Sunday, February 28, 2010

From Tots to Teens ~ His Love

This is a poster I believe would be great to have in each of our kitchens. What a wonderful reminder! Where there is God - love abounds! Because God is -

Two weeks ago, we as a country celebrated Valentine's Day - where the focus is on love and showing it to those we care most about. As I think about that it saddens me to see a holiday focused on something we as believers are to live by day in and day out. Yet, somehow it too slips through the proverbial cracks and we need reminding of how important it is to seek His love and share it daily.

I look at the graphic above and my heart feels full of joy. Love bursting out of itself - fruits of the spirit for all to taste and see how good He is. Love in action. Choosing love above all else.

You can either choose to live in Him or out/away from Him. Some sadly live near Him. Which is truly not partaking of His love to the fullest and surely unable to rest in His love, nor can that person experience the true peace of God or His grace!

We can talk about love all day long and yet not experience it deep in our hearts where it matters most. We can tell our children how much we love them with our words but our actions tell them a whole different story. We can either love them as God commands or we can believe we are loving them enough in our own ways.

You may have really struggled with the last few posts and the idea that disciplining your children God's way is telling them you love them. You may have struggled with the idea of first time obedience and expecting it no matter what.

That doesn't change the truth about God's way or His love for us and our children.

Truth = Love

God asks us to speak and act in truth and love.

Speaking in truth and love - is sharing His words with everyone we speak to. We are to speak life into those around us. Especially those we love the most...because they are our church first and the greatest opportunity to build disciples of Christ.

One of the books I have used to teach our children very valuable lessons and bible verses that will help keep them on His path and to show each other love - is My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God's Word in Little Hearts.

A few weeks ago I spent over an hour reciting all the verses they have learned before and how they can use them to speak truth and love to each other.

Why? Because God says in Psalm 34:14 Keep your tongue from evil...

Here are some ways they are not keeping their tongues from evil - telling lies, tattle tailing, talking back (which is arguing/complaining), saying mean things, making rude sounds.

Because love is so important to God and thus important to us as their parents we are going to focus on love not just during February but all year through. We are going to work on living out the fruits of the Spirit - joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Which is the outworking of our faith and His love in us!

A soft answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

What I shared with the children is this - notice God did not say "blessed are the liars, tattle tailers, arguers, angry, or mean."

Not to mention when any of them do these things - they are breaking our second rule: Don't hurt anyone on the inside or outside.

Angry, mean, and lying words hurt. They often break a heart for a long time. They can take a long time to forget. They often hurt worse than being hit. The sting lasts much longer too.

Thus, God reminds us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. If you aren't talking you can't sin against the other person or God.

We recite the Pledge to God often in our home. Not to be rout but for remembering why we want to hide God's word in our hearts, allowing it to be a path unto our feet. It is a reminder to the children that they have chosen to live their lives for Him - by Him and in Him.

We are not asking them to live up to our standards, nor do we expect them to be perfect. However, we believe 100% in God's word, His faithfulness and promises. His word says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

If you remember our children have learned a life problem with the solution -


Without Him (or apart from Him) we can do nothing. So when they are relying on their own righteousness or ability to obey they will mess up. But when they are walking in and living by the Spirit - they will live up to God's standards every time. ALL THINGS are POSSIBLE with GOD!

Children obey your parents in all things for this is well pleasing to the LORD. Colossians 3:20

With a promise from God...

Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with a promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." Ephesians 6:1-3

Again, you may not agree with me, however, what I am sharing is not my opinions or how I see things - this is His truth and commandments to us as parents to His children.
And agree or not doesn't change what the truth is and how we are to obey Him - if we say we believe then we must live out our belief fully in who He is -His way.

Letter D bible verse is above - Do all things without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:13

I was reminded as I reviewed all of the verses we have learned again this year so far: A - K how important it is to teach and show our children how to bring their hearts naked before God - knowing how much they need Him to fill up their hearts with His love.

