Tag Archives: Samuel

How to Implement Natural Consequences

How to Implement Natural Consequences

Shaking. He just kept on shaking it.

My son – he’s 6. We were on the way home from church, so I had all three munchkins in the van. We had already made a quick grocery pit stop. Everyone was hungry, and the ants were in the pants.

And he kept shaking his water bottle. He invents these little games for himself to pass the time. In this one, the water bottle could have been a missile or a medicine or machine gun. I have no idea – the boy stuff sometimes escapes me.

All I know is, he was shaking this water bottle, and the whole time I’m thinking, “It’s gonna spill. It’s gonna rocket out of there, leaving a big mess in the third row.”

I said, “Samuel, please stop shaking your water bottle so it doesn’t spill.”

Now, in my house, if you disobey a direct command, you usually get a direct consequence. Meaning: hey, I told you to do something, and you need to listen.

I find that if I give chance after chance, then I end up with a fuming mama and a frustrated kid, so I try to discipline right away.

He kept shaking it. And I did something I don’t usually do.

I waited. Just a moment. I’m usually quick. “You didn’t obey, so you will get <insert your own consequence here>.”

But Samuel isn’t 3 anymore. The direct consequences work best from about 18 months to about 5ish depending on the kid. In Shepherding a Child’s Heart (affiliate link), you see that Sam is now at the stage where we’re moving more into coaching/mentoring.

He gets the disobedience. He knows where his heart stands before us and the Lord. He can apologize and forgive on a dime (which I sometimes question but am also grateful for). So we’re transitioning to a lot more dialogue.

Not my favorite. I’d rather everyone just follow the rules. 😉

He still has one foot in each camp, though. He pushes the disobedience, and we reign back in with direct consequences. We’ve implemented a reward system that’s working great as positive reinforcement. (Whew!)

So I waited because I was thinking. What should I do? Does he get a time out? Do I take away a toy? Video game time? I was in a patient phase, so I was just calmly trying to figure it out.

And that’s when it happened. “Umm… I just spilled a lot of water back here.”

Now trust me, there’s a part of me that sometimes immediately progresses to the I Told You So part of this lesson. “Now you can see why I told you not to shake it!”… But I didn’t say that.

The Lord was granting me some insight here – I didn’t have the insight, mind you. But I could tell something was changing in our relationship, thus the waiting.

I chose to say, “Then you know the first thing you need to do when you get home, right?”

“What?” Oh, the smart ones always know how to play dumb.

“Clean up the water.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

That was it. Nobody was upset. He cleaned up the mess right away when we got home.

Y’all. I didn’t do anything else. I didn’t even say I Told You So.

I remembered reading about natural consequences in a fantastic book called Boundaries with Kids (affiliate link – so worth the $2.99!). And of course I’ve used them. I always require my kids to clean up spills of water or legos or baby doll clothes. But I usually add to those clean ups the talk. The I Told You So and You Should Have Obeyed.

Sometimes that’s necessary, but sometimes it’s not! Oooo it’s hard for me to even say that. Yes, kids will and must learn to make their own mistakes and clean up their own messes with a loving coach by their side telling them Yes, it happened, but I know you can make it right. (not I Told You So.)

How to Implement Natural Consequences

Recognize when your child is ready

Look for signs that your child is ready to handle the natural order of things. Maybe they start taking responsibility for their own things and show pride for doing so, even if only occasionally.

Another sign is when direct consequences aren’t quite as effective anymore. Rewards may not be as motivating. The age is commonly around 5 or 6 when children have to start taking more responsibility with the start of school.

Teach the principle of sowing and reaping

Principle of Sowing and Reaping

For a person will reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. (Galatians 6:7b-8, NET)

Don’t use natural consequences alone

From Boundaries with Kids, “Life works on reality consequences.”

Reality consequences are woven into the fabric of the world that God created. However, God doesn’t strictly use natural consequence to teach us. He coaches us through His word and community, He models grace and mercy, and He gives us direct consequences as well.

Allowing natural consequences to be a part of your child’s life will help them grow into an independent learner, but it shouldn’t be the only way you plan to teach them.

OK, Steph, but really, HOW?

I think the easiest place to start using natural consequences is when you have an expectation to leave the house for something at a certain time. Ideally, it’s somewhere they enjoy, and they go often enough to practice. For my example below, I’m going to use Kindergarten.

