3 gifts that can change the course of your child’s school year.

A lot of schools start up today in our area and possibly in yours too. We all remember those first day jitters and excitement. New backpacks, new school clothes and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils accompany little feet walking into hallways.

Soon enough though the newness wears off and the pressures of school work, mean kids and peer pressure can take its toll on our little ones and even the big high schoolers. As parents we can feel helpless at times sending our kids out the door with only a hug and a kiss not knowing what they could be walking into that particular day.

Whether you have a little one or a big one at school consider giving these three gifts to your child this year.  I promise it WILL make a difference. A difference in their school day, their school year and a marked difference in their life. And better yet – they’re free!

1. Read the Bible together as a family every morning. 

Be aware that this will not come easy. Satan will throw up every possible hinderance and road block on school mornings that you attempt to do this. But I promise you it will be well worth the time. Equipping ourselves and our children with the powerful word of God is school day changing, school year changing and life changing. Why would we not fight for this? Need a good Bible reading plan? Check out this app (what we’ve been using as a family) or this. There are a lot of good bible reading plans. Or just start with a few verses in Proverbs each day. It only takes setting the clock for an extra 15-20 minutes to do this. You can’t do anything better than this to start out your day.

2. Pray for your child/ren every day. 

I am a firm believer in writing and documenting prayers.When I look back and see what I’ve been praying for my kids and how God answers those requests my faith is strengthened. I can point out to our kids how God answered prayer and is alive and working. Ask your kids how you can pray for them and also tell them how you are praying for them as God puts specific things on your heart throughout the year. Mom’s In Prayer is an excellent resource that brings Moms together in prayer once a week. This has been a part of my kids lives ever since they started school. On the way to school my kids will often ask, “Mom, who are you praying for today? Will you ask the Moms to pray about this_________.” And I love that they too are now counting on this weekly corporate time of prayer.

3. Send them off with a word of encouragement every single morning. 

This morning our daughter had rough morning including tears and frustration. She looked at me and said, “Mom, is it going to be a good day today?” I assured her it was but she wasn’t totally convinced and she asked, “How do you know?” Quickly the Lord impressed on my heart a visual of the morning glories that are in our neighbors yard. I said, “Soph, it’s because God’s mercies are new every single morning. And this morning you have new mercies that you didn’t have yesterday from God.” I wanted to show her the morning glories and explain how they work – they only bloom once and are good for that day. They usually fall off at the end of the day and then new blooms come in the morning. And so I was able to send her off with the encouragement of “Look for your new mercies today sweet girl. They are there for you.” Other days are simply, “Hey, you are going to have a great day today.” Or “Sophie, you’re a good friend and today you have another chance to be a good friend to someone who needs it.” Our son needs to hear the encouragement that he is going to make wise choices today and will be a better person because of it. Speak life over your kids as they leave the comforts of their home. And on those really rough mornings when you don’t feel like saying anything encouraging at all remind them how much you love them – always and no matter what.

So here’s to the start of great new school year! May God grow your family as you spend time in his word, pray and speak life into your children.

Linking with KellyLauraJen, Jennifer, Barbie, Sharita, HolleyKristin and Mom2Mom

God uses other people to speak truth into our kids lives – foster it!

I love for our kids to have other godly people to pour into their lives besides me and Randy. Of course our parenting relationship is key in teaching and training our kids. But I also think our kids need to hear some of those same messages from other people. It adds another layer of truth from a different voice and I think that’s healthy. This is why Sunday School and Youth Group are so important. But even beyond that – mentoring, discipleship or even just divine random words of encouragement and speaking truth.

That’s why when I heard an incredible story from a friend of ours about sharing her faith with her physical therapist I just had to have my kids hear it too. My friend, Cathy, came over to share what all God did (amazing story!!! will share here later) and as we got started I asked her if it was okay for Mitchell and Sophie to sit in and listen. She agreed and both kids were wrapped into the story as much as I was.

