Posts tagged #holidays

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.

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.

DIY Fresh Greenery Arrangement

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I love decorating with fresh greens for Christmas. Adorning the house with fragrant sprigs of rosemary, eucalyptus, and evergreen branches *almost* even makes up for the fact that I will never buy another live Christmas tree!
Here is a simple formula for how to create an arrangement of greens, and my one sneaky trick to make it last all season.

 

1. GATHER A SELECTION OF FRESH STEMS OF GREENERY AND BERRIES

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Most grocery stores sell bunches of seasonal branches at this time of year. You can also ask your local florist for some greens, or forage in the yard. Pine branches, eucalyptus (look for regular, silver dollar and seeded varieties- all are lovely!) and herbs like rosemary and even oregano will round out a bouquet of pine branches. Grab a sprig of red berries for a colorful accent if you wish.

2. GATHER YOUR CONTAINER & SUPPLIES

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For my arrangement, I used an old candle jar. Let’s be honest...I loved how it smelled but I would have bought it for the jar no matter what the scent was! Sometimes these jars are so pretty it’s just a shame to toss them when the candle is gone. Those are the times I love to convert them into vases. You can put the jar in the freezer for a while to make scraping the candle remnants out a little easier.

I also find it handy—though not absolutely necessary—to place a flower frog in the bottom of the vase. This is a heavy piece that you can buy at craft supply stores. Any stems that have a hard time staying upright or staying where you want them can be poked onto the prongs of the frog and they will stay in place.

Go ahead and fill the vase no more than half full with water and place your frog at the bottom.

3. START WITH THE HEAVIEST GREENS

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Place the hardy greens, such as pine tree branches in the arrangement first to create a well rounded base. Try to make your arrangement balanced, but not overly symmetrical. As you go along, mentally leave space for a floral bloom toward the front of the vase.

4. LAYER IN THE MORE DELICATE GREENS

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Once your shape is established by the heavier foliage, add in rosemary, then eucalyptus and so on, dotting the most delicate greens throughout your arrangement.

5. AND NOW, THE SNEAKY TRICK

These greens, especially in water, will truly last all month. Unlike with fresh flowers at other times of the year, it’s wonderful to be able to create this mess only once and be done! However, nothing adds a wow factor like a beautiful bloom. So, my trick is to add ONE (very high quality) faux flower to the vase. I know, I know, faux flowers are a faux pas! But I really believe that if you buy a super convincing one, and surround it with everything else that is fresh, no one will know. So go ahead and bite the bullet and place your single beautiful rose or gardenia or whatever large bloom you choose right there front and center. (And of course, if you can’t bring yourself to do it, then you can just use a fresh rose and swap that one element weekly when you freshen the water).

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6. LASTLY, ADD BERRIES FOR COLOR

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This is optional, but I like to tuck a sprig of berries behind the flower for a pop of color. And you’re done!

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This is especially pretty in a powder room to add a luxurious feel for your guests. Freshen the water every week or two, and this will be something you can enjoy all season!

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Merry Christmas!

Posted on December 7, 2017 and filed under Building Your Home.

Entrusted Recipes: Grammie's Caramel Corn

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My mom made caramel corn every Christmas season and I have to say it was by far one of my favorite holiday treats. I remember making it with her for several years. It was so addictive that we would end up devouring it before Christmas even arrived. She got smart and started hiding it and it would make its grand re-appearance closer to Christmas.

 

As we got older we realized what she was doing and I must confess, I started searching the house for it. (Did I mention it was addictive??) Well, I ended up finding her hiding spots and enjoyed every bite.

I wanted to share the recipe with you all—it’s super easy and sooooo delicious.

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1. You will need 6 quarts of freshly air popped popcorn. Set the popcorn aside in a roasting pan.

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2. In a medium saucepan melt 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of brown sugar, ½ cup of light corn syrup and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

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3. Boil without stirring for 5 minutes.

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4. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. As you stir it in, it will puff up.

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5. Pour this over the popcorn. Stir it throughout the popcorn as much as possible.

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6. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

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Remove from oven and cool. Break apart and store in a tightly covered container. Hide if necessary. Enjoy!
 

