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. 

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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)?”

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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!

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There are five full sets of 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 use this collection in any way that works best for your family’s character and Biblical training!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

Traveling With Kids? 65+ Free and Inexpensive Ideas to Make the Trip Easier and Fun!

Forget the parts about babies screaming in their car seats, siblings getting in each other’s space in the back seat, and ineffectively trying to get restless children to actually sleep in a hotel bed.

Traveling is fun!

Well, parts of it anyway.

65 Free and Inexpensive Road Trip Ideas

If you’re hitting the road this summer with your family, we pray you make more great memories than bad ones (though I speak from experience when I say that even most of the bad ones turn into good ones eventually). We pray for wonderful experiences and fantastic adventures. We pray that even Mom and Dad have a good time and get to relax! Is this too much to ask?

Free and Inexpensive Road Trip Ideas and Activities

To make a road trip fun for the kids and hopefully more relaxing for the parents, we’ve put together a fantastic list of ideas and activities, as well as a huge packet of free printables for you. A huge thanks to my friend, Kim, for once again helping me compile this list of ideas. Wait till you see!

First the free printable pack!

Free Summer Travel Printables

You will want this packet of printables to go along with many of the ideas listed below! Print the pages that work well for each of your kids and put together a binder for them to take along on the trip. With these printables your kids can:

  • Journal with pictures or words throughout the trip
  • Play “I Spy” with Letters, Numbers, Shapes, Colors, and State License Plates
  • Spot road signs and different kinds of vehicles – challenging themselves to see how many they can find
  • More (details to come!)

Sign up to receive this FREE Printables Pack here. Once you’ve signed up, watch for an email, confirm your subscription, and your printables packet will be in your inbox soon!

More Travel Ideas that Are Free

vintage toy truck isolated in white background with clipping path.

Are you ready for this? We’ve got over 65 great ideas to help make traveling with kids fun and easy. Here we go with ideas that cost absolutely nothing!

  • Toy Swap! Borrow toys and books from a friend to take along on the trip. This will seem like “new toys” to your kids but will cost nothing!
  • Take along library books, audio books, and movies.
  • Coupon Fun! Use the printable coupons in the packet above to provide your kids with fun incentives and treats to look forward to. (For example: “This coupon entitles you to sit by Mom. …to choose the movie. …to have a special drink.)
  • Borrow fun music CDs from friends that will be new to your family.

Super Inexpensive Travel Activity Ideas

  • Hit garage sales and thrift stores to pick up “new” toys and books inexpensively. Pull them out one at a time on the trip!
  • If your kids are old enough, aluminum foil is great for making origami shapes or molding/scrunching into various shapes. It can be used over and over!
  • Take stickers and a spiral notebook or scratch paper: Little ones enjoy the fun of peeling off the stickers and putting them on paper at random. Bigger kids can make scenes with them, then use crayons or colored pencils to make a bigger scene. (Consider including this in a binder in put together for your kids which includes the above Travel Packet Printables!) Here’s an awesome sticker pack that is a great value.

Inexpensive Travel Activity Ideas

finger puppets

Arts and Crafts on the Road

melissa and doug water paint

Travel Items Worth the Investing In

playbee

Audio Book Suggestions

adventures in odyssey

Borrow these from the library or invest in them to keep in your car for all your road trips!

Rest Stop Activities

sidewalk chalk

Hotel Activities

jungle puzzle

Travel Games

hungry hippos

Fun Travel Snacks and Drinks

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*TIP* Purchase a gallon of water to keep in the car. Refill individual water bottles as needed. Sometimes it’s fun to surprise the kids with a new water bottle for a big trip! These choices are great for bigger kids. Here’s a great sippy cup for littlesGrown-ups and teens might like this one.

Recipes for the Road

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites - No Bake!

I am so in love with all these ideas! Thank you, Kim, for lending your expertise and creativity!

Everyone please pitch in to share your ideas too. And be sure to sign up to receive this FREE Printables Pack here. I love the fun of this packet to make traveling more enjoyable!

