Friday Introductions

Friday Introduction: One-year Devotional

 

We've worked hard with both girls to institute the habit of having a quiet time with God every day. I try to provide them with devotional material that's age-appropriate, interesting and relevant. As my older daughter has grown into the older tween years, that's become more and more difficult. The children's devotionals are too young, and the teen devotionals are too old. That's why I'm so excited about today's Friday Introduction, The One Year Devotions for Teens: DEVOS.

Yes, the cover says teens, but this isn't a typical teen devotional book. My daughter isn't interested in dating. She isn't interested in boys at all right now. And I'm perfectly OK with that. My biggest issue with buying her a "teen" devotional is that they usually contain a lot of scenarios that include dating and boy/girl relationships. I don't want to encourage those relationships before she discovers them on her own.

The One Year Devotions for Teens: DEVOS is a great devotional for tweens and teens. Written for both genders, it focuses on issues relevant to their stage of life. It includes only a handful of devotions about dating, and those are mostly about purity. This devotional focuses on who God is, why He's relevant to our kids' lives and how to practically apply what the Bible has to say. This is hands-down the best devotional I have found for tweens -- boy or girl.

The book contains a devotional for every day of the year. Each day includes Bible reading, a short one-page devotional and the main idea for the day spelled out for the reader. If you're looking for a devotional book that will keep your tween engaged and interested, check out The One Year Devotions for Teens: DEVOS.

Friday Introduction: Learning to Be Still (Allison French)

It’s not quite 9 AM and the dishwasher is going, the laundry machine whirring in ritualistic harmony. I’ve worked out, written three emails, balanced the budget, changed two dirty diapers, held an attitude adjustment session, conducted a short phonics lesson, fed three hungry little birdie mouths, started dinner, written a few paragraphs of this blog post and yet still not made a much of a dent in my to-do list. My educated guess is that those reading this blog have had a similar morning. Such is the life of a mother. blog6

There are times in the day where I achieve a thrill, a “high” if you will, off of back-to-back accomplishments, seamless multi-tasking, that moment when my juggling act reaches its peak with balls suspended mid-air, and I am super-woman, super-mom soaring untouched on my own strength, my goals, my ambitions, my vision. This flight may last seconds, minutes, hours, or, if I am stubborn enough, maybe even days.

Regardless of the length of the flight, however, the crash is inevitable. The balls drop, reality hits, the tremble of an anxious heart breaks through. My nerves are frazzled, my patience thin, and, once again, I am not enough for all who want me, need me. You’d think I’d learn, time after time after time. And yet, too frequently, this is what it takes to bring me back to the deep longing I have for “the gentle and quiet spirit which is so precious to God.” (1 Peter 3:4).

As the shepherd of my children, I believe it is not only my responsibility to shelter, nourish and grow their little bodies and sweet minds, but their tender souls as well.

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Just as my Shepherd “makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside quiet water refreshing my soul” (Psalm 23), I’ve increasingly so felt the weight of the calling of modeling and making this same rest for my children. With three children under four, my personality, the roles I play and the dynamics of these factors combined, it’s not an easy thing. We all have our challenges to practicing this peace. The practicalities of motherhood are very important, deadlines don’t disappear, tasks must be checked off. And yet, a wise older woman once impressed upon me to, one: prioritize this peaceful practice and two: to start young.

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Beginning in small but frequent increments, setting aside “quiet times” for our children and ourselves to sit is imperative to calming busy hands and flighty minds. It’s a certainly a discipline, and specific personalities take more readily to this practice, but the rewards are perhaps more impactful than any other life skill we can teach. Academically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, the ability to be still is not only rewarding but necessary.

blog5 In our home, this quiet time is spent in separate chairs at several points in time throughout the day. Starting at a little over a year-old, I’ve invested hours upon hours helping my children learn to sit in one place with no other toys or stimulus than their small selection of books. In the beginning, a few minutes was an accomplishment worth a lavish celebration. Now, a timer can be set for a half-hour at a time.

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I’ve watched my little ones blossom in this ability as the whining and complaining we inevitably worked through in the beginning has developed into something beautiful; my 3-year-old can be heard whispering rhyming words to herself, humming quiet preschool songs, my 20-month-old can be seen turning the pages of a book, pausing to contemplate the pictures. As a former teacher, I can appreciate the fact that my children will be required to do this someday in the classroom and are strengthening their imagination and independence now in preparation.

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As we all know, this quiet, still time is not only coveted but many times necessary. There have been many times where I’ve called upon my children to use this skill when we are out and about; recently my youngest required an x-ray and my 18-month-old had to sit by himself on a chair outside the room until we finished. It was an amazingly freeing feeling to know I could trust him to stay quiet and safe in one spot for an extended amount of time. At home, many times I can catch up on a phone call, a counter clean, a meal prep, but often the greater reward is when I find my own seat with just my journal and Bible, joining them in silence.

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This all being said, this morning’s rate of activity will most likely be repeated tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. I know full well that life can not be paused.

