Stand Before Him With Your Little Ones

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The living and active Word of God never ceases to amaze me. A passage I’ve known for years breathes new life into my current situation, and I walk away ready to face the day. As my circumstances threatened to overtake me this month, God flooded my heart with hope and direction through 2 Chronicles 20. I’d like to share it with you for when you face the overwhelming. It is a long passage, but it’s so worth it, so please stick with me!

After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). 3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 7 Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ 10 And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— 11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

13 Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's.16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.

18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.”21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”

22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.

WOW. So much to encourage us, isn’t there? What captivated me most was verse 13, Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” Three sets of enemies are on their way to attack them. Instead of running away with their families--their little ones--they stood. They stood before the Lord. I think it is significant that the verse separates children and little ones. Of course children were not expected to fight in the battle. Surely, it was commonplace to flee with little ones. Yet this is not what the nation did. They stood with their babies and they waited to see how God would respond. SIx times in the passage the word “stood” or “stand” is used. Here it describes their posture, but it also reveals the trust in their hearts.

I’m not sure this is my natural response…. When trials come, I often want to scoop up my babies and work my hardest to protect them from the pain of the world. Sometimes that’s what the Lord calls us to do as mothers. Still other times, our Savior is ready to rescue mightily--for our children to see. Stand firm! See the salvation of the Lord! If we try to protect our children every time a hardship comes, they will indeed miss out on the good, gracious, powerful hand of the Lord. He has limitless resources and abundant creativity to rescue us. His means of protection and provision far exceed our greatest imaginations.

I can’t tell you when to protect your children and when to let them watch; that distinction is for you to work out with Jesus on your own. Perhaps when our knuckles are most white, grasping the hardest for an escape is when we need to let go the most. When the tugging of the Lord on your heart makes the tears about to fall, He’s got you. Be still, and know. (Ps. 46:10) Sometimes the power to “stand” comes from being on our knees, and it isn’t a physical change, but a resoluteness with which we go forward.

That was encouragement enough, but God had more to show me. I had to reread the chapter three times to ensure I wasn’t missing something. The Lord didn’t tell them to worship. They worshipped out of expectation and urgency. Faith and hope collided into the perfect, deserved response of devotion.

No matter how great the battle, how daunting the circumstance, how necessary the preparations, the correct response will always be to worship. Not only is it what the Lord deserves, it can actually lead to our victory. “And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord sent an ambush” (v. 22)

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The best motion pictures have nothing on this! Multitudes are coming against these people. Can you sense the impending rumblings of the enemy vibrating on the ground? Can you see the dust rolling up from the coming attack? Do you feel your heart beating within your chest? Now do you hear the worship of God’s children louder than all of it?

They choose to stand.

They choose to worship.

Many people select a word or phrase to meditate upon or strive for in the new year, sometimes in place of a resolution, sometimes to go along with one. This January I chose “Worship” to be my word for the year. I didn’t necessarily understand why God was laying this word, this choice, on my heart, but as 2018 has unfolded, it is becoming quite clear.

Recently I shared that we were in the ER right before Christmas because my husband was having some concerning neurological symptoms. A CT scan ensured us that he had not had a stroke or a brain tumor, and we were incredibly thankful. More testing needed to be done, however, and the MRI revealed lesions on his brain. We have just learned he has Multiple Sclerosis. As we await more clarity on this unpredictable condition, I have a picture in my mind of my little family. The six of us are holding hands, and standing together in hope and faith.

 I clearly see my two choices. I will stand with my children, with my little ones, watching to see how God works on our behalf. And I will worship.

My sweet sister, I pray that the Lord gives you the strength to stand and worship as you mother--today and every day.

Posted on February 21, 2018 and filed under Building Your Faith.

4 Free Valentine's Printables

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Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day!

We have four free printables for you to print and frame, keep or give, this Valentine’s. Remind someone how special they are, or remind yourself!

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(Click on each image below for a printable pdf format):

Put this in your closet or on your dressing table (or gift it to your best friend) to show yourself a little love...

Invite your husband and kids to get cozy with pajamas, popcorn and a movie on Valentine’s Day (who cares if it’s a school night, right?) with this one.

My fellow Star Wars fans will enjoy these iconic words from The Empire Strikes Back. (And if Han and Leia aren’t your jam, the “I love you” part can stand alone!)

