10 Non-Crafty Ideas for Rainy Days with Kids

Sunday, February 26, 2017



 
Yesterday I heard a glorious sound outside my window while I was putting on makeup. It was the sound of cute little birds chirping away in the sunshine. Be still my heart! Spring must really, truly be coming! In Montana where I live, we don't hold our breath on that until we hear the sound of a very specific bird: the Meadowlark. Yes, this yellow-bellied beauty with the distinct song knows without fail when spring has actually arrived here in our great state. And when I say great, I mean greatly COLD. Let me be totally honest. I entitled this 'Ideas for Rainy Day(s)', because I know that most of you reading this actually have a season called spring, where the grass turns green, daffodils and tulips decorate front yards, and people actually own something called umbrellas for all the rain they get in the Spring (I'm pretty sure that native Montanans who've never left the state don't know what those are; It almost never rains here). You see, "spring" in MT is really just an extension of a very long winter. Sure, we get a tease here and there with a random 65 degree day, but then our very souls are crushed when we wake up to three more inches of snow the very next day. On Easter, it's not unusual for us to wear pretty Easter dresses with snow boots. We hardly get any rain, but mud and slush for a few months as the several feet of snow melts, then freezes, then melts some more, and freezes again. Sometime around June, the temperature jumps up to the 80's and then it's summer practically overnight, thus, we don't have a cutesy flowers and butterflies spring. But I happened to live in TN for several years of my life, so I do know what a true, magical spring is like, plus I see all of your pictures on Instagram of flowers blooming and painted toenails peeking out of sandals, so I do know about spring, okay?



That said, those of you having spring, complete with rainy days, and those of us who are still dealing with snow until late March or April, we have something in common: STIR CRAZY KIDS. I have three girls ages five and under, and this time of year, they spend a lot of time with their faces pressed to the glass window panes asking, "Mommy, when is it going to be summer?" (See?! They don't even ask about spring!!) Those are the days I have to get my creative hat on and come up with some splendid idea to keep them happily occupied in the house. I do crafts with them occasionally, but I'm not really a crafty mom--art, yes; crafts, not so much. This winter has been extra brutal and looks to have no end in sight, so I decided to share with you some of our favorite things to do when we're stuck inside all day. And by the way, this probably came across as pretty whiney. I actually love living in MT and I love raising my kids here, but I have some major spring fever going on, and maybe a touch of seasonal affective disorder (something I struggle with most winters). February and March are tough, no doubt, but I sincerely love the rest of the year! Now that we've got that cleared up, let's get to it!!



10 Non-Crafty Ideas for Rainy/Snowy Days with Kids

 
1. Build an epic fort.
 Use furniture and sheets (sheets work better than heavy blankets). Once the fort is built, it can be 'furnished' with pillows, blankets, books, and whatever your kids want to bring in with them! We usually leave ours up for a few days, since it takes a lot of effort to build it.
 
2. Play dress up and have a dance party.
 This always, always cheers everyone up on grumpy afternoons. Experiment with different types of music depending on everyone's mood (or the mood you're hoping to achieve!)
 
3. Help your kids put on a puppet show.
Honestly, this takes zero craft making ability. Your kids can use stuffed animals, socks with eyes glued on, or my kids favorite puppet: a popsicle stick glued to a picture of an animal. Of course, you can get more creative with making your puppets, but the whole point is, you don't have to!
 
4. Have tea-time and read aloud or play games.
And by tea, I mean whatever drink your little ones prefer. Mine have been experimenting with tea because I drink so much during the winter, but really, they prefer hot chocolate, milk, or kambucha (weird, I know). We pop popcorn and I read aloud out of the Little House on the Prairie series, and occasionally if we forgot to do devotions that morning, we'll do that. Picture books are fun depending on the age. Anything goes, just read or play games and have fun!
 
5. Have a scavenger hunt.
I know, this is more of an outside activity, but it works indoors too! Use an egg carton and number each section 1-12. On a notecard, list 12 things by number that they need to find. It's okay if they can't read yet, that's what you're there for!
 
6. Bake a double batch of something: one for you and one to give away.
My girls love baking, as do most kids! While this activity in particular tries my patience sometimes, it's genuinely one of my favorite things to do with my kids, and it's fun to wrap a batch up and take it to someone else to enjoy!
 
