Groundhog Day and Candlemas

Let your children know the history of special days or the reason for celebrations. God commanded His people to do this in Joshua 4:20-24:  At Gilgal Joshua set up the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan. [21] He said to the people of Israel, “In the future when children ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ [22] the children should be told that Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry ground. [23] The Lord your God dried up the Jordan ahead of you until you had crossed, as he did to the Red Sea until we had crossed. [24] The Lord did this so that everyone in the world would know his mighty power and that you would fear the Lord your God every day of your life.”

We are familiar with February 2 being called Groundhog Day. But did you know it is also called Candlemas?  It is celebrated forty days after the birth of Jesus Christ.  In Luke 2:22-35, it is recorded that Mary and Joseph took infant Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem for the ritual purification of Mary after childbirth  and in order to present their first born which was required by the Law of Moses. As they presented Jesus to Simeon, he prophesied: “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of manyhearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).

Celebration of Candlemas Day began by Roman Catholics with lighting candles and parading through the streets as a commemoration of the presentation of Jesus and the prophesy of Simeon.  German immigrants known as Pennsylvania Dutch brought the tradition to America in the 18th century.

But where does Groundhog Day come in?  Candlemas occurs half way between the first day of winter and the first day of spring.   Ancient thought was that hibernating creatures were able to predict the arrival of springtime on this day.  Traditionally, it was believed that if Candlemas was sunny, the remaining six weeks of winter would be stormy and cold. But if it rained or snowed on Candlemas, the rest of the winter would be mild. If an animal “sees its shadow,” it must be sunny, so more wintry weather is predicted.

So now you know and can tell your children.  Be sure and read Luke 2:22-35 and tell in your own words about Jesus going to ‘church’ for the first time.  Then just have some fun with groundhog crafts:

http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/mgroundhog.html

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/groundhogday/popuphog/ (my personal favorite!) Sing this song Mr.-Groundhog when you finish this craft.

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/groundhogday/

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Celebrate the Fourth of July

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
John 8:36

Another holiday is another opportunity to teach your children.  Try to always have a centerpiece that represents the holiday so you can be reminded to talk about it at meal times.

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While we may not agree with everything happening in our country right now, we still need to celebrate with our children the fact God has allowed us to live in a free country and that many brave soldiers have fought physical and spiritual battles to ensure we have freedom.

Conversation:

Explain that we have physical freedom in our country to go where we want to go and do what we want to do.   Soldiers gave up their lives so we could live in a free country.  Tell your children about America’s history.  Watch these informative Early American Series videos and then retell the stories in your own words to your younger children; be animated and use visuals if possible.  Older children might enjoy watching the videos.

Be sure and emphasis that we have the highest form of freedom, spiritual freedom, because Christ died on the cross to set us free from the punishment for sin and free from the power of sin which is freedom to make wise choices.  Since Christ’s death and resurrection, many soldiers for Christ have fought spiritual battles against the enemy, Satan, so we can know the message of salvation.

Prayer:

Thank you, God, for the freedom we have in our country to go where we want to go and do what we want to do.  Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the Cross so we can be free from the punishment and power of sin.  Thank you for the soldiers who fight for freedom.

Crafts:

Printable color by number American Flag

Printable ‘Pray for Your Leaders’ coloring page

Mini Flags to Make

Activities:

Start a tradition of each 4th of July reading the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and/or The Declaration of Independence and playing patriotic music all day.

Watch patriotic movies
Our favorite is the old Disney classic Johnny Tremain [DVD] (1957)
Another suggestion is Liberty’s Kids cartoon  – The First 4th of July

Order this dvd to help keep God’s role in American history as an important part of your child’s education: One Nation Under God

Here’s a great site with lots of info and ideas http://powerofmoms.com

Sing:
I’m in the Lord’s Army – video

March to patriotic music holding flags you made or purchased.

Patriotic Music:

http://www.patrioticon.org/patriotic-soundfiles.htm

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Inexpensive Ideas for Summer Fun

It seems that God has always had us in “tight times” so we were always motivated to make the most of our situation and to enjoy the simple things.

Here are some things we have done that are very inexpensive or even free.

Play with Flour- Go outside with a cheap 5 lb. bag of flour. Sift it, pour it, mix it, throw it.

Sock wars- Save your old socks and roll each into a ball and throw them at each other

Run through the Sprinkler

Water balloons and guns

Sidewalk chalk

Mustard and Ketchup finger-painting – (to keep this from being messy, you can put a few squirts of mustard and ketchup in a baggie and seal it with tape and then press it around in the baggie)

Play dough – Just for fun or let children illustrate with play dough something from a story you just read

Goop (non toxic) –Mix 8 oz. of white glue and 6 oz. of water.Separately combine 1 tsp. of borax and half cup of water.Pour borax mixture into glue mixture and mix with hands until all liquid is absorbed and texture is smooth.

Lava pitTake all the pillows in the house and place them around on the floor and you can only get from one place to another by stepping on a pillow.

Avalanche – Take all the pillows again and build a high tower, then take cover as it comes toppling down on everyone

Nature walk – Take a walk and discover some of God’s toys like Maple tree seeds or as we called them twirly bird seeds.

Build tents inside and out with sheets and blankets

Camp out in the backyard

Picnicking with cookie cutter peanut butter sandwiches in backyard or at a park or under a sheet draped over the kitchen table

Play with Cornstarch – Mix one part water with one-and-a-half to two parts cornstarch, adding a bit of food color for fun.It is like a thick liquid; you can sink your hand into the mixture slowly, but it will not give if you punch it quickly.