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There is a season for everything. However, I’m writing today to share the joy of this revelation. 1 Kings 19 recounts the prophet Elijah’s encounter with the Lord. A series of loud, tumultuous events takes place, but it is after that, in the stillness that the Lord whispers to him gently. Setting aside time to “Be still, and know that (He is) God.” (Psalm 46:10) has been one of the most beautiful, rewarding, sanity-saving practices I have been introduced to, and it’s been a privilege to impart this joy to my children.

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Allison French lives and photographs in Kansas City with her college sweetheart hubby and three children. She loves her babes (all four of them), Pippy Longstockings, her dog, all the lovely members of her constantly-in-contact family, her camera, writing and a good long run. She blogs about the daily life of motherhood and tries to get as much of her own beautiful everyday chaos from behind the lens as she does for others.

Friday Introduction: There is Grace

This motherhood thing can seem like it's a constant stream of "No," "Don't do that," "Did you do this?" "Why are you doing that?" From changing diapers to packing lunches to disciplining the kids to doing the laundry, so much of being mom is task-oriented, and we can get so caught up in those tasks that we forget to have fun.

Motherhood is supposed to be fun. Oh, not all the time. There's nothing fun about puking kids in the night or trips to the emergency room. But being a mom should have as many moments of fun as it does frustration. Sometimes, though, we forget that. We forget to simply have fun with our kids.

God wants us to have fun. He wants us to enjoy our kids, enjoy our lives. Jesus says in John 10:10 "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Part of that fullness is fun and laughter.

Today, I want you to meet Nancy Backues who blogs over at There is Grace. She's been blogging since 2008 and started her There is Grace blog just last year. There is Grace is a blog where she writes about her family, her faith and finding grace in the journey.

Nancy knows life isn't always fun. As a cancer survivor, she's seen how God can use everything in our lives for good. As she says, "I am now  2 1/2 years cancer-free, and while it was one of the most difficult times of my life, I am thankful for it. God used the experience to confirm in me my gift of words. My journey with cancer is what convinced me to begin writing my everyday story again."

As part of that everyday story, Nancy and some friends decided they needed to spend more time having fun with their kids. That desire has evolved into the Fun Mommy! challenge on her blog. Each week, she intentionally chooses to do something fun with her kids, then blogs about it on Mondays. Here's what she has to say about the challenge: "I was talking with some of my mom-friends one day when one of them commented about how her husband always seemed to be the 'fun' one. We all agreed it was the same in our households. Mom is typically all business, and the party starts when Dad gets home. So, we challenged one another to do one thing every week with our kids that is just pure fun. It ended up being a difficult (but rewarding) challenge for us all. I figured other moms might have the same struggle, so I brought the challenge to my blog. I can't believe how many moms have told me that it struck a nerve with them...that they, too, have a hard time being a "Fun Mommy." I so wish I came by it naturally, but I don't. I really have to work at it."

I want to encourage you to head over to Nancy's blog to receive encouragement and to check out the Fun Mommy! challenge because we can all use a little more fun in our families. I'm going to be taking part in trying to intentionally be a Fun Mommy, and I hope you will to. Be sure to leave a comment for Nancy when you stop by and let her know I sent you. You can also check out the There is Grace Facebook page.

   Nancy Backues blogs at There is Grace. She is the mom of an 8-year-old daughter and a    5-year-old son. In addition to blogging, she is a freelance writer for a Christian publisher; she writes Sunday school curriculum, devotions, and magazine articles. She is passionate about words, especially God's word. She loves chocolate, coffee, naps with her kids, dates with her husband of 10 years, and chatting with friends.

Friday Introductions: Prioritizing Marriage (Time-Warp Wife)

My husband and I are approaching our 17-year anniversary. I don't write a lot about my husband in this space, mainly because he's an intensely private person, and this blog is mostly about parenting, not marriage, but today, I want to talk about marriage. Why? Because our marriages affect our kids. How we treat each other, how we solve conflict, how we parent together are all affected by the health of our marriages.

Every marriage goes through great times and tough times. We have moments when we can't imagine being married to anyone else and moments when we just want to throw up our hands and walk away. There are weeks, months and years when our marriages are fulfilling and amazing, then there are times when our marriages are draining and conflict-filled.

We've been going through one of those draining and conflict-filled periods in the past few weeks. Somewhere, our communication got off track, and we couldn't manage to get it back together. Conversations that should have been easy became hard. Hard conversations became arguments.

When we're in one of those periods in our marriage, it's easy to blame the other person. They're not listening, they're not interested, they're being stubborn, but the truth is, the only behavior that we can change in our marriages is our own. Most of the time, there's plenty of blame to go around, and many times, I've found, I'm actually the problem, not my husband.

Yesterday morning, after another evening of not communicating well, God made it a point to show me that this time, I'm the problem. Sure, my husband has things he could work on, but the root of our issues this time is me. Somewhere along the line, my husband got pushed to the bottom of my priority list -- if he was even on it at all. When I had to make a choice between being a good wife or being a good parent, ministry leader, friend or volunteer, I've been nearly always choosing the thing that is not my husband.

