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Amazing! Does your family have meals together 4-5 times a week?  If so, Focus on the Family reports that your children are 85% LESS likely to get into bad behaviors (including substance abuse).  If you just gather your family together for a meal 4-5 times a week, your kids will be 85% MORE likely to be good students, make good choices, and stay out of trouble!  Wow!

I say, “Let’s eat!”

Here’s an easy menu idea and two recipes to get you started:

MENU:

Seasoned Beef with Noodles

Mashed Potatoes  (we like Bob Evans, found in refrigerator section of grocery)

Peas – or – Broccoli  (we use frozen veggies)

Strawberries – or – Flavored Applesauce (recipe below)

SEASONED BEEF WITH NOODLES ( I make two batches of this now that my sons are older and eat more.)

1 to 1 1/2 lb stew beef

1 can Heinz beef gravy -or- 1 packet McCormick’s low-sodium brown gravy (prepared as directed)

1-2 cloves garlic (I use minced garlic from a jar found in produce section of grocery)

1/2 sweet or yellow onion, finely chopped -or- 2 Tbs dried chopped onion

1 tsp dried chopped basil

water as needed

1 package Wide or Extra Wide Noodles, cooked according to package directions

Cook stew beef in large skillet over med-high heat until evenly browned.  Reduce heat to low.  Stir in gravy and seasonings.  Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for minimum of 30 minutes until beef is tender. Add water, 1/2 cup at a time, if needed to maintain the gravy. After meat is tender, you reduce heat to simmer and cook another 30 minutes or serve as is.  I like to let mine simmer a while.

FLAVORED APPLESAUCE

1 jar unsweetened/natural style applesauce

1 small pkg of gelatin mix, sugar-free or regular  (My boys prefer strawberry or cherry.  Peach, raspberry, and orange are also good.)

Pour applesauce into medium-size mixing bowl.  Add gelatin powder and stir until thoroughly mixed.  (Young children like making flavored applesauce.  It’s fun watching the applesauce change color.)

To serve:  Serve seasoned beef and gravy over noodles with mashed potatoes and green vegetables on the side.  Fruit can be served as a separate side.   This makes a colorful meal and smells so good while it’s cooking! It’s a great way to welcome family members home from their day with the aroma of the seasoned beef!   Enjoy!

Enhance your family meal times by doing what you can to make the time enjoyable.  Use this as a time for family members to catch up with each other, share about their day or what’s on their mind.  Try to engage each family member in conversation.  Tell about funny things that happened.  Ask questions.  Share something interesting that was learned that day.  If someone expresses a concern or problem, get feedback from family members.  For optimal family time, no technology/electronics at the table.

Involve family members in prep, set-up, and clean-up.  Let them help prepare food, pour drinks, set the table, clear the table, clean up the kitchen.  Did you know young children are more likely to try a new food if they helped make it? Even if all they do  is stir ingredients together, they’re getting involved with the process.   Helping with meals and clean-up promotes teamwork and teaches responsibility.

Pray as a family before the meal. For many families, this might be the only time that prayer is said together.  Our pastor said his family still says, “God is great and God is good…” even though his children are now young adults.  We’ve stayed with that dinnertime prayer, too.   (See below for words to this prayer.)

One more thing about family meals:  You don’t have to be ‘family’ to enjoy a meal together.  Encourage your children to bring their friends. Family mealtime is about fellowship.  Perhaps there’s a child or young person who could benefit from the love and hospitality of  your family.  If so, be sure to invite them to join you at your table!

Check back soon for a new page I’ll add to my blog called “Let’s Eat!”.   It will feature family-friendly recipes and meal ideas.

Dinnertime Prayer:

God is great and God is good; and we thank Him for this food. 

By His hands we all are fed.  Thank You for our daily bread.  Amen.   

Perhaps nothing is harder for a parent/grandparent/caregiver, than sending children off to a destination without them -even/especially when it’s school.  Whether it’s the first day of preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, or college, sending children off to school can be a time of anxiety, worries and fears for  parents.

Even if we’ve done all we can to prepare children for the endeavors they’ll face, parents and loved ones can’t help but worry about their children.  Will they find their way?  Be safe? Be able to keep up?  Peform well?  Make friends?  Handle difficult situations? Make good choices?  Resist temptations?

When we experience any of these concerns, it’s time for us to “let go and let God” – and that’s a good thing!  We have to let go, but God never does!  As much as we love our kids, God loves them even more!

Despite our certainty that we know what’s best for our kids, the truth is we don’t.  As their Creator, only God truly knows the plans and purposes He has for them, so only He knows what they need, the path they must take, and how best to get them where they need to go.  As parents, we have to seek God’s guidance and follow His lead, trusting that Father really does know best!

The Bible is full of scriptural promises and truths that assure us of these things.  Following are some of my favorites.  Pray these verses for your children by inserting their names and claiming these truths for them.  Keep them handy for quick reference.

