Thankful for Who He Is – Psalm 136 Fall Banner Craft

Thankful for Who He Is - Psalm 136 Fall Leaf Banner Craft

Today I want to share with you a fun fall activity that we did recently. Not only was it a fun way to play with the pretty fall leaves, but it also was a great opportunity to get ready for Thanksgiving and dig into some theology – learning about who God is!

Here’s a video I made for the Steadfast Family Facebook page if you prefer to see the craft that way!

 

Okay, let’s get started!

Thankful for Who He Is - Psalm 136 Fall Leaf Banner Craft

 

First, you are going to want to collect some leaves. This is a whole activity in and of itself, so feel free to do it at a separate time. If you live in a climate that doesn’t have pretty leaves, never fear, just print some off online (like these¬†or these)!

Thankful for Who He Is - Psalm 136 Fall Leaf Banner Craft

Once you’ve got all your leaves collected, pop them into your scanner and make a few copies. Now, you could skip this step, but I wanted our banner to last a while without the leaves getting all crumbled up and drying out. This was a fun way to accomplish that!

Thankful for Who He Is - Psalm 136 Fall Leaf Banner Craft

Next you are going to want to cut out the leaves. Which is a good opportunity to practice patience! haha ūüôā

Thankful for Who He Is - Psalm 136 Fall Leaf Banner Craft

After all your leaves are cut out, it’s time for the Bible lesson portion. Open your Bible to Psalm 136. We read about the first half and that was the perfect amount for my almost 6 year old. Then, we talked about Thanksgiving and giving thanks to God for all the amazing things about Him and all the great things He does.

Thankful for Who He Is - Psalm 136 Fall Leaf Banner Craft

Then, I wrote on one of the biggest leaves: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is…”

Thankful for Who He Is - Psalm 136 Fall Leaf Banner Craft

Together, my son and I came up with things about God that we could be thankful for and we wrote each one on a leaf.

Thankful for Who He Is - Psalm 136 Fall Leaf Banner Craft

Once something is written on all the leaves, it is time to string them together. Cut two slits (by bending the leaf a bit and cutting with scissors) toward the top of the leaf and then string them all on a length of yarn or twine.

Thankful for Who He Is - Psalm 136 Fall Leaf Banner Craft

Once you are finished, hang your beautiful fall banner up to remind your family of all the wonderful things we are thankful for about our amazing God!

Thankful for Who He Is - Psalm 136 Fall Leaf Banner Craft

Bonus Note: Play the song “Forever” by Michael W. Smith. It is perfect for this activity and my kids love it!

Still Feeling Burned Out After Your “Me Time”? Here’s Why.

“Self care”

“Me time”

“Fill your cup”

The world seems to practically scream at you these days: “Tired? Overwhelmed? Burnt out? You¬†need to take time for yourself!” Self care is the catch all solution to practically all your ailments.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love some good alone time (Hi, my name is Liz and I’m an introvert!). Even Jesus had alone time! However, here is the problem: Have you ever woken up from your nap or returned home from your “me time” at the coffee shop to find out something crazy?

Your life is still there! 

Seriously, I don’t know how many times I’ve been like, “okay, I just need a little down time and I’ll be good,” but then moments upon reentering normal life I am just as stressed out (or maybe more if the dishes magically piled up in my absence) as before!

What gives? I thought “filling my cup” was supposed to fix all these problems!

What is the answer?

A few weeks back I was listening to the sermon at church. I honestly don’t even remember what the general topic of the sermon was, because there was one illustration that totally rocked my world.

The pastor was talking about how we often view the power that comes from God like gas in a car. We “fill up our tanks” (through Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, etc) and then try to go about our days, using that “stored up” power. However,¬†that’s not how it works. We don’t run on gasoline, we run on¬†electricity. As long as our wires stay connected to the source, the power keeps flowing.

In John 15:5, Jesus says:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

We can’t fill up at church on a Sunday morning, or even in our morning quiet time, and expect to run on that until we can “fill up” again. And we definitely can’t expect a monthly girls night, a nap on the weekend, or taking time to do our makeup in the morning to be able to give us the strength to face our days with love and patience.

It’s not that those things are bad (they can be very good!), they just don’t have that kind of power. Only one person does.¬†

Change your mindset

This simple revelation totally changed my mindset. Time with God is no longer another thing to do in my day, it is the lifeline that gets me through my day!

A good way to envision it is this…

Imagine you are swimming in the middle of a large body of water. The water is still, the skies are blue. You are enjoying yourself during your refreshing swim.

The wind starts to pick up a bit, but you are doing fine. However, time passes and the wind blows harder and clouds cover the blue sky. The waves start to roll, getting bigger and bigger.

It begins to rain.

The wind whips the rain into your eyes. The water below you is swirling all around. It is dark now and hard to see. The pleasant swimming you experienced before is only a memory. It is taking all your effort just to keep yourself afloat in this storm.

All of a sudden you look up. A boat has come near. Someone throws you a life preserver ring and it lands within your reach.

You turn to the source of the device and cry in despair: “Can’t you see I can barely stay afloat? How am I supposed to hold on to something while I am already so overwhelmed?!”

Ridiculous, isn’t it? Of course you wouldn’t say that. You would grab that thing for dear life and never let go. You would cling to it in the midst of the storm.¬†

I just can’t seem to make time

How many times have you said this in regards to spending time with Jesus? “I just can’t seem to make time.” How many times have I said it? We beat ourselves up for missing our quiet time, for skipping our Bible study because of the demands of life. Life swirls around us and we wonder, “when was the last time I prayed?”

