Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category.

When Christmas lyrics hit real life = Teachable Moment

You may think my 2 favorite Christmas songs are a bit odd… 
I have one silly one, and one serious one.

“Mamacita donde esta Santa Claus”
YouTube link.  You’re welcome.

So much about this song cracks me up, but my favorite is singing along with the background singers.
And, it makes me want TX MX food…which we pretty much live on here in Texas anyway!  YUM!

Side story – We were visiting friends in Florida  (NY natives) a few years ago and she said, “What are those things called again that you buy instead of bread?”  Um, that would be tortillas.  We’ve laughed about that ever since.

“God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen” – Traditional

While I’m sure this doesn’t make everyone’s top 10, it holds a special place in my heart.

I was dreading the first Christmas without my Mom.  It just wouldn’t be the same without that precious lady that all of us intensely adored and who had the magic of making the holidays sparkle even brighter.

But God gave me a beautiful refrain to latch on to…

“Comfort and Joy”

When it first started rolling through my brain, I had to stop and think which Christmas carol it even came from.
This gift from God helped me through that first Christmas and has been a blessing ever since.

We may say that “God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.”  But nothing proves that more solidly than suffering.  He IS our comfort AND joy.  What a beautiful pairing of words!

Teachable Moment:
Do you have favorite Christmas songs, silly and serious?
Are you like me and realizing you haven’t taken the time to tell you children why the serious one is special to you?

Let’s take a moment this Christmas to enjoy a family dinner or drive-time conversation about everyone’s favorite Christmas carols.  Maybe it’s not hugely emotional like mine, but rather fun memories associated with it….or even just the tune.

Talk about what Biblical truths shine through your favorite carols.  Discuss how God works through carols lyrics in our hearts and can also be a light to others.  Take time to pray for the those who don’t know Him to hear the carols in a new light this year. May the truths sink into all of our hearts and souls.







One of my dearest friends made this banner.
It warms my heart and soul every time I pull it out with my Christmas decorations.

For more teachable moments, refer to Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.
*Comfort and Joy are two of the topics in there…God gives us lots of great verses on those!  😉

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Thankful Turkey: How-to with free templates!

Thankful Turkey is an
easy and meaningful Thanksgiving tradition.


Here’s the How-to:


Big pumpkin
Wooden skewers (from the grocery store…bbq skewers)
pens or markers
cardstock or construction paper – autumn colors


1. Print this template* on red cardstock and then cut out head and feet. 








*copyright The Education Center, used by permission,
For personal use only.

2. Print this template on one of each color of the autumn toned cardstock.  Cut as many feathers as you think you will need.  It doesn’t hurt to print and cut extra and then they will be on hand for next year.







3. Tape the head and feet to the front of the pumpkin.  See picture for placement.

4. Have everyone write something they are thankful for on a feather (and sign and date on the back side for a keepsake).

5. Tape the back of the feather to the upper portion of the skewer.  Make sure the pointy end is facing down.

6. Poke each skewer  in the back side of the pumpkin, placing them so it looks like a fan of feathers across the back.  If you zig zag the placement forward and back, it will give the turkey more dimension.

7. Display the Thankful Turkey where everyone can see it and enjoy thanking God for the things mentioned on the feathers.  You might want to write this verse to keep beside the turkey.



8. When Thanksgiving is over, keep the feathers, head, feet, and verse and store safely for next year.

Future years:
Each year your pile of feathers will grow.  We keep them in a pile on the table next to the current year’s turkey and love looking through them and remembering.

Enjoy your Thankful Turkey!  Gobble, Gobble!

For more ideas and verses on the topic of Thankfulness, see your copy of Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.


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Generational Sayings- My Mom Said it…Now I am!

“Whoa, did that just come out of my mouth?!  I sound like my Mom!”
Can you identify?  Sometimes that can be good or bad!

Thankfully, I had an AMAZING mom who had lots of nuggets of wisdom!
I’m grateful for the ones that stuck and am excited to share them with you.
Scroll through this link to read about these sayings and feel free to adopt the ones you like…I certainly have!

  • “Adapt”
  • “Blame it on me!”
  • “If you can’t sleep, just rest.”
  • “Just smile and be nice.”
  • “We don’t hate, we strongly dislike.”
  • “You’re too pretty to…”

What generational sayings do you find coming out of your mouth?
If you think of any that are blessings to you, be sure to thank your mom this Mother’s Day!

If you didn’t have the privilege of a mom saying things you would want to repeat, remember that you are a new generation!  You have a chance to start fresh with your kids!  Don’t look back and regret…look forward and be the change!

