Friday, April 30, 2010

Nutrition Can be FUN - Get Sneaky!

Goal: To increase the amount of veggies and fruits your children are eating
Challenge: Getting them to put them in their mouths and swallow them without having dinner time become a warzone
Outcome: ??

Ok – so if you saw the last post on nutrition, you read about the growing problem of childhood obesity, processed foods, and an overall lack of nutrition among Americans today. Maybe you agree and perhaps you want to begin to make changes within your own family. But maybe you are thinking that you have the pickiest eaters (spouse included!) known to earth and you don’t want your dinner table to double as a battlefield. Well, there might be a way for your children to eat their favorite foods – macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, brownies, and cookies and get huge doses of the nutrients their bodies need as well!

I came across Missy Chase Lapine, aka The Sneaky Chef. Her recipes include the kid-friendly foods but they have been chocked full of veggies and fruits. I was a little skeptical at first, but after ordering her cookbook and trying the recipes myself, I must say I am a believer! I figured it would be harder to “sneak” the foods by older kids – but a very picky 17 year old ate one of the hamburgers I made with the spinach and blueberry puree (unknowingly of course!) and LOVED it!

Even if you are skeptical, try it! It will be fun “sneaking” something good over on your kids. See the link below to Lapine’s website for free recipes. Remember that this is just one method to increase the overall health of your family. It is still very important to serve children fresh fruits and vegetables every day. You will be their model as they grow and begin to make food choices on their own.

~Nicole Hamlin, Family Life Minstries Intern

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Families Need Nutrition

Families have many needs today! We live in a fast-paced society and that often carries over into our family life as well. One of the requirements of my Family Life Education program at Spring Arbor University is to design a program that will target one need that families face. While there were many directions I could have taken with this project, I felt strongly that many families are lacking in a crucial area – nutrition. America as a whole has higher levels of obesity and in fact as many as 1 out of 3 children are now overweight or obese.
God made the earth to produce the nutrients to sustain our earthly bodies. But throughout the ages, we have made food easier to fix and seemingly tastier to accompany our busy lives. In the hectic schedule of everyday life it is difficult to refrain from fast food and prepackaged meals at times, but we as a society are paying the price. With the rise in obesity also comes an increase in diabetes, heart disease, and various other diseases and behavioral issues. Even “healthier” choices presented to us at restaurants and supermarkets are often two times the portion we are supposed to consume, and are full of sodium and fat.

If I have you discouraged or upset (sorry!), don’t be! There are ways to change the direction we have been going. It will take time, energy, and even sacrifices. But as you look at your children and want only the best for them, wouldn’t that also include the best foods that will sustain their bodies in the years to come? We need to understand what healthy nutrition is and what it isn’t. Don’t just rely on what you have heard or what the media says is good for you. There are many good books, websites, and resources available that provide education on nutrition. Even your Christian bookstore carries a sizeable number of books on health as God designed.

If you are asking how you even begin to make healthy changes without dinner time becoming a war zone, stay tuned. Because on Friday I will have some ideas for how you can start increasing the amount of vegetables your children are eating…without them even knowing! To good health!

~ Nicole Hamlin, Family Life Ministries Intern

Monday, April 26, 2010

Low Fuel - No Fuel

I never thought it would happen to me. I prided myself in pushing the limits without its embarrassing consequence. But once, as I was taking my son and his friend to their football game, it happened. For the first time in my life I ran out of gas. I mean, I saw the low fuel light flash several times (all right, it flashed so many times that it stayed on), but I ignored it. I ignored it because, in the past, I had driven miles with the low fuel light flashing and remaining on, without running out of gas. I am convinced more so now than ever, that if you keep driving on low fuel, it will eventually become no fuel.

This incident taught me a profound lesson about my life: I have a tendency to ignore the low fuel light flashing on the dashboard of my life. I ignore it because I believe I can push my body and mind to preach, teach, serve, minister, care for, and write one more day, one more week or one more month on the fumes of independence rather than the fuel of dependence on Jesus. Then it happens. I simply run out of gas in every area and relationship of my life. If I keep running on low fuel, I will eventually have no fuel to serve God, my family, my teammates, my community, and my world.
These days, I am learning that every week I need to intentionally find time to rest, recover, refuel and reflect, in order to give God and others my best self. Spending time with my wife and kids, writing, running/walking, praying, and journaling are just a few ways I rest, recover, refuel and reflect.
When do you rest, recover, refuel and reflect? What kinds of things do you do to refuel your energy tank and recharge your battery? What are some new practices you can begin to rest, recover, refuel and reflect, so that you give God and others your best self?