Dear friends. God is not someone that we arrange a daily meeting with. To get our instruction and correction and then be sent out to face the world alone. No, God desires to be the life giving power throughout your day. Jesus is your vine. Your life preserver. Your rock.

In the words of the great hymn:

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
  Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
    I come to Thee.

Stay connected to the vine

The truth is, when we are tired, weary, and overwhelmed, taking a nap, having some alone time, or even doing a Bible study is an easy answer. It is simple. It is a concrete action we can take. Clinging to Jesus is not. It takes practice to continually turn our minds to Him. It takes relying on the work of the Holy Spirit within us, instead of on something that we can do for ourselves. However, the power is in Jesus, not in our ability to make time for self care.

So cry out to Him..

…when the kids are going crazy.

…when the baby’s been up all night.

…when your marriage is going through a difficult time.

…when you are overwhelmed.

…when you aren’t sure what to do next.

Go to His Word. Not just to study like a textbook, but because it is the very life-breathing Words of God. 

Sing praises to him throughout the day.

Whisper a prayer or two or three during the moments that try you.

Come to Him again and again for forgiveness and a fresh start. He is not looking for someone who has perfect prayer and Bible study time, but someone who humbly goes to Him again and again for his mercy, grace, and strength.

So yes, take some time for yourself. Get that breather, enjoy your moment of peace. But when the trials of the day return, stay connected to the vine. Cling to the one who really has the power and the strength you so desperately need. 

That is something no amount of self care will ever give you.

 

The BIG Mistake You Might Be Making With Bible Memory

I still remember one of the first verses I had my son memorize.

Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

He probably wasn’t even three years old yet, but he enjoyed memorizing the short verse and then showing off his skills to daddy, grandma, or whoever would listen.

Fast forward a few years. Our scripture memory regularly gets derailed, but I continue to try and pick it back up. He memorizes the classic John 3:16 and works on all the verses from Hero Training. Bad attitudes come up so we learn to “do everything without complaining.” Him and his brother struggle with getting along, so we memorize¬†1 Corinthians 16:13-14 and work on doing “everything in love.”¬†

*Everyone* knows it is important to have your children memorize God’s Word and he was memorizing scripture, so though we needed to work on our consistency, I figured we were on the right track.

Well, that was until a few weeks ago.

I was just scrolling Facebook – like ya do – and stopped to read a comment thread on a post asking for advice on what verses to have their children memorize. I took note of the different suggestions as I scanned through the replies, but then I read something that made me stop in my tracks.

The simple, but profound wisdom I’d never considered

Instead of suggesting a verse, one mama shared a brilliant piece of advice.

When thinking through what verses to have her kids memorize, she looked to the future. She envisioned her children as missionaries, or possibly without a Bible and in a scenario where they needed to lean on God. What kind of scripture did she want them to have hidden in their hearts? What truth did she want them to be able to draw on in those moments?

Boom. I immediately felt the conviction. Right then and there I realized that the majority of my children’s scripture memorization was not done for them, it was done for *me* out of a desire to change my children’s behavior.

On the outside I may have looked like a “godly parent” trying to disciple my children with God’s Word. However, the truth was I was in danger of raising little pharisees who have been trained to parrot God’s commands without knowing God in their hearts.

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
(Matthew 15:8)

What good would it be if I had wonderfully well behaved children, who know God’s law inside and out, if they did not know and love God himself?

So, moving forward, here are some guidelines I will be using as I choose scripture for my children to memorize…

1. Pray for guidance on what scripture would be best for that child to be currently memorizing

How often have I been in a situation where the Holy Spirit brought to mind a verse I had tucked away in my memory in just the right moment? Only God knows what these moments will be like for your child. Only he will know the situations your children will find themselves in and the perfect Words they will need in that moment.

Pray for wisdom and guidance in choosing what scripture to have your children memorize. Let God use you to hide His Word in their little hearts. Whether it is just what they need now, or will be many years down the road, He will bring fruit from it in His time.

2. Choose scripture that will help the child know God more

Instead of focusing on memorizing verses that tell your child something to do, focus on verses that tell your child who God is. Let them build up in their hearts all the marvelous vastness that is God’s character and goodness.

It is hard to follow someone you do not know and it is hard to love someone you do not care about. Sure, the child may learn to act lovingly toward his neighbor by memorizing certain passages, but if that love does not flow from a relationship with God, what is it worth?

Choose scripture that will give your child a foundation rooted firm in God’s…

…sovereignty and they will be steady through all of life’s trials.

…love and they will always know their worth

…kindness and compassion and they will never be alone

…justice and they will not need to be angered

…strength and they will live in courage

3. Think of future situations the child will benefit from God’s Word stored away

In the original post that I read, she wrote that she would picture her children as missionaries and think of what scripture they may need. Though we do not know the futures ahead of our children, we can ponder this and consider it as we choose passages for them to memorize.

Will they face trials and need to remember God’s goodness? Will they feel alone and scared and need to know that God will never leave them? What scripture will they need to draw upon in moments where a Bible is not nearby?

4. Choose longer passages of scripture when possible

Snippets and fragments of scripture rarely display the same beauty and truth of longer portions. Memorizing random verses taken out of context not only puts us in greater danger of misinterpretation, but it also robs us of the fullness of longer passages.

Instead of doing one separate verse at a time, try selecting a longer passage and slowly make your way through it verse by verse. Passages such as Ps 23, The Lord’s Prayer, and John 1 are great places to start.

