Faith Day 8: Be Bold

Faith is bold.

BOLDadjective

(of a person, action, or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous

Jace running beach

Taking risks is definitely not my forte, but I will say that I’ve gotten better at it in the last year.  You kind of have to when you are putting your faith in God on a daily basis.  Typically though, I tend to lean more toward fearful than risk-taker on the boldness spectrum.  What is so amazing is that even though I label myself as a certain type of person (fearful, not spontaneous, worrier), God’s power in me defies all of that.  Those same labels limit what God can do if I use them as a crutch, but when I give them up to God, I am giving Him the freedom to create in me the type of spirit that He originally intended.  One that is strong, bold, brave, not clouded with sin and insecurity.  It’s a beautiful thing, this freedom He offers.

One story in the Bible of great boldness, immediately followed by doubt, is that of Peter walking on water.  The disciples see Jesus walking out towards their boat…on the water.  Freaked them out.  They even thought he was a ghost, because I mean WHO walks on water??  Jesus reassures them that no, he is not a ghost.  Then Peter responds by saying,”Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”

That takes boldness.  No one else made that request.  Peter saw Jesus doing something supernatural, and he wanted a part in it.

You see, fear keeps up “in the boat” so to speak.  It might allow us to be spectators to the miraculous, but we will not be a participant in it.  How much more exciting would it be, albeit scary, to be a participant versus a bystander?  Definitely more risk involved, but more reward as well.

It turns out that right after Peter’s big BOLD moment, he saw the winds around him and began to fear.  In other words, his circumstances trumped his faith.  And he began to sink.  Jesus reached out at his call for help and immediately came to his rescue, asking, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:25-32)

Things to remember when it comes to being bold:

  • It starts with faith.  Faith in God (his power, his timing, his direction, his character) is what breeds confidence that leads to boldness.
  • Don’t lose the confidence.  Keep you eyes on Jesus (pray, read the Bible, listen).  It’s all too easy to lose focus because of what life is throwing at you.
  • Sometimes faith looks foolish.  The bible says that the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world, meaning that God’s ways and our ways don’t often line up.  So you can’t be afraid of looking foolish in the eyes of others.  Young ones naturally rock at this.  Jace looks a fool often, and it doesn’t bother him a bit.

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Maybe that’s why Jesus tells us to have faith like a child.  They are bold and courageous and confident…and a little cray cray.  But it’s amazing to watch that type of boldness.  We could all learn a little ( or a lot ) from children.

{On a side note, Jace walked out with his face decorated with bandaids and said, “Mom, I look like you!”  What the what??  I don’t even know what that means…but I’m slightly offended.}

What is something BOLD you have done lately?

 

 

Faith Day 6: The Big Bang Theory

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Faith embraces change.

I’m not usually a big fan of change, because it means deviating from what’s comfortable.  And I looooooove comfort.  I love routine.  I mean, I get anxiety about finding a new grocery store whenever I move.

I think I like the idea of change, the good kind that is.  However, with change you can never fully know if it is good until you experience it, because it is taking you somewhere new.   Unfamiliar territory, forcing you to get off autopilot and be more present.

So here’s the deal:  God, while remaining unchanging Himself, is all about changing us.  And just like an ice cube tray full of water can’t change form unless it’s put into the freezer, we sometimes need some type of external change (in routine, surroundings, jobs, relationships) to activate the change within us.  Whether these changes are forced upon us, or initiated by us, it takes faith to navigate through it and believe that something better is on the other side.

I decided to symbolize my newfound efforts to embrace change in a very practical way:  a haircut.

Not just any haircut.  BANGS.

People, I have not had bangs since I was about 6 years old.  Unless you count 5th grade, but those weren’t really bangs…they were more like their own life form.  My hairstyle hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years.  Long….straight….sometimes a few subtle highlights.  When getting a haircut, 2 inches off the bottom seemed way drastic and I might have to take a day (or 5) to get used to my “new” look.  Change, unless you count a slight variation, was not my friend.

But there I was, sitting in a salon, telling a stylist that I had NEVER MET (can we just pause for a moment and talk about what a feat of faith this was??) that I wanted to cut 4 inches off my hair and get (wait for it) BANGS.  I showed her a picture…okay maybe 4 pictures to fully illustrate the look I was going for…and sat back and watched.

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Look familiar?

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But better than this.