7. Help them write letters to grandparents or other family or friends.
 Do your kids love drawing or painting? Have them draw a nice picture, and then help them write a letter to someone special. I love doing things that make them stop and intentionally think about someone else, and letter writing does just that! Plus, it makes the recipient's day!
 
8. "Go" to the movies--at home!
Okay, this one involves watching TV (hey, I never promised that this was a TV-free list!), but it's still creative and fun. And especially great for sick days when no one wants to do much. Create comfy spots for everyone (the fort is fun, if they can see out to the television!), pop popcorn, close the curtains and turn the lights out, and watch a movie they've never seen. Watch it with them if you have time to slow down. It makes for uninterrupted snuggle time:)
 
9. Plant something!
This will get you in the mood for spring for sure! On a nice day, go to a garden supply store and buy some seeds and soil. Depending on your budget and how much you want to spend on this little project, you can plant them in solo cups (the plastic red or blue ones you find at the grocery store), or buy mini plant pots. Set your planted pots in the window sill and watch them grow! Don't forget to water them!
 
10. Do a "unit study".
 This one takes a little planning, so if you see nasty weather in the forecast, you can do some prep work ahead of time. Ask your kids what they are interested in learning about. Space? The ocean? A particular country? The topics are endless. Then check out any books and videos your local library has on the subject. Look online for fun things to do that go with your topic...cooking cuisine from a different country, etc. The sky is the limit.
 

 

Well, I hope this helps you out during the next couple of rainy (or snowy--depending on where you live) months. It won't fix stir-crazy, but it will help, I promise!!! Cheers to fun-filled rainy spring days!

 

Your Daughter Hears You (even when it seems like she doesn't)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Do you ever feel like your kids don't hear a word you say? Do you get discouraged wondering if your efforts to "teach them and train them in the way they should go" are all in vain? I know I do!

Here's how a typical conversation about something important goes with my four-year-old:
Her: Poses difficult question; something deep and theological and hard to understand.
Me: Brief pause as I prepare to answer in an age-appropriate manner that she can understand, then answering with as much wisdom in the matter as I possess on the subject. Feeling like I did a pretty good job, when...
Her: Blank stare, followed by, "Mom can I have a snack?"




Ah, the frustration of this aspect of parenting little ones! You want to impart truth to their young minds and impressionable hearts, but most of the time it seems like you're talking to a monkey. You say something serious and they fidget the whole time or decide it's the perfect time to practice whistling. You ask them if they understand the incredibly important thing you just said and they reply with something off the wall and totally unrelated. Honestly it can make a parent feel like giving up on speaking words of truth and wisdom to their young children!

May I just say? DON'T GIVE UP! KEEP ON SPEAKING TRUTH! Keep sharing those little nuggets of wisdom as opportunities arise. As the Bible tells us in regards to talking to our children about Him,
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...Write them on the doorframes of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:7,9) 
 
 
Whether or not it seems like they are listening or hearing; even if it seems like it goes in one ear and right out the other; be diligent and you WILL see the fruit of your labor. Case in point: I often wonder if my girls are hearing anything I say, noticing anything my husband and I model for them, learning anything from church, absorbing anything we read to them. I hadn't seen any fruit in such a long time, I was questioning everything I'd been doing as a mom. Was I living a terrible example? Lecturing too much? Not saying enough? As these questions kept creeping into my mind, the Lord was so kind to give me not one, but several moments in the last week to reassure and encourage me towards continuing to give it my all (by His grace--always and only by His grace!) One afternoon in the car, my oldest was having a world-class complain fest, and I finally cut her off suggested that she list some things she was thankful for out loud. I didn't expect much, but for the next twenty minutes, my four and five-year old sat in the back seat saying the most lovely things! I'm thankful for our church family...I'm thankful for Jesus dying for my sins...I'm thankful for the sky that God paints everyday...I'm thankful for beautiful music...for clean water...for a bed and warm cozy blankets. On and on they went. I nearly cried it was so beautiful. They unknowingly spouted off so much theology and faith, my mama heart exploded with thankfulness, and it was God's way of reassuring me that they were indeed hearing and absorbing. That same week, I watched the [more] selfish one put others first and her needs last, even when she thought I wasn't watching. I saw the fruit of the Spirit bubbling out of them and it renewed my passion for teaching them and guiding them along paths of Truth. Of course life is still the same: plenty of sister fights, arguing with mom, disobedience, and grumbling. But to see fruit intermingled with typical kid behavior is beyond thrilling!