Learn to Pause

I’m obviously working on this one. It’s tricky when you have kids in multiple stages because direct consequences are most effective when delivered quickly, but natural consequences take time to work out. So, I have to switch one off to do the other.

For example, I told my child that we leave the house for school at 7:35am. He wants to play with his toys, but he has responsibilities in the morning: getting out of bed to turn his alarm off, getting ready for school, eating breakfast, packing up his bags, brushing his teeth, etc.

What if he’s not getting ready? Do I nag him? Nope. Do I jump right in and put his shoes on for him? Nope. I wait.

We have a cheap digital clock in his room that he knows how to watch. If he gets ready efficiently, he could use about 10 minutes to play. Most mornings he takes his time getting ready and doesn’t have time to play, but he’s not upset about it because he knows he made that choice.

natural consequences

Teach the connection between his choice and the consequence as a matter of fact

Every once in awhile, he laments, “I never get time to play before school!” In this way, he’s casting out frustration.

The first time this happens, I gently and lovingly remind him of the process that is set up. “We leave at 7:35am. Once your responsibilities are done, you can use whatever time left to play.”

Don’t be offended by his frustration

My tendency is to take this personally and want to say, “If you get ready faster, you will have time.” Or bring out the I Told You So.

Or, my need to be on time makes me angry, and then I want to yell or hurriedly help him out the door while complaining. Instead, I need to stay calm so that he doesn’t think I’m to blame.

Let him feel the pain – Don’t rescue him!

I’m not to blame (usually) when he’s late. There have been times where we’ve gone out the door with his stomach only half full.

He’s walked into school late a couple of times (which he detests at this age). If the school hands out tardies, he might have to just get one! (gasp!)

Use a different method for the “struggle” areas

Some things that he struggles to do in the morning are part of his reward system.

For example, he’s learning to tie his shoes and doesn’t enjoy it. He gets a check in the system every morning he chooses to tie them. If he doesn’t tie them, I tie them for him, but he doesn’t get the check. So as we’re leaving, we check the shoes. I really don’t worry about whether he does it or not because the reward system sort of handles this area.

Help him plan for next time

Later, when you’re not trying to get out of the door, brainstorm together how you might avoid being late.

“Hey bud, remember how we had some trouble this morning? What do you think we can do differently?”

Release control and let God guide your child

natural consequences

This is maybe the hardest thing to do, but I’m constantly learning how to let God guide my child, and show my child how they can respond to God. Sometimes, instead of a consequence, I ask them if they would talk to God and ask Him for help.

Boy do I need that lesson for myself!

If you take advantage of natural consequences, what would you add to this “how to”?

Light Saber Pinata Stick – Star Wars Fundraiser Birthday Party

Making a Light Saber Pinata Stick Star Wars

May the 4th be with you!

Big surprise that in 2016 my 6 year old wanted a Star Wars birthday party, right? Him and every other kid (and adult)!

I’m definitely not gifted in the birthday party department. It stresses me out to no end, and thus, I keep it simple and old school.

Park = free venue? Check.

Grandma loves to make epic birthday cakes? Check.

Star Wars Birthday Cake

Kids love individual bags of chips? Check.

Adorable FREE printable Star Wars invitations? Check.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/170785010848059319/

Water bottles? Check.

Family and friends and love? Check.

Sounds like a great party to me! We don’t even ask for presents. Instead, we ask families to make a $5 donation to charity (and you know birthday presents cost more than that.) We usually raise around $150 for a charity of the child’s choice! My kids are used to this rhythm, and Samuel knew right away he wanted his birthday “money” to go to orphans in Africa.

But I did plan something pretty epic! When Halloween clearance went 70% off, I snagged an adult Darth Vader costume, and my husband dressed up and crashed the party. I informed Samuel that the Jedi counsel had appointed him to slay Vader! He got a cheapo $3 light saber and a brown robe (fabric tied with a rope), and they battled it out. He literally had no idea it was daddy.

darth vader crashing birthday party

Also, we got a pinata because old-school-birthdays. Well, pinata sticks are like $5 for a tube of cardboard. Even I can do better than that!

