Eating Tide Pods, leaving class to march for #enough, and gaming into the night are just a few indicators that this current generation is restless. Granted, each generation has its own cauldron of woes, including my own. Ha! But I've been in much thought and prayer for this current generation, the one I birthed my terrific three into.
So what exactly is it to be restless? Is it bad to be restless? One definition for restless is "Anxious and bored." But it also means "not satisfied and wanting change." The difference between "anxious and bored" and "not satisfied and wanting change" boils down to what we believe is the answer to the question, "Why am I here?"
When we believe
- we are here by chance and
- life is all about me
we can easily drift into boredom and anxiety.
Such a mindset causes the answer to "Why am I here?" to vacillate with each passing trend.
But when we believe
- we were created intentionally for this time and place by our Creator.
- God wove a purpose and a plan into our DNA
we are not satisfied with the status quo and want change.
This mindset knows the answer to "Why am I here?" is found in believing Ephesians 2:10.
"For we are God's masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Think with me of the heroes of the faith. We think of them as cute little Sunday school stories, but these were real people just like you and me! They had hopes and dreams as well as fears and doubts. But their actions showed they were confident in their "Why am I here?"
Such examples like:
Noah - While others lived a debauched existence, he skillfully and faithfully built an ark. He knew why he was here.
David - While others quivered and wrung their hands, he charged toward the God-mocking giant, Goliath and defeated him! He knew why he was here.
Daniel - While others gluttonously partook of the king's sumptuous food, he ate fruits and vegetables and was found to be 10x smarter than those around him. He knew why he was here.
Mary - While others whispered and speculated, she washed Jesus's feet with her tears. Jesus's feet! Can you imagine! She knew why she was here.
and the list goes on and on.
They were restless but channeled that restlessness for their good and for the glory of the Lord. Why?
They knew the answer to "Why am I here?" To fulfill their part of God's amazing plan.
We too should be relentlessly restless for God's kingdom and so should our kiddos.
Think of water, it can be life-giving and good when channeled and functional, like a river or a water hose. But when a river breaches its banks or a water hose cracks and busts, chaos erupts. So it is with restlessness.
As believers, restlessness channeled by anything other than God's will is chaos.
But what if Christian parents were as intentional as the #enough movement to inspire an awakening in our kids?
What if we pointed them to THE answer to "Why am I here?"
What if we helped channel our kids restlessness for something bigger than themselves?
The sleeping giant called the church would wake up! Wow! Revival would break out! Yes! I believe anxiety and depression and suicide and school shootings would decrease all because our kids - the light of the world - chose to live securely in knowing the answer to one of life's most troubling questions, "Why am I here?"
Next week, I'll share some of the ways my man and myself are intentionally pointing our kiddos to the answer to "Why am I here?" In the meantime, how about you? Do you know why you are here? Do you wake up satisfied knowing you are here for a reason and a purpose. Look again at Ephesians 2:10. Ask the Lord to increase your faith and to shine the light as to "Why am I here?"
"For we are God's masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Hey! It's Laura and I am so excited to have Amberly on the blog today. She is actually our first Friend Friday Vlog (that means video, in case you're technologically challenged like me)! Amberly and I met over ten years ago through our husbands and we were actually pregnant with our daughters at the same time too! I have watched as the Lord has totally turned their world upside down for His glory! Today she shares about how the Lord has called them into foster care.
You only get a six minute video today, but you MUST go follow their family at Growing Up Houser because you will want to know more about them! The Houser's let you into their crazy life with laughter, tears and complete transparency...that's what I love about them the most!
I am a mother, wife, and self-proclaimed hot mess. My husband Matt and I began our journey as foster parents in 2017. We currently parent 6 kids: 3 biological, and 3 foster siblings that we love dearly. By day, I am an elementary school teacher. By night, I drive kids to and from practices in my big blue bus while blaring Jesus music. Donuts are the way to my heart, followed closely by witty t-shirts and Bible journaling. I constantly pray that God will show me the front of the puzzle box but He just keeps handing me one piece at a time. Someday's I am thankful for that and other days I'm bitter. Jesus loves me anyway. I believe I can accomplish anything in a day with a cup of coffee, dry shampoo and fake lashes. This is the story of my life and what it's like to Grow Up Houser.
Glorious…hard…rewarding…exhausting! The list of adjectives is endless when I think of this adventure called parenting. But mostly, awe rises to the top of my list. I am in awe of the 180 switch the Lord birthed in my mothering. Gone are the days of joyless parenting. In it's place, joy has watered the desert places and created something beautiful - a joy-filled mother. Only God can do that!
As I pondered my transformation, a "tricks of the trade" list began to emerge. There is no rhyme or reason to the order, just tricks that have made this mommying job a whole lot more enjoyable.
1. Playing in my Strengths
It's easy to fall into the comparison game when it comes to talented moms: this one is athletic, this one is artsy, this one can spin a tale, etc. etc. etc. Early on, I learned that I enjoyed motherhood best when I stop trying to be like other moms and embrace my own uniqueness. I love books and games and the great outdoors. So that's the way I'm intentional with my kiddos. When we have downtime, we pull out a game or a puzzle or walk/bike/hike in the great outdoors. Gone is the guilt that I don't play dolls or trucks or ball like other mommies. In its place, contentment has filled my heart knowing that I mommy well just by playing in my strengths.
2. Have Favorites
My “Terrific Three” consist of a girl, a boy, and another girl. Just like God does not have favorites (Romans 2:11), I strive not to either (1 Timothy 5:21). I've assigned labels to my Terrific Three and regularly call them by it. I have a "favorite oldest girl," "a favorite boy," and "a favorite youngest girl." They’re all my favorites in their unique way and don’t need to fight for my favor.
When our kiddos hit the tween years, we knew we needed to keep the airwaves open. We happened to be eating Oreo McFlurries when one of them shared something close to their heart. Born was the code phrase "Oreo McFlurry" for times when our children wanted to share something with us but were fearful of our response or the impending consequence. Now when they approach us and say, “Oreo McFlurry.” we prayerfully brace ourselves (ha) for what they're about to say while calmly listening without.saying.a.word. It’s a safe-zone, and they honestly haven’t abused it.
4. Apologize with No Strings Attached
It is easy to excuse my angry response by pointing to my child's wrong action which prompted my anger. This causes my apology to fall on un-listening ears, especially the older they have become. Instead, I have taught myself to focus on what I did wrong and ask for forgiveness. Not only does this show them that parents can make mistakes, but that it's important to apologize for them!
5. Calm in the Storm
If child A was "on my good side" but child B was not and had gotten into trouble, I caught myself disciplining them differently. I would irrationally lash out or be harsh and impatient with the not "on my good side" child B. I began to purposely visualize how I would lovingly discipline child A if they were the one who had just gotten into trouble. Then, I would pray that the Spirit would help me disciple child B with the same gentle heart. This practice alone was revolutionary for my parenting!
6. Laugh at Yourself
Last summer, we had just finished floating a local river, and I wanted to get one more group picture. As I was gesturing for the group to move over, I was side-stepping on the rocky beach. My toe caught under a rock causing me to trip and in s. l. o. w. motion I splatted on the rocks in full view of everyone! Quite embarrassing and painful! But as I collected myself, I just laughed and laughed at the spectacle I made. This released the group to laugh with me and recount my performance. I could’ve been mad and nursed my pride and ruined a glorious day together. Instead, I chose to laugh and make a fabulously funny family memory.
7. Text and Drive
If I “need” to message someone while I’m driving, I ask my kiddos to serve as my scribe. I dictate my message to them as they type it into my phone. They then read it to me before pushing send. This trick serves three purposes:
1. I’m safe and not looking at my phone as I drive.
2. It teaches them how to communicate effectively and (hopefully) kindly via text messaging.
3. It serves as an example of when they’re -gulp!- driving on their own.
8. From Darkness to Light
One of the hardest prayers I pray for my children is that any sin they are hiding would come to light. It’s quite breath-taking what the Spirit reveals, and they’re always like, “What!? How did you know?!” ha, ha! But I much rather deal with childish heart issues while they’re under my roof than them having to wade through their childhood junk as an adult.
