In Which Drivers Ed Reminds me of Jesus

I love absolutely everything about being a parent. Almost.

It is a fact that potty training used to be my least favorite part of parenting. Nice as it was to get those kids out of diapers, it seemed that during the long days of cleaning poop off the floor and asking, “Do you need to potty?” every three minutes, it would surely be much simpler to just change diapers for the rest of my life.

But then my boys all got potty trained and grew to be taller than me and I was introduced to a new least favorite part of parenting: Teaching teenagers how to drive.

car3

Now, I’m not a crazy freaked out mom when my kids are behind a wheel (yes I am). I certainly do not cringe and forcefully push my imaginary brake on the passenger side (yes I do). My angst over teaching teens to drive could be summed up by sharing the simple fact that we are in a moving vehicle made of metal that could smash at any time into a tree or a ditch or a Mack truck, and I am powerless to do anything about it.

Kind of makes poop on the floor seem like a welcome guest.

This summer we began the delightful journey of teaching Boy #3 to drive a car so that he can get his driver’s license when he turns 16. In Nebraska, there are two options for this. 1) Drive for 50 hours with a parent or 2) Pay $300 and spend a week at Driver’s Ed.

For Boys #1 and #2, we chose the frugal route, because we are the parents and we could teach our kids to drive for free. But of course.

However, when Boy #3 turned 15 and got his permit, I cried weary tears and asked Matt, “Can we please just pay the $300 this time and let someone else teach him how to drive?” It was the best check I’ve ever written.

So last summer, Elias spent 20 hours in a classroom learning how to drive from a book and a teacher. He didn’t love it, but someone had to make the sacrifice and I’d already done my part. After passing the 20 hours of classwork and the test of his book knowledge, he went out in a car with a great instructor who sat in the passenger seat and said nice things and didn’t slam on imaginary brakes. For six hours, Mr. Much Appreciated instructed Elias on all things driving.

In the meantime, Calgon took me away and I sipped Iced Coffee in my easy chair.

Elias returned from his 6 hours on the road with the good news that he had passed Driver’s Ed, and just like that, he would be able to walk in and get his official driver’s license on his 16th birthday.

I’m almost 101% sure that we will choose this very same option with Boy #4 when the time comes because of the iced coffee and the Calgon. But is it just me, or does anyone notice a bit of a discrepancy on the required number of hours behind a wheel which will qualify someone to be considered fit for driving independently? We’re talking 50 hours verses 6 hours. Those two numbers are not the same and also, one is much less than the other. Even if we counted the 20 hours of classroom time, which truly was beneficial, that’s still not the same as 50 hours of driving practice on the road behind a wheel.

I am forever grateful to the instructor for saving me from those hours of stress in the passenger seat. But as some other parents and I were discussing recently, “Even after taking Driver’s Ed, a kid still needs time and instruction from parents in learning how to drive so they’ll be ready to be an independent driver.”

And this, my friends, is the actual point about Jesus and Drivers Ed that I want to share with you today.

In Which Drivers Ed Reminds Me of Jesus

We can send our kids to Driver’s Ed and let someone else teach them many of the wonderful points they need to know about driving a car. But we parents still have a lot of work to do to prepare our kids for successful and safe driving.

This is very much like teaching our kids about Jesus.

We can take our kids to church and Bible class on Sundays and get them involved with youth group, and maybe even send them on a mission trip or two. But if we expect these very few hours each week to be all and do all in helping them learn about who Jesus is, to fill their hearts with Truth, and to learn the transforming power of prayer and surrender to God – we are sorely mistaken.

Never should we expect a classroom and a preacher to fill the role that God has placed on us as parents. Never should we consider the 3 hours per week in a church building to be “enough” when there are 106 additional awake hours each week that we should be seeking Jesus and His truth.

If we expect that going to church is enough for our lives and our kids’ lives, we should stop going to church because we’ve missed the point and forgotten who Jesus actually is and who He calls us to be.

It’s too easy to feel good about crossing to-do’s off our check list. Took the kids to church? Check. Made them go to Bible class? Check. Did a service project that one time? Check. Yep, we are a good Christian family.

Christianity isn’t a check-list. Christianity is life. Jesus is life.

Driver’s Ed? It saved my sanity. But I’ve been out in my car’s passenger seat anyway, giving my kid more driving practice so that when he turns 16 in a few days, he will actually be ready to drive on his own.

Bible class and worship services on Sundays? Can’t do with out it. But Matt and I are out in the trenches anyway, sharing Truth around our table, praying around our living room, talking constantly about who God is and what it means to live a Spirit filled life.