God says in Genesis 2:24, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." He doesn't tell us to become one with anyone else -- not our kids, not our job, not our ministry. If we are to work together, if everyone is going to pull in the same direction, then we have to put a priority on our marriages.

Healthy marriages don't just happen. They take a lot of work. No matter what we do as parents, if we're married, the single most important thing we can do for our kids after focusing them on God is to love our spouse. Our kids are learning how to interact with others, what to look for in a mate, and what a marriage looks like by watching us. When we allow conflict to fester, when we don't acknowledge when we are wrong, when we treat our spouses like they don't matter, we're teaching our children what a relationship looks like.

It's tough to do it all. It's hard to work, parent, be a wife, and be a ministry leader, among other things. It's difficult to carve out time for everything, but our marriages have to be at the top of our priority lists, right after God. They have to be there because everything else we do is ineffective if they're not.

One of my favorite resources for perspective on marriage is the blog Time-Warp Wife. She does a great job of focusing on the role of women in a biblical marriage. Plus she offers up lots and lots of great tips on ways to show your husband you love him and how to keep your marriage vibrant. If you need encouragement in your marriage, be sure to check it out.

This week, I'll be reorganizing my priorities to find some extra moments to spend with my husband, so that he knows that he's at the top of the priority list instead of at the bottom. And I hope in doing so that I'm teaching my kids that marriage is more important than work, ministry and even them. Because that's the way God designed it.

Friday Introduction: You Have Been Invited (and a giveaway)

My girls love to get birthday party invitations in the mail. There's something special about knowing you were chosen to join in someone else's celebration. It makes you feel important and included.

God gives us all sorts of invitations. He invites us to accept His gift, approach His throne in prayer, marvel at His creation and so much more. A new book, You Have Been Invited! by Brian Howell, lays out these invitations for children. This beautifully illustrated picture book includes 19 of God's invitations. Each 2-page spread includes the invitation and the scripture that backs it up.

This book is a great way to start talking with your preschooler about the things God has invited him or her to do. The simple, engaging format of the book makes it a great starting point for learning about the things that God has invited us to do.

You could even use this book with older kids as a springboard for some more in-depth conversations. Take an invitation a day and make it your dinner-table conversation. Talk about what the invitation means and what the blessings are that you receive from that invitation.

Brian Howell got the idea for the book when reading Tea for Ruby about a child who is invited to have tea with the queen. That book started him thinking about how God has invited us to do many things with Him and You Have Been Invited! was born.

While You Have Been Invited! is a simple book, it's message is important and timeless. If you have preschoolers or early elementary kids, don't miss out on this book.

I'm lucky enough to be able to give you a chance to own a copy of this book as we're giving one away today. Don't miss your chance to own it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review and giveaway purposes.

Friday Introductions: Case for Christ for Kids

It's a cold, blustery, drizzly day here. We probably won't spend much time outside. I really think the wind is strong enough to blow over my 65-pound 9-year-old.

Speaking of that 9-year-old, she's had a lot of questions lately. Questions about God, heaven and faith. She's really struggling to understand who God is, whether He's real and why it matters. Growing up in a home with Christian parents doesn't guarantee your kids will never have questions.

We want our kids to have real faith -- faith that gives them roots and holds them up in the tough times, faith that won't be blown away when the winds of life are howling around them.

For some kids, faith comes easy. It's not a big deal to believe in a God they can't see. They accept the Bible at face value. They have no trouble believing that God loves them and would send His Son to die for them.

Other kids have to dissect it all, make sure it makes sense, then make a decision to believe or not. Much as we would like, we can't force our faith on our kids. They have to choose to follow Jesus on their own.

If you have one of those questioning kids, one of those kids who has to dissect it all before he can believe it, don't overreact when they start asking questions. Pray hard for your child. Hit your knees and stay there for a while. But answer those questions the best that you can. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know" or "I'll have to look that up." Don't make their questions out to be abnormal or frustrating for you. Let them know that everyone has questions.

My younger daughter and I are going to be working through "Case for Christ for Kids, Updated and Expanded (Case for... Series for Kids)" by Lee Strobel. If you have a child who is struggling to understand Jesus, then I encourage you to check out this book. Lee Strobel was a journalist who set out to disprove that Jesus was the Son of God. He actually discovered enough evidence for Jesus that he became a believer. His "The Case for Christ" for adults has been a classic of Christian apologetics for years. His book for kids brings that information down to their level.

Don't let your kids' need to question their faith send you over the edge. Keep the tone gentle and let them ask questions. If we hide from their questions, they might decide that Jesus won't stand up to intense scrutiny and turn away. Keep them talking and keep praying. It's the best thing you can do to keep their faith from being blown away with the first strong wind.

Friday Introduction: Teach Me to Serve (and a giveaway)

I love doing Friday Introductions and introducing all of you to the great blogs and resources that are available, but I think that today may be my absolute favorite Friday Introduction so far. A couple of weeks ago, Kristen from Celebrate Every Day With Me did a great guest post in this space about how to celebrate the ordinary, everyday moments. This week, I get to introduce you to her new e-book, Teach Me to Serve: 99 Ways Preschoolers Can Learn to Serve and Bless Others.