~Pastor Marvin

Friday, April 23, 2010

Road Trip FUN

In a few weeks, my family will be on the road. We’re looking forward to the trip, but I also know there will be moments in the car when it will be a challenge to turn boredom into family fun.

We’ll stock up on snacks, books, paper, and a couple of clipboards. (Full disclosure: there will be an IPod and a Nintendo DS in the car, too.)

We’ll also fall back on some family favorites:

• The License Plate Game

We’ve played two versions of this game. For keeping track of license plates from the 50 states, I download a list of states here, a website with lots of great ideas for car games.

We also play a version of this game that requires players to come up with a fun phrase using the letters from a license plate as the first letters of the words in the phrase. E.g., MHG becomes Mom Hugs Grandma.

• CDs

We love The Chronicles of Narnia, Focus on the Family’s Radio Theater audio of this C.S. Lewis classic, available here.

Another family favorite is the silly songs on Sandra Boynton’s Philadelphia Chickens or Dog Train CDs.

• Story Writer

In our version, one person starts the story by writing the first line of the story, the second person writes the second line, and so on.

• 20 Questions

This classic works for us, but does elicit a few squabbles over whether the item in question has been visible to all during the duration of the game.

• Trinkets from the Dollar Store

When the kids were younger, I surprised them with a small toy as they got into the car each morning. I may do that again this year, simply because it’s a family tradition.

Do you have any suggestions or advice? Any road trip stories to share?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Read the Bible with Your Family

Something special is on the horizon.
And you and your family can play a part!
Perhaps you know the National Day of Prayer is coming up on May 6. But did you also know there is a Bible reading marathon happening the 24 hours prior to the May 6 activities?

Beginning at 11:00am on May 5, and continuing through 10:00am on May 6, the entire New Testament is going to be read aloud within the city of Lansing. People will read for 15-minute segments from the Capitol Building, a downtown church, and from their own homes.
Readers are still needed between 2:30pm and 6pm on May 5 at the Capitol, and between 1am and 8am on May 6. The 1am-8am readings will happen in individual homes. Our hope is that some families will read together. Perhaps spouses, or parents and older children, would be willing to wake up and read to one another during the over-night shift!
This reading marathon was a wonderful event last year and we trust it will be this year, too.
God's Word is powerful!

If you would like to sign up to read, or just have questions, please leave a comment with your contact information, or click here to email me.



Monday, April 19, 2010

Do You Have a GPS?

Once, when my husband and I were vacationing in Southern Florida, we decided we would drive the coastline south to Fort Lauderdale. We wanted to visit our friends who were staying there, as they sought treatment for their handicapped son. While I was hoping for an enjoyable, scenic drive, we ended up encountering four or five DETOURS.
All I wanted was the beauty and peace of the ocean and what did I get but the inconvenience of detours. A trip that should have taken an hour was turning into double the time. I tried calling our friends to tell them we were on our way down, but no one picked up. I had no idea how we were going to find them!
Just as we entered the city limits of Fort Lauderdale, the overwhelming urge to use the restroom overtook me.
So we stopped.
And before we got started again, we tried calling our friends. Still no answer.
BUT, as we turned back onto the main road, we could not believe our eyes. Our friends were pushing a wheelchair with their handicapped child across the street - right in front of us!
What were the chances???
We were in awe. And our friends were sure surprised! We had a great afternoon with them. It was truly God –ordained.

It wasn’t until the ride back to our hotel that I sensed God speaking a very simple yet profound message to my heart. I had mapped out my trip and was so disappointed when the detours interrupted my scenic plans .Yet because of those detours and inconveniences we arrived at the perfect moment to meet our friends.
This was a picture of my spiritual journey as well. Oh, how grateful and humbled I was to understand that God’s routing and timing of my life is precise and so well orchestrated. At that moment, I was overwhelmed by how TRUSTWORTHY my God is and how He truly does work all things together for my good.
All I could do was give praise and thanks for the amazing GPS (God Positioning System) that had led us on our journey.

