Right before news broke about the kidnapping story that occurred in Cleveland,Ohio, I had purchased the picture book The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe based on the original book by C.S. Lewis. I wasn’t sure if my 5 year old would like or be scared of the evil characters in the magical land called Narnia. She saw the book and was instantly drawn to the pictures. So, at that moment, we sat side by side reading the book and entered the new world filled with wonder.
It wasn’t until after we read the book a couple of time, that I realize the story can also serve as a way to teach my daughter the dangers of child predators. The whole story is a classic tale of good against evil. And, one thing that I want my daughter is know is that evil exists in this world. In the story, four children enter Narnia through a strange old wardrobe in the spare room. The youngest, Lucy, was the first to experience the mysterious new place. But, before she could persuade her brothers and sister that a wicked White Witch exists in Narnia, her brother Edmund went through the wardrobe to see the land for himself. It was the actions ofthat I used to discuss the following teaching points.
8 SPIRITUAL TEACHING POINTS ON SAFETY FROM THE BOOK: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
1. Don’t go off alone when you are suppose to be with others.
There is safety in staying with a group or under the care of others. I told my daughter that she should never go off alone, especially to a place she has never been to before. God has put people in authority like teachers, the police, and our parents to help keep us safe.
2. Evil strangers know how to trick you by being friendly and offering something nice.
When the Witch met Edmond, she saw that “he was just the kind of boy she could win over with a box of her enchanted Turkish Delight.” She tempted him with more if he could bring his sisters and brother to her house. Evil strangers know how to pick which kids to hurt. Many times those kids are alone, sick, or not paying attention.
3. Never go inside a stranger’s car or house without mommy or daddy knowing.
Once Edmond went to the Witches’ home, he realized she was not nice at all. Kidnappers and criminals often try to lure kids inside their car, home, or a secret place. There, they reveal their true intentions to harm you.
4. Strangers that want to hurt people can keep kids away from their parents to do mean things to them.
The evil White Witch tied Edmond up and treated him as a prisoner. Sometimes, kids are really hurt by strangers. It helps to stay strong and never lose hope.
5. God always knows where you are. But strangers will make you feel like you can never be free.
Aslan, the great lion that created all of Narnia, promised the other children that Edmond would be saved. But, when Edmond was found, the White Witch argued that he was a traitor for agreeing to exchange his own family for more candy. Edmond felt trapped by his own action. But, God is always on our side.
6. Even when bad things happen, God loves you and wants you to be safe and happy.
The great Aslan offered his own life to save Edmund’s. God is always ready to forgive us. And, He wants all of those who love him to be free and happy. That is why He sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Like Jesus, the character Aslan also resurrects from death.
7. There will always be people looking for you and to help you get better if you are hurt.
In the battle against good and evil, it was Edmond who stepped out to save the day. He was badly wounded. But, with the healing power of a special drink, Edmond was made whole again. God has poured out his Holy Spirit which has the power to make us well again.
8. The power of Good will always defeat the power of Evil.
In the end, the children along with Aslan restored peace, good living and laughter in the land of Narnia. Everything in the world is not nice. But living a good and faithful life is more rewarding. In Heaven, we will reign with our Heavenly Father forever.
Do you have a creative way of teaching “Stranger Danger” with children? Is there a book that you like to read that shares a similar lessen? Please share. I’d love to hear about it.
The family of this year’s New York State Teacher of the Year is a family of faith. By God’s grace, Greg Alquist, a teacher in the Webster Central School District , was honored last month at the White House for the award in teaching excellence.
It has been a privilege to get to know Greg from our church, Word of Life Christian Fellowship. Even more so, it has been a blessing to personally hear him teach outside the classroom in bible study and as a church leader.
Can you imagine what it must be like, as a mother, to see your child excel as a teacher? The mission of my blog is to share parenting wisdom to raise healthy and smart kids in the spirit of faith. So, how wonderful it is to be able to interview Greg’s mother!
Cheryl Alquist raised her two children as a stay at home mom. She, herself, grew up in a Christian family with Jesus always having a place in the home and in life.