Now, if you don't have preschoolers, don't turn away because after reading her book, I think every parent should own a copy. While the ideas in this short, 30-page book are geared toward preschoolers, they are easily adapted for older kids as well.

The world is busy telling our kids that the only thing that matters in this world is getting ahead, having a good time and putting yourself first. Selfishness is encouraged in many areas of life. But God tells us to put others first. Philippians 2:3-4 says "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." That's the message we want to send our kids. That's the attitude we want to teach them.

In Teach Me to Serve: 99 Ways Preschoolers Can Learn to Serve and Bless Others, Kristen lists out 99 easy ways you can help create a servant's heart in your child. Most of the ideas are quick and simple to do. Most don't require a lot of preparation and planning. But all of them have one goal in mind: creating an attitude of service in your child.

From serving dinner to handing out candy to crying children at an amusement park, Kristen gives you fun ideas for turning service into a lifestyle for you and your kids. I guarantee if you start adding some of these ideas into your life on an every day or every week basis, you'll find not only your children's hearts softening toward others, you'll find your own heart looking for ways to serve as well.

Don't miss out on getting a copy of Teach Me to Serve: 99 Ways Preschoolers Can Learn to Serve and Bless Others. I'm so blessed to get to give away a copy today, so be sure to enter at the bottom of this post. You can also order a PDF copy on the Teach Me to Serve website or you can get a copy for your Kindle or Nook.

Today and tomorrow, Kristen is offering Everyday Truth readers a 30% discount on the $3.99 price of the book. Enter everyday30 as the discount code on the Teach Me to Serve website. This discount is only good on PDF copies and not on Kindle or Nook.

Don't miss your chance to get your hands on this book and start your family on a journey toward serving others.

This post contains affiliate links.

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Friday Introductions: Khan Academy

My older daughter is taking pre-algebra this year. Now, it's been a really long time since I've worked an algebra program of any kind --like 25 years. When she brings home algebra problems that she needs help with, I have to dig deep into the recesses of my brain to figure out how to help her. And sometimes I'm wrong, which doesn't make her very happy.

That's why when I stumbled across Khan Academy's website, I was thrilled. This free website offers video tutorials on a whole bunch of subjects, including algebra. They cover history, economics, math, science and even computer science. The videos are easy to understand, and each one includes practice problems. We used it over the summer as a refresher to keep the kids up to speed on their math.

It can be tough to admit to our kids we don't know everything. We don't want to appear stupid in front of our kids. When your sixth-grader is doing math problems that you don't remember how to do, you can feel like an inadequate parent. But an important part of parenting is to admit when we don't know something and find a way to help our kids anyway.

When my girls first started playing sports, I didn't know a whole lot about either sport. When they needed help with a move, I was pretty useless. So, I watched YouTube videos and talked to their coaches until I understood what my kids needed. Helping them with their schoolwork or to understand difficult things in the Bible is no different. I need to find ways to help them, not pretend I know everything. Proverbs 16:18 says "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." When we choose to pretend we know everything, we're setting ourselves up for a fall -- and our kids might get crushed in the process.

So, if you're struggling for answers to your kids' homework or if you're just looking for a different way for your kids to practice their math facts or study for their science test, swallow your pride and check out Khan Academy. They might have the answers you don't.

Friday Introductions: Clubhouse Magazine

My girls love magazines. They're quick to read. They hold their interest. The come in the mail. It's a recipe for success.

Too often, though, I'm disappointed with what's in the magazines aimed at kids, especially girls. Too often, those magazines want my kids to grow up faster than I want them to. It's important that we know what's going into our kids' heads and hearts. What they read can be an important influence on what they think, especially when it comes to magazines where most of the information is real, not fiction.

Philippians 4:8 says "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Too many of the magazines aimed at kids encourage them to think on things that don't meet this standard.

That's why I like Clubhouse magazine and Clubhouse Jr. These are magazines aimed at kids from a Christian perspective. The main article each month is called Truth Pursuer, and it's about an important biblical concept or character quality. Other articles in the magazine are filled with humor, cool facts and stories about kids just like yours who are doing amazing things.

The magazines also have a great website that include articles from the magazine, games and videos. It's a safe place where your kids can play online without you worrying about what they're getting into.

If your kids like magazines, I encourage you to check out Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. It's definitely money well-spent.

 

Friday Introduction: Encouraging Positive Friendships

I'm honored to have my blogging friend, Rosann, from ChristianSuperMom guest posting about friendships today. It's a timely reminder as our kids head back to school. And congratulations to Cindy Bischoff, who is the winner of our 31 Gifts Utility Tote giveaway.

It’s almost that time of year again.  Soon my daughter will be meeting her 2nd grade teacher and reuniting with friends from last year.  I’m grateful she has a natural love for school and learning.