Here’s an easy-to-save graphic for you. We’d love for you to share & save on Pinterest!

Enjoy!

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Posted on February 12, 2018 and filed under Building Your Home.

To my greatest hardest things

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I didn’t know about everything that would come with it. I knew about dirty diapers and doctor visits. I had an idea about science fairs and sleepovers. I looked forward to bedtime stories and notes tucked into lunchboxes. 

But I wasn’t prepared for you. Not really.

 

How can you ever be prepared for the raw, unadulterated excitement over dandelion wishes and lightning bugs and tooth fairies? Over mud puddles and empty cardboard boxes and cookies shaped like animals? Over blanket forts and snow days and taking off the training wheels?

You can’t. You might think you'll be prepared, but you won't be. You might think you know, like I thought I knew; but the truth is, you won’t know and can’t know until you are in it. This joy can't be described like what you had for dinner last night or what you bought on sale last week or what you wanted to be when you grew up when you were in kindergarten. It would be like trying to explain how you feel when you look at the stars and how small you feel in comparison and how big God seems in comparison and how you could almost reach up and stick one to your finger and pull it down from the sky and wipe it on your jeans.

It's indescribable.

But then there's SOMETHING ELSE. Something else that comes with the Valentine's boxes made from cereal boxes you had to empty into Tupperware because you forgot until the night before, and the ever-present bag of outgrown clothes you keep meaning to take to Goodwill and then you finally do but then there is another bag filled up already. There is something else, something you don't hear about at baby showers. That SOMETHING ELSE is the very hardest heartbreak of having to be the bad guy, make the tough call, be the better man, take the higher road, take the heat, bear the load, shoulder the burden, keep them safe, keep them healthy, but eventually LETTING THEM GO.

Nothing can prepare you for that.

Sure, you'll dream and you'll plan, but one day you'll find yourself IN DEEP, and you'll realize you didn't know anything before. You will learn as you go. You will get up and try again. Every. Single. Day. Some days it will come without effort, like soaking up sun while lying in the sand and listening to the ocean relentlessly roll towards your toes. Other days it will come with all the force of a bulldozer in a forgotten part of town, knocking you down and breaking you into crumbles to pave the way for something far better.

I knew my own life was going to be changed forever, but I had no idea it was going to be CHANGED FOREVER. I was totally unprepared for the task that was laid before me. I was completely incapable of doing things the way I had dreamed about doing them before. I realized this, and it was freeing and humbling and a little sad but mostly much better.

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So to my greatest hardest things - to you, my children - know that you are loved, that you are worthy, and that you have made me a better me by simply being you. And know that if you should ever find yourself looking down into eyes that look to you for everything, you will be totally unprepared for what you see.

You will see me, you will see yourself, you will see God. You will see the past they've only heard about, you will see the future they can't imagine, and you will see beauty even when they can't see it in themselves.

And they will become your greatest hardest things.

 
Posted on January 22, 2018 and filed under Building Your Family.

Cards Worth Keeping

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Sometimes the hardest situations bring the best ideas, don’t they? Bear with me as I describe some sadness to share a new tradition we just started in our family.

This summer our babysitter’s father passed away. It was heartbreakingly tragic and sudden. The funeral, however, was inspiring and beautiful.

Because her father had served as headmaster of a Christian school for years, they had excellent video footage of him. In it he described the best thing he could give his children: to set them up to have a solid walk with Christ. Seeing this godly man, hearing his humble, genuine voice… It was powerful. As tears filled my eyes I thanked God that his five children and his wife had that video to watch over and over and over.

If you’ve lost a loved one, you know that one of the things you miss most is hearing their voice. It has been seven years since I lost my own father and one of the things I miss most is hearing his comforting voice telling me everything’s going to be okay because I can trust the Lord. As I’ve also lost my father-in-law, I deeply regret that I can’t hear him call my baby girl “Pretty Girl” as he called his other granddaughters.

This Christmas, I sat with my husband in the ER, knowing that it is not a guarantee that we will grow old together. Thankfully he is okay, but the realization remains. As parents, we want to leave as much evidence of our love for our children.

