Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lessons from Disney Princesses part 1

 If your family is like ours, you've lived through the princess craze from Aurora to Cinderella to Belle to the newest sisterly dynamic duo—Elsa and Anna. You've watched the movies, heard the songs and dressed your daughters in miniature gowns and tiaras.

What kind of role models are these princesses to girls today? Or do girls even give any thought to them. After all, Snow White and Aurora are far removed from our lifestyles today.

A while back I posted about the Disney princesses. Basically I gave my version of their stories. I've included that in this post too. That part is in italics. I'm going to attempt to add to it but giving my thoughts on what girls learn from these princesses—and really, a lot of that depends on the parents.

Hopefully you watch the movies with your children and they serve as a springboard for important discussions on values, goals, motives, relationships and so on. If children watch movies, who knows how they may interpret the values, if at all.

So here goes….
(remember, the italicized part is what I wrote in my original post here ) 

Snow White is the original Disney princess, born with skin as white as snow, hair as black as Ebony and lips as red as a rose. She hides from her wicked stepmother in the home of the Seven Dwarfs, happily keeping house for them until she is tricked into eating a poisonous apple. She is naive, but kind, happy and a willing worker. And of course it only takes a kiss from a prince to revive her once she's been poisoned.

Snow White seems to be not much more than a carefree young lady in a flawless body who needs someone to take care of her. So for her, living with the dwarfs works out. She improves their lives, they give her a home. And really, if you can find that many men who are gainfully employed and go to work each day, go for it.

Okay, maybe not. But it's hard to take more away from Snow White than don't answer the door when you're home alone, don't accept food from a stranger and do your work cheerfully. Oh, and watch out for mean girls who are jealous of you. I don't think that's changed a lot even from Bible times. Think of Hannah and wife #2, Sarah and Hagar, or Leah and Rachel.

She may not have more than that to say to us today, but remember, she's from the 1930's and life was way different then.

Living the lesson: Look for friends who aren't threatened by your talents, looks or possessions. True friends won't play the comparison game or be jealous. So you won't have to go hide in the woods to avoid them.

Key verses for Snow White: Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. James 1:17-18

Resources for today's girls
God's Girls series by Karen Whiting
For Girl's Only Devotions by Karen Larsen

Cinderella was perhaps the most popular of the princesses for a long time. I think Elsa may have passed her : )(Remember, I wrote this before the new Cinderella movie). Cinderella's widowed father remarries, and Cinderella gains a step mother and two lazy step sisters. When her father dies, she is mistreated by her step mother and sisters, yet she remains kind and gentle, doing the work without complaining and with only the mice and other animals for friends. Her fairy godmother helps her attend the ball where the prince fails in love with her after only a dance. Not knowing her identity, a kingdom-wide search for the owner of a lost glass slipper reunites them.

You can look at it as Cinderella is doing what is required by her step mother without giving up hope even when treated as a slave, or you can look at it as Cinderella passively accepts her lot in life and lets everyone walk all over her without complaining. Either way, she meets the prince who will take her away from it all and they live happily ever after. The problem with that is, his desire for her seems to be because of her beauty. I mean, how much did they really learn about each other during the dance? And what exactly is entailed in happily-ever-after? Sooner or later her beauty faded and body parts sagged. Hopefully they found more to base their marriage on before this happened.

Not many of us would teach our girls to stay in an abusive situation like Cinderella was in with her step mother, but CPS probably didn't exist back then. And few of us would want our daughters to marry someone based solely on their looks or what was learned during a dance. They need to wait for a guy who values them for their intelligence, creativity and so on.

Living the lesson: Make friends with guys. Get to know their interests, desires and heart. Do they share your values? Respect and even ask for your opinions? Encourage you to be yourself? If not, they aren't worth being friends with, much less developing a romantic relationship with.

Key verses for Cinderella: Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31:30

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Resources for today's girls
The One Year Devotions for Girls Starring Women of the Bible by Katrina Cassel
The Christian Girl's Guide to Style by Sherry Kyle

Aurora, a little naive and a hopeless romantic, is sheltered most her life. When evil Maleficent pronounces a curse on her while she's an infant, she is hidden away to be raised by three good fairies. She falls into a death-like sleep and can be awakened only by true love's kiss. Of course if you've seen the recently released "Maleficent" with Angelina Jolie, you know that isn't the true story at all .

Aurora is another princess who, unable to care for herself, is just waiting for the man who can take care of her. Flawlessly beautiful, she seems to do little more than pick berries and sing. You know there are issues when the color of her ball gown is a major plot point of the movie.