I grabbed a 1″ dowel we had at home and some acrylic paint. I taped off the saber so it would have a handle and light beam. Then, I painted the light beam green and let it dry – drying took only about 45 minutes. Then I taped the other side to paint the handle silver. I let that dry, then taped off half of the handle to paint it black. Then, I used sharpie to draw on some buttons.

Star Wars Light Saber Pinata Stick

Easy! Darth Vader didn’t stand a chance against all of the Jedis who showed up to fight.

pinata

 

April Fools Pranks for Your Husband and Kids

April Fools Pranks for Husband and Kids

This year has been declared the year of fun in our house, so I decided to gang up on my family with some April Fool’s Day pranks.

Watch the videos to see what fun we’re going to have!


I thought he might have figured out what was up, so I upped my game with this:

And then sweet Em and I got ready for Samuel:

I haven’t thought of a great one for my 3-year old daughter yet. Do you have any ideas?

How to Show Your Son Respect

One of my most popular posts of all time – the one that brings the most traffic to my blog – was one I wrote the second month that my blog was live. It’s called Don’t Treat Your Husband Like a Child, and it’s all about respecting your husband and avoiding the little ways we undermine the respect our husbands are to receive from us unconditionally.

…and I know I haven’t written a marriage post in a long time (but I haven’t written in a long time period. I am averaging about 20 minutes per day to myself which I’ve been using to read the Word)… so here is another mommy post – sorry!

But I read (and pinnedthis post on the Resurgence about respecting your sons, and it got me thinking about the little ways that I undermine the respect I can show to my not-quite-3 year old.

Now you might be thinking things like

Um… he IS a child, so isn’t it OK to treat him like one?

You’re not called to respect your son per se – you’re called to respect your husband.

And you’re right, but I still think it’s important for our sons to know what Godly respect looks like. For several reasons:

  • Boys/men yearn for respect, and they seek it out in all avenues of their life. I want my son to see what true respect looks like rather than a worldly, perverted form of it (e.g., always winning an argument because you have instilled fear in someone or belittle them, etc.)
  • Most likely, our sons will one day marry. If we teach them now what true respect looks like, they will be better equipped to choose a Godly wife who will respect them – which aids their daily choice to love their wife – which dramatically improves their marriage – which is one of God’s primary tools to show Himself to the world!
  • Also, most likely, our sons will have children. I want them to respect their children, not exasperate them or bully them. I want them to be a man worthy of respect.
  • Our sons, Lord willing, will be men who call other men to Jesus. They need to do that in a way that also respect other men in a Godly way. How will they know how to do this if we don’t show them what it looks like?
  • I want my son to respect and honor my husband, who is the only hero he knows since he’s not a Christ-follower.

I could go on. Respect is an important intangible that our boys need to see modeled.

The primary way your son will learn respect is in how you treat your husband and other male leaders in your life.

Yup. It hurts. Let the hurt lead you to action.

Beyond that, how do you respect your son? A child? One who needs much discipline?

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about and experiencing:

Let the consequences come.

My little guy is a busy one. And he’s almost 3. Which means (hopefully) that he’s in the stage of his life where he will need the most discipline – especially for the little things.

Lately, I noticed that when I told Samuel not to do something, I would then force that action. For example, I would say, “Don’t touch that,” while removing his hand from whatever it was.

That is not respect.

It’s been really hard, but unless he or someone else is in some danger, I have been restraining myself, providing the order, and letting him choose whether or not he wants to obey. He might be choosing punishment or some other pain (a broken item maybe), but he gets to make the choice. I have been surprised since doing this how he has increasingly made better choices.

This also comes into play in education, moms. If your son is doing homework, I don’t think it’s wise to go back and correct every mistake. Perhaps help him correct a couple and advise him which problems to re-work based on those corrections. Beyond that, it’s OK to let him get some bad grades. He earned them, not you. And you should be proud and honor that he does his own work. I have been practicing this idea when helping Samuel play educational games on the computer. I will tell him to “Try it.” (And you can’t just say that on the ones he is going to get wrong. They are pretty good at figuring out what you mean.)

Apologize to him as you would have him apologize to you.

If you have wronged your boy in some way, don’t say, “I’m sorry, BUT…” or simply ignore your offense. Look him in the eye, with true emotion, and tell him “I’m sorry that I … It was wrong for mommy to… Do you forgive me? I will now try to … ”

I started going down the slippery slope of ignoring my own sin against him. Bad idea, moms. That’s not respect.

Vocalize your respect.

Boys need to see respect, but they also need to hear it. When you are talking to him – about him – use words like proud, strong, Godly, honorable.

These are just a few ideas I’ve been trying and thinking about. I would love to hear how you would add to this? Could you comment below with more suggestions for me?

Intentional October (Connecting Kids’ Crafts to the Gospel)

Connecting October Crafts to the Gospel

I recently got a ginormous urge to start doing crafts with my 2-year old son Samuel. My mom did so many fun crafts with us growing up; it was truly formative for me. I’ll never forget all of the glue, glitter, paint, and love that all bonded together to make refrigerator art.

With October here and holidays on the horizon, and ahem, Pinterest available, there is no better time to start! (By the way, let’s follow each other – my profile is here.)

I picked up my pin boards, dusted them off, and started going through crafts for October with the idea to do one craft per week themed off of the month (i.e., Halloween).

I printed out my calendar for the month and assigned the crafts I chose curated (because you actually have to look at these things to see if they’re good or not!).

::Enter lightbulb moment::

We’ve been printing off the monthly calendar to assign our memory verses for each week. Er, ahem, my husband has been. 🙂

Why not connect the craft to the Bible verse to the gospel!?

So that’s my plan, starting with October. Here’s what I’ve come up with to try out this month:

UPDATE 11/2012 – I added pictures of our finished crafts!

Week 1

Craft: Jar Luminaries (from Momtastic.com)

jar luminaries

 

Verse: John 8:12 (partial)

My selection, “Jesus said, … ‘I am the light of the world.'”

Connection to Gospel: In this passage, darkness is where you are when you aren’t connected to God through Jesus. Talk about how in the dark, you can’t see where you’re going or what you’re doing. You can’t even have a purpose because you can’t see anything around you. With Jesus, however, it’s like a bright light. You can see a toy, and decide to pick it up; you can see people and their needs and decide to help (purpose). You know clearly what you are doing. You can also compare light and darkness to a plant: when a plant has no light, it cannot grow and eventually dies; it must have light to survive and thrive.

Week 2

Craft: Spider Handprints (this pin is also for Frankenstein faces)

Verse: 1 John 4:8 (partial)

My selection, “God is love.”

Connection to Gospel: I will use the spider handprints to name attributes of God – 1 for each leg of the spider (perhaps loving, holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, patient, omnipresent, just, creative). Choose a verse to memorize that goes with one of the attributes. Use each leg to talk about what God is like and how that is shown through Jesus and his death/resurrection. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to understand! Use simple phrases to define the large words. In my case, I will focus on God’s ultimate display of love by giving Jesus so that we can be with God forever.

Week 3

Craft: Frankenstein faces

Verse: Psalm 56:11

“In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?”

Connection to Gospel: The frankenstein is an opportunity to address your child’s fears. Assure them that God’s sovereignty means that we can trust Him no matter how scared we are. If the child is ready, you can expand on this by explaining that this doesn’t mean we will only have good things happen to us, but that everything that occurs is part of God’s plan to bring glory to Him – even Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross, but He knew that it would bring glory to God and connect His children back to Him.

Week 4

Craft: Monster candy holder

Verse: Mark 12:44

“They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.”

Connection to Gospel: Our candy holder will be placed out at our neighborhood block party. I plan on talking with Samuel about why we host this party (to connect with others in hopes of building relationships in which we can share the gospel of Jesus). He might want every piece of that candy for Himself, but we can give even the things we need and love the very most to worship God on mission.

Week 5

Craft: Glow Stick Eyes (this one bombed for me!)

Verse: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Connection to Gospel: (The glowing eyes will also be placed out at our block party.) We talk about getting strength from God a lot in our house, but I think it’s so comforting to know that God is looking to strengthen us! If we are His, He is there, pumping strength into our lives. Strength to trust Him, to worship Him, and to share Jesus with others.

I’d love to post the pictures from these sites, but that’s called stealing. So instead, please click through the links to find out if this is something you want to do along with me!! 😉

Photo credit

Potty Training – the Mom Fail

Have you ever hit that point as a mom where you are pulling your hair out because of something your kiddo is doing, and then BAM you realize, “Uh oh. I caused this behavior.”

Yeah that. That’s no fun.

I’m an analyst, and by my very nature, I’m strategic in how I act towards my 2 year-old Samuel. When he’s behaving a certain way, I’m looking for the causes, knowing that sometimes the cause is HE’S TWO. 😉 When I teach him something or show him how to do something, I’m already thinking of the next level so that when he’s ready for it, I can build from the way I’m teaching him now.

I’m not tooting my horn about this; it’s probably quite annoying to anyone watching, and maybe to Sammy too! Haha! It’s just how I’m wired and how I approach being a mommy.

But sometime lately, all of that pre-planning broke down. I found myself angrily yelling when my son had a poopoo accident. He cried. I was just focused on containing the mess and didn’t think about what I had just done.

At that moment, Brad and I were leaving to go out of town. When I got back in town, guess what happened? My son, who had potty trained just fine, all of a sudden would not even step foot in the bathroom with me. He had potty accidents for an entire day because he was alone with me and – I imagine – scared that I would get mad at him.

It hit me halfway through the day that I must have scared him away from the potty with my negative reaction, and I wanted to convince myself that it was just that one situation, but I couldn’t. I realized that my frustration at the pottying had been escalating, and he was having accidents almost exclusively with me.

Doesn’t that just make me sound like mom of the year?

The day all of this hit me was a very emotional day. I felt so terrible that I had reacted so rashly and let emotion enter a very sensitive space – a naked, vulnerable, learning space. I made sure not to push Samuel to potty at all, and I coaxed him into the bathroom – just to change clothes – so that he would see that I wasn’t mad at him.

I apologized to him, but he didn’t seem to understand. Thankfully, kids are just SO forgiving anyway. And over the next few days, with a completely different perspective, and a return to CANDY FOR POTTYING :), Samuel seems to trust me again.

I truly hope I remember this moment. Because what if I do the same thing to my children when they’re trying to learn their multiplication tables, or when they have a sin pattern in their life, or when they just aren’t meeting my expectations in some way? How much more damaging will that be?

I’m grateful that God gives us grace 100% of the time, and I want to be a parent that models grace and mercy for my children.

Would you share a time where you succeeded in giving grace or mercy – even when it was hard?

Two Tricks to Increase Intimacy in Marriage

Increase Intimacy

Do you know why I write about marriage every Wednesday? No, it’s not because “wedded” and “wednesday” are really cute together. But – bonus! – am I right?

I write about marriage on a weekly basis because I need help! I’m not a natural at self-sacrificial love or submission or even being halfway decent to my favorite person on the planet. Yeah. I’m kinda selfish.

When I am constantly giving in to my selfishness, my marriage suffers heavily. We get in one of those slumps where you think, What happened? I swear just yesterday we were best friends and having the time of our lives. Then Samuel’s pee all over the bathroom acted like a catalyst and BOOM – no more friends, no more lovers, no more awesome marriage.

Could be that’s just me?

What happens is that something we’ve done has broken down the intimacy in our marriage. I’m not talking about just sex, although that’s certainly an element of intimacy.

Intimacy is that connection, that spark in your marriage, that you share with no one else on the planet.

When I feel like our intimacy has evaporated, I’ve discovered two things are missing. OK, more than two things are missing, but these are two that are really easy to add back in!

1. We lack eye contact.

That’s right – we’ve stopped looking each other in the eyes, even when we’re talking only to each other!

Our conversations might be side-by-side, like in the car or on the couch.

Or, we might sit across from each other at dinner, but we’re looking at our food our Samuel the entire time we’re “talking”.

Or maybe we’re trying to have an “intimate” conversation to get some connection going, but we look at our hands or the floor instead of right in the eyeballs.

You’ll know this is something you’ve been missing when you find it hard to look your spouse in the eye, maybe not because of some sin even, but just because you’re out of practice and looking someone in the eyes connects you to their soul. (It’s why I always put on my date night eye makeup ;))

2. We have stopped touching.

Again, this could be sex, but often, we’ve stopped touching in other ways. My hugs are weaker than ones I give to a friend. We haven’t held hands in public in weeks. We sit with space between us rather than smooshed right up against each other. We don’t kiss unless it’s time for sex.

