Jello Fight

 

I’m taking some time off this week to attend our annual family reunion. This is one of my all-time favorite summertime ideas. It’s messy. It’s fun, and it teaches a great lesson. Enjoy this post and I’ll be back on Monday.

We were on vacation with my extended family. For the first time, all the kids slept together in one room. We had six kids ranging in age from nine to two. Of course, lots of talking and giggling ensued after everyone got in bed. One night, we went in and told them to be quiet. We had to go back several times to persuade the kids to be quiet. The next morning, my youngest daughter explained to me that it wasn’t her fault that the kids were talking and got in trouble because the other kids in the room made her talk. We had a long discussion about being responsible for your own actions, but that reminded me so much of the way all of us look at sin. We all want to blame someone else for making us sin.

The truth is everyone sins, and that’s an important concept for our kids to understand. If we didn’t need someone to wipe away our sins, then Jesus didn’t need to die on the cross, and we wouldn’t need God. If we could just pass the blame and the consequences off on someone or something else, there would be no need for grace. These are big concepts that might be tough for your kids to wrap their brains around. One great way to point out how sin can dirty up our lives and only God can wipe it away is to have a Jello fight.

I’m sure some of you are thinking “Is she crazy?” Well, probably, but I guarantee they won’t forget the fight or the lesson behind it, so let go of your reservations, find some old clothes and let the kids have a great time and learn something in the process.

Dress your kids in old clothes and make up a big batch of Jello. Give each child a different color of Jello to throw. Take them out in the yard and let them throw Jello at each other until they run out. They will be covered in it when they are done. The thing about Jello is that it’s sticky and hard to get off of you and your clothes.

Explain to your kids that sin is kind of like Jello. It sticks to us and covers us up. It separates us from God, just like the Jello separates them from other people, because who is going to let a Jello-covered kid into their house? No one would probably take a hug from a kid who’s just been in a Jello fight. God can’t get close to us when we’re covered in sin.

Now, turn on the hose and hose your kids down until all the Jello is off their skin and hair. Explain to them that Jesus’s death and resurrection allow God to wipe away our sin, just like the water from the hose wipes away the Jello. God offers to wipe away our sin for free, just like you didn’t charge your kids for the water to clean up. All we have to do is recognize that we are sinners and ask for forgiveness, and God separates our sin from us.

Here are some great verses to use while talking to your kids:

  • Psalm 51:7 — Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
  • John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

When you’ve finished your Jello fight, take your clean kids inside for a Jello snack. I promise, they’ll love it.

Jello Fight Redux

 

It’s been a crazy, busy week around here. We’re in the end stage of a basement remodel. We’ve had daily soccer camp and evening soccer tryouts. And I’ve been working on some freelance projects. Did I mention we have company coming at the end of next week and Vacation Bible School starting on Monday? All that to say that I’m taking the day off from blogging today, so I’m digging into the archives to share one of my favorite summertime activity ideas with you. Break out the Jello and have a Jello fight. Your kids will have a blast and learn something about sin and redemption at the same time.

We were on vacation with my extended family. For the first time, all the kids slept together in one room. We had six kids ranging in age from nine to two. Of course, lots of talking and giggling ensued after everyone got in bed. One night, we went in and told them to be quiet. We had to go back several times to persuade the kids to be quiet. The next morning, my youngest daughter explained to me that it wasn’t her fault that the kids were talking and got in trouble because the other kids in the room made her talk. We had a long discussion about being responsible for your own actions, but that reminded me so much of the way all of us look at sin. We all want to blame someone else for making us sin.

The truth is everyone sins, and that’s an important concept for our kids to understand. If we didn’t need someone to wipe away our sins, then Jesus didn’t need to die on the cross, and we wouldn’t need God. If we could just pass the blame and the consequences off on someone or something else, there would be no need for grace. These are big concepts that might be tough for your kids to wrap their brains around. One great way to point out how sin can dirty up our lives and only God can wipe it away is to have a Jello fight.

I’m sure some of you are thinking “Is she crazy?” Well, probably, but I guarantee they won’t forget the fight or the lesson behind it, so let go of your reservations, find some old clothes and let the kids have a great time and learn something in the process.

Dress your kids in old clothes and make up a big batch of Jello. Give each child a different color of Jello to throw. Take them out in the yard and let them throw Jello at each other until they run out. They will be covered in it when they are done. The thing about Jello is that it’s sticky and hard to get off of you and your clothes.

