Valentines Day – joy or disappointment?

Tomorrow is Valentines Day. Can you think back to a time in your childhood when you felt left out, especially on Valentines Day? Of course you received a box full of valentines from most, if not all, of your classmates. But you couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of the girl who got a box of chocolates or flowers along with her valentines.

In recent years schools have been bombarded with flowers and gifts for students on Valentines Day from sweethearts and from parents and relatives – which means once again the “haves” will shine while the “have nots” will do their best to maintain a happy face in spite of feeling left out.

How do we prepare our children for Valentines Day? Parents usually have some idea whether their children are likely to get the super-valentines or not. A little parental wisdom might be helpful whichever side of the fence the child is on.

The fortunate children can be taught to recognize that other children are hurting. They might find ways to “share the love.” Perhaps they could offer a piece of candy out of their box of chocolates to the friend who feels left out. Most importantly, they can show kindness rather than putting on airs of superiority.

But what can you do if your child is among the ones who are not likely to receive a super-valentine? You might share a time in your childhood when you were disappointed on Valentines Day. Let your child know these feelings are normal. You might also ask how many children received super-valentines, then compare that number to the number of children in the class. This might help your child to recognize that not receiving a super-valentine doesn’t make him/her strange, but very normal.

Above all, find a way to let your child or children know how special they are in your eyes. Serve a super-special supper on Valentines Day with their favorite foods and a desert that says “I love you” in its own way.

If for some reason you are unable to do something special on Valentines Day, you might plan something on an alternate day and let them look forward to it. But if the promise is made, it must be kept or the disappointment over Valentines Day will sting more profoundly than if you had ignored the day completely.

Suggestions for things to do with children on Valentines Day:

  • Make homemade valentines and/or gifts for relatives. (click here for ideas)
  • Bake a strawberry cake or serve strawberry shortcake.
  • Visit a shut-in and give him/her a homemade valentine.
  • Watch a Charlie Brown Valentines Day video.
  • Visit the park or zoo if it is warm enough.

Enjoy your Valentines Day. Share the love of  Christ with someone who may feel alone today.

Reading the Bible with the Children You Love

I remember sitting in first-grade reading circle when the letters on the large book on the easel suddenly formed words. Sit, Spot. Run, Jane. Run, Dick.

I could read!

Not long after that, my mother took me to the children’s library in our town to get my very own library card.

From then on I read nearly nonstop. Cereal boxes at the breakfast table. My Brownie and Girl Scout handbooks.  “Dear Abby” in the newspaper. Stacks and stacks of library books. But my childhood love of reading didn’t translate into a love of reading the Bible until many years later.

I’m not sure why. The Bible seemed mysterious. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Why didn’t that shepherd guy (there was always a picture of King David as a young shepherd) want the Lord?

Although I had a children’s Bible, no one opened it up with me and said, “Let’s get to know God better.” I’m not faulting anyone. We all do the best we can at the time. My parents took me to church every week. I had dedicated Sunday school teachers. I went to VBS. I heard the stories. I sang in the choir. God managed to get hold of my heart somehow. But I wasn’t firmly rooted. Not for a long time. I needed to know the word of God.

Are you a parent, grandparent, or child care provider? A favorite aunt? An amazing array of Bible storybooks and children’s Bibles awaits you in bookstores and online. In my next posts, I’ll provide some guidelines for choosing the right ones for the children in your life and some tips for using them.

You can read to your children directly from a full-text Bible as well. Have you ever wondered if that can work? Would it hold their interest? Can they understand it? What do you do about the parts that need censoring for a few more years? (The Bible is anything but candy coated!) Here’s a link to an article with fascinating insights to those questions:

Until next time, I pray for all our beloved children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, to understand clearly that God’s words are the path to knowing him and the path to life. It’s never too late to read the Bible, and it’s never too early to start.

Question: Does your family read the Bible aloud?

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© 2012, Diane Stortz



Valentine’s Day Salad

As Valentine’s Day approaches, your children or grandkids may be breaking out the construction paper, scissors, glitter and glue. Along with red paper hearts come lots of sweet treats. Kids love baking heart-shaped cookies and eating candy hearts, but the sugar adds up fast. For a fun treat full of antioxidants, try this Valentine’s Day recipe using bell peppers – red ones, of course!


Red Bell Pepper Hearts Salad

You will need:

1 bag mixed salad greens

1 pint cherry tomatoes

3 large red bell peppers

small heart-shaped cookie cutter* (metal is better)

What to do:

Wash mixed greens and arrange on plates. Wash tomatoes and peppers. An adult can cut tops off peppers and remove seeds. Use cookie cutter to cut out as many hearts as possible from pepper bottoms. Arrange red pepper hearts and cherry tomatoes on a bed of salad greens. Top with your favorite dressing and enjoy. Serves 4-8, depending on size of salads.

Toddlers and preschoolers can wash the veggies in a colander, using cool water. Kids may need help with the cookie cutter because the outer skin on bell peppers can be a little tough.

Red bell pepper hearts are great for dipping, too! 

*If you don’t have a tiny heart-shaped cookie cutter, an adult can use a paring knife to cut heart shapes from the pepper.

