Saturday, November 13, 2010

day 304: ten point manifesto of joyful parenting link

I recently stumbled upon a beautiful parenting blog. In it, the author has a printable document entitled the Ten Point Manifesto of Joyful Parenting available for free. This is an incredible reminder of what Christian parenting is all about—and there is a link to each of the ten points for more teaching/explanation of that particular truth.

Click the link, print, and enjoy!

day 303: “grandpa’s box” book review—guest author

I have posted about this book before, but wanted to bring it to your attention again. I started reading Grandpa’s Box again to the kids this week. We are reading one chapter a day after breakfast. It is not really a holiday book, but a retelling of the story of redemption…a story that takes you through the Bible, looks at the battle being waged, and how the victory has already been won.

I just love this book. Every chapter talks about how at some point in history it seemed that Satan was going to win…circumstances seemed hopeless…but God was in control and His will was accomplished in miraculous ways.

Don’t we need this same message today? I know I need to be reminded, and my kids need to be reminded, that even though our current circumstances may seem hopeless (whether in our own family, in our town, in the U.S., in our world)…GOD IS IN CONTROL! We don’t have to fear…the battle has already been won!

If you have a chance to get a copy of this book, I highly recommend it! After we read it last year about this time, I decided we would read it once every year…it is THAT good!

Grandpa’s Box is a book you will pull out again and again!

(In case the link doesn’t come through, the url for this book at Amazon is )

Happy reading!

Shari Graham

Graham Family Ministries
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

day 302: beautiful thanksgiving traditions—guest author

According to legend, the daily ration of the Pilgrims in their early winters in America fell to five kernels of corn. (Can you feel your blood sugar plummeting?) The Pilgrims set later Thanksgiving tables with plates containing only five corn kernels in remembrance of God's sustaining grace. I love that—five kernels of corn holding the village spellbound amidst a table of plenty. Our family also strives to focus on the physical and spiritual providence of our God by setting a family table of remembrance.

The center of our Thanksgiving table is adorned with hand-print crafts, some old, some new. Each place is set with a handmade napkin ring with a photo of the family member and a namecard decorated in “thumb print art.” Each place setting holds a card printed with the words to Psalm 100 and a plate containing five kernels of unpopped popcorn. At the head of the table sits our Thanksgiving jar. Although the table is an eclectic mix of children's crafts amid “the good dishes” and elegantly designed centerpieces, each item carries special meaning.

The napkin rings with their photos and the center crafts with their variously sized handprints remind us how God faithfully supplies our needs. Faces change, hands grow, and faiths stretch and strengthen, all due to the providence of a gracious God. The personalized namecards and thumbprint art remind us that each of us has a special place in our family and in God's family, having been uniquely knit by Him, called by name, and preserved for His special purpose.

When we read Psalm 100 aloud together, we remember to whom we owe our thanks. We hear at Thanksgiving that people are thankful, but rarely do we hear to whom they are thankful. We sadly wonder if many even know who grants them life and sustains them. We want our children to intimately know the God who feeds their bodies and souls, and to recognize Him, not their own labors or good fortune, as the source of all blessings.

Finally, the five kernels of corn. As the Thanksgiving jar travels around, each person states five things for which he is thankful to God, while placing five kernels into the jar. The same jar is used each year and is never emptied. As the years progress and the family grows, new kernels are piled atop the remembered blessings of years gone by.

Our Thanksgiving table decor is tucked away after the holiday. Our Thanksgiving jar, however, is a constant presence. When the heaviness of life weighs on us, or when God feels distant, a glance at the jar reminds us of His providence and nearness. It nudges us to give thanks for all things at all times, not just on Thanksgiving. There is a lot of room left in that jar, a lot of room for the workings of a mighty God throughout the future generations of a grateful and God-focused family.

Christy Bagasao

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

day 301: audio books galore!

Yesterday I challenged families to include biographies in your parenting. Obviously, reading biographies together is an intimate, life-affecting way to introduce awesome heroes to your children. However, do not overlook audio and video as avenues for learning about Christian and historical heroes.

I have a lengthy list of books, audios, and videos coming soon. (Our missionary daughter will be working on it in between Papua New Guinea and Ethiopia!) In the meantime, I wanted to give you a link to something that looks like “the best thing since sliced bread”!

At the link below (My Audio School), for a small yearly fee, you can have literally hundreds of audio downloads out your fingertips. If it is Thanksgiving, you can download Thanksgiving books. If you are focusing on diligence in your home, you can get books about godly people who exhibited diligence, such as George Washington Carver. Check out the site—browse the titles—and see if this is something that would enrich your home—and your introducing of godly and historical heroes to your kids.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

day 300: biographies are life changing!

One of the things that we have done nearly every school day ever since Joshua was three or four was to read from biographies. Now, on days that we do not get to read together, the boys often listen to audio biographies or stories of great people. With many people out there today that kids idolize who are less than worthy to be idolized, I can’t say enough about including biographies in your life. Today and tomorrow I will introduce you to some resources to help you implement biographies in your life.

To begin with, if you do not read biographies (or anything much) together as a family, you will want to start with exciting and short ones. We often read entire short biographies (i.e. 100-150 pages that maybe take six hours aloud) over a period of time, but you might do better starting out with biographical compilations rather than full length biographies.