All Scripture is God-Breathed

In conclusion, let’s not forget that “all scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching,¬†rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Even if you have fallen into the same trap that I did, if you are memorizing scripture with your children, that is still marvelous and can be used by God.

Let this just be an encouragement to both of us to continue teaching our children God’s Word – not for us, that we may somehow selfishly benefit, but for them, so they may grow closer to the heart of God.

 

5 Tips for Taking a Theme Park Trip with Young Children

Are you planning a theme park trip with young children?

Last week we went on a whirlwind Orlando trip with our two kids, ages 5 and 2. Orlando is about an eight hour drive from us, so we decided to make a trip before we move away this summer. We drove there and back and visited two popular theme parks in three days. So, yeah, you could say we are a little crazy. However, our crazy ends up for your benefit. If you’re planning any kind of theme park excursion this summer with your young children, I’ve got some pro tips for you!

This post is brought to you in partnership with Legoland Florida Resort. All opinions are 100% my own. Affiliate links are also included. Your purchases through these links help keep this blog running! 

#1 Keep it laid back

When planning a visit to a theme park, its super easy to go overboard with the planning of every last detail. While it’s good to be prepared, don’t go too crazy and set yourself up for frustration when things don’t go as planned.

For our first theme park, I wanted to get there before the opening time… we woke up late.

So I wanted to get there as soon as possible… then we got lost on the way there.

I was hoping to bring a packed lunch to save money… but we didn’t have time to stop at the grocery store.

After these set backs (and more!) we could have let discouragement settle in and take hold. However, we chose to let it go, move on, and make the best of what we had – two small children who were still having a blast, regardless of whether the adults plans were flowing perfectly.

 

#2 Bring snacks and LOTS of water

If you are visiting a theme park at any time of the year, your energetic little ones are going to want a snack at some point. Unless you want to pay top dollar for theme park snacks (annoying if you’re already planning on purchasing meals there), bringing a few along is a much better option. Plus, unlike packing a whole meal, snacks are usually more portable and easy to take along. They also make great distractions during breaks – or for while big brother is riding the “big kid” rides!

If you are visiting a theme park during the summer, do not underestimate the importance of water. Sure, it’s important all the time, but I don’t know about you – I don’t normally spent 90+ degree summer days outside the entire day. If you don’t bring your own water bottles, you will either blow through the expensive theme park water, or be seriously parched.

Avoid heat stroke and bring one of these bad boys – we filled this water bottle up with ice (which stayed in there all day) and refilled it with water as needed throughout the day. Seriously, these water bottles are awesome (we got this straw lid to use with it).

#3 Use a stroller that has a basket and can lay back

While you probably don’t want to be lugging giant double jogging stroller around a theme park, having a stroller with a little room to carry your stuff is a must with small children. We brought our Britax B-Agile Stroller¬†and it had the perfect amount of room for our snacks, supplies, and water bottles. I saw so many people with tiny umbrella strollers – I don’t know how they did it!

Another added benefit to a nicer stroller is that most have the option for your child to recline back. On both of our theme park visits, the toddler nodded off in the stroller and took a nice little nap. A must when you have kiddos used to taking a nap – especially when they are out in the heat all day! Unless, of course, you enjoy afternoon meltdowns!

#4 Let your toddler out of the stroller if at all possible

I know, I just praised the awesomeness of the stroller. However, here’s the thing, if the toddler rides in his mighty chariot all day long with his devoted parents pushing him around the park this is what you will end up with at the end of the day: a toddler with tons of pent up energy and exhausted parents. Ask me how we know.

If the park you are visiting¬†is going to be too busy to let your toddler toddle on his or her own, I certainly won’t judge you for using a kid leash. I totally would have if I would have thought about it early enough. Even something like this would have been great for my five year old (who I’m not even worried about bolting off) because it got awfully sweaty during the times we needed to hold hands.

#5 Go to Legoland Floria Resort Theme Park

Okay, I’m going to be straight up honest with you here. We did THE Orlando theme park… you know the one I’m talking about… with the castle and the princesses and the mouse with the big ears. Sure, the kids had fun. Sure, it was a “classic” experience. However, the place was a mad house and we left feeling like… welp, don’t know that we will be spending our money on that “experience” again. (Die hard fans please no hate mail!)

We truly weren’t able to put our finger on what was missing from the experience until we went to Legoland the next day.¬†It was a night and day difference.

It wasn’t totally over crowded.

The employees were cheery and helpful.

The atmosphere was awesome.

But the biggest thing that left us feeling like, “yes! we will be back!” was: #builtforkids.

I didn’t remember that was their hashtag until we returned home, but it fits 100%. Legoland was absolutely built with kids in mind.

We started off in Duplo Valley, which is especially geared towards the younger crowd. I think my 5 and 2 year old could have stayed there the whole day. Hands on play area (in the AC – hallelujah!), kid friendly rides, splash area – it was perfect.

But it wasn’t just Duplo Valley, the whole park was built with kids in mind. The ride lines had play areas for the kids while parents held the spot. There were free play, hands on exhibits scattered throughout the park. There were rides that were perfect for all ages. The whole experience was like a breath of fresh air compared to the day before.

A good way to describe the park is¬†like the perfect baby of a hands on children’s museum and a theme park.

And, don’t forget the LEGO. If you have kids that enjoy Lego, they will seriously go crazy here. Awesome Lego shops around every corner, the most amazing life size Lego creations, and plenty of opportunities to build. It’s a Lego lovers dream.

After the day was over, we all agreed that Legoland was our favorite.

