When I first became a mom, I was shocked to discover the realization that God loved my children even more than I did. As much as I loved them—He loved them even more!
Of course, we, as parents, tell our children we love them, but how can we put actions to those words? Here are nine suggestions to show your kids how much they mean to you.
Spend time with them. Children equate love with the time spent with them. Whether you take your kids to the playground or just spend time snuggling, time spent is important. Other suggestions for family activities in our house include bike rides, throwing the softball around, and playing board or card games.
When my girls were toddlers, they loved playing with their toy horses. One day, I decided to sit on the floor and join them. Together, we developed a pretend “TV show” we called Horses. We made up a theme song that we all sang before the “show” started. I would then think of a topic—usually one with a good lesson tacked on the end. For example, in one “episode,” David (one of their favorite horses) struggled with being selfish. How did the other horses handle this? What did David learn in the end? With my daughters involved in the plot, it was always an adventure to see how the episode progressed.
Before long, Horses turned into a series. I had to chuckle because every time we played, each of my daughters would be the voice of just one horse each. “And, Mama, you are the voices for all of these!” I was then handed a pile of horses, both male and female, for which I would be the voices. I think I may have missed my calling as a voice-over artist.
My daughters have long since grown beyond Horses, but I have fond memories of playing something with them that meant so much and being able to stick in a few good lessons while we played.
These days some of our favorite ways to spend time together include having wonderful chats over lunch, playing sports together, and going on bike rides. For my oldest daughter, who is an aspiring author, we enjoy spending time together brainstorming, creating characters for our books, and bouncing plot ideas off each other.
For my youngest, we enjoy running 5k races together and heading to the hair salon for a “girls’ day”.
Pray with and for your children. Our family takes turns praying and when it’s my turn, I make it a point to be sure to add any of their concerns in my prayers. I assure my children that God hears each prayer request, whether big or small, and that He cares about the things that concern them. Now that my daughters are older, it has been wonderful to watch how those prayers have become habit and how their faith in the Lord has grown over the years.
Express gratitude. One of my favorite things to do is to express gratitude daily. For younger children, it can be something as simple as “Doodle, thank you for sharing that last cookie with your sister.” Or “Sunshine, I really appreciated how you had a servant’s heart today and your willingness to help me with the dishes.” For older children, add more details, such as, thanking them for making dinner for the family, taking on extra chores, or helping a sibling.
Leave a note. A special note tucked in as a bookmark in the book they’re reading is sure to remind them how much you love them. If your children attend school outside of home, stick a note in their lunchbox. It’s a guaranteed mood booster!
Read to them, even if they’re older. I began reading to my children when they were infants. As toddlers, there wasn’t a day that would go by when I wasn’t brought a stack of books including Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? A Little Girl After God’s Own Heart, Goodnight Moon, Snowmen at Night, and Little Whistle.
Even older children enjoy being read to from books such as devotions, stories from the Bible, and classics such as Little House on the Prairie.
Keep the lines of communication open. If you’re a parent, you know that children ask a gazillion questions. It’s important we take the time to answer those questions to the best of our ability and at an age-appropriate level. I have told my children since they could speak that they can ask me any question about anything, and that when they do, I give them my full attention.
One of the fun things we have implemented is to declare time for “chitty-chattys” whenever we are in the car doing errands. Some of our best moments, both when my girls were younger and when they were tweens and teens, has been to make it a habit to chat in the car.
It’s amazing to me the wonderful conversations that I have had the privilege to partake in during these times.
Surprise your child with something that means a lot to her. What about making their favorite meal for dinner? What about presenting your child with a small token gift, such as a book they’ve wanted to read?
Learn what makes your child feel loved. Take a minute and ask your children what are things you do that make them feel loved. Listen to their answers and then take their suggestions.
When my daughters were growing up and as I embarked on the incredible journey known as motherhood, I prayed daily that the Lord would guide me as I raised my tiny blessings for Him.
Now my daughters are young adults and I do miss those early days of motherhood. But nothing is more special than the close bond strengthened over the years. When we are deliberate in our parenting, the chances of those bonds enduring is that much stronger.
