Category Archives: Real Life

Homemade Father’s Day Gift

(Pssst – Brad, you’re not allowed to read!) 😉

Does the homemade Father’s Day gift elude you? Maybe your husband is like mine: he doesn’t spend all of his time golfing or fishing, and he never wears a tie.

But – he has a sentimental heart, and he prefers words of affirmation to tangible gifts. The kids and I made him something special as part of our Intentional June series. We’re pairing this with two tangible gifts we know he will love as well.

Homemade Christian Father's Day Gift

In June, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 2 – Follow Daddy as he follows Christ

Father’s Day is this coming Sunday! There are so many wonderful “daddy” oriented things we could talk about – God is our heavenly father. We are adopted into God’s kingdom through Jesus. Honor your father. So many!! Please choose your own intentional way to spend Father’s Day.

For us, we’re making our good earthly daddy a gift to show him how we see him striving to follow Jesus, our Savior. He encourages us to press harder into our faith! For our daddy, there could be no greater compliment.

And who doesn’t love kiddo footprints?? Nobody. Nuff said.

How to Make a Homemade Christian Father’s Day Gift from Children

Homemade Christian Father's Day Gift

  • Choose a heavyweight paper, such as cardstock. You may also use an artist’s canvas. We will probably store ours at some point, so I wanted to make it flat.
  • Examine your husband’s shoe tread (haha!). Choose a pair of shoes with a “good looking” tread, but don’t choose his running shoes or work boots – you don’t want to ruin the stickiness of his shoes! I used acrilyc paint, which is water based and probably fine, but I certainly didn’t want to take a chance.
  • Don’t dip the shoe in paint! Instead, use a foam brush to brush the paint only on the tread you want covered. Notice, we left the arch blank on purpose.
  • Create the daddy footprints by rolling the shoe from heel to toe on the page, and let dry. The drying takes about 30-45 minutes.
  • In lighter paint, brush paint on your kiddo’s foot. Be sure to decide whether you’re doing a left or right foot before you paint.
  • Support them and help them step and press their foot onto the page.
  • Repeat with 3 kids, including a baby in a bouncer seat. Ha!
  • After drying, choose the scripture focus for your dad. John 3:16 is a great alternative to the one we used. Add the verses to the page.

The verse we focused on is:

 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV)

That’s what our daddy does – he sets a great example of a humble man following Christ! And we want to follow in his footprints.

Marriage: It’s Not a Competition

I talked my sister-from-another-mister Chrissy into sharing some wisdom on the blog today while I’m on vacation! God bless you sis for putting it out there for us! I love her teachable heart – we can all learn something from this post. Give her some social media love and check out her blog about being a merchant marine wife!
I’m not a competitive person by nature but I’ve found myself competing with my husband. It started after I gave birth to our oldest daughter. I would get angry anytime he would call and complain that he was tired or worked hard that day.

“He has no clue!”
“At least he gets to sleep in peace every night!”
“How dare he call and dump all of his problems on me…he clearly has no idea how worn out I am!”

When we had our second child it only got worse. I became more bitter. I found myself angry at him but yearning to connect with him at the same time.

Marriage is not a competition
Thankfully God gave me some gentle nudging toward how selfish and wrong I was! I took a year long course called Biblical Womanhood this past year and my biggest takeaway was that my husband and I were created differently with different roles in mind.

Nurturing is in my DNA. I don’t have to try very hard to love my kids. It comes naturally. Those daily tasks I want to complain about so much… the middle of the night nursing, the endless laundry, the toddler tantrums, the same bedtime routine every night, the exhaustion… it’s just part of the package. In truth, my dream package. I’ve never had more fulfilling work than being a mother. Yes, it’s work, but it comes with a deep satisfaction.

Now my husband on the other hand. He has this huge weight of being the only provider for our family. Our entire livelihood hangs on his decisions every day. One wrong move or bad call and he will probably end up without a job (best case scenario) in jail or even dead. He sometimes works 24 hour days on a steel deck in blizzards and 15 ft seas. He goes without eating or sleeping if the job requires it. He is away from his entire support system for weeks at a time.

So when he calls to unload or tell me how tired he is, why am I angry?! Don’t I want to be that person for him? Would I rather he call someone else to vent about his day?