I shared with the children - "why is it so important that we hide His word in our hearts? So that we might not sin against Him or each other."

How can we speak in truth and love? I asked them. By the very words we have hidden in our hearts. Reciting the verses they know to each other instead of using their mouths for evil. Instead of telling a lie, tell us the truth. Instead of tattle tailing, hold their tongue and pray with their brother/sister words to live by to help them make a better choice next time. Instead of talking back, remember Philippians 2:14. Instead of using their words to hurt, remember Proverbs 15:1 and Matthew 5:9. See it is His love they are sharing and living by. They are relying on Him and not themselves. I pray this becomes normal for them after practicing it over and over again. For now I'm reminding them to stop sinning and to focus on His love - speaking it in truth!

Ephesians warns us to not grieve the spirit. A great way to help us teach this and live to honor God in all we do - is to pray these verses over yourself and children regularly.
Ephesians 4:25 - 32 says, "Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."
Ephesians 5:1-2 says, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma."
It is important that your children know that you don't expect them to be perfect. We all need Jesus. We all need His grace! However, you do expect them to press on towards the goal of Christ Jesus, to run the race by faith and that no matter what comes their way, they can do everything through Christ who strengthens them. They will reap what they sow and will be known by their deeds. Love is a choice - help them to learn how to choose it the first time, every time, right away.

Obedience is the ultimate act of love - first to God and then to us as their parents.

As we pray on all these things - may we all remember this truth:

None of us are working for His love - we are working because of it - from it and by it! There is nothing your children must do to earn His love or yours. His love - is! His love will always be.

Here is a link to Steve Green's DVD/CD series that we watch and listen to that help our children remember the verses that I shared above - Hide 'em in Your Heart Vol 1 and Hide 'em in Your Heart Vol. 2

Walking in His love with you,

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Treats 4 Your Tot


Here are some more cool giveaways for tots/moms of tots, check them out below and let us know if you win something we told you about!!!!

~I do not take email requests to be added to this list, these are just personal favorites I find online, you are welcome to leave any giveaway links (TOT FRIENDLY ONLY) in the comments below.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Once Upon a Book ~ All the Way to God


All the Way to God (Family Storytime)

by Katie & Michael Giuliano

Summary: A father and daughter discuss how much they love each other. As they attempt to "out-do" each other's expression of love, the daughter ends the debate with..."I love you ALL THE WAY TO GOD!"

Bible Verse

Let us love one another, for love comes from God. 1 John 4:7


Make a handprint heart.

Motor Skills

Teach your little one how to make a heart. Fold a piece of paper in half and show them how to cut out a heart shape. (If needed, draw and cut the shape for your child, but allow them to open up their heart!)


Once your child has cut out some hearts, practice counting them together.


Play Leaps of Love. Cut out hearts or use the ones that your child cut and place them on the floor. Take turns leaping from heart to heart. With each leap give a reason for loving one another!

Another fun game to play is Hide the Heart. Cut out hearts (or use the ones previously cut). Write a different reason for loving your child on each heart. Hide the hearts around the house and encourage them to be on the lookout for the hearts throughout the day!


Make a yummy snack and practice motor skills by using raisins or some other fruit to make a heart shape.

Heart Fingerplay

I put my hands together, (put palms together)
This is how I start.
I curve my fingers right around, (curve fingers down so that fingernails touch)
And I can make a heart!

More Ideas: Establish a bedtime routine similar to the Giuliano's from the book!

Want to see what's coming next (and books we've done in the past)? Click here to see our Once Upon a Book webpage!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Now I Know My ABCs ~ N is for Nest

It's time for some fun alphabet crafts!! We hope you enjoy these! If you are new, you can visit our ABC webpage to find links to any other letters we have done, letters (with books listed) coming up, as well as all the fun crafty letters we have been working on. Be sure to check it out!


Sara Gillingham

Summary: This layered book with little finger puppet is sure to keep your little ones attention while you look at the little bird’s home.