Explain to your kids that sin is kind of like Jello. It sticks to us and covers us up. It separates us from God, just like the Jello separates them from other people, because who is going to let a Jello-covered kid into their house? No one would probably take a hug from a kid who’s just been in a Jello fight. God can’t get close to us when we’re covered in sin.

Now, turn on the hose and hose your kids down until all the Jello is off their skin and hair. Explain to them that Jesus’s death and resurrection allow God to wipe away our sin, just like the water from the hose wipes away the Jello. God offers to wipe away our sin for free, just like you didn’t charge your kids for the water to clean up. All we have to do is recognize that we are sinners and ask for forgiveness, and God separates our sin from us.

Here are some great verses to use while talking to your kids:

  • Psalm 51:7 — Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
  • John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

When you’ve finished your Jello fight, take your clean kids inside for a Jello snack. I promise, they’ll love it.

When the Easter Dresses Clash

 

“I don’t want to go.”

“How long is this going to take?”

“Why do we have to do this?”

No, I wasn’t taking my girls to the doctor for a shot. These were the responses to the statement, “Let’s go find Easter dresses.” With the Daytona 500 rained out on Sunday, my mom and I thought it would be a good time to take my reluctant shoppers to get dresses for Easter.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, my girls really aren’t the dresses and hair bows type. We had looked online at a few dresses, and I had tried to persuade the girls to get matching dresses. That suggestion was met with a look of pure disgust from my fifth grader.

So, off to the store we went, with one child keeping an eye on the clock and the other sitting in sullen silence. “Wow, this is going to be fun,” I thought.

Once we hit the store, my oldest found one of the dresses she had looked at online, tried it on (after carefully scouring the store to make sure none of her friends were there to see her *gasp* put on a dress) and pronounced it perfect. She then ran off to look at the sportier clothing.

My youngest daughter had decided on a sailor dress, but when we got to the store, we found no sailor dresses in her size. This required my youngest to make a new choice. Not a good thing. She finally settled on one dress to try on, but when we got it back to the dressing room she decided it was “too poofy.” Her response? “Mom, go pick out a couple of dresses and bring them back here so I can try them on.”

Back I went to the racks to try to find a dress that wasn’t too poofy, didn’t feel scratchy and would fit the color desires of my 8-year-old. After trying on five dresses, she settled on a black and white dress with a lime green jacket and bow.

“Great,” I thought. “Now we have dresses.” I put them both in my hands and headed for the checkout. That’s when my mom said, “You’re going to have some great Easter pictures.”

In dismay, I looked down at the dresses in my hand to discover that nothing was going to make them look good in a picture together. Lime green does not go with turquoise and cornflower blue, no matter how much you want it to.

Now, Easter is one of two times in the year that I insist everyone dress up for church. My husband even wears a jacket. We always take a family picture on Easter. Usually, I try really hard to get coordinating dresses for the girls. It’s just my thing. I know everyone will look nice that morning, and we leave extra time before church to take the picture — so no one will be wrinkled in the photo.

As I looked at the dresses in my hand and then at my girls, I was faced with a choice: Do I let my desire for perfection override my girls’ choices or do I give up my expectations of perfection?

I’ll be honest. I really wanted to put one of the dresses back on the rack. I really wanted my Easter picture to be perfect. But in that split second of standing there, thinking about the perfect Easter photo, I heard a voice say, “at what cost?”

And that’s a question we need to ask ourselves when our desire for the perfect outing, the perfect project, even the perfect children begins to get in the way of letting our kids be themselves. When our desire for perfection becomes the most important thing, it shoves aside the need our kids have to express themselves — to grow, to discover and to imagine.

When a clean house becomes more important than imaginative kids, we need to ask “at what cost?” When a perfect score on a math test becomes more important than a child trying his best, we need to ask “at what cost?” When a medal in a soccer tournament or a dance competition becomes more important than our kids having fun, we need to ask “at what cost?”

Our kids will learn what’s important from us. If we put striving for perfection above everything else, then we are telling them that it doesn’t matter the cost, the end result is what’s important. But if we let them make their own choices — even when those choices spoil the picture, make a mess or disappoint — we teach them that making mistakes and being who they were designed to be is OK. We teach them that doing their best and being who God made them to be is more important than being like everyone else. We let them know that failing to reach perfection is OK because we all fall short. (Romans 3:23)

My girls now have clashing dresses hanging in their closets. They will wear them on Easter, and I will take my Easter picture. And years from now, I will look at it and remember the Easter we took the “perfect” picture.