The one thing I’d worked with the kids on this summer was learning the Romans Road verses that tell us of our problem and need for Jesus – the solution and answer to our greatest issue.  Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-10 are all short scriptures that sum up salvation. To me this is an incredible tool to have in our pockets as believers. I want my kids to know how to lead someone to Christ and be able to show them from scripture. I printed the verses on strips of paper and we worked on putting them in order, playing “sparkle” a game that helps them memorize, role played and did some other things to help get these verses into their minds.

We can help our kids memorize and get stuff in their minds all day long but only the Holy Spirit can get his stuff in their hearts. So I feel like the day Cathy came to visit us was a day the Holy Spirit used to do just that – reach their hearts. We didn’t rehearse Bible verses and order of verses that day. Instead they got to hear how the Holy Spirit led Cathy to tell a nonbeliever about Jesus. It was hearing how this stuff works in real life – on the streets – at work – at play. A connection was made and we’re still talking about it in our family. Cathy actually just shared this with our church yesterday morning which was pretty cool.

So I’m going to keep praying that God puts godly influences in my children’s lives because they need to hear the voice of truth from multiple sources – not just their Mom and Dad. But hey – if we were the only ones speaking truth into their lives it would be okay. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t feel like you have an incredibly great support system around your children. Pray for God to raise up people in your child’s life that will speak godly truth into them.

Father, I pray for our kids today and that you would raise up other godly influences in their life to add echos of the same truth we are trying to instill in them. Reach their hearts with your love. Open their eyes to more of you and let them follow you all the days of their lives. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Anti-Bullying Conversations at Home

Bullying is a serious thing no matter what type of environment our kids are in – homeschool, Christian school, public school. If they live in this world and you let them out of the house they will experience bullying in some fashion – either personally or around them. It’s not always easy to know what to do in those situations. It will help our kids to have thought through and talked through what they can do when a bullying situation arises.

This tragic story broke my heart and led me to have a serious and specific conversation with our kids about what types of videos are appropriate to take and what’s not.

I love how Dateline is addressing the bullying issue by educating both parents and kids on what it looks like to bully and how to effectively address bullying. I showed this video to our kids and they really liked seeing what other kids did in a bullying situation. Watch for the Dad’s response to his daughter. It is priceless. I almost cried when I saw it. Loved it so much.

It’s a few weeks until school starts but we’re starting the conversation on bullying now, watching some videos, hearing real stories of the effects of bullying and talking about how to distract a bully and support others who are being bullied.

Are there other good resources out there for our kids to know about when it comes to bullying? Please share.

Linking with Laura today.

 

Helping our kids navigate social media

Our teenage son is wanting to have his own Youtube account so he can upload videos. He has no other personal social media outlet at this point because I’m a nazi Mom when it comes to protecting my kids online. I’ve seen too many families and kids hurt by the crap that’s out there. Addictions started by accidentally discovering porn and major self image issues because of bullying and cruelty online. However I do think social media can be a great way to express oneself and to point others to Christ if done appropriately. And let’s face it, it’s the world our kids live in. We can’t keep the from it forever. But we can guide them through it and set some healthy boundaries.

We use a screening service called “Net Nanny” for all our digital devices in our household. We love it. So through Net Nanny you pull up safari and it blocks out based on your settings (low, moderate, heavy) junk that’s out there. You can also monitor your child’s Facebook account through this service as well.

So here’s some basic guidelines that we are working through with our kids before they have any kind of an account where they’ll be taking and uploading photos & videos.

1) Post to God’s glory – doesn’t mean everything you post has to be about God but be sure He’ll be happy with what you’re posting.

2) No taking pics/videos or uploading pics/videos of yourself or others in inappropriate ways:   *no bathroom shots *no undies pics *no private part pics  (you’d just might be surprised at how this needs to be communicated even among Christian kids. Sexting somehow seems totally okay in the minds of many kids.)

3) Never post personal identifying information like your full name, address, age.

4) Don’t use bad language.

5) Don’t cut other people down.

6) Don’t post to brag or build yourself up.

7) Limit the selfies. 

8) Be helpful to others in your posts.

9) Don’t lie in your posts.

