Weekend Links

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Planning for Summer

sprinklers
source: jodimichelle via Flickr Creative Commons

In this month’s print issue of ParentLife, writer Emily Pardy urges us to grasp on to “Summer Sanity” by making a list of priorities and plans for the summer. Have you been doing that? I’ve been thinking a lot about how summer will go around our house.

In the fall, my three children will be in second grade, kindergarten, and 3-year-old preschool. I am pregnant, so this will be the last summer for awhile we can take advantage of having all children who know how to hold hands in a parking lot and I’m not too worried about killing each other if we send them outside for half an hour. But because I am pregnant, this also may be a summer where I need more rest than usual. We may or may not be moving apartments. We have a lot of “ifs” up in the air.

So we haven’t really made any firm plans – camps, many trips, etc. Usually we schedule our older two for at least one week of day camp, but we’ve decided to put that on the back burner for now.

Here are my priorities for the summer:

  • Take our third annual beach vacation to Tybee Island. We all enjoy this; it’s relaxing, and we have fun.
  • Go swimming. If needed, get swim lessons for my 7-year-old to be fully competent as a swimmer.
  • Send kids to “Nana Camp” and “Grandma Camp.” We are so blessed to have both sets of our parents within driving distance, and they LOVE having the kids come to stay for a couple days during the summer. The kids love getting one-on-one time. We get to spend a little more one-on-one time with the kids left at home, too. It’s nice to mix things up.
  • Help my 7-year-old daughter become proficient in the kitchen – and get my 5-year-old son started, too. They both love cooking and have been inspired by MasterChef, Jr. I can be a little too territorial about my kitchen space, but I want all my kids to learn to cook.
  • Playground hop in Chattanooga.
  • Spend time with great friends.
  • Encourage reading.

I also intend to let the kids make a little bucket list of things they want to do or places to go. I won’t promise to do everything, but I want to let them play a role there.

Have you started planning for summer? As Pardy writes, summer can be the right time for “structure, sunshine, skill-building, and sleep.” Sleep. There is a summer plan I can get behind!

When Can My Baby Eat Yogurt?

yogurt

 

Most babies start eating solids around 6 months. When is it OK to start adding yogurt into their diet?

While cow’s milk is off-limits until after the first birthday, yogurt can be included as a first food. Why? There are no worries about yogurt replacing breastmilk or formula as the primary source of nutrition in a baby’s diet. Drinking cow’s milk can send too many different minerals to a child’s undeveloped kidney and may cause problems with calcium absorption. Plain yogurt, however, is great for the immune system and makes a perfect first food, as long as there is no family or child history of dairy allergies.

Plain, whole-milk yogurt may not sound good to you, but it is the right food for a baby. Kids should not be given low-fat dairy until after age 2; they need the fat in their diet. Almost all yogurts, even “fruit” varieties, have sugar or artificial sweeteners, so find a simple whole-milk, unflavored yogurt or make your own in a yogurt maker.

Make sure never to sweeten yogurt with honey until after age 1, especially.

Most pediatricians agree that it is OK to start this type of yogurt with babies at 6-8 months, but please consult with your pediatrician before starting anything new. Always add only one new food at a time with babies, with a 3-day wait period, to monitor for any allergic reactions.

Weekend Links

Hope you had the happiest of Easter celebrations this weekend!

Miracles from Heaven: An Interview with Christy Beam, Part 2

Read Part 1 on ParentLife here, if you haven’t yet.

miraclesfromheaven

Kelly Wilson Mize: I’m so excited to see the movie! Was your family happy with the actors who were cast to play you?

Christy Beam: Yes! We were all so delighted and grateful. I just feel like they couldn’t have done a better job handpicking for each of us who they chose. In fact, when Anna and I went and met Kylie Rogers [the girl who played her in the movie] for the first time, she and Kylie clicked right away. Annabel said, “Mom, I was so worried that Kylie wouldn’t ‘get’ me or understand who I am, or ‘be like’ me.” And I had no idea she was worrying about that. But she said, “Kylie was perfect. I couldn’t have picked someone better for me.” And that just gave me so much peace. I knew Jennifer Garner would be amazing, but Annabel didn’t know Kylie Rogers would be amazing. Every one of us was just very pleased with the choices, the product, the result of what they all did.

KWM: Do you think the movie stuck closely with the true story?

CB: It did. There are some parts that are painfully accurate, and there are some parts that were very hard to watch. There were other parts that are definitely an adaptation of our story. There were some people morphed into one person. They were trying to take this long story and condense it down, but we were all very pleased with the outcome and how well they did it.

KWM: Do you have any plans to write future books?

CB: I would love to write a children’s book about this experience to help reach out to children who are struggling with chronic illness, or just struggling with challenges in general. I feel like all children could use that encouragement.

