Activities & Crafts

5 Tips for a Fun & Easy Summer Schedule

June 11, 2020
fun & easy summer schedule

Ah, summer time. Hot sun. Playing in the pool. Running through the sprinklers. Bare feet on the grass. Eating popsicles. It’s the best when you’re a kid. 

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    I remember one summer we spent with a mom who these days be crowned a “Pinterest mom” – she had a different activity scheduled for every day of the week. It was awesome. We went to the beach, to the park, to museums and the library. We had a blast. 

    Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed or burdened to become this activity-planning, Pinterest-worthy mom. There’s a lot to live up to on the Interwebs. 

    However, I’ve made small, achievable decisions that have helped me to make my kids’ days fun, engaging and (sneakily) educational – that don’t make me feel overwhelmed. I hope this can help you too if you’re in the same boat! 

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    Meditations

    God Sees You

    July 8, 2020
    God sees you, mama

    We recently got back from a staycation with my family. When we got home, Tyler and I took the kids to his parent’s house (AKA our next door neighbors) and I came back home to set up the kids’ rooms for bedtime. I ended up unloading the whole car and putting everything away from our week-long trip.

    When Tyler came back with the kids, I told him: “I unloaded the whole car and put everything away.” 

    “Cool,” he said, scrolling through his phone. 

    I paused. His response wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, so I said, “I’m going to repeat myself in case you missed it. I unloaded the ENTIRE CAR and put EVERYTHING away.” 

    He put down his phone and smiled at me, “Wow, babe, that’s awesome. Thank you so much for doing that.” Then he kissed me and offered me a massage.

    See, sometimes it does help to repeat yourself! Ha!

    But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    Matthew 6:6

    This morning, I noticed this verse of the day on the YouVersion Bible app. It made me think about whose praise I’m prioritizing. 

    I don’t think it’s unscriptural or unholy for me to seek my husband’s recognition or praise – however, I do think that I can oftentimes feel under-appreciated or like all that I do somehow doesn’t matter if no one sees it or recognizes it. 

    Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.

    Hebrews 4:13

    However, there is one being who sees every single thing: God. 

    He sees the middle of the night feedings and the early morning risings when no one else is awake. 

    God sees us serving our families in all of the daily, humdrum ways that no one else ever notices. 

    He sees us cleaning up poop and vomit and who knows what else! 

    And it’s HIS praise that we should be seeking above all. 

    Jesus’ Example

    Jesus didn’t pursue the things that the men around Him deemed important (John 6:15). The gospel of John says that He didn’t entrust Himself to men (John 2:24). He knew how fickle and fleeting men’s praises were. He experienced that firsthand. One week before He was crucified by the crowds, they praised Him as a victorious king as He entered into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11). Jesus focused on His Father and really only cared what God thought of Him (John 5:41). 

    Jesus is the epitome of all of the things we want to be as moms: gentle, compassionate, hard-working, wise, insightful. And yet, His disciples took Him for granted, people around Him didn’t appreciate Him for what He really was, and He was often frustrated by people’s lack of faith in Him.

    But, He was ultimately victorious. And we can be, too (1 Corinthians 15:57).

    Here’s the bottom line, mama: God sees you.

    He will reward you for your hidden work. The best is yet to come!

    Maybe there’s someone in your life who takes you for granted. 

    Perhaps you’re feeling weighed down by someone who is constantly critical of you. 

    Maybe there’s someone you’re trying to please who will never truly be satisfied. 

    If that’s the case, take heart that God sees you, mama.

    Choose to pursue praise from God – our eternal, unchanging Father – rather than the fickle and fleeting praise from other people. 

    If you’re struggling to feel at peace today, read more here and here.

    In Him,

    Activities & Crafts Marriage

    26 Summer Date Ideas

    June 30, 2020
    Summer date ideas

    It’s summer time! And what a strange summer it’s been so far…

    Look, we ALL need some fun, de-stressing dates with our spouse this summer. Talk to your spouse and pick a day of the week to be your “date day” and then make it happen! Even if you don’t have a sitter, some of these can all be done from the comfort of your home. The rest are social-distancing approved.

    Also, if you want more stay-at-home date ideas, I’ve got a whole year’s worth of ideas right here.

    Don’t forget to sign up to receive the at-home date game: Truth or Date. It’s a ton of fun and all you need is some paper, a printer and your spouse.

    The great thing about this list is that most – if not all – of these ideas can be done as activities with your kiddos! So if you’re looking for something to do during these hot summer days as a family, look no further.

    Happy dating!

    26 Summer Date Ideas:

    1. Light a fire and make some s’mores – or, try this S’mores Puppy Chow

    2. Have a picnic

    3. Go swimming (at night!) 

    4. Sign up for a Masterclass (our latest favorite is Chris Hadfield’s class on Space Exploration!)

    5. Make your own ice cream (check out this Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana “nice cream” from my friend Tabatha at Joy Fueled Journey!)