How have you seen His GPS at work in your life?


Friday, April 16, 2010

Minute To Win It Fun

I don't know about you but if you haven't seen the show chances are you have seen the commercials. Balancing, bouncing, bobbling and more all in the name of a challenge and if you are on the show a chance to win $1, 000,000.

While having a family dinner at my mother-in-laws recently we decided to give some of the challenges a try and what happened next was an afternoon of laughter, pure delight and FUN!

Here are some of the challenges that we tried:

This Blows
Line up 15 plastic cups in a row and using the air from a balloon blow all of them off the table or, in our case, past a line in under 60 seconds.

The Nutstacker
Using a chopstick or skewer stack lugnuts one on top of each other 10 high.
We varied the challenge making it whoever got the most in a minute as none of us were able to successfully get 10 in under a minute. :)

Movin' On Up
In this one you take a stack of cups, marking one. The challenge is to try to get through the entire stack in under a minute, by repeatedly removing the top cup and placing it on the bottom.

Wheel of A Deal
20 cards face down, 5 stands...T-minus 60. Sort the cards before the time runs out.

When we played we were playing with three generations ages 3-60 and every one had a blast. No one won a million dollars but we were all winners. I can here the tales being told 20 perhaps even 50 years from now, "Remember the time..."
To create your own family memories and for an afternoon or evening of laughter and fun, check out the website for even more crazy challenges!

Let me know how it goes!


Note- Be sure to click on the links above each description for more details on how each game is played.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Devotions for Little Kids

Riley (5), Malia (3) and Lucas (10months) love this devotional book!! It's a simple 2-3 min read along with a song that reinforces the story. We play a song on the CD player while they lay down and settle in for the night and it helps them to have a bedtime routine.

One night, Riley said, "Mom, would you tell us the story about Ruth & Naomi again?" I thought I'd have to bring it down to their level so I proceeded to tell them about how Ruth said she would follow Naomi and help her. Riley interrupted me and said, "That's not how it goes. Ruth says, 'Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.'"
I guess they're learning a lot more than I realize.
And, they're growing SOOO fast!!

How do you do devotions as a family?


Monday, April 12, 2010

Coveting My Neighbor's Struggle

Parent Night at my children’s school was over, and I walked to the parking lot with a friend whose son was in my son’s class. “This year is going to be tough for me,” she remarked. “The teacher is marvelous, but she mentioned that our kids are now old enough that less parent involvement is needed. I’m going to miss not being in the classroom very much.”

Inwardly, I sighed. That hadn’t been my reaction, and I felt guilty. If I loved my son as much as this mom loved her child, then I, too, would be grieving the loss of this classroom contact. Instead, what I had done was to make a mental note to share with my son at breakfast the next morning, my excitement over his new teacher and all the new things he would be learning.

But, I caught myself as I got into my car. I’ve come to realize that life with God means paying close attention to my thoughts. Psalm 139:23 (NIV) says: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” My anxious, self-defeating thoughts were leading me away from God, and I needed to turn them over to God.

So, I did just that. Now, God doesn’t promise that obedience will always be followed by understanding, but in this case God rewarded my obedience with a bit of insight.

I realized I had it wrong. I was coveting my neighbor’s struggle! My friend is an extrovert. (See last Wednesday’s post on extroversion and introversion.) She excels at organizing events and encouraging our kids to have fun. I can learn a lot from her about being in the moment with my children and giving other people the gift of inclusion. But, as an extrovert, she at times struggles with celebrating her children’s growing independence. In contrast, I’m an introvert. Celebrating my children’s development comes more easily to me. It’s an area where I can come alongside her.

I Corinthians 12: 17-20 (NIV): If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

~ Marilyn

Friday, April 9, 2010

FUN with Bean Burritos

Did you see this post about storing beans upside down? And about making cans of refried beans 'p**p'?
In it I suggested that I would share a refried beans recipe if anyone wanted me to. And someone did. *grin* So here you go, Marilyn. And anyone else who happens to see this!

I have refried beans in my pantry, boys who are ready to 'help,' and the following recipe. And tonight we're having Bean Burritos!