Instead of competing with my husband for who had the hardest day, who got the least amount of sleep, who works harder/longer. I want to help him up. I want to appreciate what he does for us. He showers me with appreciation. I get messages like this all day long:

“I don’t know how you do it. You’re amazing! Our girls are so lucky to have you!”
“I’m praying for you babe! I hope you get some good sleep tonight.”
“How was your night? I have a long day ahead but I will call as soon as I can!”

And he does.

So when that call comes, I want to love him, encourage him, respect him. I want to listen to what he went through. I still share my struggles but it looks less like a competition and more like two best friends catching up.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Chrissy DoucetChrissy is a Stay-at-Home mom of two and wife to Merchant Marine. She sporadically updates her blog with posts on family life, healthy living, fitness and the occasional recipe.

Use Your Beach Trip to Talk About God

Use Your Beach Trip to Talk about God

In June, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 1 – Talk about God at the Beach

This week, my family is on staycation!! We’re heading down to the coast for an (insane) there-and-back-in-the-same-day trek. So our craft for this week has to be on the beach!

Since I’d like to avoid bringing a bunch of supplies, and we’re going to be in the sun all day, we’re going to do some shadow activities! Here are the ones I’d like to try:

Taking a family “shadow picture”, like this: Idea here.

I also think making a sundial would be really easy and neat for the kids.

But we might just make a sand volcano (not a shadow activity) b/c that sounds really fun!

Verse focus for shadow activities:

“…you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 63:7

This entire psalm is so powerful to pray for reliance on the Lord. God is our protector and our refuge!

And… let’s not make this too complicated. We’re at – THE OCEAN. Besides talking about God’s creative nature in designing the ocean, this passage from Job contemplates the infinitude of God.

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
    Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do?
    They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
    and wider than the sea. (Job 11:7-9, NIV)

 

Sowing in Tears – A Pastor’s Wife on Sunday Morning

I’m thrilled to have my friend Colette Loudin sharing a post with us today – this post is so personally challenging to me, and I know it will be to you, too. Please give her some share love on Facebook, Pinterest, etc., and check out her blog Lessons from the Sparrow.

I hugged him close as he clawed and scraped and tried to kick his sister over and over again. He was so frustrated, and I was too. He grunted and groaned quietly as he thrashed about, giving no ear to the message his dad was preaching right in front of him. I tried to calmly restrain him as tears streamed down my face.
Sowing in Tears - Sunday morning

“Sundays are just so hard, Mom.” I know, sweetheart. I know they are. But they’re worth it, too.

This precious son of six years is life and energy and cuddles and punches. He’s the one that hears the gospel over and over and over again as I hold him close and talk through what went wrong. He brings tears and fears and joy and laughter. Sometimes I don’t know how to love him well. Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting in the way of his seeing Christ. Sometimes I absolutely lose it on him. Because I can’t understand how in the world he could do the very thing we just talked about not doing. And then I see me. And my sin. Over and over and over again. The Israelites followed that path. And so often I have, too. And God disciplined them. He showed grace. He broke, and He mended. He fought for His people. And God disciplines me. He shows grace. He breaks, and He mends. He fights for me.

My eyes closed and opened to look at my husband standing behind the pulpit. And this vision came into my mind—my tough child, grown. A man, tall in stature and wise in heart. Standing at that same podium in that same church. The sunlight beaming through the stained glass behind him. And as he speaks to the people whom he now joins in faith, he looks at that front row where he spent his youth. I’m there—the whispers of years and time have painted my hair and kissed my face. And as he looks at me on that front pew, our eyes meet. A flood of memories washes over him. Our battles against sin…together. His face softens as he remembers the hard Sundays. And he understands in that moment the beauty of those struggles. The reward of it all.

My heart quieted. There was hope in that vision for me. Hope that, maybe one day, I will see the fruit of this labor.