All we have to do is live in the world for a day and it becomes evident there are joy zappers. We ourselves, other people, and even things that attempt to, while intentionally or inadvertently, steal our happiness seem to lurk around every corner.
Perhaps you recognize some of these joy zappers:
Illness. Ranking towardthe top of joy zappers is illness. According to the National Health Council, “About half of all adults have a chronic condition”. Chronic illness, chronic pain, and chronic disease are tough and can feel unmanageable, frightful, and depressing.
Mean people. Mean people are akin to weeds in a garden of flowers. It can be beyond difficult at times to react in a God-glorifying manner with “weedy” folks.
Complaining. Constant complaining can hinder our joy and make us forget how blessed we are.
Toxic media. Toxic media has taken on a whole new face in recent days. False news, censorship, lies, attacks, and more contribute to our already high stress levels in a world that has appeared to have derailed.
Idols. Idols, or anything we put above God in our lives, can come in many forms and can quickly steal our joy. Place the importance of material items – such as new cars to compete with the neighborsor an unlimited amount of charging on your charge card with no ability to pay the balance due – over everything else and you’ll quickly discover the stress of this common joy zapper.
Trials. Trials are never fun. Whether in the form of illness, relationship issues, money struggles, or when life just doesn’t go right, no one wants to hang out permanently in the struggles of life. I was recently speaking to my mom about one of the trials that has weighed heavily on my heart these past few weeks. “God is definitely growing you,” my mom tenderly told me. And she is right. God does grow us through trials. It is not fun to experience any type of trial, and most of us would like to learn whatever it is God is teaching us sooner rather than later.
Relationship conflict. Is there anything more stressful than relationship conflict?
Gossip. Being on the receiving end of gossip is an instant joy zapper and a painful reminder of how dangerous the tongue can be.
Unrighteous anger and bitterness. Unrighteous anger and bitterness can easily tip the scales against having a joyful life.
Comparison trap, procrastination, perfectionism, people-pleasing, worry, and fear. Comparing ourselves to others, procrastination, perfectionism, and people pleasing can all take us from happiness to dissatisfaction, discontentment, and a melancholy outlook. Likewise, worry and fear can take something meant to be pleasurable and turn it into something to dread.
Excessive busyness. Excessive busyness not only drags us down, but it’s unhealthy to be too busy. It causes stress and makes it difficult to find peace.
And there are many more that we could add to the list. Some of the items listed above are things others use to steal our joy. Others are things and demands we put on ourselves that steal our joy.
So what can we dowhen the joy zappers fly in and attempt to take root in our lives?
Praydiligently and often.Lord, I surrender this joy zapper in my life to you. Please show me what I am to learn from it and grow me to be more like You through it. Help me to trust You more fully through any obstacles I may be facing. While I realize you might not take it completely away, I know You will walk with me through it, and I praise You for that.
Set your mind on things above. In Matthew 14, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. A good reminder to keep our eyes on Him. When we do so, we are held safely in His grasp.
Remember who He is. It is so easy to forget that the One who spoke this very world into existence, who created our innermost being (Psalm 139:13), and who died so we who have put our faith in Him may have eternal life someday, has also overcome the world. He is bigger than anything we find ourselves in the midst of. He can and will give us peace over the most difficult joy zapper.
Be mindful of where you spend your time. One of the biggest traps we can allow ourselves to fall into is spending time with the wrong things (or people!) When we constantly fill our minds with the news, negative social media posts, or angry music we can cause our perception of things to become skewed. Spending time with unhealthy things and people can also cause a shift in our personalities. As I have told my daughters many times, “garbage in = garbage out”. Don’t let the joy zappers of where we spend our time weigh us down.
Spend time in the Word. A better place to spend our time would be to spend it in His Word. Taking time each day, preferably in the morning before you start your day, to get to know Him through Scripture is a surefire anecdote for problems to become smaller.
Grow in the Lord. Are we further in our faithwalk this year than last year? When our growth becomes stagnate, our chances of being thwarted by a joy zapper is greater.
