Tag Archives: family fun

Your (intimidating, awesome) Mama-job

Hey, Mom! You’re doing a great job — do you know that? It can be SOOOOOO rewarding to be a mom at times. And it can also be SOOOOOO tiring and intimidating and guilt-inducing if we try to live up to some outrageously unrealistic standard and perpetually feel like we’re failing. So let me ask you: Do you love your kids? Are you doing your best? Did you answer yes and yes? Then you’re doing great!

OK… glad to get that out of the way. I needed to hear that and to say that and I hope you took it to heart. Now on to this week’s topic . . . which can, unfortunately, actually BE a source of said frustration and sense of failure. Let’s talk about the faith we impart to our kids.

b.w. girls playing bike

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 charges us with the weightiest of responsibilities and the most amazing of opportunities: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

So, let’s be candid. Do I literally do all this? No. If we understand this as an exact literal directive, it’s impossible to achieve. (And, to be honest, it would make my kids very annoyed. We don’t want our non-stop God-talk to end up sounding like Charlie-Brown adults, bwah-bwah-bwah, bwah-bwah-bwah…) But if we understand it as casting a vision for us — making plain a principle — it’s so inviting and exciting and invigorating. It’s about weaving discussions of faith in and through everyday life. It’s pulling God-talk out of the van-on-the-way-home-from-church box and sprinkling it into all those other moments of living. It’s turning plain-moments into God-moments with a bit of intentionality. And one crucial ingredient to cultivating such moments? Adding FUN!

And so, without further ado, here are 12 ideas for you of ways you can transform fun experiences with your kids into meaningful faith-metaphors: Continue reading

Be Mom Series

Mom! Mom! MOM!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a sound I often hear. Let me be honest: My gut-instinct response is often irritation  because whoever is yelling my name is probably in trouble (danger), creating trouble (messes, experiments, etc.) , or is about to get in trouble (for summoning me as if I were a maid or butler).

But the truth is, I’m deeply grateful to have this moniker. And, behind all the exhaustion and stress and work and irritation of motherhood, I need this reminder of my gratitude. This job, this privilege, this name is a blessing.

be mom seriesAnd so, this month, I’m excited to invite you to join me for a new series: be mom.

We’ll look together at how we can be more proactive as parents in taking on this great privilege of momhood.

We’ll consider how parenting both challenges and enriches our spiritual lives.

We’ll think about how we have the power to foster an environment within our homes that can profoundly shape our kids and strengthen our relationships.

AND we’ll have fun sharing great, creative ideas.

Join me . . . be mom.

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An important caveat. I hesitated in choosing this topic because I know some of you, dear readers, are not mothers. You may, in fact, long to be a mom — and this may be a painful topic for you. So please know that you, too, are welcome in this conversation. You, too, are a mother to the younger people you know and love — nieces, nephews, students, neighbor kids. I hope that this series still feels welcoming and inviting to you — a place where you can engage with ideas and find encouragement. 

While the theme this month is on motherhood, the broader focus of this blog is spiritual encouragement for all readers. We are each more than the roles and labels that attempt to define us. My hope is that we all can find nourishment here as we each, on our own journey, draw closer to being — being ourselves, being with God, being true and whole and loved.

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Holiday Treats

color lightsThe holidays are a great time to make some fun treats with your kids . . . and gobble them up together! Here are recipes for 3 of my faves.

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Snow Ice Cream

(Excerpted from my book Faith-Filled Moments: Helping Kids See God in Everyday Life; Wesleyan Publishing House, with permission)

Ingredients

8 to 10 cups fresh, clean snow
1 14-oz. can Eagle sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

 Instructions:

Help your child use a measuring cup to fill a large mixing bowl with 8 to 10 full cups of fresh, fluffy snow. In a separate bowl, stir together the condensed milk and vanilla. If it’s not thinned down enough, add 1 teaspoon of whole milk and stir it in. Slowly pour the liquid into the bowl of snow while you gently stir it in. When it’s mixed sufficiently, serve it up in bowls with spoons and start eating. Yum!

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Microwave Manger Cookies 

(Also excerpted from Faith-Filled Moments; WPH, with permission) Continue reading

Advent Ideas

Advent may be my most favorite time of the year. It’s a time of darkness, shivers, and cold . . . but also of starlight, snuggles, and hope!

red berriesIt’s a time we focus on God’s amazing promises–on his plan of redemption weaving both subtly and powerfully throughout human history. It is the time we dwell in the beautiful truth: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).

Do you desire to deepen your own spiritual experience of Advent? Or are you looking for ways to make it a meaningful season for your kids? Throughout this month I’ll be featuring a variety of ideas for you–spiritual encouragement, fun activities, and great resources you can use during Advent. 

This first week of Advent, let me encourage you to  zero in on God’s messianic promises in the Old Testament. Spend time in the beauty of words of hope like these:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. 
(Isaiah 9:6-7)

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Stay tuned for 3 fun holiday recipes to enjoy with your kids… I’ll be posting them later this week.

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Also, if you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s a day-by-day devotional calendar I created for Today’s Christian Woman. This resource is packed with spiritual encouragement and some of my favorite ideas for marking the season with God and with those you love. Each weak of this calendar delves into a key biblical theme of Advent, helping you and your family connect with God in profoundly meaningful ways.

 

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PERFECTMOM . . . not!

I did a really dangerous thing a few years ago. . . and then I did it again.

book-001.jpg

I wrote a book about being a mom.

Faith-Filled.Moments.coverAnd then I wrote a book about parenting.