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

I have no guarantee that my son will grow into a wise man who follows the Lord. There’s no protocol I could follow to produce a man of faith. That is entirely in the Lord’s hands. And there’s a freedom in that, too. It doesn’t depend on me. However, I do have the holy and heavy responsibility to diligently display God’s patience and goodness and grace to my children. To fight alongside them toward victory. Bearing the daily weight of that in the living out brings weeping and sorrow in response to my son’s sin. It is no easy thing to mother.
This Sunday, we will sit together and pray. He will pray, as he often does, that God will help him to listen and to obey. That God will calm his body and mind and help him do what he knows he should do in the church service. And he might find victory this Sunday. And he might not. But when he messes up, I will hug him close, love him gently, and speak the same truth into his little big heart. And I’ll hold that sweet vision ever before me. That one day, just maybe, I shall come home with shouts of joy because of the beautiful work God has done within him through these years of sowing. And I will look my precious, grown boy in the face, and our hearts will join with the Israelites in proclaiming, “ The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”

 

Colette LoudinColette is a lead pastor’s wife and mother of four whose passion is to awaken women to the great need of rightly studying the word and being an active part of the local church, no matter what season of life they are in. She loves all things birth and newborns, conversations about food allergies and gut health, and reaching out to the overlooked. You can follow her blog at lessonsfromthesparrow.wordpress.com.

Two Verses that will Change Your View of Your Husband

I don’t often think about how my husband views me; in fact, I’m confident in his love for me.

Maybe so confident that I neglect him. So confident that I don’t think about the temptations that surround him. Confident enough to shut my eyes and ears to how he serves me.
Change How You View Your Husband

I was literally startled when I read these verses in the Bible.

Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men. (Song of Solomon 2:2-3, NIV)

Am I like a lily among thorns to my husband?

That was the immediate question. And I knew the answer: I might be more like a thorn among thorns. 

Am I more like a thorn?

My husband is already in a patch of thorns!

  • the world’s troubles (John 16:33)
  • the curse of difficult work (Genesis 3:17)
  • bearing others’ burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • his own sin nature (Romans 3:23)
  • among others!

When he sees me, does he see a lily? Am I:

  • a rare treat?
  • refreshing his eyes and soul?
  • soft and gentle?
  • lovely?

I long to be as a lily to my husband

To be perfectly honest, this verse is comparing Solomon’s bride to other women. My husband, like many, is surrounded by other women all the time! While I completely trust him, I want to be the woman that stands out from the crowd. 

What if I am more like a thorn among lilies?

Yes, he has a responsibility to serve and love me no matter what, but my marriage will be markedly more wonderful if I’m committed to making that responsibility a joy and a treasure.

Do I see my husband as a gift?

Imagine you’re walking through a forest, thick with huge trees. Vines, brambles, and shrubs cover the trunks of the trees and the ground on which you’re treading. Bugs are everywhere. Ducking under a branch, you wipe cobwebs from your face, and look up to see a clearing. In the middle of the clearing is one, single, random apple tree.

That’s the way I need to view my husband. Not random haha. No, he’s a find!

In fact, the bride says of her husband:

  • I feel safe with him and trust that he is capable (“I delight to sit in his shade.”)
  • Having sex with him is a sweet delight to me (“His fruit is sweet to my taste.”)
  • When we’re together in public, I’m happy to see how he treasures me (“Let him lead me to the banquet hall.”)

Can I say those things? Or instead, do I think:

  • My husband is like a child and truly needs my help. I can’t trust him to do anything right.
  • He disgusts me. OR, being intimate with my husband is the last thing I want to do.
  • I take every chance to belittle and tease my husband when we’re among others. If he pays me a compliment, I turn it back into an attack on him.

These two tiny verses are challenging me to see my husband as the gift that he is and to strive to be a lily among thorns for him!

Did these verses challenge you to view your husband differently?

 

Teacher Gift Tag for Chai Latte – Free Printable

We love to bless our kiddos’ teachers. In fact, we work hard at it all year, bringing them little drinks, snacks, and gift cards. If I were a teacher who couldn’t leave campus to eat or grab a quick drink, a hot chai latte would be a blessing! And a cute gift tag wouldn’t hurt, would it?

Teacher Gift Tag Free Printable Chai Latte

Well, I’ve gotcha covered there! Apparently, I like puns, as this tag plus my free chips and queso gift tag will attest.

Before school pickup or dropoff, run through the drive thru and grab a latte. Slap a glue dot or piece of tape on that tag – or a ribbon if you happen to have cute things in your dungeon of a closet, like I do.

Or, if you happen to have the best-in-the-world chai mix on hand, make your own!

Deliver with a smile and a child who behaves well in class. 😉

Get the free printable here:

Chai Teacher Tag

How to Make a Summer Plan for Kids

School is rapidly winding down – what is your summer plan for your kids?

