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Are We Mothering Our Children With Entertainment?

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We live very busy lives in this culture. There are endless options of things to do and be involved in. Technology has made life SO easy, it might be TOO easy.

Technology and Children

The Ease of Technology

I don’t mean the mental or emotional state of life is always easy, but the physical aspects, which play a vital role on the mental, are seriously lacking in our culture. It’s just a simple fact. Technology plays a huge roll in entertaining our culture.

But we don’t need to be dominated by our culture. Sure there are plenty of great things about the ease of technology and many different options. However, they can cause just as much harm. Let me explain.

When we constantly rely on technology to do the work for us, we become lazy and reliant. The same goes for our children. When we allow them to constantly or consistently play games on the iPad or watch TV instead of working their brains with a good book or hands-on project, their brains become lazy. The more we allow it, the harder it is to get them to bounce back and work their brains. They can no longer see images in their head from reading a book because the TV has done the work for them.

Going Against the “Norm”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I fall into the guilt trap of feeling like the “mean mom” for being so limited on the electronics. So, I’ll offer more time. But when I try to reign them back in to their lessons, it becomes a battle that is met with complaint and whining and, “It’s too hard!”.

Come on, we can admit it’s easy to just say, “Yes you can play a game or watch that show.” And some days I believe it’s a necessity for sanity. But just like our children, it can make us lazy moms. I know, not what anyone want’s to hear. Why put the work in when iPad apps can do it for us?

We pay for convenience, but at what cost?

It’s a tough paradox. Our culture is now driven by technology. We can’t just disconnect from that reality. But we can still be wise and use it as a tool.

And technology isn’t the only thing that entertains our children. How often do we push and bribe with toys and movies and gadgets that do little but keep kids busy without significant benefits? But we have grown so accustomed to being entertained, that it seems abnormal to minimize it. To our children, it may seem unfair. As if they were being deprived of a “normal” life.

How can we turn this around so our children have a future filled with active minds who think for themselves? Just because we live in this culture, doesn’t mean we have to be subject to it. And going against the culture is not an easy thing to do.

Equip Our Children

We all want what’s best for our children — I do not doubt that. But are we actively pursuing that goal, or merely “hoping for the best?” We need to be a generation of moms who stands up against the norm and raises warriors for Christ, who are ready to battle the evils of the world rather then join them. I’m not saying technology or even entertainment is inherently evil. But too much can certainly be devastating. We should not ignore it’s long-term effects from excessive use and pleasure.

The last thing we want to do is lull our children to sleep by making them blind to a world who desperately needs Christ.

Resources:

These books are part of a HUGE Bundle sale going on now through April 28, 2014. Over 80 resources for under $30! Find out what else is included in this incredible offer.

This is part 2 of a 10 part series on Biblical Motherhood

Too Much TV

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Our children are so very impressionable, especially at young ages. This is an excellent opportunity for us to whet their appetites with the Bible, literature, art, history and activities to help grow them mentally, spiritually, and relationally.

A Love for Reading

This isn’t merely about homeschooling, but about feeding the curious mind.

On the other hand, there are other things we can feed them that can cause an appetite for less than stellar growth. Things that would actually dull their imagination, quench relationship growth, and potentially lead them away from God.

And sometimes, I think we can write this off as legalism or putting our children in a bubble, but that is not the case at all.

An appetite is simply a desire for something. We want our children to desire wholesome and good things. Most importantly, we want our children to desire God and not be distracted away from what’s good.

Too Much TV

I have noticed  when I constantly allow my children to give in to their desires for television or computer games, then that’s all they want to do; watch TV or play on the computer. Additionally, when allotted too much free time due to my lack of discipline, I find it extremely hard to reign them in to do their responsibilities – whether it’s lessons or chores. Too much free time (even free reading time) can lead to feelings of entitlement.

Disclaimer: I am not saying these things are bad. I am saying that a large quantity of time with these things can have a much more negative impact than you might realize.

So, when it comes time to sit down and read the Bible or a great piece of literature, I am met with groans and complaints. This is when I allow more TV viewing or free time than I know is best. At times they even know it. They will comment on how tired they are from “sitting around too long”.

Appetite for Reading

On the other hand, when I limit TV viewing (say, to the weekends only), my children are more focused during the week and are more eager to sit with me and read. As a matter of fact, more often then not, they are coming to me with a book! But typically, it’s only when what’s been dished up has changed to something hearty and wholesome; from screen to study.

As parents, we are responsible for developing the appetite for reading and other activities in our children.

H. Clay Trumbull said

A love of reading is an acquired taste, not an instinctive preference. The habit of reading is formed in childhood; and a child’s taste in reading is formed in the right direction or in the wrong one while he is under the influence of his parents; and they are directly responsible for the shaping and cultivating that taste.

In other words, in most cases our children are not going to automatically want to read. It is a passion or desire that must be fed. Families do vary in dynamic, but for my children? It doesn’t take long (a week?) before their appetites are turned, likely because my children are still relatively young.

The hard part? Remaining consistent with feeding the good appetite, because good food requires more work and sacrifice. Amen? ;)

Resources

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Here are a few excellent titles to get you started.

Ages 2+

Ages 4+

Ages 6+

Whole Family Read-Alouds

Books With Book Lists

These books offer lists of excellent titles based on age and genre. What I’ve offered is just a tiny sampling. This is a great (and minimal) investment!

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure here.

How to Sow Into Your Children Individually

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Our children are individuals. If you are a mother to more than one child, it can be easy to lose sight of this fact. As a mother of many, I have been prone to fall into this trap. There are ways we can sow into our children as a group, such as making good meals, having family read alouds and family game nights, taking them out to special places, etc.

4 Ways to Sow Into Your Children as Individuals

But as individuals, they have more specific needs that we need to meet. Here are just four factors to consider when sowing into your individual children.

Sowing just means to plant seed for. We are planting seeds for a robust harvest of many kinds of “fruit”.

Age

This is probably one of the more obvious factors but age has a lot to do with what we sow in and how we do it. Currently I have five children living at home who are all biological. They are 3, 5, 6, 8, and 11. My 3 year old does not require the in depth conversations my 11 year old does. He is happy just to have me sit and watch him play or help him with a puzzle. On the other hand, my 11 year old loves to pour out all her ideas on me and one way for me to sow into her is to listen and encourage her in these ideas.

When we do Bible reading, my younger children will not understand the deeper meanings of the Bible the way my older children will. I sow Bible stories and simple truths into my young children while I encourage conversation and critical thinking with my older children.

Clearly these look different from each other and this are just a couple examples. The more time you spend with your children individually, the more you will see their needs and the best way to sow into them. Conversely, when you see a child misbehaving consistently, this could be a sign they need you (or dad, or both!) to pour into them. These little seeds will bloom beautifully later!

When our two adopted daughters come home, ages 8 and 10, new needs of sowing will be present.

Personality

Some children are talkers and some are listeners. Some are thinkers some are doers. This will be another deciding factor of the best way to sow. My six year old is an affectionate guy and he needs me to sow in hugs, kisses, and cuddles. He needs affirming words and encouragement.

My five year old is active and needs plenty of good ways to be active. Failure to sow into her need to be active leads to lots of unreleased energy channeled in the wrong direction. It could result in more serious problems later in life if I do not sow into her self-discipline and healthy direction.

Passions

Our children will have passions for different things. What can we do to sow into them? Do they enjoy art? Sow into that passion by offering space and supplies to create–but even better than that is sitting and creating alongside them! I think art is a lot more forgiving than music or singing!

My daughters love to dance and my boys like baseball. Those are the extracurricular activities we allow them to do.

My six year old has a passion for music and wants to learn guitar. We are sowing piano lessons for him (first) so that when he is older, God can use his gifts for His glory.

Helping our children live out their passions isn’t enough on their own. Those passions need to be directed down the right avenue. We need to train our children how to be open to God’s calling on their life and seek what He would want them to do with these passions that would glorify Him.

Gender

This factor may not weigh in until our children hit a certain age, but eventually, it will come into play how we sow. And mothers and fathers will sow differently.

I believe this factor requires lots of conversation sowing. Lots of talks about life and roles. What does God expect from each gender and how should they respond? How can our daughters be excellent wives to their future husbands? One of the best ways to sow this seed is to lead by example. Let your daughters see you being an excellent wife to their daddy.

All of these things factor into how we can sow into each individual child.

There are a thousand little ways to sow. Our goal is to make sure we are sowing the right ways into the right children for maximum growth. We also need to make certain we are sowing into fertile soil. One way to prepare the soil is to pray for our children.

What way can you add to this to sow into your children? What individual need do you see standing out in your individual child?

Creating Daily Disciplines to Shape Your Children

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Daily Disciplines

I think every home needs discipline to keep the family secure, stable, and sailing along. I like to call these daily occurrences anchors. Because anchors are something used to hold another thing securely.

For our family, I have found meal times to be terrific for creating these anchors. These times are used for nailing down some important disciplines or habits. Meal times are the few times per day I can get everyone together with little complaint. They are the thing I use to keep the daily disciplines in place. To keep them secure. To ensure they happen.

Maybe your anchor is right before bed. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning. Whatever that time in the day is where you can best gather your children to pour into them, be diligent and intentional about using them. Make those your anchors–support for pouring into your children in some of the most life-changing ways you can.

I find there are 5 valuable tools to utilize these anchors throughout the day. Whether you choose to do the same thing for each (or every) anchor, or mix it up a bit, the goal is to do something every time, and keep it somewhat predictable.

Bible reading, scripture memory, and devotions

Oh this is an excellent time for many families to dig into their Bibles. We use breakfast for Bible study and devotions. It’s a great way to start the day and all my children are already gathered at the table. We read through different books of the Bible, such as a Gospel, Psalms or Proverbs.

Prayer

A wonderful way to look outside ourselves and pray for those in need. From family and friends, to our communities, our country, and other countries. There are always needs. Right now we are focused on praying for Oklahoma.

Read alouds – literature, history, biography

I have several little ones who have a hard time sitting still and staying quiet if they don’t have something to do. Even if they don’t fully comprehend what I’m reading, it’s important they are quiet so the rest of us can enjoy the read. It teaches them discipline, too!

Family meetings

Dinner time is a great time for family meetings or discussing anything that would fall under such a category. It doesn’t have to officially be called a family meeting to make it so. Are there issues going on in the family that need to be addressed? Are children slacking in their responsibilities or behavior? This is a good time to figure out what’s going on and what can be done to fix it.

Conversation

Family conversation is a beautiful way to bring up important discussions such as, “Why would God allow the storms to kill all those people in Oklahoma?” Even if we don’t have the answer to that question, it’s still important to discuss these difficult questions and learn to trust God, even when we can’t see His hand at work.

Talk about things going on at school or church. Allow your children to ask open questions without the worry of criticism.

When done regularly and consistently, these disciplines can shape and mature our children as they grow. They are kind of like stations for refueling, when done right.

How can such disciplines shape our children? Here are five ways:

They will feel secure.

The consistency of having the anchors in place makes a child secure in their environment. Knowing what to expect is important for children because they need predictability.

They will grow in knowledge of the Lord.

Regular Bible reading, scripture memorization, and times of devotions are the some of the best ways to grow in the knowledge of the Lord. As children get older, add a little more responsibility to their growth by having them lead the Bible study or devotion time.

They will learn to think outside themselves and for themselves.

Having regular conversations where questions are open ended, and answers are guided rather then given, children will learn to think on their own. In addition, times of prayer will help children think outside themselves and for the needs of others. Finally, they will see the power of God work through their prayers which is a huge testimony to the glory of God.

They will learn important life lessons.

These lessons will come directly from you. Whatever questions they have about things they are struggling with, whether in school or any other social activity, things they hear on the news, struggles they’re having with a friend. If they choose to open up during conversation time, this is the opportunity for life lessons.

They will make memories.

Our children won’t remember everything from their childhood. But they will remember those things that were most consistent throughout their child-rearing years. Make them count.

Resources:

These books are part of a HUGE Bundle sale going on now through April 28, 2014. Over 80 resources for under $30! Find out what else is included in this incredible offer.

What other disciplines could be used in these daily anchors?

Writing My Second eBook {a book for moms}

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Yes. My second eBook is underway, and  it will be free for anyone who subscribes to my blog. It’s a devotional focused on changing what comes out of our mouths at our children through anger and frustration.

This is the photo I’m using for the cover. What do you think?

Blog Post Photo

This devotional, titled A Gentle Answer: Pouring into your children through words of grace, takes you through the heart of the matter, some of the consequences involved when we mess up, the reward behind using wisdom, and lots of grace through asking for forgiveness from our children when we DO mess up.

It’s devotional style, so one lesson per day, for 21 days (as it stands–there’s a possibility it could go longer). I use a scripture verse, draw from a little of my own experience, offer ways we can change our hearts, and practical ideas for walking it out.

I’m working hard to get this ready for release on Mother’s Day. This is my gift to you, my faithful readers and friends.

So if you notice things are a mite quite around these parts in the coming weeks, please know I am using my writing time to finish this eBook on time. I thank you for grace and I hope it will be as helpful for you to read it as it was for me to write it. I anticipate I will be going through this again and again to help me learn a new habit and a new way of speaking [grace] in the midst of frustrations.

Today, I share one of these lessons with you.

Day 12–Patience Shows Understanding

A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.  Proverbs 14:29

Patience. A concept I thought I would grasp after having five children, but no, the Lord keeps stretching me. The problem is, I think too much like an adult. When it comes to teaching and training my children, I expect them to think the way I do and know the things I know.

So when they don’t, I spout out frustrating words and quick-tempered tones. How foolish am I?

It is just not realistic. All of life shapes our thinking and teaches us new things. My children have not lived nearly as much life as I have, and certainly not in the same shoes as me. They do not know my experiences so they cannot be expected to know about life the same way I know about life.

I lack understanding with my children at times. I don’t take the time (patience) to gain perspective from them and understand they may not know certain aspects of life yet, or the way I know them. It is therefore my responsibility to patiently teach them. Use their own experiences to illustrate and even perhaps share some of mine.

When I was about 10 or 12 years old and was given a chore to do, I really did try my best to do a good job. But often my standard didn’t live up to the standard set up by those handing out the chores. So when I would get chastised, it devastated me.

As an adult, I need to remember that reality for when I inspect my own 10-year olds’ chores and they don’t “live up to my standards.” And that a mess that I might be able to break down in my head, can be extremely overwhelming to a child.

Taking this understanding, I can patiently teach my child how to break it down so that she, too, will not feel overwhelmed by a task.

When we understand our children, so much conflict can be avoided. So many power struggles can be minimized if we could just understand things a bit from their perspective. This will help us guide them rather than yell or unnecessarily chastise them.

What you can do:  Today, when you find yourself getting frustrated over the actions or attitude of your child, try to understand why they might be acting that way. What might you not be seeing that needs attention other than behavior modification? 

Work Toward Connection, Not Perfection

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Hard as I try, I’ll never be a perfect mother.

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No Perfection in Motherhood

I think we need to come to a place where we finally accept that reality. We beat ourselves up so much about something that simply is not within our reach; that is just not reality. There is nothing we can do to change that fact. Sin is ingrained in our very beings, just like blood running through our veins. I thank God for sending Jesus to cleanse us of something we couldn’t do ourselves.

It’s not about accepting defeat or even accepting sin, but accepting reality and learning to live within our imperfections. How do we deal with them? There are some things within our reach.We can work to keep the connections between our children strong and constant. We can do that, we must do that, especially because of our imperfections.

We’re bound to mess up and make mistakes. Even when we learn from our mistakes, we’ll make new mistakes. Yet, we can remain connected with our children by owning up to those mistakes. We can keep that bond tight by admitting when we’ve wronged them. When we’ve yelled at them or overcompensated a consequence.

Heart to Heart Connection

Our relationships with our children go deeper than just follow the leader. Yes, setting an example is important. But connecting with our children, heart to heart, will make a greater impact then being far removed from them and trying to get them to follow us.

When I sit and read a rich, historical fiction or literature book with my children, I’m making a connection with them through time spent learning together. We’re growing together because even I learn new things through reading new books. It also opens up discussions that can shape their growth.

When I have a short fuse and yell, I am trying to being more intentional about stopping and apologizing for being short with everyone. Children are wonderful forgivers. They really are. We should remember to forgive well when the situations are reversed.

No parent is perfect. Period. And we will never reach that place. But connection is definitely within our grasp and we should be quick to utilize these opportunities often.

Our children are eager to follow someone, and they can only follow us if we are actually walking out our faith. Talking about all the things we should be doing, without doing them, will only teach our children to be hypocrites.

Intentional Connections

I am going to be super intentional this week to make sure I’m making those connections with my children. We are starting a new curriculum today that focuses on God being in the center of all things. My goal is to go deep with my children and hang up my own agenda so I don’t feel like I’m rushing them through their lessons just so “we can be done.”

More and more this verse keeps coming back to me,

Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

I cannot think of a time in my life when the days were more evil then they are now. I don’t know if it’s because so much of it was hidden or if I was just unaware as a result of being immature or a mix of both. But we are living in very troubled times and the future is so uncertain at this point. I want to use my time wisely.

Keeping My Writing In Its Place

I wasn’t going to post today, because I honestly didn’t have it in me to write. But I had this post mostly finished already in my drafts.

I love writing and I love blogging, but I want to be able to say “no” when I just don’t feel like writing, or when I don’t have the time because I was busy snuggling my kids passed their bed time to read them just one more chapter. Blogging needs to be an extension of my life, not replace important moments.

Writing is still a part of who I am, but not all my writing goes public. Sometimes the pressure to post publicly can just be too overwhelming and it’s within my power to be OK with not posting for a week.

This week, I’m making the most of it and being intentional about connecting with my children.

Do you struggle with being intentional with connecting with your children on a daily basis?

Raising Children in a Changing Culture

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Our culture has been in a paradigm shift for some time, but because it is changing so slowly, it is hardly noticeable by many people. Some of the changes happening as of late aren’t necessarily bigger in stature compared to other things, rather, the changes have a lot more attention surrounding them.

The culture shift beckons that we shift with it because we need to be more open and accepting. People make the mistake of believing that when we don’t agree with their choices that we think them lesser people. God has set an important moral standard for His people, and obviously if one is not living for God, they are not going to follow His standards. That’s totally their choice and they’re certainly free to choose.

That’s in large part where this major shift is originating from. People in the higher ups are simply not living for God therefore godly convictions will not spill out into major decisions made on behalf of the country. Christians are now put in a very different and difficult place. Raising our children with “good morals” is no longer clearly defined because our culture has made “good” relative. What is “right” is no longer defined by God through His word, but by what is right in each person’s own eyes (Judges 17:6).

This leaves me, as a mother, in a awkward place. I didn’t expect to raise children in such chaotic times; as confusion sweeps our land. It forces that we teach our children something beyond the law of morality. Because the law of morality is not strong enough to uphold our children in a culture that has such varying opinions on what is considered moral. God’s standard should still be how we live. And His moral still stands. But how do we raise our children with strong convictions and to not compromise?

They must know Christ. They must understand the cost for sin. They must understand the Gospel and how it’s relative to them, individually. Without this connection and relationship, the moral law to them will be quite useless. Just another set of someone else’s standards to follow amongst the many already out there. There is no God like Jesus. He’s the only one who can save people from sins. He’s the only God who lives today.

Knowing Christ gives our children reason to want to follow God’s moral law. Culture today says we need embrace diversity but that doesn’t mean we need to compromise what God lays down as Truth. We can still embrace people without compromise.

I have illustrated the Gospel for my children in several different ways. Children as young as five could understand these concepts to at least some degree.

One way I have illustrated is by choosing two children to make up a scenario. I say, “Say someone gets caught doing something they shouldn’t, but the another person offers to take their punishment as a gift of grace and mercy to them.” This helps my children understand how Jesus took the punishment for our sin. Often I will use their own siblings as an example that is very direct for them.

The other illustration I use can be done on a chalk board, white board, or even a piece of paper. I draw a river or a canyon. I put “GOD” on one side and “PEOPLE” on the other. In the river or canyon I write “SIN”. I explain the sin in our lives kept us from being able to reach God on the other side. But, when Jesus died on the cross, He created a bridge in order for us to cross over to the other side.

Both of these illustrations explain two important aspects of the Gospel: 1)Jesus paid the punishment for our sin. 2)Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, our sins separated us from God, but now we can be in communion with Him.

To reject God and all that is good is to refuse to cross the bridge. The Gospel message is not about living the perfect life, where everything goes the way we want. It’s about living in relationship to God and trusting Him with our lives.

Along with knowing the Gospel, seeing God at work in and around their lives is a huge testimony to His promises.

Teaching our children the moral law is never enough. They need to understand why it’s important to keep it written on their hearts and live it out. They need to understand there is a God who loves them more than anything and His law is to protect them and help them live a better life. God sets the standard for what is right and good and no one else.

Understanding who God is is pertinent to desiring to follow His moral standards and not chase after their own.

Linked with: Titus 2sday

Battling the Gimmies: Raising Financially Responsible Children

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Today I have a sweet friend sharing some tips on how to battle the gimmies in our children. Please welcome Nancy from There is Grace!

It all went down right there in aisle 7: Boy sees toy. Boy wants toy. Mom says “no.” Boy throws a colossal fit that melts Mom into a puddle of frustrated humiliation.

Source: Microsoft Images

We’ve been doing this dance for decades, us and our children.
No matter how many toys are scattered in the playroom or around the yard at home, my children will always want the shiny new one they see right then. It’s an ongoing battle with the “gimmies.”

The “gimmies” is what I call that have-to-have-it-now attitude that dominates my offspring in any retail setting. Who are we kidding, I struggle with it as much as they do; I simply have enough control to not throw myself into a full-blown tantrum in the middle of Target.

It’s a constant struggle in our age of marketing overload. So, what is a parent to do?
Here’s how we approach it in our family: Money = work.

When kids associate money with work, they are less likely to develop a sense of dis-contentment that can lead to the “gimmies.” In his article, “Teaching Your Kids About Money,” financial guru Dave Ramsey says, “Kids need to make an emotional connection between work and money at a young age.”

Following Ramsey’s advice, we created a list of jobs around the house. A dollar amount was assigned to each job, and whoever does the work gets the money. The jobs and payments are age-appropriate for our 5- and 8-year-olds. For example “feeding the dog” (a daily activity) will earn you $.25 but “raking the leaves” (a once-a-year chore) will bring in $3!

As they grow older, the jobs will grow more difficult and the pay will increase. We record their earnings on a chart throughout the week and tally them up on “payday.”

Give, Save, Spend

We made three simple jars labeled: GIVE, SAVE, SPEND. (Get a free printable here to help you create your own jars.) When the kids earn money, they divide it between the three jars. “The concepts of spending and giving help develop problem-solving skills,” explains Ramsey. “You’re laying a foundation for their lives.”

GIVE. As Christians, we believe in the biblical principle of tithing, so our kids are expected to put at least 10% in the give jar when they are paid. (We help the little ones who don’t know percentages yet.) On Sundays they empty their GIVE jars and take their tithes to church. If we want our kids to have a realistic view of finances, we must teach them to be givers as well as savers and spenders.

SAVE. We encourage our kids to put at least 40% in their save jars. This money is set aside for bigger items they want that mom and dad are not planning to buy. (Mom is not paying an extra $15 for a name-brand label!). They each choose the item they want to save for, and we print a picture to put by their SAVE jar.

SPEND. The balance goes into the SPEND jar. They can take this money with them when we go to the store for something small they might want on a whim.

To our surprise, our kids have consistently chosen to put most of their earnings in their SAVE jars and have already made some great purchases. It’s helped to curb the “gimmies” that strike in the toy aisle, too. Instead of having a meltdown over a desired toy, we simply add it to the “save for” list.
While we have not banished the “gimmies” in our house, we have managed to gain a little ground in the battle. More importantly, we are striving to raise financially responsible children who will one day become hard-working adults who can manage their resources responsibly.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” ~Proverbs 22:6

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Nancy is a lover of words and all things chocolate. She is married to her best friend, and when she’s not settling sibling squabbles between her Little Miss and Little Man, she can be found sipping coffee and writing about faith, family, and finding grace in the journey. She blogs at There Is Grace.

Connect With Your Kids — Day 4

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Continuing on with 21 Ways to Connect With Your Kids!

Today we’re looking at an activity that is dear to my heart as a writer.

When I was in middle school and high school, I was always writing letters. I once filled up an entire 1 subject notebook writing one letter to one boy in a week’s time. Talk about crazy.

These days, the only boys I write letters to are my sweet sons and of course my girls, too.

From Kathi’s book:

Write Your Child a Note

Try This

Write your kid a love note.

Making the Connection

Back when my kids were younger, we kept a small, lidded basket better known as the “family mailbox” in the middle of our cluttered kitchen counter. And inside it, I’d often find sticky notes with the words “I love you, Mom,” written with green glitter pen in my daughter’s best nine-year-old cursive.

Our family mailbox was a great way to encourage each other and brighten our kids’ days. Even when my kids grew past the age of wanting notes in their brown-paper lunch bags where their friends could see them, they never minded finding a note or a small treat in the family mailbox.

Since then, I’ve learned that a handwritten and heartfelt note can go a long way to make someone feel loved, cared for, and appreciated. So for this connection, I want you to write your kid a love note and leave it somewhere where she’ll find it.

Make Connecting Fun

Here are a few ideas to get the ink flowing.