So this is how Drivers Ed is like Jesus. It all makes sense, and in three days, Elias turns 16, gets his license, and we will be adding a THIRD SON to our car insurance policy.

Kind of makes poop on the floor seem like a welcome guest.

Fill the New Year with Prayer: For Your Marriage, For Your Kids

23 years of being a wife and 20 years of being a mother have taught me this: Constant surrendered prayer for my marriage and for my kids is not just the best option; it is the only option.

Family700

I have spent so much time and energy worrying over these people. Physical worry (can I keep them alive?) and spiritual worry (will they choose Jesus forever?). This has resulted in nothing but anxiety and fear, pain and discouragement. That’s why God tells us not to worry, which baffles us all as we say, “Lord! I’m trying! I don’t want to worry, but still, I worry.” And then we worry about worrying. Good times.

Hope for Peace

When my anxiety reached its peak a few years ago, when I was so overcome with worry, regret, and fear over helping my kids through their teen years and launching them out of the nest, when I was so distracted by the lies of the enemy that I couldn’t hear truth, when I turned all my angst onto my husband and started blaming him for all that wasn’t perfect – I found I had no choice but to seek help.

Help from others. And most importantly, help from the Father. Thus began a journey that can be described as both painful (because broken hearts hurt) and beautiful (because God heals broken hearts).

Never before had I truly surrendered myself to God. I’d been spending too much time striving to be right and do right and act right – you know, as if my right-ness would save me and produce a family who would choose right too. When I continued to fail at being right, the worry took over and completely crippled me.

God beautifully broke my heart to teach me that His peace and salvation don’t come from a person’s right-ness. Peace, hope, and salvation come from His righteousness. This righteousness can be ours, because of Jesus, praise God!

I love God so much. He is gentle, faithful, and if we can even begin to understand and accept His perfect and glorious love for us, peace, hope, and JOY will bubble right on out of our beautifully mended hearts!

surrendered heart cover3d

When I fall back on my own flesh, the anxiety comes back. When I trust the Spirit’s work and surrender my walk with Him, I am instead filled with the joy, peace, and love our Father promises.

Will you join me in this place of peace and joy? It begins and ends in surrendered prayer.

I wrote A Surrendered Heart Mini-eCourse and The Prayer Mugs Prayer Journal as a result of all I am learning through this journey of learning to truly surrender and trust God.

Prayer Mugs Cover2

A Surrendered Heart is written for wives as they pray God’s will in their marriage and truly give their husbands over to Him. The Prayer Mugs is written for mothers as they learn to fully trust God with their kids. I am so incredibly grateful for what God has been teaching me about surrendering my husband, marriage, kids, and life to Him daily. I know this journey of learning and growing won’t end until my time on earth is over. So while I’m here, I must daily give my heart to the God who promises goodness and hope.

Let’s surrender together. Let’s embrace the hope God gives. He doesn’t just promise it, He truly gives it! Peace is a gift that is absolutely ours, every single moment, every single day. Our only job is to accept the gift. To fill our hearts with Truth from His Word. To pray in confidence, knowing that God faithfully gives His good gifts to His children without holding anything back!

Prayer for your Marriage, Prayer for your Kids

A Surrendered Heart Mini-eCourse and The Prayer Mugs Prayer Journal are resources I’d love for you to have as you spend time in the Word, as you spend time in prayer, and as you grow with me in our journey in learning to trust and accept God’s gifts of peace and joy.

SHbanner

PrayerMugsprev

When purchased separately, these downloadable and printable scripture studies and prayer journals cost a total of $30. For the next five days, we are packaging them together and offering them for a total of only $20!

Get your New Year off to a prayer-filled start. Surrender your spouse and marriage to the Father. Let go of fear and anxiety over your children’s welfare and your parenting struggles. Truly give your marriage and children over to the perfect care of our Heavenly Father! Join me in this place of peace in Jesus.

Marriage and Parenting Prayer Journal Package
Take time in the Word and in Prayer to surrender your heart to the Father. Give Him your marriage. Give Him your kids. Give Him all that causes you worry and fear. The Surrendered Heart and The Prayer Mugs will walk you through a journey toward peace and joy in marriage and parenting as only God can.
Price: $30.00
Price: $20.00

Pray for your Marriage and Picks Package Discount

This discount will be offered through Wednesday, January 17. Grab them now, download and print them, open your Bible, find your favorite pen, and get down on your knees. There is so much joy and peace here. Join me.

