Obedience School…. not just for dogs

On a daily basis I find myself reminding my girls the same things over and over – hang up your backpack, dishes go in the sink, brush your teeth, put your clothes in the hamper – a seemingly endless list.  Often if would be easier to just do these tasks myself, but as their mother I know that the only way they are ever going to learn is do it themselves.  Still, on one particular day I had reached my limit and was tired of my words falling on deaf ears.  “I wish you would just listen and do what I ask the first time!!”  It was a cry for obedience.  At their age, I pretty much know what is best for them, things would run so much smoother if they just listened to my sage wisdom :)

When the moment passed I suddenly was struck about how obedient I was being to my own Father.  How many times had his quiet urgings gone ignored?  How often his encouragement dismissed?  Doesn’t he always know what is best for me and wants me to carry out his perfect plan?  It seemed that my kids weren’t the only ones who could afford to go to obedience school!

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. 2 John 1:6

Reflecting on the command to show our love by obeying our Father, a recent incident came to mind.  After an early dinner, my husband and I took the girls to our gym to go swimming.  We take the same route there several times a week without incident.  On this particular night, however, as we exited the same familiar off-ramp I saw a homeless man holding a sign asking for help.  As many times as we travel this way, I had never seen him here before and felt I needed to do something.  But the girls were excited to go swimming and it seemed kind of a hassle to stop, so we continued the quarter mile to the gym.  Upon arrival, I turned the car around and told my family that I felt God was asking me to take that man dinner.  We picked up a sandwich, coffee and chips and within 10 minutes were back to deliver this stranger dinner.  When we arrived, he was gone.  My oldest started crying “But mom, you said God wanted you to give that man dinner and now we can’t!  We didn’t do what God wanted”.  It was a good lesson to learn as sometimes things don’t always turn out how you wanted – people are unappreciative, unkind or unavailable.  It isn’t always the end result that reflects God’s love, sometimes it is simply obeying the call.




Teaching Your Child to Tell the Truth

We’ve all stood aghast and listened as our child told a whopper of a lie. Sometimes they’re so outrageous you don’t know whether to laugh or cry! Some lies seem harmless and indeed may be. But others can be signals of a deeper problem with honesty that must be addressed. How to know the difference? And how can you tell for sure when your child is lying and avoid falsely accusing him?

When my children were young I used to ask them one simple question to ferret out lies. I’d say with a smile, “Now is that the truth or is it just a good story?” This paints the child in a good light either way so they’re more willing to admit if they just told a lie. It also helps them differentiate the difference between truth and fiction. If it turned out to be “just a good story,” I’d say I really liked it, but in this situation, I really need to know the truth. I’d explain it’s important to tell the truth when asked so people will know they can trust them. Then I’d ask them again, what the truth is for that situation. They usually were glad to tell the truth then. I made sure to praise them for their honesty and being so trustworthy.

Here are some reasons kids lie:

  • They’re afraid of getting in trouble. Who hasn’t done this? In our house, the penalty for breaking a rule was greatly reduced or even done away with if they told the truth about it the first time asked.
  • They want to look important. This could signal some self esteem issues. Make sure you praise this child every time you catch them doing something kind, or performing a chore well. Praise them more for character traits you notice than performance. Also, give them some responsibility you know they’ll succeed at. Everyone needs a job and a purpose to feel good about themselves. Praise them for their hard work or perseverance, even if the results aren’t perfect.
  • They don’t know truth from imagination yet. Children younger than five years old may have a hard time knowing what the truth is because their imaginary play world is so real to them. So help them learn what’s real from what’s pretend before meting out any punishments for lying.
  • To protect someone. This is especially true of older kids. Their friends may do things you wouldn’t approve of and your child may lie to keep their actions from you, even if they themselves aren’t participating in them. They may fear you’ll cut them off from their friend. Assure your child of your love and concern for them as well as for their friend. If possible, partner with them to help the friend. Pray for him and for your child to be a positive influence in their life. Encourage your child to do the same.

Lying can become a prevalent problem that erodes relationships if not addressed when a child is young. Pray for discernment and wisdom as you guide your child toward a life of integrity. And keep a good sense of humor and laugh at the outrageous when it’s obvious he’s just telling a good story!




The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story

Title: The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story

Author: Jan & Mike Berenstain

ISBN: 978-0-310-72087-4

SRP: $4.99

Reviewed By: Melissa Staehli

                                               Rating:   :) :) :) :) :)


Mark 16 – is the Resurrection chapter.  Mark 16:6 says: “He has risen!”

