Category Archives: Parenting

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When Your Child is Persecuted

The mama bear was coming out in me.

That little pipsqueak! That rotten little brat!!!

He’d bullied my 8 year old sons, threatened to run them down with his dirt bike, said he didn’t want them to even come into his yard, and finally intimidated the other neighborhood boy to not come over to our house anymore.

In my sin, I was already plotting how to humiliate his mother in front of the other neighborhood moms or at least plan out the things I felt she needed to hear about her dreadful 9 year old.

Now it was late at night, and my husband and I were discussing our day.

“What do I tell the boys?” I asked, secretly hoping he’d offer to have a strong word with the little imp’s father.

“You should tell the to pity him.” He responded instantly.

My jaw dropped

PITY HIM?

PITY the kid who would yell out “I don’t like you!” as he walked by our yard?

PITY the kid who said he’d steal their ball and throw it where they couldn’t get it?

I paused a moment. The wisdom of his words sinking in. Yes. My husband was right.

This angry, mean child should be pitied.

What had made a 9 year old so angry that he would pick on younger boys like this?

This 9 year old was in pain, and he needed Christ.

My sons were younger then this boy, but they were not weak, they had an eternal strength inside them that that boy could not begin to understand. They are light bearers, soldiers in an cosmic war and have access to wisdom and love that no person of their own strength could gauge.

My boys are not victims. My boys are lights of Christ to this boy filled with anger and darkness, and they could learn to depend on God and walk in His light through this opportune situation.

The next day we talked to the boys about praying for the boy down the street. They both responded with understanding and started to pray for him.

The next week one of my sons let the boy who had bullied them ride his bike down the street. My gut response was to reprimand my son.  It was irresponsible to let the rotten kid use his expensive bike, but God gave me enough wisdom to recognize that my son learning to show love to an adversary was more important then a $65 bike.

My boys continued to pray for the other boy, and they were eager to share their faith with him.

It was then that it came out WHY he didn’t like them.

“Mom can we go over to that boy’s yard?” one of them burst through the back door late one afternoon. (My sons are not the best at getting names. Someday I’ll learn this kid’s name.)

“You may play in his front yard for 15 minutes.” I said. “Then it’s time to come home and get ready for supper.”

I was glad for the excuse of supper since 15 minutes was the only amount of time I wanted them to spend in that yard, and gave my son a $5 timer we use so they know when they must head home.

I started supper prep, praying for my 2 little boys 6 houses down.

16 minutes later my two flushed-faced sons re-entered the house clamoring to tell me about their conversation with the (still nameless) boy down the street.

“Mom!!” That boy said Jesus is crap! And the Bible – and going to Heaven. He said it was all crap”

They perched themselves on stools in the kitchen and started to relate witnessing to the boy when he had started to shower them repeatedly with the C- word.

– and finally the reason he had not liked them and had bullied them came out.

He was mad at us for handing out gospel tracts taped to candy on Halloween.

I was speechless. All his bullying my sons was because we’d taped a tract to his sucker on Halloween?

My sons breathlessly related the conversation (a few times), and I was pleased to hear how they defended the faith, and (seemed to have) responded with love to his attacks. They hadn’t backed down. Their argumentation style was certainly unpolished, but the heart was there, and for the most part they’d shown love and faith in their responses to the boy’s tirade.

Toward the end of their time there, the boy had apparently grabbed a toy rifle and waved it in my sons’ faces telling them it was a BB gun. (It wasn’t, but he succeeded in scaring them.)

I can’t say my boys responded completely perfectly. After relating their story to me, they got their own toy rifles and marched around the house for a few minutes declaring they’d protect us all from the boy down the street, but once we talked through again how he needed Jesus and that he was angry and was rejecting the light that was in them, they put their toys away and resolved to pray for him again.

Each night they’ve been praying for the (still unnamed) boy 6 doors done, and while I don’t know what God is going to do in the situation, I’m thankful for the growing love I see in my sons and the change God is doing in their hearts.