Spend time with godly family and friends. There are few things more energizing than spending time with a sibling in Christ. Godly family and friends can pray for us as we endure the struggles of our joy zappers, hold us accountable in our walk with the Lord and through temptations, and pray for us.
Set reasonable goals. One of the biggest joy zappers is busyness. I find myself guilty often of trying to cram too much into one hour/day/week/month. We weren’t designed to be on stress overload, as we navigate the 400,000,000 items on a to-do list. Instead, set reasonable goals and achieve them in bite-sized chunks.
Spend some time in Creation. An excellent remedy to combat joy zappers is to spend some time in Creation.
Forgive. Unforgiveness can steal our joy quicker than we might realize. And not only can it steal our joy on its own, it also leads to bitterness. Ephesians 4:31-32 has a lot to say about how God thinks we should handle bitterness. He tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” And while it may be nearly impossible to forgive someone at times, we need only to remember how much we are forgiven for and what that need for forgiveness did to the Savior when He went to the Cross for us.
Nothing can steal our joy in Christ. It is more than mere happiness. It is a deep abiding knowledge that we are His and that we will spend eternity with Him, no matter what transpires in our lives. No matter what comes our way or threatens to derail us, Jesus is still on the throne.
Today we celebrate the United States of America’ s birthday. From the desire for freedom sprang this beautiful nation. We have a rich and amazing history, and while we’ve hit some bumpy spots along the way, the nation has never yet forgotten the One who is the ultimate foundation, and may we never do so.
My maternal great-grandfather and paternal grandfather fought in WWII. Various other relatives have also sacrificed much to serve this great nation. My great-great-grandparents arrived from Sweden in search of a better life. I’m a mutt, you could say: Swedish, German, English, a touch of Scotch-Irish, and potentially the merest drip of Choctaw Indian. America is not called “The Melting Pot” for nothing. This land is home to the descendants of immigrants who sought a better life, who valued freedom over staying in their motherland, who wanted a fresh start. God has richly blessed America. From…
Thank you for joining me for our final segment of The Video Camera is Always On. We’ve chatted about a lot of different areas where our children our watching (and mimicking us). In our first segment, we discussed how our kids are watching our habits and our faith, how we act, our humility, and our responses.
I expounded on the importance of emulating a strong faith to our kids in the second segment and included some tips on how to not only talk about our love for Jesus with our children, but also how they notice our love for Him through our actions.
In the third segment, I discussed how our kids are watching what priorities take precedence in our lives and the importance of what we allow into our minds. I offered resources for those topics.
Finally, in my fourth segment, I discussed how our children are watching as we interact with our spouse, along with some tips on how we can show our children a marriage worth mirroring. I also discussed how we should be mindful of how we react to those who have wronged us, especially in the presence of our children.
In today’s post, I’m adding two other critical ways we can set a good example for our kids. Healthy habits and how we dress.
In my first post, I referred to the time my oldest daughter mirrored her father’s addiction to condiments. This brings me to the all-important topic of modeling healthy habits for our kids. While we laugh about the condiment king and his condiment princess daughter now, it was definitely an eye-opener as to how our children mimic our everyday habits, even when we don’t realize it.
So how can we model and instill a healthy lifestyle?
From the time my daughters were babies, we would take walks through the neighborhood. The double baby jogger stroller my mom bought me as a gift had more miles on it than my SUV will ever have, as we took jaunts through the neighborhood, walked down a steep two-mile hill to town, and back up again (did I mention I had the best arms ever in those days?). We packed special snacks, pointed out dogs, birds, airplanes, and pretty flowers along the way, and stopped a short distance from our house so the girls could walk along the “balance beam”, a short brick wall that lined the sidewalk. Those days were special days and provided exercise for me and fun playground time for the girls on the way back home.
Not only was I enjoying spending time with my daughters, but I was teaching them the importance of exercise.
Our children need to see us actively partaking in caring for the body the Lord gave us.
Make family-time exercise a priority.