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The verdict??  Not bad.  I mean, I am constantly having to adjust to the feeling of stuff on my forehead and I have to relearn how to style my hair and long gone are the days where I can survive without bobby pins.  But hey!  Change isn’t so bad if you don’t fight it.

Now I realize that not all change initiated by us ends up being beneficial.  Let’s get real…these bangs could have been a straight up disaster.  (Have you seen Beyonce’s baby bangs in your Yahoo news feed??)  But when God is bringing about change in our lives, we don’t have to worry.  He is a lot more trustworthy than a stylist you found through google and just met.  He knows your past, present and future.  It’s all in His hands.

So just embrace it.  And remember – if you feel like the change is dreadful, chances are there is another change right around the corner. (aka bangs grow out)

To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Faith Day 2: I Will Fight


“This Christian life is not easy.
I have an Enemy that is real.
I face battles that feel overwhelming.
There are times when I’m tired and I want to give up.

I will fight.” – Steven Furtick

 

Sometimes I am a weenie.

Sometimes I don’t like to do hard things.

Sometimes I get discouraged and want to throw in the towel.

I’ve learned that when I try to live with faith and pursue the life that God has for me, there is always opposition.  I don’t like opposition.  In fact, I dislike it so much that sometimes it makes me question whether or not this “living by faith” thing is worth it.

But then I take a deep breath, and go back to the TRUTH.  God’s word says that in this life we will have trouble, but to TAKE HEART, for He has overcome the world.  The Bible also uses analogies such as “run this race (life) to win” and “put on the armor of God.”  It is clear that faith is work.  Faith is a fight.

Faith is not comparable to SPAM, having a questionably long shelf life.  Each day you must wake up and choose again to believe that God has a plan and is on your side.  Because the circumstances surrounding you when you first made your declaration of faith may not be the circumstances of tomorrow.  They may not even be the circumstances of the next hour.  The enemy is strategic and wants to steal our hope, kill our purpose, and destroy our faith.  Will you fight against the doubts?  Against the mockers?  Against the realities of the life you are living in?

I said before that I just don’t like the idea of being opposed or fought against.  Maybe because I am fearful of losing.  This is when I look not at the enemy/circumstances, but look back and see an even BIGGER God right by my side, ready to fight for me.

Don’t forget to check out the video at the top.  It’s narrated by Steven Furtick, an amazing pastor  of Elevation Church who I found through some friends.  I love listening to his sermons online, and this video just gets me pumped up.  Enjoy!

Family Bonding Day 20: Read Together

 

I love children’s books, and I love to share my favorites with my kids.  It’s a great way to bond as a family that forces you to slow down.

I also love catching my boys reading when I’m not around.  Even if they are just flipping through the pages, making up words.

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But ultimately, I love to read WITH my kids.  It’s so much fun…if I can get them to sit still long enough.

Reading with your kids has so many benefits.  Things such as:

  • helping them master the fundamentals of language
  • understand concepts of print (which direction to turn the pages…read top to bottom, left to right)
  • more logical thinking skills
  • help with new experiences by using a relatable book
  • enhanced concentration and skills

Check out more details here.  I know with my little ones, there were always so squirmy during reading time…I thought we would never make any progress!  I was amazed at how quickly they began to maintain focus with books and show interest.

There are SO many great books out there!  I have quite the collection, being a former elementary school teacher.  Here are some of my favorites, a “top ten” if you will.  These books get their fair share of use, which results in a lot of wear and tear.  But I suppose that’s a good thing, right?  We are still working with the little one about proper book care.

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So here we go..my favorites!  Click the affiliate links to purchase from Book Depository…free shipping!

 

1.  Best Interactive Book

Do Not Open This Book! is great for ages 3-10.  In it, the main character/author has not finished writing this story, and “talks” to the readers throughout the book, trying to get them to go away so he can finish.

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Jace just laughs and laughs when we read this, and loves pretending to talk back to the book.

 

2.  Best Grandparent Book

Any recordable book!  Jace and Tanner love listening to these, and they are a great way to feel connected to relatives that live far away.

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3.  Best Book for Inspiring Creativity

Ish  by Peter H. Reynolds is a book about a little boy who keeps trying to draw a picture of a vase.  He feels so discouraged, as it is not the perfect rendering he is aspiring towards.  His little sister finds his pictures crumpled up in the trash, and is confused.  He explains that he was trying to draw a vase, but it didn’t look right.

She brilliantly replies, “Well…it’s vase-ISH.”  This unlocks the freedom for her brother to continue drawing and expressing himself, free from the idea of perfection.  A great lesson for our little ones.