I work part-time and am home with my kids for the most part. As a planner myself, I don’t do well with much unstructured time. In fact, I might be the one lousing around the house saying “I’m bored!”

OK, maybe not.

I think it’s healthy for kids to have a break – they have a recovering perfectionist as a mom, so they need to see me resting and set a good pattern of rest for themselves.

However, I believe a loose plan sets us all up for happier, more engaged days. Less boredom equals less fighting (I hope!), more brain activity, more fun, and more relational capital.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV)

How to make a summer plan for kids

How to make a summer plan for kids

1. Plan vacations, camps, and VBSs first.

We have a staycation planned for this year since we took a large vacation last year and also had to replace our van. We’ve set events for each day and a budget for the week. That was the first thing on the summer calendar.

Plan vacations first - summer plan

We’re hosting a front yard Bible club this year through our church, and they all happen the same week. Now that we have a kiddo in school, I’m really excited to see this pulled off!

I have already planned for each of my kids to attend one summer camp – using budgeted money that won’t be spent on preschool. I decided to not have their camps on the same weeks so that the big kids get a little more of their own time with me. Well, with me and baby Katherine that is. 🙂

2. Plan adventure days and bucket list items next.

Is anyone else as excited as I am about Finding Dory coming out?? That might have gotten on my summer calendar ahead of the kids’ summer camps.

Look at all of the possible adventures in your city. Check out that local Pinterest board you’ve pinned to but never thought about again. Search your city’s blog for fun things to do.

We’ve lived in our city for 8 years, and there are still many things we haven’t done yet. Some of those are on our summer plan list. A few have hard and fast dates; others are just on “the list” for those free days.

There are also so many fun backyard adventures to have – I have a ton pinned here:

 

3. Plan the “standard” day last.

Once you have the big items on the calendar and a few of the one-off adventure days planned, think about what each “regular” day should look like.

Things I considered when making my loose, daily plan:

  • Spiritual goals: Evaluate where your kiddo is spiritually and choose some things that might enrich them spiritually. For the older teen, this might be your summer camp. For the grade-schooler, VBS might be your go-to. I encourage you to also think of a few things you can guide them in.
    • Maybe memorize 1 scripture applicable to them each month with a celebration at the end of the month (Fighter verses is a great app for memorizing.)
    • Perhaps the great reader can check out the Adventure Bible.
    • Your preschooler might be mastering the ideas of the gospel through loving conversation and discipline.
  • Educational goals: Our grade school teacher was great about giving me the growth areas for our kiddo as well as some great summer tools. For my kindergartner, I’m making goals for
    • reading
    • writing
    • math
  • Physical goals: Summer means water! Swim lessons or just having water time for familiarity is a big deal in our family. Maybe your child has a sport they regularly play and can incorporate some extra drills in a regular day.
  • Fun goals: What’s something fun your kid can’t always enjoy during the school year? Here are some ideas:
    • Video games (ours are off-limits on school days).
    • Play dates
    • Park days and picnics
    • Cooking kid-friendly recipes
    • Leisurely imagination or dress up play
    • Challenges (such as summer reading, music, or engineering)

Whew! That’s a lot, and really there’s more you can consider – in fact, I’d love it if you would share ideas in the comments or on the Facebook page!

4. Structure the day, but keep it loose.

Our regular day is going to look something like this:

Breakfast and get dressed

School activities, about 30 minutes. I will use a handful of on-level tasks plus a challenge task each day.

  • Kindergartner:
    • Handwriting – Name and Title case practice, Proverb a Day, Sentence structure practice
    • Puzzle worksheets – crack the codes/word search/crosswords (math and reading)
  • Preschooler:
      • Letter writing and sounds – I really like the School Zone books

Guided craft or free craft time with bin of supplies. Incorporate Scripture.

Physical Time! Kid yoga, tag, trampoline, play date, going on a walk or pool time

backyard fun - summer plan

Lunch, kid cooking when time/interest allows

Reading: 2 books or Smarty Pants cards as a group. 2 chapters of reading each day for the Kindergartner

Quiet Rest Time – I will have separate areas for the kids to have quiet play time with toys/books for a set time

Video game time – We love the educational app Starfall! My child who is not as interested in learning loves it, and I’ve seen her improve in letter sounds yay! It’s a steal for $35/year.

