Zoo Scavenger Hunt

Zoo Scavenger Hunt

How about a Zoo Scavenger Hunt?

What is your favorite zoo in your area?

It’s so much fun to see all of the animals, birds and reptiles from all over the world. This can be a fun learning experience for your kids as well as yourself.

I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom a few years ago and learned that the flamingos are pink because of all the shrimp that they eat. I had never heard that before. So even as adults we can learn new things.

Let’s pack a picnic lunch and head out to the zoo.

I have a pdf scavenger hunt at the end of the blog you can use to see the animals. If you know of others at your zoo add them to the list. Once you are home you can look up the ones on my list that aren’t at your zoo and help the kids learn about them too.

Have the kids mark off the animals as they are found. Tell them to write down an interesting new thing they have learned about each animal from the information signs at each habitat.

While at each of the exhibits watch the activities of each of the animals. Talk with the children about how different each animal is. Have them compare what is different and what activities are similar.

Something else to talk about is the different climates the animals live in and where they can’t live.

Taking our children to the zoo was always fun. I loved to watch their reactions especially the first time we went to the zoo. My favorite time was when one of the girls was standing by the aquarium and a turtle swam right up to her. The awe on her face was priceless.

Share your story with us after you have done your Zoo Scavenger Hunt.


Let Freedom Ring! Happy Birthday America!

Let Freedom Ring!

Happy Birthday America!


“Let’s decorate the cupcakes,” Jocelyn said. “We can eat them after we sing happy birthday to America and then watch the fireworks.”

“Why are we going to sing happy birthday to America?” Kenzie asked.

“Because today celebrates the day the first thirteen states became the United States of America,” Jocelyn replied.

“Yeah,” Teague stood tall and added, “there was a war and lots of people were killed so that we could be our own country. They wanted to have their own laws and rule themselves. This gave them the freedom they wanted. The men signed a paper called the Declaration of Independence.”

Jocelyn added, “Betsy Ross, made the first American flag. It was red, and white stripes with blue in the corner and thirteen stars. One for each state.”

“That’s real cool. Can we decorate the cupcakes now?” Aubree asked.

“Okay,” Jocelyn said, “Mom put everything on the table for us. Let’s see how cool we can make the cupcakes look.”

The four of them started by sharing the white frosting and spreading on each of the cupcakes. Once that was done, they began decorating with sprinkles of red, white and blue. There were also silver stars and red, white, and blue striped candles. After they finished with their decorating the kids put the cupcakes on a tray for later.

“Hey, I have an idea. Let’s put chairs out in the driveway to watch fireworks.” Teague said.

“Yeah, I love watching the fireworks,” Jocelyn said “Come on Kenzie and Aubree, where do you want your chairs to be?”

The kids put the chairs into two rows.

“Let’s play soccer on the front lawn until it’s time for the fireworks to start,” Teague yelled.

The sky was starting to turn pink as the sun was going down.

Once it started getting darker, Jocelyn being the oldest, told everyone where to sit. Then she went and got the tray of cupcakes.

When she came back with the tray they all sang happy birthday to America. Just as they finished singing they heard a big bang, and the first firework lit up the sky.

“I’m scared,” Kenzie cried.

“Why?” Aubree asked.

“Because the noise is so loud,” Kenzie said.

“It won’t hurt you. They’re far away from here. I think they are awesome,” Teague replied.

“They are pretty. They have so many colors. Look a pink one, my favorite color,” Kenzie looked a little relieved.

“This is the best way to ce

lebrate America’s birthday,” Jocelyn said.

They all watched as the bright colors burst across the sky.



How do you celebrate July 4th?


Who Needs You More, Mom?

I’d like to thank Carole Sparks for coming by and letting me post one of her blogs. She has great advice, please also visit her site for her experience as a mother. http://www.carolesparks.com/



Who Needs You More, Mom?

I’ve been a mother for over fifteen years. (Yes, we’re in that scary, almost-a-driver phase in our home. Prayers please!) I’ve been a Christ-follower for more than twice as long. God placed certain callings on my life, some specific to me (writing) and some of the more general sort (sharing Him with others). He also very clearly and distinctly called me to be a mother. Sometimes, those various callings collide and I’m left feeling hesitant, uncertain, guilty. Times such as these…


We’re moving again. The kids will have new schools again. We’ll get to know new neighbors and new local shops again. How can this be good for my children? Kids need stability and routine, and we’re about to toss them in the air. Again.


My ministry responsibilities pull me away when they’re at home. What about my responsibilities as a parent, my calling to be a mom? What if they need me while I’m out counseling someone else?


