January 2017 Posts

Consider the Groundhog by Dandi Daley Mackall

TyndaleKidsI love animals. I grew up with horses as best friends. As I’m writing this, one of our dogs is trying to worm her way onto my lap, while her sister snores at my feet. We have an abundance of outside cats, raccoons, birds, deer, wild turkeys, and far too many squirrels. (I’ve written about all of them.) And we do have groundhogs.

Animals have taught me many things. Horses offer faithful companionship and an amazing humility as, though nearly ten times my weight, they allow me to ride and guide them. Cats, of course, are a lesson in independence. And dogs, who greet us as if we’ve been gone for years instead of minutes, exemplify unconditional love. If we’re willing to pay attention, I believe our Creator can teach us powerful lessons through God’s creatures.

Proverbs 6:6 says,

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!

But what about groundhogs?

As Groundhog Day approaches, it seems only right that we consider the groundhog. What could we possibly “learn from their ways”?

Groundhogs go by many names: woodchuck, groundpig, whistler, thickwood badger, Canada Marmot, land-beavers, to name a few. They’re rodents, the largest member of the family of squirrels and rats. Try googling “groundhog,” and ninety percent of the hits will offer ways to get rid of the pests and keep them from burrowing in your lawn and garden.

Yet as I considered the groundhog to write this blog, I discovered that I have a lot to learn from them. In spite of all their rodent-esque faults, groundhogs are highly organized, much better organized than I am. A groundhog digs a burrow with separate bedrooms, a bathroom, and a couple of exits, including a super-secret exit that’s hidden until needed. Bedrooms are kept neat and clean, with Mom Groundhog changing sheets of clean, dry grass regularly.

There are other takeaways from considering the groundhog. But as their special day approaches, I turn to the most famous groundhog of all— Punxsutawney Phil.

Every February 2, which is about halfway between winter solstice in December and the vernal equinox in March, we celebrate Groundhog Day. Actually, it’s a little before sensible groundhogs end their hibernation and venture out into the world.

But on this day, Phil, the rock-star groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is brought out to meet his fans, who are hoping against hope for an end to winter. We in Ohio share that hope. Tradition has it that if Phil sees his shadow, we’re in for six more weeks of winter. But if Phil doesn’t see his shadow, we’re supposed to get an early spring. Phil gets it wrong most of the time, and apparently, the little rodent doesn’t care about all those humans who put their hope in him. Frightened by his own shadow, Phil usually races back for cover and six more weeks of sleep.

I don’t think many of us believe Phil has the power to predict winter, even though we hope the guy won’t see his shadow and winter won’t stick around through April.

We hope our team wins, hope we’ll stick with our New Year’s resolution to exercise more and eat less, hope our kids drive safely, hope our friends like their Christmas presents. We toss around “hope” as if the word were synonymous with “wish.”

But biblical hope isn’t a wish. It’s the assurance of things yet to be seen. It’s an all-out trust that we’re in God’s hands. It’s Jesus:

And his name will be the hope of all the world (Matthew 12:21, NLT).

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and    of Christ Jesus, who is our hope . . . (I Timothy 1:1, NASB).

What we hope for is much less important than where we place our hope.

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you (Psalm 39:7, NLT).

When Punxsutawney Phil lets us down, we sigh, bundle up, and say, “Rats!” (No offense to rodents.) “Oh well.”

But hope in Christ is a sure thing. It better be. Otherwise, we’re in big trouble.

If our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world (I Cor. 15:19, NLT).

Sorry, Phil. No matter how cold and long our winter is, I’m putting my hope in Christ.


Dandi Daley Mackall is the award-winning author of over 450 books for children and adults. She visits countless schools, conducts writing assemblies and workshops across the United States, and presents keynote addresses at conferences and young author events. She is also a frequent guest on radio talk shows and has made dozens TV appearances. She is has won several awards for her writing, including the Helen Keating Ott Award for Contributions to Children’s Literature and a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. Dandi writes from rural Ohio, where she lives with her husband, Joe, their three children, and their horses, dogs, and cats. Visit her at DandiBooks.com.


Jesus Is My Lantern Craft by Jesse Doogan

lantern header photo


Days are getting longer, but January always feels a little bit darker after the Christmas decorations are put away. Help your kids out of the January doldrums with this fun paper-lantern craft, and decorate the lanterns with stickers that remind them of who their light is. While you’re crafting, talk about what it means to be the light of the world.


You’ll need: lantern photo 1


1. Trim your construction paper down to a square. This will make your lantern a little skinnier, which will help the candlelight reflect off the sides.

lantern photo 2

2. Fold your paper in half and help your kids cut notches into the folded side of the paper. The notches should be about three inches deep. Make sure you save room to decorate!

lantern photo 3

3. Unfold your paper and add stickers to the top and bottom of your lantern. Leave about one inch of room on each edge.

lantern photo 4

4. Wrap your paper into a tube, overlapping about one inch, and carefully line up your notches. Tape the top and bottom of the lantern.

5. Place over a flameless tea candle, and enjoy your lantern!

lantern photo 5

One Year Devotional Giveaway!

What better time to begin a daily devotional with your kids than the start of a new year?

OY Devos with Jesus Giveaway

Featuring a range of kid-friendly topics, from practical life lessons that Jesus taught to the essential theological truths of His character and deity, The One Year Devotions with Jesus will encourage young readers and help them to know Christ better.

Enter below for your chance to win this devotional for your family!

OY Devotions with Jesus

Under Our Skin Forum – Book Giveaway


On February 16, 2017, please join some of today’s national leaders on issues of race and faith at The Crossing Church in Tampa, Florida—or via www.Livestream.com—for Under Our Skin: A Forum on Race and Faith, presented by Tyndale House Publishers. The 3-hour live event, moderated by ESPN’s Sage Steele, will feature Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson, esteemed broadcaster James Brown, Hall of Fame football coach Tony Dungy, NFL Walter Payton Man-of-the-Year award winner Warrick Dunn, author and speaker Mo Isom, Executive Director of Desire Street Ministries and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, Detroit pastor and author J. Kevin Butcher, and Executive Director of Restoration Academy Ben Sciacca, among others. Music will be performed by Lizzy Cameron. A donation will be made from Tyndale House Publishers to the foundations represented by the forum’s panelists.

After news broke in November 2014 that a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., voted not to indict the police officer responsible for killing Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, Benjamin Watson penned a heartfelt Facebook post that expressed his anger, fear, embarrassment, sadness, confusion, hopelessness, and hopefulness over the situation. One year later, Watson further unpacked his thoughts in his book, Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race and Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us. Since its release, Watson has become a widely recognized voice on the topics of race and faith in America.

Watson’s primary desire in Under Our Skin is to equip readers with tools to engage in issues of race from another’s perspective. The event’s speakers are committed to participating in a forum that will be thoughtful and respectful in its approach to challenging issues. At the conclusion of the forum, viewers will be provided with several steps to take back to their own communities to move the racial divide from an argument or political position toward a place of reconciliation and healing.

To learn more or to purchase tickets to the event in Tampa or the Livestrem, visit: http://underourskinforum.com/


Help us spread the word about this event and enter to win a FREE autographed copy of Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson!


Here’s how to enter:

-Fill out the Gleam form below

-Follow the directions for sharing and you’ll earn extra entries.

-Share on Twitter everyday to earn more entries.

-Use the “refer a friend” feature to earn even more entries.

We’ll pick the 10 winners on Feb 5.




Under Our Skin Forum – Book Giveaway

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