10) Try to point to God in creative ways in your posts.

11) Nevah evah link “likes, thumbs ups and comments” to your worth and identity. “Likes” don’t determine anything about value so don’t look to the number of likes to affirm who you are or what you’re posting about.

12) This world can be cruel and at some point you will get negative or mean comments – determine now that you will not let that crush you. See #11.

13) Remember that God’s view and the world’s view will always collide on this earth. Be a light and represent God’s view whenever posting on social media. Constantly ask yourself, “Is what I’m looking at and what I’m posting representing God’s view or the world’s view?”

What else would you add to the conversation with our kids on uploading to social media? 

Linking with JJennifer, Holley and Kristin today because I like these chicks.

 

4 ways to help your kids have summer devotions

Oh how fast the Summer can fly when you’re swimming, camping and vacationing! And it’s so easy to let our time in God’s word be neglected. How much harder for our kids to keep their time in the Word if they’re not being encouraged by their parents. So here’s just a few thoughts on how parents can help their kids cultivate their walk with God.

1) Make devotions a part of your kids daily routine. Put it on the chore chart or however you communicate daily household responsibilities. This is a personal area of growth and maturity that can become just as regular as brushing teeth and taking a shower. Don’t feel bad about making a scheduled time for reading God’s Word as part of your child’s day. Some people resist “making” their teen go to church or their child read the Bible for fear it will turn them away if they don’t desire to do it in the first place. But consider the fact that we are called to train and disciple our children in the truths of God’s Word. And like any trainer will tell you there will be times when our trainees do not want to do what we ask them to do. It doesn’t mean you give in to their desires. You do what you know is best for them at that time for a greater purpose while praying God shapes their heart in a way that can only be shaped in communion with Him.

2) Show them how to have personal time in God’s word by doing it with them the first few times. Find a great devotional book for kids such as:

The adventures of Average Boy Devotional Book or Jesus Calling for kids (not letting me link for some weird reason). Both are excellent books. Average Boy Devotional book is hilarious and great for boys ages 8-14. Jesus Calling is great for younger ages as well.

Get a fun snazzy journal for them to record what they learned from the daily devotional as well as write any prayer requests.

3) Make it simple. No need to get all preachy and long winded. Let God’s Word speak for itself and the Holy Spirit speak through your kids. And then talk about it together. Pray and then end for St. Pete’s sake. If we turn this into a day of church at home you just might lose them.

Eventually our kids can do this on their own and that’s what we want for them….to become independent in their God-dependance.

Right now our son has more independence in his devotional time than our daughter. He’s 14 and she’s 8 so that makes sense. Mitchell takes his own time and uses his iPod to look up verses and answer short questions after each chapter in his Average Boy Devotional book. Sophie reads on her own and records in her journal but then she checks back in with me and shares with me what she has learned from her time with the Lord. I love this part of our relationship. Mitchell and I touch base a few times a week and talk about what he’s learning. It’s been really awesome to see them transition to time with God with me to time with God themselves. There is no greater joy than to know your children are walking with the Lord. And this is one way we can help our kids walk with the Lord.

4) Watch for the fruit of God’s word and reference it. What good is reading God’s word without putting it into practice? So when you see your child putting what they learned into practice or you see evidence of the truths they learned in their devotional time be oh so quick to point it out to them. Recalling where God is at work will help them watch for God sightings on their own.

Have you found some good kids’ devotionals lately? If so, I’d love to hear about them.

 

 

 

Epic Mommy Moments

We’ve all had those Mommy memories that will forever be stamped in our minds. The ones we don’t want to ever forget and the ones we’d pay big money to forget! Both are necessary in this journey called Motherhood. The precious memories keep us going and the hard and not fun memories make us stronger and our relationships deeper with our children. So whatever season of Motherhood we’re in – sweet, tender, awesome, crazy-hard, challenging or down right miserable know that they are all making something beautiful out of both you and your children.