In her favor, she had been cursed so she was hidden away and that didn't lead to a lot of opportunities for her to improve herself.

Wanting to find the perfect man to spend your life with is good. And if a girl can find an attractive man with good manners to sweep her off her feet, great. But he really needs to have more going for him than his pedigree. And honestly, Aurora could have worked on some hobbies, done some reading and bettered herself while she was waiting.

Living the lesson: Sometimes there are waiting periods in life. When you have a school vacation with no plans or you're waiting for something bigger like your first date or job, use the time to improve yourself. Learn skills like how to change a tire or rewire a light switch (you don't want to have to depend on a prince, they don't do manual labor). Try something new like racquetball or stained glass art. Learn to cook. Run in a 5k or half marathon. Do things to make yourself more interesting, and you won't settle for the first prince who comes along.

Key verse for Aurora: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Resources for today's girls
 The Christian Girl's Guide to Being Your Best by Katrina Cassel

A Girl After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George

Ariel is the daughter of King Triton and the youngest of seven sisters. Not content with being a mermaid, she trades her voice for the chance to be human. Of course everything goes wrong with this plan, but in the end, King Triton, realizing that Ariel loves Eric, changes her into a human and agrees she can marry Eric. Ariel is quite different than the first three princesses who seem to just go along with the plan. Ariel is independent and willing to take risks to get her dream, but she also has obedience issues.

On the one hand, Ariel wants to experience new things and explore a different culture.
She's curious, and she's determined. Good for her for those things. But overall she fails as a role model because she makes a deal with a stranger, and she changes everything about herself for a guy. What's up with that? She gives up her family and her identity as a mermaid for a guy she really doesn't even know. She may have had some desire to live in the human world before he came along, but without him she may have found another way to satisfy her curiosity other than giving up her family and identity.

Living the lesson: Embrace who God created you to be. He gave you the exact talent, abilities and personalities to do what you're meant to do. Don't trade it for something or someone else. Celebrate your uniqueness. And if someone wants you to be something you're not, move on.

Key verse for Ariel: You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! Psalm 139: 13,14,17

Resources for today's girls
Everyone Tells Me to Be Myself, But I Don't Know Who I Am by Nancy Rue

The Christian Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book by Katrina Cassel

Belle is one of my favorites because she is true to who she is. She doesn't go with the flow, but embraces her love of books and turns down Gaston who the rest of the girls swoon over due to his good looks. When Belle's father is held in a castle by the beast, she sacrifices her own freedom for his. Although at first she's turned off by the beast's looks, she soon learns to look beyond appearances. She declares her love for him while he is still in beast form, not realizing he's a prince under a spell/curse.

Belle knew the lesson Ariel missed. Be yourself. Belle was adventurous, smart and a reader. She turned down Gaston, despite his muscles and the fact that the other females thought he was a great prize. She knew he was a pig. She didn't settle for something that wasn't right for her.

Living the lesson: Don't worry if you seem "different." Don't change who you are or deny your real interests, likes and dislikes just to fit in. Find friends who either share your interests or who will accept them without trying to make you feel inferior.

Key verse for Belle: There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Resources for today's girls

The Christian Girl's Guide to Being Your Best by Katrina Cassel
A Girl's Guide to Best Friends and Mean Girls by Dannah Gresh
See here

See here

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Last Easter Basket Ideas

Here are the last two Easter Basket ideas. 

The Christian Girl's Guide to Being Your Best
This was the first book in the Christian Girls Guide series.

It's like a guide to life that covers some important topics. Chapters are:
What is Being Your Best
Use Your Talents
Do Your Best
Stand Up for Yourself and for What's Right
Set Priorities
Walk with God
Cherish Your Family
Value Your Integrity
Be Compassionate
Be Content
Guard Your Tongue

It has a lot of fun quizzes including "Find Your Talent," "Do You Give in to Peer Pressure," "Are You Compassionate," and "Are You Content?" It has questions for journaling, Scripture verse puzzles, activities, stories, crafts and more. It's a book that should appeal to most girls ages 8-12 or so. It can be used individually, with a friend or in a small group setting.

I went through the house looking for crafts from this book but only found the prayer jar.
And I found a reader picture of the Thankfulness poster
The Christian Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book
This is probably the most fun of the Christian Girl's Guides because it's full of quizzes that help girls learn more about themselves. 
There are 22 quizzes. Each quiz has a key verse, a story, a spiritual take away, and an activity, puzzle or craft with it. 

