Fun Family Service Project For First Responders

For a variety of reasons, many first responders have been criticized a lot recently. While some of the criticism may be justified, the reality is most are honest, hard-working people who risk their lives to help save the lives of others. Your family can have fun learning a little about someone in the Bible who had interesting relationships with authority figures and do something to serve first responders.

Grab a Bible and tell your children the story found in Genesis 37. Review how the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. Potiphar held an important position in Egypt and may have been in charge of the region’s safety. Review authority figures in your community who help promote safety. Discuss the roles of policemen and firefighters. Explain that they work very hard and often have to cook their own meals even after a long day at work. Many times they spend the night at their station so that they are ready to help citizens in need if they get an emergency call. Baking muffins for them to have on hand as a snack or with breakfast is a helpful treat.

Prep your baking space before you start the activity and have all materials accessible (older kids can help you gather needed supplies). Give each child a special assignment such as stirring (they can take turns with this), pouring, cracking an egg, setting the timer, placing cupcake liners in tins, etc. As you work, discuss the many specific services that our community helpers are responsible for. This helps keep your kids engaged while they wait for their turn. (You also want to emphasize cooking safety as you work and keep a safe distance between the oven and young children).

While the muffins are baking and cooling, have your kids create handmade thank-you cards.

Take your children to deliver the muffins and cards. Often firehouses are eager to meet kids and may even let your children take pictures and see the firetruck. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon together as a family.

Fun Family Activity on God’s Greatness

Do your children understand nothing is impossible for God – even today? There’s a fun family devotional and activity you can do to get your family talking about the amazing things God has done and can continue to do in the future. You will need a Bible, some art paper, sidewalk chalk and buttermilk.

Grab a Bible (preferably NIrV to make it easier to understand) and tell your kids the story of Elisha and Jehoash found in 2 Kings 13:1-14:22, and 2 Chronicles 25. Focus on the part of the story of Jehoash with Elisha and the arrows. Explain that although Jehoash had been evil, God still loved the people of Israel. When the king humbled himself enough to go ask Elisha for God’s help, Elisha gave him some instructions.

The king evidently did not have enough faith in God (or humility, the Bible doesn’t really tell us why he stopped so quickly) to strike the ground five or six times. As a result, the King would not be able to totally defeat his enemies and they would continue to cause trouble for the people of Israel.

Explain that sometimes it is hard to believe God will really take care of us and keep His promises. It is important to remember that God can do amazing things – even today.  God wants us to trust Him and pray to Him – even if we think it would take a miracle for God to say “yes” to our prayer. It’s important to believe God still works in amazing ways.

Ask your kids to share some of the amazing God works in the Bible. Older children may also be able to share stories of how they have seen God answer their prayers in amazing ways. With younger kids, you may want to share some amazing things you have seen God do.

Give everyone a sheet of paper on which they can draw. Tell them that normally when you draw with chalk it gets very dusty and makes a mess. If you dip the tip in buttermilk first though, the result is a creamy, dustless, no-smear drawing – amazing.  (Older students may be able to understand the analogy of us adding God to our lives to make our lives richer and fuller.) Have everyone use the technique to create drawings to remind them God is amazing. Have them title their artwork so they will remember the theme and display the finished works where everyone can see them.

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Building a Family That Lasts

In spite of all the differences between families, almost all of them struggle to some extent with the same basic issues. Probably because at the end of the day, families are people and the same issues that happened in the Bible still happen today.

I’m always interested in learning about new resources attempting to help strengthen families – especially if they point them to God in the process. So, I was interested when offered the chance to review the new book The DIY Guide to Building a Family That Lasts by Gary Chapman and Shannon Warden.

Chapman you probably know from the “Love Languages” books he has authored over the years. Warden is a counselor who co-authored this new parenting book. Trying to take advantage of the interest many have in DIY shows and projects, the authors have formatted the information to resemble a how-to manual for a physical home make-over.

Unfortunately, that was the biggest problem I had with the book. The format I’m sure seemed like a great idea at the time – each chapter is broken into several areas – home improvement goal, home improvement tool, drawing up the plans, do it yourself, all in budget, sweat equity, big reveal and talk it over. The result however was more distracting than helpful. I’m not a big fan of DIY shows (too many flashbacks to re-doing older homes I’ve purchased), so I kept wondering things like what do they mean by “all in budget” or “do it yourself”.

Honestly, I wish they had just scrapped the entire cuteness factor, because the information in the book was good. Or at least I think it was. I kept getting distracted by all the cuteness noise of the layout. A little of the information is repetitive if you have read one of the love languages books, but it contains a lot more new information than Chapman’s books generally seem to have in them.

The twelve topics covered by the chapters are foundational types of concepts in a home. From forgiveness to compromise and connection, they cover most of the primary ones that create the foundation of a strong home. Although the underlying principles are Christian in nature, there really aren’t any mentions of God by name or scriptures quoted. (Unless I missed it.) It’s unfortunate, because for a home to be truly “well built” God needs to be the foundation. Eliminating Him in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience ultimately robs those who aren’t Christians of the very information they need to build that stronger home.

In the end, this book is just fine – especially if you enjoy the DIY theme. I just wish it had spent less time trying to be catchy and more time introducing families to the help God can provide in their homes.

