Four Ways to Build Sibling Relationships

Excited this post was published on the site Raising Godly Children. Their website is a wonderful resource! http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org. And this is the direct link to this article on their site.

Sibling relationships are such unique, beautiful gifts from God. If nurtured and encouraged they can be some of the most supportive relationships we have in life. A repeated prayer of mine is that my children will have a unique bond that comes only from God. That my children will be best friends, supportive, and each other’s biggest encouragers. And that they will serve the Lord together. Here are four ways to help nurture the sibling relationship from an early age.

1. Encourage one another. Whether it’s cheering on the one who is potty training and used the potty on their own, clapping for brother’s performance as fire chief, gathering other siblings to view the massive tower built by sister, or for making the sports team, cheering on their siblings is important. It teaches them to be FOR each other. To have unity. They will have enough people in the world that will not be for them.

2. Serve one another. Serving others is a powerful biblical way of loving others. Teaching our children to serve one another helps get the focus off themselves and onto others. Have them serve each other snacks, deliver waters at mealtimes (putting themselves last), bring blankets when one is sick. Sit down with one sibling and ask, “What is something we can do for your brother today? How can we serve him?” Then have fun trying to do one or two of those things that morning. It’s good practice for the one being served too, because they get practice making eye contact and saying thank you.

3. Teach them to allow each other to belong. Typically kids go with the wrong crowd because that wrong crowd makes them feel like they belong. In all our weird, quirky ways, home should be the place where we are safest to be ourselves. It builds confidence when we are accepted as we are. My children love hearing that God has plans just for their lives that no one else can fulfill and that he made them each uniquely in order to fulfill his calling on their lives. My children are not allowed to make fun of each other, ever. They are constantly told to “encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 They don’t do this perfectly, which gives us an ample amount of time for practice. For each negative thing they say to the other, they have to say three kind things to them.

4. Create special sibling time. A few days a week my children will have “room time” where they will spend time in their rooms for individual, creative play by themselves for 45 minutes to an hour. Once in a while I will “allow” them to have room time together. They play together all day, but there is something uniquely special in their eyes of this time together. They actually get along the ENTIRE time, so I encourage that when I can. Reading together is also a time when they mostly get along the entire time. There is something about enjoying a story together. Gathering around for a read aloud book, or allowing the oldest to read to the younger ones, creates unity. When one parent takes one child, it is a great opportunity for the other children to play in a way that they don’t normally, so encourage them to play together and enjoy each other’s company. Encourage two children to work on building a tower together for baby brother. Or to build a fort together. One more way to set up a time for sibling bonding time is over snack. I open a pack of bite size crackers that they all love and tell them they must share the snack while sitting down somewhere. They can choose anywhere in the house to sit, but they must share the snack. This is another time when they all get along well. They usually end up in a boat (the kitchen mat or corner of a room) giggling and making up a game.

God has given them built in friends, right in their homes. Prayer, selflessness, and encouragement can go a long way in helping them build these friendships.

Advertisements

Age Appropriate Chores

We have a daily chore time after breakfast, at least most the time. I have 4 kids ages five and under. There are 5 chores they do, the same chore each particular day of the week. We have a picture chart on the fridge. Example, every Monday my daughter (5 yr old) vacuums the living room, Tuesday she wipes down the bathroom sink, Wednesday she wipes down windows and mirrors, Thursday she takes out trash, and Friday she dusts. My son (3yo) has the same chores on opposite days. My 2 year old gets a baby wipe and she wipes down anything she’d like, she just likes to join in. Yes, there may be a chore here and there they moan about, but that’s a teaching opportunity, and teaching that there is work we may not feel like doing but it has to be done anyway. Hey, I don’t like to clean bath tubs, but it’s gotta get done (is once a month cleaning them enough? 🙂 ).

But for the most part, they actually like doing chores. Even if they don’t like it, it’s become such a habit that it’s simply something we do and I don’t hear much complaining any more. Some chores they LOVE (washing windows is one). My son loves to vacuum, my daughter not so much. And they both love trash day. I go back and check their work and encourage them where they’ve done well, and show them where they need to scrub just a little harder. I take time in the beginning to actually teach them HOW to clean and what I expect of them.