Today when I contemplate special, funny and less than stellar memories with my kids this is what comes to mind:

  • At three years old Mitchell spotted a purple violet in a field and ran about half a mile to pick it and run back to give it to me. We were at on outside event and music was blaring and I couldn’t hear a word he was saying but his lips were moving and his little legs motoring as fast as they could. Breathless he handed me the flower and said, “I gotted this just for you Mom!” I kept it in my Bible for years and then lost it accidentally.
  • While in line at Old Navy four year old Sophie was looking at the toy rack a few steps away. I start to hear music and soon realize she is playing a toy flute – with.her.nostrils.
  • The time Sophie got in trouble for disobeying and I told her to go write sentences. With great confusion and frustration in her eyes she said, “But Mama, I don’t even know how to write!” Oh yeah, that’s right, you don’t. Well, give me a minute and I’ll think of something!
  • How about when Mitchell at four years old is performing at another church’s vbs program and during the song he decides to break out into his own Elvis Pelvis moves and brings the house down. Randy I fought over who could go pick him up when his name was called at the end of the program. If I recall correctly we got a round of applause when we went down to get him.
  • The dates Mitchell and I used to have together where he would take me out for a donut or ice cream, order and pay for me and open the door for me. We’d talk about boy stuff – bugs, animals and adventures. I miss those days. We simply must start it again.
  • Sophie copped an attitude with me over a pineapple at Walmart and was pitching a tantrum over us not buying it. I bent down and told her I was going to take her whiney words and flush them down the toilet. I felt the rush of regret as soon as it came out. I’d never said anything like that before. Where did it even come from?! As I stood up after my potty mouth correction and turned around there was a church member’s son staring right at me. Mortified and guilt ridden.
  • The precious prayers of my children over me melt my heart like nothing else does. I’ve experienced this more recently with this leg injury and it really does warm my heart unlike anything else.
  • Three weeks ago Sophie informed me she was too old to hold my hand in a parking lot. We had just finished up our discipleship time at McD’s and so she had my Bible in her hand. We got in the car and I was flipping out over her thinking she was too old to hold my hand. I was joking and pretending to gasp for breath out of shock over it. When we got int he car she held up her Bible and said, “I have a Bible in my hand and I’m not afraid to use it!” I looked at her and said, “You’d really try to bonk me with the Word of God?” She laughed and then said I was the one being sacrilegious. Sigh.
  • When my son threw me under the bus in Youth Group a few weeks ago. “When I apologize to my Mom she says back to me, ‘Well, I’m sorry too, now go to your room!’ It’s true I sometimes say, “I’m sorry too” after an apology that seems half witted. But I don’t send him to his room. When I asked him about it he said, “Oh yeah, I kind of made that part up. Ha! Ha!” Then I sent him to his room. Just Kidding. It did provide a great conversation though and I did need to apologize for being insensitive when he apologizes.
  • Mitchell and Sophie spending the night with me in the hospital last week and helping take care of me has been humbling and sweet. I know they love me and they know I love them. It has been proven time and time again.

Happy Mother’s Day friends!

Secret Keeper Girls was a BLAST!

We had the best time at the Secret Keeper Girl Crazy Hair Tour last Saturday! Mom’s of tweens, (ages 8-12) if you ever have a chance to attend this conference with your girl I promise you it will be an awesome time together with your girl. FUN, Spirit-led, Biblical truths that you want your girl hearing from other people than just you….and so much more. Awesome event. Only $15 and so worth it. Get your girls friends and their Moms to go with you too. It’s this good people. Really, it is.

IMG_1794 IMG_1792 IMG_1783

Sophie and I are going to be working through this book together on Saturday mornings at McDonald’s. I also have two others that we’ll be going through in the future together. There are some really good materials through Secret Keeper Girl that hit important topics with directness and from a strong Biblical foundation.

 

 

 

Dad’s, date your daughters before others do.

Dads, you will never know how much special time with your daughter means to her. All little girls desire to be cherished and loved by her earthly Daddy. And nothing says “I love you” more than special time set up for just you and her. A Daddy-daughter date. A Father reaches a daughter’s heart in a unique way that a Mother can’t and so that special time together is so important.

