Avoid the “clean your plate” club

Has anyone ever encouraged you to eat past fullness? Perhaps as a child you had to eat everything on your plate before being excused. Or maybe you had to clean your plate in order to “earn” dessert. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned dinnertime rules teach us to disregard our body’s satiety signals and often lead to overeating.

God designed our hunger and satiety signals to help us give our bodies the right amount of fuel. It’s important for children to recognize and trust those signals. Here are tips you can talk about as a family to keep everyone mindful of eating “just enough, but not too much.”

Eat slowly. If you wolf down your food, you may overeat before your brain sends the “I’m full” signal.

Be aware of how your tummy feels. As soon as you feel the slightest bit full, stop eating. Take a break, look around, talk with your meal companions, or take sips of water. Use those minutes to decide whether you still feel hunger or are actually full.

Save it for later. It’s okay to stick your plate in the fridge and eat the rest at another meal or for a snack, when you’re truly hungry.

Mealtime is about fueling your body properly and interacting with your dining companions, not cleaning the plate. Enjoy eating with your family and friends.


Beth Bence Reinke, MS, RD (registered dietitian)

5 Ways to Tell if Your Child is Ready to Accept Jesus

I’m a firm believer that God works in the hearts of children just as much as he works in the hearts of adults. And I believe a child can choose to follow Jesus and mean it for life. I also think children are capable of making this important decision on thier own and should never be pressured, guilted or coerced into it. 

That said, parents are their children’s primary teachers and they have a responsibility to share Christ with their kids. Hopefully, this will lead them to accept Jesus as their Savior. But how can you tell if your child is ready to take such a huge spiritual step? How can you be sure he isn’t doing it because his friend is? How do you know he didn’t get pressured into it at church or camp? These are valid questions and concerns. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure your child understands your church’s teachings before she takes that important decision to ask Jesus into her heart. But beyond that, here are some things to help you figure it out. 

Your child is probably ready if:

1. He exhibits a love for Jesus and growing closer to Him. This might be demonstrated by his enthusiasm for going to church, having devotions at home (with or without you), and if he has a prayer life.

2. He asks questions about spiritual matters and/or looks at the world from a spiritual perspective. Does he see a sunset and say, “Look what God did?” Does he readily turn to God when he needs help? Does he wonder where God is when he sees sadness in the world? These are examples of seeing the world from a spiritual perspective.

3. He wants to share his faith with his friends. Inviting kids to join him at church or special church activities shows he’s excited about his relationship with Jesus and wants others to experience it too. Or maybe he’s one who prays for his friends. That’s another way to include his friends in his faith.

4. He understands what commitment is. Accepting Christ is a pretty awesome lifelong commitment and your child needs to understand what’s involved. A commitment is something you don’t change your mind about. It is something to be taken seriously. It means, in this case, that you’ll love Jesus and live for Him forever.

5. You reassure him about his fears and concerns. Your child may be ready emotionally and spiritually, but he may have fears about doing it. When I was a child, accepting Jesus also meant being baptized, but I was afraid of being dunked in the water. Today, accepting Jesus starts with a prayer of repentance and commitment. Baptism may not follow for a few years. But a child sometimes has fears that hold him back from praying that life-changing prayer. He may fear ridicule from his family or friends, or he may be afraid of what accepting Jesus will mean in his life. He may be afraid he’ll fail as a Christian. Your reassurance of whatever fears or concerns he may have will smooth the decision-making process for him.

I encourage you to talk to your child at least once a year about this important step. Make it a part of your casual conversation. Let him know you’ll support him whenever he’s ready to give his life to Jesus and that you trust his judgment to do it when God tells him it’s time. Seeing your child grow in his faith is one of the sweetest things you’ll get to experience as a parent. And when he finally takes the step of accepting Jesus, it’s time to celebrate!

Enjoying spring with your children

It’s spring and all nature is beckoning you and your children to come out and watch the show. Perhaps there are birds building a nest in a tree or a birdhouse nearby.

Look for new flowers. The azaleas have been in bloom in my part of the country for the past couple of weeks. Other spring flowers have already gone, but new ones are showing their faces each day. And don’t overlook the tiny flowers in the grass. They may not be big and showy, but upon close inspection, they are some of the prettiest flowers around and can be found in yards in every neighborhood. This link offers some fun things to do with dandelions.

The new leaves are nearly full size, all fresh and new. It would be a great time to start a leaf collection by picking one or two from each different kind of tree. Press the leaves in a book for a couple of weeks so they will keep their nice green color. An old city telephone book would have the perfect kind of absorbent pages.

Keep your bird feeders and bird baths cleaned and full. You may only get a few glimpses of some birds if they are migrating back north, or you may see some of the new arrivals as they return home.

Plant a flower or vegetable garden, and give your child a row all his/her own. Start with seeds or plants. Pay attention to the requirements for sunlight or shade and the amount of water the plants need to maximize your potential for a successful garden. If you are a beginner, go to a local hardware store and ask for suggestions for plants that are the easiest to grow in your area.

Spring is an exciting time of the year. Share it with your children and encourage them to develop a deep love for nature. You won’t be disappointed if you are continually paying attention to what is happening around you. And your child will treasure the time you spend together in the great outdoors.

The Creation by Janice D. Green


The Empty Tomb

Three grieving but faithful women approached the tomb on the first day of the week. As they neared the tomb they began to discuss how they might be able to roll the heavy stone away from the entrance to the tomb so they could put the herbs and spices they had carried on Jesus’ body to preserve it.

Can you smell the herbs? Did the women hear the birds singing, or were they too deep in their grief to notice? Can you feel the women’s surprise when they discovered the stone had already been rolled away from the tomb? Where was Jesus’ body?

“He is not here; he is risen from the dead!” Their surprise must have been almost beyond belief. The news was beyond their wildest imaginings. Feel their excitement and their joy.

Enjoy “Was it a Morning Like This” by Sandi Patty.

The Creation by Janice D. Green


Good Friday, A Day of Sorrow and Joy


Good Friday is a solemn day in the Christian calendar. It commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus. It is a day of special prayer and fasting. We reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made in dying for our sins. We consider His humility in submitting to His Father’s will.

But Good Friday is also a day of joy. It is a time for us to remember the depth of God’s love for us, which is revealed in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (NKJV)  It is that love Paul spoke of in his letter to the Romans, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NKJV).

Tonight, I will attend a candlelight church service to reflect and pray on the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross. Yes, I will rejoice with my brothers and sisters on Easter Sunday when we celebrate Jesus’s glorious Resurrection, but tonight I will also allow a bit of joy into my heart as I remember how deeply God loves us.