This book would definitely be a lot more fun done with a friend, Sunday school class or other group of girls. 
The quizzes are:
Are You for Real?
How Honest are You?
Are You a Good Test Taker?
How Much Do You Know about zzz's?
Are You a Mary or a Martha?
How are Your Manners?
What Kind of Smart are You?
Are You a Healthy Eater?
Are You a Follower or a Leader?
How Much Do You Know about the Bible?
What's Your Learning Style?
Are You Exercise Wise?
What Does Your Room Reveal about You?
How Do You Share Your Faith?
Are You a Good Listener?
Are You Crazy for Clothes?
How Content are You?
Does Your Life Point to God?
How do You Handle Peer Pressure?
Which Activities are Right for You?
Are You a Good Sport?
How Do You Serve God?

When I was writing this book, everyone pitched in to help create craft ideas. These are door hangers they each made for the zzz's quiz. (Page 41-42 in the book)

These church bags go with the Mary and Martha quiz. I think I used a bag idea in almost every book! The younger kids still carry their Bibles to church in the bags we made. (pages 49-50)

This snack sack goes with the Healthy Eater quiz. (pages 79-80) You can make it from a pair of jeans that are headed for the trash.

This cute pillow craft goes with the bedroom quiz (pages 119-120)

These note cards go with the How Content are You quiz and are for writing thank you notes.
(pages 149-150)

These pens and pen holders go with the serving God quiz. They would also make nice Mother's Day presents or end of the school year gifts for teachers. (pages 190-191)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Raising a Princess in a Commoner World

This is a blog post I wrote for Tyndale several months ago. Kind of fits in with the new Cinderella movie.
Okay, I'm just saying that. I haven't seen the movie yet. We are going later today :)  But it sounded like a good

     Your daughter is precious to God. As a child of the Heavenly King, she is his princess—and so are you! Raising your daughter to be a princess in today's world is no easy job. While it might be tempting to isolate and shield her from a world full of the wrong values and priorities, it's more important to help her learn to stand out and live out God's plan for her.
            Want to help your daughter live as a princess in today's world? Model what a princess of the True King looks like. This can be a natural part of your day as everyday routines and circumstances become teachable moments.

Be joyful
            Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4 How many times have you been out with your children running errands when you encountered a grumpy cashier at the grocery store or a rude fast food worker? Bad moods are contagious so don't spread them. Instead, respond with a smile and a kind word. It may make a difference for that person, and it will show your daughter that princesses don't have to let others steal their joy. They can spread joy instead.

Put Others First
            Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:3-4 We live in a "me first" world. If your daughter is exposed to any kind of media, she'll quickly pick up on that attitude. People do many foolish and ungodly things for attention. Let your daughter see you putting others first. That begins in the home as she sees you taking care of your family's needs. Encourage her to let a sibling have the first turn or the last piece of cake.
Be involved in ministry opportunities which allow her to meet others' needs. That could mean donating food to the food pantry, sorting out clothes to donate to the homeless shelter or finding a neighbor who needs a helping hand.

Celebrate Your Uniqueness
            Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. Psalm 139:14 The pressure to act like everyone else in order to fit in is strong. But God made your princess in a unique way. He gave her the talents and personality she needs in order to fulfill his plan for her. Encourage your daughter to be true to herself whether she's athletic or musical or a scholar. Let her see you exploring your talents and being true to yourself and God, and encourage her to do the same. She's one of a kind.

Guard Your Heart
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 The things your daughter sees and hears cannot be unseen or unheard. Watch for the subtle messages that creep into your home through books, DVDs, magazines, music and television. Know what your daughter is reading, seeing and hearing. It makes a difference. What fills her heart will influence her attitudes. If you want her to have the heart of a princess, provide things for her to read and watch that will accomplish that goal. (see my blog post  for a list of the best Christian books for preteen girls)

Make God's Word Your Guide for Life
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
Society's view of right and wrong is flawed. Things that were not acceptable twenty years ago are now flaunted openly. But God's standards never change, and the Bible is the guidebook for living life as a princess here and now. Help your daughter find a Bible she can understand. Supply her with a devotion book that's written for her age group and interest level and encourage her to read it. My children are motivated by being able to stay up a few minutes past bedtime if they are reading a daily devotion book, and that may be all the motivation your daughter needs too.

Raising a princess doesn't require dressing her in pink or buying her a tiara. It means connecting with her on a heart level that allows you to instill the values and attitudes she needs to live as a princess of the True King. 

These are only a few suggestions about how to raise a princess in a commoner's world. Add your own ideas and thought in the comment section below.