There has rarely been a summer at our house when the girls haven’t stretched the badminton net across the backyard, pulled out the huge and awkward ping-pong table from the shed, kicked the soccer ball around the yard, or tossed the football with their dad. Our active schedule has regularly included family bike rides, batting practice at the playground, jogging, and hiking in the mountains.
By showing our children that family time is important, we show them that they are important. And by showing them that exercise can be fun, we reiterate a healthy lifestyle that can last throughout their lives.
Emulate healthy eating habits.
Our children will naturally gravitate toward sugary treats over broccoli and cauliflower. It’s important to teach (and model!) to our kids healthy eating habits. If we tell our children to eat spinach and fruit and we ourselves are eating donuts and cake, it’s highly likely (as the saying goes) that they’ll do as we do, not as we say.
Another area where our children are always watching is in the way we dress.
Are we clean with good hygiene?
Do we take pride in our appearance – not vainly – but by dressing appropriately for the occasion? While there are jokes galore about wearing pajamas to Walmart, looking like a slob shouldn’t be our goal.
Are we modest? God made our bodies beautiful and amazing. Arms that give loving hugs. Legs that can run fast. Hands that can create art. Feet that bear our weight and take us where we need to go. Unfortunately, immodesty has become the norm in our culture. We need to reiterate to our daughters that we are not valued by how much skin we show.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating for a wardrobe that consists only of baggy turtlenecks and ankle-length full skirts. What I am advocating for is attire that is pleasing to the Lord. Skin tight, cleavage-bearing, super-short shorts don’t fit the bill. We need to teach our daughters that our worth is in more than our bodies.
Philippians 4:8 reminds us to think and focus on “what is whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable”. When we wear immodest clothing, are we really thinking and focusing on purity and treating our bodies with respect because they are temples?
And we need to teach our sons that girls are worth more than their bodies.
Dads, this is where you are especially important. Your daughters need to know you love them for them. For their silly personality, for their creative mind, for their intellect, their kindness, compassion, and the way they care for those less fortunate. They need to know their value is not in how skinny they are or how few zits they have. Dads, your daughters need you to be a gentleman to both them and to their mom. They need you to emulate how a man should treat women.
And dads, while I’m picking on you…your sons need you to model to them how they should treat women. Not as sex objects, not in a gawking way with inappropriate comments. They need you to show them that you value a woman who values herself.
There is nothing wrong with cute fashions (I have a closetful of them myself), but we need to be mindful that not every fashion that gains popularity and is touted by the masses is pleasing to God.
Our children are always recording. They are learning from us. From our actions. From our words. From our priorities, and from the way we live our lives.
Being a parent is far from easy. But with the Lord’s help and constant and consistent prayer, we can raise our children in a way that honors and pleases the Lord.
I recently witnessed a vicious attack on someone’s character via social media. As one who has active accounts on both Facebook and Twitter, this didn’t surprise me because I had seen it before (and have even been on the receiving end of it myself), but it did appall me. The attack was not only unnecessary, but unfounded.
How many times have we witnessed insanely hateful comments posted on someone’s social media?
In today’s “screen” culture, it’s easier than ever to be hateful because of the anonymity. After all, isn’t it more acceptable to be spiteful when you’re not face to face with someone with whom you disagree? When you’re sitting at a desk behind a computer screen or sitting in your recliner with your phone or other handheld device? When you’re on your laptop taking an online college course and someone disagrees with you about a hotly-contested topic?
That distance – sometimes miles, sometimes continents apart – emboldens people, and not in a good way.
In our polarized culture, it’s not unanticipated, although it is unsettling.
Sadly, I’ve seen it among Christians as well. This is perhaps the most disturbing of all, as we are to be in this world, but not of it. God detests strife among fellow Believers. Yet, it’s easy, even for those who profess Christ, to act like the world and fall into the trap of taking offense and following up that offense with vile words or sharing their disagreements through hateful responses.
Whether in person or online, Proverbs 15:1 still holds true.
It also holds true that if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. This can be difficult, but if you are set on slandering someone’s reputation via a comment, post, email, or online message, you would be wise to heed the advice found in Ephesians 4:29: 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.
In the “olden” days, if someone disagreed, they said it to someone’s face. Today, as we sit behind a computer or phone screen, the words our fingers find to type seem to come more readily and without much thought, resulting in a slew of hateful, cruel responses and accusations, none of which belong in civil conversations over any medium.
Case in point, a dear friend and I are on opposites sides about a much-debated topic in today’s culture. As we were chatting via text the other day, she mentioned her viewpoint in a gracious way. I responded in same and we agreed to disagree. The difference of opinion did not alter our opinions of each other, nor did it cause us to react in a way that would destroy our friendship. She is a blessing to me and life is too short to allow something so trivial to divide us.
I encourage all of us to set ourselves apart from the culture of social media bullying via words. If you don’t like what you’re seeing in a Facebook or Twitter post, scroll on by. (And I’m not talking about pornography, violence, or sexually explicit images. Those aren’t people you should be following anyway). Rather, I’m talking about someone who posts something on the opposite side of the spectrum politically or religiously than you. If you don’t agree with it, scroll on by. If you have something constructive to add to the conversation, by all means, please do it, but in a civil, professional manner. I am the first to tell you I believe in our right to free speech. But hatefulness, slander, accusatory words, backbiting, and strife-causing is not pleasing to the Lord first and foremost, and it’s not pleasing to those who happen to see it on their friends’ timelines.
Rather, let’s encourage each other.
Most who know me know I am a conservative Christian. Most who know me also know that while most of my friends are in the same “category”, I also have several moderate-leaning and liberal-leaning friends. I also have atheist friends and those of other religions. When they post something I don’t agree with, I’m on the move with the mouse button. Nothing says I have to “like” or “retweet” what they’ve posted. But something, or rather Someone, does say I shouldn’t respond with hatred or vile words.
The book of James tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. The same can be said for our typing/texting habits.
My own personal mantra? May every word that is communicated through my fingertips be pleasing in your sight, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14, Penny version).
We don’t always have to be right. We don’t always have to have the last word. And we don’t always have to respond in a knee-jerk reaction. Most times, it’s wise to ponder something before responding – if we need to respond at all.
In a world full of hatred, division, and animosity, we (especially if we are Christians) should rise above that and seek to glorify Him above all else.
We can’t glorify Him if our fingers are running amuck with words we should never and would never say face to face.
It was early evening when the classified documents indicated there was toilet paper to be found. Lon, a man who prided himself on providing for his family, decided he was up for the task. Sturdy, burly, and strong, he set his eye on the prize: a pack of plush tp for his family. So, climbing into the family truck nicknamed “Little Gray” (although it is brown in color), Lon zipped out of the cul-de-sac to embark on his mission.
As he drove down the main avenue to the local Walmart store, he happened to look over and see a car that reminded him of a pregnant roller skate. A man of about his age glanced over at just that same time and their eyes connected. Both accelerated.
And then Lon knew.
He was in for the race of his life.
Feeling a bit like Mario Andretti, Lon lurched Little Gray forward and stepped up his speed. He was up for the challenge. He only wished he had added some souped up options on Little Gray. An engine tuner, a lift kit, a turbo kit, a supercharge… all would have been helpful at this time, as the pregnant roller skate threatened to overtake him.
Were it not for the 30 mph speed limit, Lon knew he would have smoked the competition.
Not to be deterred, Lon rounded the corner into the Walmart parking lot on two wheels with the speed and finesse of the expert he was. He pulled into a parking space only to find the pregnant roller skate pulled in right beside him. Lamenting that he’d worn his camo crocs instead of his running shoes, Lon leapt out of the truck and began to sprint toward the store. Those grueling hours of high school track were coming in handy as he zipped through the front doors, his competitor at his side.
“You get the call too?” his competition asked as they strode side-by-side toward the sacred toilet-paper aisle.
“Yep,” Lon replied.
They continued their race to aisle B26 “Look, man, I got a family,” the driver of the pregnant roller skate said.
Lon sized up his competition. Similar height, similar build.
But he had this. Failure was not an option.