Does any of this sound familiar? I’ve thought…okay, said…all these things over the years. I’ve wondered who needs me more.


As a member of a family, our calling(s) aren’t individual propositions but rather part of a bigger picture that includes our spouse’s gifting and calling as well as responsibilities to extended family members. Immediate, unfiltered obedience to God can seem to take a toll on our family life…on our children. In fact, sometimes our ministry decisions appear detrimental to our children’s development. At the very least, they go against conventional parenting wisdom.


I was walking the narrow, cobbled streets of the ancient city where we lived and worked, and I was concerned…okay, worried…about my young children, whom I’d left at home with a local woman. God stopped me there in the middle of that pedestrian street. Literally. I stopped walking and just stood there for a minute while God pressed this fact into my heart—a fact you need to know, too. Don’t just know it with your brain but allow God to press it into your very soul:


God loves your children more than you love them.


God not only wants the best for your children, but He is actively pursuing it. He knows their future occupations and experiences. He knows what they need right now to move toward their own callings. He smiles on children, loves them, protects them. Even on the days when you should have stayed home but instead put the ministry ahead of your family, He filled in your gaps.


Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:6-7


I don’t know how God has gifted or called you to serve Him. If you’re a mother, that’s a big, beautiful part of your calling—one to step up to, embrace, and fulfill to the best of your ability. But it’s probably not your only calling. When you wonder who needs you more, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His will for that moment. Let go of everything else and obey. (I know, easier said than done, but like most things, it gets easier with practice.) Next time, He may lead you the other way. Regardless, God loves your children and He loves the other people whom you serve. When He points you in one direction, He will take care of the others while you fulfill His will for today.


Moms, when it’s time to go to work or to other ministry, do you wonder if maybe your children need you more? Here’s some truth to help you through that dilemma. Via @JannWMartin and @Carole_Sparks. #IntentionalParenting (click to tweet)


Do you feel the pull of differing responsibilities? How has God led you to manage that tension? Jann and I would love to hear from you in the comments below!


Need more? Check out Carole’s post: When Guilt Grounds Me.

Carole’s bio.

Carole and her husband twice found themselves “walking Jesus” in coastal African cities—the second time with two small children.  Now, they are watching God work in a southern US city (no coast, sadly) and helping others passionately follow Him.  Connect with Carole through her website, http://carolesparks.com or her parenting blog, http://notaboutme1151parenting.wordpress.com.

Discipline and the Love Languages

Discipline and the Love Languages

Is “Discipline” a negative word?

At first, we may think of “Discipline” as punishment. However, it’s really the opposite. As parents it’s our responsibility to “Discipline” our children. We are to begin our children’s lives as being responsible parents. Once they are adults we can be their friends. Even teenagers need us to love them enough to “Discipline” them when actions can end up with bad consequences.


For all of our children this means we are to speak and, act with appropriate behavior. They learn from what we say and do. We are to guide them as to how they are to act and respond to what is going on around them.

Punishment can be discipline, but most of our guidance for children is good for them. Stopping a child from touching a hot burner or crossing a street without looking is positive discipline. So is guiding older child in the way they should chose the activities they want to become involved.

With this guidance you need to be open and explain why you are telling them they are not allowed to participate in an activity. Such as a party with no parental presence. I have heard stories of parties without adults ending with many uninvited kids coming bringing drugs and alcohol. Resulting in damage to homes, vehicles, and some of the kids taken to the hospital.


When your child feels loved they may not like it when they are disciplined, but they will accept it. As they are older they realize you are not trying to stop them from everything they want to do. That you are looking out for their best interest.

If you work outside the home you may not have very much quality time to spend with your children. This is understandable. When you are home find ways to include your child in your activities and chores around the house. You will be teaching them how to do the chores and to become more responsible members of the family. You will have more time with the kids and your tasks will get done faster.

If they don’t like the chore explain your reasons for giving them the task.

  1. Cleaning – helps everyone to stay healthier.
  2. Laundry – we all need to have clean clothes and they need to learn how to do it.
  3. Weeding a vegetable garden – let’s the vegetables grown healthier and provide better and more food.
  4. Cooking – if they want to eat well they need to learn how to navigate the kitchen.

Our girls didn’t like having to clean their bedrooms. It was sometimes like pulling teeth to get the cleaning done before they did what they wanted. It was worth the struggle in the end. Both girls have beautiful well-kept homes.

As adults they have both thanked us for caring enough to teach them to be responsible adults. Some of their friends even 

told us they wished their parents cared enough to say no and to have them do more around their home.