What You'll Need:

  • Brown, orange and light blue or white foam sheets/construction papers
  • Raffia {or thinly shredded paper bag/construction paper}
  • Scissors
  • Pencil {to outline/trace letter} 
  • Marker/Pen
  • Googly eye
  • Glue


How to make the 'N’ Nest:

  1. Trace and cut an uppercase 'N' out of the brown foam sheet or construction paper. I used a foam sheet that was about 4" x 5" in size.
  2. Using the blue and white foam, cut out several small white eggs and a blue bird. I had a little piece of orange that I used for a beak as well. 
  3. If you don't have raffia on hand, have your little one snip brown paper to use as a 'nest'. I also used a piece of brown construction paper to form a ‘nest’ shape to glue the raffia onto.
  4. Glue the raffia/paper into the nook of the letter 'N'.
  5. Add your eggs and bird to finish your letter 'N'.

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Play with Me ~ Automoblox


    Automoblox are not just cars, they are so much more. I stumbled upon this awesome open-ended toy while shopping the clearance section at Target years ago. I snatched up 4 cars for under $3 each, with NO clue how amazing they were! In hindsight I sure wish I had bought more! You can get a 3 pack of the minis like we have, here on Amazon. They also sell other versions, which you can see here-but we don’t personally own any of those.

    Here’s some ideas for playing with Automoblox

    The obvious way to play is to simply let your tot explore the cars. They provide hours and hours of open ended play. I can’t possibly tell you how much these toys are played with at our house. They are for sure a favorite with both boys and have truly stood the test of time!IMG_2125 copy

    Build the cars fully by their color and lay out some construction paper to match…IMG_9109

    Find other objects that are the same color to collect together…IMG_9115

    Have the cars carry around different letters, numbers, or other objects… IMG_9106

    Have your tot try to race the cars to a specific target…IMG_9111

    Sort the wheels by color


    Make the longest car you possibly can by connecting all of your cars together…5a

    Make a short car… {my oldest “invented” this and calls it the SpyBot}.1a

    Stack the individual wheels, see how high you can get…practice counting as you go!


    Use the tops to look through and talk about the difference in how things look through the color.

    Make patterns with the wheels.

    String the wheels onto a pipe cleaner…


    Make letters with the wheels {or shapes, numbers, etc.}…


    There are so many more ways, these are just a few to get you thinking outside the box! If you don’t own Automoblox and need a unique gift for your children, I highly recommend them!

    One final word of caution, be careful with the colored part of the wheels, two of ours tore after many months of use, from the boys switching the rims out. I glue-gunned them back on and all is well!

    Happy Playing!

    Signature button Carisa

    You can see this and other toys we feature here on our website all on one page. We will add all of the toys we feature with links back to the blog posts!

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Little Books for Little Cooks ~ The Tooth Book

    Little Books for Little Cooks Little Books for Little Cooks is a bi-monthly feature that focuses on creating some edible fun with your little one.   We will share a fun book to read with your little one along with a cooking activity to do that ties in with the featured book. Sometimes there may be actual cooking involved…and sometimes just fun!
    by Dr. Suess

    Summary: Find out how teeth help us and how to take care of them. Fun rhyming text shows many different kinds of teeth, from zebras to people!



    You’ll Need:

    • a plate
    • apples
    • slivered almonds
    To Make:
    1. Slice an apple into four even pieces and then remove the core.
    2. Remove a wedge from the apple, so that it will look like an open mouth.
    3. Count out 20 slivered almonds with your little one and put 10 on the top and 10 on the bottom. Note: If you have longer almond slices, you might want to try putting your ‘teeth’ in from the underside of the apple. Then you can push them through so the ‘breakthrough’ the gums! :)
    Hope you enjoy this cooking activity with your little one! To see more featured books and activities, click here!