I’m glad at the brush with persecution my little boys have had, and I am glad they are learning to be lights while every being drawn to the true Light.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

—1 Peter 4:12-14, 16

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Why Having Baby #5 is More Fun Then #1

Few things in life compare to the wonder of holding your first child for the first time and realizing, yes, you are a mom!

However, now that #5 is on his/her way, I have to admit, I wouldn’t go back there! There are some fun perks to this stage.

  1. You don’t worry about everything.

Along with all the thrill and joy of baby #1, there is also a lot of fear. Will you be a good mother? Will you do everything right?

(By #5 you realize no, you will not do everything right. You will get grouchy sometimes, you will have rough nights and feed your kids that super-bad-for-you macaroni and cheese, you will not do all the magical activities you always imagined yourself doing with them and no, you will not be anything like Mary Poppins – even on your best days, but that’s OK.)image

You will be what your kids need – their mom, you’ll go to bat for them, love them, laugh with them, and help them clean their rooms and do their homework. You’ll believe in them and cheer for them and even when you mess up – you’ll get up and by God’s grace be there for them the next day – and for as long as you live. And by baby #5, you’ll know it’s not about being ‘perfect’ but about loving them and being there for them. You can do that.

  1. Less people talk about your shape and poke at your belly.

When you are surrounded by a mass of little kids, people cannot even get to your belly let alone poke it. And with 4 little socialites crowding for their attention, those people also don’t have time to talk about your increased size.

(Whew! That problem is solved! Yay for less Pillsbury Dough Boy pokes!)

  1. You have more people genuinely excited about the baby.

Maybe extended relatives will roll their eyes when you tell them you are having another one, but as far as the people who will be changed and affected by the baby every day, you now have a household of 6 people who are thrilled to pieces. (Even if their name choices are not always the best. Lumina? Thor? Leelee?)

  1. You are secure in your body and birth plan.

For baby #1 and even #2, you read everybody else’s opinions about birth. By #5, you know your own body, you know what you’re going to do, and you need minimal help.

(The doctors are also lot more apt to let you do what you want to. Seriously, they look at my chart now and kind of nod in a very hands-off way, and I’m thankful for that. I’ve been here multiple times before, and I’ll call them if I need them.)

  1. You are secure in your approach to mothering

imageThe moment you look into your first baby’s face, you are overwhelmed. Never have you seen someone so wonderful, but you are also overwhelmed by your own identity change. You are now a mother.

By the time you’ve had a few, you are secure in your identity as a mom and in your approach to mothering. The moment you see baby #3, #4, #5, you just soak up their little face.

  1. Necessary life changes have already been made

- You’ve made the schedule changes

Most of us with #1 had to make some major changes – whether it was stopping working, finding childcare, or embarking on the journey of juggling a combination of those things.

By #5 those things are in a rhythm. Yes every newborn brings new challenges, but you are old hat at the juggling game, and your family is accustomed to rolling with the punches and working together as a team.

- You’ve made the heart changes.

I’ve heard so many new parents say it. “We don’t plan on changing much in our schedule. We’ll just bring a baby along. Not much will change.”

(I just smile and nod when I hear them say this and then I admit – I laugh with my husband later. We know they’ll learn.)

By #5, you have long since laid down an active social life. Yes, you sometimes miss it. Yes, it’s important to call friends and have deep conversations sometimes, but by #5, you’ve realized that right now your kids simply come first. You’ve accepted that for this season in life other things won’t happen, and you are (usually – except on the messy, PMS days) content with that.

  1. No Shower Gifts to Deal With

I say this tongue in cheek. I was given a lot of wonderful shower gifts for baby #1 that I still use today. However, now that I have my systems set up, I am relieved to not have to deal with an onslaught of new gifts. Less clutter, less stress, and less returns sound great! I’ll just buy the few items I need.