Moms, Dads: Keep fighting the good fight! If anything was ever worth persevering, it is this! We can't make the seeds grow, but we can sure plant and water the heck out of them, and then joyfully watch God grow our little women. Keep that in mind as your own little monkeys stare blankly at you as you feed them nuggets of truth each day, and take heart: they hear you!

Confident Mom Series Part III: Maintaining Your Gifts in the Midst of Motherhood

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thanks for coming back for more of the Confident Mom series! This is the third and final installment:) I do hope you are enjoying it and feeling encouraged. Sometimes we moms get so focused on raising our children and helping them develop their strengths that we forget about ours! Our gifts can slowly get pushed to the back burner until we scarcely remember them, only to wake up one day wondering, "Where did that part of me go?" Sound familiar? Here's a quick example:

For as long as my memory serves me, I've loved art in all forms and fashions. Both of my grandmothers were artists, and both taught me to draw and paint from the time I was old enough to hold a brush in my tiny fingers. As a child and adolescent, I saw myself as a creative type. I loved drawing, painting, and making jewelry. When I graduated from college, my husband got me an expensive oil painting kit, complete with an easel, brush set, canvases, and quality oil paints. I had our first baby two months later and the oils have only been used once in seven years. I was too busy mothering that I never even made an effort to carve out time for the things I once loved and felt gifted in. One exceptionally cold day, I was invited to a last minute birthday party for a close friend. The party was that night, and I didn't feel like dragging my three littles out in sub-zero temperatures to find a gift. Suddenly, for the first time in ages, I thought about all the beads and jewelry making hardware I had in a box somewhere. I dragged everything out and within an hour, made my friend a gorgeous pair of earrings, and packaged it up in a pretty piece of fabric with a simple ribbon. My girls watched in fascination, eager to look at and touch and sort the vast array of beads before them. I felt so alive! This thing, this creativity and the artist in me that had been lying dormant for almost a decade had made an appearance, and I realized, I can throw myself into motherhood AND keep my passions alive. Sure, I don't have hours to devote to creating world-class paintings (not that I ever did in the first place...), but I thought, surely I can do this more regularly, and it doesn't have to be something that detracts from my role as a mom. No! Just the opposite! This was something that could add to who I already was as a mom! Just as my grandmothers taught me art, so should I take my deep-seeded love for creativity in the form of painting and jewelry making and pass it on to my own daughters! It is part of me, so it can be part of who I am as a mom. How freeing!

 
 
I think so many moms feel bogged down with the demands that motherhood inherently brings: from diapering and round-the-clock feedings; to never-ending dirty dishes and meal planning and grocery shopping and cooking and feeding (ever feel like your entire life revolves around food, mom?); to playdates and activities and reading stories and cleaning up. Need I go on? This is reality, and we put our game faces on and we get in there and get it done! Day after day, week after week, year after year. Sure, the diapers and midnight feedings pass with the years, but they are replaced with other things to keep you equally busy.



I know I felt this way! Some days I still do. I admit, I still have days where I throw my hands up and pray for a cheerful heart, as I struggle feeling like my entire waking existence is spent running after my darling, beautiful, MESSY, HUNGRY, IRRITABLE children. But other days, I've learned to carve out time for what I love. Yes, the laundry may not get folded. There is furniture I haven't dusted since who knows when. But my house isn't a pig sty by any means, and I've decided to forgo perfection on the home front, in exchange for cultivating my God-given love for art. It's part of my heritage, and I hope to instill a love of art in my daughters, whether they gravitate toward drawing, oils, watercolor, scrapbooking, jewelry making, whatever!! It doesn't have to be some guilty pleasure that I indulge in occasionally, or something I try to cram in during naptime. Rather it can and should be just something I do and something my kids do with me, catered to their appropriate age and capabilities. Lord willing, someday they will look back and think about how their mom taught them about art. Maybe I will get to paint with my grandkids. Think of it: five generations teaching each other to create beauty.

So, beautiful, busy mama:
What's that thing you've let go dormant? What have you pushed to the back burner? Maybe you even turned the burner off and put the pot away in a box in a storage unit to gather dust. Maybe it's been more than a decade and you think, "I could never be good at that again." WRONG! If you read this and something popped into your head, maybe made your heart flutter the slightest bit, than I think you're on to something:) I want to encourage you, even if you're neck deep in the thoroughs of motherhood, be it the little years, or chauffeuring teens a million different directions, find ten minutes this week. Any one can do that. Let a load of laundry sit (or make your kids fold it!) and get out that paint brush, that instrument, that journal, that gourmet cookbook. Close your eyes and remember how that thing used to make you feel. Then roll up your sleeves and have at it! And if it still makes a part of you come alive, then don't put it away. Keep it out. Do it once a week. Do it five minutes a day. Let your kids see. Let them help. Involve them. And let it become part of your unique mom-ness. (is that a word? I just made it one!)