In this book Brother and Sister bear are going to be learning another lesson from their Sunday school teacher about the true meaning of Easter. Missus Ursula wants them to understand that Easter is more than chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps. Brother and Sister get to see a play given by other cubs called The Easter Story.

The beginning of the play talks about a man named Jesus who traveled the countryside teaching about God and what God wanted from his people. The cubs then talk about the many miracles of Jesus and how Jesus was God’s son. They explain how some people didn’t believe in Jesus’ teaching and even doubted that Jesus was God’s son.   Many people gathered ’round to see Jesus coming to the Holy City riding on a donkey crying – “Hosanna!” ( a shout of praise or adoration) People began to wonder if this man called, Jesus, would become too powerful, so Jesus was brought before a cruel judge and the judge ruled that Jesus be put to death on a cross – “Crucifixion” (unjust punishment or suffering). The cubs learn next about what happened on the third day after Jesus died.  “Resurrection” (the act of rising from the dead). Jesus was ALIVE!  He has risen!  Jesus said to go and spread the good news about what has happened. Jesus was then taken up into heaven to sit at the right hand of his Father. “Ascend” (to go upward, to rise, mount).

This book covered everything regarding the true meaning of why we celebrate Easter. Appropriate for young children ages 4-7. Very tastefully done.  Also, there is a sheet of colorful stickers for your children to enjoy.

My opinion – In every aspect of life there needs to be balance.  So many people wonder if it’s ok to give their child an Easter basket?  Is it right or is it wrong?  We have a responsibility as parents to explain to our children the true meaning of why we celebrate this day called – Easter.  In our family we call it Resurrection Sunday.  Jesus is why we celebrate, not bunnies and peeps, or jelly beans.  I don’t think God minds that we give our children an Easter basket full of fun things, just as long as we acknowledge and understand that Jesus is why we celebrate!  So enjoy this wonderful holiday with your family and remember…He has risen!  He has indeed!

Here is what I like to put in Caleb’s Easter basket – books, bubbles, balls, cars, chalk, and some of his favorite goodies.  The look on his face when he receives his basket is…priceless! It makes a mommy’s heart smile ~

Blessings to you all,

Melissa Staehli ~

I Love You to the Moon




For Palm Sunday: The Donkey’s Story

The donkey has a story to tell about the crucifixion on Palm Sunday. This skit requires two people, the donkey and a translator.

To pull it off effectively the person in the role of donkey must be willing to look foolish and to bray his/her heart out as he brays with excited enthusiasm one minute, brays in fear another, and brays in contentment and peace another.

The translator’s job is to translate the braying into language the children will understand. For props I made two brown paper ears and pinned them to my head (yes, I was the braying donkey) and I held my hands (hooves) up to my chest with fingers hanging down as if I were walking on my hind feet. (This probably looks more like a begging puppy, but children have good imaginations.) A rope leash could be around the donkey’s neck as the donkey leads the translator into the church.

It isn’t easy to bray the donkey’s part ahead of the translator and keep it all straight, so I printed notes on a 3X5 card to keep myself in the right place.

The Donkey’s Story

Donkey and translator enter, donkey eagerly leading the way…

Translator: (apologetically) We don’t usually bring animals to church with us, but this donkey insisted on coming with me today. He says he has quite a tale to tell us.

Donkey: Haw He Haw (Try to give inflections of excitement in voice.)

Translator: The donkey says, “Wow! What a day I’ve had today!” (turning to donkey) Won’t you please tell us about it?

Donkey: (Bray trying to give inflections of fear.)

Translator: The donkey says, “It started when two strange guys came and took me away.  I’m a young donkey and have never been away from home.”

Donkey: (Bray: curiosity)

Translator: The donkey says, “These guys led me outside the city where I met a man who was different from any man I’ve ever met. He had the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen. And they looked sad too.”

By the way, do you have a name, Donkey?

Donkey: (Bray: brief – matter of fact)

Translator: The donkey says we can call him Jake. Do you have more to tell us?

Donkey: (Bray: fear followed by wonder of wonders & peace)

Translator: Jake says, “The two strangers helped this kind man to sit on my back. Nobody has ever ridden on my back before, so I started to jump around and toss him right off. But this man was different. I felt peaceful, and I just wanted to do whatever he wanted.”

Donkey: (Bray: excitement)

Translator: Jake says, “He headed me along the main road into the city, and soon there were people everywhere. Everyone was shouting ‘Hosanna’ and ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ It was like this guy was a king on the way to being crowned. I wondered if this could be the Messiah?”