Marriage and Parenting Prayer Journal Package
Take time in the Word and in Prayer to surrender your heart to the Father. Give Him your marriage. Give Him your kids. Give Him all that causes you worry and fear. The Surrendered Heart and The Prayer Mugs will walk you through a journey toward peace and joy in marriage and parenting as only God can.
Price: $30.00
Price: $20.00

Favorite Family Games List 2017

It’s become tradition around here. For several years, I have shared a list of our family’s favorite games, adding to the list each year as our shelf fills more and more. Welcome to this year’s Favorite Family Games List!

What Are Your Favorite Family Games

I LOVE that each year, you share your family’s favorite games in the comments. This has helped us decide which new games to get for our kids each Christmas. So keep the comments coming! Read through this list, then add your favorites in the comments section to give us all more idea!

Favorite Family Games List 2017

I love that many of these are small enough to put into stockings. I love that these are gifts the entire family can enjoy together. And I love that there is really no end to all the great games out there!

Ok, your turn! Tell us what your favorite family games are!

Many of these links are my affiliate links.

Spend Time in the Word With Your Family: FREE Packet of Praise Scripture Memory Printables!

If I could give just one piece of advice to families raising children it would be this: Spend time in the Word together. 

Fall Scripture Memory31

Do not limit spiritual training to Sunday morning at church. Those are a beautiful two or three hours each week, but what about the other 109 awake hours every week?

(Yes, I did the math. 24 hours a day x 7 days in a week = 168. Take away 8 hours of sleep each night = 112. Take away 3 hours of church on Sunday = 109 awake hours outside of the church walls. You are welcome. Never ask me to do math again unless it involves measurements in a recipe. It’s better this way.)

Through 20 years of parenting, we’ve learned that spiritual training as a family takes place all day long, every day of the week. Through scripture, conversation, prayer, humility, and surrender, together with our kids we learn to trust God, seek Him, listen to Him, and love Him.

Fall Scripture Memory81

One aspect of our spiritual journey we’ve been especially focused on recently is Praising Him. This is slightly different from being thankful. Thanking and praising go together, certainly, but try this sometime:

Have family prayer time together in which you only praise God.

Don’t ask for anything. Don’t petition Him. Just praise Him.

“God, we praise you for…” “God you are…”

Fill the room with praise. Do this with your family. It is truly glorious!

As we’ve been practicing more praise in our home, I’ve been looking through scripture to find verses and passages that are exclusively in praise to the Father. There are many!

Praise Scripture Memory Printables - free for you!

Here are 10 of our favorites, put onto beautiful printables for us all to enjoy! Not only have we found that it’s important to fill our home with praise, we love hanging scripture in every room of our house.

Please help yourself to this packet of free printables. Enjoy them with your family. Memorize the scriptures together. Spend time praising together. Talk together about His wonders and goodness!

Connect to our Heavenly Homemaker’s Learning Zone! It’s completely free, and well, full of freebies! Simply enter your email address here, check your inbox for a confirmation link, then these scripture printable freebies will be yours, along with dozens of other free printables!

May we all fill our homes with praise to the Father!

P.S. If you’d like to read more about how we have established a Family Bible Reading time, I wrote about that here.

The Teenage Boy and the Toilet Paper

Sometimes I feel all alone in this big old house full of men. It’s five-on-one here, with me being the only female in a house full of males. A husband, four sons, and me, the wife and mom, speaking a language all my own. How frequent it is that I speak sentences full of words no one understands.

Or so it seems.

Family at Nebraska City

Perhaps I do provide too many details when I share fun news. “Our friends had their baby!” I say, following up my announcement with the size, weight, details, details, details, and details that we all most certainly care about very much! I finally come up for air, and they all give an appreciative nod and a “cool” or a “nice” before zoning back into whatever it was they were doing before I started my speech.

Sometimes it seems like they aren’t listening. Sometimes it seems like they don’t care.

I know better though. They hear. And they definitely care. They just aren’t as interested as I am in the color of the darling bow the baby wore on her head on the way home from the hospital (multi-colored with flowers, thanks for asking).

My boys and I shop together, but I’m alone at the rack with cute sweaters and adorable tops. We have a blast anyway, meeting back up and high-fiving over the clearance deals we’ve all found. We laugh together about the weird shorts that are still on the rack for so many obvious reasons, but wonder together if we should actually buy them for Asa because if anyone could pull off such ridiculous looking apparel and make it look cool, it would be him.

Hangers in the clothing store.