Let your uniqueness and your gifts shine! You'll thank yourself, and so will your kids:)

Confident Mom Series Part II: Why it's Important to be a Confident Mom

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Welcome to Part II of the Confident Mom series! I'm glad you're back for more:) Today I want to discuss why exactly it's important to be a confident mom. This hits so close to home for me...so deep in fact that it's a big reason why I started this blog. You see, I struggled with confidence since the tender age of seven when my parents moved us across the country. I struggled to make new friends and my brother and I were the "city kids" to our MT dairy farming cousins. I always felt like I didn't really fit in anywhere, and in an effort to feel accepted, I tried to be anyone but myself; I never thought myself was good enough. I tried to be athletic instead of artistic. I tried to be a tomboy instead of embracing my girly interests. In college I went the science path instead of embracing my creative mind and going with an English or art focused major (huge regret of mine!!). To be painfully honest, it was  only in my early thirties that I began to develop security in who I was and stopped trying to be parts of all the people I thought were better than me. It was so freeing to finally be honest with myself and others about who I was and what I liked, what I was good at, what I wanted to pursue. Because of my insecurity, I made huge, destructive, life-altering mistakes for more than a decade. I partied to fit in. Partying led to other mistakes, and my life spun out of control to the point of eventual rehab. Looking back, every single self-destructive path I took would have been avoided, had I been a confident young woman. It is our job as moms of daughters to raise up our little girls with confidence in who they are; in who God created them to be. Let's get more in depth!


Why is it important to be a confident mom--especially if you have daughters?

In today's world, girls have an insane amount of pressure to live up to some pretty unreasonable expectations, and from such a young, impressionable age! They see the magazine covers while they wait with you in the grocery lines from the time they are itty bitty! The pressure to be thin, flawlessly beautiful, successful, sexy and trendy (all outward, worldly, cheap characteristics)--the pressure begins young. But you, mom, YOU are the one and possibly the only woman in your daughter's life who can teach her the value of inner-beauty and confidence in her worth in Christ. But how do you teach such a deep truth in the face of such lies swirling around in every which direction? By living it. Every. Single. Day.
Intentionally.
On purpose.
You are your daughter's hero and the woman she is around more than anyone else, especially in her early years. Your actions and words have a tremendous impact on her belief system about herself.

 
My fellow mom: By being confident in Christ, confident in the truths we profess, and confident in our abilities/gifts/talents, we encourage our daughters to be who God made them to be rather than a cheap imitation of what the world will forever encourage them to be. We will give them the gift of deeply rooted authenticity. When they see us devoting more time to reading the Word than to fixing our hair; When they see us using our time and energy cheerfully serving others rather than spending our time ladder climbing and wishing for something 'else'; When they see us embracing our talents--painting, writing, creating, leading, serving, cooking, singing...whatever, and enjoying doing it, more than they hear us saying envious words towards those who we are not. I wish I could sing like her; She's such a better cook than me; I wish I was motivated to run marathons like her (then I'd be skinny like her).  When we are confident in our eating habits, our family values, our belief systems, our daily routines, our looks, our body type, our personality, our likes and dislikes--then and only then will we be able to truly teach our girls to be confident in who they are. THIS IS HUGE. I cannot stress enough how important a girl's confidence is and how it will play into her life as a young adult, as she begins to navigate the world without her mom guiding her each day.

A confident girl knows who she is and who/what she believes in.
A confident girl doesn't care what other's think of her.
Not caring what others think of her means resisting peer pressure.
Resisting peer pressure means being authentically herself, because she is secure (confident)enough to love being herself even if it isn't 'cool'.
Loving herself means having a respect for who God made her, and allows her to pursue her God-given dreams, not distracted or deterred by what the world thinks.
SHE SHINES.
All because of you, her confident mama. The one who shined and taught her to shine.