Rubber band guns – Nail a clothes pin to a stick of wood to make the gun and use rubber bands to knock down army men or whatever.

Create with masking tape – Use masking tape on the floor to make roads for cars or use it to make a pretend boat for you all to get in…just use your own imagination.

Popcorn in the backyard  If you have an electric popcorn popper, take it outside and place it on a sheet.Start it popping with no top on it and watch the popcorn fly.

Invent your own fun – A few years ago our family invented a new twist to playing catch…every time we caught the ball, we had to say a movie quote.

Here are two websites with more great ideas for summer:

http://ministry-to-children.com/water-games-for-kids/

http://www.thrivingfamily.com/Features/Magazine/2013/around-the-world-in-60-days.aspx

 

Don’t be hesitant to make a mess. Sure, there will be a lot of clean up, but you will be making memories together. On Mother’s Day a few years ago our oldest son, who was 30 at the time, gave me a card for Mother’s Day with 30 reasons he was glad I was his mom –  one was that I always let them make messes.

Don’t ever get too old to have fun as a family. Our children are all adults now but we still enjoy acting like kids. Jesus said that we must come to Him with the humility and faith of a little child (Luke 18:16-17, Matthew 18:1-4)…I think He wants us to approach all of life with the wonder and enjoyment of a little child.

Speak of God and His word as we go“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again.“ (Deut 6:6-7)

  • As you play with play dough you could share, “God tells us ‘work with your hands’ (I Thessalonians 4:11)
  • While playing with flour, say  “God gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17)  
  • While discovering things on your nature walk you could say, “Think of the wonders of God” (Joel 2:25, Job 37:14, Psalm 40:15)

HAVE A FUN FILLED SUMMER!

 

 

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Meal Time – Nourishment and Nurturing

 

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. . . And look at all those children! There they sit around your table as vigorous and healthy as young olive trees.
Psalm 128:3

I love it when research actually validates what God has said! This verse indicates that children are healthy when they sit around your table and now a recent research reveals that children and adolescents who share family meals 3 or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than 3 family meals together.  And this article points out the multiple advantages to family meals together.

Simplify your life – cut out an extracurricular activity if you have to – but make meals together a family tradition that your children will remember long after they have left home.  Meal time is important, not just for the physical nourishment your children need, but also for the mental, emotional, and spiritual nurturing they need.  

Here are some suggestions to help you meet those needs around your table:

Conversation starters during the meal:

  • What did you enjoy doing today?
  • What did you enjoy learning?
  • Who did you enjoy being with today?
  • Did you do something kind today?
  • What was your high today?
  • What was your low?

After the meal:

Do a short devotional, read a Bible story,  or spend time memorizing a verse together.
Our family’s favorite thing was Playdough Devotionals.  Each person would make something out of their playdough and the rest of the family would guess what part of the story they were illustrating.

Have prayer time, but before you do, ask:

  • What happened today you are thankful for?
  • Who did you talk to, or see, or hear about that we should pray for?
  • What happened or is going to happen that we need to pray about for you?

Try to relax and enjoy time together eating a nourishing meal, talking with your children, and growing closer to God as a family.  Then you can truly say, ‘Look at my healthy children around the table.’

(Oh –  and don’t forget to talk about 1 Cor. 3:9 ‘We work together as partners who belong to God’ as everyone helps to clean up the kitchen when it’s all over so Mom can enjoy the time without thinking about what needs to be done afterwards.) 🙂

 

 

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Consider the Birds

 

Deep Inner Peace

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young–
a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God,
Psalm 84:3

Interesting that in this verse God uses sparrows and swallows which are considered the most restless of birds.  He referred to them as ‘fluttering’ and ‘darting’ in Proverbs 26:2.

Yet these most restless birds find a place of rest for themselves and their young near the altar of God. We should follow their example with our young, giving them to God.  We need to stay close to Him, allowing God to work through us to train them in the way they should go; so they will be like these birds that were free to go anywhere, but chose to stay near the altar.

David must have been watching the birds in the sanctuary of God and it stirred up in him the desire to dwell that near to God and find rest for himself and his children.  Jesus must have been watching the birds when He used them as teaching aides in Matthew 6:26 and Matthew 23:37

God obviously values birds as there are numerous references to them in Scripture:

He implies that the birds have a better perspective, are more observant, and are wiser than most things: Job 28:21Proverbs 1:17Job 35:11

God acknowledged that birds are great parents as He mentions wanting to gather us under His wings as a hen gathers her chicks: Matthew 23:37

He even tells us to consider the birds and to ask the birds to teach us: Matthew 6:26Job 12:7

Western Gull Family

My nephew and his wife work to rescue birds with The International Bird Rescue Center in San Pedro, CA.  So I asked them for some info on birds.  They pointed me to a documentary called “Life of Birds”  Watch and study more about these creatures that God values.  You might learn something about parenting.

But the most important thing we can learn from the birds is that as we seek to parent in the midst of the storms of our busy lives, we should stop the ‘fluttering’ and ‘darting’ and lay our children at the altar of God – keeping ourselves and them near to Him,  and finding peace and protection there. ‘The sparrows and swallows could not have chosen a better place to find rest, or a safer place to have their young and raise their family. The dwelling place of God should be a place of safety where we can raise our children.’ ( Matthew McDonald )

Now for something fun.  One thing I learned in this study is that parents may feed the newborns every 10 minutes – whew – we think every 2 to 3 hours is tough! Here’s a video of footage my son Jeremiah captured a few years ago observing a robin feeding her young. Watch till the end and see what devoted parents they are. 😉

http://youtu.be/uS6cA0lxBw4

 

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