Blessings to you,

Beth Bence Reinke

Building Your Child’s Character

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV)

We all want their children to live effective and productive lives. The only way to do that is to raise them to have good character. But how do we do that? Here’s an activity based on 2 Peter 1:5-8 that you can do with your kids to help them understand the process. 

Supplies: 36 building blocks

Overview: Starting with a foundation of faith consisting of eight building blocks, build a tower of character, each new row representing a new character trait.. With each new level, use one less block. You’ll end with one block on top representing love. Talk about the traits with your kids as you build. What does each one mean? How does that trait act in real life? Can you think of someone who exhibits that trait? Which is hardest for you to do every day? Which is easiest? Remind kids that with God’s help, they can have all these traits growing in their lives.

  1. Lay eight building blocks side by side, sides touching. This is your foundation of faith on which all other qualities stand. By necessity it must be the largest and strongest section to hold all other character traits firm and steady in our lives. How do we get stronger faith? By watching God at work and acknowledging His answers to prayer.
  2. Lay seven blocks side by side on top of the faith foundation. This is goodness, or moral excellence. It helps you make good choices, using the Bible as a guide. It needs to be almost as big as your faith foundation, since every day bad choices put a life way off course.
  3. Lay six blocks on the row of goodness blocks. This is your knowledge. You gain knowledge and understanding about spiritual matters by reading your Bible, praying, and going to church. Build a relationship with God to increase your knowledge.
  4. Lay five blocks on your knowledge row.  This represents self-control. People can’t always do whatever pops into their minds. They have to use self-control or discipline to do the right things at the right times.
  5. Lay four blocks on the self-control row. This row is perseverance. Your blocks may be starting to get harder to balance. That’s just like it is in life. These traits are hard to put into practice every day. They may fall over and you have to start building again. That’s where perseverance comes in. You never give up doing the right thing. Keep trying! God will help you!
  6. Lay three blocks on the row of perseverance. This is godliness. The Message calls this “reverent wonder” and the Contemporary English Version calls it “devotion to God.” It’s easy to be godly when you’re at church, but more difficult to achieve in everyday life. Look for God in the ordinary. Praise Him for sunsets, laughter, His Word, and your family. Teach your children to call on Him when they hear a siren, have decisions to make, or need help on a test at school.
  7. Lay two blocks on the godliness row. This row represents mutual affection or brotherly love. This is love for fellow believers. How can you show love to people you go to church with?
  8. Lay the one last block on top of the mutual affection blocks. This is love, especially love for those who are different from you. They may believe differently, come from a different financial status, or a different background or country. They are “the least of these” Jesus talked about in Matthew 25:40. That’s why it’s on the tippy top. It’s hard to carry out. It falls off easily. But when you love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14). How can you love people who are hard to love? You can’t–not by yourself. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (NIV). Tell God you want to love that difficult person and ask for His help.

My friend, Janice Green, also blogged on 2 Peter 1:5-8, calling it God’s growth chart. You can read it at She even has a cute growth chart poster you can print out at

Have fun building character into your kids’ lives! Pray for God’s help in modeling good character. Praise them when you see them display a good character trait. They’re on their way to being effective and productive citizens.

Twins On The Way



My husband and I abandoned the empty nest and moved from the US to Canada where we are working as church planters along side the Canadian Baptist Mission Board in joint effort with the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board.  When we left the US we had 3 Grandchildren and expected some day our daughter might have another child, but our son and his wife said they were finished and happy with two.  This past summer our daughter who had been trying for several years and lost one baby in its first trimester about a year ago announced she was pregnant with twins!

My first reaction was almost shock and horror. I know this is a blessing and have thanked God since then, but the initial reaction was to question why God had blessed our daughter so abundantly when we were not going to be in the area to help.  I was sure He knew all that, but I didn’t. As a mother myself in 1977 and 1980, having carried two babies full term and having 2 C section, I can not even imagine carrying two babies even to 33 weeks which is where our daughter is now.

She had her shower at 29 week, and then a week later went to the hospital for a pain in her side she thought was her kidney but it turned out she was in labor?  They gave her meds to stop her labor and kept her over night and she received the injection for the babies’ lungs to develop in case she went back into labor and then sent her home and told her to try to wait another 2 or 3 weeks. Is that the power of suggestion?

That was two weeks ago, every day now she calls on the phone sending me running to the phone wondering if this is it!  She calls with questions like: I am getting so big with babies I have trouble turning over at night.  I am a problem solver so I think of things like, maybe use a sheet around your middle and pull your belly over when you turn, or sit up and then just lay back down with your head at the bottom of your bed.  I think I have prayed every day for her health as well as the health of her unborn boys. Yes, I said boys – the rarest form for twins.

They are both in their own sack so we thought they were fraternal twins but her doctor said if they are the same sex, they wont know until they are born if they are identical or fraternal because if the egg separates at just the right time identical twins can be in their own sacks!  Wow, we did not know that, so the mystery is on! I will be sure to let you know when we find out.  Her due date at the beginning was March 12.  After we found out they were twins, the doctors told us that if they are 4 to 5 weeks early it is no problem, especially with twins.  Full gestation for twins is 38 weeks and she is approaching her 38-week near the end of February.

Whenever they arrive I will be making my way back to the US to help her, and then have to tear myself away to come back home.  Well at least spring will be approaching by then.  I will be sure to keep you posted.