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4.  Best Book for Separation Anxiety

Every had your little ones cry at the mere  THOUGHT of you leaving?  The Kissing Hand is a classic, sweet story of a little boy who doesn’t want to leave his mom when he goes to school.  She gives him a reminder on his hand of her love, and it helps his get through.  I like how you can actually apply this one by giving your kids a heart sticker to keep on their hands when you are apart.

kissinghand

 

5.  Best Silly Book

I LOVE Skippyjon Jones.  It was my all-time favorite book to read to my students when I taught first grade.  They loved the silly voices, and the adventures of a siamese cat with the mistaken identity of a chihuahua.  This is the original, but there are several additional Skippyjon books.

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“My ears are too beeg for my head.  My head ees too beeg for my body.”

Seriously…you can’t NOT laugh.

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6.  Best Bedtime Story

There are way too many books to vie for this category of the BEST bedtime story.  I have chosen this one purely out of sentimental value.  It was the first book that I read regularly to Jace when he was a tiny one.  Every night…we didn’t even have to look at the words, as we had it memorized.  When Tanner was around 6 months, I started reading it to him.  It’s short, which is great for little ones’ attention spans at bedtime, and has a great rhythm and rhyme to it.  As you can see, it’s gotten a lot of love.

bedtime kiss

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7.  Best Classic

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  A little more of a possibility living in Colorado, so I have to couple this reading with lessons about never actually approaching a bear.

Jace isn’t convinced.  We frequently pretend to go on a bear hunt when on walks, quoting parts of the story and acting them out.  This book has great repetitive language for young, emergent readers.

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8.  Best Book for Momma’s Boys (or Girls)

I Love You Stinky Face is a cute story about a boy who asks his momma, “If I was a ________, would you still love me?”  He goes through a variety of animals, such as a smelly skunk, a swamp creature, and an alien from Mars.  The responses to his wonderings are clever and cute, reminding our little ones that their momma will love them NO MATTER WHAT.

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“But Momma, but Momma, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that everybody called me STINKY FACE??”

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9.  Best Holiday Book

Too soon?  I’m already in the Christmas spirit and we haven’t even plunged into Fall yet!  But get this one on your list to have in your house at Christmas time!  Snowmen at Christmas   is a funny book about snowmen in a town coming to life at night and doing all sorts of cold, snowman-y things while everybody snoozes.

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The best part?  THE ILLUSTRATIONS.  Seriously.  It transports me into a magical, Christmas-spirit-filled town where all things are merry and bright.  The way the artist captures to illusion of light is beautiful.

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10.  Best Lesson Behind the Story…aka Best Tear Jerker

Have you heard of You are Special, by Max Lucado??

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Every day the Wemmicks stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The talented, pretty ones always get the stars, while the ones with chipped paint who can’t do much, get gray dots.  Punchinello, the main character, is one who is identified by his flaws…and he has the dots to prove it.

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One day he meets someone who has NO dots or stars.  She introduces him to his maker, and Punchinello discovers that he has value because he is loved by the one who made him.

A great message that no matter how the world evaluates us, God loves us and knows just how special we are.

(tear)

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What are your favorite children’s books?

 

 

Family Bonding Day 14: Flashlight Fun

Some nights we aren’t all together as a family until after dark.  So what do you do?

Make the most of it.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again:  I love our backyard.  And the boys love it too.  Last night after a late dinner, they weren’t quite ready to wind down.  It was a perfect evening, not too cool, not too hot.  We decided to go exploring in our yard a little.  Jace thought it was so fun!  He had his Thomas the Train flashlight, and Tanner had his lion flashlight.  I tried to capture the preciousness as much as I could with it being so dark outside.

*Note to reader:  Tanner’s pot belly is showing because his shirt took a yogurt bath at dinner.  You can see some of the proof on his face.

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Jace had fun with the lion flashlight because when it opened its mouth, the lion let out a big “ROARRRRR!”

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Here’s trusty ole Thomas, leading the way through the dark.

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And one final shot of Tanner looking into the mouth of the lion.  He always was the daredevil.

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When you’re short on time, there is still adventure to be had.

Check back tomorrow for a post on a great way to bond as a family when short on time:  Read together!  I’ll be posting some of my favorite children’s books that I’ve discovered through my years as an elementary school teacher.  Can’t wait!