I’m cautiously watchful when it comes to her friendships, though.

Since she was old enough to play with other kids, I’ve been teaching her the importance of being the salt and the light, a friend to all.

What I never prepared her for is how to determine when a friendship is not worth pursuing.  I guess the thought never crossed my mind that she’d be in a position of having to unfriend someone.

But toward the end of last school year, there was this bully...

...my daughter was emotionally damaged.  An attack on her faith, spun into a vicious lie where others were also deeply hurt.

I didn’t want to be that mom who sticks her nose in her children’s friendships.  But I had to do something to protect her from any future recurrences.

So I stepped in and forced an end (the best I could) to an unhealthy friendship.

As school resumes, I pray old pains and rumors will be forgotten.  Additionally, I have a plan.

A Plan for Encouraging Positive Friendships

 1.  Keep An Open Line Of Communication

Children need to trust they won’t be in trouble or looked down on if they share details of their world with one or both of their parents.  Ask questions and be sure to listen attentively to how their day went.  Choose words carefully keeping your child’s feelings in mind.  Remember to respond with grace.

2.  Embrace Teachable Moments

Look for teachable moments in the every day.  When watching a TV show together.  When reading books together.  When observing others interacting with one another.  Read and discuss with your child what the Bible teaches about friendship.  Continually reinforce the characteristics of a healthy relationship.

3.  Encourage Positive Friendships

Make it a point to invite your child’s friends over for fun activities or play dates.  Get to know the family of their friends.  Host game night or dinner at your home and invite the family over.  Become friends with their friends.  Say a friendly “hello!” whenever you see your child’s friends at school or extra-curricular functions.

4.  Set A Good Example

Children learn by watching how their own family members behave in different situations.  Set a good example.  Nurture your own relationships.  Be a good friend.  Adults can be bullies too.  Don’t be a victim.

What steps do you take to help nurture your child’s friendships?

 

Rosann Cunningham is a Christian Author, wife to the man of her dreams, and stay-at-home mom to two delightful little girls. When she’s not out for a jog or having energy burning dance parties with her daughters, she can be found writing for her blog ChristianSuperMom, and ministering to women whose husbands are in a season of unemployment, at her other website UnEMPLOYED Faith.  Her writing inspiration for both projects comes from a strong desire to glorify God while sharing the heart of her journey through a life of faith.

Friday Introduction: Making Each Day a Celebration (Celebrate Every Day With Me)

Celebrations are part of life. Yet we tend to limit them to special occasions. I recently ran across Kristen Summers blog, Celebrate Every Day With Me, where she encourages us to celebrate all the time. She was gracious enough to agree to guest post for us today. I know you'll enjoy her post and her blog as much as I do.

Think it is an ordinary day?  Try again. 

Sure, the day may feel ordinary.  But it doesn’t need to be.  There are things all around us to celebrate!  There are fun adventures to be had and silly “holidays” to be observed.  But more than that, there are precious moments with our children to be enjoyed and savored. 

I am a mom to two young kids and keep a fairly busy schedule.  Even if it’s only a brief moment with my children, I want to do something fun TODAY. 

Here is why I’m choosing to make each day a celebration: 

Celebrations are plain fun!  When was the last time you set aside your “To Do” list and did something just for the fun of it or celebrated the moment?  Whether you are celebrating the birthday of your child’s stuffed animal or making a party out of painting enormous boxes, you and your kids can have fun.   

Celebrations are memorable.  I want my kids to have great memories of the fun things we did.  I want them to remember the time mom dropped everything we had to do and took a road trip in search of the best ice cream in the county.  (Ooh, this would mean ice cream all day long!). 

Some of my best childhood memories were the crazy, fun things we did . . . the times where we laughed until our bellies hurt.  Those are the kinds of memories I want to create for my kids.

Celebrations are relationship-building.  Whether you are celebrating something big or just the everyday things of life, you have the opportunity to bond and make your child feel valued.  Things may go wrong on your mini-adventure, but that’s ok!  You are together. 

Celebrations require a joyful attitude.  Being able to enjoy the daily encounters of special and silly celebrations can’t begin with a grumpy disposition.   One has to approach the day with excitement and anticipation.  An added bonus of a joyful outlook is that it is a great de-stresser for our busy lives. 

Celebrating is a way to remind us of the blessings of God.  The Bible is filled with celebrations and festivals to remind God’s people of His love, deliverance, provision and care.  When we stop to celebrate the ways God has blessed us, we not only deliberately acknowledge and enjoy the blessing, but we give Him glory.

My kids are such a blessing to me.  When I pause the busyness of my life and focus on intentional fun moments, even the little celebrations, I am reminded of the joy those two little kids have given me and I thank God for them.  Kids will only be young for a brief time.  As much as I want the years to slow down, they don’t.  The answer?  Make the most of the precious moments you have with your kids.  Celebrate each day!