My ponderings of this were interrupted with the fact that my son’s fifth birthday was quickly approaching. The collision of these resulted in the beginning of a new tradition for my family: video birthday cards. Travis and I have decided that for each child’s birthday, we will record a video pouring in identity and telling them how deeply we love them. We believe this will be a blessing to them while we walk this Earth, and beyond. Anyone who knows me well knows I am pretty MIA on social media. However, I have to admit, technology has some redeeming value for memorializing our lives, and this is a great way to do it!

Here are some tips:

  1. Before you start, make a bulleted list of the points you want to hit upon.
  2. It’s a clip, not a movie. Try to keep it between 1-2 minutes.
  3. Make sure you focus on the best qualities you see in your child. This should be mostly character traits--not just what they “do” that you love.
  4. Try to include a funny or important anecdote about them from this year.
  5. Include your husband if possible.The goal is for your child to feel as loved as possible!
  6. Perhaps mentioning their favorites (movies, games, foods, etc..) or activities at the time would be fun.
  7. Consider ending with a verse or hope you have for them for the coming year.
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Mostly I think it just needs to be natural and simple… otherwise it will be a tradition that is not followed through with. Share your heart and your love. That’s it.

I anticipate Everett looking back at his videotapes when he is a teenager and saying, “Mom and Dad, you really knew I was a comedian when I was three?!?”

And won’t Ryder’s future bride be interested to know that he could kiss me a hundred times a day and still want “one more!”?

I’m excited to play Lincoln’s “cards” for him when he is a new father. Will he remember that he has always been crazy for babies?

May this simple effort prove powerful for years to come, for my family and for yours!

Posted on January 10, 2018 and filed under Building Your Family.

One Tiny Change That Will Instantly Turn You Into More A Grateful Person

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As we turn the calendar page to 2018, many of us are thinking about resolutions. Last year at this time, I wrote about being more forgiving. This year I’m working on being more grateful.

Self-talk and your inner dialogue are surprisingly powerful influences on your thinking. And, true blog confessions? I think my inner dialogue is getting more and more cranky the older I get!

My aunt, Diana, introduced me to what I believe could be the solution. A tiny, utterly simple vocabulary swap that will have huge ripple effects on your entire pattern of thinking.

The change is this: Every time you catch yourself saying “have to,” say “get to” instead.

For example, when a friend asks you to lunch on Friday and you decline, saying, “Oh darn, I can’t that day. I have to go to the dentist. Let’s do breakfast on Saturday instead.”

You would instead switch the word “have” for the word “get” and say, “Oh darn, I can’t that day. I get to go to the dentist. Let’s do breakfast on Saturday instead.”

Changing that one little word has the power to change everything in your brain. You may not even take the time to process through the thoughts behind your statement, but they will go from something like this:

“I have to go to the dentist.”

            ‘Ugh. Drudgery! I hate giving up the time, sitting in that chair, having my teeth poked at and prodded and learning I have the inevitable bi-annual cavity no matter how much I brush or floss!’

...to something like this:

“I get to go to the dentist.”

            ‘I live in a country where I have access to healthcare for my teeth! I have the money to afford getting them cleaned and cared for, and to have my cavities filled. I don’t have to face a future of my teeth decaying or falling out.’

Do you see what attitude the words “get to” create? Gratefulness. It’s simply inevitable.

This subtle change in your pattern of speech is normal enough not to make you sound like a weirdo, but abnormal enough to trigger your brain to take notice of what you are saying. And it really works!

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Here’s what my cranky inner self is grumbling when I say, “I have to go grocery shopping:”

            ‘Grocery shopping is the worst! Especially when I have the kids in tow. In the winter, just bundling them to leave the house requires the stamina of a triathlete, and then I have to schlep them around a huge store, load the van, haul all the heavy bags in and then try to put everything away. All this while they’re trying to tear open cookie packages and dump them on the floor!’

My inner self turns grateful when I change my words to, “I get to go grocery shopping:”

            ‘I can afford food! It’s beautifully laid out for me in a store. I don’t have to grow it, harvest it, or can it for the winter. I have an able body and a driver’s license to go shopping for myself, and the strength to load my own car and carry in my own bags. Every one of these are things I take for granted every day that other people don’t have.’