When we first started chores we would sing a song we made up before we started that goes through making our beds, getting dressed, brushing teeth, then chores. And the chore part of the song says “I wanna help clean the house and do my part b/c I love my family with all my heart.” For me, it’s not a demand and “clean this and make my dinner!” attitude. It’s teaching a servant’s heart. It’s teaching to help take care of the home God gave us. To be faithful in the little. Teaching responsibilities and teamwork. I do my chores right along with them. It really doesn’t take long at all. Maybe 20 minutes to do it all-making beds, picking up rooms, getting dressed, teeth brushed and chore complete.

They have one scheduled chore a day that doesn’t take long to do and then the rest they do during the day aren’t called “chores” but are just us living life together. For instance, they start taking their own plates to the sink after meals as soon as those little tippy toes can help them reach their plates up over their heads to the sink. It quickly becomes a habit. A lot of times, by 3 or 4 years old, they don’t even have to be asked to take their plate and put it by the sink.

Each day one of the kids (ages 2,3, and 5) is the “Delivery Boy/Girl” for the day. They LOVE this. And that means that person collects all the waters before meals and I fill them up and they are delivered back out. This is such a big help to me. That person also delivers anything I need help with-paper towels, vitamins, etc. And now that the kids are older, that person gets to help make meals on their designated day.

We are working on something called “Tidy Time” where they are each assigned a particular area of the house and when I need the house tidied for my husband coming home from work, guests coming over, etc. they will be little experts at picking up their areas and it makes it so much easier on me to have them helping out. Carole Joy Seid said to tell them they are, “Little Lords and Ladies in waiting, learning how to take care of their own castles some day.”

They fight over who gets to unload the dishwasher and put the silverware away. They love to prepare the snacks for everyone. It’s such a great way to teach them to serve! My son loves a tidy room, but the girls have to be threatened prompted to pick up their rooms. They come by it honest. My husband says I’m like a tornado that blew through when I leave a room.

Every kid is different. Some may be ready for these sooner than others, some later. These are just some ideas from what we do. And here is a printable version: Age Appropriate Chores

Age Appropriate Chores

Here’s the “Ditty song.” I had been praying for something that gave us some order after breakfast, so we sing the ditty song and do what it says. Again, it doesn’t take long, and I love it because it’s teaching them what to do each day and to get their work done. It’s posted on our fridge, along with their visual chore chart.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 11.16.38 PM

DAILY CHORE CHART

The letter under the days are to tell the kids who will be the Delivery Boy/Girl that day.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 10.09.46 PM

No Matter How Hard I Try, I Can’t Be Patient

Tape

Super excited this post was published by Raising Godly Children. Their website is a wonderful resource! http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org. And this is the direct link to this article on their site.

It all started when one day I put tape over my mouth to keep myself from talking.

As crazy as it sounds, I had had enough and didn’t know what else to do.

Four kids, ages four and under gives me MANY opportunities to practice how the Bible tells me to act: don’t be quick tempered, be slow to anger, do everything without complaining or arguing… I found myself talking and talking, reacting, correcting. One day I grew tired of my own voice, and in desperation pulled the tape out of the drawer and put a piece over my mouth.

I was REFUSING to let my emotions, anger, and impatience get the best of me again that morning. I told the kids I didn’t want to say anything I shouldn’t, so the tape would help me not say anything at all. One morning the kids and I were going to do some baking. This is usually a prime time for me to talk… a lot, “Stir slowly, don’t pour it all in, that has raw egg in it-don’t eat it!”

So, before we started I decided to try my little tape experiment. It had worked great when I was frustrated, so could keeping my mouth closed make for a more peaceful baking experience?

You better believe it! It was the most peaceful baking experience to date.

I am learning that intentionally practicing the art of being quiet is key. Although I can’t, of course, leave tape on my mouth all the time, I knew the Lord was pruning the heart issues that I still needed to work through.

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2

By putting tape over my mouth I was in fact quietening the flesh. The more I talk, the less I can hear the Spirit. The more focused I am on what I want, whether it’s how I want things to go or how it makes me feel, the less focused I am on how I can serve God, how I can bring Him glory, how I can love others intensely as He commands.