Are you a humble, confident mom to your daughter?
Humble in that you know your weaknesses and aren't afraid to ask for help?
Humble that you know you need Jesus every minute of every day.
Humble that you spend a good amount of precious time on your knees asking Him for help as you do this big, sacred work of mothering?
Yet, confident of who you are? Of who He made you to be? Confident that He has made you the mother of your kids and that you truly are the best mom for them? Confident that you can do this mom thing and do it well with the grace God provides you?

My prayer for you, and for myself, is that we would daily submit ourselves to God, asking Him for help in this task of motherhood, and that our confidence as moms and as women would come from Christ. That we would embrace our gifts and stop envying the gifts of others. That we would shine--to His glory, and that we would teach our girls to shine like stars in the crooked universe.

Join me for Part III in the Confident Mom series! It's going to get fun! We will talk about using our unique personality types--quirks and all--to be the best mom for our kids. Have a terrific Wednesday friends!







 

 

 

Confident Mom Series Part I: Our Confidence is in Christ

Monday, February 13, 2017

Welcome to the Confident Mom Series!!! I'm excited about this, I've been  prayerfully working on it for awhile now. You may be wondering what a series about confident mothering is doing on a blog about raising godly daughters. You may even be thinking that confidence is in direct opposition to the biblical principle of humility, that it's a topic more suited for a women's magazine article: 10 Ways to feel more Confident in Bed. How to Impress Your Boss with Your Confidence. Feel Confident and Sexy with these 5 Easy Tricks. (These examples are NOT the type of confidence we'll be exploring together) Yes, confidence can certainly be secularized and even demonized. The Bible warns us of the dangers of being proud, and exhorts us to imitate Christ's humility. Yet, knowing who we are in Christ and being sure about who he created us to be as unique individuals is imperative to living out our full potential--IN CHRIST. As I share some of my story in part II, you'll see why I'm so passionate about the importance of being a confident mom...especially when we have daughters!



I hope and pray that you like this series, and most of all, I hope it resonates with you, and that you walk away feeling like you  are in fact, the perfect mom for your kids. Before we really get started, I'd like to chat about the word "confident" real quick. Confidence is often confused with cockiness or pride, and therefore some people assume it's sinful to be confident.  Let's define the word, shall we?

CONFIDENCE is defined as:
1. the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust
2. the state of feeling certain about the truth of something
3. a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities

First and  most importantly, we can be confident because we believe that we can rely on and trust in God. Foundational to every single thing we discuss in this series, is that we are confident in Christ.

Second, is that if we are in the Word daily, we can be certain about the truth. We can be absolutely certain that we are to teach our kids about God; that we should, as God enables, model the fruits of the Spirit. We can teach them about love and forgiveness; about loving their neighbor as themselves. We can teach the how to serve the least of these, and we can set for them life long habits of fellowship, worship, and community by attending and being involved in a local church. Those are truths that you can be confident in.

Finally, we can appreciate our own God-given abilities and qualities, and run with them! Rather than envying your best friend's abilities and chasing after something that doesn't come natural to you, take some time (if you aren't sure) and determine what your strengths are, and then pray for God to help you shine in those areas as you parent.


I hope that clears up any misgivings you may have had about a Christian blog going on and on about the importance of confidence. I'm in no way advocating to be full of one's self, to see one's self elevated over anyone else, or to be puffed up in any way, shape or form. My own testimony is one full of regret and heartache, of destructive behavior and selfishness towards those I was affecting. I've shared my testimony many times to groups of women or teens over the years, and every time, I go home and lay awake because there's always been one unresolved issue in my mind about my story: WHY. Why, as someone who was raised a Christian, did I make the decisions that I did? Why did I choose the wrong path over and over again? It took me a solid decade to figure out the answer, and I'll share about that in part II: Why Being a Confident Mom is Important. Hope to have you there!








 

 

Teaching Our Daughters to Pray Without Ceasing

Friday, February 10, 2017

We all know that prayer is vital to the Christian life. I'm guessing most of you reading this do pray, but how many of us take literally the command to 'pray without ceasing'--and actually put it into practice? Is this even realistic? Is it possible? How do we raise our daughter's to be prayer warriors? How do we teach them to be in close communion with Jesus throughout their day, not just before meals and during devotion time?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 exhorts us to:

 Rejoice always;  pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks;
 for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
 
This has long been my favorite verse in the Bible, as it has so much to say about how we are to live out each day. But if I'm honest, I preach this verse to myself more as a reminder on a gloomy day that I am to be rejoice in the Lord regardless of the gloom. I recite it often to remember to be thankful in all circumstances, for the small things and for each trial and blessing. How is it then, that I gloss over the "pray without ceasing" part? After all, the verse ends with the itty bitty fact that it's GOD'S WILL FOR ME. Yeah, it's pretty significant. I've spent countless hours taking personality quizzes and reading books on how to know if I'm in God's will, hours praying to do his will. Yet, here it is in black and white, spelled out for me in nineteen words. Will I be satisfied doing two thirds of God's will? I'd like to do better in this area, and I'd desperately like to teach my daughters to have fruitful prayer lives.

Three Ways We can Teach our Daughter's to Practice Unceasing Prayer:

1. Pray with her often, both at 'scheduled' times (e.g. after her morning devotions, before meals, as you tuck her into bed), and as situations arise, for example, when she falls down and gets hurt, when siblings are fighting,  or when she comes home from school sad because she got left out. There are countless opportunities to pray with our children!  

2. Use "prayer cues". I heard a sermon on this once and it stuck. Basically, you use things that happen frequently to remind you to pray for specific things. For example, when you hear a siren, pray for the situation, the workers, and all who are involved. Find ways to involve your kids in this! It can be anything! Pray for a different member of the family every time you come to a red light in the car. Or  pray for the neighbor every time his dog barks. Get creative and let your kids help.

3. Let her see you pray, both silently and aloud. We can teach with words all we want, but actions speak volumes louder. The more she sees you pray, mom, the more likely she is to develop it as a habit herself. My kids know if they are up early enough, they have to be quiet and entertain themselves while I finish up my devotion time, which involves using my prayer journal and praying silently. They also hear my husband and I pray together, usually in the morning before he leaves, but also when something pressing is happening and we feel the need to stop what we're doing and pray for a person or situation.


Prayer is certainly a discipline that takes effort! (That's why it's called a discipline I suppose...) But the effort is so worth the outcome of deep seeded peace, closeness with Jesus, the ability to discern good from evil, and answered prayers! Oh how I want my daughters to experience the fullness of a life lived in constant communion with their Creator!

And so I challenge you, dear reader: Take out a pen and paper and jot down some ideas. It's one thing to read about something you want to see happen in your life, and another thing to take action. We're taking action! (I'm doing it too!) If you aren't currently doing much praying with her, write down some times that you could make prayer a regular part of your day. Have your daughter (and any and all of your kids!) and have them brainstorm some prayer cues. Make an effort to let them see you pray alone or with your spouse. Let's make every effort to weave prayer into the very fabric of our lives, and help our daughters along toward being women who pray.
 

 

 

3 Ways to Cultivate Content Hearts

Years ago, a post went viral from an anthropologist. He had traveled to several countries, first world and third world, photographing children with their possessions. Some of the children were photographed in their luxurious bedroom surrounded by literally hundreds of toys, dolls, and collectables. It was a sharp contrast to two pictures I remember clearly still: A boy sitting on a dirt floor with a toy truck, and a little girl with a simple doll. Both had smiles on their face. The interesting part of the article, which was mostly told in pictures, was that the photographer mentioned that the children with the least were the most willing to share. They wanted him to hold their one possession; they seemed to hold it loosely. On the other hand, some of the kids with the most preferred he not touch their myriad of things.



I realize the above is an example in extremes, so please don't hear me say that your child should only have one doll! But the takeaway lesson is clear: simplicity breeds contentment. We live in a fast paced culture: technology moves along at breakneck speed, the latest trends are near impossible to keep up with, and social media is in our, and our children's, face telling us what we aren't measuring up to. How on earth are we supposed to raise our girls to have content hearts in a world that wants more, more, MORE?! It's challenging and takes being intentional, but it's possible! Let's explore the ways, shall we?

3 Ways to Cultivate a Content Heart:


1. Keep it simple. As I recently heard a pastor say, "Simple is not stupid."
Contrary to popular belief, children do not need every latest, greatest toy that comes out. In fact, the fewer toys, the greater his or her contentment, creativity, attention span, and ability to focus will be. Case in point: We have some friends who have a huge home and literally, every room of the home (even the bathroom!) is filled to the brim with toys. When we go there for dinner, our kids fight over things, whine, get bored, and make a giant mess (which they also whine about having to clean up at the end of the night!). By sharp contrast, when kids come to our house to play, they often comment with disappointment upon arriving, "Where are all the toys?" But they leave exhausted from all the fun that was made: dressing up and putting on a dance show, building forts, playing outside, etc. We do have toys, but we try to keep it paired down to things that will make the girls think and use their imagination.