The fun I have with my household of men truly takes my breath away, even while there are times I long for any one of them to get excited with me about how great it would be if we actually put all the shoes in the closet where they belong. The fact that no one but me can see the pile of books on the steps that needs to be carried upstairs blows my mind. How do they walk over and around them twelve times but never once see them and pick them up to take them to the place they need to go? I do not understand this.

school books 20152

But I’ve learned that the fact that they don’t always see doesn’t mean that they don’t care. And just because their faces don’t light up over the news of a new baby or the sight of a clean kitchen doesn’t mean they aren’t excited or appreciative.

As their mom, I will continue to share too many details, because I can’t help it and after all, someone needs to prepare them to hear all the details and words their wives will some day share with them every day, am I right? My arms will flail and my eyes will light up and my voice will show ridiculous inflection as I tell about the exciting deal I found on strawberries and a new recipe I’m excited to try as a result, even though they will only shrug after hearing my details and simply say, “Cool. Can we have some?”

strawberry_shortcake_muffins_2

But then there will be the day when the basket that holds the rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom becomes empty and I will look up to see my 15-year old son get a full package out of storage, open it, and fill the basket just like I have been doing for years. He wasn’t asked to do this chore. I didn’t even know he knew my system. But there he is. Filling baskets with toilet paper.

toilet paper1

toilet paper2

These are actual baskets in our actual bathroom,
filled with actual toilet paper by an actual teenage boy. 

Apparently, they do see. They do notice. They do care.

My eyes light up over this! I gush with appreciation, using many words and flailing arms to express my thanks! He responds with a wordless shrug, because after all, it’s just toilet paper.

No, Son. It’s more than that. Here, let me tell you in detail why this is means so much to me…

The Teenage Boy and the Toilet Paper

How We Developed a Morning Bible Reading Time With Our Family

It might surprise you to know that what originally started our morning Bible reading time with our family was a bit of selfish need on the part of this mama.

applesaucebread2sm.JPG

breakfastsm

What selfish need was my motivation? Oh, just a little something I like to call peace and quiet. The silly little desire for my four small boy children to actually stay in their chairs during a meal and not throw scrambled eggs toward the window or poke each other with forks. The desperate attempt to find some sort of order for our mornings when we were staring down a 7-year old, a 5-year old, a 3-year old, and a 6-month old.

four boys pilgrim

Now truly, motivation for beginning our Bible reading time was the fact that we felt like good Christian parents should probably actually read the Bible to their kids. Funny that I didn’t at first equate Christ-like character and heart training with Bible reading. Good Christians just read the Bible, right?

I could interrupt myself here and ask what I even thought it meant to be a “good Christian” because what? Like there’s such thing as a “bad Christian?” Either you’re a Christ follower or you aren’t. But I digress.

So we wanted to be good Christian parents, and that surely must mean that we should read the Bible to our kids. And we wanted all the eggs and muffins to stay on plates and then get eaten, so it started to make sense to us that if we read the Bible to our kids while they were sitting at the table eating their food, we could get a two-for-one. The kids would sit and eat. The “good Christian parents” could read the Bible. Everyone brushes their teeth and moves on with the day.

Thankfully, before we got much farther into our parenting journey, God convicted us that shaping our kids’ hearts and character meant much more than simply “reading the Bible” to them. Of course, reading the Bible is a fabulous and necessary part of the journey, but it’s so much more than just reading words and moving on. We started talking with our kids frequently about God’s work in our lives. We started using scripture as a part of their training in ways that were fun and meaningful.

We learned that we needed to make Jesus’ life and and love a part of every aspect of our lives so that we, too, could live a life of love.

As parents, we learned along with our kids. There’s no magic formula for perfect parenting, but there is a Holy Spirit, the perfect guide. The more we listen to His leading and direction, the more we know what to say, how to love, and how to guide our kids.

As for our morning family Bible reading time at breakfast, it’s become a practice and tradition that we all hold dear. It’s much more than words in a book. It’s the Words from the Book. It’s Truth. It’s Life.

Reading to our kids during a meal began as a way to keep them focused on both food and words. It worked for us then, and works for us now as it brings our busy family of teenagers together for conversation and Biblical truth before we hit the ground running.

boyssewing4sm

Keeping their hands busy any time I read to them when they were little
was a necessity if I wanted them to actually hear the words I was reading.

No matter how you choose to fill your kids with Truth from the Word, do find the ways that work for you. During meals, in the car, at bedtime – any or all of the above, as the Spirit leads you. Change your times and practices through the years as needed.

Don’t limit scripture training to be something your kids learn on Sunday mornings. Make it a part of every day of your lives, as parents, as individuals, and as a family.

And if you read the Bible at the breakfast table with your little ones, enjoy the added benefit that the eggs will be thrown at the window less frequently and forks will be poked at siblings less often.

How We Developed a Morning Bible Reading Time with our Family

What Every Parent Needs

Hands down, at the top of my list of what every parent needs is Jesus.

I’m not just saying this because it sounds nice. Without Him, I don’t know how I would get through each day, find the right words, keep the right attitude, and be able to live freely in peace while doing what I’ve deemed to be…

The most difficult and beautiful job on the planet.

Well, second maybe to nurturing and maintaining a healthy marriage. So no big deal. While we realize all that we are blessed beyond measure, I think we also know that if we want goodness for our families we’ve got our work cut out for us.

I’ve been married for 23 years and have been a mom for 20. These years have served to teach me thousands of humbling lessons, all of which begin and end with:

I need Jesus.

I need my Savior. I can’t do this without God. I’m desperately in need of help. And praise Him, He provides all!

Truly.

God didn’t throw these spouses and kids at us and then give us a little pat and say, “Well, good luck. You’re going to need it.”

Often we’re deceived into believing that He didn’t give us a manual for “how to raise kids” because there’s no written words that specifically spell out “Every time your kid does ________, do ________.” Or the book I’ve wanted more than any other, “In order to absolutely, without a doubt raise Godly children, all you have to do is _______________________.” I wanted it to be a five step program that would ensure that my kids chose God. I wanted a simple, tidy package. Is that too much to ask?


Matt and I have done all we can to see that our kids have received Biblical guidance, conversation, truth talk, and countless hours of prayer from us and from others in their lives who love the Lord and love our sons. We haven’t come close to doing a perfect job of this, and for years I felt like a parenting failure because of all my imperfections.

I believed the lie that God doesn’t provide exactly what we need as we seek to raise godly children. Yes, there is the Bible, and we have most certainly relied on it throughout our parenting years. But even the Bible doesn’t share specific formulas to ensure that our kids wouldn’t throw tantrums in the grocery store and that they would absolutely choose Him.

I concluded that since there was no book or seasoned parent to tell me exactly how to accomplish this, and putting our offspring in a choke-hold and cramming it down their throats didn’t seem like quite the right way to go about it either – all I could do was pray and hope for the best.

I’m here to tell you that this is not true.

This is the most important truth I’ve learned during the past 20 years of parenting:

God absolutely does provide all we need as parents, and I’ve learned that He has given us what is even better than a “How to Do it Right Every Time” manual. He has!!

He gives us the Holy Spirit who is at work in us and through us, is living constantly with us to guide us, to give us words, to provide us with wisdom, and to fill us continually so that we are overflowing with His love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

If you don’t believe me, read the book of Galatians. If you still don’t believe me, ask God to make Himself fully known to you through the power of His Spirit. Whatever we ask in His name, He will give it. The Bible tells us this over and over.

We are fully equipped! We have been given everything we need through the power of Jesus. And because of this, we can absolutely parent with confidence.

I praise God constantly for revealing these truths, and for His perfect plan to give all of us the Holy Spirit to live and work and breathe in us. We are perfectly gifted. We are strong. We are healed. We are whole. We are provided for.

We take these truths and we hold onto them tightly. We surrender ourselves to God so that we can then surrender our children to Him. These precious ones we hold so dear? Our Father loves them with a love we’ve never felt or experienced, because it’s His pure, perfect, beautiful love.

Trust God. Let the Holy Spirit be at work in you. Parent through His power.

This is what every parent needs.

I’m cheering for you Mom and Dad. We’re teammates in this parenting thing and because of God, we are equipped with everything we need!

Using Scripture to Shape Your Kids’ Character

It all started when our kids were little bitty.

Boys- Mothers Day '07(3) sm

I was having a bit of a grumbly day, which had been happening way too often for anyone’s liking. When I was grumpy, of course my kids became grumpy. So the combination of grumpy mom and grumpy kids turned our household into a great big grumpy mess.

Somehow (God’s leading, no doubt) I stumbled upon the following from Philippians 2:14-16:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.

Do everything?? EVERYTHING without grumbling or arguing?? How in the world? Did God not understand about the poop and the snot and the tantrums?

four boys pilgrim

I was personally challenged by this passage, and loved the image of shining like a star in a world full of darkness. How desperately I wanted my kids to know me as a shining model of God’s character, instead of as a dark, gloomy, frustrated, grouchy, “let’s just get through the day without killing each other” kind of a mom.

cowboys

So living out this scripture became a prayer focus for me. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing…do everything without grumbling or arguing…”

As I focused on this passage, it became easy for me to gently share it with my kids every time they started to grumble or argue. Talking about it became natural, and little as they were at the time, they could understand the simple words, “Remember the Bible words? Do not grumble. Do not argue.”

boys_painting

But this parenting practice became even better when I started to incorporate the remainder of the verse into my training with them. When I noticed my little boys playing nicely and getting along (hallelujah!) I would take the last part of the Philippians passage to encourage them with, “You guys sure are shining like stars right now!” and they would beam.

And THIS all led to the creation of Character Charts that I made with construction paper and star stickers. I wrote the entire passage of Philippians 2:14-16 on a chart for each of them. Then every time I “caught” them playing nicely and getting along, I would say, “I saw you shining like a star this afternoon when you were playing together without grumbling or arguing. I guess you better go put a star on your chart!”

It’s amazing how such a simple reward can mean so much to a little one. It was positive reinforcement at its best, because it involved scripture Truth! And on the flip side, having these charts on our wall made it easier for me to call out grumpy behaviors with, “Your star needs to shine brighter right now. Can you think of a nicer way to talk to each other (or to me)?”

boys_costumes

The “Star Charts” led our family down a fun path of selecting other Bible verses that helped shape our kids’ (and our own!) hearts toward making godly choices. Using scripture for our kids’ character training was better than any training we could have given them. We wanted them to know the “why” behind the good behavior we were asking for. Using scripture was a natural and beautiful way to do that.

If you’ve been reading here for many years, you may remember that I had created printable Kids Character Charts and included them in my Heavenly Homemakers Shop for you to purchase. They were not super professional, but they were a step above construction paper on the wall. :) Then after a few years I took them out of my shop with plans to have a professional designer re-create them into something wonderful.

That finally happened this summer!

CCimage

There are five full sets of printable character charts and cut-out stickers in this collection, each with a Bible lesson you can use as you introduce it to and use with your kids.

  1. Shine Like Stars – from Philippians 2:14-16
  2. Fruit of the Spirit – from Galatians 5:22-25
  3. Walk in the Light – from 1 John 1:7
  4. Be Imitators of God – from Ephesians 5:1-2
  5. Treasures in Your Heart – from Matthew 6:19-21

You can download and use this collection in any way that works best for your family’s character and Biblical training!

family1sm

My kids are all big and tall and turning into adults now. They look back at their beloved Character Chart days with fond memories (which is always fun for me to hear!). The charts use Biblical truth in a very simple and practical way so that God’s truth becomes your child’s truth.

Kids' Character Charts
Encourage your kids toward Godly behaviors with these five full sets of character charts and cut-out stickers in this collection. Each comes with a Bible lesson you can use as you introduce it to and use with your kids. Shine Like Stars - from Philippians 2:14-16 Fruit of the Spirit - from Galatians 5:22-25 Walk in the Light - from 1 John 1:7 Be Imitators of God - from Ephesians 5:1-2 Treasures in Your Heart - from Matthew 6:19-21 You can use this collection in any way that works best for your family's character and Biblical training!
Price: $10.00

God bless you as you raise, train, and love your kids!

Huge List of Screen Free Activities for Summer Fun

This is the point in the summer that my kids are too hot to play, too hot to work, too hot to move, and too hot to care. Therefore, reaching for a device to play a game or zoning out to Netflix feels like the best option.

Knowing this is true for kids of all ages {Laura raises her hand while trying to cool down with a Coffee Milkshake} I asked my friend Kim to use her brilliance and creativity to come up with a list of ideas we can suggest to our kids, all of which do not involve a screen.

Huge List of Screen-Free Activitiesfor Summer Fun

Sounds good? Here we go!

List of Screen Free Activities for Summer Fun

1. Read, of course…

We’ve already talked about all the good books to read! (Did you see this list?) First and foremost, cooling off under the fan with a good book is a perfect screen free option this summer. Look over our list of great book suggestions. Join our Summer Reading Party. Read, read, read!

2. Have a Board Games Tournament

Huge List of Screen-Free Activitiesfor Summer Fun

Select any of the following, making adjustments depending on your kids’ ages. If your kids are old enough, enjoying any of these games in tournament form could be a blast! Even if your kids are “too old” for little kid games, sometimes it’s fun to pull them out and have a “Throw Back Game Day!”

3. Have Fun With Bubbles

  • Have Bubble Races – Hold your bubble on your wand and see who can go the farthest.
  • Set up a Bubble Obstacle Course – Create an obstacle course and try to get through it without your bubble popping.
  • Hold a Bubble Contest – Compete for who has the biggest bubble, smallest bubble, one that flies the highest, one that lasts the longest…
  • Make Big Bubbles – Use lids from different sized cottage cheese, yogurt, or sour cream containers to cut into fun bubble rings. Dip the the rings into the tubs of homemade bubbles, made as directed below. This makes great big bubbles!
  • Check out these Bubble Guns for an extra level of fun!

Need a Homemade Bubble Recipe?

Homemade Bubbles
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 cup dish soap
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
Instructions
  1. Mix ingredients in a bucket or tub, stirring gently.
  2. Allow mixture to sit for one hour before having bubble fun!

4. Use Sidewalk Chalk in a Fun New Way

  • Use Water – Dip your sidewalk chalk in water and see how that changes the color and consistency of the art.
  • Have Sidewalk Chalk Contests – Compete for who can draw the silliest, biggest, smallest, brightest, largest, most accurate, etc.
  • Use Sidewalk Chalk to Decorate Rocks – It is like dyeing Easter eggs, only with chalk and rocks!
  • Spread the Love – Write a message of love, encouragement or fun on a neighbor’s sidewalk.  Leave a Welcome Home message on a vacationing family’s driveway. (Note from Laura: This is my favorite of all the ideas Kim came up with!!)

5. Enjoy Outdoor and Backyard Games

6. Set up Some Water GamesHuge List of Screen-Free Activitiesfor Summer Fun

7. Set up Sand Box Fun

8. Go on New Adventures

  • Park Hop – Go from one park to another in your town and surrounding areas, take a friend, have a picnic
  • Have a Progressive Dinner – Start with salad at one house, hors d’oeuvres at a second, main course at another and end up with dessert at a final house
  • Go Geocaching – With a smart phone and some hiking shoes, you can make this happen.  Don’t have a smart phone?  Try a handheld GPS.  You will have to scout your locations in advance and bring a list.
  • Go on a Treasure Hunt or Scavenger Hunt – Create a series of clues and a treasure at the end.
  • Go a New Way – Have a destination to which you like to bike or walk?  Try taking a different route.
  • Look Online – Use the internet to find new, fun, free things to do in your area
  • Camp out in the backyard – If you can’t do over night, then pitch the tent in the yard for an instant playhouse/fort/hideaway

9. Set up Creative Indoor Play

  • Sensory Bins with Rice, Beans, or Salt – Let kids play in containers of rice, beans or salt.  They can draw letters, shapes and pictures.
  • Play with and draw in Shaving Cream
  • Make Homemade Playdough (Mix 2 cups baking soda, 1 cup cornstarch and 1.5 cups warm water. Stir all together and bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour into something to cool. Once it is cool, knead it and you can play away.  If you want to add color, put food coloring in the water before boiling the mixture.
  • Paint with Water Colors – Cover the dining room table with large sheets of paper and let the kids paint away
  • Make a Selfie – Take a large sheet of paper and trace the child’s whole body.  Let them decorate and draw the shape to resemble themselves.
  • Hold a Talent Show – Do Mom and Dad have talent?  What about the kids?  Show it off!  Don’t forget the video camera!
  • Get out Simple Art Supplies – Use pine cones, pipe cleaners and googly eyes to create a miniature family
  • Have a Lego Contest
  • Hold a Coloring Contest

10. Cooking TogetherHuge List of Screen Free Activities

Fun Kid Friendly Recipes

What are some of your favorite Screen Free Activities to suggest to your kids? Leave a comment to share!

Some of these links are my affiliate links.

In Honor of My Oldest Son’s 20th Birthday

Every single year when Asa’s birthday rolls around, my sister-in-law Kari lovingly shoots me this message, “You don’t look old enough to have a ___ year old!” This obviously moves her SIL ranking up significantly, and I will watch for these yearly messages every June from now until forever.

She has sent me that message now four handfuls of times because friends, today I have a 20 year old. Please join Kari as together you all say in unison, “You can’t possibly be old enough to have a 20 year old.”

Aww, shucks. Do you really mean it?

This is the amazing man that gave me the name “Mom” 20 years ago today. Asa John, my firstborn.

asa2sm

Twenty years. Four sons. The significance of what this 20-year journey has been and continues to be lands me in a place of wonderment. Sure, part of that awe results from the fact that my kids are all huge 6-foot something people and I’m way down here in the 5’s. But much of what I’m treasuring in my heart goes far beyond their physical growth during these two decades.

family-christmas-silly700

When I realized a few months ago that Asa’s 20th birthday was approaching, I was beautifully touched with this humble realization:

Without knowing it, Asa is the one who taught me to pray.

  • Through each new phase as he and his brothers have grown up together
  • As each new season in life approached and I looked ahead toward a myriad of unknowns
  • While I so often struggled to find the right words to say while training and shaping my kids’ hearts
  • While I fully desire for my children to choose Jesus
  • As I discovered over and over that my weaknesses could only be made perfect through the power of the Cross

I learned how to pray.

It’s the kind of prayer that says, “I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” It’s the conversation with God that proclaims, “I can’t do this alone. But I trust that I can do it with You.” And it’s the surrendered heart’s cry ready to welcome the true love, peace, and joy that can only be provided by our perfect Father.

I continue to learn that if I want to live in the fullness of His peace, I have no choice but to completely trust God with my kids.

boys mugs

I meet Him each morning in the quiet, while all of the house is still sleeping. I wake up with coffee and Jesus, choosing a different colored mug to fill each day, praying specifically for my kids, as each mug directly represents one of my four sons. I drink in the goodness, I fill up with Truth, and I learn day after day to more fully let go of self and embrace the promises of God for my family.

Dear Asa,

On this, your 20th birthday, I say thank you. Thank you for teaching me to pray. I’m honored today to dedicate my newest book to you. I wrote it because of you…because of you and your brothers.

Asa, Justus, Elias, and Malachi – thank you for teaching me to look to our Savior as I strive to fully trust His goodness for our lives.

Prayer Mugs Cover2

Dear Friends,

It is with great joy that I introduce you to The Prayer Mugs.

It is a book filled with scripture truth and parenting encouragement. Throughout its 96 pages, you’ll get to walk with me as I share precious pieces of the past 20 years of my parenting journey – the journey that is teaching me the truth about God’s faithfulness in our lives.

You can be sure that the pages of this book are lovingly stained with coffee and tears. I’m guessing you’ll find a chuckle here and there. Most importantly, my hope is that this book will land you in a place of peace as you spend time praying for your children and learn more about all God has to offer our families through His word and His promises.

PrayerMugsprev

The Prayer Mugs includes 96 pages with 10 detailed “Prayer Mug Lessons.” It’s full of our stories. It’s full of scripture and study questions. It’s full of specific prayer guides. It’s full of beautifully designed scripture printables.

You’ll read. You’ll dig into the Word. You’ll journal (if that’s your thing). You’ll pray, you’ll pray, you’ll pray. You will love this glorious time with God and you can be sure that your life as a parent will be changed.

It’s the kind of change that is not to be feared, but rather embraced, as time in the Word and in prayer set us free and fill us all with hope and joy!

Snag and download your copy of The Prayer Mugs. Grab your Bible. Fill your mug. Drink in the good and perfect promises of God. Release all parenting burdens and joyfully grab hold of Truth as you perfect the art of trusting the Father with your kids’ hearts and lives.

Pray. Trust. Coffee. Repeat.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Get your copy of The Prayer Mugs here —>

 

The Prayer Mugs
Grab your mug. Fill it to the top. Download your Prayer Mugs eBook and enjoy the richness it offers as you surrender your kids to God.​​​​​​​ 96 pages filled with lessons I've learned through 20 years of parenting, scripture, encouragement, printables, journaling pages, and truth.
Price: $18.00

P.S. No one is required to drink coffee while reading this book. I hear some people don’t like coffee. This is curious but perfectly acceptable. :)

P.P.S. This book is for parents of kids from newborn to adult. Once a parent, always a parent. May we always and forever pray for our children in full faith that God is absolutely at work in their lives.

Question of the week

“Laura, where can we get cool mugs to go with this book?”

Aha! Good question. The answer is that any mugs will work – any cups that carry a special link to your child(ren).

But I’m excited to announce that you can now order these personalized mugs!

Customized Prayer Mug
Customized Prayer Mug
A beautiful Prayer Mug to use as you pray over your child (or children). We can do individual names on a mug OR a grouping of names - all custom printed for you. This is a 100% ceramic coffee mug in 15 oz size. They are sturdy, white, and..customized for you! And the price INCLUDES shipping*! *Due to expense, we are only able ship to US residents.
Price: $24.95
Custom Information - PLEASE DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR INFOMATION before ordering: