Mama’s Kiss #46: Write Letters to a Children’s Home

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 46 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

This one is simple and obvious. Perhaps your congregation already allows your children to interact with residents at a children’s home, either by collecting needed supplies, saving money in those collection cans, or helping with the Christmas shopping for children who have been placed in homes due to either the death of parents or circumstances in which care is no longer provided by parents. I hope, if your church does this, you will not pass up the chance to make sure your children are busy with these projects. But even if your children participate in group projects, it’s still a great idea to get your children personally involved with children who are disadvantaged because of absent parents. Perhaps your family could schedule a visit to such a home. There are many of these around the nation that are sponsored by members of churches of Christ. (One great facility in our area is the North Alabama Christian Children’s Home, directed by Don Williams: http://nacch.com. Another great one is Pine Vale in Corinth, MS and you can reach them at amy.collum@pinevalech.com. or randy.collum@pinevalech.com. Or, if you are in Oklahoma: tiptonchildrenshome@yahoo.com.) Most of these homes welcome visitors and your children could meet and become pen pals with children who would love to hear from them throughout the year. You could compose letters to these children during your family Bible time and then, upon learning their preferences, personalities, and birthdays, your children might send packages or gift cards with the permission of the house parents. Memorizing James 1:27 along with this project is a great idea.

There are multiple benefits gained by this connection for both your children and those in the system. Appreciation for blessings, opportunities to be selfless, and accountability to friends in need  are some of the benefits your children will encounter.  I was in the second grade when our class in my Christian school first visited a children’s home. I was assigned the writing of the letter to thank them for their hospitality to us. I still remember some of the contents of that letter. The children we met that day and the simple fact that they did not have any present parents made a huge impact on my young heart. It was a sobering thought to my seven-year-old self that there were other seven-year-olds who might never know their moms and dads. It was a small and hard part of coming to understand human suffering, but it was good for my young and impressionable second-grade self. Twelve years later, one of those children I met in that home attended Freed-Hardeman University with me and we talked, as college students, about the death of her parents. Ten more years passed and I helped my own children buy Christmas gifts for children in that same home. This Christmas, I loved getting the chance, once again to buy those black and white Nikes that were on the list of a thirteen-year-old whose parents are AWOL. I can hardly wait till Ezra and Colleyanna are old enough to learn the joy this brings. I know there were many opportunities  that passed our family by–things we should have done, and didn’t– and certainly we are not any great examples of benevolence. We should have shared more of His bounty than we ever did. But I am convinced, because of the impact of even these small gifts on me and on our children, that even the smallest hand in benevolence builds character.  I’m sad that there will always be these opportunities (John 12:8), but I’m thankful for the good that can be done in multiple generations of families when these perennial opportunities are presented and grasped.

 

Today’s Recipe: Green Lime Punch

Janice Knight

Super simple!  Use a half gallon, (or nowadays, two of those little round tubs) lime sherbet, and pour a half gallon ginger ale (or sprite, for sweeter) over sherbet in a punch bowl.  Stir and chop up the sherbet.  It’s a hit every time.

 

Mama’s K.I.S.S #45–The G.I.F.T.S. Projects

thAs you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 45 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

This one’s a little different, in that, rather than making a single suggestion for serving, this time I’m recommending a resource that has lots of ideas for serving and growing in Him. The book G.I.F.T.S, by Hannah Colley Giselbach, is a thirteen chapter book for teen girls. Including a myriad of topics like evangelism, influences of the media, Bible study, prayer and dating, the book is Scripture-filled and practical. When Hannah wrote the book, she was sixteen years old, so her perspective was that of a peer rather than merely that of an instructor.

What makes the book fit into the Mama’s K.I.S.S. series is the projects feature included in each chapter. Every chapter concludes with a list of potential projects for girls to complete alone or in groups. These projects range from organizing spiritual events to participating in evangelistic studies. It’s a great way to organize the service efforts of teen girls in your own home and in your congregation. The book encourages fellowship and group completion of many of the activities. Because serving together is more fun than serving alone, this approach will leave teen girls enthusiastic about filling needs in congregation and community.

Below is an example of some of the many projects from which teen girls choose as they progress through the book:

  Send five encouraging notes to five different younger girls during each week this

      month. Include praise for positive attributes and a verse of scripture in each.

 

   Ask a younger girl, or a group of younger girls to sit with you during each

       service  during the next month.

 

  Take a stack of index cards, a marker, and a role of double stick tape to school

      with you one day. Encourage at least twelve people by placing encouraging

      “way-to-go-notes” on their lockers, desks, text books, etc. Include scripture

       when appropriate.

 

  Find five instances in scripture when lying or deception led to more sin. Bring

      your list and Bible references to the next study sessions and discuss with mentor. 