KWM: How have you and your family been changed as a result of this experience?

CB: We’ve been given the opportunity to be the people who tell other people, in times of crisis and in challenge, to look up. Because when we were in times of crisis, my head was down, and I was putting one foot in front of the other just plugging along. I wasn’t noticing all those little miracles daily going on around me. But whenever I stepped out of it, it was amazing how many miracles were happening around me; not big ones, but small ones that I was taking for granted. I have been able to be that person to say, “Look up! Look all around you, there are so many things God is doing. Don’t miss the small miracles while you’re waiting on the big ones.”

Miracles from Heaven opened in theaters nationwide on March 16th.

Sony Pictures’ Miracles from Heaven is launching a website to let moviegoers share who their everyday miracles in life. Users can visit ShareYourMiracle.com to create a customized digital image of someone who is a miracle in their life, whether it is an encouraging family member, a loving spouse or partner, motivating teacher, or best friend. On the site, users can upload a photo, personalize it, and share it easily on their social channels or the website’s gallery.

Will you go see Miracles from Heaven? 

Weekend Links

Hope you’ve have a wonderful weekend and Palm Sunday!

Miracles from Heaven: an Interview with Christy Beam by Kelly Wilson Mize

miraclesfromheaven

Sony Pictures’ new inspirational movie Miracles from Heaven is based on the incredible true story of the Beam family. When Christy discovers her daughter Anna has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter’s healing as she searches for a solution.

After Anna has a freak accident, however, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue, one that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family restored, and their community inspired.

Kelly Wilson Mize recently had the privilege of speaking with Christy Beam about the soon-to-be released film based on her book, Miracles from Heaven. The movie, starring Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, and Queen Latifah will be released just in time for Easter, 2016.

Kelly Wilson Mize: Can you tell me a little bit about the day the tree “swallowed” your daughter?

Christy Beam: I was doing laundry and my (then eleven-year old) daughter Abigail came in, quite hysterical, telling me that her (nine-year old) sister Anna had ‘kind of fallen into a tree.’ The girls were climbing trees, and in my mind she had just climbed too high and couldn’t get down because she was so weak and sickly. So I hurried outside to help Anna navigate down the branches.

I got out to the massive cottonwood tree, and my daughter Adalyn (7 at the time) was holding a metal pipe, digging madly at the base of this tree. I asked what she was doing, and she said, “Mommy, Annabel can’t breathe, and I’m digging her out of this tree.”

“Where is Annabel?” I asked.

They both pointed and said, in unison, “She’s in the tree!”

It was like the world stopped. Abbie pointed up to the top of the tree where there was a hole, and told me that Anna was in the hole!

KWM: Prior to her fall, how had Annabel’s digestive disease affect her quality of life?

CB: We were in and out of the hospital and doctor’s offices constantly. That last year she was hospitalized 9 times, no less than 5 days each time. Her life was consumed with the illness. Even eating and drinking was just a nightmare.

KWM: What are some of the miraculous things that happened to Annabel while she was unconscious inside the tree?

CB: Annabel told us that she visited heaven and sat in Jesus’ lap! She wanted to stay there because there was no pain in heaven. But Jesus told her, “I have plans for you on earth that you cannot fulfill in heaven. When the firefighters get you out, there will be nothing wrong with you.”

Doctors told us, “Jesus must have been with that little girl in that tree, because we’ve never ever had anyone fall 30 feet and not suffer paralysis or broken bones.” And so her survival was a miracle in itself.

While she was with Jesus, Anna says she saw a little girl, and kept thinking, “I know that face. Who is that little girl?” She says that Jesus told her it was her sister.

We had never told Annabel that we had two miscarriages. If that was her sister, we wondered why she wouldn’t have seen two children. But we realized that one of the miscarriages was known [medically] as a blighted ovum, where no life ever forms. The other baby, though, was lost at 12 weeks, and we believe that hers was the face that Annabel saw. I found that miraculous. When she told us all this, I began to think, “There is something really, really, really serious going on here.” She could never have known that …

Miracles from Heaven

KWM: Was Anna immediately healed after her experience in the tree?

CB: I wish I could tell you that I immediately said, “God is good; you are healed,” but I was not-so “standing on faith” right away. Because it just didn’t seem real. It just couldn’t be happening! But every day, Anna was eating and playing and going to the bathroom normally, and wasn’t asking for pain meds. One day turned into another, and into another, and before we knew it, two weeks had passed and it was time for her to rotate onto a more powerful antibiotic. I called the doctor and said, “She doesn’t need it.” He thought she would need it in a few days, but we never gave it to her again! And that was the beginning of weaning her off of one medication after another, after another.

KWM: Does Anna still talk about her experience?