Quick Ideas:

  • Put aside your list and do something impromptu today.  The only requirement:  it must be fun!
  • Check out a silly holiday list.  What can you celebrate this week?
  • Select a night of the week to be your Mission Fun Night.  Make it family game night, let the kids cook or go off on a “Let’s See Where We End Up” adventure.   
  • When you’re on the go and you drive by something that would thrill your kids, stop.
  • Take an interest of your children and create a whole party around it (even if your kids are the only guests). 

Remember, celebrating every day need not be a lot of work.  We’re after the joy, the relationships, the fun and the memories. 

Happy Celebrating!

Kristen is a stay at home mom to two kids (ages 2 and 4) who keep her busy and laughing.  As a former wedding and event planner, she now celebrates the everyday things of life and works to make each day special.  She has long lists, loves diet soda and playing jokes on her husband.  On her blog you’ll find fun ideas for children’s activities, creating memorable moments and of course, party planning and other wacky events.  You can find her at Celebrate Every Day With Me (www.CelebrateEveryDayWithMe.com).

Friday Introduction: The WHOLE Conference

Most of us want to be the best moms that we can be. Yet we all have areas where we struggle. We have places in our lives where we are broken, places where our past experiences have left us battered and struggling to put the pieces back together.

God can heal those hurts. He can pick up those pieces and put them back together. He can make you whole.

If you're struggling to overcome your past, if you're seeking to be whole, then I want to invite you to join me at the WHOLE conference on Aug. 24-25 at Westside Family Church in Lenexa, Kan. Lisa Harper of Women of Faith Ministries is the keynote speaker, and I'll be leading a breakout on The Search for Significance.

The WHOLE conference is designed to help women break free of strongholds in their lives and become WHOLE. Dirty Girls Ministries, which is the sponsor of the conference describes it like this: "In addition to dynamic teaching and worship, breakouts sessions will address porn addiction, abortion, human trafficking, child loss, homosexuality, marital conflict, teen purity and more. Even if you don’t personally struggle in one of these areas, chances are you know someone or will meet someone who does. These breakouts are designed to help women to both heal old wounds as well as become educated in areas they may not know much about but are greatly affecting women today."

If you're struggling to heal from your past -- whether it's from abuse, marital discord or losing a child -- check out the WHOLE conference. It may be just what you need to take steps toward letting God heal you. And becoming healed and whole can only benefit the rest of your family.

Check out my guest post on becoming whole from insignificance on the Dirty Girls Ministries site for more.

Friday Introductions: The Young Peacemakers

I love the sound of little girl giggles. They permeate my house for most of the summer. Including my girls, we have six girls who live in the neighborhood, and we have an open-door policy at our house. My girls' friends are welcome almost any time. During the summer that means that there are kids in and out of my house almost constantly, which means there are plenty of little girl giggles all summer long.

Unfortunately, there are also plenty of little girl fights, as well. With six girls, several with strong personalities, disagreements are inevitable. Someone often feels left out or put upon by the others. A lot of times, it's five against one or four against two. These disagreements can often end with one child in tears or another stomping off to go home, neither of which are healthy responses to conflict.

God doesn't want us or our kids to live in a state of constant conflict. He wants us to live at peace with others. Romans 12:18 says "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Conflict is inevitable in life. It's up to us to teach our kids healthy ways to deal with conflict.

This summer, I'm taking the six girls in my neighborhood throught The Young Peacemaker series. This collection of 12 pamphlet-style books walks kids through the steps for resolving conflict. It looks at wrong responses to conflict and points kids in the right direction. It talks about the motives behind conflict and good ways to resolve it. And it does all this in a comic-book style format that is engaging, fun and biblically based.

I've read a lot of books on parenting and spent a lot of time looking at resources to use with your kids. This is the best resource I've found for teaching kids to deal with conflict. If you're looking for a curriculum to use with your own kids or with a group of kids, check out The Young Peacemaker.

We're about halfway through the 12 books, and I've already seen results. Instead of stomping off or getting mad, the girls in my neighborhood are learning to work through their conflicts. They're much more likely to create a compromise or get help solving an issue now than they were six weeks ago. Just the other day, I saw them respectfully work out a disagreement that just weeks before would have resulted in tears and drama.

We still have some of the drama (it's nearly impossible to avoid with that many girls around), but The Young Peacemaker is teaching these girls powerful tools that make conflict something to be dealt with, not something that will drive a wedge and break up friendships.

Friday Introductions: 101 Days to Knowing God Cards and a Giveaway

"God is beginning to creep me out," my older daughter said yesterday.

"Why?" I asked.

"Look at this!" she said.

She handed me a card from her box of 101 Day to Knowing God devotional cards that she had gotten for her birthday. The card talked about letting God change you from the inside out, which was exactly what we had talked about in Vacation Bible School that morning.

This was the second time in a week that my daughter had pulled a card from her box that exactly fit the circumstances of the moment. The first happened last Saturday when she was in the midst of trying to decide which soccer team to play on. The card she pulled that morning talked about relying on God for strength and wisdom.

This little box of cards, which comes in packs for both girls and boys, has given my daughter the opportunity to see how God works in little ways to let us know He's there and He cares. I bought them as an afterthought. I was in a book store the night before her birthday when I saw them. I had no idea that they would become an important part of my daughter's relationship with God.