  1. Less Hard on Yourself.

image- After #1 you realize you will never be the perfect mom because you’re not perfect. And you realize that’s OK.

- After #2 you realize that your love multiplies and there really is plenty to go around.

- After #3 you realize that you can never keep them all happy at once, and that’s OK.

- After #4 you realize that you can’t always stay in control of everything. You have to let some things go, and not only is that OK, it’s pretty relieving.

-Verity

PS (And I’ll let you know what I learn after #5, but I’m really excited to find out!)

 

 

You have your hands full #1

You Have Your Hands Full!

“You have your hands full!”

The man in Walmart’s canned vegetable aisle gapes at my brimming cart and the 4 small children hanging off in every direction. Then his eyes travel down to my protruding belly.

Like every mom with small children, I’ve received this comment more times then I can count.

It doesn’t bother me anymore though.

(On the contrary! I’m excited by the opportunity!)

I look him in the eye so he can see my sincerity and give him a genuine smile.

“The BEST kind of full you can have!” I exclaim.

My response gets the reaction I was hoping for, and his eyes prove that they can indeed widen farther.

I push my cart on – hoping that my thankful attitude concerning my kids planted a seed in this stranger’s heart.

In a society where children are increasingly devalued, we as Christian parents find ourselves in a powerful position that simply no one else is in.

The pastor can preach about the value of children, politically active can picket and hand out brochures on not killing the unborn, but we, sisters, are the ones who live out a love for our children in front of the world.

The spoken truth is never more potent then its testimony – and we Christian moms are the testimony.

- When you fall on your face before God and find the grace to love a less-then-loveable child, you are a testimony of unconditional love.

-When you lay down your own desire for respect from others, (I’m not talking becoming a revered doctor, national speaker or movie star – I’m talking someone – anyone being impressed by anything you do – because parenting – while insanely hard – rarely gets any applause-)– Yet, even in the midst of obscurity and loneliness, when you find your fulfillment in His sustaining promises – you are a testimony.

-When you are in Walmart, Taco Bell, (fill in your most recent child-threw-a-tantrum-in-front-everyone-spot here), and your child is acting like a sinful little brat and totally humiliating you, and by God’s grace, you zone in and help that child through his/her spiritual battle without losing your cool, you are a testimony.

Satan doesn’t just attack Christ’s name. He attacks Christ’s truth.

And one of the biggest truths attacked in America today is the value of motherhood – AND by default the value of children.

(Satan is busy. He is constantly telling women that they need exciting careers, thin bodies, big houses, and a dozen other things that won’t matter on our deathbeds but will be stifled by faithfully parenting children.)

And the world is listening.

Despite longer lives and better healthcare, the worldwide national fertility rate (the number of children the average woman will bear in her lifetime) has steadily dropped from 4.95 children per woman in 1950 to 2.34 children in 2015. Oddly, this trend is dominant in the countries where we can actually afford children. In America, the average woman has birthed less then 2 children since 1972.

If numbers speak, children are not a priority in the western world today.

But there is one thing Satan can’t stifle – the Truth – and the testimony of the Truth that we get to be.

We are the undeniable picture that children are awesome and being a mom is a high and worthy calling – one that surpasses the rest.

So the next time you are rushing through the grocery store, and the inevitable comment comes –

“You have your hands full!”

Proudly hoist your battle-worn banner up on your shoulder and make the most of that fleeting opportunity.

You have your hands full #2

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Target, it’s Time to Part Ways

Two months ago an Ohio mom got angry that her local Target had girl’s building blocks specially marked as ‘girls building blocks.’ (Seriously!!) This sparked a platform for Feminists across social media to reign down a tirade on the entire Target Corporation.

 Target has now decided to make the majority of their toy section and several other sections gender neutral – to appease the abrasive and offended.

 Media is predicting Walmart, Disney and other retailers to follow depending on the public response.

 CHRISTIANS, don’t be silent!