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Get Real with God ~ A Message of Love

    I began making Valentines when I was very small. I remember the feeling of accomplishment as I folded the construction paper in a slightly crooked half. I handled my scissors with great caution as I followed my mother's pencil marks. I felt proud that I'd been trusted with such a dangerous object. The glue stuck on my fingers, the sparkle of stray glitter colored my fingerprints. I loved this project.

    Grade school squashed my creativity. Those little boxed cards littered my friend's desks, manufactured and glitterless. For a while I gave up the homemade Valentines.

    When my first child was born I pulled out the construction paper with the glee of a child in a candy store. It didn't matter that my daughter could barely walk. I would cut the heart for her. I squirted purple and hot pink paint onto the pink paper and watched as she smeared her tiny hands across the page. When it dried I made an outline around the edges with glue. In the trails I sprinkled red glitter. We made a dozen of these.

    Inside the cards I wrote love quotes and set them aside for family members. They were fun to make, and special to give. I didn't know how treasured they could be.

    One of our Valentine's was my Uncle Michael. He was only ten years older than me and actually more like a brother than an uncle.

    He passed away the following year.

    My Grandpa was in charge of the estate. He went through everything meticulously.

    While searching through my uncle's small lock box one day my Grandpa found the old Valentine card that my daughter and I had created. Along with the faded Valentine was a letter I'd written where I had shared my faith with the uncle I had loved so much.

    I never dreamt that he'd kept these things, under lock en key no less. Had he even said a word when I'd placed the card in his hands? Yet, he had treasured my message of love along with all his prized possessions. I was amazed.

    As my Grandpa handed the items to me I read the quote the card contained. I had forgotten the message myself. Inside I had written a quote by Francois Mocuriac which reads:

    "No love, no friendship, can cross the path

    of our destiny without leaving some mark on us forever."

    Below that I'd written "Love. . . and leave a mark." He had certainly done that.

    Saving the Valentine was a testimony of his love for me. He'd taken the challenge I'd given him and had left a mark on me that has never faded as the years pass. The Valentine also read like a message to my heart, inspiring me and cautioning me at the same time. Live, love, and leave a mark. Not just any mark though, a mark that will bless and inspire the future.

    It blesses my heart to know that my uncle had treasured my act of love. I can only imagine how it must bless the heart of God as we meditate on, and treasure, the precious act of love He demonstrated through the life and death of His son.

    When nails were driven into the hands and feet of our innocent Saviour, they left a mark that stung the pit of hell. The piercing mark of His pain and death spelled out love like no paper Valentine ever could. As He breathed his last breath the mark of His influence on His followers fell like a wave, like a challenge begging them to pass the message on.

    After Christ rose from the dead He showed the marks in His hands to His follower, Thomas, as evidence that He was who He claimed to be. The message of love was powerful. I bet Thomas' heart nearly exploded at the recognition that his greatest hope had come true.

    Isaiah 49:16 (NKJV) reads:

    "See I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands;

    Your walls are continually before me."

    His mark isn't just a physical mark. His is a mark of influence, a message of love that has been carried from one believer to another through the testimony of His followers and the scriptures they lived, breathed and shared.

    I want to treasure God's Valentine above anything else. His is a love I can't fully fathom and can only hope to fully imitate. God's Valentine didn't need scissors, but His Words cut right to my heart. God's Valentine didn't need glitter, but it shook up my life and left me glowing and vibrant. It took everything He had to make it. No treasure can compare.

    In everything we do we leave a message. We leave a mark when we aren't even aware. Sometimes these messages are love-filled treasures, sometimes they are marks that are better off erased. What messages of love are you writing on those around you? Are you living to treasure God's message of Love for you?

    Love . . .and leave a mark.

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Treats 4 Your Tot


    Here are some more cool giveaways for tots/moms of tots, check them out below and let us know if you win something we told you about!!!!

    ~I do not take email requests to be added to this list, these are just personal favorites I find online, you are welcome to leave any giveaway links (TOT FRIENDLY ONLY) in the comments below.