A lot of days, she'll pull out a card and carry it around in her pocket for the day. That way she can pull it out at any time during the day. It's a great reminder to her of God's love and faithfulness.

If you're looking for a quick way to get your kids thinking about God, check out the 101 Days to Knowing God cards.

And because I think these are such a fantastic item for kids, I'm giving away a box today. All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog, on the Facebook page or share this post with your friends via Facebook, Twitter or email to enter. You can also Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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Friday Introduction: The One Year Sports Devotions for Kids

Our lives these days often revolve around sports of some kind. Between the two girls, we have four practices a week and at least two games a weekend. The rest of our schedules are built around those practices and games. We eat dinner at odd times. We sometimes enlist the grandparents to help get everyone where they need to be. Sports are a big part of our lives.

For years, I struggled to find an engaging family devotional. It seemed like every devotional I found either talked over the heads of my kids or treated them like toddlers. My girls needed something that interested them and made them think. I wanted something that encouraged them to apply the Bible to real-world experiences.

We try to have a family devotional time at dinner as many days a week as we can. We think it's important to talk about the Bible and how it applies to our lives with our kids. We do that in the teachable moments during the day, but a family devotional time gives us a more structured way to do it as well. It's just one more way for us to talk about God when we "sit at home" (Deuteronomy 6:7).

After many years of searching for an engaging devotional book, we finally landed on The One Year Sports Devotions for Kids. If you have kids who love sports, this is the devotional you need. It takes life lessons from sports and ties them to the Bible. Each day tells the story of something that happened in the world of sports and ties it to a Bible passage. Each devotion concludes with a real-world application.

My girls love this book. It doesn't just focus on the major sports. We've learned about underwater hockey, curling and extreme sports. We've had to go look up sports on YouTube just to find out what they look like.

The One Year Sports Devotions for Kids offers our family plenty of opportunity to talk about God, the Bible and sports. If you have a child who loves sports, be sure to check it out.

Friday Introduction: Vote for Susie Magazine

I don't write much about teenagers in this space, mostly because I don't feel qualified to speak to the topic. I'm sure that will change in years to come.

Today, though, I want to introduce you to a fantastic resource for teenage girls, Susie magazine. If you have boys, please don't close the browser. Susie magazine needs everyone's help.

First, let me tell you about Susie. This magazine aims to help teen girls navigate the treacherous waters of beauty, dating, driving, friendships and all those things that go along with being a teen girl. It tackles a lot of the same topics as other teen magazines, but it does so from a Christian perspective.

A subscription to Susie also gets your teen access to their website and online forums. The monitored forums are a safe place for girls to come and talk to other girls about issues facing a Christ-following teen girl today. You can check out Susie on their website.

The great news about Susie is that the magazine made the cut for WalMart's Get On the Shelf contest. WalMart is letting the public choose the next new item to go on its shelves, and Susie made the top 10. We need material like Susie in mainstream stores like WalMart. If we want it to show up there, we need to vote.

There are two ways to vote.

Click here and vote using your Facebook account or

Text 4959 to 383838.

You can vote twice a day.

This is an opportunity to put action to our words. If you want more content for Christ-following teens and kids to appear in mainstream stores, then make sure you vote twice a day every day until April 24.

If you have a teen girl, check out Susie at their website or their Facebook page.

And spread the word about Susie's attempt to get on the shelf at WalMart. Click the Facebook share button, tweet it or forward this on to your friends. Let's get Susie on the shelves.

Friday Introduction: MOD Squad

MOD Squad

I don't have "traditional" girls in my house. My older daughter wants nothing to do with any clothing that's even remotely girly, but she loves to draw and do crafts. My younger daughter likes to participate in sports that are traditionally thought of as boys' sports, but the more sparkles she has on her clothes, the better. But, no matter how non-traditional my girls may be, they are still girls.

Girls tend to process things differently than boys. They tend to be more sensitive and more relational. My younger daughter has lots of friends who are boys, and there's a noticeable difference in how she approaches things. So, as the mom of girls, even not-so-traditional ones, I'm always on the lookout for great resources that will help me raise them.

Today, I want to introduce you to the MOD (Mothers of Daughters) Squad blog. This blog addresses just about everything related to raising girls to become Christ-followers. Whether you have toddlers or teens, you'll find something you can relate to on this blog.

And, today, I'm privileged to be sharing about what we do when our daughters take us down the paths that we never thought we would take. Hop on over and check out my post, "How Did I End Up Here?" You can also check out their Facebook page and join in the discussions on raising girls.

Friday Introductions: Resurrection iWitness

Easter is coming, and I'm always looking for different ways to share the Easter story with my girls. My two daughters have been going to church nearly every Sunday since they were born. The resurrection account is one they have heard over and over and over again. I never want that account to get old for them. I want it to be fresh and new and even surprising. The story of Easter is awe-inspiring. Jesus died, was dead for three days, then rose again. The most amazing part of all that is that He died, not because of anything He did, but because of something I did. He took my sins on himself and died so that I might have eternal life. I want my girls to be awed by that every time they hear it. It should never grow old.

