Pineapple Cross Centerpiece

Looking for a pretty centerpiece for your Easter table? How about a pineapple? The exotic-looking fruit is a symbol of friendship and hospitality. American colonists often used a whole pineapple as a centerpiece at dinner parties.

It’s easy to carve a pineapple into a cross for an Easter centerpiece. Cutting the pineapple is a job for adults but children can help arrange the garnish.

What you need:

a large pineapple (taller is better)

sharp knife

cutting board

strawberries

 

What to do:

1. Cut off top and bottom of pineapple. Slice off outer shell from top to bottom.

 

 

2. Using the knife, mark a 1 to 1-1/2 inch thick stripe across top center of pineapple.

 

 

3. Using the marks as a guide, slice straight down to within 1-1/2 inches of bottom. Then slice inward, leaving enough pineapple intact at bottom to form a base for the cross. Repeat on other side.

 

 

4. Cut small, squarish chunk from each side of top.

 

 

5. Slice out rectangle from each side at bottom to finish cross.

 

 

6. Cut rest of pineapple into chunks.

7. Place cross on plate and garnish with pineapple chunks or strawberries.

Have you noticed strawberries resemble hearts? For a special touch, place a strawberry at the foot of the cross as a symbol of giving our hearts to Jesus. The pineapple and strawberry provide a great opening to talk about the Easter story with children or dinner guests. Easter blessings to you and your family!

 

 

Beth Bence Reinke, author and registered dietitian

Making Lent a Family Event

Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter, begins today, Ash Wednesday. Christians often give up something they value during this time to help them focus on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  I haven’t always given something up for Lent, but I believe the practice is good and it’s one families can do together. But how do you start?

First, explain Lent to your children so they understand why they’re being asked to consider giving something up. Talk about what it means to sacrifice something. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What is a sacrifice?
  • Is it a sacrifice to give up something that isn’t all that important to you?
  • Is it a sacrifice if you’ll never miss it?
  • Why do we give up something at Lent? (because Jesus gave up His life so we could be forgiven of our sins)
  • What can you do without to show Jesus how much you appreciate His sacrifice?
  • If Jesus gave us His life, is anything too big for us to sacrifice?
  • Is it easy or hard to sacrifice something?

Let children choose what they’d like to give up for Lent. No one should be forced to give up something if they don’t want to. The idea is to do it with a grateful, not resentful, heart. If giving something up until Easter seems too long, suggest a shorter time period. Or let them give up one thing for the first week, and another thing the next week, and so on. The list below may give your family some ideas of things to sacrifice.

  • Watching TV, or at least a favorite show
  • An electronic item (computer, iPod, handheld game, gaming system, anything with a screen)
  • A favorite food
  • Facebook or any other favorite social network or Web site
  • A favorite hobby
  • Going out to eat
  • Playing a favorite sport
  • Buying unnecessary items
  • Wearing a favorite shirt or outfit
  • Talking behind people’s backs or any other bad habit
  • Drinking soda or eating candy
  • Swearing

8 Tips for supporting one another as you sacrifice:

  1. Have a family check-in each evening. Find out how each person is doing on their sacrifice. Ask if there are things you can do to make it easier for them to follow through on their commitment.
  2. For each day everyone is successful in sticking with their commitment, put a dollar (or whatever amount you decide) in a jar. At the end of Lent, use the money to celebrate your success and all Jesus has done for you. Or donate it to a favorite charity.
  3. If someone has a day when he fails to follow through on his sacrifice, reassure him of your love. Find out what made it hard to do and ask if there’s anything you can do to help him do better tomorrow. Come up with specific steps to help him succeed, such as keeping the sacrificed item out of sight.
  4. If a child has chosen a sacrifice that is unrealistic, allow her to choose another one.
  5. Focus on how Jesus loves us. He forgives us even when we fail. He loves us even when we’re not perfect. That was the whole reason for His sacrifice.
  6. Remind children that sacrifice is hard. It isn’t supposed to be easy or fun.
  7. Whenever you or your kids miss or think about the thing you’re giving up, use it as a reminder to thank Jesus for dying for them.
  8. Come up with a family phrase to say or think when you miss whatever you’ve sacrificed. How about one of these?
  • “Thank you, Jesus, for your love.”
  • “This is a piece of cake!”
  • “Since Jesus gave up His life for me, I can give up _______.”
  • “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NLT).