 

  Write a children’s fable or fairy story about someone who gets in big trouble

 because of a lie. Ask one of the young children’s teachers in your congregation if

 you can visit a children’s class and read your story. Be sure to apply the story to

 the children’s lives when you finish reading.

 

   Check the newspaper0r a news website every day for a month for current events or court cases

       that include deception. Compile these in a folder or scrapbook and turn them in 

       to your mentor at the next meeting.

It’s important to remember that our kids need to keep serving right on through the teen years rather than becoming self-absorbed as the culture in which they may matriculate tends to be. G.I.F.T.S. is a rich resource for teen service.

 

You can find G.I.F.T.S. at www.thecolleyhouse.org.

 

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #44: Stop Eating Out for a Month

unknownAs you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 43 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

Today, I want to suggest an idea that’s memorable and works on the practical implementation of sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Sometimes, because of our American affluence, we do give to the church, but while we, as parents, may understand some of the luxuries or amenities we may be putting on hold or doing without due to our dedication to the church, our kids never get the benefit of “feeling” the sacrifice. We may be missing the opportunity to put in their hearts the connection between living “less largely” and our commitment to Jesus. Here’s a practical way to connect those dots.

Decide together as a family that you are going to skip going out to eat at one of the weekly or monthly times when you have regularly been eating at a restaurant (even if it’s only fast food). (Our regular time as a family when the kids were growing up was on Sundays after morning worship.) Purpose that you’re going to take the money that you’re saving by eating at home and put it in a jar until you have enough to do something for the kingdom. Make that “something” very specific and enlist the help of your elders if you need ideas. Perhaps your project is to purchase  song books for the nursing home worship services. Maybe it is to purchase food for a youth activity. Maybe it is to purchase high chairs for infants for your fellowship hall. Maybe it is to buy cushions for the pews for several elderly people. Maybe it is to stock the benevolence pantry or purchase a new tract rack for some area of the building. Maybe it is to send money to a foreign missionary for the purchase of a bicycle. Just decide on a project and make sure your children are watching each time as Mom or Dad drops the savings into the jar and calculates how far along you are toward the goal. You may want to have some sort of goal measurement or chart on the outside of the jar. Talk about the value of this goal each time you are eating that meal at home rather than at the restaurant. Be sure you connect the fact that you are sacrificing with the good that will be done when the goal is reached.  Use the context of II Samuel 24:24 in your Family Bible Time, about refusing to merely give God things which cost us nothing,  When you complete the project, be sure you show your kids the fruits of their sacrifice…in the nursing home or the fellowship hall or in a photo from the mission field. Your kids won’t forget this and it’s preparatory for some great rewards of sacrifices they will make as faithful adults. It’s preparatory for heaven!

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #43–Cooking Times Four

Portrait of happy mother and her daughter cooking in the kitchen

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 43 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

I’m sure you’ve thought of doing this with your kids, but it’s been a real benefit to ministry on several occasions for this family. Every time I make a casserole, a cobbler or a soup of any kind, I multiply all ingredient amounts by four, prepare the ingredients, and then spoon them out into 4-6 casserole dishes (depending on dish sizes), cover them well with heavy-duty foil, and freeze all of them except the one we are having for supper. I usually place the wrapped dishes in individual giant zippy bags to help guard them from freezer burn. I also label the bags with the name of the dish and the instructions for cooking or re-heating the dish. The casseroles and pies are almost always placed in the freezer before the baking, so you can just grab them from the freezer, thaw them and bake according to directions. Soups only need reheating. This is great math for upper-elementary kids, as they multiply the fractions of cups and teaspoons, and it’s great hospitality and benevolence planning for kids (especially daughters) of any age.

I know I don’t need to explain the benefits of this, but here goes. It’s cheaper to buy ingredients in bulk.  It greatly reduces cooking time because it only takes a few more minutes to make four casseroles than it takes to make one. When you do four meals at the time, you have one mess to clean up instead of four. 

But the biggest plus for me is being able to take a dish to a grieving family on the spur of the moment or to enjoy time with visiting family or friends instead of spending all my time cooking and cleaning the kitchen. It’s great to be able to have food on hand for Sunday dinners or fellowship meals. It’s great to be able to take a meal to someone who has just gotten home from the hospital or to someone who has a sick child. Best of all, your kids are watching and absorbing this active freezer ministry which just becomes a part of your family’s routine. It would be worth the price of my deep freezer many times over just for the consistency of hospitality and benevolence that it afforded our family. Of course we were still not even close to thorough or perfect as we took advantage of having a deep freezer. But still, it was/is a very helpful tool. 

Here are some dishes that work particularly well in the freezer. I’ve included the most recent recipe that I prepared and froze as well. It was very good! Thanks to Diana Shafer in Collierville, TN for sharing! It has already gone to a couple of octogenarians in their home in Tennessee and  to a visiting preacher-student family around our table.