I can choose to focus on myself, or on God.

As a child of God I must choose to become a slave to righteousness. Letting go of letting sin be my first choice and instead choosing what is right.

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:18

“After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” Galatians 3:3

In an act to be a better mom, I would wake up and tell myself, “I WILL be patient. I WILL be kind. I WILL be loving.” The problem here is that little word “I.” It’s not about me and my efforts.

  1.  John 15:5 tells us: “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 are JUST A BRANCH. A branch that is not connected to the tree can lay on the ground all day trying as hard as it can to bear fruit, and no matter how hard it tries, it can’t. It has to be connected to the tree. And since we are branches, we HAVE to be connected to the vine to bear fruit. We don’t have to stress ourselves out trying to bear fruit. All we have to do is keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and live to please him, and he says that when we simply REMAIN in Him then we will automatically bear fruit! And not just fruit, MUCH fruit.
  2. Paul tells us in Romans 7 that no matter how much we try to be patient or try to be kind or try to do what’s right, our flesh is constantly waging war against our minds and our only hope for truly doing what is right lies in Christ Jesus. We must instead wake up and say, “Lord, I am yours. You live through me. Use me today, no matter what you have in store for me. No matter the circumstance, I am your servant.” We quieten the flesh, allow the Spirit room to breathe and move within us and His fruits will start ripening. Love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control will start oozing out of us against our own pathetic efforts, but it will happen because they are the Spirit’s fruits to bear through us.

“No one can get Joy by merely asking for it. It is one of the ripest fruits of the Christian life, and, like all fruits, must be grown.” Henry Drummond

 

My Kids Favorite Healthy Snack – Energy Balls

DSC_0030

 

Energy balls. These are hands downs my kids favorite snack! And they are healthy! I have to limit them or they are gone in a day. I usually double the recipe. Super easy:

1 cup oats (I use quick oats)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup or less flax seed (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips or dried fruit or both

Mix everything, chill in fridge for 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll into balls. Store in air tight container in fridge. Yummy! And for nursing mamas these are great when your supply is low!

 

Teaching the Bible Through Play and Being a Family of 6 now!

It absolutely blows my mind when I see my children respond to the Bible, to God’s living Word. Who needs reality tv when you have the stories of the Old Testament? And I’m talking about reading straight from the Bible. We have some children’s Bibles and they’re good, but nothing is better than the literal Word of God. My kids love fun, so if I can make learning God’s Word fun, I WILL DO IT!

 It’s not expensive props that get their attention; it’s the Word of God and interactive play that help them understand it. Play time with mom is always fun so I like to use it to my advantage to teach them the Word. Jesus used parables to help people understand God. I use Fisher Price Little People. 🙂 

Here’s some ideas of what we do.

 

Adam and Eve. Reading Genesis 2:7-9, 15-25
At the table, we use little people dolls as Adam and Eve. These dolls also function as Moses, Pharaoh, and Noah at the appropriate times. As I’m reading the story, the dolls are acting it out. When Adam falls into a deep sleep, Little People Boy lays down. And my 21 month old says “night night.” 🙂 For the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil I use whatever is laying on the table. Yeah, there’s usually something on the table that can be used because I so don’t keep a clean table most days. So, it may be a book, or a block. That’s the fun thing with little ones, their imaginations are not limited. They don’t care, they go right along with it. And when the animals are brought to Adam to be named, I use my fingers as the animals. I’m pretty sure my kids love this the most. I walk “animals” up to Adam to be named (i.e. whatever I say is what my fingers are, which makes the opportunities endless), so an animal tromps up to Adam and blows it’s trunk (raise finger in the air) and he names it “Elephant.” When we act this out on the ground, we use stuffed animals. My son is Adam and he happily sits on the arm rest of the chair and waits while my daughter and I bring him animals to name. In the making of Adam, he lays on the ground and I (God) “forms” him out of dust, making his hands and feet, etc. Then he falls into a deep sleep, and my 21 month old says night night, and then I take out his rib and form Eve. Enter my 4 year old daughter. Then I stick them in the garden. The garden is the living room. So easy and my kids LOVE it. The kids actually ask for me to read more Bible stories. They’re learning and they don’t even know it!

