Category Archives: Parenting

A Stroll Through November

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A Stroll Through November

November is finally here and with it comes so many things that I love.  I mean, who doesn’t love sitting around a fire pit making s’mores, watching kids jump into huge piles of leaves, wearing warm sweaters and boots, making soups, sipping on hot chocolate, and occasionally enjoying a yummy slice of apple pie! Then, to top it all off, there’s Thanksgiving!  A holiday filled with family, food, more pie, and time to really reflect on all we have to be thankful for.  The month of November reminds me of taking a leisurely stroll through a beautiful park, filled with the colors of fall, feeling the crisp cool air, and taking in the beauty of Gods creation.  During such a stroll, how could you not want to express your thankfulness to Him?  He continually pours out His blessings on us and we should have humbled hearts filled with gratitude.

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” ( Romans 11:36)

September is a busy birthday-filled month for us.  Then, October is full of fall festivities and school parties to prepare for. Personally, I need the month of November, to recover from the craziness, to reflect on God’s grace that has been continually extended to me, and to really prepare myself for December…the glorious Christmas season…and the anticipation of celebrating our Saviors birth!

All too often we tend to let the hustle and bustle of December creep into our November.  We want to make November our countdown, as we await the madness of the holiday season; when instead we should be letting it cause us slow down and settle into a heart of thankfulness. If we decide to stroll through November, instead of racing to December, and really think about all we have to be thankful for, maybe…just maybe, our hearts would be fuller and our December “wish-lists” would be shorter.

This month, as a family, we are going to take a stroll through November.  I want to encourage my kids, each day, to really think about what they are thankful for and to Whom they should be thankful for such great gifts.

My sister-in-law is always sharing new ideas and ways of building up an attitude of gratitude in our families, especially during the month of November.  She and I share a love for Pinterest, where there are endless ideas you can use to encourage your family to focus on thankfulness during the month of November.  The last few years she has used the same tablecloth for our Thanksgiving meal. Each year we have all of our kids trace their handprint and write on it things they are thankful for.  It’s fun to see what their little hearts are thankful for and it won’t be long before that tablecloth is covered in handprints and lists of the things they loved the most.

I wanted to put my own spin on this idea and have something we could write on each day during this month, but still be able to keep for years to come.  Since I can’t imagine a world were an actual, nice, pretty tablecloth is used at a table were 4 small children eat, I decided to go with a placemat!  Each night, when we sit down for dinner, everyone will say something they are thankful for and it will get written on the placemat.  At the end of the month our placemat will be covered in “Thankfulness” and after a few years we will have quite the collection of placemats to use at family dinners!

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This November we are also making a Thankful Tree.  I found this idea on Pinterest and loved it.  It can be done a couple different ways.  We actually made a cutout of a tree to put on the wall and then we add “Thankful Leaves” to it each day.  It can also be done by collecting a bunch of sticks, placing them in a large vase, and then hanging leaves or tags from it each day (sort of like ornaments). Here is a link to one of the ideas I found on pinterest that actually has leaf printables with bible verses on them for you to reflect on each day as a family.

Here is our “Thankful Tree” so far.  The kids love that it’s a hands on activity and are already excited to see how “full” our tree will be at the end of the month.

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These are just a couple of simple ways we can encourage our kids to be thankful for all that they have as we stroll through this month.  My prayer is that it really will fill their hearts with gratitude and push them closer to our God from whom all blessings flow.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34)

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness 2014

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Four years ago we started a tradition with our kids were we do a daily act of kindness during the month of December to count down the days to Christmas.  It quickly became a hit!  The kids love doing the acts of kindness each day and always look forward to what the next days act will be.  When November rolls around they usually start asking me when they can start doing the “gifts for other people” countdown.

We decided to call them RACKS (random acts of Christmas kindness).

It’s hard to believe it is already our fourth year of doing this and even though we redo a lot of our favorite RACKS each year I also try to add in a few new ideas each year as well.

As I was looking through our pictures trying to decide which ones to share with you, I quickly realized it was hard to just pick a few!  We have so much fun doing these each year and hope that it’s helping teach our kids selflessness, the importance of giving to others, and showing the love of Christ.

So here’s how our tradition goes:

On the last day in November we always decorate the envelopes that we put up for our “Kindness Wall”.  Each envelope has a card inside with a RACK listed on it.  So, each day one of the kids gets to pull the card out for that day and tell us what our kindness act will be.

 

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I also created a RACK tag that gives a little description on it along with some scripture that we

like to add with all of our little gifts.

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Day 1

Color pictures for our Granny in the Nursing Home

I have a grandmother in the nursing home that we don’t get to see that often so we always like to send her pretty colored pictures and a note each Christmas.

Day 2

Bake cookies for our Neighbors

We have great neighbors that live on both sides of us so we always like to take them treats at Christmas time.