Linking up today with Women Living Well.

Answering the Tough Questions

All this week, Everyday Truth is focusing on how to talk with our kids about the events of 9/11.

As my kids have gotten older, the questions they ask have gotten harder. While I enjoy being able to converse with my kids at a higher level than when they were preschoolers, some days I’d like to go back to those days where the toughest thing they asked was “Why is the sky blue?”

It’s natural to shy away from the tough questions. Sometimes it’s easier just to change the subject or offer up a distraction rather than deal with questions from our kids that have no good answers. But that a disservice to our kids.

As we talk with our kids about 9/11 this week, they’re going to ask some tough questions. The way we answer those questions is going to make a difference in not only how our kids view the events of 10 years ago but how they view bad things that happen in the future.

To give you a starting point, here are some of the tough questions your kids might ask and a starting point for your answers. Remember to keep it simple and straightforward. We don’t want to scare our kids, but we do want to give them a framework for dealing with the bad stuff that happens in life.

Why did 9/11 happen?
I think this is the toughest question. There’s simply no good answer except that we live in a fallen world. Evil exists and it was in evidence on that day. Talk with your kids about how because Adam and Eve chose to sin, the world is not a perfect place. God gives us the ability to choose what we do. Unfortunately, some people made some really horrible choices on that day that affected thousands of lives.

Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The sin of the hijackers on the airplanes and those who planned the attacks simply had far greater consequences than a lot of the sins we commit every day.

Why didn’t God stop it?
Talk with your kids about the fact that God could have stopped those planes from hitting those buildings. He’s powerful enough. But God allows us to make choices. If we were all like robots, only doing what God allowed us to do, then God wouldn’t get any glory from our praise. Our ability to make choices means that when we choose to follow God, He is glorified.

The people behind 9/11 chose to disobey God. Unfortunately, that created far-reaching consequences for innocent people. However, God has used the events of that day for good. We watched our country pull together and support one another. Some people started seeking God because of the events of that day. We can’t know how God is even now using the events of that day for good because we can’t see the big picture. What we do know is that God promises “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Is Islam bad?
We don’t want to teach our kids to hate or judge people based on what they believe. Jesus never did that. He went into the homes of tax collectors, prostitutes and Pharisees. He never withheld his love because of who someone was or what he believed.

The people who planned 9/11 were Muslim, but we don’t want our kids to think that every person who practices Islam believes that Americans are bad. That’s simply not true.

However, we do want our kids to know that we believe that what Islam teaches is wrong. There is only one way to God, and that’s through Jesus. Talk with your kids about the fact that people believe different things. Jesus said He was the only way to God, but He doesn’t want us to dislike people based only on what they believe. The only way others can know the truth about Jesus is if we share it with them. We can’t do that if we’re busy hating people because of the religion that they follow.

Explain to your kids that while the people who created the chaos on 9/11 were Muslim, it’s possible for anyone to twist any religion to suit their own purposes. People have done horrible things in the name of Christ, too. Just because one person does a terrible thing and blames it on his religion doesn’t mean we should tar all the others with the same brush.

The questions that arise around 9/11 don’t come with easy answers. But answering our kids tough questions with honesty and an age-appropriate explanation can go a long way toward helping them sort out what happened that day.

Be deliberate in answering your kids’ questions because your answers matter. They will help your kids sort through the tragic events of 10 years ago, but they will also be the lens through which they view tough things in the future.

Summer Fun: Jello Fight

We’re on vacation this week, so I’m re-running some of my favorite posts from the last year. Enjoy some of my favorite ideas, and I’ll be back with you on Monday.

We are currently on vacation with my extended family. For the first time, all the kids are sleeping together in one room. We have six kids ranging in age from nine to two. Of course, lots of talking and giggling ensue after everyone gets in bed. The other night, we went in and told them to be quiet. We had to go back several times to persuade the kids to be quiet. The next morning, my youngest daughter explained to me that it wasn’t her fault that the kids were talking and got in trouble because the other kids in the room made her talk. We had a long discussion about being responsible for your own actions, but that reminded me so much of the way all of us look at sin. We all want to blame someone else for making us sin.

The truth is everyone sins, and that’s an important concept for our kids to understand. If we didn’t need someone to wipe away our sins, then Jesus didn’t need to die on the cross, and we wouldn’t need God. If we could just pass the blame and the consequences off on someone or something else, there would be no need for grace. These are big concepts that might be tough for your kids to wrap their brains around. One great way to point out how sin can dirty up our lives and only God can wipe it away is to have a Jello fight.