I hope these tips were helpful to you no matter what theme park you’re braving this summer. But seriously, if it’s an option, opt for Legoland Florida Resort.

5 Tips for a Successful Bible Time with Kids

I have a confession.

After completing¬†the¬†Play Through the Bible¬†series I did a¬†terrible job at having a consistent Bible time with my kids. We started and stopped, and started and stopped again. I had lofty goals and didn’t see them through.¬†Most of the time I just plain didn’t know where to start.

Have you found yourself in this place too?

You know it’s important. The desire is there. But the days keep slipping through your fingers without these goals being met.

I’ve been there.¬†In fact, I’m still there sometimes. However,¬†over the past few months¬†I feel like I’ve finally landed on something that¬†works.

We haven’t been perfect, but we have consistently had a morning Bible time together, opening the doors for lots of great spiritual conversations.

Today, I want to share with you how we made it work.

#1 Find a time that works for you

Does it seem like everyone else in the world starts their days with the picturesque scene of kids delightfully learning about God’s world around the breakfast table, but at that hour of the day your brain feels more like your gray bowl of oatmeal?

Say adios morning Bible time. 

Seriously, let it go and be you. Maybe your family works better during a quiet hour when the baby is napping or in the evening when dad is home to lend a hand.

Set a time, embrace it, and then stick to it.

#2 Keep it simple

Like, ridiculously simple.

At least for me, it is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like I can never make Bible time “enough.” Wiggly kids, lack of time, and unmet plans leave me feeling discouraged and¬†I eventually give up.

I finally realized that something small is better than nothing at all. In fact, it’s actually quite freeing and opens the doors for continued, yet unplanned, conversation.

And I’m not talking about a “simple” lesson plan or a “simple” list of things to get out of the Bible time. Oh no.¬†We started with one short Bible story at breakfast.

That’s. It.¬†

No lesson plans. No crafts. No memory verses, songs, or lengthy discussions.

We slowly got in the habit of daily starting our day with the Bible. We built our discipline muscle. The kids started to expect the story and look forward to it. We would miss a day or two and then quickly pick it back up again because we could feel it missing.

We stayed here for a long time. We didn’t read just one story for a week and declare it mastered, starting to add new elements. This one story was our home base and we stayed and made it nice and cozy until we were able to venture out and add more.

Your home base doesn’t have to be a Bible storybook. It could be a song you sing, a simple prayer, or a chapter from Psalms. Whatever feels like home for your family in the stage of life you are in currently.

#3 Slowly add more to your Bible time

After camping out in your home base for as long as it takes to build that habit (no rushing!), slowly add in other elements to your Bible time.

Don’t feel tempted to add in a bunch of things all at once now that you’re feeling confident in your new habit. Pride comes before the fall, yeah? Make a list of the things you would *someday* like to accomplish and pick¬†one.

Introduce that one thing and give it time to become part of the routine. If, at any time or during any particular day, your new routine starts to feel overwhelming Рgo back to your home base. Do just that one thing and pick back up the new the next day or the next week.

I cannot emphasize enough to take it nice and slow with no pressure. We have been doing this for at least two months now and this is what our morning Bible time looks like (with a 5 and almost 2 year old):

  • Read Bible story and briefly discuss/answer 5 year old’s questions
  • Read a few pages from God’s Wisdom for Little Boys (awesome book by the way!)
  • About ten minutes of listening to and learning a hymn

That’s all. And if we don’t do it all, that’s okay. If we miss a day, we just pick right back up where we left off. Eventually I’d like to add more, but for now we will probably be hanging out here for quite a while.

Bonus tip: when you do get to the point of adding more, do them on a rotation, instead of trying to do everything every day.

#4 Roll with the punches

It’s easy to feel discouraged when things aren’t going how you expected.

There are going to be days when your kids are more interested in the squirrel out the window than the story you are reading or would rather run off and play than sing worship songs. Life will get crazy and you will skip a day here and even a week there.

Just keep going, keep coming back to it, keep building the habit. Hold your plans loosely and keep an eye toward the future.

Remember, Bible time is not the ultimate measure of your godly parenting ability. 

While it is definitely important to set a precedence for digging into God’s Word and going to him with prayer and worship, you have many more hours in the day. Hours where just walking along side your children through the daily tasks of life can speak more into their hearts and souls than you’d ever imagine.

One of my favorite parenting passages is Deuteronomy 6:5-9…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Let go of having the “perfect” moment and fill your home with the love of God and talk about him daily.

#5 Cover your goals in prayer

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
-Proverbs 16:9

Don’t try and do this on your own strength. Go to God for his grace and wisdom. Spend time praying over your goals. Spend time praying for the spiritual maturity of your children.

Even with the simple steps we’ve discussed here, we will just be turning our wheels without God establishing our steps.

Take the next step

So, friend, if¬†you found yourself knowing that having Bible time with your kids is important, but¬†you just weren’t sure where to start, I hope you have a much clearer¬†plan now!

If you are ready to take the next step and you could still use a little guidance – I’ve got you covered!¬†I’ve created a FREE printable worksheet to help you plan out a Bible time that works for¬†you.

Enter your information below to grab the free Bible Time with Kids Planning Worksheet AND gain access to the ever growing library of free printables!

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*Affiliate links included.

The BEST Children’s Storybook Bible

I am extremely picky when it comes to children’s Bibles.

Extremely.

I’m looking for a lot in that little package. Biblical accuracy, lack of fluff, lovely illustrations, and all done with text that is engaging and interesting to the youngest audience.