CB: Sometimes, but not very often. She talked about it so much with the book release; there was a lot of media for that. I think that’s what is so precious about her experience is that it’s her experience. I’ve told her, “If there are parts of your experience that you feel are treasures that you want to keep in your heart, you keep them. Those are between you and the Almighty. You don’t have to share them.” She gives me a little wry smile, so it makes me feel like there are treasures she’s keeping, and that’s OK. Some days she shares things just out of the blue, but not consistently.

KWM: Have you experienced cynicism about this experience? If so, how has your family handled that?

CB: When we experience that negative eye, or “venom spewed,” we go straight back to the positive, and [think about] the good things. I get messages from all over the world: Pakistan, South Africa, the Netherlands, literally all over the world, with people saying that our story has given them hope in spite of challenges. When a negative comes along I say, “You know what? You are getting replaced with a positive, because I am not going to stay and dwell here!”

KWM: How did your book come to be written?

CB: Because God actually laid it on my heart. Me not being a writer, I said to God audibly, “You know that’s so cute, God, but no thank You. I’m not doing that.”

I had lunch with a friend that I hadn’t seen in 15 years, and we sat down and literally within 5 minutes she said, “You know God has laid it on my heart that you need to write a book about Annabel’s journey.” Well, I had not told anybody that God had laid it on my heart to write a book, so that really freaked me out.

Then, we met again about a month later, and of course I’d done nothing about it. My friend sat down and said to me, “It’s not a matter of if you’re going to write a book, God wants to know when.” That day, I went and bought a laptop, and it just started pouring out of my heart. The manuscript got written, and it just took off from there.

Read the rest, where Christy talks about the movie, tomorrow on ParentLife!

The Play-Along Bible by Bob Hartman {GIVEAWAY}

Psalm 78 tells us that we should pass along God’s story to our children. Many parents struggle with that idea. They think they don’t know enough about the Bible. And they are afraid that telling God’s story badly, or in a boring way, might do more harm than good. I have a friend who is a children’s pastor. When she was a teenager and babysat for a Christian family, she was told that she could read the children a fun story, but only if she read them a Bible story, first! I think that sums up the problem.

The Play-Along Bible

In The Play-Along Bible I retell 50 Bible stories in such a way that they actually ARE the fun story. Built into the stories are lots of things for you and your children to do as you read the stories so that you can all have fun together. All you need to do is to read each line, and then invite your child to do the suggested action or repeat the suggested words along with you. It’s that simple. You may need to go first, to give them an idea of how to do it. And it will help if you do that with a big smile on your face and a playful attitude. Because it is The Play-Along Bible, after all! And nearly thirty years of storytelling has convinced me that when we are playing (as opposed to sitting very seriously and still) we are always more open to discovering what is beautiful, good and true.

We are often told, and I think it’s right, that reading to our children, from a very young age, instills a love of words and a love of books. But I think it does more than that. Lap time, bedtime, whenever you take the time to read to your child
ren not only brings them closer to the words, it also brings them closer to you. So it makes sense, that if the words are about God, then it will surely bring them closer to Him, as well. And what could be better? You and your child and your Heavenly Father, all there together, in one place, playing. Playing along with a fun story.

_________

Bob Hartman is a pastor, author, and storyteller with a rich history in publishing and whose books have sold more than 1 million copies. Primarily he’s written children’s books with a strong moral theme or Bible story books. Bob is best known for The Lion Storyteller Bible, which sold more than 200,000 copies, and The Wolf Who Cried Boy, with more than 90,000 copies sold. He is also the author of You Version’s Bible App for Kids, which has been downloaded over 9 million times. Bob is married to Sue, and they have two married children and three grandchildren.

Want to win a copy of The Play-Along Bible? We have five copies to give away this month! Enter to win using the Rafflecopter below.

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Weekend Links

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Verses to Memorize with Your Kids about Easter

I can read Bible stories to my kids all day long, but Scripture memorization is an area where I can falter. They often learn verses at church, but with three kids running around sometimes I just get lazy.

That said, I think learning Scripture is an important part of growing in faith, no matter your age. Here are some suggestions for age-appropriate verses to learn about Easter.

2009 LUMC Palm Sunday
source: Scott Adams

Young Toddlers

“Now Christ has been raised from the dead.” – 1 Corinthians 15:20a, NIRV

Preschoolers

“God raised him from the dead. He set him free from the suffering of death. It wasn’t possible for death to keep its hold on Jesus.” – Acts 2:24, NIRV

Elementary Age

” ‘Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. But blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.’ ” – John 20:29, TLB

Preteens

” ‘Why are you looking for the living among the dead?’ asked the men. ‘He is not here, but He has been resurrected! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee,  saying, “The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day”?’ ” – Luke 24:5b-7, HCSB

Any other verses that are a good fit for Easter?