continues to invest in their lives?

P.S.  You can pre-order the book from Amazon, Barnes n Noble or from our website, discovergod4kids.com.