  • Start a family mailbox. All you need is a basket, a pad of paper, and a pen. You can start the ball rolling by writing notes to each member of your family. You could start with a note of encouragement or maybe a Bible verse. End the note with a question, such as, “If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?” I promise you will get some fascinating mail in your little basket.
  • Welcome your kid home with a note. I saw this on Pinterest. Use dry-erase markers to write “Welcome home! I love you!” on a china plate. Then prop up the plate on a plate stand and put it on the counter for your kids to see when they get home from school.
  • Send notes in your kid’s lunch. In her book Love Notes in Lunchboxes: And Other Ideas to Color Your Child’s Day, Linda Gilden tells about the day her daughter said: “You know, Mom, I don’t really remember what you said in all those notes you wrote in my lunches. But I remember you wrote them and they always showed you cared. Some days I think all you said was, ‘Have a good day’ or ‘You are special,’ but it meant a lot. Just to know that you took the time to write a note and that you thought it was an important part of my lunch made my day. Most kids only had food in their lunch bags!”Yes, food is an essential part of the lunchbox. But even more important than the food for our children’s bodies is the food for their spirits. And it doesn’t have to be dispensed in a lunchbox. There are plenty of ways to encourage and affirm our children.
  • Write out an acrostic using the letters of your child’s name. Hang it on their door or on the fridge so they can see how great you think they are.
    J ust so funny
    E nergetic
    R eady for anything
    E veryone loves him
    M y favorite person to watch cartoons with
    Y ou are a great kid!
  • Send Scripture notes. Can’t think of what to write? God gave us a whole book of love notes. Just borrow one of His! Then add a few words of your own.

    God’s Note: “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11).

    Mom’s or Dad’s note: Always trust God. He knows what’s best for you, and He is bigger than any problem you may have.

  • Write a list. Jot down a quick list and leave it on a sticky note on the bathroom mirror where your child can see it when they brush their teeth or get ready for school. Try “Top Three Reasons I Love You” or “Top Five Reasons Our Family Is the Greatest” or “Top Five Reasons You Are My Favorite Lunchbox Kid.”

Make it a priority to write a letter to your child in the next day or two!

The Book

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Excerpt from book used with permission from author.

Connect With Your Kids — Day 3

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Here we are on Day 3!

From Kathi’s Book, 21 Ways to Connect With Your Kids:

Pray for Your Kid

Try This

Start a prayer journal to help you intentionally pray for your kids.

Making the Connection:

A few years ago, Amanda was engaged to someone who wasn’t right for her. It was obvious to Roger and me, and everything in me wanted to open my mouth and talk some sense into her. I wanted to explain what I thought. I wanted to beg and plead. I wanted to write out a list of all the godly characteristics that I envisioned for her future spouse. But I didn’t. Instead, we shut up and prayed.

      And we prayed.
      And we prayed.
      And we prayed some more.

It took almost a year (yes, an entire year!), but they broke off the engagement. We now joke that if your kid is dating someone who isn’t right for them, call us. We have a ministry of praying the wrong guys out.All joking aside, praying for your kids is powerful. I can say without hesitation that it is the number one most valuable thing I have done for my children. And that’s why I want to encourage you to start a prayer journal that will help you intentionally pray for your kids every day.

Make Connecting Fun:

Starting a prayer journal is actually really easy.

Step 1: Pick up a journal. I like mine to be small enough to fit into my purse so I can bring it with me when I’m traveling and pretty enough to display on a bookshelf. But really, anything—from a 99-cent spiral notebook from the dollar store to an iPad with a stylus—will work.

Step 2: Pick a time to journal. If you’re anything like me, you probably start every day with the best intentions. But by the time you’ve managed to feed the kids, walk the dog, make the coffee, do carpool, clean the dishes, sweep the floor, and switch the laundry (all before 9:00 a.m.) even your best laid plans get derailed. So set aside time every day — set a daily reminder on your iPhone if you have to — so that praying for your kids becomes a daily priority.

Step 3: Talk to God on paper. Your prayers don’t have to be eloquent or full of poetic language. Just talk to God about your kids. One thing I’ve found to be really helpful is to use a verse from the Bible to pray for my kids. Here are a few of the verses I’ve prayed over my kids over the years:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen (2 Peter 3:18).

May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you. (Psalm 25:21)

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3)

I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8)

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)

This is a fantastic idea–some of you know I wrote about leaving a testimony for our children by keeping a prayer journal for them.

The Book

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure here.
Excerpt from book used with permission from author.