Monday, October 27, 2014

Help your children daily see and feel what it means to be a child of God. So valued and loved.

"Freckle Face," an older boy had repeatedly called my son at recess. 

Of course, my son came home upset.
 
How can two small words coming out of a thoughtless kid's mouth put a rift in all that we have been trying to teach our son about how valued and treasure and loved he is?
 
As parents, we all try and teach our children to have self-worth and self-belief. It stinks when the world works against us.
 
A fire was lit in me. My kids need to understand what it really means to be a child of God.  So valued and deeply loved.

 So, I wrote a bedtime devotional activity to do with our children and am sharing it with you.
 
Each week we focus on one truth God tells us about what it means to be a child of God.  We read the same scripture verse all week and we write down one way we see God show up in our life and reveal that truth to us during our ordinary day.  We say our nighttime prayer and our kids go to bed thinking about how valued they are by Christ. 

It is short, simple and powerful.
Life can be hard and we can't always shelter our kids.  But we can help them write on their heart - where it cannot be erased - how important they are because God intentionally created them and calls them His children. They can daily put on God's armor, so that when the insults fly and the challenges come, they can still be confident of who they are.
 
I am so passionate about this.  I would love it if you would pass this information along and share this post.  As mothers, let's link arms and teach our children that they are valued, deeply loved, and children of God.
 

DOWNLOAD THE FREE BEDTIME DEVOTIONAL HERE

 
Introductory letter is in pdf form in the devotional, but posted here also so you could copy and paste it into a word document and personalize it:
My Dear Child,
                We have been thinking a lot about what we want you to learn most while growing up in our home. There are lots of great things we want you to learn. Important things like reading, writing, how to clean your room and how to be a contributing part of this family, but there are things that are even more important.
            We want you to know that you are a child of God. God loves you and intentionally created you with your unique gifts and talents. Jesus wants a personal relationship with you. He is with you every day in the ordinary. He shows up right where you are: at school, at the park, at home, at church and when you are hanging out with your friends. He wants you to see Him, to feel Him, to know Him and to invite Him into your heart and into your life.
            God calls you His child - His treasured child - and He wants you to know what that really means. God makes a lot of promises in the Bible that teach us what it means to be His child. We are going to read a promise each night and think of one thing in our ordinary day that points us to seeing and feeling God in our everyday life. We are going to let God write on our heart, where it cannot be erased, what it means to be a child of His.
            People and life situations will sometimes tell you differently. Not everyone understands that everyone is a child of God. Sometimes people get too busy or careless and send the wrong message to others, whether they mean to or not. They might say that you are not good enough, or smart enough, or fast enough, or tall enough…
             Even dad and I, as your parents, sometimes accidentally tell you otherwise. Your dad and I love you more than life itself. We love you to the moon and back. We love you so much that it takes our breath away. We try our best to be great parents, but we are human and we sometimes we get tired or crabby or stressed. We might even sometimes make you feel not good enough, or smart enough, or fast enough, or tall enough…but we do not mean to. That is why we want you to know the truth of Jesus’ message.
We want to share God’s truths with you so that no matter what, you will know what it means to be a child of God. You will know how loved and cherished you are not by just your family and friends, but by God.
            My prayer for you is that you invite Jesus into your heart and grow in your friendship with Him. No matter what life throws at you, we want you to remember these truths. Deep in your heart, we always want you to feel God’s joy, peace, love and beautiful hope.

                                                                                                Love,

                                                                                               Dad and Mom

Grateful to be linked to Christian Mommy Blogger & these blogs.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cute photo ideas using old Halloween costumes.

If you want to check out some fun idea for costumes head over to Simple Moments Stick.  My three boys - in all their super hero glory -  are one of the featured costumes over there. The pictures are from just two years ago, but oh how they look so young!  Time - sometimes good comes out of you, but sometimes you are my enemy.
 
Also, I found a great picture floating around the internet. A little girl was sitting on a stool, reading a magazine and all her princess dresses were on a clothes line behind her.  She was taking a break from all her royal responsibilities.  It was so cute.  I didn't pin it so it is lost to me, but I thought it was a great way to reuse some of the fabulous Halloween costumes we have.
 
My little superheroes...taking a rest break...

...laughing at how many close calls they had in their adventures...
 
and posing for their fans.
 
Adventure is so important to my boys.  These photos tell a little bit of their story and speak volumes to me as their mother.

 
Linked to: these blogs and Christian Mommy Blogger

Monday, October 20, 2014

Once a Month - September/October

We have been on a family mission to show God’s love in a more tangible way. (If you want to read about why we started this journey, read HERE.) I didn’t want this to just my husband and I’s idea, I wanted God to work in their hearts and move them to notice ways that they could give to others. This month – or rather two months – we encouraged our kids to listen to their heart and see how God nudged them towards giving, helping, serving, kindness…  God nudged my husband and me to give to a local food pantry. Our oldest son gave up first base during PE because his classmate really wanted to that position. Our youngest son told us with a huge grin on his face, “I was really nice to everyone at daycare.”

I have to talk about our sweet middle son and what an amazing couple of months he has had. Our middle son is all boy. He has a warrior’s heart and best connects with people by taking them down. He is our protector and I love this about him. It is rarer that we get to see his gentle side; the sweet boy who notices others needs and extends his kindness to them. Since this encouragement, I have noticed him serving us more: sharing more with his brothers, helping me around the house…. But what really impressed me was what his teacher told me at conferences. At school, he received a blue ticket (apparently only a few of these are given out) because during partner work time, he said he would work with anyone. A few days later, I found out there was more to the story. My son had volunteered to partner with his down-syndrome classmate. He has befriended this little boy and is excited about playing with him. Oh my goodness. My little warrior has a gentle and kind heart.

This has made me think.

When we invite Jesus into our lives, He promises to live in us. That means all of those wonderful qualities about Jesus that make us want to follow Him live in us.
                                      
Those qualities that I desire to be bigger in my life: kindness, gentleness, patience, a positive attitude…they are already in me. I just need to make room for them to grow. Sometimes this is intentional, like our family mission to serve more. Sometimes, it just means making space in my life for doing things that rejuvenate me such as writing, reading, jogging, photography – they all give my brain time to ponder and help me to see God in the everyday beauty that surrounds me.

What an exciting thought: God lives in us and is capable of anything.

I have seen this in our Once a Month journey. I started it longing for my heart to want to give and serve more. I wanted to notice others needs and actually do something about to help when I can. We have been doing this for a year. I blogged about this journey to hold me accountable.

God has changed my heart. This will be my last blog about giving, because my change is real. My thoughts have changed from: Should we give this month? to Where should we give?

God really can change hearts.

May we always be bold enough to do what we need to do to allow Jesus to grow in our lives.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Courage

Courage is where I am in my faith.

I have better learned how to discern God's voice in my life; to feel His gentle nudge and interpret what He writes on my heart.  I believe that He gives me - just like everyone else - talents and gifts. I believe He uses the desires of my heart and these gifts to lead me in His direction.

I can sit and think that these thoughts are lovely, yet be scared to actually follow Him.

I admire the courage that I see in others: courage to retire, leave all things comfortable and move near your daughter; courage to take a new job that requires your family to move; courage to quit a job that doesn't feel right; courage to teach Sunday School when it is out of your comfort zone; courage to take time for yourself and develop whatever your craft is in the midst of all the busyness; courage to carry on despite pain and hardships; courage to dream big; courage to know when to pull back and when to push forward; courage to be a good wife and mother....

So, in my life, I pray for courage.  I pray that I will be brave enough follow His voice.  I pray for courage to believe that God sees me as enough, exactly as I am.  I pray to know that God can use my life to point others to His love, peace and hope that He so freely gives.

When I saw this piece of art, I was moved.  It spoke to me of this courage. Courage to follow my heart. Courage to follow Jesus.

I will never be too old to remind myself that life takes courage. I surprised myself and bought the art for our bedroom. (Our DIY Bathroom/Bedroom remodel is almost done!)

What lovely words to look at each day.
 
As a side note - I found out my blog post on, "A Morning Prayer" was featured on Beautiful Ashes.  I am always a little amazed when another blogger chooses to feature one of my posts.  Grateful.
 

Friday, October 3, 2014

A morning prayer...

Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV):
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him."

My sister gave me a great piece of advice.  She told me that each morning, she lays in bed and prays to see her day, and specifically the people in her day, through God's eyes. 

When I take her advice and ask God to help me see people and situations through His love, grace, kindness...though Him, it completely transforms my ordinary day.

When my kids pour milk into their cereal by themselves and more milk ends up on the counter than in their bowl, I can see a conspiracy by my boys to make me clean up one more thing.  When I look at the situation through God's eyes, I am glad my boys tried to do something by themselves.  (And really, doesn't it take me about 1/2 a second to wipe up the spill or remind them to?)

When I can't find my cell phone or car keys, I get so frustrated that I am - once again - wasting my time looking for something.  When I look at it through God's eyes, I am grateful I have a car to have keys to and cell phone to look for.

When I get cut off in the line to drop my kids off at school, I see the person as rude.  When I look at her through God's eyes, I see a busy mother who maybe had a tough morning and is just trying to get everyone where they need to be on time.

When I feel sad to drop my four-year-old off at daycare, I can look at it with gratitude for his amazing daycare that he loves and a part-time job that I love.

Like all high school teachers, my students can present a million challenges in a day to me.  When I see my job through God's eyes, I see how important a teacher is.  I am reminded how grateful I am to my sons' teachers who have taught my boys and encouraged them in different ways than I was able to as their mother.  I can play that role in my own students' lives. It is important for me to be consistent as their teacher, but above all be kind, affirming and encouraging to their delicate souls that are not so tough as teenagers often act.

When my eye doctor is moody and rude through the whole appointment, I leave thinking how unprofessional she was.  When I look at her through God's eyes, I am reminded that I don't know her full story.  (I later found out she was fighting terminal cancer.)

When I stand in my kitchen and ask myself - once again - why my family always wants a meal; I can feel tired of the monotony.  When I see through God's eyes, I am grateful that I live in a country with an abundance of food that we can afford.  (And that He so kindly blessed me with a husband who is happily our weekend cook.)

When I look at people through God's eyes, I treat people kinder.  Instead of reacting to people with the emotions I feel in the moment, I can pause and readjust my focus.

But the funny thing is that the blessings that I intend to fall on others, lands heavier on me.

I am kinder to myself.  I am the type of person that thinks everything is my fault.  Even when it doesn't make sense. (The other night we were at my oldest son's football game and his trophy was stepped on and broke.  My instant thought was that I should have gone over and asked if he needed me to hold anything.  What??? I didn't know his coach had given him his trophy at the beginning of the game and that my son would set it by his water bottle.  I expect myself to always know when my son might have something I need to hold for him?  Crazy thoughts.)  Learning to extend grace to myself is a beautiful thing.

Looking at my day through God's eyes settles my heart. I am happier when I don't let the little frustrations of daily life bother me so much.

At the end of the day I can more freely say, "It is well with my soul."

Lord, each morning help me to look at people through your eyes.  Not the face that we often put on but as people dealing with individual challenges who need each other's grace and understanding.  Help me freely give the grace and compassion to others that you give to me.

Throughout life's monotonies and daily frustrations, Let my soul always deeply feel your sustaining hand in my life and your consistent peace that hope in you provides.

When I have a hard time seeing through your eyes, help me to know that faith is a journey and help me feel that beautiful fresh start that every morning brings.

No matter what, may it be well with my soul.
This is one of my favorite pictures of the first time my boys played in and experienced the ocean.
 A magical moment.
 
 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mother/Son Photo Ideas

Of all the inventions that people have come up with, I do not see why we haven't invented something to freeze time.  Or even just bottle up moments so we can walk back into them and visit them anytime we want.  My babies grow too fast and it really bothers me.  My heart breaks a little bit each time one of my boys turns a year older.

So, my inexpensive therapy???

I have tried to come out from behind the camera and be in pictures with my sons more. 
 The camera is the closest invention we have come up with that captures a moment. 

I will take it...well, until someone comes up with something better.

I have been playing with Photoshop and different ways to edit.  Here is what I came up with.

Grateful to link to these blogs and Christian Mommy Blogger.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

To Follow

Once a Month - August
 
I didn't want to give this month.  We are remodeling our leaky bathroom and it has gotten expensive, so my heart was just not into our family commitment to serve the Lord through giving and serving others more. (If you want to read about why we started this giving/serving more journey, click here.) 

We were at church and there was a call to help buy school supplies for those in need.  My heart tugged but my head stood firm in skipping giving this month.  I had just bought my own kids school supplies and I didn't want to buy more for someone else.

Later that day, my younger two sons and I were at the store. When we walked by the school supplies, God whispered to my heart for us to buy them.

I have made a commitment to try and listen to God's voice in my heart and actually follow.  Wouldn't it be so cool to really live a life that honors God?  To actually hear Him, feel Him and follow Him?  That is what I am trying to do and I find the promises of joy that He talks about in scripture erupt in my life like firecrackers.  Promises such as:

 "Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Phillipians 3:8, NLT)

"I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will
overflow!" (John 15:11, NLT)

So when I felt God's nudging in the store, I decided to move.  I let my middle son pick out all the school supplies.  (Partly in hopes that he would remember our family giving and serving mission - if you missed that post click here.)

But sometimes, God works in funny ways.

Later that evening I was surprised by a huge blessing. 

My neighbor asked if I wanted to go through and take any of her work clothes she was donating.  I needed to buy some more work clothes but I hadn't had time to shop by myself and after paying so much this month for our much needed bathroom remodel, I didn't want to spend the money on myself.  But here she was giving me three cute dresses and a bunch of nice shirts.  I didn't have to spend any of my time or money on some new work clothes.

God provided me something that I needed.

It reminded me of the saying, "What goes around comes around." 
Or Luke 6:38: "Give, and it will be given to you." 

I felt so humbled.  I have heard many sermons on the blessings you receive when you give, but for some reason, I have a hard time fully believing them.  Yet the timing in this situation was awful coincidental for me to deny that God blessed me.

God, you are so kind to me.  Help me to continue to hear your voice; let it move my soul and help me to be bold enough to follow you.