 Let’s light up social media and boycott Target so they see the difference in their sales.

Target,

You are the dream store of mothers –

From the in-store Starbucks, the multi-kid carts, and the cart cup-holder to the awesome kid clothes (heck, mom clothes too!) and the beloved cartwheel app, you make shopping a little like a girl-date…

(Just without the girlfriend and usually a multi-kid cart full of kids).photo 5

I love your bright and happy colors, your shorter-than-your competitor lines, and those BIG foofy pink skirts my sister-in-law got for my girls last year in your clearance section.

Alas, no store compares with you.

But despite my love of your 5% off card and free shipping, I’m ready to walk away.

Because as much as I love those cute winter boots I got for $10.81 at your end of season sale, I love my kids being confident in who they are even more.

I love that my son is proud of being a little boy – and that he is excited about being a strong and heroic man someday. I like taking him somewhere where he can gush about the super-heroes and dragons – surrounded by his interests.

photo 1I love that my girls love being little princesses – beautiful both inside and out, and when I take them shopping, I love watching them delight in the sparkles, puffs and bows of the girls’ section – reveling for a few short minutes in a section designed just for them.

I love that my kids are confident in who they are. They are confident in the bodies they were born into – and they are comfortable and happy with there being a difference between them.

And like all moms, I want my kids to be supported in who they are. And I hope that enough of us moms stand up and let you know that your stylish clothes and knock-out prices are not worth the message you are sending our kids – that God or fate somehow messed up, and they are not to be proud of and confident in the femininity or masculinity they were born with – maybe you’ll take a hint.

On the contrary, I’m going to take them places where they can celebrate who they are – and at the moment, that place is not you.

 - Verity

 

 

Resurrection Day Invitation to Play – Easter Crafts

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During a season of bunnies, chicks, and eggs, it can be hard to direct our children toward the real meaning of Easter. This year, I wanted something that was hands-on and interactive but not a typical craft project. I came up with an Easter Invitation to Play that was God focused and reviewed many of the truths we have been learning the last few weeks.

I think there are a lot of ways to do this, but here’s what we used. You can tweak this to adapt to your materials and needs.image

White Play dough
Green Play dough
Three toothpicks or small sticks to serve as crosses
Pom-poms or small flowers
A strip of fabric or paper
Small pieces of paper or stones where you have written examples of sins
The bottom portion cut out of a cup

imageI gave each of the kids a plate with the above items. We have been learning all about the crucifixion and the resurrection so it was all very fresh in their minds. Before we began this portion though, we sat down and discussed the fact that it was our sin that sent Jesus to the cross. He was perfect and did not have to die to take the consequence for his own sin. He died for us: it was our sin that paved the way to the cross. I wanted them to understand the significance of this truth. I had very small pieces of paper, maybe half inch by half-inch, and we wrote a different sin on about 30 of them. This was significant and they really understood it. Therefore, when they each received their plate with the items to use for the invitation to play, they each had about eight of the papers with sins. I explained that they were going to set up the scene however they would like. The toothpicks could be used as crosses, the white Play dough could be used to create a tomb and to cover the cup portion, or they could use the cup portion as the tomb and the white Play dough as the stone. I explained that the pom-poms could be flowers, or some other type of decoration. They could use the strip of paper as a road or some type of pathway. They could even use it as a linen cloth to wrap up a pom-pom to serve as Jesus. :-) The green Play dough could be used as grass or as a hill for the crosses to sit on. The one thing I told them I wanted them to include for sure was the pathway of sins. They all thought this made a lot of sense and were excited to dig in!

imageThey worked on this project for probably close to an hour, and came up with all sorts of scenes. I think it really helped to solidify the truths that we have been learning this week in a hands-on experience where they could actually do something with what they have been learning. I hope that you find this to be just as profitable with your kids!

Happy Easter!