This is what it looked like for our daughter and her Daddy as they went out on a fancy date tonight. Randy gave her a handwritten invitation and had it ready for her this morning at the breakfast table. She was surprised and beyond thrilled to open something with her name on it.

IMG_1548

She ran upstairs and said, “MOM! Daddy and I are going on a date tonight and we’re going to eat at a restaurant and then see Cinderella!!!” And then we screamed together because that’s what girls do when they get asked out on a date. They feel so special that they scream and dance in place.

Later Sophie said, “I don’t know what half those big words mean in that invitation but I sure am excited.” We laughed and then Randy explained what the “big words” meant. Ha!

IMG_1550

It’s cold and rainy outside and Easter hasn’t happened and in the South you don’t pull out white anything until Easter Sunday but for Daddy-daughter dates all those rules go out the window. You just dress like a princess and nothing else matters. I curled her hair and she put on some lipgloss and she felt beautiful. And then she walked down the steps with her Daddy waiting downstairs for her.

I assured Sophie she would have a blast with Daddy because he is FUN to date. “He makes you feel so special on dates and treats you like a queen,” I assured her. She smiled and said, “He doesn’t have to be doing this but he is.” I said, “You’re right sweetheart. He doesn’t. He’s choosing to be with you tonight.” She was a sponge soaking up the thought that her Daddy wanted to be with her.

I kissed them both goodbye and off they went on their date.

I’m at home by myself tonight and I couldn’t be happier about it. My prayer is that while Sophie is on a date with her Daddy that she will learn what to desire in a young man one day. Not only that, but that she will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that her earthly father loves her unconditionally. And that this love will point her to her heavenly Father who not only loves unconditional but loves her perfectly. This what a father can teach his girl if he chooses to take the time to date her.

Some people call this video creepy but I think it’s really cute and demonstrates clearly that even the smallest of little girls love to be with their Daddy on a date.

Some Daddy-daughter date ideas:

  • McDonalds lunch just the two of you. Ask her about her friends and what they play on the playground.
  • Get an ice cream cone together. Ask her what her favorite song is and pull it up on your phone. Share earbuds and listen to the song together.
  • Take her out somewhere special for dinner.
  • Go see a movie together
  • Invite her to the hardware store with you and let her help you with a project. Doesn’t sound like a girly date but little girls love to be a part of their Dad’s world. Let her help even if it’s harder to do with her help.

If you’re a single Mom and your daughter does not have a Father figure in her life right now I want you to know that her heavenly Father is the Father to the fatherless. This is what He says of Himself and if you believe God to be true to his word then you can find such comfort in this. Your daughter has the heart of her heavenly Father in a unique way. He is watching over her and I believe with all my heart as you seek Him He will redeem what is lost in the years of not having an attentive earthly Father. Do not grieve with no hope on behalf of your daughter but cling to the fact that her heavenly Father is sufficient and nothing – not even the absence of her earthly father can thwart God’s plan for you or for your daughter.

So Dad’s, start dating your girls before the boys in her class do. Set the standard high. Open the door for her and pull the chair out for her. Treat her with a gentle respect that might be hard to find but will be worth waiting for one day. Tell her the things you see Jesus doing in her life in addition to how pretty she is. Let her know by spending special time with her that you cherish her. And know that it’s never too early to start praying for the man that will one day be dating her more than you.

Linking with Laura and Jen

 

A new kind of Spring blooms you will just love!

IMG_1547

This is my idea of the perfect set of blooms because you don’t have to remember to water them and they stay yellow year round. Heck you can even snag a cup of water on a rainy day without having to go back inside.

For real, how red neck can you get?

Our son put these out for some air soft target shooting this week. I thought it was pretty clever. And tacky. They will probably stay there until next Christmas. Isn’t that lovely.