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Day 3

Hand out Christmas Cards at the nursing Home

The kids always enjoy telling the residents Merry Christmas as they hand them their card

Day 4

Clean the nursery toys after church

Usually the nursery workers stay after church to clean all the toys so we like to give

them the night off and clean the toys for them.

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Day 5

Send Christmas cards to Soldiers

I found this great organization called Military Missions Inc. that will send your cards to Soldiers for you.

This is one that we do every year!

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Day 6

Leave popcorn on a Redbox machine

For someone to have”Popcorn and a Movie”

This was a new one we added this year.  It was especially neat because as we were leaving the kids were able to watch as a couple came up to the redbox machine to get a movie, read our note, and took the popcorn!

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Day 7

Donate canned goods to the Church food pantry

Our church keeps a food pantry and will donate food boxes to families in need

Day 8

Leave change on a Coke machine

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Day 9

Leave a gift for our Mail Carrier

This is another one we do each year.  Our mail carrier has always been very appreciative and leaves us a thank you card each year!

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Day 10

Buy a hot chocolate for the Salvation Army Bell Ringer

This was a new one for us this year and it worked out great that we knew the young lady ringing the bell that night!

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Day 11

Put candy canes on random cars

This was another new one for this year that we hope made a few people smile!

The little note on each candy cane reads:

You’ve been RACKED

Hoping this little treat brings you cheer! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Day 12

Bake cookies for our other neighbors

Day 11

Day 13

Leave quarters in the candy machines at the Mall

The kids especially love this one because we always give them a quarter to use to get candy for themselves too!

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Day 14

Take soup to the homeless shelter

We do this one every year as well.

Day 13

Day 15

Leave a gift for our Server at a restaurant

We have a favorite Mexican Restaurant that we have become “regulars” at so we have a couple of servers that know us well enough to order for us!  They love our kids and are always so nice to us so we love being able to leave a little extra special treat behind for them after we’ve eaten!

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Day 16

Donate toys to the Goodwill

Day 17

Bake cookies for the Fire Department

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Day 18

Donate books to the library

Day 19

Leave a surprise in a book at the bookstore

This was another new one for us this year.  The kids picked out which book they wanted to put the “surprise” in and we left a little note with it too.

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Day 20

Make Christmas gifts for our Teachers

We always like to make yummy treats to give to our teachers for Christmas.

Day 21

Color a Smile

I found this fun website where you can print off some of their coloring pages, color them, mail them back in to them and they will hand them out to people who need a “Smile”;  like soldiers, veterans, hospital patients, and nursing home residents.

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Day 22

Take coloring books and crayons to the pediatric floor of the hospital

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Day 23

Donate to the Salvation Army

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 Day 24

Take a meal to a family in need

2014 was another great year for us and we always enjoy doing these very small things in hopes of being a blessing to someone else.  It’s been a great tradition for our family and I pray our kids will remember it for years to come.

 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,  you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40

Blessings

Preparing Our Hearts For Christmas

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I love the Christmas season, it’s my favorite time of year.  I love the music, the decorations, the festivities, the food, the continuing on of family traditions, and the starting of new ones.  But, it’s so easy for the true meaning of Christmas to get lost in all the hustle and bustle of this busy season.  This is the time to anticipate and celebrate the arrival of our Rescuer; the coming of our King!  What a glorious day that first Christmas was some 2,000 years ago,  when Heaven came down to earth in the form of a tiny baby, our Savior had come to live…and to die for us all!  There is no greater reason to celebrate Christmas than this!

Through the years we have started some of our own family traditions to help our kids better understand the true meaning of Christmas.  We do a daily random act of kindness during the month of December to count down the days until Christmas.  We hope to teach our kids the importance of giving and learning selflessness, that Christmas is not about what they get, but about showing the love of Christ and finding ways to be a blessing to others.  We read the Christmas story every Christmas morning before we open gifts.  We bake a cake together on Christmas day for Jesus’ birthday; complete with candles and singing.  This year, we are adding a new tradition, we will be celebrating Advent (The coming of Christ). The scripture reading plan for Advent tells the story of God’s plan for salvation, starting with creation and continuing through the Old Testament to the birth of Jesus Christ.

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I have several friends that do this already with their families and I have always been intrigued by it.  As I have read and learned more about it myself, I think it is a wonderful way to prepare our hearts for Christmas.  In the midst of all the business of this season, it is a great way to have a quiet, reflective time each evening with our kids.  Along with our reading, each night we will be making an ornament for our Jesse Tree.  The name Jesse Tree represents the genealogy of Jesus.  Jesse is the father of David, an ancestor of Jesus.  It comes from the prophecy of the coming Messiah.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 

Isaiah 11:1

We will be doing our reading using the Jesus Storybook Bible (which we love and highly recommend!)  If you have the Jesus Storybook Bible already, here is the link  to a great blog where a sweet momma has made up a free printable of the reading plan that goes along with it.  I also pinned the idea for the Jesse Tree ornaments from another sweet mommas blog, you can click here to check out the free printables she has to offer.