Donkey: (Bray: wonder, distant recollections)

Translator: Jake says, “Then it came to me… Messiah! Yes! Didn’t I remember my mother telling me about something that happened to her grandfather long ago? Mama said her mama told her about it. Jake thinks that a donkey carried the Messiah’s mother to Bethlehem the very night he was born. She said the donkey told about seeing the baby Jesus being born. And then there were shepherds who came and told about angels on the hillside to tell them about baby Jesus.”

Donkey: (Bray: awe)

Translator: Jake says, “Wow! He chose just a little donkey like me to ride! But it couldn’t be, could it? I mean, I’m just a plain ole donkey. Shouldn’t a king be riding a great stallion?”

Donkey: (Bray: as if praying)

Translator: Jake says we should pray… Our Heavenly Father, we thank you for coming to us and for showing us your love. Bless these children and draw them closer to you every day.

Donkey: (Bray: motioning with head to invite to follow and praise Jesus)

Translator: Jake says we can praise Jesus just like the people did on the road to Jerusalem. Let’s shout “Hosanna” and praise Jesus too! (Give each child a palm leaf and lead them around the church saying “Hosanna” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”)

Written by Janice D. Green, author of The First Christmas and The Creation.

Radical Forgiveness and the Ripple Effect

Recently I had the opportunity to be part of a radio interview based around an article I’d written for Priority! magazine. The article, entitled “Radical Forgiveness,” relates the story of my friends Chuck and Auburn Sandstrom. In 2009, Chuck was brutally attacked while having a car towed from a rental property he owned. He went into a coma for a time and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. Today he is alive, walking and talking, however, the affects of the attack still remain.

The amazing part of Chuck and Auburn’s story is that they chose to forgive Chuck’s attacker. And rather than looking to get him a longer sentence, they actually fought to have his sentence lightened, believing that what he needed was not time in prison to make him more bitter, but rather help for his problems with alcohol and the chance to provide for his family.

I have a great respect for both Chuck and Auburn, and their choice to forgive. And yet I know that forgiveness is not easy. It has to be a daily choice. I imagine Auburn having to wake up each day and think of what was stolen from her during that attack, and as a wife myself, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to choose forgiveness on a daily basis.

And yet the amazing thing is how far the ripples of forgiveness extend. During the radio interview, many people were on the phone line in addition to myself. Amongst them were Chuck and Auburn, their pastor, the woman who replaced Chuck at his former job, and the girlfriend of Chuck’s attacker, Erika.

Erika described the change that she had seen in her boyfriend, Michael. How he was now much slower to speak and quicker to listen. How he cared about other’s opinions in a way that he hadn’t before. How he was blown away that someone could forgive him after what he had done and how once he got out of prison he wanted to live a life that Chuck and Auburn would be proud of. A life deserving of the forgiveness he had received.

Erika shared her own shame over being the girlfriend of a man who could do something so horrific. And yet, not long after she had found out about the attack, she discovered that she was pregnant with Michael’s second child, which only doubled her feelings of shame. She described how four times she had driven to the abortion clinic to terminate her pregnancy and how four times she had driven away, unable to go through with it.

As she spoke, I had goosebumps. And I couldn’t help but think about the amazing power of forgiveness. I wonder — how might Erika have felt or reacted differently if Chuck and Auburn had been bent on vengeance and retribution? How might she have chosen to deal with her shame if they had chosen to see her as the enemy instead of embracing her as a friend (which is what they have done)?

The power of forgiveness cannot be contained. Instead, it moves out in ripples that stretch farther and farther beyond ourselves, having an impact on more lives than we can imagine. During this season of Lent, we celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ would leave His place in heaven to walk among us and to die a criminal’s death so that we might be forgiven. The awesome forgiveness of God has spilled over into new life for us! And we who have claimed that life are called to forgive as He forgave, and continues to forgive, us. I like the way that Michael put it when he said that he wanted to live a life worthy of the forgiveness he received. That should be the aim of every believer.

This Lent as you celebrate the awesome miracle of new life that we have in Christ, stop and think about the power of forgiveness and what it has meant in your own life and in the lives of those around you. Think about how God has forgiven you, of course, but also think about the times when you have been forgiven by someone that you wronged or hurt and how that has affected you. And if you have the opportunity to extend forgiveness to someone, don’t delay! For there is no way to measure the impact that one act of forgiveness can have as it continues to ripple outward.

If you are interested in reading the article “Radical Forgiveness” or listening to the radio interview, you can find both at the links below:



Or, to learn more about Chuck and Auburn and their ministry, visit: