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Easter Activity & Teaching the love of Jesus through Everyday Moments

IMG_4725The other day, my daughter, Brooklyn, was mad at her sister for not sharing the fort builder sticks. When Brooklyn came down to talk about it, I first asked her to put her and her sister’s plate in the dishwasher. To my surprise, Brooklyn didn’t say a word but just did it, even though she was frustrated with her sister.
When I see a teachable moment, I try to jump on it.
I huddled our kids together and shared how Brooklyn had loved like Jesus loves us – even though we sin and mess up, Jesus still loves us deeply and even gave his life for us. When Brooklyn chose to wash her sister’s dish, she was still frustrated with her, but she did it because she loves me and her sister.
That is life. That is love. That is Jesus.
Fast forward to that afternoon. I was frustrated with my husband and saw his dish on the counter. I’m not kidding you, I said to myself, “He can get his dish.”
Immediately, I thought of Brooklyn putting her sister’s plate in the dishwasher. Convicting! So, I chose to replace my ugliness with love. I cleaned his dish and put it away because I love him. In that simple grace-filled moment, I asked the Lord for forgiveness and to love better (And, yes, I told my daughter that her example helped me love her daddy better!).
Isn’t it nice when our first reaction is great? Well, when that doesn’t happen and our responses stink, we have a chance to rewrite them.
Instead of making the mountain of bitterness bigger, we can squash it with grace. Let’s choose the latter.
That is life. That is love. That is Jesus.
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This great Easter Activity is from Courtney DeFeo’s book, “In this House We Will Giggle”:
1. Tie two sticks together to make a cross.
2. On Good Friday, you and your kiddos write down some of your sins- ways you have not loved God or others. Tape them on the cross (we taped them backwards to keep it between them & God).
3. Easter morning before your kids are awake, throw the papers away so they only see the cross.
This is a great visual to explain to our kids that when we believe in Jesus, we are forgiven of ALL our sins and can be with him forever. Jesus took our sins upon himself when he died on the cross. But the good news is that he rose three days later, giving us life now and forever with him! The Lord’s love is more powerful than anything!
Happy Easter!

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Deep down, what motivates our children’s choices?

Being motivated by obligation won’t last or drive integrity, but being motivated by love will.

When Jesus healed a woman who had been crippled for 18 years, the Pharisees were angered and annoyed because it was the Sabbath Day.

Jesus didn’t care – he cared about the woman in pain – he cared about loving her above all. He wasn’t moved by customs and law, but love.

Sharing simple ways our children love well shifts their mindsets from doing things grudgingly to doing things out of love.

From TIME TO TIME, I will say this to my kids:
“Thanks for loving me well by putting your dish away.”
“That’s awesome how you loved your sister by making her bed for her.”
“Great job sharing with your brother. You really loved him well and put him first.”
“Great job not responding in anger when she was rude. You really loved her and the Lord with your response.”
“Thanks for doing what I asked right away. You sure loved me well by listening to me.”

The Lord’s two greatest commandments hinge on love: to love God and love others. And, Jesus’ deepest motivation to follow the law wasn’t because he had to, but because he chose to out of love.

As we call out small examples when our children choose love, they will begin to be motivated by love, just as Jesus was.

 

 

A Question to Ask our Girls

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My husband, Christian, came up with a question to ask our girls when they were 3: “What makes you beautiful?” At 7 years old, they still answer, “My heart, mind, and soul.”

I love that this question echoes Jesus’ words, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” (MT 22)

Let’s affirm this consistently with our daughters so they will be encouraged to prize inner beauty and loving the Lord & others above the rest. ❤️

True Beauty.

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True Beauty comes from the soul. It doesn’t fade over time. It magnifies.

Since our girls were three years old, we’ve asked them a question to reinforce this truth: “What makes you beautiful?” At 7 years old, they still answer, “My heart, mind, and soul.”

In this verse about Beauty above, the word “quiet” jumps out to me. In Hebrew, “quiet” is hēsýxios: To be steady due to a divinely inspired inner calmness, and to be tranquil – not stirring up needless friction. (Bible Hub)

THAT is of great worth in God’s sight.

While there is a time to be quiet, I don’t think this verse means we should always walk about in quietness, especially if that is not who God has woven us to be. But rather, to possess an inner stillness and calmness from trusting in the Lord.

Being fully human and fully God, Jesus experienced so many feelings: joy, anger, sorrow, tiredness, peace, frustration, connection. Through it all, he had an inner calm, an inner peace. He was steady and knew what he came for. He didn’t let up, but carried through.

What a powerful definition of Beauty this leads us to: Beauty comes from the inner self – the unfading beauty of a spirit that is gentle, has inner calmness, and steadily follows and trusts the Lord.

That is Beauty unfading.

“This is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” 1 Peter 3:5

Lord, we pray that this is the kind of beauty we, and our children, would seek – an inner beauty that trusts steadily in you.

Shake It Off & Move On

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Jesus was humble and confident – reaching out to so many, but never forcing his presence on anyone. Men, women, and children were simply drawn to him. But, there were also many who opposed him and his disciples. How did he handle this?

When Jesus sent his 12 disciples out, he told them, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Matthew 10:14

Jesus wasn’t moved by people’s harshness. Some people will welcome us and some won’t. It’s okay to “shake the dust off our feet” and move on when they don’t. It’s actually a good thing. Let’s empower our children with this verse so when they do get stuck in people’s words and actions, they can break free.

This doesn’t mean to move on wth anger and bitterness, but with forgiveness, humility, and confidence. To pray for these people, to continue in kindness, but to shake it off and move on.


I loved this post by “Mommin’ in Faith” – such a great reminder:

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Overcoming One of my Greatest Fears during that Five Months in the NICU…

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by Linsey Driskill

One of my greatest fears came April 19, 2011. That gnawing anxiety enslaved my mind and I couldn’t think clearly. It directed my thoughts, holding me captive.

Three weeks earlier, I went into premature labor at 29 weeks. The doctor grabbed my shoulders tight and said, “You’re having an emergency C-section in thirty minutes.” At 7:30pm, our triplets were born, averaging 2.5 pounds each.

As I looked through the incubators at their tiny bodies covered in tubes, I was in a daze, but also in awe over our three miracles.

On April 19th, the doctor told us that our daughter, Brooklyn, had contracted a life-threatening infection that was rapidly killing her intestine. At three pounds, three weeks old, she would need surgery to remove the infected segment of intestine.

The fear that I was to blame tiptoed through my mind.

My hands pressed against the incubator windows, connecting with her in any way I could, as she lay there with a swelled belly, helpless. I sang, “I love you, Lord” over her every single day, again and again. I didn’t know what else to do.

After surgery, we desperately looked for any sign of improvement. There were none.

Later that day, I curled up in bed, tears drenching my pillow, as I ached for our child to survive. The tormenting fear that it might have been my fault whirled through my mind like a tornado: If I had rested more, maybe Brooklyn wouldn’t be going through this? What could I have done differently?

I had to redirect the fiery arrows attacking my thoughts. During one of the long drives to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I finally did it. I deflected those arrows and shifted my thoughts from myself onto Jesus. When remnants of regrets surfaced, I repeatedly chose faith in him. Over and over again.

Two days after the surgery, the doctor told us Brooklyn’s intestine perforated and the infection was spreading through her body. Her only chance to survive was attempting one more surgery. My piercing screams echoed through the halls – the weakest moment of my life.

Brooklyn slept in her incubator as they rolled her down the hall for the second surgery. Just before reaching the double doors, her courageous eyes opened and met ours, a moment branded in my heart.

During those grueling hours in the waiting room, we continued pouring our hearts out to the Lord for our three-week-old baby girl.

Within twenty-four hours, Brooklyn showed improvement! We finally received the greatest news we have ever heard: “Brooklyn is a miracle baby.” She fully recovered and is now a thriving seven-year-old girl, and I am so grateful.

However, the pain from that time has not left my heart. I think of those of you who had a different outcome, and I hurt for you. I think of those going through hard times as I write this sentence. I don’t know what your difficult thing is –  what pains your heart so deeply it physically hurts when your mind wanders to that place.

But I know Jesus meets you there when you call out to him, in whatever way you are capable of doing.

Over time, I’ve realized that every outcome is not the result of a domino effect beginning with me.

If you are soaking in the blame for something difficult in your life, wishing you could rewrite it, rest in Jesus’ bountiful grace. As Psalm 130 says, “… put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is FULL redemption.”

If you are lost in a maze of self-blame, find comfort in the parable Jesus shared in Luke 15. A shepherd had 100 sheep. When one wandered off, he left the 99 who were well to go after the one who was not; the one who was lost; the one who was in need. He lifted that little lamb upon his shoulders and carried him home, rejoicing that he found his lost sheep.

He also rejoices in you, and will carry you when you call out to him.

The Lord raised Jesus out of the darkest places this world has ever seen and he can do the same for you. “Come to me,” Jesus says. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” MT 11:28

{Published on ForEveryMom: Mom Goes into Labor at 29-Weeks — 7 Years Later Her Story of Trial & Triumph Will Leave You Breathless}

6 Tips to Grow Your Children’s Love for Reading & 9 Tips to Finding Great Books📚

Having taught elementary and middle school students and being the mother of triplets, I have discovered simple ways to grow a love for reading in our children and to find wonderful, age appropriate books that I’m excited to share with you! The end of this post includes book suggestions – I’d love to hear yours as well.

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fullsizeoutput_7995Before falling asleep at night, our seven-year-old triplets curl into bed and dive into a book for thirty minutes or more. Expecting our kids to go directly from playing to sleeping could be compared to us being forced to fall asleep right after exercising. Carving out time for bedtime reading calms our children’s bodies, minds, and hearts so they can fall asleep more easily.

It’s helpful to start bedtime reading when your children are young since routine is important. But, if your children are older, it’s not too late. Beginning a bedtime reading habit not only provides a daily tool for them to fall asleep, but also prepares them for a lifetime love of reading.

PRACTICAL TIPS TO INSTILL A LOVE FOR READING

1. Create a cozy reading nook. When our children were three years old, we created cozy “reading nooks” in their beds. At bedtime, they chose a handful of books to look at in their nooks. I introduced the reading time by saying, “Now you’re older so you can stay up later reading in your room.”

We started off with 15- to 30-minute reading times – however long they wanted to look at books. The time wasn’t quite as long at this age since they weren’t actually reading, but were simply looking at books. This time shouldn’t be forced, but enjoyable. We did our best to create a relaxing environment they looked forward to.

2. Provide many book options. Having a plethora of book choices for our children, from picture books when they’re younger to chapter books when they’re older, provides options and excitement about reading. I often bring a huge bag to the library for books and fill it up – I have repeatedly hit my 100 maximum of check outs (including yesterday).

The library automatically sends notifications when books are due so we can renew themIMG_2600 online. If I have a late fine, it’s still cheaper than buying books. If I were to purchase the amount of library books on our shelves at home, I would spend over $200 every few months. Instead, we spend a quarter on late fines every so often. We have a specific shelf where we keep library books so we don’t lose them. When our children are reading a particular library book, they keep it on their nightstand.

3. Finding book that engage your children is KEY. Whatever your children’s interests are, find a book about that topic.

IMG_53314. Take 15 minutes or more to read books TO your children. Reading books to your kids promotes creative thinking, connection with you, and engagement in books. Read with expression and ask prediction questions throughout a book to keep their attention, such as “What do you think will happen next?” Whether you read a picture book or chapter book for 15 minutes or more, it is so beneficial. The Read Aloud Revival has a multitude of book suggestions and information on this topic.

When my triplets were babies, I started reading picture books to them. Even if your child OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAis too young to understand the book, it is great for them to hear the rhythm of reading words. If your children are different ages, your older children could also read to your younger children. Don’t worry about a picture book being too simple. Many times, older children enjoy the ease of picture books, and deeper themes and questions can be drawn from them (see end of article for book suggestions).

5. Make sure the books are simple enough for your children to read – the simpler, the better. Reading should build confidence, not frustration. It might take time to find that sweet spot. Once your children can read, tell them to let you know if a book is too difficult. Or you can find out for yourself by having them read to you for a few minutes. If the book is too challenging, point them to one that is more enjoyable and at their level.

6. What to do when they don’t feel like reading. While our children love reading, there are some nights when one of our children doesn’t feel like reading. If this happens, we read with them for a few minutes to get them into the book and then let them have their independent time. Next thing you know, they’re usually engrossed in the book. Or, we suggest reading a picture book or simpler book to take a rest from the longer chapter books.

On nights when we’re with friends or have later activities, we sometimes skip the reading. But, regardless of what’s happening, we try to squeeze in a short time of reading to help them transition to sleep. We usually let them have one night they can choose to read, draw, or create things in their rooms during the “bedtime reading”. You have to figure out what works for your family, but the overall goal is to create a routine of reading so the habit becomes second nature.

HOW TO FIND GREAT & AGE APPROPRIATE BOOKS

1. Search online for “Award-Winning Books” or “Best books” for [your children’s age]. Then, request those books online at your library. The librarians put the books on a hold shelf for you so it’s quick and easy. When you go to the library, just pick up your books from the hold shelf and check them out. The library also has numerous movies. If we’re traveling on a road trip, I request a bunch of movies and books for our trip.

2. Take advantage of the magazines to purchase books sent home from school. I use the Scholastic magazine my kids get from school to find great books. My kids circle books that look interesting to them. Then, I request them at the library instead of purchasing them.

3. Find other books by the same author. If your children love a certain book, search for books by that author.

4. Search homeschool curriculums reading programs. They usually have examples of books to read based on age. That’s how I found The Courage of Sarah Noble.

5. There is usually a suggestions section of other books when you search books you love. For example, if you search a book on Amazon your children enjoy, at the bottom of the page, it says, “Customers who bought this book, also bought…”. Then, request those books online from the library.

6. Try different books series to see what your children like. When your children read chapter books, you can check out one book from many different book series to see what they enjoy. If they don’t like a book from a series, return it. If they love one, jackpot – check out more! Then search online for similar book series that your kids might like. I keep a basket by the door for books they want to return.

7. Take a trip to the library with your kids! Bring your children to the library to choose a handful of books that interest them (bring a large bag to carry the books). When your children are beginning to read, the “I can read” section at your library has numerous books to check out based on your kids’ interests.

8. Ask a librarian. Librarians have a multitude of suggestions for your children of age appropriate books that will engage your child.

9. Tools such as Common Sense Media are helpful. As our children get older and the books are longer, it becomes difficult to keep up with which books are age appropriate and which ones aren’t. Common Sense Media is a good resource for reviews and warnings on books. However, by age 6, 7, or 8, depending on the child, our goal shouldn’t necessarily be to protect them from any every challenging topic, unless it’s clear that the topic is above their heads and not age appropriate. This is a great time for our children to begin applying wisdom and discernment.

Prepping our kids to tell us when subjects arise they don’t agree with, don’t understand, or make them feel uncomfortable, is a wonderful way to engage discussion and to help our children navigate the world. One day our kids will be in the real world – our job is to prepare them for it. There’s no better time to do that than when they’re in our homes.

In summary, I hope these practical tools will help build a love for reading in your children and assist you in finding great and age appropriate books. Adding bedtime reading to your children’s routine, not only offers them a tool to wind down, but also builds confidence, imagination, and a life-time love for reading.

If this post has been helpful, please share it!

BOOK SUGGESTIONS

I have included a short list of book suggestions below. I would love to add to this list. Comment below with some of your favorite books!

Picture book recommendations: There are a multitude of wonderful picture books, but here are a handful. (Ages 2 – 6) Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses, (2 – 6) Silly Sally, (2 – 6) The Circus Ship, (4 – 10) You are Special, (4 – 8) The Berenstain Bears, (4 – 10) My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay, (3 – 8) The Book with No Pictures, (3 – 8) Stone Soup, (4 – 8), If I Built a House (My age recommendations are estimates based on my opinion).

Learning to Read: If your child is beginning to read short phrases, Dr. Seuss’, My Big Book of Beginner Books About Me is a wonderful book. The words are simple and the rhyming allows the child to guess words which gives them the confidence of reading, while having fun doing it. Picture association books are also great for beginner readers and can usually be found in a particular area of the library. Ask your librarian.

Chapter Books to Read Together: (6 – 10) The Boxcar Children and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are a few suggestions. For older children, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is awesome. I heard Wonder is also great for older children, but I have not read it yet (you can check the book’s age recommendation).

Other Chapter books: My almost 8-year-old children have enjoyed The Magic Tree House, Capital Mysteries, Little House, and I Survived books. Choose your own Adventure books are also available at the library and a lot of fun for 6-year-olds and older.

Comment below with books your kids love!

Happy Reading!

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