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31: 26

Yup, that’s my beautiful Momma and me in 1975.  She had  when she was 41 and my siblings were 16 and 13!  With kids close to those ages now, I can’t imagine starting over.  She always said I kept her young.  😉




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Resurrection Cake for Easter!

The minute I saw this link on Pinterest, I knew that I wanted to make it for our family’s Easter gathering.  I followed that link’s basic plan, but wanted to share my own tip and tweaks.  My 11 year old son, Jake, and I had fun making and assembling this the night before Easter.
-8 C batter bowl (mine is Pampered Chef brand)
-Platter (about 12 inches) or cardboard cake round
-2 craft/popsicle sticks
-Chocolate cake mix
-Chocolate frosting (ours had mini-chocolate chips in it and we decided we liked the bumpy/rocky look of it)
-7 oz shredded sweetened coconut (or half a 14 oz bag)
-Green food coloring (optional, if you don’t toast the coconut)
-3-5 Oreos (or substitute crumbled cake…will explain below)
-white bandage or small strip of white cloth…even white copy paper or tissue paper could work

(Some of you may be able to look at the picture and intuitively know how to make this happen.  For those of you who like details, here ya’ go!)

-Pre-heat the oven per your cake mix instructions.
-Grease and flour 8 cup batter bowl all the way up to the top since the cake will rise.
-Make cake batter per recipe and pour into prepared batter bowl.
-Ours needed baking for 1 hour at 350 degrees to get it cooked all the way through.  This is quite a bit longer than the box mix calls for.  After the 40 minute mark, keep an eye on yours to see how it’s doing.  Insert a knife through the middle to check for doneness.
-Once baked, allow to cool before removing.  Run a knife down between the cake and the bowl to loosen it before inverting the bowl to get the cake on to the cooling rack.
-When the cake is cool, slice off the puffy part so that it will make a flat bottom for the cave.  ***Reserve the portion you cut off!
-Set the cake on the back half of the platter with the larger flat side down.  Carve out an opening in the front (see pictures).  Make sure you don’t go too close to the top or the roof will collapse.  ***Reserve the portion you cut out!!!
-Ice the cake, reserving a dollop of the frosting for making the stone.

Make the walkway in front of the tomb (see completed pic) by smashing Oreo cookies in a ziplock or crumbling a small portion of the reserved cake.

Make the big stone by crumbling the remaining reserved cake and mushing it by hand with the reserved icing.  (Fun, but messy part for kids!)  The consistency will be soft, but it needs to be firmly packed so that it will hold together.  Wrap this in plastic wrap or wax paper and put in the freezer for about an hour so that it can firm up.

Grass or terrain
There are a couple of options for this.  Shake the coconut in a ziplock with a few drops of green food coloring (see above pic).  Or, toast the coconut for a more natural, earth toned, terrain.  Spread around the cake and walkway.

I thought about real twigs, but that ooged out the germ freak in me.  So, we hot glued together 1 jumbo craft stick and 1 regular craft stick.  Make sure to put the cross beam high enough to account for part of the vertical beam being in the cake.

Burial cloth
Lay whatever you are using to represent this inside the hole in the cave tomb.  We used this guaze, but any small strip of white cloth (got an old t-shirt?), tissue, or tissue paper would work.
FullSizeRender (1)
While it’s baking or while everyone is enjoying munching on your creation, consider reading the Resurrection Story from the Bible, Matthew 28:1-10.  This is a great way to create a teachable moment out of a fun, hands-on family project for a most important holiday!

For more teachable moment ideas, use Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Idea for Teachable Moments.


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Resurrection Garden How-to for Easter Season

I’ve seen many different versions of Resurrection Gardens through the years and had always wanted to make one.  Being a Type A person, I finally put it on my calendar for the following February to make sure we remembered to not let another year pass.  With my kids getting older, I’m realizing more and more how few years left we have to do such things together!

We had 3 other kids staying with us the weekend we did the project.  So, I can say that this was a doable and fun project for 4 years old through 8th grade!  I browsed through Pinterest at the variety of Resurrection Gardens to find my favorite design and followed the basic steps here.  However, I’d like to share my tips and tweaks of how we got our finished product.

We divided the process over a couple of days as we had time and so it wouldn’t be overwhelming.

Garden Center
First, we headed out to the Garden Center to gather these supplies:
-shallow, wide container (we went with plastic so it wouldn’t be heavy)
-potting soil
-3 plants for whatever lighting will work for where you are keeping the garden.  The kids enjoyed making the selections.
-moss (I actually had the fake version from the craft store on hand.)
-twine (Or use any string your have on hand for putting the cross together. Hot glue is another option.)
-small pot to use as tomb.  You can buy a clay one like I used.  But, I actually recommend using one of the round containers that the plants you purchase for this come in.   Here’s why…After a couple of weeks, the pot started growing something white.