9. Momma Timeout
If I feel my mommy tank quickly depleting itself of joy, I take a momma timeout. I may take a hot bath, take a walk outside, or sit in my room by myself praying and calming down. This trick allows me to rejuvenate and relieves my kiddos from being the recipients of my less than lovely attitude.
10. Bedtime Bonding
Most nights, I choose to sit on each child’s bed and connect. It can be as short as 5 minutes finding out about their favorite thing of the day, or it can stretch into a lengthy discussion about a life issue they're working thru in their heart and mind. We then end our time with prayer and a kiss on the cheek. Hopefully, they are left going to sleep with a heart a little lighter because I chose to invest the gift of time into them. It is always worth the time and effort to give up a bit of "me time" at the end of my day to get a little more of them.
Looking over this list just fills my heart with awe. God has truly filled and continues to fill my parenting gaps. But that shouldn’t surprise me, for He parents me so well as my Heavenly Father, the giver of every good thing. James 1:17
How about you? What are some of your favorite parenting tricks of the trade? Or perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed in this great adventure of parenting. Pray Matthew 7:7 and purpose to implement one or two of my tricks. Trust me, if I can do this mommying thing joyfully anyone can! Through Christ’s power, you can mommy joyfully as well! Philippians 4:13, my friend!
Part 2: Rites of Passage
Last week was the eve of our daughter's tenth birthday and I talked about things that we do to help point her to Christ. If you missed it, you can read it here.
Teaching our kids how to manage life starts in our homes. We want to teach our kids the Biblical view, so when the world begins throwing it’s view at them, they will have a firm foundation to stand on. It’s scary raising kids in the world today. We want to encourage you to be intentional with your kids and point them to Christ. It's a scary world out there and our kids should find comfort, safety and direction in their homes.
My husband has a friend that began a ministry called Parent Ministry. It's a resource for Student Pastors to help engage parents in the Youth Ministry. Through him, we were introduced to the “Rites of Passage," and we knew we wanted to implement it with our own kids when the time was right. We feel ten years old is a big deal, so we decided to start this year! My husband and I feel it’s very important for our daughter to know that she is loved and supported by her entire family and there is NOTHING she can do that would ever make the Lord or us love her any less. Here is what the Rites of Passage looked like for our daughter's tenth birthday:
Rites of Passage
This year on our daughter's tenth birthday, she requested a “fancy” dinner. The planning began; She was most excited to choose the cake that her Maw would make, then dinner reservations were made, family invitations were sent, and all of the intricate details were chosen. She picked the fanciest dress out of her closet, proudly pulled out her gold heels, her hair adorned with curls, and we added a touch of makeup...because, well, she can be a girly girl and it’s her tenth birthday!
Ahead of time, I asked our family to choose a characteristic about her and a prayer/scripture to speak over her. It’s neat how all of this played out. As we were planning to make this a special night for her, she was planning as well. She wrote a speech and picked ten Scriptures to recite, one for each year. It was a beautiful night of our family encouraging her that she is loved, she is supported and she is prayed for.
We are creating a book with each family member's picture, prayer and scripture so our daughter can always go back and remember what was prayed over her on this day. We will continue the Rites of Passage at age thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, and marriage. Every year will look different since the season of life will be different.
There is not a textbook way to incorporate the Rites of Passage. It can be very simple or as elaborate as you want to make it. Every child is different and it needs to be suited to their personality. For instance, our daughter is a major extrovert and wanted a fancy dinner with lots of people present. Another child may not like big crowds, so you may do something for them completely different. Whatever it may be, being intentional on speaking truth to their heart, and making the big milestones important and memorable, that's the ultimate goal!
I want to leave you with Scriptures that we can pray over our children. There are so many, but I am just listing a few here. Include your child's name into the Scripture:
3 John 1:4 - "I have no greater joy than to hear that ________is walking in the truth."
Luke 2:52 - May _______increase in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Deuteronomy 6: 5-9 - "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to _________, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
By Faith She has written other blogs pertaining to raising kids to love the Lord. Be watching for more By Faith Kids Bible Studies coming soon too!