-Lydia

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Valentine’s Day Game

With Valentine’s day quickly approaching, I wanted an opportunity to teach my kids about the most important love of all—God’s love. I wanted it to be interactive and kind of fun, so we went on a treasure hunt!

To start everything off, I had each of the kids make their own mailbox using this site. This is completely unnecessary, but so cute and was definitely a special touch. They could just as easily use little treasure chests, bags, buckets, or nothing at all.

I explained that last night I had gone on a treasure hunt through God’s Word, the Bible. I had gone looking for treasures about God’s love and I was going to share with them what I found. In order to find those treasures though, they had to go on a treasure hunt through our house! ☺

I had them leave the area with their mailboxes while I hid 14 prepared hearts around the first floor of our home. Each heart had a different truth about God’s love written on it. Here is my rough list if you want to copy the concepts. I’m sure there are others though!

God’s love is Everlasting
God IS love
He loved us first
God’s love never changes
He showed it to us when he died for us
He loves it when we do good
God loves the world
God loves Jesus
God loves to be an example for us
God’s love is an example to us
God has the greatest love and He showed it when Jesus laid down his life for us
Nothing can separate us from God’s love
God’s love is great
God’s love is overflowing

After they found all the hearts and had them carefully stashed in their mailboxes, we met on the floor in the living room to discuss their treasures. We simply went around the circle and each child pulled out one heart at a time. We discussed the concept found on that heart and interacted a bit about the truth that was there. We continued until all the truths had been discovered. At the end, we reviewed what we had learned about the treasure of God’s love and how His love was unlike any other love.

I encouraged them to keep their hearts in their mailbox with the flag up, so they could send their treasures to someone else who would like to know about the great treasure of God’s love. They each left the room excited about the depth of His love and eager to share their treasures with others!

 

-Lydia

 

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Valentines Day: Who God Loves Craft

The kids and I have been learning about God’s love this week as we prepare for Valentine’s day. It’s important to me that whenever we learn about Valentine’s day or love that we start with God’s love. We have covered different aspects of God’s love, but today I wanted them to have an interactive picture of WHO God loves so they would understand that God’s love is limitless and applicable to those they know and even those they don’t know.

What you need:

  • White paper
  • Colored paper in a few different colors if you want
  • Ribbon
  • Tape
  • Marker
  • Scissors

What to do:

I cut cloud shapes out of the white paper to represent God. We talked about how He is in heaven beyond the clouds. The clouds were about ¼ a sheet of paper in size. I wrote the first portion of I John 4:10 on them to demonstrate how God loved us before we even loved Him. There are many verses that would work for this though! You could even just do I John 4:8 which says, “God is Love.” I had the kids say the verse with me as I wrote it on the paper. This kept them involved and helped them begin to memorize it. They each also chose their own color of marker. If they are older, they can write it themselves.

Next I laid out my multicolored hearts which I had cut into 2 sizes. They each picked several. I had them tell me different people they knew. They loved this and were excited to tell me everyone! This took a while. ☺ We wrote each name on a different heart.

Next I gave them each 3-4 pieces of ribbon to tape onto the back of their cloud.

Then we attached each heart to the ribbon with tape. The idea is God’s love reaching down to each person.

Lastly, we reviewed how God loves each person with an everlasting, unchanging, and overflowing love. And He loves them with the same kind of love, no matter what.

The kids really got the point of this craft and they were excited to have a visual of some of the people God loves.

In this is love, not that we have loved God

but that he loved us

and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

I John 4:10

 

-Lydia

 

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To the Mom Who Doesn’t Have Time

To the Mom who doesn’t have time:

​You know the days where it takes you until lunch time to clean up breakfast? The ones where you efficiently do 3 loads of laundry and then they stack up on the couch? Have you had one of those days where you try ALL day to get supper in the crock pot, the time slot passes you by for both high and low settings, so you decide to cook something on the stove instead… but then that time slot passes as well and you end up serving peanut butter and honey sandwiches for supper—again? And what about those days where your child wants to do a project with you, but you just can’t quite seem to get the house cleaned up enough to clear a spot so you can cut and glue together? Those are the heartbreaking moments. The ones where you want to imagespend time with this sweet child you are raising, but you just don’t seem to have time.

