- Maybe Boys Need a Little Danger at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum
- When Tidy Doesn’t Come Easily at I Take Joy
- Back-to-School Lunches That Are Anything but Boring at Just Jilly
- Praise & Worship at PardyMama
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”:
- The Frog Tells Her Side of the Story – Moses and the plagues
- The Lion Tells His Side of the Story – Daniel and the lions’ den
- The Donkeys Tells His Side of the Story – Jesus riding into Jerusalem
- The Raven Tells His Side of the Story – Noah’s ark
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?
I always thought having a family devotion time sounded kind of intimidating. But knowing that we want God to be the center of our family, we decided about a year ago to start a very simple one as part of our bedtime routine. At the time, our kids were 4 1/2, 2 1/2, and an infant.
Our time consists of reading a story from a Bible storybook, going around and having each person tell what he or she is thankful for, and singing a song or hymn together. This is about as long as my little ones can sit still. (And really, it’s pushing it for my middle child, who ALWAYS seems to be thirsty when it’s Bible story time.) While they don’t always listen intently, it is consistent. They are hearing the Bible. And we are meeting together as a family every night and praising God. Even our baby, Joshua, who is now 15 months, joins in and makes a joyful noise some nights.
So far, we’ve used these Bible story books:
- The Jesus Storybook Bible
- The Beginner’s Bible
- The Big Picture Interactive Bible (while this is above my kids’ reading/understanding level, we love that it has pretty much EVERY story from the Bible and a “Christ connection” with a question after each story)
Some other sources you might find helpful as you begin or continue a family devotion time:
- Storytime: A 52-Week Bible Storybook for Families
- Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids
- Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions
- The Family Worship Book
Do you have a family devotion or family worship time? What does it look like?
If you have a hungry family (that’s all of us!), you probably spend time searching for low-cost, high-nutrition recipes like I do. Beans are a great cheap protein, but it can be difficult to find new ways to cook them that your family will enjoy. Recently I made these delicious black beans and served them over tortilla chips with toppings – cheese, cilantro, raw onion, guacamole, and sour cream. The meal was absolutely delicious, and it was a great change from our norm.
source: muyyum via Flickr Creative Commons
Smoky Black Beans
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
- 2 T olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/4 c. finely chopped carrot
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ham hock, ham bone, or 1/2 c. diced ham
- 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 lb. dried black beans, rinsed
In a large skillet with a lid or a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and saute 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so. Add ham hock, cilantro and beans to the pot. Cover with water (about one inch above beans). Bring to a boil; then cover, turn heat to medium-low, and cook until beans are very tender. This will take about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. Check often after an hour and stir occasionally during cooking time.
To serve, strain beans out with a slotted spoon. Serve over tortilla chips with Mexican toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, more cilantro, and chopped onion. You could also serve beans over steamed rice with cheese.
Freeze leftover beans and use them at another time to make Crunchy Black Bean Tacos.