Family Bonding Day 11: Share Their Interests

This is such a no brainer.  I love that if you really want to bond with your kids, you don’t need a creative project, or to spend hours creating this picturesque setting, incorporating multiple Pinterest ideas into one super-duper explosion of fun.

Now if you have time for that, go you! (And please share)

But if you don’t…if you’re having the week from you-know-what and you have had to reheat your coffee multiple times because you are so busy and/or scatterbrained you can’t seem to remember to drink it while it’s hot…

Come close.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

If you want to bond with your kids, go find them doing what they’re already doing, and JOIN IN.

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When I did my 21 Days Unplugged, I kind of wore myself out trying to come up with innovative projects for my kids to do, lest they get bored and beg for the TV.  It wasn’t until the end of it that I realized it didn’t really matter what I planned.  All they wanted was ME.  My full attention, engaging with them in whatever activity they were currently in the middle of.

And let me tell you, they weren’t all that creative, bless their hearts.

For example, some favorites of the moment are:

  • building a block tower and knocking it over
  • pushing a train on the floor
  • walking around with a ball…sometimes throwing it…at nothing
  • putting action figures on top of block towers in an attempt to save them from destruction (now that one’s not too bad.  At least it has some dialogue)
  • hitting one of their many drums while screaming nonsense

No matter what activity they choose, they love when mom and dad play too.

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Hmmm…Should I have Iron Man save the tower, or Captain ‘Merica??

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Iron Man wins! (again)  Must be the last name.

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And Tanner is following in Jace’s footsteps in his love for trains.

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Now if you have a teenager, it might not be so simple as to join in with whatever they are doing.  I can imagine the eye rolls, and ohmygah moooommmm of some sweet 13 year old out there as her mother barges into her slumber party wanting to know “the scoop”, or “the 411″.  But maybe it can mean renting a movie (appropriate of course) that might not be your cup of tea, but you know your kid would love.  Or how about showing interest in their hobbies by throwing the football around in the backyard or listening to them rehearse for a choir concert.  Just throwing some ideas out there…that is uncharted waters for me, being the mom of a 3 and a 1 year old.

Here’s to hoping my boys always love spending time with their momma.

{Please always love spending time with me?????}

 

Family Bonding Day 8: The Family That Cleans Together…

This might not be the most raved about family bonding time, but cleaning is necessary!  So if it has to be done, why not do it together?

My husband’s family had Sunday “Power Hour” growing up where they would each do their part to get the house put together and ready for the week ahead.  Well, our Sunday was spent napping, so we did a Monday Power Hour instead.

I’ve been a little convicted lately about always picking up after the boys and not holding them responsible for their messes a lot of the time.  I think the perfectionist in me just wants to do it RIGHT, so I do it myself.  But they have got to learn how to clean up and take care of their stuff.

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Now there are some awesome chore charts out there that are great for older kids.  Here are some at “Being the Imperfect Mom” blog with great printables galore!  For my kiddos, we are going to keep it simple.

I mean REALLY simple.  Like last minute, make something up, turn cleaning into a game, simple.

I pulled out the baskets in the playroom that their toys go into.  I grabbed a scrap piece of paper (not even a handmade chart printed on cute card stock!) and some letter stickers from my craft box.  “Ok boys, for each basket you fill up, you will get to put a sticker on your paper!  Now let’s get to it!”

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Jace was all in.  He cleaned up and made up his own cleaning song, each time coming to get a letter.

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We ended up doing the letters of his name, since he had 4 bins to fill up.

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He got a little distracted from time to time, but overall did great and enjoyed it.  Tanner on the other hand…. He cleaned a little, played a little, cleaned a little, played a little.

When chatting with another blogger about her awesome chore charts, I mentioned that I was going to attempt this for our family bonding time one day.  I wasn’t sure if it was officially bonding, or just an excuse to get more hands to clean the house.  I loved how she said, “Anything that puts attention on your kids from parents is bonding!”

Isn’t that true??  Don’t our kids just love some positive attention?  So why don’t you incorporate your own “power hour” and make it fun!

  • Play fun music and dance around while cleaning
  • Make it a {friendly} competition among siblings
  • Sticker charts for a great job
  • Play a little laundry/toy basketball (using the hamper or toy buckets as the basket)

This doesn’t have to be the way you do chores all the time, but it is a fun way to change things up.  Plus it accomplishes two goals at once:  Clean house + Close family. :)

{PS}  We actually had a family dinner together tonight!  And I got a tripod :)  Who will win the prize for picking out all the strange elements of the picture??

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