A Mom’s Musings on Fidget Spinners, Dabbing, and Other Fabulous Fads

If I never hear or see another bottle being flipped in an effort to “land it” or “cap it,” that will be soon enough for me, so help my frazzled nerves. The bottle flipping craze lasted for 37 long days at my house, resulting in partially full bottles being left in various corners and under beds all over our house, and a mom who constantly said, “If you’re going to do that, you need to please go far away from me so I don’t have to hear it.”

As hobbies and fads go, bottle flipping was the least expensive ever known to man, as there was no purchase necessary so long as one held onto bottles previous purchased and consumed the contents therein. Score one for bottle flipping. Free entertainment for children everywhere.

Also, bottle flipping was harmless entertainment (though not according to my friend’s son who acquired a black eye from an unfortunate bottle flipping incident). Overall, if one had to select a trend for kids to become crazy over, bottle flipping wouldn’t be the worst choice. Sure I found it loud, nerve wracking, and obnoxious. Yet, I took a few turns and landed my share of flipped bottles, because if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

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Then overnight I realized it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen a bottle poking out from under a bed or heard one being flipped as kids everywhere are spinning and fidgeting and fidgeting and spinning. The infamous fidget spinners are the latest craze, at least as of 12:57 pm, CST, May 27, 2017. Said spinners were created to help students with ADHD, but according to all moms, teachers, and child care providers – Fidget Spinners have now taken over the world.

Our youngest played with one at a friends house a few weeks ago, then talked of nothing else for 159 hours, reminding us of how hard he had been working lately to earn and save money so surely spending $4 of his hard earned dollars on this absolute necessity wasn’t too much to ask. Of course there were none to be found in our small town, so four trips to every store later, we ordered some online and had to wait impatiently for their arrival.

Even if all four of my sons is using one at the same time, the noise of these spinners is nothing compared to the jolt of a landed bottle flip – in my opinion and experience. Granted, I am not a teacher in a classroom so I have not had to deal with what some educators are facing with the spinners, God bless you one and all.

A Mom's Musings on Fabulous Fads

Regarding all things that fit into the fad category whether it’s fidget spinning, bottle flipping, dabbing, or whatever will become “the thing” five minutes after I publish this post – I have a few words to say to parents:

This too shall pass.

Therefore…

  • Pick your battles.
  • Help your children choose wisely.

I didn’t love (understatement) bottles being flipped over and over and over right under my face while I was trying to concentrate on writing articles or help a kid with an assignment. But unless I had instructed otherwise, there was no harm done by bottle flipping – so long it was done far away in another room so I didn’t have to listen to it. My kids actually made some pretty fun competitions with them, and praise be, it was active and didn’t involve a screen.

Fidget spinners? They personally make me dizzy, but all four of my kids say they actually concentrate better while fidgeting, so spin away, my children. (But put them away while you’re at church or in Bible class so you aren’t distracting others or slowly killing your teachers.)

Dabbing? We’re already looking back at that one as a thing we all did back in 2016.

And can you believe overalls and high waist jeans have made a come back, even though I undoubtedly did my part to kill off these trends back in 1988?

What have we learned from these motherhood musings over fidget spinners and the like?

We’ve learned that all parents everywhere need to remember that some things are worth fighting over and some are not. If it’s not causing harm and it’s not sinful, we can probably chill out about it – though we can ask our kids to take the “fun” to another room so we will still remember how to smile.

We’ve learned that fads come and go as quickly as purple kool-aid hair. Therefore, it’s wise to guide our children in using discernment when making a purchase of the latest thing or tatooing it forever onto their left cheek.

We’ve learned that Laura landed a bottle flip a time or two, which makes us all impressed and proud.

And we’ve learned that dabbing mostly is out and overalls are actually back, at least for today.

Share with me your love/hate relationship with whatever is the latest trend at your house…

If I Had to Raise My Kids All Over Again, I Would Definitely Do This

I’m on year twenty of being a mom. TWENTY! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t know how I got here. One crusty sock and painful lego under my foot at a time, I suppose. What a ride. What a joy. What a lot of life lessons.

Boys- Mothers Day '07(3) sm

My kids always cooperated when taking pictures.

The regrets over all the mistakes I made and things I wished I could go back and do differently started washing over me during my oldest son’s senior year of high school. It was a painful time, thinking of sending him off after graduation, knowing I could have and should have done a better job. The Enemy was attacking and filling me with lies, making me forget all the good in our lives, keeping me from seeing the amazing person my son had become in spite of, and even because of me.

God’s grace has offered much healing from those days of swimming in regret as He overpowered the enemy lies and showed me His beautiful Truth. I am so thankful to be freed of that bondage!

Sure, I could have done many things differently through these twenty years. But that doesn’t mean I’m a parenting failure. It means I’m a human being. It means I need Jesus. It means my kids need Him too, since what I have to offer falls short of what our Savior offers.

Well with that, I want to reflect back on something I am so thankful we did, something God orchestrated in our family and helped us to do well – even though we had no idea at the time that it was such a thing of beauty.

If I had to raise my kids all over again, I would definitely do this

From the time our kids were little, we made opportunities for our kids to think of and serve others.

It was something we saw happening within another family we respected. They always had their kids with them as they served the community in all different ways. We saw this and we thought, “We want that for our kids.”

I am so thankful for this family’s example of serving with their kids. It would have been easier to leave the kids behind so we could “serve more efficiently.” But what would our kids have learned? That serving was for grown-ups? That helping others wasn’t their problem? That they could learn to do that serving thing later on in life? That they could stay in their own little world and think only of themselves?

elias_and_daddy

When our second son was three (he’s now heading into his senior year; I can’t even) – I started a fun “school” time with him where I taught him an alphabet letter each week. As he was learning the sound and doing activities to help him retain what he was learning, we started thinking of people we knew whose name started with that letter. Then we’d choose a fun way to show love to that person. For instance:

On Mm Week, we chose an elderly couple from church, Mabrey and Madge Miller (how handy that their first names started with M too!). We made and delivered them Mini Muffins, explaining to them what the boys were learning. Dearest Madge loved what we were doing and cleverly sent the boys a thank you note which read, “Mmmm! Many thanks for the marvelous, magnificent mini muffins you made!”

Do you know what a treasure this is? Others responded with equal joy and fun with our family as we delivered “a jar of jelly beans to John on Jj week, a tiny toy for Tina on Tt week, a flower to Felice on Ff week…and so on.

We worked our way through the alphabet this way with all of our boys when they came “of age” but what’s better is that all of our boys got to participate in the serving activities every single time.

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Here’s our youngest, back when he was four,
delivering an Apple Pie to the Amick family on Aa week!

I look back on those precious times with our family with so much happiness, I can’t put it into words. Our boys learned to think of others and consider what might bring them joy – then they had the experience of delivering a treasure to a surprised recipient. They learned to talk to the elderly, consider the shut-in, and approach kids bigger than them.

It was a parenting move I didn’t even know would turn out to be such a blessing. But Ww is for win and this is a parenting move I thank God He inspired.

A few years after the idea originated in our home, my husband urged me to compile it all and create an actual curriculum to share. It was a huge amount of effort, but I got to re-live all the memories, which made it such a joy to complete. It’s filled with hundreds of ideas of activities to help your child learn letter sounds while learning to serve!

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Many, many families have used this with their kids since it first came out, and this week, I’m highlighting it again for this reason:

 

Teach your kids to serve. Help them see people. Train them to notice other people’s needs.

I will never regret the time our family has spent caring for and serving others together. My kids have not always done this cheerfully; parts of this training have been hard; sometimes it would have been easier to do the task myself. But now I watch my kids spoon-feeding our adult handicapped friend, I see them hugging our disabled lady friend without reservation, I hear them talking sweetly to little ones – and I know this without a doubt:

Teaching my kids to serve at a young age is a parenting move I would cheerfully do all over again.

What’s something you’ve done as a parent that you feel great about?

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