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.



Begin at the Beginning

Parents have all sorts of questions regarding beginnings for their children. When should your child speak his first word or begin eating solid food? When should she start learning to read or begin learning math? When should your child learn to ride a bicycle or how to tie a bow? Educators will debate and parents will disagree, but the bottom line is that the answers often depend on your child’s individual development.

Is the answer the same regarding spiritual things? Is there a right time to begin teaching your child about God?

The answer is simple: begin at the beginning. Begin at the beginning of your child’s life. From infancy, tell him of the Father’s love. Sing to her the familiar words of “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” as you change her diaper. Play fingerplays with him when he wakes from his nap.

As your children grow from infancy into toddlerhood, read the Bible to them at bedtime. Use a children’s Bible to pique their interest with pictures and to hold their interest with age-appropriate vocabulary.

Pray with them at meals, pray before bedtime, pray when they first wake in the morning. Pray with them when they’re happy, thanking God for the source of their joy. Pray with them when they’re sad, showing them the importance of running to their heavenly Father first.

Trusting God will not be a foreign concept for your child. Children have a deep capacity for faith. Think about it. You don’t have to teach your infant, toddler, or elementary-age child to trust you. They wake in the morning trusting you for breakfast, for the clothes they’ll wear, for the roof over their heads. They trust you to protect them from harm. After all, what’s the first thing they cry out when they’re scared? Mommy!

Their deep capacity for faith and trust is just waiting for you to direct them to their ultimate Parent. The One who will be there when you can’t. The One who will carry them farther than you can. And, as difficult as it is to understand, the One who loves them even more than you do.

Begin at the beginning to give them a foundation of trust that will never end.

Book Review: Lily and the City of Lights by Lindsay Bonilla

  • Title:  Lily and the City of Light
  • Author:  Lindsay Bonilla
  • Illustrator:  Alexander Morris
  • Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
  • ISBN-10: 1616331054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616331054
  • SRP: $10.95
  • Reviewed by: Cheryl C. Malandrinos

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

Lily lives in an orphanage in the dark city of Htrae. The people in the city are all poor and work hard, but Lily remembers a lullaby of a beautiful city atop a mountain filled with light and love. She travels to the outskirts of Hrtae to find the old man who knows about this beautiful city and asks him how to get there. When she finds the only way is to make a great sacrifice, Lily isn’t certain she can handle it. Meeting colorful characters along the way, Lily must decide if she can do the one thing that will allow her into the beautiful city.

What a fabulous story by author, freelancer, and performer Lindsay Bonilla. While as a Christian, I see the symbolism and message behind this beautifully told story, any lover of fantasy will enjoy Lily and the City of Light. This tale of one girl’s journey to gain entry into the city of her dreams will captivate young hearts.

The bold illustrations provided by Alexander Morris are the perfect complement to Bonilla’s text. The rounded lines, the vibrant colors, and the expressions Morris is able to capture with his artwork, make this a wonderful story to share with your 5- to 12-year-old.

This isn’t the first time that Bonilla and Morris have collaborated. I hope to see more from them soon!

I received a free ecopy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.