Am I NUTS????!?!?!?

Here’s the danger: We live in a culture — and particularly a church-culture — enamored with the false god of the “perfect family.” Magazines, books, blogs, and  Pinterest feed this obsession of family perfection — ideal meals, fantastic activities, lifelong memories, problem-free relationships, etc. And tied into this is the pressure to be PERFECTMOM. To cook, clean, craft, parent, work, love idyllically. (It’s not a new pressure! Check out the family picnic instructions from an earlier era!)family picnic

So let me say, right off the bat, that my books on parenting (The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival and Faith-Filled Moments) are not — I repeat NOT, NOT, NOT — written from some perspective of me having it all figured out, doling out advice to PERFECTMOM wannabes. NO WAY. My writing is always about the journey — and I’m a fellow pilgrim on the road who trips up just as much as you. (Check out my bruised shins for evidence!)

So . . . this gigantic “disclaimer” sets me up to share part of the vision for my newest devotional guide Cherish Your FamilyIf your family is ideal and you’re PERFECTMOM, then you don’t need this book. But if you’re a human being — a woman who loves your family and has a dream to love them better even as you stumble along the way — then I hope this excerpt ministers to you.

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But . . . Family Life is Hard!

A happy Christian family.

What came to mind when you read these words? A family of perfectly-behaved children who pray reverently during nightly family devos? A couple with endlessly romantic love for each other—who frequently pray together, never fight, and have a problem-free, passionate sex life? Some idealized myth of a Christian family that’s forever out of reach? With some fairy-tale “perfect Christian wife and mom” who you’ll never measure up to? Continue reading

Meet My Friend . . . Jennifer Grant

I’m blessed to know author Jennifer Grant and am so happy to introduce you to her. Jennifer’s insights about family life and parenthood will bless you. So keep on reading!
Jennifer, can you tell my readers a bit about yourself? 
I’m a writer and the mother of four children: daughters ages 10 and 12 and sons who are 14 and 16. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved to write. I was the kid who read incessantly (from The Great Brain books to Beverly Cleary to Narnia), wrote stories, and created paper dolls with complicated backstories. I studied creative writing in both college and graduate school and have been a professional writer for about twenty years. Since becoming a mom, I’ve written primarily about parenting and family. For more than a decade, I wrote columns and stories for newspapers including the Chicago Tribune. I’m the author of two books: Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter (published August 2011) and MOMumental: Adventures in the Messy Art of Raising a Family (published May 2012).
It’s summer time! So this month we’re focusing on the theme of “family.” Quick: What’s been one of the highlights of your family’s time together this summer? 
In June, we drove from Chicago to Sanibel Island, Florida. Now that my oldest is a driver, the six of us aren’t all strapped into one car as often as we once were. Although the kids moaned a bit beforehand that we weren’t flying, we all truly enjoyed the long car trip. We sang songs, confided in each other, played silly games, and practiced our best Southern drawls as we drove down to Florida. All of that time together afforded me the chance to gain a renewed sense of who each of my kids is and the people they are growing to be. I’m also aware that my oldest chid, Theo, will be going to college in two years. That reality helps me to savor our time together in a new way. It’s been a sweet summer. 
You’ve written a book called MOMumental exploring the tough realities and delightful joys of family life. What do you most hope readers will get out of your book? 
I hope that when people finish the book, they will feel refreshed and less likely to be drawn in by inflammatory headlines and news stories that aim to make us feel “less than” as parents. I hope they’ll come away from MOMumental with the knowledge that there’s no one “right” way to raise kids. We all bring specific gifts, histories, weaknesses, and personalities to raising  our children. Most of all, I hope they’ll focus more on connecting authentically with their kids after reading MOMumental. A few readers have written to me and said that they feel like the book gave them permission to enjoy their kids. I love hearing that! 
As Christian moms, we have so many ideals and goals – and sometimes the reality of parenting can get tiring and discouraging. What encouragement can you share with moms who feel burnt out, frustrated, or stressed?

Family Fun!

OK, I’m taking a short break from the spiritual formation topics we’re covering in 2012. It’s summer time. School’s out. The sun is shining. The world is a-blooming! And so for July we’ll focus on the topic of FAMILY.

This is a great season for moms of young kids — but family is also an important topic for women of all ages and all situations. For singles, for empty-nesters, for moms of young kids, for grandmothers, for parents of teenagers — we all value and are profoundly shaped by family! So I hope, readers, that no matter what stage of life you’re in, you’ll enjoy the discussion this month. There is a soul-shaping power in time spent with family, so along with some posts reflecting on “deeper issues,” I’ll also be sharing ideas for family FUN.

So let’s start things off with 2 fun ideas for those of you with kids at home this summer.

Here’s a great activity for outdoors: a prayer-focused bike ride.

And here’s a fun one for inside days: a simple card game that reveals a critical spiritual truth.

40 Days of Being

Lent begins today. I’m from a non-liturgical church tradition that generally doesn’t observe Lent, but it has become a meaningful time for me personally each year to intentionally reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf and to anticipate the joy we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday.

If you’re interested in doing something special for Lent this year, here’s a fun idea  for families involving baking  and eating something yummy (it’s an annual tradition for us!).

Another meaningful way to observe Lent is to fast; for inspiration if you’re considering fasting, reflect on the ideas here, here, and here.

Stay tuned because our next blog post will feature an interview with an amazing Christian writer, Keri Wyatt Kent, who will share thoughts about rest, Sabbath-keeping, and how these practices can work in the reality of our busy, modern-day lives.