I have heard many testimonies and sermons about how easy it is, when you stop and think, to be grateful for the many blessings in hard situations. For instance, our pastor had his credit card stolen, and was quick to point out that he was grateful to have money that someone could steal! It’s not hard for us to see the blessings in our lives. It’s just hard for us to take the time to see them moment by moment. This small vocabulary change is a tiny reminder you can give yourself throughout the day to do just that.

Before: “I have to drive my daughter to soccer practice.”

            ‘Does anyone else feel like they’re bungee strapped to their minivan? I think I’m going to install a coffee bar in the center console.’

After: “I get to drive my daughter to soccer practice.”

            ‘I’m capable and available enough to drive my daughter to soccer practice. We can spend the time talking in the car, and she’ll know I’m there for her.’

These are just the small things. The inconveniences, the hassles, and the headaches that trip us up and make us crabby, especially when we’re hungry, amiright?? They’re the easy things to start retraining ourselves to say we “get to” do.

But what about the harder circumstances in life?     

“I have to stay home with my kids.”

            ‘Even though I love them, I’m exhausted. I feel like all I do is clean up after them, play peek a boo, make them snacks, and try to keep my one-year-old from taking a leap off the top of his brother’s bunk bed. I miss my office. And I can’t even remember what having disposable income feels like...’

“I get to stay home with my kids.”

            ‘Even though I’m exhausted, it’s an enormous privilege to be able to afford to stay home with my kids. Even though I feel like all I do is try to keep them alive (barely successfully!!), I know that this time is precious and short, and this season will be gone before I know it. Today I got to pour love and care into my children, all day. That’s awesome to be able to say.’

“I have to go to work.”

            ‘Monday morning again. I am so tired of this crazy schedule. It’s so hard to pack everyone up and get them out the door so early in the mornings, be gone all day, get home just in time for dinner, homework and bed, and then do it all again the next day. I don’t know if I can stand this grind for another week!’

“I get to go to work.”

            ‘I get to earn a living today. I am getting paid for my labor. Not only that, I have co-workers who are wonderful, and I get to do a job that is fulfilling and affirming. I get to do something that I’m good at and that makes a difference in people’s lives every day, all while supporting my family.’

These are just a sampling of some of the very real struggles moms face, and I don’t want to trivialize them in the slightest. Some of us are facing even harder things, like the death of a loved one or a health crisis. It’s important to be honest with ourselves about our feelings, so I don’t want to suggest that we should all just sweep real heartaches under the cheery-sunshine-I’m-fine-I’m-grateful-for-everything rug. So, you can prayerfully consider how you might apply this vocab change to the more serious stuff of life, and if it would be helpful for the season you’re in.

Once you’re in the habit of telling yourself you “get to” do certain things, you’ll naturally begin talking that way with your kids, and you might see big changes spread to their attitudes as well. For example, at 6:30 AM when you’re trying to rouse your pre-teen out of bed...

“Wake up, you have to go to school.”

            ‘Yep. School stinks. I completely get how hard it is to wake up early in the morning just so you can go sit through boring classes that you don’t care about and probably won’t need in life, all while navigating Junior High (aka the most awkward and stressful social experiment ever invented). Just bide your time and plow through until you can graduate- in a mere 7 years!’

“Wake up, you get to go to school!”

           ‘I know you’re too young to understand this yet, but you have to trust me that your education is precious. It is an incredible gift and privilege to be educated. Abraham Lincoln had to walk miles to find and read one book. Yet every day you go to a building that is filled with books! And not only that, but people teach you how to read them and think about them critically. Past generations would have given anything for the knowledge and learning you are privy to every day. Even today, there are some children around the world who still have no access to education, or who have to walk miles or work in cramped conditions with few resources. You’re blessed to learn in a place that is safe and convenient and comfortable. And since I’m on a soap box, let’s not forget that a loving mother is waking you from a deep sleep that was afforded to you in a warm cozy bed, and that breakfast is readily available to you downstairs after your hot shower and access to spectacular dental care! So, get moving, okay?!’

Well, I think if we’ve learned anything here it’s that there is a LOT of talking going on inside my head. :) And hopefully if you’re in the same boat, we can turn a little more of that talk into gratefulness this year by declaring aloud that we “get to” do hard things. By doing so, I believe we’ll be on the path to one of the things I covet most as a woman of God: a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in His sight.