 

The Fall. Reading Genesis 3:1-19
Once we’ve read the story a few times at the table, I’ve learned enough of it to start acting it out. I try to use some of the exact verses from the bible while we’re acting it out. So, with this one, I stick Adam and Eve (my 4yo daughter and 3yo son) in the Garden of Eden (the living room) next to the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life (ottomans). We use play fruit from the kitchen to entice Eve. Anything long laying around is the serpent (necklace, paper towel roll). They eat the fruit and then sew fig leaves (pillows) to cover themselves. Then when they hear God walking through the garden they run and hide behind the trees (chair). When they are banished from the garden the cherubim (21 month old) waves her flaming sword (paper towel holder or a shoe) and she loves every minute of it.

 

The next story is Cain and Abel. We don’t do this one yet. I don’t need my kids getting any ideas. Noah, the tower of Babel (building blocks), the wise and foolish builders (rocks and sand)… anything to make the Bible come ALIVE to my children because it IS alive!! They get absorbed when it’s made SO MUCH FUN. You don’t need anything special. All you need is your kids, a little imagination, and the Bible. We all have that.

 

We are a family of 6 now! What’s that like? Well, let me tell you. It’s walking to the kitchen and saying, “Son, why are just sitting in the hallway?” To which he replies, “I’m in timeout.” Riiight. I forgot. Hmm, how long has he been sitting here? They only get baths when I can actually see that their legs are darker than their bellies. My prayers are less of the quiet prayer times and more of the getting on my knees in the living room to pray for strength for the next hour with my son climbing on my back asking to “ride the horse” and my 20 month old bent over on her head saying, “ma-ma? ma-ma?” It’s choosing sleep over a shower. I’ll smell clean again one day. Hopefully. It’s wearing a pair of pants to the store with baby pee on them. It’s thinking about maybe leaving the house by myself with all 4 kids until my mind pictures what that actually looks like: getting diapers changed, potty breaks for the older two, shoes on, water cup scavenger hunt, breaking up fights, and then deciding it would be easier to find something really fun to do at home. It’s dealing with a lot of poop.  I’m not sure we would have had all these kids if I had known how much poop would be involved. Totally joking, about having the kids. Not joking about all the poop.

Am I Cut Out For This Parenting Thing?

ID-100162857
Super excited this post was published by Raising Godly Children. Their website is a wonderful resource! http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org. And this is the direct link to their website for this post.
I want to be transparent. I want to point all things to Christ. I want the good in my life to reflect Christ, not me and how I parent. Trust me, if my kids are good it is because of Christ, not me.
Right now I have three little ones under five years old and I’m seven months pregnant. My 17 month old is transitioning to one nap. These transitions usually take some getting used to, but for some reason this one seems harder, more overwhelming than in the past.
I often worry that I’m not meeting everyone’s needs, that someone isn’t getting loved the right way, that the book that didn’t get read to the little one asking is going to take away their love of reading forever and it will be all my fault.
Today I sat down and cried to God, “How can I do this with four kids? Some days I feel like I’m barely getting by with three! We prayed about all these children. We left it all to you. I think you got the wrong girl. Did I somehow forget wisdom or hear you wrong?
Yeah, it was heavy. How heavy? Well, Job crossed my mind, if that tells you anything. When I asked that last question I knew nothing but God was what I needed. I just had to stop wherever those thoughts were going and take them captive, so I grabbed my Bible, got on my knees, and opened it up, knowing that God’s Word was the giver of wisdom and understanding that I needed. I prayed God’s word back to Him – Children are a reward, a gift. (Psalms 127:3) Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Heavenly lights. (James 1:17)… I continued. I cried. I sat my Bible down and asked God to teach me, to lead me, to give me WISDOM and PEACE.
I’m so not one to just open the Bible any ole where and see what works for me today, but in desperation I did just that. It just happened to open to, of all places, the book of Job, the part where God replied to Job: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) I immediately felt convicted. I was darkening God’s counsel, His plans for my life without knowledge.
Job replied, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”
I knew I was questioning things FAR TOO WONDERFUL for me to understand. I KNOW that God has it all planned out. I know He wants this for our family. I also know that with each child I cling to him more and more because I realize how very much I need him, how I am nothing but dust without him. But what helped me more than anything were these TRUTHS:
“… you are familiar with all my ways. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”  (Psalm 139:3,15-16)
God gave me these children KNOWING ALL MY WAYS, all my weaknesses, all my insecurities, my faults. And yet, he STILL gave them to me.
Every one of my motherhood moments was laid out for me long ago. He saw all my mishaps, failures, and sinful choices and he STILL chose me to be the mother of these specific children. Once I meditated on that, my doubts and fears changed to praises and humbleness that I get to do this. Not questioning WHY he chose me and DID HE MEAN TO, but that he DID. And ALL I have to do is ask him HOW to do it all, and he WILL show me.