These work well: 

Any kind of soup

Chili

Lasagne

Poppy seed chicken casseroles

Chicken, broccoli and rice casseroles

Most pasta dishes (especially if they are creamy)

Ground beef and vegetable casseroles

Dumpling dishes

Cobblers of any kind 

Dump cakes

Enchilada casseroles

Casseroles with crescent roll type crusts/toppings

Homemade Bread (Wrap well in a couple of layers of heavy duty foil or plastic wrap.)

(If a casserole calls for a cracker or potato chip or corn chip topping, add this after you remove it from the freezer.) 

                                                                                  Creamy Chicken

Ingredients:

4-8 chicken breasts or 1 chicken

1 pt. sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 8 oz. package Pepperidge Farm dressing mix (may use more)… (Also, I think I used a store brand and it was yum.)

1/4 c.milk

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Directions:

Cook chicken (boil or cook in microwave). Cool. Remove skin and cut into bite-size pieces. Line 9×13 dish with chicken. (But you can really use any size dishes. cc) Sprinkle with salt. Combine soups, sour cream and milk. Spread this over chicken.Prepare dressing mix according to directions on package. Margarine may be omitted if you do not like rich dressing. Use broth from chicken or chicken bouillon for liquid required in dressing mix. Spread dressing on top of soup mixture. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. May be frozen before baking.  (This is easy and so very good!)

 

Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #42– Dropping Opportunities

Fiestas_Patrias_Parade,_South_Park,_Seattle,_2015_-_090_-_child_picking_up_candy_(21574028625)-1As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been presenting installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” This is number 42 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to have servant hearts. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

There are so many of these “dropping opportunities” if moms just look around. It helps to start this one way before your kids are big enough to participate. It’s just courtesy, kindness and deference to others and it will come naturally to teach this to your children if you begin practicing this on your own before it’s time to teach them. Just watch for people, especially older people who drop something. Sometimes she knocks items off of a  grocery shelf. Sometimes she inadvertently leaves a coin purse unzipped and coins roll all over the parking lot as she unlocks her car. Sometimes it’s someone younger and her baby drops a sippy cup or a pacifier from the stroller or grocery cart. A grocery list, a walking cane, a pencil, a kleenex, a pair of sunglasses…even a communion cup from a shaky hand—someone is always dropping something and dropping times are stopping times for moms who want to put service in the hearts of their kids. When your kids get big enough, make it a contest to see who can calmly and safely be first to pick up a dropped item for someone while you are out today. Kids who smile and speak (without a reminder) to the person who dropped the item as it’s returned get an extra point. If the returned “stuff” requires “catching and/or gathering” from the ground, that’s another point.

I know. This is common sense. But common sense about courtesy is becoming less and less common as we incorporate our families into an ever busier and isolated world. This is a simple way to help us preserve the vestiges of courtesy in the places where they are precious to Christian families; most especially our homes. 

Finally, all of you, have… a tender heart, and a humble mind. (I Peter 3:8)

Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #39–The Gift Closet

target 75As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been presenting installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” This is number 39 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to have servant hearts. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

The Gift Closet

It’s been fun to watch my daughter transition into her own home with her own family and continue the “gift closet” tradition. Throughout the growing up years of our kids, they always knew there was one closet that was always stocked with little gifts for those times when someone needed encouragement: a thank-you, a prize for winning the family devotional Bible game, a welcome gift, a good-bye gift, or when your whole Bible class had earned a reward. Everyone needs a gift closet, pantry, or cabinet.

Right now, mine contains some Valentine vases, an Easter bunny book, some Bath and Body 75 percent off items, some monogrammed Christmas ornaments, some candles, some clearance toys, some bed linens and some made-to-order graduation gifts personalized with a popular university logo (bought in bulk)…just to name a few things. The plusses of a gift closet are obvious: 1)You save money because you buy at deep discount prices and save gifts for when you need them. This is good stewardship. 2) You can give more because giving is easier. 3) You can have fun Bible Time rewards for spontaneous games. 4) Your kids start to think in terms of the joy of giving because they see it happening so much. (They start asking if they can have something from the stash to give to people who can use encouragement.) 5) Your kids grow up and continue the tradition.

My favorite gift closet memory includes a Saturday when two well-known preachers were unexpectedly visiting in our home, along with our collegiate children. Our kids had been expecting to have a little holiday celebration for some minor holiday. (We celebrate everything!) Well, we just went on and played our holiday game (“Let’s Make a Deal” as I recall) with the whole gang. It was the best time ever, to watch those guys trying to win those little prizes from one another. One of the folks there had just attended the funeral of a dear family member who had passed away in a tragic accident and I remember him saying “This has been fun. It has helped me to think about something other than the horrible events of the last few days.”

If I’d only had the closet for just that one day, it would have been worth it!