Here are few questions Cheryl answered that gave me plenty of insight as a mother.
What influenced Greg to pursue a career in teaching? Was there anything you did as his mother to nurture his gifts?
I can’t say I really did anything special to nurture his gifts other than to pray for him and claim God’s Word that He had a plan and purpose for Greg. (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 hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11). Greg got his Bachelor’s degree in History and intended to get his doctorate. He received his Master’s degree from the University of Syracuse and then the Lord shut doors that prevented him from pursuing his doctorate. He got a second Master’s degree in Education from Brockport. God continued to open the right doors for him to get a job at the high school from which he graduated.
Was it easy for you to decide to be a stay-at-home mom? What would you say to other moms who feel the need to work outside the home?
I was blessed to be able to stay at home and not have to work outside the home for financial reasons. The majority of moms were at home and I had a network of moms who were close friends. We all took care of our homes, volunteered in the school, went to Bible studies and got together for coffee. It was such a blessing for both the kids and me that I was able to be home in the afternoon when they got home from school. This was always a special time for sharing. Each mother must make her own decision regarding how and where she is to spend her time. God makes each of us unique – He has not used a cookie cutter for moms or children. No one else can tell a woman what her decision should be.
Homeschooling is quite popular now among Christian families. What was your decision then and what would it be now?
At that time, I really did not even know anyone who was home schooling. However, I did pray that God would give Greg the right teachers and friends to help him become the man of God He intended for him to be. A public school education was a little different at that time. Today’s culture has changed. I have never regretted our decision for the public schools. I feel being in a public setting, which is part of the world, gives the students an opportunity to gain education for interacting in the world as well as education from books. Since I was able to be at home, I could always be there to help our children sort out the good and the bad. Communication is always important whatever the setting. All of our grandchildren are in public schools and I feel it is good for them. That is what I would probably use as a measure to determine whether or not I would choose to home school today.
What were some of Greg’s favorite childhood books and toys? What did he like to do as a young boy?
We read a variety of books. Richard Scarry was one of his favorite authors for fun books. We always read Bible story books, and later children’s translations of the Bible, before he went to bed. I made a tradition of always giving each of the children a book for Christmas that was either a classic or prize winning book. As far as toys are concerned, he liked Legos, Lincoln Logs and Star Wars action figures for indoor toys. Outdoors, it would be any kind of sport. He and his sister would make forts in the family room and they were often found at the kitchen table playing with play dough, drawing or coloring.
How is life for you now as a grandmother?
I love being a grandmother! I get the joy of the children without the 24/7 responsibility. One of my primary goals as a grandmother is to be sure I support the parenting choices of the parents and not enforce my ways. Each couple chooses their own way to parent and there is nothing anyone is more protective of than their choices regarding raising their children. Both our son and daughter and their spouses are great parents, but each couple does things differently. I respect that. Another of my primary goals as a grandmother is to be an interested loving listening ear for all our grandchildren. I now have two 14-year old granddaughters and I want to keep an open relationship with them. I want to be someone they can confide in and one who has time to listen to and care about them.
Do you have any specific wisdom pearls to share with other moms?
One of my favorite scriptures for how to be a mom is found in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I particularly like the word “should.” I once read a commentary on this verse that said “should go” refers to the way God has planned for them according to the strengths and weaknesses He has included in their makeup. Each person has unique gifts given to them by God. The job of the mother is to guide her children in directions using their gifts and leading them away from areas where they might fail simply because this is not how God has equipped them.
I always find great value drawing from the experiences of an elder. The older generation is to help teach the younger generation. Speaking with Cheryl, I learned communication is important in all stages of a child’s life. Books and Legos will continue to have their place in my home. My prayers will be for direction on the way my daughter “should go.” These words ,and more, are valuable wisdom pearls for me. And, I pray they will be a blessing for you, too.
Cheryl Alquist blogs about Christian living on her blog An Apple of Gold. “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” Proverbs 25:11
As parents, we are equipped with weapons that can influence the world….our kids! Consider what the bible says.