2. Cultivate gratitude in your home
Gratitude goes a lot deeper than saying "thank you" upon receiving something. It's an inward attitude of true heartfelt thankfulness, and it's SO hard to teach. This is something that will take years and years of consistency and requires a good example, prayer, and talking about gratitude. A mom who complains is sure to bring up a daughter who complains. A mom who remains cheerful and makes it a habit to point out the positive aspects, even on hard days, will eventually see the fruit of that consistency in her daughter (though it may take years...children are natural born complainers!) Among many other specific things, we should be praying for our children to have content, thankful hearts; God is ultimately the one who will change her heart, though he uses us moms as a tool for sure! We also have to talk about gratitude. I'll be doing a separate post on how to talk to your daughter about gratitude soon. It's much too big of a subject in and of itself to cover here!

3. Say no more often...and no, you aren't ruining their childhood!
The apostle Paul said in Philippians, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Paul wouldn't have known how to really be content, had he had a smooth road everyday, no trials to face, no opposition, a great big house with servants and feasts each day. No! He learned contentment because of the hardships he faced. Mom, it's okay for your daughter to face hardships and disappointments! I'm all for giving our kids a beautiful, fun and amazing childhood! But it's important for children to have unmet wants, otherwise, we have raised spoiled, entitled humans who aren't content unless things go their way. My weakness is giving my girls snacks constantly; I can't bear when they look at me saying we're soooo hungry mom! And so my kids pick at their meals because I've unwisely fed them all day, rather than allowing them to go play and be hungry, and then come in for a nice supper that they actually eat. We don't have to say yes to every birthday party, every request, every invite, every want. We can, and should, say no. We're doing them a favor, though the tears and tantrums and looks of disappointment will sting in the moment. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do as parents is to kindly say no.



While none of these methods will produce results over night, with consistency through the eighteen or so years we have with our kids under our roof (whew, that's a long time to be consistent! Give yourself some grace!), we will send our girls out into the world, confident that they will be content, thankful human beings, shining their light to those around them.








 

 

 

Kindness Must Be Taught

My middle daughter came out of the womb with an exceptionally kind heart. Since she was old enough to walk, she's been sharing and showing compassion to her family. She's got a special blanket that she's incredibly attached to, but without fail, if one of her sisters gets hurt, if someone is crying or sad, or if I'm laying on the couch not feeling well, she brings her trusty blanket and wraps it around the person in need. She often chooses random moments to stop playing and comes to kiss me on the cheek, then resumes her activity. She gladly gives up her portion so that her sister can have two (not all the time, but it has happened more than once). THIS IS NOT THE NORM!!!
 


Most children, including my other two daughters, are not born inherently kind. I mean honestly, as sweet as little ones are in so many ways, they basically want what they want, when they want it; they don't like sharing; they are selfish. It's human nature, which is why as parents, we must teach them to be kind. I constantly find myself saying things to my girls like, "Was that a kind thing to say?" "Use kind words!" "Be kind to your little sister!" "Ignoring her is disrespectful and not kind." We often stop and talk about what kindness is and I make them brainstorm examples. But are my efforts working? I believe so. You see, a wise woman once told me that home is the training ground and it isn't always pretty, but how your kids behave outside the home is the real test of what your teaching inside the home. When I pick them up from a playdate or from the childcare at the gym, they often jump in the car eager to tell me the details of their time away from me, and so often, they tell me in great detail about how they were kind to someone. They are excited to tell me all about it because they know I'll be proud of them, sure. But I believe they are also telling me because they feel good about it and want to share their excitement with me. Being kind feels good!

 


Home is the place where kindness is taught. Our girls are watching us! They see how we speak to and treat our husband. They're deeply aware of the tone in our voice when we speak to them. They hear us on the phone, whether it's a friend or an annoying salesperson. They watch and absorb how we treat others when we're in public. Yes, we teach them by talking about kindness, but much, much more by how kind we actually are. Let's pray together for the Lord to help us teach our daughters to have a spirit of kindness that is woven into their everyday lives; kindness that flows from deep within their heart, that exists because of God's loving-kindness toward them. And let's make it one of the many prayers we pray over our girls, that the Lord would give them kind hearts that love well.