​To the Mom who doesn’t have time, I am right there with you! The days I described above have basically been my life the last few months. I have a baby who nurses hourly around the clock and through the night. I’m exhausted. Our family is in a constant state of the unknown and the emotional aspect of the situation is wearing me down hard. I can’t seem to keep up with anything. Then I wonder, “how am I supposed to spend time with my children?” How do I find time to read the 39 books they so excitedly chose from the library last week? How do I find time to complete the adorable craft projects and educational ideas I’ve been pinning on Pinterest during my many nursing sessions each day? How will my children learn important life skills if I don’t have time to teach them? Then it hit me…

​They will learn them from me and it’s okay if it is through everyday life.

​You see, my kids will learn more from how I handle life than they will sitting on the couch reading a book with me or sitting at the table gluing a perfectly prepared craft project. The difference is in how I choose to respond to the trials set before me.

​I can yell at them to go play in the other room so I can conquer the dishes, or I can choose to demonstrate a right attitude and even teach them how to conquer a daunting task as I systematically rinse off the dishes and put them in the dishwasher before I tackle those I hand wash.

​I can complain about peanut butter and honey sandwiches AGAIN, or I can explain to them the wonders of improvisation as supper approaches and I serve them a different option than planned.

​I can rant about not having enough time, or I can teach them time management as we figure out a way to sneak in a quick craft project.​

​Parenting isn’t about the external. It’s about including your kids on the internal. Transparently showing them the reasons for the things we do, including them on your struggles, openly teaching them through your own mistakes, and honestly relating the truth to them day in and day out. Parenting is about the teachable moments and those moments often come through unlikely circumstances.

​To the mom who doesn’t have time, it’s okay. Let’s make the most of what we do have: everyday life–and teach our children to the best of our abilities.

 

-Lydia

Minimize Maximize

Raising Lights: Minimizing the Wants to Maximize the Needs

Beyond salvation and a godly marriage, my children are the greatest gifts I have ever been given.

Sometimes it makes me totally speechless how amazing it is to be their mom. To watch them grow, discover, and become men and women of God.

It awes me beyond words that before the foundations of the earth, God had a plan for each of them – to play a part in His eternal story – and that through these little ones, He will raise up the next generation of Christ-fearing men and women.

They are the greatest thing I will leave behind. My heritage – to live on decades and even centuries after I am in Heaven.

As their mom, I want to open every door and opportunity possible. I want to give them every tool they could ever need.

However, (like most of us) I have a limited amount of energy and an even more limited budget.

Having limited resources is not a bad thing; It is an opportunity to choose best over secondary.

It’s a chance for us as parents to stand back and say ” I cannot give my children ‘everything,’ but I can give them what’s important – so what is important?”

And this opportunity – brought on by a tight budget and limited energy – creates the need for purposeful and thoughtful parenting.

I’ve needed to think A LOT about what my children’s most important needs are – and what the ‘needs’ are that I’ve simply perceived based on the loves I’ve adopted from society.

With everything, you need to minimize things – in order to maximize the pursuit of what you value.

No great thing is achieved without great sacrifice.

I want to make sure that the things I’m sacrificing are not the real needs but the extras that I’ve simply been perceiving as ‘needs.’

Example: Our family budget is such that I am able to stay at home and be with my children – at the cost of living in a small house, shopping at Goodwill and limiting trips to business and family.

This is hard for me sometimes as I feel like I would like to give my children ‘better.’

A society that measures ones’ worth by their designer clothes and house screams at me that my children should be wearing Tommy Hilfiger, each have their own room, and be enrolled in expensive dance lessons.

But then I re-evaluate.