“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.” Psalm 127: 3-5, The Message
The world needs children equipped to take on its challenges. And, to do it to glorify the Lord. It is our responsibility as parents to prepare them for their life purpose. Not what we would like to see them do. But , what God has specifically gifted them to do.
In order for an arrow to be effective, it has to be sharp. Like iron sharpens iron, the wisdom from one generation prepares the next. Even in times of struggle, we can teach our children that those setbacks will make them stronger, smarter, sharper. Like the arrow, in order for it to hit its target, it must first be pulled backward in order for it to be launched forward.
Parenting is hard work especially with more than one child (the fistful of arrows). It may be a challenge to provide all the physical needs of a child. But, you will never have more kids than you can love. You are a blessed warrior!
It can be overwhelming to try and do all the various things that benefit a child’s education and training. But, you don’t have to do everything. You don’t have to be perfect. Find what is good enough for your family. And, know this. The best atmosphere in which children learn, is in a caring and loving relationship. The emotions they feel while learning is like the glue that makes everything stick.
Little by little, each faithful strike of steel sharpens it to a point. Teach your child a new word everyday. Take your kids places where they can learn from new experiences. Get down on the floor and play with them. Say “no” to them sometimes. Listen. Just be a good example.
The world is filled with trials to conquer that reap hidden blessings. Take a look at your children and ask yourself, “Am I sharpening my arrows?”
Our princess party series has come to an end. I hope you were able to get plenty of ideas on how to celebrate on a royal budget. But, before we pop the balloons, here is how to make the wall flower balloon decorations.
I saw a picture of a flower balloon on Pinterest. But, it didn’t provide instructions on how it was made. That’s ok because I figured it out. I found polka-dotted balloons at the Hobby Lobby store for the center of the flower. The solid color balloons were purchased there, as well. The only other things needed were cheap paper plates and a long armed stapler.
First staple the polka dotted balloon to the center of the paper plate. Then, staple six other balloons around the edge of the plate.
Tada! You’ve created an easy and adorable wall decoration. Just use thumbtacks or a command strip adhesive to attach the plate to the wall.
Decorating with balloons without using helium is an affordable way to liven up a party room. Here are a few more creative ideas:
- Create your own balloon design (like a rainbow or clouds) using poster board. Just cut the board into your desired shape and attach the balloons.
- Decorate the balloon itself by taping on colored construction paper to make it look like a teapot, animal, ice-cream cone, etc.
- Use cheap plastic table covers. Cut them up into long strips and drape across an area, use as a backdrop, or hang from the ceiling.
- Shop at thrift stores and garage sales to find curtains and sheets that you can use or recycle into fabric table or chair covers.
- Utilize what you already have. Before heading out to the store, look around your home. You may already have materials to work with.
During Spring Break, a group of more than 40 churches around Monroe County in New York come together to serve Rochester city residents in need. Flower City Work Camp is a faith-based initiative in operation since 1989 composed of youths and adults that provide free home repairs. Skilled “site leaders” with experience in home repair work along hundreds of youths. The homeowners, their children, and youth volunteers all receive ministry throughout the experience.
Others played a part by bringing in food for the volunteer home workers. My family was happy to serve lunch on one of the work days. I had tons of Easter ham left over to make homemade ham and potato soup (recipe at the end of this post). The soup is an easy, affordable, and gluten-free meal on a cold upstate New York day (except, that day turned out sunny and warm!…no complaints, though). The menu also included, grilled Italian bread, fresh fruit, cookies, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We enjoyed the meal together.
My little girl came along, too. I say, “A family that volunteers together, stays together.”
Hubby checked out the ceiling repairs done by the volunteers.
I noticed the wording on the homeowner’s wall calendar.
It reads, “Very little is needed to make a happy life.” The home of someone in need, in return, blesses me with that simple reminder. God has a way of ministering to EVERYONE.