It’s a tall order.

So where, exactly, does one find a children’s Bible that meets these high standards? Perhaps you’ve walked into a Christian bookstore or browsed the pages of Amazon lately to find one. If you went into that without a plan, you probably found yourself overwhelmed.¬†An Amazon search for “children’s bible stories” brings back a whopping 7,663 results to wade through!

And what happens if you choose the wrong children’s Bible? In your desire to begin planting God’s truth in your child’s heart, you could instead be sharing inaccurate accounts and misleading picture of God’s Word. Or worse, nothing at all could happen. The lack of an accurate and engaging story could leave your child bored, uninterested, and apathetic towards God’s Word.

What Are You Going To Do?

Well, you could spend a couple hours scrolling through Amazon, reading all the mixed reviews (do people ever agree on those reviews?). You could drive to the nearest Christian bookstore and page through all the Bibles on the shelf, maybe asking the employees for their recommendation (hopefully they’ve tested them out with their kids). Or you could hop over to Amazon right now and take five minutes to purchase our hands down, number one, most favorite Children’s Bible.

We have been using The Rhyme Bible Storybook¬†since my oldest was just a small toddler and we absolutely love it. We own multiple different children’s Bibles, but this is the one we find ourselves coming back to again and again and again.¬†(It’s also the Bible we used for the Play Through the Bible series)

And if that’s not enough to convince you to go grab it right now, I want to give you a detailed review of why we love this Bible so very much.

Biblical Accuracy

When it comes to storybook Bibles, this is probably my number one concern. In our attempts to make the stories digestible to children, are we staying true to the meaning of the actual Biblical text? In the many other Bibles I have read or flipped through, there are three common themes I see happening: too much extra fluff, important elements being omitted, and dumbed down stories. With the Rhyme Bible Storybook:

1) There is no¬†extra “fluff” added. The author goes just a little too deep into their imagination, weaving a story that may not actually be implied in the original text. While these stories can be fun to read, they don’t always give an accurate picture of what the Bible is trying to say. The Rhyme Bible Storybook is simple and to the point, while also communicating the important aspects of the text.

2) The most important elements are included.¬†On the opposite end of the spectrum we have another problem, vital information being left out. This especially happens with children’s Bibles that like to gloss over the more uncomfortable aspects of the Bible. I’ve seen the Fall skipped over, hard stories tied up with a pretty moral, and even the frighting omission of Christ’s death on the cross. While no children’s Bible is going to cover all the dark, nitty gritty moments¬†in the Bible (nor should they), with its 35 stories the Rhyme Bible Storybook does a great job giving an overview of the Biblical story, including the most important aspects.

3) The stories are not¬†dumbed down.¬†You’ll find this especially in the story Bibles that are marketed towards the very youngest listeners. Sure, the stories are short and simple, but there is not much there either. With the Rhyme Bible storybook, the stories are simple, yet also give plenty of information that can be discussed, dwelt on, and grown into. With this Bible both my one year old and my five year old are able to listen intently while still gaining something from the stories each on their own levels.

Simple Text

I mentioned this briefly before, but I think it bears repeating. The text in the Rhyme Bible Storybook is beautifully simple. Young children and older alike will be drawn into the lovely rhyming¬†nature of the stories. Yet, the sing-song text is not overly flowery or verbose, unlike other popular children’s Bibles that have not done well at keeping my children engaged (I’m looking at you Jesus Storybook Bible).

However, if you find that your younger toddler still has trouble following these short stories, I also recommend The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers. We have used both versions, and while we don’t love the toddler one quite as much, the stories are even shorter and simpler, perfect for the youngest children.

Beautiful Illustrations

Beautiful illustrations may not seem like¬†that big of a deal, but I can assure you, once you’ve glanced through some of the downright goofy looking children’s Bible cartoons, lovely pictures are a nice change of pace.

The illustrations in the Rhyme Bible storybook are simple, colorful, interesting, and full of emotion.

Just a note: there is an older version and a newer version with updated illustrations. We have the newer version of the Rhyme Bible Storybook and also the toddler version with the older illustrations. We like both! Some people do have a preference though and you can find both versions on Amazon.

Well Made Product

Lets face it, toddlers and preschoolers can be rough on books. They are still learning to turn pages gently, close the cover properly, and to not chuck books¬†across the room mid tantrum. Our copy has survived multiple years and tons of use from two rough boys. It’s looking a little rough around the edges, but still going strong. The binding is sturdy, the pages are thick, and it’s made to last.

Engaging and Child Approved

Besides being Biblically accurate, an engaging story is probably the most important part of any children’s Bible. If your child isn’t interested in listening to the stories, reading them isn’t going to do a whole lot.

Every child I have read the Rhyme Bible Storybook to, both my own children and others, have loved it. They have listened intently, captivated by the story being read. Every morning when we do our reading, every story is followed by pleas of “More! More! Another story!” And, while it’s possible that your child is the exception to what I’ve found, I think if you give this Bible a try you, too, will fall in love.

Where to Buy

While I assume the Rhyme Bible Storybook can be found at your local Christian Bookstore, the easiest thing to do is to hop over to Amazon and get it delivered right to your house. New versions of the book run for about $13, but you can also easily find it used for around $5.

Even if you already have children’s Bibles, this one would make a great addition to your collection. You won’t be disappointed! It also makes a great gift to tuck in an Easter basket or give at a baby shower. You might love it so much you buy twenty¬†and give them to all your friends!

This is NOT a sponsored post – we just really love this children’s Bible! There are Amazon affiliate links included, which does not change the cost of the book to you, but does give me a little extra spare change to keep this blog running. Thanks for making purchases through my links!


5 Questions For When You Need A Parenting Heart Check

I could feel the frustration and exasperation welling up inside of me. My hands clenched tight and my jaw set firm. This was a recurring problem and, frankly, this morning I did. not. have. time. for. it.

My frustration boiled over and spilled out in the form of angry words spoken in haste.

What are you doing?! Nothing. You are doing nothing. Why can’t you listen? Are you even paying¬†attention!? We need to leave NOW.¬†

No. Don’t talk to me. Do what you are supposed to be doing. You are going to make us all late. Let’s go!¬†

The anger that quickly overtook faded just as fast and all I was left with was a blindsided little boy. I managed an apology and helped him finish his task and we went on with our day.

In a way I was right, this¬†is¬†a recurring problem. However,¬†in this instance I didn’t need a page from a parenting manual or 3 quick tips to get my kid to listen to me.

I needed a heart check.

Oftentimes when it comes to parenting through difficult situations we find ourselves overly focused on what we can do to change our child. To help them become more helpful, patience, obedient, or mature. However, I have found that during these times, what I usually need to do is direct my attention back onto myself. As the parent (and the supposedly more mature one), what I am doing to make sure my heart is in the right place?

If you ever found¬†yourself in a similar situation, here are five soul searching questions I’ve found that work wonders in shifting¬†the focus to where it truly needs to be:

#1 Am I having a positive attitude?

When confronted with a particular parenting situation, what kind of attitude am I displaying? Am I being patient? Am I being creative? Or am I throwing as big of a tantrum as the toddler (even if I’m not the one thrashing around on the floor)?

It’s crazy how easy it is to let your emotions take over and dictate how you handle a situation. In these moments, it’s important to remember to take a step back, breathe deep, and restart.

In addition, it is easy to think that our attitudes only get the best of us in these “heat of the moment” type situations. However, I’ve found that these types of situations aren’t when we are the most in danger of having a bad¬†attitude.

You see, when our negative emotions come flooding through the front door, we usually recognize it and eventually shut it down. But when they come sneaking in through the back, they can often go unnoticed for much longer.

Take, for example, my toddler. One and a half, full of life, and slightly crazy. He is abundantly curious, afraid of nothing, and stubborn as a bull.

He is goofy and adorable and I love this kid with all my heart. However, a few months ago I realized something was happening. Slowly our thoughts and language started to reflect something that wasn’t pretty. J was frequently called the “troublemaker”, the “difficult one”, and the like.

It was usually said with no ill-intent, but what you say becomes what you think and I realized I was constantly thinking of my sweet boy in a negative light. He was the “hard” kid, the one who took all my energy, the one who left me frustrated. I was giving him a negative label that he was going to wear for the rest of his life if I didn’t change something.

It took a major attitude shift and a lot of prayer, but now my attitude towards him couldn’t be more positive.

#2 Am I treating my child like I would want to be treated?

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
-Matthew 7:12

Ah, the classic Golden Rule. This is a big one in our house and I am often breaking up multiple fights a day asking children if they are treating the other as they would like to be treated.

However, it is easy to forget that the golden rule applies to me too.

Would I want to be treated the way I am treating my child? Would I want my husband or boss to treat me in this way? If I was being treated like this, how would it make me feel? Am I treating my child with respect as a person and image bearer, or are our interactions marked by exasperation and frustration on my part?

As a parent, you can still hold firm boundaries while also treating your child with respect, kindness, and empathy.

#3 Am I connecting with my child throughout the day?

Have you noticed that in your marriage when you aren’t spending a lot of time connecting with your spouse, it is way easier to have arguments and get irritated with each other? It took me a while to connect the way this works to my parenting.

It’s easy to get through the day and look back and wonder if we actually took any time to just¬†be with our kids. We make their meals, help them with their chores, shuffle them back and forth to activities, and tuck them in bed, but how much did we connect?

When behavior problems come up with my son, they can oftentimes be solved just by spending some quality time together, giving him my undivided attention. When we are regularly feeling connected and positive with each other, it also makes those bumpy times a little easier to navigate.

#4 Am I having age-appropriate expectations?

It is so easy to get frustrated with your kids for being kids. We can forget that while we may have decades of life experience, they’ve only got a couple years of practice under their belts.¬†So, when I hit a parenting road block, I often ask myself, “Is this a reasonable expectation?”

A¬†four year old might not have the patience or skill set to clean his room on his own, a three year old can’t be expected to perfectly explain that their hunger is making them crabby, and it’s not unexpected for a 1 1/2 year old to dump half a box of baking soda in the bowl of biscuits you are making together (not that I’m speaking from experience here or anything!).

When we recognize these misplaced expectations, we can usually find alternate ways to solve the problem that work for both parent and child.

We can choose to meet our children at their level.

When giving directions, use touch, kneel down and make eye contact. Remove distractions for the easily distracted. Make a safe area for the baby and toddler to play and explore without hearing “no, don’t touch” 50 times a day.

A great way to manage these expectations is to look at the situation from the perspective of your child. Many things that seem simple and easy to an adult are a big deal for a child. Build a strong connection with your child through the use of empathy and understanding as you help them learn and grow.

#5 Am I being proactive in my parenting or merely reactive?

I think this is one of the biggest questions we can ask ourselves as parents. Are we merely putting out the fires as they pop up? Or are we being intentional in our parenting goals?

Are we making and following a plan for teaching our children character and life skills? I’m not saying you have to have a perfect plan or have a strategy for every moment, but if we aim for nothing we miss every time.

Here are a few ideas for being proactive in your parenting strategy:

  • Pray for your children and your ability to parent wisely.
  • Regularly discuss your family values in a positive way.
  • Intentionally train your children in character (try my Hero Training series!).
  • Find ways to connect with and encourage your children on a regular basis.
  • Role play difficult situations with your kids.
  • Invite your children to problem solve with you when difficulties arise.
  • Teach your children God’s Word and pray together.

Keep Asking The Hard Questions

Every day seems to provide abundant opportunities to ask myself these hard questions. Although I wish I would remember these questions before the frustration overflows, it is never too late to get to the heart of my parenting struggles.

Do you want to join me in asking these heart questions?

Enter your e-mail below and I’ll send you my free Heart Questions for Parents printable. Hang it on your mirror, fridge, or (if you’re like me) some days on your forehead. Every time you see it you will help yourself remember these important questions when faced with difficult parenting moments.

Ready to hang up your printable? Enter your e-mail below!

Want more information? You can read more about subscribing to the Family Minute Newsletter here.
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Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes – Boys ages 2-14

“Oooo! Star Wars!”

“I like this bat and ball!”

“Mom, this toy is really cool! I want one.”

Operation Christmas Child is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. 

Gently, consistently, I remind my son that these gifts are not for him. These gifts are for someone who may have never received a gift before.

We finish our shopping and return home to pack our boxes. I shared what we packed last year and thought it would be fun to share again!

what-we-packed-in-our-occ-shoeboxes

This year K wanted to pack 4 boxes (because he is four years old, of course!). We kept it simple and did all boy boxes – a 2-4 box, two 5-9 boxes, and a 10-14 box.

We spread out all our goodies and got to packing…

Operation Christmas Child

First, we divided everything into the appropriate categories.

Operation Christmas Child

Think it’s all going to fit?!

 

Boy 10-14

Operation Christmas Child

In this box we packed a:

Operation Christmas Child

All snug!

Boy 5-9

Operation Christmas Child

In this box we packed a:

  • Soccer ball
  • Pump
  • Marbles and canvas bag
  • Stuffed animal
  • Assortment of farm animal figures
  • Toothbrush, case, and toothpaste
  • Cup
  • Two pairs of socks
  • Hot wheels car
  • Soap and washcloth
  • Rubber ball
  • Crayons
  • Pencils
  • Harmonica
  • Plastic container
  • Twine
  • Pad of paper

Boy 5-9

Boy 5-9

Operation Christmas Child

In this box we packed a:

  • Soccer ball and pump
  • Marbles and canvas bag
  • Cup
  • Stuffed animal
  • Two rubber balls
  • Assortment of farm animal figurines
  • Soap and washcloth
  • Twine
  • Pencils
  • Socks
  • Notepad
  • Hot wheels car
  • T-Shirt (I realized after I took the picture that the size was a 4-5, so I switched it to the 2-4 box)

Operation Christmas Child

 

Boy 2-4

Operation Christmas Child

In this box we packed a:

  • Sticker set
  • Puzzle
  • Light up ball
  • Washcloth and soap
  • Toothbrush, holder, and toothpaste
  • Plastic container
  • Harmonica
  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Cup
  • Card game
  • Note pad
  • Farm animal figurines
  • Hot wheels toy
  • Stuffed animal
  • T-shirt

This box seemed a little empty, so I threw a few other random things in there later.

Operation Christmas Child

We used clear plastic shoeboxes for the first time this year. One thing I noticed was that it made it really easy to see empty spots you could fill better – so I’ll have to remember that for next year!

 

occ-mini-devo

Are you looking for a fun way to be intentional as you pack your OCC boxes with your kids? Check out my FREE OCC Mini devotional! To gain access to this free resource and many more just enter your e-mail below!

Ready to start your free devotional?

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Need more help packing a shoebox? Check out this ultimate round-up of great ideas!

Operation-Christmas-Child-Round-Up.jpg

Did you pack a shoebox this year?

Affiliate Links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Steadfast Family!

Feeling stressed about the holidays? Make this your new mantra.

feeling-stressed-about-the-holidays-make-this-your-new-mantra

Thanksgiving countdowns, new recipes, fun activities, and perfectly decorated houses.

As I scroll through my Instagram feed, I can feel my chest begin to tighten. The thoughts start playing in my head…

You really should do that.

That’s a great idea.

Why aren’t you doing that?

I wish I had time for that.

I try to muster up plans to execute some of these great ideas I see beautifully displayed before me. Maybe I can squeeze the prep in after bed time. Perhaps we can do the activities quickly after breakfast.

My heart beats faster – but it’s not from excitement. It’s from panic.¬†

I’m in a season of life right now where I just don’t have time for a lot of extra activities. Honestly, I’m struggling to just get the essentials done. The thought of planning out and executing holiday activities, no matter how amazing they are, makes me feel a bit queasy.

Not exactly how you want to feel headed into a season of joy.

So, if the sight all all the holiday ideas, activities, and stuff is making you feel like crawling into a hole for the next two months. I want to share with you my favorite holiday mantra:

That’s a fun idea. Maybe next year.

Repeat after me: Maybe. Next. Year.

Feeling Stressed About the Holidays? Make this your mantra.

Why This Works

No one likes to feel like they are missing out. Whether it’s getting your house to look just the way you want or doing fun activities with your kids to guide them through the meaning of the season, we want to embrace all the excitement of the season.