I even go write lists about what my children ‘need’ so that I can read it and remember what I need to minimize and what I need to maximize.image

More then being known as kids who have nice clothes and cool rooms, I want my kids’ character to shine as lights.

  • I want my children to be thankful, be diligent, and be good at getting along with others.

A shared room makes them learn to share, clean up, and be patient with each other.

(My limited resources are not hindering my most important tool I want to give them (good character). Their less-than-perfect situation is HELPING with my biggest goal for them!!)

  • I want my children to learn to be good stewards.

Because of our low budget, they are already learning about buying things that are a good value and a good price.

  • I want my children to be content.image

There are physical things I’ve determined each of my children will always have no matter what.

(They each have their own toy basket for their special toys and a different basket for own clothes. They each have their own bed to go and read and be alone. They each have scheduled ‘dates’ with my husband and with me. Soon they will each have their own desk to get their homework done in a designated quiet room. They each cover the same school material every year from 2 years up and each have that daily alone time with me.)

But for all the society – ordained ‘needs,’  they have been learning to be content on far less then society’s representation of the ‘ideal,’ and that has actually helped with their character training not hindered it.

  • I want my children to work for what they want.

The life tools that will help them most to become successful adults come through struggle and hard work.

Fortitude, discipline, and courage can only come through stretching situations. I don’t need a ton of resources to teach them that.

 

My children will not be getting very high allowances in high school. But I do plan on helping them start their own little businesses on Etsy or trying lawn/cleaning/babysitting services to neighbors. They will learn about business planning, target audiences and marketing, and they will learn how to work with people and be worthy of their wages.

And yes, (addressing one of the biggest questions people ask parents with limited resources) we will not be able to pay for our children’s entire college education.

(At least I doubt we will.)

But I am a firm believer in students having to pay at least part of their own way.

While we do have plans in play to provide as much as half of their education costs, much of their education will be paid for by their own sweat.

Why is that a good thing? When they finish college, they will actually have  job experience on their resume and will appreciate the degree that they had to sacrifice for, work for, and fight for.

My parents could have afforded to pay for my entire education. I am glad they didn’t. They paid for half, and I paid for the rest – sometimes easing my financial burden by academic scholarships or less expensive correspondence classes. I had to sit out of college two semesters to work, worked every every summer and almost every semester and used my entire high school savings as well.

I learned to covet that degree and when I was in that classroom, I hung on every word the teachers taught. I had to work for the thing I wanted and never took it lightly.

And already I am already trying to teach my children that mindset. When they want a toy at Walmart, I give them jobs to earn it. Even at 3 and 4 they are learning to work for things and, in the safety of home, learning money sense.

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, I want my children to define themselves and their worth by their identity in Christ.image

And that once again gets back to focus. If my focus is on Christ, then I can learn to look past our clothes and house and see that we are precious in His plan.

With one look at His awesome majesty, I can clear away the clutter of society’s perceptions of ‘needs’ – and recognize that we were bought for an unfathomable price.

When my focus is turned to my identity in Him, His light shines on those perceived needs and reveals them to be the shallow kitsch that they are.

Then I’m free to pursue the real needs – Him – and teaching my children about Him and the glorious identity they can find in Him.

They do not need a nice house or name brand clothes to help them succeed.

They need a mama who puts Christ first and, looking through His glory can minimize the distractions and maximize the pursuit of real needs – helping her children to know Christ and learning to pursue Him.

-Verity

IMG_3365

Thank You Notes with Kids

It’s so important for thank you notes with kids, to teach them to stop and thank others!

Now that we are couple of weeks into January and the excitement of Christmas and the pure giddiness of the influx of presents is wearing off, I thought I would talk a little about children giving thanks.

My kids and I have slowly made it a practice as they are able to articulate and express thanks, to write thank you notes to the relatives after holidays and birthdays. My son just turned 4 and my oldest daughter is 2, so sometimes this is interesting, but here is our progression of what we have done.