If there’s time left in the day, we will have more free play, which my kids love: legos, dolls, puzzles, board games, science experiments, backyard digging and play, etc.

This looks a little too structured, but I guarantee you, there’s time for it all plus some. Once I’ve made a plan, I stick to it generally and don’t feel any guilt whatsoever if I decide to change it later! After all,

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

As always, I will continue to re-evaluate my kids’ needs against the existing plan and modify as necessary. I’m looking forward to a (semi-planned) summer of fun!

 

 

Intentional May – Connecting Kids’ Crafts to the Gospel, Memorial Day, Week 5

Intentional May

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bayasaa/2693171833/ (changes mine)

In May, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 5

Today is Memorial Day, and we’re going to do this easy firework craft.

salt-fireworks-4th-of-july-craft-for-kids

The scripture focus is:

Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:15-16 portions, NIV

This verse is about being a witness for Christ in a depraved world. We shine God’s light (1 John 1:5) when we act out of obedience to God.

The One Thing You Must Do to Enjoy Your Date Night

Enjoy Your Date Night

You wake up Friday morning, excited. You have a hot date tonight! With your man!

You confirm with the sitter. Make sure the kids have an appropriate dinner (i.e., something frozen). Get the Important Numbers list out. You and your husband are texting all day about the date, either making plans or excitedly anticipating the plans you’ve already made.

After a little thumb twiddling, you let the kids watch a movie so you can play dress up (and actually wear perfume!). He swoops in and sweeps you off your feet. And there you go!

Yayyyy…..

….

yyyy…

Hmmm… huh.

Meh.

As you go to bed that night, you think back on the date.

It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t great. You went to one of your favorite restaurants – yay! You ordered an appetizer and ate it s.l.o.w.l.y. while you were talking about that thing that happened at the office on Monday.

Boy, that was tasty, you think as the handsome guy across from you is giving you the update on soccer practices and art previews from school this week.

The dessert is even better than the food… and the conversation, which is now centered on that issue with your uncle from forever ago. Humph.

Oh well. The conversation wasn’t that great, but we needed that time to catch up!

Your plan for after dinner was to go hear some live music and walk through the botanical gardens that are open at night, but you’re so tired, you both agree to go see the newest Bourne movie. (Good choice, by the way.)

Later you think, where did we go wrong? How did we not feel more – connected? Romantic? Flirtatious? Alive?

Here’s the one thing you must do if you want to actually enjoy your date night

Hold that thought (cruel, right?).

You might think I’m about to tell you to quit talking about the kids and school on your date, right? But you need to go back a little further than that.

To actually enjoy your date night, you must have a “catch up” time every day.

Yes. Every day.

As a couple, build into your routine a time each day that’s set aside just to listen to each other. Pour out any “business” (school and work) from the day. Lay out big decisions or worries you’re wrestling with. Pray together.

This might sound scary to you, or it might sound dreamy to you.

It might sound scary because it sounds like it takes a long time! It will at first, like most new rhythms. But once you’ve built it in, you’ll find that sometimes it only takes 10 minutes. Other times, it does take about an hour to really hear each other and care and pray for each other.

Plus, you actually have to hold off on turning on the TV… I know!

It might sound dreamy because it’s something you desire, but it would be difficult for your spouse to be on board with it. Let them know at a happy time (not during a fight) that having a certain time to be heard is important to you and makes you feel loved. Pray that God would make your spouse receptive and committed.

When you’re spending this kind of quality time together every day, you both expect it, you fight for it, and then when you have a date night planned, you can really have fun and converse just the two of you and re-learn all about each other!

And here’s one little bonus tip, especially for the tired and exhausted marriage couple:

Order coffee or tea at the beginning of your date

This sounds a little counterintuitive, maybe – don’t you want to sleep later? But, when we’re in those tired, tired seasons with littles, the first thing I do on a date is order a cappuccino.

If we’re paying for a sitter and spending time and money and energy to work at our marriage, then I want to give him my best – and my best comes with a shot of espresso! At this stage of my life, my caffeine sensitivity has been buried with months of no sleep, so I don’t have a sleepless night later, but even if I did, it would be worth it to build in special bonding time with my man.

And then I might feel more up to that music and garden tour instead of the movie I’d sleep through!

Thanks to my husband, whose sermon on Song of Solomon inspired this post!