Archives for July 2014

Weekend Links

 

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at JessieWeaver.net.

The Other Side of the Story

Teaching kids empathy can be a great joy and struggle in parenting. We are all self-centered by nature, and showing children how to be other-centered takes some stretching. Helping a child understand how to “put himself in another person’s shoes” can be a great way to teach empathy.

What about looking at Bible stories in a new way? In the book The Whale Tells His Side of the Story, author Troy Schmidt imagines what the whale felt like with Jonah hanging around in his belly. (The subtitle, Hey God, I’ve Got Some Guy Named Jonah in My Stomach and I Think I’m Gonna Throw Up, pretty much says it all.) In the same vein as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Frog Prince Continued,  Schmidt rethinks Bible stories. He’s also written the following biblical “other sides”:

Even if you aren’t able to purchase these books, having your child imagine another side of a Bible tale is a good way to spark imagination and explain having empathy. It can be a funny activity or a serious talk.

What “other sides” can you imagine?

2014’s Best and Worst Cities for Families

wh-2014-best-and-worst-cities-for-familiesRecently, the personal finance social network WalletHub compared each of the 150 largest cities in the U.S. based on 31 key metrics — including the availability of quality jobs, the relative cost of housing, the quality of local school and health care systems, and the opportunities for fun and recreation – in order to help families across the country identify the ideal location to put down roots.

Drumroll please …

2014’s Best Cities for Families 2014’s Worst Cities for Families
1 Plano, Texas 141 Hialeah, Florida
2 Sioux Falls, South Dakota 142 Fort Lauderdale, Florida
3 Overland Park, Kansas 143 Newark, New Jersey
4 Fremont, California 144 Providence, Rhode Island
5 Irvine, California 145 Cleveland, Ohio
6 Virginia Beach, Virginia 146 San Bernardino, California
7 Lincoln, Nebraska 147 Jackson, Mississippi
8 Anchorage, Alaska 148 Birmingham, Alabama
9 Gilbert, Arizona 149 Miami, Florida
10 Amarillo, Texas 150 Detroit, Michigan

 

And check out these fascinating statistics:

  • Madison, Wisconsin has 88 times more playgrounds per capita than Laredo, Texas.
  • Anchorage, Alaska has 2,227 times more acres of parkland per capita than Hialeah, Florida.
  • Irvine, California’s per capita violent crime rate is 45 times lower than Detroit, Michigan’s.
  • The median family’s annual income, adjusted for cost of living, is four times higher in Plano, Texas than in Newark, New Jersey.
  • The divorce rate in Fremont, California is 5.5 times lower than in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • The percentage of households receiving food stamps is 22 times lower in Irvine, California than in Detroit, Michigan.
  • The average commute time in Lubbock, Texas is 2.5 times lower than in New York, New York.
  • The percentage of families living below the poverty line in Overland Park, Kansas is 8 times lower than in Detroit, Michigan.

Wanna know where your city ranks? Visit http://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-families/4435/

We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment letting us know where you’re from and where your city falls on this list!

When Adopted Kids Need Therapy by Ellen Stumbo

“Just pray for her, and God will restore her heart.”

I have a confession. When we adopted our daughter from Ukraine, we believed her cerebral palsy would be our biggest challenge. Sure, we knew she would have some emotional difficulties due to spending the first four years of her life in an orphanage, but we believed in a fairy tale. You know, where God wipes away the bad memories and a loving home is all she needed to heal from those deep emotional and psychological scars. I believed in a Christian cliché.

Christian clichés bother me. Life is messy. We all carry scars from our past, every single one of us. Whether it is a message from our childhood, a broken relationship, or someone who hurt us deeply. None of us get through life untouched in this fallen world.

Yes, God is in the business of restoring hearts, offering peace, and extending comfort. But in this life there is no delete button. A reminder of why we so desperately need God to do life with us. Sometimes we only get through because of His grace.

The details of my daughter’s past will never change, neither will the pain and loss surrounding them, but I do pray and hope that as she grows up, she will see that God was with her in the midst of the pain, and He is the one that led us to her.

So every week my daughter and I go to therapy to address not her obvious physical disability but the emotional disability created as a result of trauma, abandonment, rejection, pain, and the abuse she experienced as an orphan. A disability far more debilitating and impactful than her cerebral palsy ever will be.

And I am so thankful for how God uses her therapist — how she teaches my daughter more about how to control her emotions, to regulate her big feelings, and even to trust us, her parents.