Unfortunately, in this world of video games and 10-second attention spans, we're all less surprised by the resurrection than we should be. The account of Jesus' death and resurrection become just another story that we've heard before. That's why I'm so excited about a new book about Easter. I know, you're thinking, "Another book? How is that going to keep my kid interested in the resurrection account?" But this isn't just any book. It's Resurrection iWitness and it looks like one of those "-ology" books.

My girl love those "-ology" books you can get at the library. Pirateology, Titanicology, we've read a bunch of them. The girls love them because they take a big subject and break it down into little, understandable chunks. There are flaps to open, notes to read and diagrams to study. These books make reading interactive and interesting.

Resurrection iWitness is an interactive experience that your kids will return to again and again. The book includes only those facts that are agreed upon by a majority of scholars. It uses those historical facts to make a convincing argument for the truth of the resurrection. This is a great tool to use with the Scriptures to help your kids see that the historical facts line up with the biblical account.

You can learn more about Resurrection iWitness clicking on the video at the top of this post or checking out the Apologia Facebook page. If your kids are more into the digital age, there's even an iPad app. Check out this video to learn more about the app.

The account of Jesus' death and resurrection, should never grow old -- for us or our kids. The most amazing thing ever happened at Easter -- Jesus died so we could have life. The message of Easter is found in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." That's a message we should never get tired of hearing.

Friday Introduction: The Better Mom

I always want to be a better mom. I read books about parenting. I talk with my friends about raising kids. I seek advice from women who have been there, done that. All in an effort to become a better mom.

Sometimes, though, when I'm reading those books or talking with my friends, I feel a sense of "I'll never be as good of a mom as (the person in this book, my friend, the woman over there in the grocery store wearing make-up and shopping with two well-behaved children)". Despite all my striving and learning about how to be a better mom, I fail all too often.

I miss the teachable moment. I run out of patience. I yell when I should whisper. I simply do the wrong thing at the wrong time. And I feel like I failed. I want to do better, to be better but it all seems too difficult, sometimes.

When I feel like this, I know that I can never be a better mom by myself. I need two things: God and community. I need God to fill me up. I need Him to lead the way. I need His strength and wisdom if I'm ever going to be a better mom. I've tried it on my own, and on my own I'm a miserable failure. Psalm 31:3 says, "Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me." That's what I need. I need God to lead and guide me on this motherhood journey. When He's in the lead, and I'm following, I find that I can be the mom I need to be because I'm not leading the charge -- God is.

I also know that to be a better mom, I need community. I need people around me who are slogging through the trenches with me. I need other women who can offer encouragement, who can hold me up in prayer and who can offer advice. We all need these women in real life, women who can hug us, watch our kids for us and take us away for an evening. But we can also get some of this support online.

Today, I encourage you to hop over and check out The Better Mom. This is one of my favorite sites, and today, there's a great post on building your own community. All the articles on their site are thought-provoking and practical. From what to feed your kids to how to build community to decorating to giveaways, your sure to find something you like at The Better Mom. Check out their Facebook community as well to find other women who are right where you are, working to raise kids who are following Christ.

We all need God and community to be better moms. This morning, spend some time with God and call a friend. I promise you'll be a better mom because of it.

Friday Introduction: The MOB Society

We spend a lot of time with little boys. My youngest daughter plays on a co-ed hockey team where she and another girl are the only girls. Many of my younger daughters friends are boys, so we have boys in our home for playdates frequently. And here's what I've noticed: Boys and girls are different. When girls get mad at each other, they sulk and often won't talk to each other for days. When boys get mad at each other, they might hit each other or get in each other's faces, but then it's over. They go on like nothing ever happened. Boys tend to be louder, dirtier and a bit more impulsive than girls. Boys seem to always be on the lookout for adventure, while my girls are a little more cautious. Some of these things are personality traits, but even having two rough-and-tumble girls, the energy and noise level in my home is nothing like that of the homes of my friends who have boys.

In writing Everyday Truth, I try to stick mostly with topics that are relevant to both boys and girls, but I know that sometimes I post on topics that are more useful to parents of girls. It's not that I don't like boys. It's just that I don't have any experience raising them.

Today's post is for parents of boys. I want to introduce you to a great community, solely dedicated to the challenges and joys found when your the mom of a boy. It's called The MOB Society. MOB stands for Mothers of Boys. On this site and Facebook page, you'll find other moms who understand the challenges unique to raising boys and revel in the joys found in raising boys. You'll find posts offering encouragement, ideas and challenges all related to raising boys. The site offers books dealing with the topic of raising boys and even a book club. If you have boys, you'll want to check out The MOB Society.

Whether you have boys or girls, let today be a day that you treasure the joy of raising them. Take a minute to focus on the all the reasons you love your kids. As Psalm 127:3-5 says "Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Be blessed today by your full quiver.