Sticks and Stones Hunt
We have a city park/greenbelt behind our house and had a fun time foraging there for…
*1 large stone…needs to be approximately the size of the opening of the pot you are using for the tomb
*Several small stones…to use as a walkway, simply for added interest
*3 long sticks…make sure you account for the fact that part of them will be submerged in the soil.
*3 shorter sticks…for the cross bar

*Spread out all your supplies in your work space.  The temperature was nice outside, but a bit drizzly so we worked on our covered patio.
*Scoop dirt out of the potting soil bag to fill your large, shallow pot.
*Before taking the plants out of their pots, arrange everything as you wish the scene to look.
*Plant the plants.
*Cover the top of the tomb and any exposed dirt with the moss.
*Wipe any loose dirt out of the tomb and off the walkway rocks.
*Use the twine or string to put the cross bar on the cross.  Remember to put the cross bar high enough to account for the bottom part of the cross being stuck in the dirt.  To attach the cross bar, simply wrap the twine around several times diagonally both ways and then tie it off in the back.  Little hands will need help with this.
*Put a bandage or tissue in the tomb for the effect of the burial cloth.
Once it’s completed, set the creation in the middle of the kitchen table (before moving it to its final destination) and enjoy a snack around it while reading the Resurrection story from Matthew 28:1-10.

Looking for more teachable moments?  Check out my book, Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments. 


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How to grow your own butterflies to teach that Jesus brings new life!

Ever since my kids did this in their Kindergarten class, I’ve been itching to do it at home.  Last year, with a tween and a teen, I decided it was now or never!  Though they are probably too cool to admit it, we all enjoyed the process.   Click on the picture to order the same kit we used.  Inside is a voucher for ordering the caterpillars.


I’m posting this now in case you want to do this as a Lenten learning activity with your family.  Lent begins on March 1 this year.  You still have time to order this and have it wrapped up and ready to surprise them.  Or, you could save it for an Easter present as we did.  If you plan to wrap it up, make sure you order the box that does NOT have the live caterpillars included.  (Note:  I noticed some cheaper options as I was linking the product, but they all seem to ship immediately WITH the live caterpillars.)


(…and this is why I need to remember to NOT buy wrapping paper with white background.
I had to double wrap it awkwardly with the leftover paper to keep it being see-through!)

I will only show the start and finish, so you can discover the other phases on your own.  It truly is a way to worship God through miracles of just one of His many creations!



For those of you with little bitties (and really any age!), simply use this home project as a springboard for talking a God, the creator, and how amazing He is!

For those with kiddos old enough to think more abstractly, the analogy of the caterpillar to butterfly is a creative way to talk about the idea of Salvation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

As Salvation is foundational for our Christian beliefs, I devoted 4 pages to it in my book rather than 2 pages as with the other 100 topics.   Reference pages 190-193 of Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments  for related Scriptures and more ideas on how to talk with your children about Salvation.


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Give the gift of praying a life verse for your child

I’m an overthinker, so when I decided to pick a verse to pray for my children, it sort of stressed me out.  There are so many great Scriptures, how would I choose?   Do I pray a different one for each kid or just pick one for both?  Should I pick a verse, passage, or even chapter?

Though I don’t allow my kids to use the “s” word, I realized I needed to KISS…Keep It Simple, Stupid!

So, I began to pray for God to show me what verse He wanted me to pray for my kids…something short and sweet and easy to remember when mommy brain fog is in full force!

A couple of months later, I was reading in Matthew and 22:35-42 stood out to me –

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Hmmmmmmmm….loving God and loving others.  Jesus, of course, is right that everything else falls under two things.  So, it occurred to me, what more could I want for my kids?! 

I decided to reword it as my prayer for my kids’ lives in this way –

Heavenly Father,
Please help my children to
love You with all their heart, soul, and mind
and to love their neighbor as themselves…
especially each other.

I added that last line because my heart’s desire is that they also greatly value their sibling relationship (their closest neighbor!) and treat each other with that in mind.

Do I pray this every day?  No, it’s not something I ever want to become ritualistic.  But it’s an overarching principle I can go back to as I pray for them, generally and specifically.  And, on those days when I can’t string two coherent thoughts together (you know those days!), I can still at least remember this!

Do you have a verse or verses you pray regularly for your kid(s)?  I’d love to hear your pick!
If not, consider giving this priceless gift.  Pray for God to reveal what Scripture(s) you should use and feel free to use mine, if He so leads.  Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments gives more ideas on praying Scripture for your child on pages 236-239.



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Mothering with Scripture

Mothering with Scripture…
that sounds lovely, doesn’t it?!

But how do we go about that in our daily lives in practical ways?

My mom did this beautifully and set the course for me knowing how to mother with Scripture.

She fed herself.
I would often catch glimpses of her with her Bible and prayer journal. Her life exuded the love of Christ and I knew that was from her close daily walk with Him. I am certain that is where she drew her wisdom as a mother.

She fed me.
A favorite, consistent memory of growing up was bedtime. Mom made precious daily investments by reading me Bible stories, age-appropriate devotions, memorizing Scripture, and praying. I can’t understate the significance this had in establishing my own daily walk.

She used daily examples to tie in Scripture and point to God.
God wasn’t just something she checked off the list after her devotional. She walked with her best friend, Jesus, throughout the day. When a teachable moment popped up that reminded her of something from the Bible, she would share it with me or whoever happened to be around. She had such a sweet spirit that this wasn’t obnoxious, but made others want to grow closer to Jesus.

She exemplified turning to God through prayer and seeking His Word in tough times.
When she said she would pray for us, we KNEW this was true.
When life hit hard, she would share what God was teaching her and what verses were meaningful.

Was she perfect? No. She would be the first to humbly admit her need for God’s grace. Just another thing that made her life so beautiful.

I’m ever grateful for the legacy she left. She certainly blessed those who knew her and I hope she inspires you, too.

Thankful that my daughter was into “tea-time” and inspired this sweet outing that ended up being our last Mother’s Day together (2009) this side of heaven.

Mothering with Scripture

There was never any doubt in my mind when I was writing Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments, that I would dedicate it to her.  Take a look at the dedication page and flip through to be inspired with more ideas for mothering with Scripture.  Many of the “Parenting Tips” are things she did with me.

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April Fools or Is God’s Word for Real?

April Fool’s Day is a great time to introduce, discuss, or reinforce the inerrancy of God’s word with all ages.
Here are some easy ideas and tips, broken down by age.

Toddlers/Preschoolers/Young Children: 
There are a couple of ways I reinforce the concept of the inerrancy of the Bible on a child-like level each week I teach preschool Sunday School.  Try these at home with your family!

1. Every time I tell a Bible story, I have an actual chapter and verse Bible in my lap.
No matter what preschool visual or story book I might be holding up, I always point to my Bible and say, “This story is from God’s true Word, the Bible.”  Those visual and auditory cues are important in helping young children understand what God’s Word is.

2. During song time, we always do the following two fingerplays.
A figure play is simply words said in a sing-songy way with motions.
Tip for home:  Put these on note-cards and keep them around the house so you can learn them and use them frequently with your kiddos.

This is True Fingerplay
1, 2,  (hold up right pointer finger, then left pointer finger)
this is true, (hold out palms like an open book…the Bible)
God loves me, (point to yourself)
and God loves you! (point to someone else)

The Bible Fingerplay
The Bible is God’s special book (hold palms together like a closed book)
His words are written there (open palms out like opening a book)
And when I turn each page to look (keep left palm up and use right hand to pretend to turn pages)
I handle it with care.  (continue turning pages)

Friend and fellow preschool teacher at church who taught me this next chant says,
We do it while marching, slow stomping through “snow”, fast across hot sand, etc.  Sometimes I clap it before Bible story.”  Thank you, Julie Bridgeforth!

Absolutely True

Absolutely True!
Absolutely True!
Everything the Bible says is absolutely true!

3. Non-Spiritual Bonus!  🙂
Before moving on to older children….
I’m a children’s literature junkie when it comes to holidays and I simply could not write this post without sharing my favorite for April Fool’s book, even though it has nothing to do with the truth of God’s Word.    It’s quite clever and we love pulling it out every year this time!
April Foolishness

Older children/teens:
The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity: & How to Answer Them Confidently is a book I picked up to deal with questions like, “Is the Bible Really the Word of God?”
21 questions

I asked our former Student Ministries pastor for a book recommendation on the subject.  He has used this resource on occasion with our church’s teens:  Who Made God and Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith.
Who Made God

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  John 17:17

April Fools Final

For more easy ways to find and use God’s word in topical teachable teachable moments, see your copy of Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.

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How to parent with Scripture through Valentine’s & President’s Day

Want fun ideas for parenting with Scripture through Valentine’s & President’s Day?  

Consider these for upcoming
–  dinner discussions
–  weekend activities
–  family devotions
–  holiday family time!

CLICK HERE & SCROLL DOWN through multiple Valentine’s ideas

CLICK HERE for a President’s Day idea

Val-Pres Day

I’m also pleased to share that I am a contributor for a fabulous new website called  They have advice broken down by age and by topic!  I encourage you to take a look around this wonderful resource.

dark 250x75


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