Fun in the kitchen with Littles ~ Bethany

kitchen5Children learn by doing, so it is entirely normal that they will want to help you in the kitchen.  I have tried to foster an independent spirit in my children from a very early age, giving them little chores that they can do on a daily and weekly basis.  For example, my two six year-olds and four year-old on a daily basis put away their shoes when they come in from outside, help me put laundry in the washer and dryer, and put away folded clothes one stack at a time (i.e. all shorts, all pants, etc.).  Once a week they either dust the living room (with a sock pulled over their hand that I spray with a little pledge), gather the trash and change trash bags through the house, or mop the kitchen floor and laundry room (after I give it a thorough sweeping).  The other day Razzle Dazzle looked at me and said in a slightly accusing tone, “Mommy, you are training us to work!”   I smothered my laughter and said, “Yes, I am.  That is my job.” I also take the children with me whenever our church has a workday, and they have painted walls and cabinets.  I want to teach my children that work is a part of our life as a family, and that it takes effort for sure, but is also rewarding.

Anyway, back to the kitchen.  Obviously there are many things that you cannot allow children to do in the kitchen because of sharp and hot things that can hurt them.  Here are some simple ideas for ways that they can be involved, which may mean more work for you at first, but a lot of fun (and learning) for them.

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Rinsing plates/loading dishwasher - My kids love rinsing plates after a meal because they get to use the sprayer!  Yes, this will result in water on the floor, so be prepared.  Also, my children now routinely put their own plate/bowl/silverware in the dishwasher after I quickly rinse them.  My two oldest also unload the dishwasher.  They find it thrilling to get to put away and handle breakable things like glasses, and are usually very careful.  They enjoy being “big enough” to have this responsibility.

 

kitchen2Salads – I often have the children assemble their own salad (except for the dressing, I have to do that part).  This is accomplished by having everything laid out and chopped up in different piles or containers.  They then just take handfuls (with clean hands of course) of lettuce, spinach, any chopped vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, cheese, croutons, etc.  and make their own salad.

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Banana Nut Bread – My children were helping me break eggs when they were three and four years old.  You can teach a child to do it and they really think it’s fun.  We make banana nut bread together often.  I let them stir, break the eggs, and empty measuring cups and spoons that I fill into the bowl.

 

 

kitchen4Gingerbread Cookies  - Every  year at Christmas we make gingerbread cookies together.  After they help me make the cookie dough (doing the same things listed above), they also get to cut out the cookies with cookie cutters and then later decorate them with icing and sprinkles, etc.  We make a large amount and then take them to neighbors and friends for Christmas presents.  This past year we joined together with three other families and made not only gingerbread cookies but all sorts of other treats and made combination plates.  It was an awesome fun day!

I encourage you to include and have some fun with your Littles in the kitchen!

 

 

Hope-Filled Cries (Review of “The Rise”) ~ Betsy

This past week I’ve thinking about hope. I’ve been thinking about God who gave up His Son so that we could have life. I’m thinking about my own circumstances, and how to have hope in my own struggle (read more here in Esperanza: Hope While I Wait and Finding Grace). And I’m listening to some new hope-filled music that was birthed out of deep sorrow.Hope

As I pondered hope, I read Romans 5, and God’s word says that we should (my paraphrase):
- rejoice in our sufferings
- because suffering produces perseverance
- perseverance builds character
- character then leads to hope
- and HOPE does not disappoint us, because God poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

On the cross, Jesus poured out His love. He found joy in His suffering (He took all of our sin, pain, and disease on Himself so that we could have hope-filled life). Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have hope for the future, and hope that keeps us going day by day.

One Wednesday night several years ago, I was at my church in North Carolina when I heard the news that our worship pastor’s baby had suddenly died in her sleep. That was the first time I had watched a peer lose a child, and my heart grieved for this family. I watched as Jon and Kelley continued to worship God and lead others to rejoice. I watched them walk through their suffering knowing the God of all hope. They continued to have children, because death did not stop them. Now as we live in different states, I watch these two from a distance via Facebook, and I see their lives as a testimony to a God who is so much bigger than any circumstances.