Last year, I simply used Word Art on my computer to write “Thank you” in giant bubble letters and let them color it. I folded it to resemble a large card and wrote my thank you notes to the relatives inside.

By my son’s 4th birthday, he was able to dictate his notes to me and then I wrote them on stationary. I started by telling/showing him the gift that was given, and then I encouraged him to say, “Thank you for ________. I like it because_________. I’m excited about it because of ___________.” And so on.

By Christmas this year, I was ready to loosen the reigns a bit and see how the kids did. My 2 year old is unusually bright, and after watching her brother, she was ready to jump in and take part as well.

I printed several of THESE (Thank you note Template) thank you notes I made. The kids took charge of coloring them individually and eagerly asked the favorite colors of each relative who would be receiving them, so I was sure to write “Dear ________,” at the top as they finished each one so I could keep track. ☺

Next, I had them dictate their notes and I wrote them down word for word—or VERY close to it.  Most of the time, their comments were meaningful and fitting, but I just have to share a particularly funny note from my sometimes overly dramatic daughter.

IMG_3366Dear _______________

Thank you for giving me Kate. Kate is my favorite because I just really like Kate. I just really want to keep her forever and ever and ever! I barely play with her.

Abigail

Clearly, I left this italicized phrase out of the note, but it was funny nonetheless! To her credit, she had gotten extremely sick the day after Christmas and had barely played with any of her toys at that point, but you never know what will come out of the mouth of a 2 year old! ☺

Humor aside, it’s so important to get kids actively in the habit of giving thanks at young ages. We also take pictures and videotape when they open many of their gifts so we can send them to the relatives that day. The kids know this and are accustomed to the practice.

If we don’t teach our children to give thanks at an early age, when will we teach them? Giving thanks needs to be as much a part of our life as breathing and our kids need to learn this.  A thankful spirit affects our attitude as we go throughout the day, it affects our dealings with other people, the purchases we make, how well we sleep at night, and our view on pretty much everything!

Each night, we ask our children to share a blessing from that day. It can be something they received, something they did or enjoyed, or just something they’re thankful for. We then sing the doxology which begins, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!” My kids look forward to this time all day and are quick to remind me if I miss it in the craziness of getting them to bed. We have spent much time in those moments before bed (on the calmer nights) discussing the meaning behind each phrase of the doxology and why we give thanks. They have memorized Bible verses on giving thanks, and have learned to tell others “thank you” whenever needed.

I’m not saying we “have it all together” when teaching our kids to give thanks, but I do think that as parents we need to be intentional about teaching them to give thanks. Here is a list of things that we do that help in this area and might be helpful if you want to encourage thankful hearts in your children.

  • Look for teachable moments to point out blessings throughout the day.
  • When they are babies, say “thank you” each time they hand you a toy.
  • Encourage them to do the same.
  • Tell them who has given them a gift and encourage them to thank that person.
  • Look for creative ways to thank people. With kids, you often have to think outside the box. Can they color a picture for someone, help make cookies for them, talk to them on the phone, pose for a picture with their new toy, dictate a note or email, make a craft project to give to someone…?
  • Have a set time when they pray and thank God for specific things from the day.
  • Teach them verses on giving thanks.
  • Study Bible stories about people who gave thanks.
  • Teach them what thanks means and role play what it looks like.
  • As part of asking to be excused from the table, teach them to thank the cook or the provider of the food if someone bought it.

These are just a few ideas to get your mind going about ways to teach kids to be thankful and to express it to others. What are some things you’ve done with your kids?

We have so much to be thankful for, but if we don’t teach our children to look for it and express thanks, they could miss so much! Let’s seize these teachable moments while our children are young and others will be gladly affected by their actions!

I love this opportunity using thank you notes with kids to help them be more thankful!!

-Lydia

(For more great kid activities for toddlers and preschoolers, check out our page HERE)