Baked Caramel Corn

6 quarts popped corn
1 cup butter
2 cups of light brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter; add sugar, syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. Pour over popcorn in a large roasting pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Break apart and store in tightly covered container.

Posted on November 22, 2017 and filed under Building Your Home.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Thankfulness

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I’ve written for this blog for several years now, which means I’ve created multiple Thanksgiving blog posts. This year I didn’t want to do the typical “have your kids list off everything they are thankful for” post. Yet my kids are still pretty young, and getting them to stretch past that is often beyond their capabilities. Then I remembered part of a sermon I heard a few months ago about gratitude.

The pastor was challenging believers to move beyond the “elementary level” gratitude of thanking God for our blessings, and towards 1 Thessalonians 5:18 thankfulness: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I was truly convicted by this challenge. Do I really praise God for my difficulties, or do I just try to focus on the good that happened and move forward? The second half of the verse assures me this is worth meditating upon… and worthy of teaching to my children.

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So after a few weeks of praying about how to teach this concept to kids, I don’t have a lot of ideas. What I do know is that it starts with us. We need to model authentic gratitude for God’s sovereignty. It can’t just be at the Thanksgiving dinner table. When we are stuck in traffic, we need to thank God that we are perhaps being spared from a situation or being taught patience. When we are sick, we need to praise God for the reminder that we are healthy most of our days, and to appreciate them. When our dishwasher breaks, we need to be thankful we have one at all! The list of opportunities goes on and on. I truly believe that when our kids see us model this in a genuine fashion, they will be inclined to follow.

I think it is fantastic to provide intentional opportunities for us to show gratitude, I just don’t think true thankfulness can be forced. Bear that in mind should you incorporate the following ideas:

  1. Play Highs/Lows. This is a typical game for the dinner table, but consider adding a twist. Perhaps when a family member shares their low for the day, challenge them to see a blessing in the disappointment. I believe it is still important to show empathy for the hurt feelings or sadness your child experienced; we aren’t asking them to be robots, we are asking them to model seeking God’s perspective.

  2. Play “The Gratitude Game”. I saw this https://teachbesideme.com/gratitude-game-pick-sticks/ idea recently. Basically, you have a group of colored straws or popsicle sticks. When someone picks up a red straw, they can thank God for a person in their life, for orange a place, for green a food, for blue a thing, and for purple they get to pick. My suggestion is that if your child picks purple, encourage them to find a blessing in a hard situation. When your turn comes, you do the same.

  3. Incorporate 1 Thessalonians 5:18 thankfulness into your prayers. “Lord, we thank you for this opportunity to see your hand at work.” “Jesus, thank you that you are our provider and that we know you will provide even when we don’t understand how.” “God, thank you for the testimony we will have when you work in this situation. Thank you that our character is being refined in this trial.” When our kids hear these prayers repeatedly, they will be more likely to speak to their Savior in kind.

  4. Pray honestly. Sometimes you may not be able to see God’s goodness. I think it’s okay to let your kids hear you ask for it. “Lord, we want to trust you in all things. We know you are good, but we are hurting right now. Please show us how you are working in this.” Kids don’t need a mother who is in denial of her true feelings. They need a mother that trusts her feelings to her maker.

  5. Teach Scripture on the topic. The Bible shows us that thankfulness is the appropriate response in all situations. Let your children see how frequently God requests this of His children. Here are just a few verses on the topic:

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly

I will show the salvation of God!” ~Psalm 50:23 (ESV)

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! ~Psalm 30:11-12 (ESV)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him; bless his name! ~Psalm 100:4 (ESV)

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. ~Ephesians 5:4 (ESV)

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,

and your faithfulness by night… ~Psalm 92:1-2 (ESV)

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. ~Psalm 7:17 (ESV)

Hang on a second—two of my boys just destroyed an entire banana cake I made for company and the evidence is all over the floor. Where was I? Thankfulness, right?!

Okay, thank you, Lord that I have more ingredients to make something else!

I’d like to share two personal, recent examples that I will be sharing with my kids this Thanksgiving season. These two situations are ones my sons have walked through (at least partially) with me, so I want them to see my gratitude.

First of all, I am thanking God for how He has shown up in my three-year-old’s allergies. At one-and-a-half, he was diagnosed with 21 food allergies; thankfully he has outgrown all but 8 of them. We are about to undergo testing to see if 3 more can be incorporated into his diet. It has been challenging for our entire family, but so cool to celebrate together each time he is healed of an allergy! We’ve had cashew and coconut celebrations, gluten fests, and a pistachio party. We are facing this challenge together as a family, and Everett knows how we love him and want him healed of every last one. What I praise God the most for however, is the character my little boy is growing in the midst of this. He has incredible self-control and a sense of responsibility; he knows to ask before he eats anything, and he has a FANTASTIC attitude when we tell him no. In fact, 99% of the time he responds with, “That’s okay! God is healing me! Maybe I can have that next year!” This young man knows the power of God at work in his own body! Could a mom be any more proud? Also, his brothers are learning thoughtfulness and conscientiousness. They can’t just eat a nut and leave the table. They know they need to wash their hands immediately and clean off their spot. They have also become great prayer warriors! They regularly ask God to heal their brother. Here Everett is with a watermelon cake. He had absolute joy and wasn’t focusing on how he was missing out… boy, can I learn from him!

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Another situation we are praising God for is the recent birth of our healthy baby girl. There were so many challenges during my pregnancy with her. Upon finding out I was pregnant with her, I bled heavily for a full month. All the while, I was vomiting repeatedly, sometimes up to 20 times a day. This lasted for ⅔ or the pregnancy. Next, I had a hernia, which made me look huge for most of the pregnancy. Then my whole family and I got the flu. Then I got food poisoning. Then I hurt my back. Then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and had to take my blood sugar 4 times a day, eat a specific diet, and write down everything I ate (all things a mom of 3 has time for, right?). Then we found out the baby was breech. I was so over being pregnant at this point! (I am someone who puts an enormous amount of energy into being a healthy environment for my baby, so to have all of these challenges, it was humbling and frustrating.) Anyway, upon finding out the news, I came home, and my three little boys, and my husband put their hands on my big belly. They each prayed for God to turn our baby girl. They talked to her as they had throughout the pregnancy. “Baby, we are so excited to meet you! We need you to turn your head so you are upside down. Then put your feet up here so you can come out. Can you hear me? Okay do it now!” While I was doing crazy upside-down exercises to help her move, my son would crawl under my tummy and talk to her some more. What a blessing to see the faithfulness of children in prayer! Well, the time came for me to go for an ultrasound and see what the baby’s position was…. And she turned!!! It was highly unlikely that it would happen, but God moved on our behalf. We were so incredibly thankful, and the best part was that we were able to share the depth of joy with our sons! I pray that the seeds of seeing God at work are planted in their hearts through this testimony. Next came the birth… and I am thrilled to say it was my easiest birth. Blessing after blessing ushered in the arrival of Adeline Eden. She is healthy and beautiful and a wonderful addition to our family. I truly believe that the frustrations during the pregnancy have made the blessings so much sweeter. And so I can honestly say, thank you God for it all. And now I get to see my sons embrace their baby sister. Perhaps God was already cultivating a protective love in their hearts for their sister the whole time.

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I know my trials are small right now. For this I am thankful. And sometimes if I am honest, I have an easier time giving thanks through great challenges than through small disappointments. Like why is it so hard to give thanks for the baseboards and carpet I was hoping were replaced? Or for the trim that isn’t painted yet? I still have lots in which to be sanctified. But I will keep pursuing “the will of God in Christ Jesus” for me (1 Thess 5:18).

I hope you have much to be thankful for this season. Yet I know there are many going through trials right now. Maybe you were expecting to embrace a child by this time… maybe this is your first holiday without a loved one… maybe you or someone you love has received a difficult diagnosis… Whatever it may be, I pray that God reveals His goodness to you through it and that your heart will be able to praise Him.

Posted on November 15, 2017 and filed under Building Your Faith.