Mix together in a large bowl:
1 can refried beans (Be sure to let your boys help with getting the beans out.)
1 cup salsa
1 cup prepared rice
1 cup cooked, cubed chicken
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Place about 1/3-1/2 cup mixture off-center on burrito-sized flour tortillas. Fold sides in and roll up. Place in a greased 9x13 pan, and sprinkle with additional shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

I often make this recipe when taking a meal to a new mom, or ill friend. It's super easy to just double it - and then dinner is ready for them AND us! My family loves this dinner, and I hope yours will, too.
If not, at least your boys will have fun making the can of beans, well, you know.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Tale of Two Mothers

I Corinthians 12 tells us that God delights in diversity! As the body of Christ, we are called not just to put up with each other, but to celebrate our differences and to need each other.

Psychologists tell us that extroversion and introversion are among the most stable of personality traits. I want to share some info about extroverted versus introverted moms that has helped me understand my strengths and struggles as a mom, as well as the strengths and struggles of moms whose personalities differ from mine.


• Exploring the world with your young children
• Being on the go and thriving at a busy pace
• Providing your children with opportunities to be with people
• Teaching your children the importance of social skills
• Enjoying casual conversations with children; feeling free to ask them questions
• Being “in the know” when it comes to community, school, etc.
• Providing the spark to get things going and keep things moving
• Connecting and thriving in large group activities

• Being isolated at home with babies and preschoolers
• Tuning out social and other external expectations
• Worrying whether your children have enough friends and/or activities
• Overextending
• Respecting a child’s personal space
• Listening rather than talking
• Understanding an introverted child’s need for alone time


• Observing and reflecting on your children to get to know each one in depth
• Encouraging your children not to overextend
• Respecting and understanding a child’s need for time alone
• Respecting a child who’s not one of the crowd
• Providing a quiet and calming presence
• Tuning out distractions to concentrate on one child or one thing at a time
• Limiting extraneous involvements
• Standing back and watching your children be active and interact on their own

• Being outwardly focused on children and the tasks at hand
• Conflicts between the need to tune out distractions and the family’s need to interact
• Handling a large family or large groups of people
• Finding the energy to maintain the pace of active young children and adolescents
• Responding “on the spot” without time to think things through
• Being as accessible to your children as you think you should be
• Understanding an extroverted child’s need to be on the go and to think aloud

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do the strengths and struggles on these lists resonate with you?

Source: MotherStyles by Janet P. Penley


Monday, April 5, 2010

Who Needs Instructions???

Just recently we purchased a couple pieces of furniture from Ikea--I was so excited. I was not excited, however, when I saw the size of the boxes and the realization hit me—assembly was required.

I know enough to know that the first thing you do when you open the boxes is find the instruction manual as fast as possible. It is only then that you can truly evaluate what you have gotten yourself into. I had gotten myself into a BIG project.

I began scanning the 16 steps and proceeded to charge ahead. Before long, I figured out that the first three steps were done incorrectly and I had to take the bed completely apart. It was going to be a long afternoon.

Deep breath.

I began again -- this time being incredibly careful -- but once again, I went too fast and overlooked another key step. Undo the work again.

Confession: I dislike having to follow instructions.

BUT instructions are important.

I have tried to assemble my life without looking closely at THE instruction book. I found the verses in the Bible I liked and skimmed over those that I did not like, or didn’t understand. I often just watched others' lives - especially those that were similar to me - and followed their lead. Eventually, though, my life would have to be disassembled so that it could be reassembled properly.

And at that point, I really wanted to look again at the instruction book. Boy, did I study it closely so as not to make the same mistake again. When I looked carefully, I started to notice foundational instructions that I had missed such as: Trusting God is a must. A life of forgiveness and love are critical if you a follower of Christ. God has a purpose for my life -- it is not my life anymore to do as I please.

Those are just a few of the key instructions I had chosen to overlook. Thank God that He loves me enough to break down my construction and rebuild me.

Have you ever gone through re-construction?


Friday, April 2, 2010

Resurrection Cookies - Have Fun AND Celebrate Jesus

Here's a great activity you can do with your kids which will give you an opportunity to talk about Jesus' death and resurrection. You'll need your Bible, and just a few ingredients. So check your pantry, then be sure to set aside time tomorrow night to make these cookies!

Click here for all the details.

And, in case you need to know - service times for this weekend at Trinity are posted in the sidebar to the left. See you there!