The LORD gave me a message.  He said, “I knew you (your child’s name)  before I formed you in your mother’s womb.  Before you were born I set you apart…”   – Jeremiah 1:4-5

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my(your child’s name) body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me (him/her) so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – and how well I know it.  You watched me (child’s name) as I(he/she) was being formed in utter seclusion, as I(he/she) was woven together in the dark of the womb.  You saw me (him/her) before I(he/she) was born…   – Psalm 139:13-16

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!…And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!   – Psalm 139:17, 18

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD.  “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  – Jeremiah 29:11

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.   – Proverbs 3:5-6

I have set the LORD always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  – Psalm 16:8

We say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?  – Hebrews 13:6

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD is the one who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor forsake you.   – Deuteronomy 31:8

You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest.  Every moment you know where I am…You both precede and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.    – Psalm 139:3,5

Father God, thank You for being the God of these truths, a God who loves our children infinitely more than we do.  After all, they were Your children before they were ours, and they do not truly belong to us.  You have entrusted them into our care.  Thank you for blessing us with the lives of our children.  Help us to help them as they face new challenges and endeavors; and help us to trust in Your Divine and Providential ways, knowing that wherever our kids go, whatever they do, we can call on You to be with them, for You are with them always, never leaving nor forsaking them.  We thank You for all these things and lift our children to You in love, praying in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  To You, oh LORD, be all glory and honor.  Amen. 

RELATED POST:  Coaching Kids for the ‘Big Game’, archives March 2007

SUGGESTED READING:

The Bible

The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie O’Martian

Praying the Scriptures for Your Children and Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens by Jodie Berndt

I believe we all have a responsibility to give attention to older adults. Whether it’s by respecting our elders, taking part in efforts to serve them, or serving alongside them, it’s important to recognize their worth and value in our society, not to mention the added importance of helping them know they’re loved and appreciated.  Although my suggestions are written with the church in mind, we can all play significant roles in reaching out to our ever-growing population of older adults – you, me, church ,community, government, and the workplace.

If you haven’t already done so, please read Part 1.  It will help you better understand who older adults are, their interests and needs, and the importance of finding ways to make a difference in their lives AND for allowing them to make a difference for others!

There are three basic ways for the church to engage with older adults: 1) serve their needs, 2) involve them in ministries serving others, and 3) create multi-generational involvements.

There are many ways the church can serve the needs of older adults in the congregation and community.   Include a section in the church newsletter that highlights older adults and give updates on their ministries.  Add a similar page to the church website that includes links for local agencies and services that address needs of older adults.  Offer workshops and informational gatherings to address health issues, nutrition/fitness for older adults, estate planning advice, etc.  Identify needs of members who are homebound and consider ways the church could help.  Plans should involve groups from all age groups. Example:  Youth groups and/or local scouts could help frail elderly members by doing yard work or minor home repairs.  Start a lunch buddy program that arranges for members to have lunch with home-bound members at least once a month.  Provide support and assistance for care-givers of older adults.  Many home-bound adults feel lonely and forgotten.  Cheer them up by sending cards and notes!  School-age children can write notes and/or send colorful crayon drawings.

Engage healthy older adults in age-specific groups and activities, as well as in multi-generational Bible studies, missions and ministries.  Many older adults look forward to retiring from career-driven lives but don’t want to quit working altogether.  Sure they want to have time for leisure and fun, but they also want to find meaningful ways to stay active, too.  Some love the adventure of mission trips, others like serving locally and volunteering at the church.  Older adults bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience from their former professional years and time spent managing homes/families.  They also bring wisdom and perspectives that can only be gained with time.

Engage frail elderly by considering their interests and finding ways to share them with others.  Examples: Collect hand-knit and crocheted items for church craft/bake sales.  Start a ministry distributing hand-made baby hats for newborns.  Start a card ministry for home-bound adults to send words of cheer and encouragement to others.  Create a Prayer Pals program that matches home-bound adults with church members for whom they can pray.  What a powerful impact they could make for others with their prayers!

Providing multi-generational involvements creates win-win situations for everyone involved.  By multi-generational I mean finding ways to bring people of various ages together.  Mentoring programs are becoming very popular, pairing older adults with those who are middle-age, young adults and youth.  Many of the ministries mentioned above create multi-generational settings and involvements.  Church groups made up of young wives/mothers could invite older women to join them form discussions about marriage and raising families, allowing older adults to share wit and wisdom.  Men’s groups could do the same.

At the end of Part 1, I suggested reading the Book of Ruth in the Bible.  We usually read this story taking note of the loyal friendship between Ruth and Naomi, but this story tells even more about blessings of the relationship between older and younger generations, the needs of the generations for each other, and the ways God blesses us when we reach out to serve in love.

It is my hope and prayer that something you’ve read in these posts about older adults will inspire you to find ways reach out and make a difference for the older adults near you!  Listed above are just a few of the many ways you could do so.  Do you have ideas to share, too?  If so, we’d love to hear them!  Please share your comments and ideas.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Older adults aren’t people with special needs.  They’re people with special blessings.

May God bless all who serve Him by serving others.

Suggested Reading:

Baby Boomers and Beyond by Amy Hanson

Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body by Missy Buchanan

Designing an Older Adult Ministry by Richard H. Gentzler, Jr.

Senior Adult Ministry in the 221st Century by Dr. David P. Gallagher

Each of these books are engaging, easy to read, interesting, and very informative!

 

 

 

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