Raising Little Girls with Big Faith
By Faith Kids
May we walk well in the calling the Lord has placed upon our lives. To bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
The Gospel Story Inside of Easter Eggs
Teach your children the real meaning of Easter with these fun, interactive Easter eggs! Hide them, find them, and open them to reveal a piece of the Gospel story. Corresponding Scripture cards (free printable below) will guide you through the Easter story as you share this special time of hunting and discovering with your children.
Resurrection eggs are a wonderful way to engage with your kinesthetic and visual learners as you teach them about Easter. These eggs make the Gospel come to life by providing a multi-sensory experience. There is no one way to use these eggs. They can be hunted all at once or opened one day at a time as your family counts down to Easter. The Scripture cards are in chronological order and will walk you through the Easter story from the beginning to end. Eggs can be small or large (I used miniature) and can be stored in fun jars, fancy canisters, or old egg cartons. Make it your own!
Now, let's get started!
1. Perfume - When Mary poured the perfume on Jesus' head He said, "She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial." Therefore, the perfume that Mary used is the first symbol of the Gospel story because it preceded all the other events.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Mary's perfume was pure spikenard so I put a few drops of spikenard essential oil into a small glass dram and labeled it. If spikenard is unavailable, lavender is a good substitute. If you don't have a dram, ask your essential oil loving friends for one or purchase from Amazon.
2. Palm Branch - At the triumphal entry when Jesus rides into Jerusalem as King, the crowd spread out palm branches and waved them shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
HOW TO MAKE IT: I found a bundle of miniature palm leaves at Hobby Lobby in the floral section for a dollar or two.
3. Bread - At the Last Supper, "Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.'"
HOW TO MAKE IT: I purchased a bag of small half wooden egg pieces at Hobby Lobby and stained it with a light stain to give it a "baked" look.
4. Towel - After the meal was finished, "Jesus...got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."
HOW TO MAKE IT: Cut a small rectangular swatch from a white cotton washcloth or linen hand towel.
5. 3 Pieces of Silver - Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, left the Last Supper and "went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?’ So they counted out for him 30 pieces of silver."
HOW TO MAKE IT: Three dimes
6. Crown of Thorns - After His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' And they slapped him in the face."
HOW TO MAKE IT: This was the hardest one to make because finding a miniature crown of thorns replica was impossible. I even tried using real thorny twigs but they kept breaking. In the end, I purchased a bundle of twiggy-like skinny branches from Hobby Lobby and looped one branch around two of my fingers a couple of times. Then, one by one, I twisted metal wire around the loop to secure it and to symbolize the thorns. I clipped the ends of the twisted pieces of metal with wire cutters. Cutting and twisting each "thorn" deeply moved me as I thought about the real thorns that sat atop my Savior's head.
7. Cross - At His trial, "Pilate said to the Jews, 'Here is your king.' But they shouted, 'Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!' 'Shall I crucify your king?' Pilate asked. 'We have no king but Caesar,' the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull. There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle."
HOW TO MAKE IT: I purchased a bag of small wooden crosses at Hobby Lobby and stained it with a dark stain.
8. Nails - They "put him to death by nailing him to the cross."
HOW TO MAKE IT: Three small nails
9. Dice - "When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots." This was foretold in Psalm 22:18 - "They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment."
HOW TO MAKE IT: Dice bought in the board game section at Walmart.
10. Stone - After Jesus' body was prepared and placed in the tomb Joseph of Arimathea "rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away."
HOW TO MAKE IT: A round smooth stone
11. Cinnamon - "On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb." The women went to the tomb with their spices so that they could prepare the body of Jesus for the second time (in keeping with Jewish burial custom). Myrrh was the primary oil used in burial and can be used in place of cinnamon if available.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Cut 2-3 small pieces off cinnamon sticks
12. Empty Tomb - When the women arrived, "They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus." Glory!
HOW TO MAKE IT: A large golden plastic egg (Hobby Lobby) left empty
Store all the eggs in a container and enjoy the amazing smell of the spikenard and cinnamon aroma every time you open it! Print the Scripture cards on heavy cardstock or photo paper and laminate so that they will be durable for years to come.