Using scripture for discipline and encouragement

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I have prayed that the Lord will show me ways to use His Word for discipline and encouragement. I was so excited to find some resources to help me and I wanted to share them!

“Wise Words for Moms” by Ginger Hubbard. This has been SO amazing. It’s a calendar sized chart of 22 different behaviors, heart probing questions to ask the child, a Bible verse (or paraphrase from a couple of verses) for correction, and a Bible verse (or paraphrase) for encouragement. Along with additional verses related to the behavior. I love it. There are times when I stand around wishing I knew what to say but I don’t. Or wishing I could remember a Bible verse that would be perfect. This chart has helped so much. Example: one of my children getting a new book then complaining that they want another one. I go to my handy chart and ask my questions for Complaining: 1. Is your attitude showing thankfulness and contentment? 2. Rather than complaining, what can you be thankful for in this situation? Correction verse: “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Phil 2:14 Encouragement paraphrase verse: “It is God’s will that you be thankful and joyful in all circumstances.” paraphrased from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

027696i1

I totally stand there, chart in hand, and read from it when I need to. I’m hoping to have it memorized by the time baby #4 starts acting up. I’ve told several friends about this chart and one friend said she found an app for it so she can pull up the chart on her phone when they are away from home!

http://www.amazon.com/Wise-Words-Moms-Ginger-Hubbard/dp/0966378660/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430943468&sr=1-1&keywords=wise+words+for+mom

Another resource is the Parenting Cards from We Choose Virtues. There are 12 character traits represented on colorful cards with a Bible verse. There’s a fun little story to read on the back about the character on the front. My kids really love these. We pick one and focus on it for a week or two. We are doing obedience this week and every time the kids say “Yes ma’am” or “Yes ma’am, I’d be happy to” when asked to do something they get a fruit of the spirit on their Fruit of the Spirit chart. They get lots of tries to be obedient. It makes it fun.

teacher-virtue-cards-family_medium

http://wechoosevirtues.com/collections/all/products/parenting-cards

Side note: we also play the “obedience game” that I learned from hearing another mom talk about it. We sit in the floor and one of the kids sits in front of us and I’ll say, “Please stand up, take 3 big hops, and roar like a lion.” Before they stand up they have to say, “Yes ma’am, I’d be happy to!” They ask to play this game A LOT. It’s a fun, easy way to practice obedience. Cheerful obedience. I’ve found that it helps practicing and role playing the behaviors I’d like my kids to have.

Another helpful tool I’ve learned about recently came from Pam Tebow, the super inspiring mom of Tim Tebow. I watched a video of her and she said she would sing scripture over her kids. “Something learned in song is remember long,” she said. So she would take a verse and just sing it to them. So I’ve tried to start implementing this. She said her two great parenting tips were “scripture and faith.” I love what she said when talking about what she did that was different or special in parenting: “I have the same Bible and I have the same God. I don’t have anything anyone else doesn’t have. I’ve just chosen to count on it and stake my life on it and the lives of my children on it.”

Lord, help me STAKE MY LIFE AND MY KID’S LIVES on YOUR WORD.

“Fathers and mothers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

Love intensely

Help me Lord. Speak to me.

“Help me Lord”

Last week I had one of those days. You know the one, the “Whelp, I did it. I ruined my kids today.” I yelled, I spoke harshly, I critiqued, and after it all, I cried. And cried hard. I felt like a failure. Like a terrible mom. A disappointment to my children. I went for a walk and found myself on my knees crying out to God for help: “I feel overwhelmed, help me. Speak to me. Please speak to me.” And I waited. After some time my heart was flooded with answers from his Word, “Love them intensely. Be gentle. Train them, but let me lead. And stay close to me-my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 “…love one another deeply, from the heart” 1 Peter 1:22

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness… 2 Tim 3:16-17

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Phil 4:5

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

“…she gives instructions with kindness.” Proverbs 31:26

I felt relief and gratitude…and repentance. Okay, I can do that. That sounds so much better than trying to control everything. It’s hard having a white knuckle grip on things out of my control.  I feel depleted some days, physically and emotionally. I think, “I just can’t do this.” And then Christ reminds me, not by yourself. I don’t want you to do it by yourself. I want to help you. I have sent you a helper to teach you all things. Come to me. I am your everything. 

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

“Then Jesus said, “COME TO ME, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

None of it is mine. These precious kids are not mine. My life is not mine. My time is not mine. It’s all his. I want to do it His way. I want to live with everything I have for him. Yes, motherhood is hard, but aren’t all the big things in life? Marriage, raising children, ministry…hard, but totally worth the work.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galations 6:9

Building a Shield of Faith Through Keeping Journals For Your Kids

DSC_0002

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

In 2 corinthians 6, Paul is talking about being in the power of God and doing what is right with WEAPONS of righteousness in the right hand and in the left. Weapons for defense AND action. The sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, and the shield of faith. A soldier would not go to battle without his weapons. We NEED weapons and our children need weapons too. Ephesians 6 tells us “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…” It goes on to tell us what to wear in battle and to put on the armor of God. I need weapons and it is my job as a mother to make sure my children have these weapons too. We are TRAINING them and PREPARING them for the WORLD and for KINGDOM WORK. Sometimes I get lost in diapers, baths, every child pooping at the same time, and lose that kingdom mindset. BUT God has a plan for them and it is for good, not disaster. We are to be training them FOR THIS PLAN that he has for them. We are to prepare them for the vision he has for them. And we are equipping them for His plan for their lives.

One way I am able to help them use their weapons is to help them build a shield of faith. I keep a prayer journal for each child and I write down prayers for them since they were born-health, purity, sibling relationships, heart murmurs, salvation, fears, weaning, nursing, relationship with us as parents, how to love, teach and accept their uniqueness, that He will show us how to equip them to serve Him best, and so much more. I always write “Answered ________” and leave a space to go back and fill in when the prayer was answered. I highlight the answered date and write a praise to the lord when it’s answered. In the back of the journal, I write down their strengths. These are God given. On a post it, I write down their weaknesses. (on a post it so I can remove it from the journal before I give it to them). I want to pray over their weaknesses. I want to be alert of how God made them. I want to be in prayer over how they can glorify the kingdom using their strengths, and what may be a pitfall for their weaknesses.

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” Proverbs 27:23

When my husband and I think they are ready to receive their journals, we will give it to them and say “Have faith! Look what ALL God has done for you!! He is always faithful. He truly cares for you and loves you deeply.” It’s a tangible way for them to actually see how God has been working in their lives for years. Since conception. And from my own prayer journal, I know that prayers can be answered in just hours or days, but I also know some prayers are not answered for years. And that there are those prayers that God has other plans for all together. Them seeing this also helps build faith. And it helps so much when I face a trial to look back at a prayer journal where God has answered SO MANY prayers. No matter how or when it was answered, God hears them all. We need to speak truth and life into our children. I want to HELP BUILD THEIR SHIELD OF FAITH. I want them to have a real sense of what it means to have a shield of faith.

“In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16

I want my children to carry with them a HUGE shield of faith. One that covers them from head to toe and arm length to arm length. Not one that just covers a small portion of their body, like just their face or just their chest. I want their shield to cover ALL of them!

“My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life.” Psalm 63:3

I wish I always had the faith our Lord deserves, but I don’t. I forget. I somehow forget the thousands of prayers he has answered for me. I so do not want to be like the Israelites in how they continued to forget all the Lord had done for them. Huge things he had done for them-parted the waters so they could walk through, lead them by a pillar of cloud, fed them with bread from Heaven! Help me Lord remember all of your good deeds and kindness towards me and proclaim your goodness to everyone.