Adoption is not a fairy tale. It is heartbreaking. It is messy. And it is absolutely worth it, because watching your child grow and make sense of their life is far greater than an imagined happily ever after.

Ellen Stumbo Head ShotEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor. Visit her at ellenstumbo.com.

Summer Spiritual Learning by Brian Dembowczyk

A Simple Way to Build Faith

“Daddy, can we do the questions?” That request is music to my ears. Shortly after our son, Joshua, turned 5, my wife and I began teaching him a catechism, which is a series of questions and answers designed to explain basic biblical doctrine.

Bedtime stories

What We’ve Learned

We began asking Joshua a new question every second or third day as part of the prayer and snuggle time we have with him and his 2-year-old sister. Several things amazed us right away.

  • Joshua was able to answer many of the new questions correctly with little or no help. It is encouraging to see that what we talk about at home and what he hears at church are anchoring firmly in his mind and heart.
  • He was able to quickly and easily learn new questions. Children have an amazing capacity to absorb information. We want to pour the gospel into our children as much as possible to take advantage of this developmental stage.
  • He was eager to “do the questions.” Showing a little encouragement and excitement when he answers questions correctly goes a long way and is helping him have fun as he learns about God.
  • The catechism questions began fueling wonderful spiritual conversations about God, life, heaven, and his unchurched friends. Initiating spiritual conversations has become easier and more natural.
  • Our biggest surprise was that our daughter, Hannah, was learning almost as much as Joshua! Our hearts quickly began to melt when we heard our 2-year-old’s sweet voice articulating biblical truth. It reinforces the principle that you can’t start this process too early.

A Great Opportunity

As a parent, you know that summer is a mixed blessing of free time for your child. Why not invest some of that time into teaching your child a catechism or challenging your child to learn a Bible verse each week until school starts? Or do both and learn a verse with each question. Sweeten the challenge by offering a quality reward at the end of the summer if he succeeds. (God mentions rewards quite often in the Bible; there is nothing wrong with motivating a child similarly!) Let this summer be a life-changing summer for your child. Perhaps you will experience the same change as well!

Sample Questions

Q. Who made you?

A. God.

Q. What else did God make?

A. Everything.

Q. Why did God make you?

A. For His own glory.

Q. How can you glorify God?

A. By loving Him and doing what He says.

Q. Why should you glorify God?

A. Because He loves me and takes care of me.

Ways to Impact Your Child Spiritually

  • Find a church with Saturday evening services and attend a few during the summer. Attending a different church’s worship service may further energize your family’s walk with Christ.
  • Find different ministry opportunities in which to participate as a family (soup kitchens, clothes closets, etc).
  • Make it a goal to invite a friend to church each Sunday during the summer.
  • Encourage your child to keep a prayer journal during the summer.

 

Brian Dembowczyk is Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Assimilation at FBC Tampa, Florida. He is married to Tara and is father of Joshua (5) and Hannah (3). You can follow Brian on Twitter at @BrianDembo or check out his blog at missionaldiscipleship.blogspot.com.

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Weekend Links

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at JessieWeaver.net.

Making Meals with 5 Ingredients (or Less!)

5 ingredients or less

One of the easiest ways to cut back on meal costs is to simplify your ingredients. If you can make a tasty recipe with fewer ingredients, you will probably spend less money. Often this involves slow-cooking, which intensifies flavor and tenderizes less costly cuts of meat.

Here are some great recipe links to get you started. All the recipes have 5 ingredients or fewer, not counting salt and pepper. Add an easy side dish, like a frozen vegetable and rice, and you’ll be able to save (or give!) more money and spend less on food.

*If you don’t use alcohol in your cooking, you should skip these recipes.

And here are a few fun recipes from our friends on Facebook.

Cabbage skillet: brown 1lb. hamburger with chopped onion, then add 2 cans drained Rotel and one small green cabbage sliced into ribbons. Add salt & pepper, cover, and cook until cabbage is tender. Serve over rice, with or without a slice of American cheese melted between. – from Nicole H.

Caramel Apple salad: Core and chop 4-5 Granny Smith apples, add 1 medium can of crushed pineapple with the juice & mix together. Sprinkle 1 box of butterscotch instant pudding (regular or sugar free), stir together. Stir in one 8 – 12 oz tub of cool whip. Chill before serving. (I don’t peel the apples but you can if you need to do so.). – from Becky M.

Have a favorite 5-ingredient-or-less recipe? Leave it for us in the comments! I’d love to have a few more in my arsenal for dinners.

Weekend Links

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at JessieWeaver.net.