Everywhere in the store, chaos abounded. If necessary, he would draw upon his former experience as a football lineman and use his massive shoulders to push through the crowds (in a gentlemanly way, of course). Carts overloaded with multiple counts of bizarre items no one would have purchased before the Great Hoarding Phenomenon of 2020 threatened to hinder his quest.
Lon dodged into the tp aisle, the competition on his tail. His eyes settled on the prize: a pack of six rolls of fluffy white toilet paper. Only a couple packages remained on the otherwise empty shelves. He exchanged another glance with his rival. Heart pounding, muscles burning, he made the final leap to the shelf, and in one fell swoop, achieved victory. His competition did the same, securing his own pack.
They both stopped for a minute and chuckled. Were it not for the new social distancing rules in place, they might have shook hands or fist bumped.
The former competitors walked toward the checkout together with their prized purchases, discussing, at the appropriate distance, the ridiculous nature of toilet paper shortages.
Only later did Lon learn the hard sad truth. The toilet paper was one-ply.
*This story has been slightly exaggerated. The toilet paper pack actually contained 12 rolls, rather than six. 🙂
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Once in awhile, I come across a little-known movie that is, in my opinion, a “must-see.” Duma is such a movie.
Set in South Africa in the present day, 12-year-old Xan and his father nearly run over a baby cheetah while driving home on an empty stretch of highway one evening. They take the animal back to their South African farm and raise it as a pet. Xan mentions that when you give something a name, it then becomes your friend. After trying to decide on a name, Xan finally decides to give his new pet the name of Duma, which is “cheetah” in Swahili. It isn’t long before a wonderful friendship begins between Xan and Duma.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this movie is the portrayal of Xan’s closeknit family. Xan’s dad, Peter, is sure to teach his son all he knows about building things and taking care of a farm (which comes in handy later in the movie). Peter spends a considerable amount of time with Xan and, together, they test Duma’s speed by racing alongside the animal with a stopwatch. There is also a strong love and devotion between Xan’s parents, even when they are in the midst of tragedy.
Duma is void of anything objectionable (there is a situation with “cultural” medicine practices, but nothing explicit); however, there are several intense scenes that will frighten younger viewers. When Xan embarks on an adventurous journey and a promise he made to his father to return Duma to the wilds where he belongs, Xan encounters the harsh elements, wild animals, a stranger, and near death due to a lack of water and food. Parents will also want to discuss Xan’s choice to leave on his own to help Duma find his way back to the wilds, rather than solicit his mom’s help.
Duma is one of those movies that I hadn’t heard much about, but that I am glad I purchased. Themes of family unity, forgiveness, loyalty, loving your neighbor, and grief all play integral roles in this movie. I highly recommend it for everyone ages 12 and over. (NOT recommended for those under 12).
A gifted singer, Amber Hill takes seriously her role in directing the choir at church. She and her young daughter, Bree, are counting down the days until their husband and father returns home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Unexpectedly one day while in church, Amber receives the news…her husband, Darren, has been killed in the line of duty.
Her life changes in a moment.
Things take a dramatic turn for Amber and Bree. No longer interested in relying on God or anything to do with faith, Amber tries to get by on her own. Bree still attends church, but without her mom.
Cody Jackson is a race car driver given a second chance. Can he take the time to listen to advice and have a teachable spirit? Will he be able to get his career back on track? When his path crosses with Amber’s, will he be the friend she so desperately needs even though his heart might wish for more?
God Bless the Broken Road is a story of faith, love, and patriotism. It is a story honoring our vets. It’s a movie that shows the reality of what one faces when a loved one loses their life while serving their country.
This movie depicts the struggles even Christians face when going through difficult times. It does so effectively and realistically.
Excellent background music, which included the likes of MercyMe, Hawk Nelson, Citizen Way, and Audio Adrenaline. Micah Tyler, one of our family’s favorite Christian artists, makes an appearance in the movie and sings a couple songs as well.
There are a few intense moments depicting Darren’s last moments on earth. However, there is nothing objectionable in this movie, and it’s appropriate for older tweens and up. My only recommendation? Be sure to have a box of tissues nearby.
I give God Bless the Broken Road a full five stars out of five.
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