    6. DIY some cocktail popsicles

    7. After the kids go down, grab a blanket, head outside and do some summer Stargazing

    8. Go hiking

    9. Go kayaking/canoeing 

    10. Head to the beach – try surfing, paddle boarding or jet skiing!

    11. Go berry picking

    12. Go for a bike ride

    13. Create a finger-licking BBQ spread (or, just order out!)

    14. Have a water balloon/squirt gun fight!

    15. Create your own slip-n-slide

    16. Watch an episode of Tidying Up and organize a room/closet/drawer

    17. Play soccer in the rain

    18. Do an exercise video together (I love MommaStrong!)

    19. Go to a farmer’s market

    20. Make this pink lemonade ice cream, sit on the porch and watch the sunset

    21. Read a favorite book together 

    22. Create your own mini golf in the house

    23. Take food to a food pantry

    24. Create a blanket fort and watch a movie on your laptop inside the fort!

    25. Try an at-home couples paint & sip

    26. Order takeout and play Truth or Date (download the game below!)

    What are some of your favorite summer date ideas? Comment below!

    Meditations

    Letting Go of the ‘Perfect Day’

    June 29, 2020
    Letting go of the perfect day

    If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

    Colossians 3:1-4

    Envision your perfect day.

    For me, I wake up before the kids, have my prayer time and Bible study while watching the sunrise. I exercise and make a healthy breakfast for everyone. The kids happily eat what’s prepared for them. We go for a walk and Justus goes down for his nap without a peep. Finn and I do a science experiment and read books together. He doesn’t whine or complain. The kids play independently while I make lunch and they both eat all their food without grumbling. We read a book together and get ready for nap. Finn doesn’t drag his feet, whine or procrastinate. He obeys the first time. Justus is happy and the two of them play well together. During nap time, I accomplish every single task I set out to do plus have time to relax and read a book before the kids wake up. I cook a delicious and healthy dinner that’s ready right when Tyler gets home from work. The house is spotless when he walks in and the kids greet him with smiles and big hugs. We have a joyous dinner together discussing our days. The kids go down for bed without protest and lots of hugs and kisses are exchanged. Tyler and I talk and laugh on the porch while I drink tea and he rubs my feet. We go to sleep early so we’re well-rested for the next day – the house is clean, dishes done and put away, laundry completed, and all of our clothes are laid out and prepared for the next day. It goes without saying that the kids sleep through the night and wake up the next day with big smiles on their faces. 

    Ah. What a dream, right?

    I’m going to be really honest with you guys:  I expect every day to look like this. I’m constantly striving for this sort of fantastical perfection and am disappointed when it’s not achieved. 

    Which means I’m disappointed a lot. By myself, by my husband, by my kids and, if I’m honest, by God. 

    I mean, why wouldn’t God want my days to look like this? Wouldn’t that be most pleasing to Him? 

    I can often forget that this life isn’t about being happy or most fulfilled. This life isn’t about me.

    I love this verse in Colossians, how it says, “Christ, who is your life.” Does this describe me? Is my life defined by and filled by Christ?

    If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

    Luke 9:24

    Mamas, this life is a spiritual battle, one where our hearts and souls are on the line. It’s about God fighting for us and us fighting for God.

    Satan wants us to become consumed with our own weird sort of perfection so that we lose sight of what God is calling us to. 

    This life is a test to see what we will choose. Will we choose God? Will we choose Jesus and eternity and Love? Or we will pursue our own desires above everything else? (Including searching for a quasi-Christian ideal of perfection which is just stressful and disappointing.) 

    “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

    2 Corinthians 5:14-15

    In Jesus we already have the sort of perfection that God desires for us. We don’t need to waste our time attempting to recreate something that falls woefully short. 

    The crazy thing about pursuing our own “perfection” is that in the process we lose sight of Jesus and instead focus on what Satan wants us to focus on: ourselves.

    Today, let’s choose to fix our eyes on Jesus. To let go of the ‘perfect day’ and instead embrace whatever God has in store for us, knowing that He is working for the good (Romans 8:28).

    So, mamas, what will we choose? What kind of days will really fulfill us? Is it when the dishes are done and our kids are obedient and happy? Or is it the days that we remember we are cleansed from our sins and have the hope of a resurrected life? Because only one of those options can happen every single day. 

    Let’s not lose sight that there’s a battle waging around us for our hearts and souls, and for the souls of our children and spouses. Let’s throw off whatever is hindering us from choosing God (Hebrews 12:1-3).  And let’s spend each and every day remembering just what Jesus has done for us so that we can have true, eternal fulfillment in Him. 

    Marriage Meditations

    Combating Critical Thoughts About Your Husband

    June 22, 2020
    combating critical thoughts

    It’s Monday morning, and perhaps the magic of Father’s Day is beginning to wane. Yesterday, we honored and praised the dads in our lives. We could name a laundry list of wonderful attributes about them. But today, all of those critical thoughts we held back yesterday are sneaking their way to the forefront of our minds, turning us slightly sour. 

    Why does he have to do it like that? 

    How many times do I have to remind him?

    Is he ever going to be better at this?

    When will he ever stop doing that? 

    I don’t do that, why does he? 

    These critical examinations of our husband’s shortcomings run like an ongoing commentary in the background as we go through our days. 

    Perfection. It’s what I so often expect from my husband. 

    (I mean, to be fair, I often expect perfection out of myself, too.) 

    But, as I poke and prod at my husband – whether silently or aloud – I’m forgetting one important thing: in the same way that God is working on me, molding me to become more and more like His Son, He’s doing the same work on my husband. 

    And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

    2 Corinthians 3:18

    By continually pointing out the ways that my husband is not perfect – perhaps in an attempt to make him grow or maybe because I’m just annoyed – I’m not entrusting my husband to the One who is actually helping him to grow. 

    I don’t need to be my husband’s growth police. 

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    Activities & Crafts

    Father’s Day Craft & Gift Guide

    June 17, 2020
    father's day craft and gift guide

    If you’re looking for a Father’s Day craft to do with your little one, you’ve come to the right place! My sister-in-law, Amanda (our resident Arts & Crafts Guru), created this adorable craft with her daughter, Lily. This would be a nice touch for a dad or grandpa who loves fishing! For more Father’s Day inspiration, check out the results of our Father’s Day Survey: What Dads Really Want for Father’s Day. Also, don’t forget to click through the crafts & gift guide from other mama bloggers at the end of this post!

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    Marriage Mom Interviews

    What Dads Really Want for Father’s Day

    June 14, 2020
    what dads really want for Father's Day

    If you’re wondering what to get your husband for Father’s Day, look no further. You helped me corral your hubbies into answering a survey for me, and the results are in! Here’s what dads really want for Father’s Day…

    First, how important is Father’s Day, really?

    The average rating out of 5 stars was 3.5 stars – which basically means: they enjoy Father’s Day, it makes them feel appreciated, but perhaps they think about it a little less than we do about Mother’s Day. 

    Now, on to the good stuff.  

    What dads really want for Father’s Day:

    Survey options and responses

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    Meditations Parenting

    How to Pray the Scriptures for Your Child

    June 10, 2020
    pray the scriptures for your child

    As moms, we want so many things for our children: to love God, to be healthy and happy, to have great friends, excel academically, and so much more. So we take them to doctor’s appointments and tutoring, organize special activities and events, enroll them in sports, arrange play dates, budget for college.

    All of these things are fantastic, however, the most important thing we can be doing for our children is praying for them. There is no greater being in all the Universe to impact our child’s future, so we should be petitioning Him at every turn (Luke 18:1-8).

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      By praying the Scriptures for our kids, we are allowing God’s Word to shape our requests to the Almighty. 

      This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

      1 John 5:14

      Sure, we can pray all we want for our kids to be billionaire tech geniuses – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s within God’s will – or that it’s all that good for our kids! But by praying the Scriptures we’re not just petitioning God on behalf of our children, we’re utilizing the power of His Word to mold our appeals. 

      Also, I know we all want to pray for our kids – but sometimes, we don’t know exactly what to say. Praying the Scriptures guides us with what to say and how to pray. 

      So, here’s a few examples of Scriptures to pray for our kids as well as how to pray through them:

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      Chronic Pain Meditations

      Cast All Your Anxiety: When Your Emotions are Too Much

      June 8, 2020
      cast your anxieties

      For today’s meditation, we’re going to discuss what to do when our anxiety is threatening to overwhelm us. God calls us to cast all our anxiety onto Him – because He cares.

      There’s been a lot going on these days. It seems like the moment we turn around, 2020 is like, “But wait, there’s more!” 

      I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, heartbroken, and all sorts of other unidentifiable emotions. 

      I have to be honest: it’s tempting for me to just stick my head in the sand and pretend it’s all not happening. To not watch the news or social media, to detach and shut down. 

      Of course, there’s a place for boundaries and taking care of your mental/emotional/spiritual wellbeing, but that’s not what I’m talking about. 

      I believe Jesus wants us to deal with the emotions – the deep, roiling, burdening emotions. He wants us to be honest about them with Him, and then He wants us to cast them onto Him. 

      Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

      Psalm 55:22

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      Fruit of the Spirit Meditations

      Self Control: Choosing the Important Over the Urgent

      June 1, 2020
      Self-Control

      For today’s final meditation on our Fruit of the Spirit series, my husband, Tyler, is going to share with us what he’s learned about self-control. I’ve transcribed a portion of his sermon below, or if you prefer, you can listen to his sermon here.

      We are going to define self-control as: the ability to recognize and choose the important thing over the urgent thing.

      What would your life look like if you had that mastered?

      Self-control is a virtue that I value, that I have been studying and striving for on a personal level. It is something that I regularly feel deficient in and it is something that I ask God to grant me every day. So hopefully I can share with you a few things that He has taught me recently.

      So as it turns out, I am not the only one who feels self-control is a weakness. In fact, among the two dozen “character strengths” surveyed by researchers to over 1 million people around the world, self-control was ranked dead last as the one people were least likely to recognize in themselves. Conversely, when people were asked about their failings, a lack of self-control was at the top of the list. 

      Okay, so we know that self-control is a problem, but WHY is such an acute problem?

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