Something else to warm your soul is some homemade soup. Here’s the recipe:
8 Cups diced potatoes
1 Cup onions
2-4 Cups of chopped ham (depending on how meaty you like it)
1 (32 oz) carton of low sodium chicken broth
1 Cup milk
1/4 Cup sour cream
1-2 Tablespoon fresh green onions or chives
Combine potatoes, onion, ham, broth, and pepper in the crockpot. Cook on low 7 hours or high 3 hours ( I actually cooked mine on low for 12 hours because I forgot about it. And, it turned out awesome!) At the end, add milk, sour cream and onions/chives. To make the soup creamy, take out about 2 cups of the potatoes from the soup along with some of the broth. Puree the 2 cups of cooked potato soup and return to the crockpot.
Flower City Work Camp was a time of ministry for all those involved. After the lunch, there was a devotional among the youth workers. I listened in as they discussed that the work is not to bring glory to ourselves, but to our Heavenly Father. Amen.
The princesses enjoyed the birthday party and are now about to leave with a royal treat.
“Bring out the crown jewels!” she says. Our desire was for all the fair maidens to taste and see the goodness of God’s blessing.
The sweet taste of candy (particularly CHOCOLATE) is something we enjoy as a treat in our home. I see no problem indulging in the goodness of certain foods as long as it remains a treat not a snack. And, hey. It’s a BIRTHDAY PARTY!
The Crown Jewels candy buffet was positioned near the exit for each party girl to help themselves to a princess gown favor bag. They were able to take home edible jewels! I chose chocolates in foil wrappers that were the colors of the party. It was easier and more affordable to just pick the ones I wanted from the ‘weigh your own’ candy section at the grocery store. Silver platters from the Dollar Tree store displayed jewels of miniature candy bars, chocolate kisses, mini peanut butter cups, golden coins, and candy bracelets.
The princess gown favor bags were all handmade by me and my talented mother. Thanks Mom!! They were made from felt, which is very affordable, and leftover sheer fabric and ribbons. Maybe one day I’ll get around to do a tutorial.
Well, the party is over. But, before we pop all the balloons, I will show you how to make the balloon wall flower decorations and some final budget party tips in the final Princess Party post. Until then, please excuse me as I indulge myself in a little bit more of chocolate
Princess Birthday Party (Part 4): The Cake Table on a Royal Budget and Buttermilk Cupcakes with All Natural Food Coloring
What makes my little girl a princess? It is because she is the daughter of the greatest King of all.
For He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful. Revelations 17:14 NKJV
So, for her birthday party, we celebrated her princess status with a sweet note along side the delicious cake and cupcakes.
Not including the cake itself, the cost of everything you see came up to about $20 (including the wooden pedestal table!). Like I shared in my previous princess party posts, have a plan and start early to gather the things you need. The table was purchased at a garage sale for $5 and was being used as a game table in our family room. Other garage sale finds are the cupcake stand for $3, silver wooden frame for $1, and a galvanized steel flower-pot for 25 cents. The quality white fabric table cloth was a grocery store clearance item for $5. Dollar store plates and napkins helped keep costs down. I even used the cake server I kept from my own wedding…why not?
And, we had to have princess forks. Since there are always shiny craft gems around a house with a princess, I glued a few onto the fork handles and the sides of the flower pot to make them look fancier.
One of the biggest area of savings would have to be the cupcakes. To have 24 bakery cupcakes would have cost about $50. Instead, I made my own moist and delicious buttermilk cupcakes using the recipe for Raspberry Buttermilk Cake without the berries. You can get the recipe for the batter HERE. The frosting was simply sweetened whipped cream with added unflavored gelatin to stabilize it. I found the recipe for Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting over at FoodPusher. I tinted the frosting princess pink with a few teaspoons of….Shhhh…..beet juice! Don’t tell the princesses. But, how’s that for a cheap, all-natural cupcake? All that’s left was to top each one with a party favor tiara found at the Dollar Tree.
We found the perfect birthday cake at a great price at one of our favorite places for sweets, Leo’s Bakery and Deli.
I hope this inspired you to create a beautiful cake table for your little princess. More importantly, that it will help make your party affordable without sacrificing the elegance in having a royal event. Cherish the special times with your family. In God’s eyes, it is the joy of his children that he delights in and finds beautiful. And, imagine the all the sweet things our Lord has at his heavenly table for those he calls his chosen and faithful.