Just a couple of weeks ago they released an EP (an EP is an Extended Play – more than a song, not a full album – music that can be downloaded). They have written new songs filled with hope and life, songs about Christ’s resurrection power. Jon and Kelley rejoiced through their sufferings, they persevered, God built in them character, and He has given them HOPE, which they have put into songs of worship back to the One who pours out His love into our hearts. This music came from a deep place, and it’s good!

JonOwens_TheRiseAlbumArt-1024x1024So as I remember that Christ not only died for me, but that He lives again, I remember the God of Hope. And right now I’m listening to The Rise, which is the sound of “hope and hope filled cries.” The first track is a spoken word that gives me chills, the second track is my favorite – “You are, You are the lifter of my head” are some good words to be running through my mind. But I recommend that you download it all, it’s worth every penny. Here’s the link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-rise-ep/id858741534.

Here’s another wonderful review for this music that you should check out: http://carolinemccain.com/death-be-not-proud/.

For more of my writing about hope and new life, check out Houseplants & Hope.

An ocean of grace ~ Julie

So what’s grace anyway?  I have often heard it described as “unmerited favor.”  So that means kindness or empowering or equipping that you really don’t deserve. (I have also written before about how grace is an opportunity to change in part 1 and part 2)

I have often talked about God’s grace for various seasons of my life, and I’ve heard others say these kinds of things, too.  But, if you say, “Oh God has grace for you in this tough season” what do you mean by that?  Do you mean, “God knows how hard things are and He understands that you just can’t do _____.  Bless your little heart”?  Or, do you mean, “You are in a tough place, but God has an unlimited ocean of grace available to you to keep pressing on and trusting in Him through it?”

I know the first statement is true that God DOES understand the difficulty of our seasons.  It says Jesus sympathizes with us because He has lived in this skin-suit and He knows intimately the frustrations and limitations of it.  But, there is something in the second statement that I want to tap into like never before: Grace to dig.  Grace to press in.  Grace to say, “How far will you let me go out into the ocean of your great grace, God?” 

I fear that sometimes it’s too easy to use grace as an excuse for why I can’t do something instead of tapping into that ocean of grace in order TO do something.

(Small disclaimer before I go any further: I’m specifically thinking about spiritual things, guys.  I’m NOT saying we should DO anything and everything in every season of life.  There really are seasons where the grace is there in order to say no, I can’t because I have something else God has given me to focus on.  Or, grace to release something to someone else.  It’s NOT accessing God’s grace to say Yes to everything and neglect the things He has told you specifically to do.  And sometimes, releasing things takes just as much grace as doing them!)

Think about your quiet time.  That personal time when you hang out with Jesus.  You know you need to do it daily, but if you have young children or a demanding job or name-your-challenge, you might be tempted to say, “Well, there’s grace for this season.”  But, what I’m seeing is there is ALWAYS something in any season that can be a “reason” not TO do the thing God is directing you to do consistently.  So, that’s where I say, “THERE’S GRACE TO DO IT!”  If God has called you to something He will give you grace to do it.  

And that old phrase, “my grace has run out?”  Well, yours might.  But HIS is ALWAYS sufficient.  That means it’s enough.  It doesn’t run out, run dry, or run away.  If He asks you to do something (like spend time with Him daily or read His word or minister to your children), then He WILL give you grace to do it.  He will give you the power to do the thing you ask whether you deserve it or not!

There was one time in my life when HE said to my heart that HIS grace had run out for something in my life and I knew that meant I needed to let that thing go. Quickly.  But, sometimes we think our grace has run out and that’s an indication that we’re done with someone or something and it may be an indicator, but it also may mean that we need to get up and find the path to the ocean of grace.

I have a beautiful young friend and we were on the phone one day and I asked her how her times with the Lord were going.  She expressed frustration because her season truly was difficult and she felt that she wasn’t getting the time with the Lord she wanted.  I shared with her some of these thoughts I’ve just written here. I shared my own struggles and revelations with seasons and said I would pray for her to find grace to press in and make that time with the Lord even though everything fights against it.

She thanked me and since that time has shared how much this impacted her.  The funny thing?  She has often shared it with ME at a time I really needed to hear it and needed to be reminded to pray for grace to keep pressing in!

I want real grace.  Not something that I’m using as an excuse.  But, real grace to rest, to study God’s word, to love my kids, to love my husband, to pray faithfully, to live in His ways… I want that in every season.