Friday, March 20, 2015

More Easter Ideas

Here are some more Easter basket  ideas, plus pictures of some of the crafts.
The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids
This book doesn't have crafts. The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids has 365 devos for boys and girls ages 8-12 (you could go a  year or two in either direction). Each devo starts with a trivia question such as What did Jacob see in his dream? Where was Moses when he received the Ten Commandments? What did Naboth have that Ahab wanted? The questions are multiple choice with three answers to choose from.

Just for Me! The Bible

Just for Me! The Bible is for girls 6-9, but we read it with our whole family.
The book goes through the Bible book by book. It can be used individually or in a small group setting such as a Sunday School class, girls' Bible study or home school group. Children as young as 4 may learn from it.

Here are some of the crafts. These are child made crafts.

bookmark, pages 11-12

Door hangers. I made these for my sponsored children in Mexico at the time. Page 21-22, and the illustrator sure didn't read the directions because the illustration shows a large sign hanging from the top of the door!

Jesus Saves Us Pencil Topper pages 93-94

There are so many crafts in this book that I don't have pictures of. All the crafts are meant to be used or given as gifts. No cut and paste and throw away later crafts. I walked through the house to see if there were any of the crafts and found two pencil holders still in use, although they look in need of repair! But they've held up well considering they are about 8-9 years old.

 Just for Me! The Bible also has Bible verse codes, finish the picture drawings, Bible stories, rebus stories, games, activities, quizzes and a lot more. The book is meant to be written in so each girls makes it her own personal record of her walk through the Bible.

Just for Me! Friends

This books has tons of fun activities to help readers learn about friendship and to help friends know each other better. 
Table of Contents:
What is a Friends?
That's What Friends are For
Being a Good Friend
What Makes a Good Friend?
Tips on Finding and Making Friends
Best Friends
When Things Go Wrong
Fun Together, Fun Alone
Jesus: The Best Friend of All

The book has crafts, journaling, activities, pages to fill in about friends and with friends, ideas and suggestions, Bible verse code puzzles and more! This is a good book if you need some rainy day activity ideas. Chapter 8 is full of games, recipes and ideas.

friendship chain page 58

friendship cracker pages 102-103  (it's filled with treats)
The One Year Devotions for Girls Starring Women of the Bible
The One Year Devotions for Girls Starring Women of the Bible is a daily devo for girls 10-14. I put a journal in the Easter basket with it because each devo has a "Thinking it Through" section that asks girls to apply the devo to their own lives. Having a special journal to write in will help them record their thoughts.

The devos are about well known women of the Bible such as Eve, Rebekah, Abigail, Deborah, Esther and Mary, and the lesser known ones like Caleb's daughter, the five sisters, Huldah and Shiprah and Puah. Topics covered include dealing with changes, struggling with jealousy, overcoming obstacles and sibling rivalry.

Any of the books on this list would be good to add to an Easter basket also.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Easter Pinata in the Making and Crafts

The kids put more newspaper strips on the pinata after school yesterday.

We need to add another layer.

Last post I showed Easter baskets with books in them. I wanted to show you some of the crafts and activites from two of the books. These pictures have been on the blog in the past, so they will look familiar if you've followed this blog or my family one.

Activties and crafts from Just for Me! My Family
Bowling game, My Family pages 19-20

Our original game from when I was creating crafts for the book.

Family Tree, My Family pages 16-17, for my adopted children, we added roots with their birth parents' names

Protect the Egg Game, My Family pages 33-34

Penguin cupcakes, My Family pgs 30-32

Tic Tac Toe Game, My Family pgs 50-51, we ended the games when all the candy had been eaten! You can substitute healthy playing pieces of course.

Indoor Tic Tac Toe, My Family, pages 49-50. The directions are for playing outside, but all the activities can be adapted to your own needs.

Flying Disc Game, My Family pages 66-67

Just for Me! My Family has ten chapters covering family living:
God Made Families
Part of the Family
My Family is Special
My Parents
My Siblings
My Extended Family
Working Together
Playing Together
Serving Together
Special Times

It's good for any family, but it is especially useful for adoptive families to start discussions about what a family is and what place the adopted child has in it. Available HERE

Crafts from The Christian Girl's Guide to the Bible:
When we did the crafts for this book I still had a film camera so I don't have that many pictures of the crafts. But we redid some of them with the twins so I have those.
Shirt of Many Colors page 41
Story of Joseph

Friendship pins page 74
Story of David and Jonathan

Craft table at ICRS
Christmas Star Frame page132

Cross Necklace page 156-157

Jasmine made one for the childrens' pastor too!

There are many more crafts in the book, but I don't have pictures.

Check them out for yourself HERE