Happy New Year!

Posted on January 5, 2018 and filed under Building Your Faith.

Family Christmas Traditions

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Looking back at my childhood, some of my fondest memories of Christmas were the traditions we had as a family every year. Now that we have our own family and our girls are getting older, Mark and I have come to realize that the traditions we have started to set in place are an important value for us. Already, some of their favorite Christmas memories are the traditions we have, not the presents they receive. Presents can break and lay forgotten, but the traditions and memories that are made, are built for a lifetime.
 

Children love routine. Even when it comes to Christmas, they like routine. Whether you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Day; or you have to eat breakfast before you open presents, make sure you try and do it the same way every year. What you do every year makes a fun memory for your child. They look forward to it and often times will talk non-stop about it☺… thus, creating your traditions.

There are so many different traditions you can have for your family, whether you take some from your childhood, create your own or adopt some traditions from another family. Anyway you go about it, just make them your own.

I’m going to share four Christmas traditions we have, one is from my childhood, one is from Mark’s childhood and the other two are ones we adopted and created for our girls.

My favorite tradition we had growing up was on Christmas Eve. Every year we gathered around the Christmas tree and lit candles around the living room and turned off all the lights. My dad would read the Christmas story from the Bible and then we would sing all the Christmas carols we could remember…I remember my dear Nana Pat would harmonize in her sweet alto voice every year. After we sang, my mom would place the different kinds of Christmas cookies we made out on the table. We would enjoy some Wassail that had been brewing on the stove with the aroma wafting through the house while we sang. (Wassail is a warm apple cider drink with fresh oranges, cloves and many other spices). This is a tradition we have carried on with our children and they look forward to it every year! They even were able to hear Nana Pat sing for several years before she passed away.The second tradition we have is from Mark’s childhood. His sweet grandma made homemade donuts every year called Cruellers. Mark grew up making them with his family and a couple years ago we decided that it would be a super fun tradition to carry on every Christmas Eve morning with our family. We make the dough from scratch and we have a donut cutter that even cuts out the donut holes! The girls help cut out the donuts and Mark is the official fryer. Yes, that’s correct, they are fried…and so worth every calorie! Then once they cool for a minute we fill one big ziploc bag with cinnamon and sugar and another with powdered sugar and the girls take turns shaking the donuts in the bags. They love this!

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The third tradition we have is picking out Christmas ornaments. I’m not sure what year we started this, but it has been several now. We take them to a store and they each get to choose their own ornament for the year. When we get home we write their initials and the year they bought it on the ornament and then hang it on our tree. The idea behind this tradition is that they will be able to take all of their ornaments they picked out over the years and add them to their own tree when they move out. More memories from their childhood! We also choose a special family ornament every year and date it as well. We usually try to pick one out that represents some significant event or time from our year as a family.

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The fourth tradition we have is our hot cocoa pajama run. After the girls are snug in their beds, we run down the hall yelling “pajama run, pajama run!” They scramble out in their pajamas and we all pile into the car! We go to a local coffee shop for some hot cocoa and then drive around and look at Christmas lights while sipping our hot chocolate.

Traditions are a wonderful way to create sweet memories that will last a lifetime for your children. Have fun creating and making your own or adding to the traditions you already have!

Merry Christmas and may your season be full of making memories and family and the most important gift of all, Jesus.

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Posted on December 21, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

The Bored Jar

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As Christmas break approaches, some of you might be thinking “Oh no...what am I going to do with my kids for two whole weeks?!” (No? Just me?)

I don’t know about your house, but at ours, boredom tends to set in pretty quickly over breaks when we don’t travel.

The first day of lounging around in pajamas is fun, but after that the whining takes over. I came up with a solution over our recent Thanksgiving break that worked really well for the problem of too-much-boredom over a school holiday.

My philosophy is that it’s not my job as a mom to entertain my kids. We can debate that as I’m open to other viewpoints. But in general, I think kids today have so much entertainment they don’t know what to do with it, and they should be required to stretch their own brains to come up with activities to pass the time when necessary.

My kids definitely don’t agree with me on this. When they’re bored, I’m the first one they come to. (And sadly, if I don’t produce, they’ll just move on to fighting with a sibling.) I can start to feel like I’m in a hostage situation by hour 2 of a school break, and I have generally good kids!