Our first night went well, we enjoyed our reading time and we gave the 3 older kids each a different responsibility in making the Jesse Tree ornament.  One got to color it, one got to put it together, and one got to hang it on the tree.  Each night they will rotate these responsibilities.

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If you are looking for a quiet, reflective way to prepare your hearts and the hearts of your children for Christmas, I hope these ideas are helpful.

Blessings!

 

 

 

 

Operation Christmas Child

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The world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, Operation Christmas Child, uses gift-filled shoeboxes

to share God’s love in a tangible way with needy children around the world.

It’s one of our favorite things to do at Christmas time and we make it a family affair.  We take our kiddos to the store and let them each pick out 5 fun things for their shoebox while mommy and daddy pick out the basic necessity items like: soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and hand towels.  We also always try to add pencils, paper, and a bible story book.  We have fun, we play, we fill our cart, and we all take part!

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When we get home we pour out all the bags on the table and let the kids pack there boxes full of all the goodies.  My kids also like to color pictures and write notes to add to their box for a personal touch.  Then, we sit around the table and pray over each box and for the child that will be receiving it.  This is my favorite part…I love hearing the sweet prayers of my little ones for a child they do not know.  My four year olds prayer was, “Thank you God, for this day and thank you for the boy that will get my box because he is the best!” Operation Christmas Child is just a small way we can teach our kids the importance of giving, showing the love of Christ and how it can impact another child’s life in a big way!

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In case you didn’t know:

Since 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has collected and delivered more than 113 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in over 150 countries through Operation Christmas Child.

In 2014, Samaritan’s Purse hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 10 million children through the Operation Christmas Child project. They will deliver the gifts to children in more than 100 countries on six continents.

During National Collection Week, Nov. 17-24, Samaritan’s Purse will collect the gift-filled shoeboxes at more than 4,000 drop-off sites in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Operation Christmas Child also offers the opportunity year-round to pack personalized shoebox gifts online. Go to samaritanspurse.org and click on Operation Christmas Child to select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement, and “pack” them in a shoebox.

Her First Date

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Because that dreaded time of “dating” will eventually come, whether I want it to or not, I can’t think of a better person for my daughter to go on her “first date” with other than her Daddy.  I mean, she’s already pretty smitten with him, right, and the way he treats her is setting the standard in her mind of how all guys should treat girls.  So, let’s set that standard pretty high!  No one’s going to love her, cherish her, treat her with gentleness, kindness, and respect like her Daddy.  I think a Daddy/Daughter date is a great way to model these things for her and make her feel extra special at the same time.

My daughter just celebrated her 8th birthday and, as a special surprise for her, she went on her first date.

When Daddy got home from work he sat down beside her on the couch and asked her if he could take her out on a date.  Of course she said yes, then she and I quickly ran to her room to get her ready for her special night.  She picked out her own outfit and told me just how she wanted me to fix her hair, she was so excited, and I was having a lot of fun helping her get ready.

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After she was all dressed up, had her hair fixed just right, and picked out the perfect accessory for her outfit, she went downstairs to wait for her date to “pick her up”. She was giddy with anticipation just waiting on her daddy to come downstairs!

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Her daddy had picked up some pretty pink flowers on his way home from work and presented them to her when he met her downstairs.

  Yes, it was totally sweet!

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 After all the sweet and mushy pictures, I can’t help myself, they hopped into Daddy’s truck and headed to

her favorite restaurant for a dinner for two.

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They both had a great time and this is just one small way that we can live out Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Here are some other great ideas you can use for a Daddy/Daughter night:

It doesn’t have to be anything super fancy, just take the time to hang out with her and have fun!

  • Go to the movies – take her to see that new Disney princess movie she’s been dying to see.
  • Go fishing – All girls need to know how to bait a hook and their daddy’s ought to teach them! Plus fishing is fun!
  • Go out for ice cream – Who doesn’t like doing this?  Let her pick her own and pile on the toppings!
  • Go for a bike ride – it’s fun exercise and she’ll love just being with you.
  • Go to the Park – hit up the nearest playground or park with her and actually slide, swing, and do the monkey bars with her.
  • Have a Tea Party – There’s nothing more manly than sitting at a tiny table having tea with your little girl!
  • Play a sport – If she’s a sporty girl, go for it!  Shoot some hoops, throw a football, or hit up the batting cages.
  • Go bowling –  what girl doesn’t love picking out another pair of shoes and a little friendly competition?
  • Go shopping – Again, you can’t go wrong here.  Maybe let her help you pick out a gift for mommy 😉
  • Play a board game – my kids love the classics: Candyland, UNO, Jenga, Memory…add snacks and you’re her hero!
  • Go out for breakfast – it can be a simple as Krispie Crème or full on Cracker Barrel!
  • Go to the Zoo – If you live close to one, take her, get cotton candy, and see every animal…twice!
  • Go swimming – this is a perfect activity for the summer months.  Hang out and cool off!
  • Go fly a kite –  I feel like this is a dying passed time, but it’s so fun and kids love it! Have you seen Mary Poppins?
  • Go camping – teach her how to build a fire, roast weenies, make s’mores, and rough it!
  • Take a nature walk – you could even make a scavenger hunt out of it to see what kind of fun things can be found in nature.
  • Cook with her – If you’re a grill master, show her how its done!  If baking is your thing, whip up a batch of cookies together.
  • Color together – if your daughter is anything like mine, she loves to color, and she’ll love it even more if you do it with her!

The list can go on and on. Make up your own, have fun, and spend that special time with your girl.  It will mean the world to her!

Blessings

 

The Strong-willed Child vs. The Impatient Mom

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My first two children were so easy, they really were, honestly.  We had our little girl first and then 20 months later our first boy came.  They both had very laid back personalities. They have always gotten along wonderfully; a twin-like bond.  They played well together and easily entertained themselves.  They slept well, ate well, traveled well, were easy to discipline, easy to teach and eager to learn…they were easy!  So, when our third child came I figured he would just follow suit, right? Well, let’s just say that the word “easy” has never been used to describe L! He is our, rough, rowdy, energetic, loud, strong-willed, determined, high maintenance, full of life, 100% boy!

Needless to say, my world was rocked.  Schedules went out the window and I went into survival mode. My motto quickly became, “Just make it through today!”  Sometimes it seemed like his only mode of communication was to yell or hit.  The bad days started to outnumber the good days and I continually felt like I was failing as his mom.  I tried several different approaches to try to deal with his behavior:  time out, taking away certain toys and privileges, rewards for good behavior, I never “spared the rod”, but all of these were only temporarily effective. Eventually I’d find myself back at the beginning, struggling to not be the mom that loses her patience, yells, sends him to his room and prays that he falls asleep.  Then at night I’m praying that it will somehow get better, surely this is just a phase…right?  Oh, Lord, please let this be just a phase!

About 2 months ago, at the end of a particularly hard day, as I lay in bed, worn out, praying, wondering what to do…I got my answer.  It wasn’t what I expected.  I had been praying so much for my son to change when it was me that needed to change.  I began to pray that the Lord would change me into the mom that L needed me to be. The kind of mom that prays over her son each night and prays with him each day, the kind of mom that remains patient with him so that he too will learn patience, the kind of mom that doesn’t get angry and yell, so that he doesn’t get angry and yell. The kind of mom that gives him grace so that maybe next time he won’t choose to hit.  The kind of mom that understands that he is not the enemy.

But… there is an enemy!

I love what Brook McGlothlin says in her blog:

Sometimes, I’m tempted to let our circumstances tell me my son is the enemy — he’s the one I’m fighting. But then I remember Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” When the days of mothering grow long and make a girl weary, and when what you really want to do is lock your son in his room and throw away the key, it’s good to remember this: Your son is not your enemy. But there is an enemy. That’s right. Our sons have a real enemy, one that wants to steal, kill and destroy them (John 10:10). Thankfully that enemy, according to the Word of God, has an opponent who’s a force to be reckoned with….moms who are willing to get on their knees and cry out for the hearts of their sons. James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with” (The Message).

The Lord began to change me into a more patient, praying mom. Not a mom that prays out of desperation, but a mom that prays with intention. Because of the changes the Lord is making in me, I can see L is changing also. Instead of praying for L’s behavior to change, I am praying for his heart to change.  We are all sinful by nature and apart from Christ, “there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:12b)  Any change in his behavior would only be temporary until he has a change of heart.  So, every night as he sleeps I kneel beside his bed and pray for his heart. I pray that the Lord would, even now, begin to soften and draw his little heart to the saving knowledge of Him.  I pray that he will walk after God, fear Him and keep His commandments and obey His voice. That he will serve Him and hold fast to Him (Deuteronomy 13:4). I pray that he will walk before God, as King David walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that He has commanded him, and keeping His statutes and rules (1 Kings 9:4).

I pray…

 

~My sweet L turns four years old tomorrow, and though he pushes and challenges me in more ways than I ever thought possible, he also brings me such joy, makes me laugh out loud, gives the best hugs, and encourages me each day to be the best mom I can be.  I love him so…more than he will ever know!

 

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