Okay, so for some random weekend thoughts:

Mitchell gets to go to Dnow with his Youth Group this weekend. It’s his first time going and we’re really excited for him. He’s looking forward to it. They’re donating food for a backpack program for kids in the school system who could use the extra food over the weekend.  I love that he’s getting to participate in this! I didn’t grow up going to Dnow and didn’t hear about it until a few years ago. I’m really glad our Youth Pastor has seen this as an important part for our youth group and has encouraged our kids to go.

Randy and Sophie will have a Daddy-daughter date and will be seeing Cinderella together on Saturday. But she doesn’t know yet so don’t spoil the surprise if you know her in real life. She will be getting her special invitation from her Dad soon.

Me? Well, me and one of my BFF’s is going to get our toes done. We’ve been sending obscene pictures of our horrible chipped off toe nails to each other for the past two months saying “when are we getting our toes done?!!” So it’s time. The world will be a better place after our toes get cleaned up.

So that’s what our weekend looks like unless the Lord intervenes with other plans.

I hope you have a fantastical weekend!

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Son – Here’s some Porn!

If you are a parent and you are not proactively protecting your child from what they have access to on their phones, iPods, iPads and computers then chances are your kids have been or are being exposed to soft or hard core porn.

It’s not necessarily because kids are looking for it although kids are curious. Today instead of having to look through a dictionary for dirty words they can google them and see lots of pictures along with the definition. I think many times exposure to porn starts as an accidental occurrences of pop up porn and then curiosity follows.

I’ve talked with many Christian parents and grandparents in the last year whose kids have been exposed to extremely graphic hard core porn – videos on youtube. Pictures on google. They were devastated to find such explicit material and to know their kids had been exposed to that.

This stuff is in the palms of our children and it’s only one click away. And while training our children to have a heart that loves and follows God is what will ultimately keep ourselves and our kids away from this junk we hardly have time to get through the training process without them being exposed to it so early.

That’s why I believe it’s imperative to have safeguards in place. There are a lot of ways to do that. We have found http://iparent.tv to be extremely helpful. They offer filters and guidelines for parents. In just a few minutes you can find out how Snapchat, Badoo, Instagram and other popular social media sites work. I bought the app for my phone because I want to know what’s out there and what kids are into these days. I’m not a social media expert but these people are and they know parents don’t have a lot of time to go research this stuff out so they have done it for us! It’s awesome. So worth the time in snooping around their site.

Don’t have the money to purchase a filter? No problem. There are good ole fashion, free ways like simply saying, “No” to your 4th grader who is begging for an iPhone with Youtube on it. Or maybe you feel your child is old enough for a phone but you don’t want access to the internet – simple, don’t install it. You have the power to take off those apps. Surely there will be push back on your kids end but it’s time to step up and be the parent in this area.

I hear over and over an attitude from parents that they have no choice in the matter when it comes to their kids devices. They feel powerless. Like it’s a domain that can’t be touched because it’s so personal and because they don’t understand how some of the apps work.

Two things to remember here:

1) Get educated. Use sites like the one I’m recommending (no kickbacks for me on this – I just believe in it) Go to a phone store of the Apple store and have a conversation to find out the questions you have about your child’s phone.

2) Remember this: Your child doesn’t have a right to privacy. I know that’s what you hear them say. But until your child turns 18 and doesn’t live under your roof they have NO right to privacy. Feel no guilt over this. It’s the way it should be. Yes, even if they are a teen and paying their own cell phone bill they have no privacy.

I believe with age should come more freedom and so while accountability is still in place – whether it’s a filter or a tracking app or you checking their phone – you can still grant more freedom and space with age so they can learn to navigate through mistakes and actually have the chance to exercise discipline in the area of guarding their eyes.

I feel very passionate about this stuff because I’ve talked to way too many people with kids my age and younger who have been exposed to such graphic sites. There are such deep consequences to this stuff and I don’t want to see a culture hindered from God’s work because of an addiction that led to failed relationships all because of a little 4×5 wide open device parents handed over with such excitement.

May God give us wisdom in training our kids in a culture that is rushing them into sexual perversion and immorality. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Let’s hang on to that and know that our God is more powerful than the images satan is trying to throw in our faces.

Linking with Kristin, Jennifer and Holley today.