Who to read about? We love godly heroes (Jim Elliot, William Borden, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham, Joni Ereckson Tada, Brother Andrew, Amy Carmichael, Corrie ten Boom, Mary Slessor, Gladys Aylward, etc.). We also love heroes of history. We are currently reading people from the Civil War era, including Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, and Clara Barton. (When my older kids were little, their two cats were named Clara and Florence after Clara Barton and Florence Nightengale!)

You can also use dvd’s to introduce your family to heroic people. True life movies are a good way to get your kids interested in people who did great things (like “The Hiding Place” about Corrie ten Boom) or “Cross and the Switchblade” about Nicky Cruz). Animated movies/programs are excellent for introducing little kids to heroic characters. Our favorites are NEST. (See link below.)

As for audios, Adventures in Oddysey has radio programs that are just historical in nature (i.e. volume of nothing but historic people and events) as well as ones that are just Bible characters. Talk about a fun family way to learn about godly people and heroic deeds! (Great for car trips!)

You don’t have to be a homeschooler to teach your children via godly heroes. Make your “mandatory three or four dinners together” end with a chapter out of a biography. Or use audio biographies (or Adventures in Oddysey historical or Bible programs) while you are cleaning dinner together. Make a Sunday reading hour in which you read a short biography about a godly hero and discuss it.

Tomorrow I will gather some links and resources of dvd’s, audios, and biographical compilations to get you started! Have fun expanding your kids’ heroes while reading, listening, and watching together!

Monday, November 8, 2010

day 299: every day is important in parenting

“There’s no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” Alexander Woollcott

I have been on Face Book for a little over a year now, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Sharing pictures with my grown kids; connecting with old friends; getting messages out quickly to students and their families; “talking” to friends that I often do not get to; and so much more. It has been an awesome experience. Of course, just like anything else, it has be controlled and have accountability—and if it were consuming my life or taking too much time, etc., I would not have it—just like we have not had television programming (i.e. dish, antennae, etc.) for almost all of our married life. (Life with our children is way too short to let “things” get in the way of what we need to be doing to raise them.)

One thing that always strikes me as funny about FB statuses is the “nothing to do today” syndrome. It is especially apparent in children and teens, but adults often have this same mindset. It is the mindset that if nothing exciting is going on today, it’s a bum day. Ultimately, I think we need to address this with our children. If our children go through their growing up years living for experiences and fun—and dreading days that do not contain activity and excitement, they will indeed be disappointed adults.

For today, however, we should consider this in our adult/parent lives—and the root of this view. Obviously, I love exciting days. I love to look forward to being with my grown kids, going on vacation, ballroom dancing on Saturday, spending an evening with friends, and even my favorite movie coming to the theatre. But we have to be careful as parents that we do not get into the rut of living for the exciting, the unusual, or “activity.”

The quote at the beginning of this post sums it up. Every day is important. Each day is another opportunity to invest in our kids; to do the mundane excellently; to live life with them; to model Christian living; to point them to God; to teach them the character of Christ; to help them learn to live relationally with each other and those they encounter in work, school, church, and play.

When we wake up with nothing exciting on the schedule, rather than looking at it as being a “bum” day, we should welcome a day without “extras”—as more time, more opportunity, more relationship, more love, and more training. An unfilled day (as far as “unusual” or “extras”—most days are pretty full already!) is really a wide open day. It is a day to pay special attention to our children, our home, our spouse, and others that God has put in our lives. Truly, there is no such thing as an unimportant day when it comes to parenting.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

day 298: free audio books

Our friends at Graham Family Ministries recently published a list of free audio books—and the Reishes LOVE audio books. In the past three weeks, Josiah (15) and Jacob (12) have listened to no fewer than eighteen full length Sugar Creek Gang books on cd! Yep, we love audio books!

I have not used the links below, but Sherry always sends great stuff, so I’m sure there is something there for everybody. Happy listening!

 Books Should Be Free –

 Free Classic Audio Books –

 Audio Treasure –

 Free Christian Audio Books –

 Lit2Go –

 ReadPrint –

  Many Books –

 Storynory –

 Classic Book Library –

day 297: hot fiesta dip

With holidays approaching, I thought I would share one of the easiest—but most popular items---that we take to gatherings, especially ones with kids! 

It really is just as easy as the instructions say. Great for Christmas parties, Christmas Eve family nights, and youth gatherings, and more—you will want to keep the ingredients for this one on hand.

Hot Fiesta Dip

1 (#10) can cheese sauce (or 3 blocks Velveeta)

2 lbs taco meat (precooked; that is 5 cups cooked taco meat)

4 cans chili with no beans

1-2 tsp chili powder

1-2 tsp garlic powder

Mix, heat, and serve.


1. We like using the canned cheese sauce (or four cans of no name Cheeze Whiz) as it stirs up so quickly—and then we just take out the portion we need for the gathering and stick it in the small crock or medium crock on low.

2. We almost always make this large amount for two or three different events in one weekend or week. With the cheese sauce, we can heat up each portion as we use it and store the rest in the fridge.

3. Sometimes we add a jar or two of salsa.

4. You may serve with sour cream, jalapenos, and salsa on the side, if desired.

5. Note: This makes a ton!