So I invented The Bored Jar. Because of my philosophy (see above) it was intended to be a consequence for whining to me about boredom. But since I’m not officially trying to win the Meanest Mom Ever award this year, I decided to add in a few fun ideas too. But the vast majority were meant to be things they don’t really want to do. (Chess against yourself anyone?)

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Shockingly, my kids thought this jar was the most fun thing ever. I thought it would stop them from coming to me about their boredom, but the reverse happened. They started whining to me just so they could choose out of the bored jar! Well, whatever. My house has never been cleaner.

Here are the rules I established:

1- You shall choose from The Bored Jar immediately if overheard saying any variation of the phrases, “I’m bored,” or “I have nothing to do,” OR at the sole discretion of your mother or father should they even *sense* boredom in your demeanor.

2- You shall immediately perform whatever is instructed on the card you draw with a happy heart whether it is a chore, a bit of fun, or something much, much worse.

3- You may not draw another card, switch, or trade. You may only draw another card when your task has been completed. You shall return the card to the jar immediately after you have read it.

4- If you draw a task that you just did, you must do it again, unless granted a reprieve by your mother (reprieves will be issued based on degree of whininess that led to The Bored Jar drawing in the first place).

Weirdly, they just kept coming back for more. When I wrote the index cards, I tried to write them in a 1:1 ratio of chores to fun. As it became obvious that the jar was my kids’ new favorite game, I started adding more and more chores. After all, the point is to make them want to invent their own fun.

One last note on my card contents: NONE of the things inside the jar can require any involvement on my part. So no, at our house you won’t find “Fill up a kiddie pool in the kitchen with jello and splash around with the dog in it.” But that’s the beauty of this idea...how you customize it is entirely up to you.

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Ready to make your own Bored Jar?

All you need is a jar and some slips of paper. Make them all the same color or the kids will get wise as to which pieces have their favorite tasks and which ones they should avoid.

Then, write one task on each piece of paper. Fold them all the same way, and put them in the jar. Done! You can be as creative as you’d like. And if you’re a much nicer mom than me and you want to put all fun stuff in there, no judgment. It’s an idea that you can use as a consequence or as a fun bonding experience. Either way, no boredom = holiday break win.

Here are the full contents of our jar (our kids range in age from 5-11):

  • Clean your room
  • Wash the pots and pans
  • Workout of the Day: Run up and down the staircase 5 times (must time with a stopwatch)
  • Play piano for 15 minutes
  • Workout of the Day: 3 rounds of 10 burpees, 10 push ups, & 10 squats (must time with a stopwatch)
  • Make a list of 20 things you’re thankful for
  • Play chess against yourself
  • Clean off and/or wipe down the kitchen table
  • Write a loving note to one of your grandparents
  • Brush your teeth
  • Load or unload the dishwasher
  • Write down 3 things Mom and Dad could do to be better parents
  • FaceTime your grandparents
  • Get a piece of gum
  • Make sure everything is tidy and neat in the front entry closet
  • Write down all the first and middle names of all the stuffed animals in your room. (Give them middle names if they don’t already have them).
  • Make a Christmas present for Dad (maybe a coupon?)
  • Write a note to Jesus about why you love him
  • Walk through the house and write down how many things you can see that rhyme
  • Wash the dog’s placemat
  • Play hide and seek with the dog
  • Use paper and scissors to make paper Barbie dolls or army men
  • Play kinetic sand
  • Clean your bathroom mirror
  • Empty the upstairs garbage
  • Memorize Philippians 2:14 and recite to Mom when ready
  • Write down 5 things you love about your mom
  • Go tell Mom she’s beautiful
  • Vacuum your bathroom floor
  • Put away laundry
  • Make a drawing
  • Read for 15 minutes
  • Wash the back door windows
  • Make a drum set out of household objects, write a song, and perform it for a stuffed animal audience
  • Make a sculpture from straws and marshmallows
  • Clean the family room
  • Vacuum wood floors
  • Make sure your closet is neat and tidy
  • Clean the playroom
  • Take the dog for a walk around the house on the leash
  • Write a worship song
  • Construct a paper flower
  • Take a shower or bath
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Happy Christmas Break!

Posted on December 15, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.