When my blogging life started five months ago, I often found myself parked on our couch with laptop or notebook in lap as my kids carried on around me. This was the only doable solution if I wanted to be present with my kids and not hole myself away in a room, which never works well in my house. After the first few weeks of this new routine, my daughter began to pull out her own notebook and would nestle up close beside me and started writing, too. But, instead of blogging to an audience of many, she began writing to an audience of One. Thus, at the ripe age of 8, her prayer journal began.
She would let me peek at it once she was finished. Her words moved me more than any blog I could ever write. She asked God questions that were pressing on her mind such as, “How can you walk on water? Is it gravity?” or “How did you make weather? How did you make us? I just want to know.” She then moved on to praises such as, “Thank you so much for everything you do for me. Sometimes I don’t even realize that you do stuff for me.” And “I love you. You’re the best. I was wondering what I would do without you? I don’t know what I would do!” And, she always, always would include, “Can I have a baby sister?” (Bless her!)
A peek inside her journal. Shown with her permission.
Seeing her childlike faith and adoration spilt out onto the pages of her journal revealed an important truth to me – she’s ready to go deeper. Long gone are the days filled with The Jesus Storybook Bible and countless hours of Veggie Tales. Her faith has matured past animated talking vegetables and paraphrased Bible stories. She’s ready for more! And, because of the wonderful command to parents tucked inside of Deuteronomy 6 and 11, I knew it was my job to show her what going deeper looks like.
As Valentine’s Day approached this year, the Lord showed me a way to use this day to sow into her heart. This grand day of LOVE has the amazing potential to teach our children WHO loves comes from. Yet, we never use it for that purpose. Scripture tells us that Love comes from God 1 John 4:7. Why not shift our focus and make it about HIM instead of US?
Because I love a good party, especially when it involves giggly little girls, I proposed the idea to my girl about having a Jesus Loves Me Valentine party. She loved the idea! We texted a few friends’ mommies who caught our vision and they said they’d come in their Valentine best with Bibles in hand. I was giddy with excitement! I have never done Bible study with little girls. How would they react? Would they roll their eyes? Would they understand? I didn’t know these answers but it was a gamble that I was willing to take.
So, the day of the party came and I must say it will forever be a cherished memory of mine. My girl helped me with every detail. She thoughtfully planned out the seating arrangement which was based on who was friends with who and where she thought they'd feel most comfortable. We strung felt hearts from the chandelier and then she divided up the fruit evenly into cups and arranged the mini cupcakes and brownies onto a platter. This prep time with her was my favorite!
Simple decorations that cost only $1-$3
Once the party started, six sweet 8 year olds gathered around the table with me and did their very first “Bible study” – looking up and reading the verses on “Conversation Hearts” that I made (see printable at the bottom). It warmed my heart to watch them help one another find Zephaniah or pronounce words they didn’t know. I briefly explained each verse and they would add their insights as well. These verses about God’s love for them – His inexplicable, unexplainable, and undeserved love – filled both my home and their hearts. We talked about how He sings over us, how He goes before us, how He delights in us, how He fills us with joy in His presence, and how He will love us forever and ever. And then, we talked about how long forever is.
In addition to Bible study, I wanted to show them a way to go back home and continue growing in their faith. So, I made each one a “Praises & Prayers” jar, memory verse holder, and a Prayer Journal. These items are nothing fancy or expensive. Any non-crafty mama or grandmother can make these! Or, the girls may have loved them even more if I would have helped them make their own. Either way, I wanted to give them something special, something personal, that encourages ongoing conversations with the Lord and Bible study.
The Prayer Journal is a simple composition book from Walmart. I splurged an extra $1 and bought pretty ones with plastic durable covers and silver spines. Use stickers to personalize or find a friend who has a Cricut or Silhouette machine to make some for you!
We also had a craft that I thought of on a whim the night before and it was the biggest hit! I bought $2 wooden letters of their first initial and they painted away as they sang along to The Greatest Showman (their request). By the way, this age LOVES turquoise! They squealed with delight at the sight of the turquoise paint being squeezed out and they all called dibs on it.
After the letters dried, they took fine-tipped paint pens and wrote one word to describe each girl onto her letter. These letters with words of life written onto them will remind them how special they are to their friends.
The day ended with lots and lots of twirling and hide-and-seek. We all agreed that we need to plan a party for Easter and then for the Fourth of July and then… They kept going on and on. As I thought about it, I realized that we can turn any occasion into a way to point to Christ!
If you sense that your girl is ready to go deeper and grow in Christ, look for opportunities to share this wonderful experience with her. You will find that as you guide her in her walk with the Lord, your faith will grow, too.
P.S. Just before I was about to go live with this post, I had to drop something off at my daughter's classroom. I wasn't three steps into the room when one of the little girls who attended her party came running up to me and exclaimed, "Mrs. Rebecca! I've written in my prayer journal every night!" It made me smile big.
Give them a pen mamas and watch them go!
By Faith Kids - Conversation Hearts printable:
Join us next week as we share Raising Little Kids with Big Faith - Tools for Sowing Seeds of Faith into Your Children. This post will contain practical and fun ideas to spur both your girls and your boys onto a greater, more intimate relationship with the Lord as they grow in their knowledge of Him.
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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Truth be told, I completely overloaded myself this past week. Have you ever done that? No? Just me? Who am I kidding, we all have done that more than once!
My family has found that Valentine's Day is a great time to put together a fundraiser to help with mission trips, camps, etc. Do you know how many chocolate covered strawberries are eaten during this special day? The World Wide Web doesn't really tell us, but I can tell you from experience a ton of people do! So that's what my daughter and I have been working on this week.
Sunday afternoon I set out to buy my first round of strawberries and I went to the most logical store in my town…only to find ZERO berries! I set out on the search and finally find a place where I could purchase a good amount.
After round one was washed and dipped, I sent my husband out for round two. Again, I send him to the most logical place and again…no berries! I then send him back to the store where I was successful the first time. He returned home with all that I asked for, but I didn't realize what it took for him to get them! He told me as he was carrying a flat of strawberries to the register, a worker stopped him and said he could only buy two containers at a time. Knowing that he needed to come home with strawberries (he obviously knows me so well), he went in and out of the store six times to get me what I needed! I think that might deserve a "husband of the year" award!
Twelve hours and thirty dozen later, the fundraising project is complete! As I dipped all 360 strawberries, I was asking the Lord to give me a blog post for today, because honestly, I had nothing! I started thinking about each berry and a story that could come from them. Before I dipped each berry, I had to examine it to make sure it didn't have blemishes, that it was ripe enough and that it was firm and not mushy. That's when it came to me...what can we learn from a strawberry?
I did a little research and found some Fun Facts! Did you know...
1. Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each spring
2. There are 200 seeds on an average strawberry and most varieties produce "runners"
3. Strawberries are considered part of the rose family. They give off a sweet fragrance as they grow.
As I dipped each strawberry in the chocolatey goodness, it was so apparent how easy it would be to cover up any flaws. Beautiful on the outside, but mushed and bruised on the inside. That could be an entirely different post for another day!
You may be eating a lot of strawberries over the next couple of days and even as harvest time arrives this spring. Think about how we can compare our lives as Christians to that of a strawberry. First fruits, full of seeds that can reproduce, strong enough to produce runners that branch off and take deep roots, and the sweetness of taste and sweet fragrance they give off. I will not look at strawberries the same now! All around us we can learn from God's creation. I am thankful He allowed me to see something different in His creation this week.
Happy Valentine's Day and I hope you get spoiled with lots of strawberries!
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!
Queue the sappy movies, the jewelry commercials, and flowers galore…Valentine's Day is right around the corner! It's a day of love and great expectation from your significant other! Some people love it, and some people completely despise it.
It has become so commercialized that U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average $143.56 on Valentine’s Day as 55 percent of the population celebrates this year, an increase from last year’s $136.57, according to NRF’s annual survey. Total spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion, up from $18.2 billion last year.
But what if you don't have a special person to spend the day with? What if someone just walked out on you or you just lost someone to death? What a hard day to sit back and watch others wallow in the joy of love! I have had a really stinky Valentine's Day before. I was actually broken up with on Valentine's! Talk about bad timing!
I was talking with a friend the other day that had been severely hurt by someone she was dating. Trust was broken time and time again, and she had to walk away. She made the comment that she has learned that God was her first love and He will always be her true love!
So that's what brought me to this blog post. On a day that is filled with cupids, hearts, and gifts galore, God gave us the ultimate gift and showed us the greatest love that anyone could possibly show…His one and only son, Jesus!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
I want to challenge you to shift your focus from the materialistic and tangible ways that the world says we should love and start at the beginning, where true LOVE first began.
If you are a child of God, how do you rekindle that love relationship with Jesus? You may not know Jesus as your personal Savior. If that's the case, we want to pray for you and talk with you!
I came up with an acronym for LOVE that may help to keep our eyes on the One who gave His life for ours…the most beautiful act of love.
L - Lean into Jesus: Lean means to "rest for support."
Audra wrote a post yesterday about how we can be intentional about spending time with the Lord. In any relationship, you have to spend time with each other to get to know one another. You have to communicate, and you have to listen. Leaning into Jesus and spending time in His Word and in prayer is a great way to combat Satan's lies that you are "lonely" on a day like Valentine's or that you don't have anyone. Rest in Jesus that He is enough!
In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. Psalm 5:3
Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. Psalm 1:2
O - Obey His Word: Obey means to "carry out commands or instructions."
As we spend time with the Lord, we are called to put His Word into action! How blessed we are to be given the most perfect, infallible book that was ever written! It's our instruction on how to lead others to Christ and how to live daily. God's Word is our encouragement when we feel alone, when we don't know where to turn, when we don't think we can make it another day…it's God speaking directly to us. So why do we take it for granted? When we hide His Word in our hearts and memorize Scripture, the Holy Spirit brings it to our minds exactly when we need it! Fill your heart and your mind with His promises, so when Satan tries to tell you differently, you can take those thoughts captive!
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24
V - Value who you are in Christ: Value means "importance, worth or usefulness for something."
You are valued, you are beautiful, and you are loved. If no one has ever told you that, let me be the first to tell you that Christ thinks you are super amazing! Don't take my word for it, read the Scriptures and believe it! Christ has placed you where you are for a beautiful purpose, ask Him to show you and use you where you are.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
E - Enjoy knowing the love of Christ! : Enjoy means "take delight or pleasure in."
Christ delights in you! Yes…He really does! Sometimes we let the noise of the world overshadow what Christ is doing. Make it your prayer to notice all that Christ is doing around you and through you. He never leaves us! We are the ones that drift away; He is just waiting for us to run back to Him!
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9
Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:26
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:3
I don't know your situation, but I pray that if you are feeling lonely leading up to Valentine's Day that you will know that there is someone who loves you so very much! He loves you with an overwhelming, never-ending, reckless kind of love! I have posted a song below that I heard a few weeks ago. Listen and make it the cry of your heart! He loves us, and He pursues us! There is no better message of love than the love of Christ!
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!
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.