This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

Ending the Sibling Wars

Cain and Able may have been the first, but they certainly weren’t the last siblings to have issues. For a lot of reasons, merely being raised in the same home does not automatically make siblings best friends. In fact, some parents unknowingly set the stage for sibling conflicts that can last decades beyond childhood.

It doesn’t have to be that way though. There are plenty of siblings who see each other as friends – some even best friends. Are there things those families do that are different from others? Or are their children just more alike than yours?

Actually birth order, birth gap and personality only play a small role in the relationships your kids will develop with each other. The major impact is in how you expect them to treat each other and how you handle things when the inevitable sibling conflicts arise.

Here are some of our top tips for raising loving siblings.

  1. Teach your kids God wants them to love, serve and be kind to each other. The more your overall family attitude is that you all treat everyone with love, serve others and are kind to everyone, the easier it will be for your kids to treat each other the same way. Remember though, you and your spouse will also have to model these attitudes in how you treat each other.
  2. Remind your kids your family is a TEAM for God. If members of your family are allowed to constantly act selfishly – putting themselves before others – the less likely they will see your family as a unit that works together for the good of everyone. Strong teams realize that at times members must make sacrifices so the team as a whole is stronger. Kids who have an “every man for himself or herself” attitude will be more likely to fight to continually get their way.
  3. Teach your kids each one of them has special gifts from God they can use to serve each other, your family and God. God has most likely given each of your kids some gifts that are slightly or radically different from each other. It’s important they realize no gift is more important than the other – even if one child’s gift gets him or her more attention in the world. All gifts are to be used to serve God. Gratitude to God for those gifts should always be expressed – humility will also strengthen sibling bonds. Remind them that often one or more of their gifts can also be used to serve each other in some way, and encourage them to do that whenever possible.
  4. Do not let your kids use ugly words when speaking to each other. It doesn’t matter how frustrated or angry they are at each other, don’t let them speak harshly to each other in anger. Teach them godly conflict resolution skills and insist they use them. Bad conflict habits often begin by ignoring those same bad habits used between siblings in childhood.
  5. Do not let your kids tease or say ugly things about each other. Many sibling relationships are damaged for life because siblings were regularly allowed to say ugly things to each other under the guise of “teasing”. As an adult, you may think your super skinny daughter knows she doesn’t have “thunder thighs”, but in most cases young people will believe the taunts tossed at them by siblings – even if the teasing seems ridiculous to everyone else. There is no positive outcome from allowing siblings to tease each other – just a slow cracking of the relationship over time.
  6. Encourage your kids to express their love for each other regularly. Not the kick the dirt, “Mom’s forcing me to say it” affection, but genuine honest affection. Encouraging them to say I love you when they are too young to have many conflicts is a great way to start the habit. Homes where parents say “I love you” a lot, seem to also raise kids who are comfortable saying those same words to others.
  7. Help your kids think of ways to encourage and serve each other. Encourage your kids to be proactive in encouraging and serving each other in good times and bad. After a few years of asking them their ideas for celebrating or encouraging each other, they should be able to do some of those things without your prompting.
  8. Do not treat one child with more or less love and kindness than your other children. Playing favorites always turns out badly – just ask Jacob and Esau! There are a million reasons why you may prefer one child over another, but no healthy ones for your kids. Each child has different needs – fair is not always equal. In general though, life should feel fair in your home. There should not be a “golden child” – especially one that every child in your family can easily identify as the same child.
  9. Work together as a family on service projects, sharing your faith and family projects. Working together on things as a family will create a teamwork atmosphere over time. Siblings that are taught to work well together to achieve common goals as kids will be more likely to continue to do it as adults.

It may not be easy, but you can raise your kids to treat each other with love, respect and kindness. It will make your family stronger and healthier. It will also make your family a light in a world of families that can’t get along. It’s worth your time and effort to help your kids build those bonds with each other.

Using the Bible to Help Your Kids Practice School Skills

Is your child struggling in school? Are you concerned your kids will forget some of their math or language skills during the summer vacation? Are you looking for educational activities your family can enjoy together, but that also teach them about God? Do you homeschool?

Our parent ministry Teach One Reach One Ministries has hundreds of free activities to help. Originally designed for ministries to use in faith-based tutoring, many are also things you can do at home with your own children.

For over two hundred Bible stories, we have been creating activities that also directly tie them to elementary math and language arts skills, science, health and ESL. We even have some sustenance and survival activities for those of you up for an adventure. (Of course, there are also Bible, application and service project ideas, too.)

We have hundreds of free activity ideas already uploaded to our website and will be adding several hundred more by the end of the summer. In the coming months, we hope to further sub-divide academic topics into specific skills to make it easier to find the ones you need.

All of the activities are designed by educators and are hands-on, participatory, meaningful and memorable. Most require items you probably already have around the house, while some may require purchasing a few items. So take a look around. Keep checking back as we upload new activity ideas and subdivide them by skills. You can also follow our parent ministry – Teach One Reach One Ministries on Facebook or Instagram for the latest news on additions to our website.

The best part is your kids will also learn things about God as they are practicing skills they need for school. Not to mention getting to spend more quality time with you. It’s the best sort of multi-tasking!