I love that Redbook’s April 2012 issue had an article titled Don’t even think about divorcing until… There were some really good (and some not so good) suggestions in this article to analyze what you really want when you start thinking about divorce. One expert, Hilda Hutcherson, their monthly “Intimate Answers” columnist finished the sentence by saying “… you try touching.”

Her entire quote on touching (which included why and how) was so right on.

So try it. When the intimacy is lacking in your marriage, look in your mate’s eyes. RIGHT IN THE PUPILS. Hold that gaze. And sit so close that you can’t breathe. Sacrifice your physical comfort at night to be close to them in bed. Practice PDAs.

And ZAP – intimacy increased!

You’re welcome. 🙂

Razor Burn Can’t Stop This Man

There’s one cure for razor burn – the right razor! And check out this little red and blue number:

This is one of my absolute favorite things about being the mom of a boy – watching that little boy turn into a man.

It’s the cutest thing when Samuel runs to get his stool because daddy is shaving, and Sammy just has to get in on the action, too. He pulls right up alongside Brad, gets all lathered up, and shaves/eats the cream off of his face. (Now if only the fake shaving cream was intended for eating. I think I’ll just buy whipped cream when I run out.)

OK OK, so maybe that razor is fake, and he’s still learning the art of going to the potty (I have finally resolved for myself that being a boy mom means I will forever have pee all over the bathroom).

But he wants to be a strong man, just like his daddy. You can tell the instant Brad walks in the door home from work. Samuel is all of a sudden Mr. Aggressive – uh…. way moreso than usual – ahem. He either hides from daddy so that he can “scare” him, or he runs to him full throttle with all of his kicks and jabs and headbutts ready to go.

Yes, when daddy comes home, there’s an all out boy war in my foyer.

Doesn’t every little boy want to be strong enough to bring daddy down?

And of course, Brad eats it up. He cultivates Samuel’s manly spirit, while still trying to teach him how to use it, which can be tricky! For quite a while, Samuel would try to wrestle with me too. When he was a little man – think, not walking – I actually enjoyed it. It was fun to get rough and tumble with him. Now that I’m 8 months pregnant and he’s the strongest kid I know? Not so much!

Samuel has finally learned what daddy teaches him: that mommy is a flower. That mommy has to be treated gently. Now, that doesn’t mean Samuel doesn’t get rough with me, but when he does, it’s out of complete disobedience – not playfulness.

We as parents can only do so much to cultivate our kids, though. We can let our kids throw baseballs and softballs until their arms fall off. We can sign them up for every sport, dance, league, camp, etc. We can take them to church 5 times a week and make sure they’re in Awanas and Christian school and have only God-fearing books and movies.

But what about them seeing us love Jesus? When Samuel sees daddy sacrificing his “down time” to talk to his neighbors and help them out in small ways and pet their dogs, he’s seeing what a real man looks like.

No amount of wrestling in the world can teach a son about manhood. True manliness comes from

  • rejecting passivity
  • accepting responsibility
  • leading courageously
  • looking forward to the greater reward, God’s reward

And our sons need to see that, they can’t just hear about it. I wouldn’t expect Samuel to be able to build a fire by reading about it. I would expect him to pull up his stool right by his dad while he gathers the kindling and sets up the perfect pile for oxygen flow.

I’m so thankful today for a husband who embraces God’s design for manliness and lives it out, teaching our son right alongside him.

I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog and was compensated. However, the views and opinions are my own.

Four of Our Favorite God-Centered Bedtime Books

Kids love their bedtime routines, don’t they? They love stopping what they’re doing to get ready for bed. They are so cooperative when it comes to cleaning up their toys.

The teeth brushing turns into a toothbrush tug of war. No matter how hard you try, their dripping little wet bodies run, naked, around the house, circumventing the bedroom at all costs. Lotion and jammies are bribed onto that sweet, soft skin. And sigh…. finally, they get in bed for prayers and books and songs and cuddles.

Sound at all familiar?

Although getting those little beings into the bed is quite exhausting, those moments in bed before you leave the room are sweet, sweet times.

Aren’t they?

I was talking with some friends this weekend about some of our favorite books from Sandra Boynton and which books our kids are into right now. Samuel l.o.v.e.s books, and he’s starting to pick out his longer books for bedtime reading. Elmo, Disney, Pooh, you name it. He wants to read it.

I want to share with you a list of four of our favorite bedtime books that are also God-centered. If you’re looking for more books that illustrate Biblical concepts, you might check these out. They are on frequent rotation in our house.

Because I Love You by Max Lucado

Max Lucado authors this book about a caretaker and the children he loves. One of them, a curious boy named Paladin, decides to leave their land and seek truth outside of the caretaker’s protection.

Why we love this book: I’m so impressed how this book uses a simple story to illustrate the concept of free will. But it doesn’t stop there – the story is complete when it also illustrates God’s tender pursuit of us.

You Are Special by Max Lucado

Another Max Lucado book, You Are Special centers around a land of created wooden people called Wemmicks. One little Wemmick just doesn’t meet the standards that his fellow wooden people put on him, and he feels unloved and unimportant.

Why we love this book: Culturally relevant, this book shows our kids that what we see on the outside – how we look and what we can do – is not where our value comes from. Instead, our maker is who gives us identity and bestows value upon us, because we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Will God’s Mighty Warrior by Sheila Walsh

Will is your typical little boy; he loves to imagine he’s a mighty warrior, stronger and more heroic than anyone else. When he finds out that God has special armor and special swords with which to fight the battles in our hearts, he tries to find out how to be a warrior for God.

Why we love this book: This one just speaks to little boys! They want to hunt, fight, command, save, and generally be the hero. This book shows them how to align that desire with God’s will to slay temptation and protect their hearts from “the enemy’s evil tricks.”

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Why we love this book: If you haven’t seen this Bible for kids, you must check it out! Beautifully illustrated, rich with color, and dripping with the gospel in every story. Instead of just learning a story contained in the Bible, your child (and maybe yourself!) will learn how that story points to the meta-story of Scripture: God’s plan to redeem all people through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Truth be told, Brad and I read through the Jesus Storybook Bible before we even had kids. Yeah. It’s that good!

I myself would love to find more books that are engaging to children and also centered on the Lord. Do you have any suggestions? Share in the comments!!!

Links in this post are affiliate links. If you want to put your own affiliate links in the comments for your book choices, go for it! 🙂

Use Dyeing Easter Eggs to Learn Memory Verses

I have such fond memories of dyeing Easter Eggs with my family. We did it every single year without fail. My brothers and I got to choose our dye colors and write our names or put stickers on the eggs. My mom always made a ton, and then she made a giant jar of pickled eggs and beets (which are delicious and I miss them!).

Last week, Samuel and I dyed eggs for the first time. He loved standing on the chair and watching, dipping his fingers in the dye every time I turned my back. He got a big kick out of the tablets dissolving in the vinegar because they’re super fizzy. We used one of the kits from Paas that has the dye tablets, cups, egg dipper, and magic crayon.

Oh yes, you remember the magic crayon. You get to write your name or whatever you want on the egg before it’s dyed, and like magic, that part of the egg isn’t dyed at all, revealing your secret message. Such fun!

I didn’t look up where Easter eggs and the Biblical Easter (celebrating Christ’s resurrection) intersect, so I just made up my own illustration. I told Samuel that eggs symbolize life, and we’re celebrating that Jesus rose from the dead – He’s alive! So we’re coloring eggs to celebrate!

We decided to focus our magic crayon messages on the gospel, too. For example, we wrote words on the eggs that were sort of color-coded to the Gospel Fuzzies song (this isn’t the exact rendition we use, but kids love this and Samuel knows what all the colors mean – at 2!). So the green egg says “Growing,” gold says, “Heaven,” and so on.

In the middle of dyeing eggs, I had the idea to use them when practicing our memory verses! Brad started teaching Samuel some Scripture – and it’s such a great idea, even at 2. Those little spongy minds can learn anything, and Samuel is into it. He loves anything having to do with “Bible verses,” as he says.

So on a couple of eggs, I wrote the Scripture references we have been working on. Later on, when he gets to choose an egg to “eat” (or just unpeel as the case may be), we have to say the memory verse first.

By the way, my eggs are brown eggs, so that’s why the colors turned out all vintage-y looking. Don’t they look fab!? I didn’t know if they would color at all. I feel so accidental-Martha-Stewart.

What fun ways are you incorporating the gospel into your Easter eggs, baskets, and candies? I need some more ideas!