Lent is a special time to draw closer to God and each other. May He bless your sacrifice beyond anything you can ask or imagine!

The Challenge of Writing for Children

When people find out I am a children’s author, the response is always positive. I hear comments like, “Oh how fun!” or “I am so jealous!” Writing books for children is fun, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But fun does not mean easy. The more you learn about writing for children, the harder it gets, because you realize there is much to learn and know about this genre.

For me, writing for children began as a passion, then turned into a career which turned into a ministry. Since parents are the ones who usually read books to their children, I am also writing for them. Children’s books need to be age-appropriate in language, concepts, and content. But in order to avoid the mundane “Dick and Jane” type books, they also have to engaging, fun to read, and have a lesson or purpose. They have to appeal to both the child and parent.

Writing for the Christian market adds an added dimension that is both challenging and rewarding. The spiritual lessons or biblical truths need to fit into the story naturally rather than forcefully. The spiritual lessons also need to be age-appropriate. Young children understand what it means to be special or loved, but how do you explain the concept of God’s grace to a preschool child?

My friend Ava Pennington is a Bible teacher and author of devotional books for adults. She has a desire to teach children spiritual truths while they are young, so that they will have a deeper understanding when they become adults. She came to me with an idea for a series called Faith Basics for Kids. Together we created a picture books series that teaches spiritual truths to children in a kid-friendly way. The first book in the series is Do You Love Me More? and it teaches about God’s grace. The second book is Will I See You Today? and it teaches children how they can be sure God is real. We are excited about these books published by Standard Publishing, because they address deeper topics, but also reach children at their level. In the back of each book is an addendum for parents and teachers to further explore each topic.

I have several more books to tell you about in the coming weeks and months. But for now, these are the ones worth checking out.

Blessing!

Crystal

Me…a Teacher?

You may not have a college degree. If you do, you may not have a degree in education. Your occupational background may be accounting or auto mechanics, sales or construction, customer service or medical transcription. It doesn’t matter. If you have children or grandchildren, you are a teacher.

Yes. You are your child’s teacher.

Your children might attend private preschool or public elementary school. They may be enrolled in your church’s nursery or Sunday school. They might have the most fabulous teachers in the world. But those teachers are not the most important influence on your children. You are.

You don’t need a degree, certification, or a title. You’ve been appointed to this role by God Himself.

Your mission is found in Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Your mandate is explained in Deuteronomy 6:5-7a: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.”

Your classroom is your home. But Deuteronomy 6:7b tells us it’s also your car, the supermarket, the park, and anywhere else you find yourself with your children. “Talk about [God’s commandments] when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Your curriculum is the Word of God. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Your capability comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ. “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Teach them with your words when you think they’re paying attention. Teach them by your example even when you don’t think they’re paying attention.

Teach your children as if it’s the most important job you have…because it is.

Book Review: Peter: Rock Star from Galilee by Sherree Funk

Rating:  :) :) :) :) :)

This eight-week Bible study for teens combines music, Bible learning, and modern-day applications. Each week begins with a playlist of songs that are a mix of contemporary Christian music and traditional hymns. Various aspects of Peter’s life are covered: his calling by Jesus, his stepping out onto the stormy sea, his denial of Jesus after His arrest, the miracles he performed in the name of Jesus, his legacy, and more!

Readers get a preview of the week’s study to help spark initial discussions. There are questions and exercises along the way. The “Chew on This” moments give teens time to consider things like their blessings, while the “Christian Reality Challenge” blurbs cement learning. The “Jam Session” at the end of each week includes questions to get teens thinking about how the Bible applies to them today. Then the replay wraps the week up for them to round out discussions. Also included are maps and historical photos.

As a Sunday school teacher, I am always on the lookout for engaging new materials for our young people. Peter: Rock Star from Galilee definitely has what it takes. With sound Bible learning and music, this Bible study will meet kids where they are today. I’ve already shared it with our youth group leader and she’s excited about it. If you are in youth ministry, you’ll want to take a peek into this one.

I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.