I’m taking and educational sabbatical. I’ll be back in a month. May God bless and keep you in the palm of His hand.

How To Discover Your Child’s Love Language


How To Discover Your Child’s Love Language


As a parent, we need to be aware of all of the 5 Love Languages. We also need to help our children understand each Love Language, so they can be a more well-rounded person.

When they’re newborns we need to use all of them. It will take awhile to figure out which is the more prominent Love Language for your child. It’s also important to pick up clues early-on as to what they respond best to so that you don’t cause undue frustration. This can be important for you as well as your child.

As your child grows their Love Language may seem to change due to the natural changes that they go through as they become adolescents. They may need to receive one type of love but give their love in a different way.


When they are growing up don’t tell them that their Love Language is only one thing. Some children may use that to get things they want by controlling the situation.

How does your young child express their love to you? If they give you affirming words then this could be what they need back. An older child may use words of affirmation to get what they want.

If their Love Language is gifts, do they enjoy giving gifts as much as they like receiving them? Let them take the lead in whether they want to give a gift to someone.

Listening to your child’s complaints can be another clue as to what their primary Love Language is. Are they complaining about not having enough of your time? Or maybe wishing they could so something a friend is doing. Be careful, what they are saying may only be a desire to have something that someone else has.

If you have some free time you can let your child choose between two things. Like, spend time together, buy a gift, or help them prepare for an assignment. This lets them choose how to spend their time with you.

We didn’t have a lot of money when we were raising our girls. I would offer them time to cook or bake something. It was fun working in the kitchen with them and sharing something I love to do. Now I get the fun to teach the grandchildren. Not long ago the oldest granddaughter and I made bread.





She felt so proud of herself when she held her loaf of bread in her hands. She loved the way it tasted too.

I’d love to hear some of your stories.

Love Language #4 Gifts


Gifts for some children are very important. They look forward to their parents returning from vacations and business trips. They can’t wait to see what new thing they will receive. However, parents need to be mindful of making sure the other love languages their child needs are met.

If their love needs are not met in any other areas and they don’t feel the love from parents except with gifts, they will have problems. A child can feel like the only thing the parents care about is to give them things, not their time and love.

A gift along with knowing the person really loves you makes the gift special. Your child will know that you love them and that they purchased the gift with you in mind. We went on a trip one time and I brought our girls the same thing. I heard one say something about them being the same. I felt really bad after that. I should have thought more about each of their likes.

For I say, through the grace given to me,

to everyone who is among you,

not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,

but to think soberly, as God has dealt to

each one a measure of faith

For as we have many members in one body,

but all the members do not have the same function,

so we, being many, are one body in Christ,

and individually members of one another.

Having then gifts differing according to

the grace that is given to us, let us use them[1]


We need to be careful not to use gifts as payments for chores or a bribe to stay busy so you can accomplish a task. These types of gifts make a child feel unloved and that receiving the gift is only if they do what is asked of them.

Jacob sent gifts to Esau to make sure that he would be received well after cheating Esau out of the birthright.

Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau

his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

And he commanded them, saying,

“Speak thus to my lord Esau, ‘Thus your servant Jacob says:

“I have dwelt with Laban and stayed there until now.

I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female

servants; and I have sent to tell my lord,

that I may find favor in your sight.” ’ ”[2]


What types of gifts are special to your kids?

[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Ro 12:3–6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] The New King James Version. (1982). (Ge 32:3–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


Quality Time


We can turn any time with our children into quality time. Take advantage of a long ride. Ask a few questions or share something from your past. Your children will love to hear stories about how you met your husband.

Share a favorite memory of yours, or how you handled a similar situation that they are going through.

Plan quality time with each of your children. It could be a day alone with them. Go shopping, or to a movie, then their favorite restaurant for a meal. Another example could be reading together. If they can read have them read their favorite book or a few chapters to you.

If you have more than one child each parent should spend quality alone time with each of the kids. This will give them a strong feeling of love from each parent.


Don’t forget to have quality time with your husband too.

We planned one night a month for date night when the girls were young. There were many times that we couldn’t afford to go out for the evening. I would feed the girls and get them settled for the night. Then have a nice quiet dinner for two. I would get out the china and crystal and light some candles. Even if it was an inexpensive dinner it felt special.

One time the girls wanted to make our dinner and serve it. They made a menu to show us what our dinner would be. I can’t remember the main course, but the appetizer was sliced apples with straight cinnamon sprinkled on top. With a lot of water, we chocked down the cinnamon and apples. A few days later I explained that you needed to add sugar to the cinnamon before putting it on the apples.