And, one last thing...
When you are enjoying your Resurrection Eggs this Easter, snap a picture and tag @byfaithshe on Facebook. We would love to see your sweet kiddos with their eggs!
FREE SCRIPTURE PRINTABLE:
For other ideas on how to sow seeds of faith into your children, teach them the Scriptures, and guide them on their individual walks with the Lord, check out:
1. Raising Little Kids with Big Faith
2. Raising Little Girls with Big Faith
3. By Faith Kids
4. Who Should Teach Them?
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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I am so excited to be able to announce to you the launch of By Faith Kids. By Faith Kids came about because of a desire of the By Faith She girls to teach our own children. And, we decided, why not share the love with all of you! Below you will find a free downloadable, five day Bible study, for your children.
In last weeks post, we talked about a command from God in Deuteronomy 11:18-19. It says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; …Teach them to your children.” I gave practical tips for ways that help me fulfill the first part of this commandment and I hope will helped you too.
Today, let’s talk about how we can impart God’s Word to our children. If we continue reading Deuteronomy 11, into verses 19-20, we see God giving practical advice on how to teach our children. He says, talk about His Words all the time, in every circumstance. When you sit, and when you walk along the road. I’m guessing that could be translated today “When you sit, and when you drive through the carpool line, and to various practices…” It goes on to say, “When you lie down, and when you get up. Write them on the doorframe of your houses and on your gates. So basically, find ways to fit God’s Word into all situations and conversations with your kids. Write them out and post them where you and your kids will see them, learn them, and remember them. Be intentional by word and deed to instruct your children in devotion to God!
If, as we talked about last week, you are reading God’s Word yourself, and spending time in prayer, it will make teaching your children much easier. After all, you can’t teach something you don’t know yourself. When you learn new information in your Bible study, talk to your kids about it. And with the knowledge you are saving up from studying God’s Word on your own, you will be more prepared to naturally insert God’s wisdom in various situations and conversations with your children.
MORE Practical Tips for Helping Your Child~
1. Resources -
Find resources for your child that you would like for them to use. Something age appropriate, that will adequately teach them God’s Word. My son is eleven and he loves the teen version of The Story. It is very similar to reading the Bible chronologically, but without chapters and verses. It reads like a storybook. One thing my twelve year old daughter enjoys, is reading through one book of the Bible at a time in her Journaling Bible. As she comes to verses that stick out to her or that she’d like to memorize, she gets out her colored pens and makes beautiful creations with the verse. Every child is different and learns in a variety of ways. Give your child some options on what they will use when they spend their time with The Lord.
2. Prayer -
Encourage your child to spend time in prayer as well. A prayer journal could be a helpful tool. Some children may love journaling their prayers, while others may not enjoy writing. When my daughter was very young she had some hard questions about knowing if God was real. We gave her a journal to write down prayers so she could go back and look at them every night and mark them off once God answered them. This was a huge faith builder for her because she saw proof of God’s answers right there in her journal! A journaling page is included in the Free Printable below. You are welcome to make copies of it!
3. Model It -
If your child is young or new to spending time in the Bible, start out reading them a Bible story before bed. Then model how to pray by praying out loud with them. Talk to them about how important it is to spend time with God, learning His Words to us and talking back to Him by praying. Encourage them to pray on their own when you leave the room.
4. Timing -
Help your child decide on a time to set aside to spend with the Lord. Just like us, they are much more likely to do it if they have a set time and you help them stick to it. Our goal is to send our kids to bed 30 minutes early every night so that they have time to intentionally spend with God. After those 30 minutes are up we go up to tuck them in. Many nights they tell us what they read, ask us questions, we insert knowledge we may have about what they have read…and we pray together. This obviously is harder to make happen some nights, and there have been many nights it hasn’t happened. But, we only have a short time with our children and this is SO important. Really the most important thing we could teach them in our time with them. So even if it doesn’t happen every night, it is definitely a top priority. If you haven’t been teaching your kids God’s Word and praying with them, don’t beat yourself up. It’s never too late. Start today!
By Faith She knows that the calling to be a parent, grandparent, mentor… is not always easy, and we want to help. That’s why we have created By Faith Kids. We hope to chalk it full of resources for you to use for the little ones, or maybe not so little ones, in your life.
Recently, I did a study on The Lord’s Prayer. I learned so much, and I wanted my kids to be able to begin to understand some of the same truths that I was reading about. So, I wrote a study for them on prayer. It’s divided into five days of actual Bible study, and Laura has added fun pages all throughout. Today, By Faith She is including it here as a free downloadable! Click the link below.
Please remember what we talked about above. All children learn so differently! Although this is designed to be a five-day study, one days work may be too much for your child. Don’t stress! Help them break it up into more manageable pieces. Make it work for them! Maybe like me, you have a child who doesn’t enjoy writing. Don’t make them write the answers in, but let them just think about the answers. You’ll know if they are learning when you talk about it at the end of each day. The point here is not to have perfectly completed pages. The point is to
1. teach your child God’s Word and 2. teach your child how to spend time with God!
Once they finish this Bible study, your children should be able to use the last page as a follow-up with any other Bible study. It will help them pray through their day. By Faith She plans to release more resources for kids in the future, and we pray that these resources will benefit your family as you lead them toward Jesus.
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
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What do you think is the best Valentine gift to let someone know you love them? Flowers? Chocolate? Jewelry? A wise person once said, "The best way to spell love is T.I.M.E." In today's hustle and bustle, it is hard to pin down time for those we love best. A quote from imom challenged me, "Healthy parents don’t find family time, they make time."
As I was brainstorming how to make time with my kiddos, I remembered three of my friends who gave neat Christmas gifts this year centered around time together! I thought, "We could easily use their ideas for Valentine's Day gifts!"
Below you'll find their explanation of why they did their activity and how. "The Why" will touch a familiar chord in your own precious heart. "The How" will make your job easy. Choosing which one you want to implement will be the hard part. These ideas could easily be used in any relationship you want to build and strengthen.
We have crafted a download to make these Valentine's ideas easier. If we don't have your email, simply send us your email address, and we'll zip them over to you.
Can you do us a favor? If you implement one of these tasks, please share your pictures and experiences on our Facebook page or on our Instagram page.
Adventure Box - by Darlene Howell Waller.
The Why - If we looked back on our years, we don't remember the gifts that were given or WHO gave them. But for me, time spent together are some of my sweetest childhood memories. I remember the family vacations, the Saturday trips to the grocery store, the lake and camping adventures with my family, the fun we had in the tree house that my dad built for me. But I couldn't tell you a single gift that was a "thing" that I remember receiving.
I love my grandchildren so much. One day I will be gone. I want them to have wonderful memories of their time spent with me, their Nonna. They have every toy imaginable! I just want to give them the gift of my time.
The How - Every year I try to figure out how to creatively give gift cards. This year, I found some ideas on Pinterest.
- I found a husband's letter he wrote as a gift to his wife. I just changed some words. This introduced me to the idea of "a monthly adventure for the year".
- I went to Hobby Lobby to purchase a shoe box, stickers and envelopes, but then I saw this trunk!! It was perfect!
- I found stickers that said, "Adventure Awaits". I loved the idea!
- Every month's envelope has a different experience that is pre-planned and pre-paid (mostly). The gift cards are places we go anyway: Movies, picnics, laser tag, go carts, the beach and Redneck Island, Christmas lights, pumpkin patch...etc.....I added some extra adventures, like horseback riding that I think they will absolutely love. (I can't believe I hadn't thought of that sooner.)
- We will take pictures at every outing and those pictures will go back into this box. In years to come they will have a trunk full of memories with their Nonna to fondly look back on.
Date Cards - by Denise Slater
The Why - A few years ago, my husband and I wanted to find a way to give more individual time to our kids. We live multiple states away from our families. This means we do most everything as a family, except for our date nights when we pay for a sitter. We have triplet boys, so we don’t have different times to spend when a younger child is napping, or an older child is in school. To solve this, we came up with “date cards”. They are given to them in their stockings. It is always one of their favorite gifts!
We currently give them three “dates with Daddy”, three “dates with Mommy”, and three “stay up late” cards to be used for the next year. The categories for this year are “Kid’s Choice”, “Parent’s Choice” and “Both Choose”.
The How - The first year we gave choices on the cards for different dates. The next year we gave less specific choices because we learned that some are weather related. The third year we learned to give date ranges on the cards to keep us accountable.
We have done different activities such as an escape room, the movies, disk golf, hiking, Skyzone, Chuck-e-Cheese, painting party, crafting, etc. (My husband now has a “no Chuck-e-Cheese clause for his dates. Haha!) Our “stay up late” cards are just that. Individually they get to stay up 30 min later than their brothers and pick something to do with both Daddy and Mommy. Most times it ends up being a board game or card game.
We have found that three dates per child, per parent works best for us. That is 18 different times a year that we schedule to go out, while the other two kids and parent are home. This would work easier for those parents of two kids to two dates in one night. While my parents were visiting from Michigan this past spring, we were able to do three dates in three nights while they had individual time with each of our kids also!
This has been an amazing experience to spend individual time with our boys. Giving them our undivided attention, without them competing with their brothers, brings out different sides to them. Our quiet child talks nonstop. Our boisterous child tends to be more reflective. Our creative child shows more insight. We are giving them the gift of time.
Our boys are tweens. Oh, that is hard to write the word “tween”! We are praying that these individual times invested will help us roll easier into the teen years to spend time with each of our boys. This gift of individual time has not only been great for our boys, but a blessing for my husband and me. I hope this will be a blessing to your family.
A Day to Remember - by Lesley Guilaran
The Why - The idea for our family Christmas gift ironically began in the toy aisle at Target. It was a hot August day and I remarked to my husband that this was the time of year I started to look for gifts for the kids for Christmas, since Target clearanced toys in August. He looked at me and said, “I think I’m done getting them toys for Christmas. Every year they open them, play with them for a little bit, and then they are finished. It’s just silly.” Inside, my heart was rejoicing! I had been wanting to give our kids experiences as gifts for awhile, so we began talking about that idea on that day.
At first, we thought of some grand plan to go to a different city, almost like a mini-vacation. However, our oldest son has autism, and this past fall was a difficult season. Traveling to another city seemed to be a bit too much for him to handle, so we sat on the idea for a few months.
About three weeks before Christmas, I was listening to a blog post from “The Lazy Genius”. She was discussing this very topic and the idea of giving experiences, like a family movie box filled with pajamas, special snacks, and a movie for the family to watch together. I thought, “YES!!!” This is the family gift I have been looking for! Not some grand plan, but something simple; creating a beautiful memory out of something not so fancy.
One very important lesson that autism has taught our family, is to see the beautiful in the ordinary.
So, ideas began churning in my head, and the one we landed on was to have a day in the small city we live in with our family.
The How - Each person in the family could pick one place they wanted to go. We would pile in the car and go to each place one afternoon. The funny thing was, we didn’t really go anywhere new! I chose the Old Town Spaghetti Store, my youngest chose SkyZone, my oldest chose The Green Frog Cafe (for coffee, of course!), and my husband chose to watch the sunset from a high point in our city, which just happens to be the Dairy Queen parking lot overlooking Wal-Mart!
We made a schedule for my oldest so he could handle all the transitions and off we went! At the end of the day, everyone said their favorite part was drinking our coffee or eating ice cream (depending on what they chose) and watching the sunset in the car. Our youngest LOVED it and said, “Can we do this again next year, Mom?” It was really the best; we all felt it.
The gift of time is the best gift we could have given our kids. We have all loved it. They have not missed the tangible gifts at all, and honestly, that makes my Momma heart full!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.