I’m sure some of you are thinking “Is she crazy?” Well, probably, but I guarantee they won’t forget the fight or the lesson behind it, so let go of your reservations, find some old clothes and let the kids have a great time and learn something in the process.

Dress your kids in old clothes and make up a big batch of Jello. Give each child a different color of Jello to throw. Take them out in the yard and let them throw Jello at each other until they run out. They will be covered in it when they are done. The thing about Jello is that it’s sticky and hard to get off of you and your clothes.

Explain to your kids that sin is kind of like Jello. It sticks to us and covers us up. It separates us from God, just like the Jello separates them from other people, because who is going to let a Jello-covered kid into their house? No one would probably take a hug from a kid who’s just been in a Jello fight. God can’t get close to us when we’re covered in sin.

Now, turn on the hose and hose your kids down until all the Jello is off their skin and hair. Explain to them that Jesus’s death and resurrection allow God to wipe away our sin, just like the water from the hose wipes away the Jello. God offers to wipe away our sin for free, just like you didn’t charge your kids for the water to clean up. All we have to do is recognize that we are sinners and ask for forgiveness, and God separates our sin from us.

Here are some great verses to use while talking to your kids:

  • Psalm 51:7 — Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
  • John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
 When you’ve finished your Jello fight, take your clean kids inside for a Jello snack. I promise, they’ll love it.

Odds and Ends

We have a collapsed gingerbread house sitting on our kitchen table. This year, I bought a gingerbread kit that included several little houses instead of one big one. The girls decorated them and we sat our gingerbreas village on the table as our centerpiece. Apparently, yesterday my oldest daughter hit one of them by accident — and it collapsed in a heap. What was once a beautifully decorated gingerbread house is now just a heap of icing and gingerbread.

Looking at it reminds me of how we can build up the “perfect” Christmas in our minds, and then our expectations are shattered by a hurtful word from a family member, a party that didn’t go as planned or a gift from a spouse that didn’t meet our expectations. I don’t know when Christmas — a season of joy — became the holiday that has to be perfect — making it a season of stress.

Jesus wasn’t born in a stable to make our lives stressful. He came so His sacrifice on the cross could create a bridge between us and God. No matter how hard we try, we can’t be perfect. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” says Romans 3:23. John 10:10 tells us that Jesus said “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” God doesn’t want us to spend the Christmas season stressing about the perfect season or the perfect gift. He wants us to celebrate the joy that comes from having a relationship with Him.

So, leave your perfect Christmas dreams behind and find joy in the collapsed gingerbread house, the lopsided angel on the top of the tree, the off-key singing of carols and the strand of lights on your house that has the top bulb burned out. The joy of Christmas is found in Jesus, not in your own perfection.

**********************************************************************************
I’ve been asked a couple of times to elaborate on what I put in my envelopes that help my kids serve others every day. Here’s a few examples:

  • Help a classmate today.
  • Ring the Salvation Army bell.
  • Take cookies to a neighbor.
  • Find a way to help your teacher today.
  • Find a way to help your sister today.
  • Be an encourager today,
  • Do something nice for the lunch ladies today.
  • Find a way to help your mom today.
  • Buy a toy and donate it to toys for tots.
  • Donate some food to the food pantry.

Keep it simple and achievable. Have your kids report back to you at the end of the day how they did. If you miss a day, don’t worry about it. Just start again the next day.

***********************************************************************************
I wanted to offer a few ideas on things we do at our cookie party as well. I treat it like I treat a birthday party. Obviously, we decorate cookies, which usually takes 30-45 minutes. After that, we’ve done a variety of things. Here are some ideas:

  • Take the kids Christmas caroling around the neighborhood.
  • Make aprons.
  • Make Santa hats.
  • Have relay races to decorate a tree or put up all the pieces of a nativity scene on the wall.
  • Take pictures, print them off and let the kids make their own scrapbook page or picture frame.
  • Make gingerbread house crafts.
  • Talk with the kids about whose birthday Christmas is.
  • Make ornaments for them to take home and hang on their tree.

Our party is usually not super elaborate, but the kids have lots of fun. Make your activities suit your kids and their friends.

***********************************************************************************
No matter what activities you choose to do with your kids this Christmas season, remember to keep the focus on Jesus. He is the reason for the season.