Memories like these are priceless quality time for us and our girls.

What are some of your favorite times alone with your children?

Love Language #3 Quality Time

Our children need our quality time. It helps build their self-esteem. It’s sometimes hard to give them time when      we  are trying to take care of things around the house after a busy day at work. We just need to prioritize our tasks.

Take a few minutes before you need to do something and spend it with your child. They will love the time with you. Then you can ask them to help you with something and they will feel even more important. They get time with you and you get help. It’s a win-win for both of you.

Not all children need quality time, but they still need your time. Some children even misbehave just to get your attention. Then as they get older it gets harder to find that time. With your busy schedule and theirs it can be hard to find some time together.

Think back to when you were a child, what are the times you remember the best about being with your parents? Did you go somewhere special? Or were the quiet times alone with a parent more memorable?

I remember as a teenager, after dinner my Dad would play the organ and we’d sing songs together. I still think of those time with fondness.

Remember to make positive eye contact with your child too. Too often we only look them in the eyes when we are upset with them. The look and the smile in the eyes can say I love you too.

6 Things To Do To Prepare For a Writer’s Conference


The first and most important thing we can do is to pray. Does God want us to attend this conference? Do we have a project to “Pitch?” Who do we need to set up meetings with? What classes should we take?


Make sure you completely research the agents, publishers, and acquisition editors. You need to be prepared with exactly what they are looking for. On their websites you can find what their requirements are for submissions.

Also look up the descriptions of the classes that will be presented. You need to choose wisely the sessions you will take.

3.Prepare documents:

Have your One Page, Synopsis, Platform, and Pitch ready.

If you have critique groups, have your manuscript ready to go. Make sure you have enough copies for everyone. This is a great opportunity to have a larger piece of your work critiqued.


What type of clothing is suggested? Business casual or casual. Is there a dress up function?

Make sure you know what the weather predictions will be. Take along an umbrella. Also a jacket in case the classrooms are chilly.

Will there be a professional photographer? Have something ready for your photos>


Be prepared by the day before you leave for the conference. Get a good night sleep. Have quality time with your family.


For all attending the conference. Safe travels for everyone. Especially for the family members left at home.

Are you going to a conference?

Love Language #1 Physical Touch



Physical touch can help a child with a difficult situation from “The 5 Love Languages of Children The Secret to Loving Children Effectively,” By: Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, from Northfield Publishing Chicago. This is an excerpt from the book.




Samantha is a fifth-grader whose family recently

moved to a new community. “It’s been hard this

year, moving and having to make new friends.

Back at my old school and town, I knew everybody

and they knew me.” When we asked if she ever

felt as if her parents didn’t love her because they

took her away from her old school and town,

Samantha said, “Oh no, I never felt they did this

on purpose. I know they love me, because they

always give me lots of extra hugs and kisses.

I wish we hadn’t had to move, but I know

Daddy’s job is important.”


This is a good example how a child was able to handle something that was very hard for her. She was able to make the change because her parents gave her extra love and touches. The hugs and kisses went a long way to help Samantha acclimate to her new surroundings. I would imagine they talked a lot with her as well and helped her to meet the new neighbors and school friends.

If we teach our children about the unconditional love of God, this will help them to know that he’s always there for them, just like we are. Show them with your prayers that they can take anything to God in prayer. Teach them to:

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. [1]

Some children need the hugs and kisses, while others may need different ways of touching. There are parents that aren’t the hugs and kisses type of people. Throwing kids up in the air or spinning them is a way to touch and show your love to the kids. In this way playing can be a way of showing their love.

There is a dad in the book that had to learn how to show his affection to his four-year-old daughter. He wasn’t a touchy feeling person. Learning how to give a gentle touch along with a  hug and kiss they grew closer. She also will have a better relationship with men when she grows up, because she learned the gift of affection from her dad.

Physical touch can be as easy as a pat on the arm or back as they walk by. If your child is upset you can hold their hand and give it a little squeeze. That will convey more than words can say.

Jesus said: “Let the children come to me![2]   

He wanted to touch them to show how much he loved them.

When we get together with our grandchildren they pretend they don’t want to be hugged and kissed and run away. I chase after them and they always back themselves into a corner. We make a game out of it, but I know they still want my love and attention.

Share with us the ways you show your love to the children around you.

[1] The Holy Bible: The Contemporary English Version. (1995). (Dt 6:5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] The Holy Bible: The Contemporary English Version. (1995). (Mk 10:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.