“I will tell of the LORD’s unfailing love. I will praise the LORD for all he has done. I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel, which he has granted according to his mercy and love.” Isaiah 63:7

Bible Circle Time at home in 5 Easy Steps

DSC_0041

This is one of those posts where you have to look at what would work for you and your kids, take what you want and leave the rest. There is no “right way” or “look what we’re doing,” but just sharing ideas. I get lots of ideas from other moms so I like to share things my kids really enjoy. My kids are all little and close in age so it works for us right now. But don’t let anything in this make you feel like you need to do more. Just reading to your children while they’re cuddled in your lap is all they really need for a good “circle time”. 🙂

There are those days when I can’t get anyone to sit down, someone is having a meltdown, or the baby is crying and we just scrap the whole thing. But for the days when everyone is happy…

The kids love circle time. This can be done with just one child, or with lots of children. We don’t do it every week, but we try. They enjoy it even if I only do it once every week or two. Just about anything can be incorporated into circle time, but here is a layout of what we do with a 3 year old, 1.5 year old, and a 4 month old. (UPDATE: as the kids have gotten older, this has evolved into Morning Time, which is lots of reading around the breakfast table!) 

1. Blanket Squares and a song

They each like to have their own little space to sit and it helps for them to have a space to return to when they decide to run around like loony toons and I tell them to go back to their blanket. We pick a fun song to start with-itsy bitsy spider, wheels on the bus, open shut them, if you’re happy and you know, head and shoulders, etc.

2. Bible Story and re-enactment
Then we read a Bible story. After reading, I may point something out about the story-like how someone showed courage or love. Then we do some sort of movement re-enacting the story. We keep it super simple and fun. Examples: After reading the Battle of Jericho we marched around the kitchen seven times, singing “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,” blew our trumpets, and then ran to the living room and fell down as the “walls came tumbling down.” They really loved this one. Another example: the story of a paralyzed man’s friends lowering him through a roof for Jesus to heal, and we used a diaper box or a hamper, little people dolls, and a washcloth to lower the man down and re-enact it. We just use whatever is laying around.

3. Craft
Once in a while I will do a simple craft that can be done on the floor with the kids. I am NOT a crafty person, so this will need to be easy and simple or I won’t do it. For the Battle of Jericho we colored a piece of paper, then rolled it up and taped it as our “trumpet.” Simple. Or for the pool of Siloam, we printed out a square and wadded up blue tissue paper and glued it on the square to create our pool. Then we used the little people again to re-enact Jesus healing the blind man. (John 9:1-12)

4. Bible verse 
After we act out a portion of the story, we will read a Bible verse that goes along with it.  My husband bought these at Lifeway Christian Bookstore. They are post it notes with Bible verses. We wanted to use them over and over so we got them laminated. I pick out a verse from these that goes well with the story we read and leave it out all week in a place where we see it as we’re walking by (on a table, taped to the wall) and read at random times or when an opportunity presents itself to use the verse.

For The Battle of Jericho, I read: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9. 

For the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man I read: “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

5. Prayer
After I read the Bible verse we get on our knees and pray. I pray the Bible verse over my children. Example, “Lord I pray that M, T, and E will be strong and courageous for you. I pray they will not be afraid or discouraged, and that they know you are always with them. Let them be strong and courageous all the days of their lives, serving you without fear.”

We end with a group hug!

And then there’s those days where I can’t get anyone to sit down, someone is having a meltdown, or the baby is crying and we just scrap the whole thing. 🙂

Oh, and as a side note, I recently listened to a researcher who wrote a book about how to connect your children’s hearts so they are bonded closely. He said that one way to do this was to have them spend time reading together. So, this is a great stepping stone to that. And just in case your curious like I would be, he said the number one way (according to his research) to bond your siblings was to have them support one another. In extra curricular activities like piano recitals, sports, or just in general encouraging one another and cheering each other on. Great info!

DSC_0050 - Version 2

We start looking like this.

DSC_0052

And in the middle we look like this. 🙂

DSC_0049

And this.

DSC_0043

But we always end on our knees in prayer.