However, reality says we only have so many hours in the day. Whether you have impending work deadlines, volunteer responsibilities, or spend your day keeping small children alive you are going to have to say no to some things. Maybe even a lot of things.

Fun things.

Good things.

How do you do that without feeling majorly bummed out?

That’s a fun idea. Maybe next year.

The mantra works for two reasons:

  1. You recognize that it is a fun idea. You don’t roll your eyes or say “pphhht, who has time for that?” You don’t devalue the hard work someone else put into their idea. It’s cool and you admit it. Let others be themselves without feeling like you need to be them too.
  2. You hold onto the hope that – if you still want to – you have the option to do it in the future.¬†You don’t need to throw yourself a pity party because you can’t do allthethings. Screenshot it, pin it, or file it away and revisit it next year. I ogled Truth in the Tinsel for a few years before we were able to do it. And this year it probably won’t make the cut again. However, next year we will revisit and hopefully do it again!

Next time you find yourself pining over a sweet idea, try the mantra and see how you feel.

Stressed about the holidays? Make this your mantra.

 

Do This Instead of Doing It All

So, you can’t do it all. Then, what do you do?

First, check your focus. What truly matters the most during the holiday season?

I conducted a survey last year asking people what their favorite Christmas memory was. The results were staggering. Almost every single person’s memories revolved around relationships.¬†

Focus your attention and effort on the relationships around you.¬†Make sure you don’t forget about your relationship with the One whom the season revolves around either.

Then, once you’ve got your focus right, here’s what you can do:

Pick one thing. 

Not one thing for now, one thing for tomorrow, and one thing for next week. Just one thing for now.

Just focus on that one thing.

Maybe you want to be intentional with discipling your kids during the holidays, maybe you really want to make your house feel cozy and festive, maybe you just really want to make time for a nap. Pick one thing and do it.

Once you’ve finished that one thing, revisit and pick another if you feel up to it.

Stressed about the holidays? Make this your mantra.

Give it a Spin

I really hope you give this a try! It might not help with all your holiday stressors (navigating family get-togethers anyone?), but I think it will truly help relieve the pressure of holiday perfection we so often feel.

As I continue my Instagram scrolling, I repeat my mantra a few more times. I put my phone away and attend to the life in front me.

My chest loosens. I take a deep breath.

I think our holidays are going to be just perfect as they are. 

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5 Great Resources for Teaching Your Kids the Old Testament

8-reasons-to-teach-your-kids-the-old-testament

In my last post, I gave 8 reasons why I think you should be studying the Old Testament – both personally and with your kids.

This week, I want to quickly pass on five great resources for doing just that!

These resources will cover a wide range of ages and levels, so you should be able to find something for everyone in your family!

Play-Through-The-Bible1.jpg

1. Play Through The Bible

Let’s start with the itty bitty kiddos. Play Through the Bible is the very first series I did on my blog. It is, to date, the most popular resource I have available.

When my oldest was a toddler I wanted to start being intentional about teaching him the Bible, but couldn’t find the kind of resource I was looking for. So, I created it myself!

Play Through the Bible takes tots and preschoolers through an entire children’s Bible, covering 25 of the major stories of the Bible. It meets them right where they are with super simple crafts, hands-on activities, and kid friendly discussions.

I am currently revamping the entire series and cannot wait to release it as an eBook in Summer 2017! However, you can still get the entire original series here.

 

IBI Case of the Mixed Up Timeline2. Case of the Mixed Up Timeline

I wanted to share one more resource you can find here on Steadfast Family before I move on to some others.

Case of the Mixed Up Timeline is a unique kids devotional that I released this past summer. If you and your kids are looking for a super fun way to introduce yourself to some of the main stories of the Old Testament, this will be perfect for you!

In this devotional, a villain named ‚ÄúDr. H‚ÄĚ has traveled back in time and destroyed the Timeline of Biblical Heroes. As a special agent, your child must travel back in time to complete the case files and set the timeline straight once again.

Each Biblical Hero has an incomplete case file and your child must solve the clues to discover the information on each Hero‚Äôs story. They then use that information to put the timeline back in order. Each case file also contains a ‚Äúmission‚ÄĚ ‚Äď a hands on activity to further experience the story.

Read more about the devotional here!

3. Future Flying Saucers Bible Lessons

The Future Flying Saucers blog has a ton of hands-on, kid friend, and just plain awesome Bible lessons. On this page you will find at least 39 Old Testament specific lessons and a lot of other lessons and ideas as well!

4. The Bible Road Trip

Okay, so I haven’t used this resource myself, but I have heard¬†nothing but good things about it! It is described on the website like this,

Bible Road Trip is an exciting journey which places you and your children in the driver’s seat! Aimed at youth grades PreK-12, Bible Road Trip will allow your family to survey the Bible cover-to-cover in 3 years ~ with breaks for summer. There are notebooking pages available for the Lower Grammar (Grades 1-3), Upper Grammar (Grades 4-6) and Dialectic (Grades 7-9) levels. Students at the Rhetoric level (Grades 10-12) will keep their own notebooks and be busy sharing their information with others!

I absolutely love how the whole family can partake in this Bible curriculum together! I highly recommend checking it out!

5. Intoxicated on Life Resources

Intoxicated on Life is another fabulous resource for all things family discipleship. There are so many great materials on this website, but they also have multiple resources specifically for studying the Old Testament. Pop on over and check it out!

Am I missing anything? What is your favorite resource for studying the Old Testament?