The Shamrock and The Trinity!

As most of you know, with my Irish ancestry, St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal around here. It was a big celebration with my family growing up and it is for my own family now, as well!

Besides the wearing of the green, Irish music, and a fun St. Patrick’s Day meal, it’s been very important to us that we keep our celebrations and holidays centered around Christ. This year, along with sharing the history of St. Patrick, I thought of a fun activity that ties together a very Irish symbol – the shamrock – with the Trinity.

Shamrock Object Lesson

Come on over to the Faith Gateway blog to learn about explaining the Trinity to our kids with a shamrock!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Veggies in Space: A Lesson in the Power of Sharing!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Grab your kids and head to your nearest Christian bookstore or retailer because there’s a brand new Veggie Tales available today {or stay in the comfort of your home and pre-order from Amazon – whatever suits you!}

VIS_Coverart

Veggies in Space: The Fennel Frontier is the latest masterpiece from Big Idea, this time with an emphasis on the importance of sharing and lots of references to some of your favorite sci-fi flicks!

PartyonBridge

A Lesson in The Power of Sharing! Join Captain Cuke (Larry the Cucumber) and his loyal first officer, Mr. Spork (Bob the Tomato), as they embark on an out of this world adventure to bravely travel where no Veggie has ever been. The entire USS Applepie’s crew takes on Luntar the Looter, a power stealing space pirate, but they’re in for a big surprise when they find out what’s motivating him!

Veggie Tales always blends a wonderful message with great humor for all, and Veggies in Space does this so well! The boys and I were just in stitches over all of the Star Trek and Star Wars characters and references integrated into this movie! And I don’t have to tell you that all things space made this a big hit with my house of boys!

Applepies1

The Bible verse that wraps up this lesson on sharing is…

Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise. -Luke 3:11

The veggies use a fun play on words to illustrate the sharing of tunics in the movie – you’ll have to catch that! This is such an important verse to keep as a constant reminder in our homes where we almost always have plenty. We’re using this verse as we do some spring cleaning, sharing the more-than-enough toys and clothes with those who have little or none. Watch the movie with your kids and then gather up donations for a local homeless shelter! And check out the family discussion guide to process the movie and its great lessons afterward.

LuntarsCrew

I am loving the fact that Veggie Tales is including a great song from a popular Christian artist at the end of each DVD! On Veggies in Space, it’s from Jamie Grace and it continues the sharing theme of the movie!

Veggie Tales has TONS of resources to go along with Veggies in Space! Your kids can even build their own spaceship! Check out the Veggies in Space Pinterest board for coloring pages, recipes, activities, and more!

 

*I received this movie to review from Big Idea. I was not compensated in any other way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own. 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Experiencing the Cross + Resurrection as a Family

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Remember when I said last week that I had a little surprise I wanted to share in regards to observing Lent and Easter with your family? Well, if you follow me on any social media, then you found out yesterday what that surprise is. But if not, here you go…

Sense-Resurrection-Cover-350-rectangle.jpg

That’s right! My amazing friend, Amanda, author of Truth in the Tinsel and writer at ohAmanda.com, released a brand new ebook yesterday all about experiencing the Cross and Resurrection as a family.

I say “experiencing” because A Sense of the Resurrection is all about creating memorable experiences based on Scripture using the five senses.  It’s about moving from feeling to understanding to believing in our Savior and His great sacrifice for all of us. The ebook contains 12 activities which will lead your family through Jesus’ anointing, the Last Supper, Peter’s denial, the cross, the empty tomb and more. Through it all, your home will be transformed into a memorial to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Obviously our family has not gone through these activities as the book was just released yesterday! But I did get a sneak peek of this amazing ebook earlier in the week, and here was my response {in tears as I typed, mind you}:

For years, I have searched for ways to make the days leading up to Easter more real, intentional, meaningful for my children. Easter is fun and joyful like Christmas, but Jesus’ betrayal, suffering, and death are a completely different story. With A Sense of the Resurrection, Amanda White has tackled this sensitive topic of eternal importance in a way my children and I will never forget. Scriptures, activities, and discussion questions are well thought out and Amanda encourages each parent to read through it all ahead of time to gauge how best to approach the subject matter with their children. I anticipate this ebook changing so much about how we observe this time of year as a family, as well as our hearts.

Maybe you, like me, have been searching for just the right way to approach the death and resurrection of our Savior with your children. Friends, I truly believe this ebook will be that approach for me and for you.

I would suggest ordering your copy of A Sense of the Resurrection now so you have time to read through it for yourself before presenting it to your children in the weeks leading up to Easter. And don’t rush it. Spread out the 12 activities and let the meaning sink in and God work in all of your hearts.

How do you approach the death and resurrection of Jesus with your children? Or have you, like me, been looking for some help for this important, but difficult subject?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

A Heart For Africa

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

I’m not one of those women who thought I would someday end up as a missionary, living amongst the people of a far-off, impoverished country, serving and loving them full time.

I always thought I would end up a mom, maybe a stay-at-home mom, and here I am.

But I didn’t always think God would get my heart all stirred up for the people of Africa the way He has over the past few years.

It started with sponsoring a Compassion child from Tanzania and blossomed from there. We’ve supported organizations like live FashionABLE, Mocha Club, The Root Collective, Johari Creations, AWANA, and more that are making a difference in the lives of people all over Africa. Every time I wear a shirt or scarf or piece of jewelry from these places, I am moved to pray for the hands that made, the hearts that are finding hope.

But my heart for Africa really took root when Kristen Welch and her family shared their idea of building a maternity home in Kenya…and it happened.

I remember reading and praying about every stage along the way as they raised money, found a location, welcomed girls and then babies, and it just gets more and more amazing all the time. He is at work at Mercy House Kenya.

Kristen and family recently introduced a new way to support the ever-growing vision for rescuing and supporting young, pregnant girls in Kenya and it was just perfect for the hands in our home!

Heart for Africa

The Love Mercy kits provide you the supplies to make some really easy bracelets that can be sold to raise money for Mercy House Kenya! For just $10 – no shipping – we received a package with supplies for 25 bracelets.

Heart for Africa Kit

Big J took on the task of cutting pre-marked slits on both sides of the printed cards…

Heart for Africa J Cutting

Little J tried his hand at threading the heart beads onto the twine…

Heart for Africa j bead

But that proved a little difficult so I took it over while he positioned the bracelets on the cards…

Heart for Africa j bracelet

We had a great assembly line going and finished our 25 bracelets in about 3o minutes!

Heart for Africa Finished

This activity tied in perfectly with school as Big J and I have been learning about Africa in geography! And we took some time to discuss the verse that drives the mission of Mercy House Kenya

Heart for Africa Micah

We have this verse on a beautiful print {also in support of Mercy House} in our living room, so the boys recognized it, but talking about WHILE helping others has quite a different impact…on all of us. I also really appreciated the included suggestions in the kit for explaining to children the ways Mercy House Kenya helps girls and babies.

I highly recommend this activity/service project for families or small groups or any group, especially parents and kids as it is easy and very meaningful!

And if you’re interested in buying one of these Love Mercy bracelets to support Mercy House Kenya, let us know! The boys would be more than happy to sell you one or more! We’ll have them available through Friday, March 28th or until they are gone!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Our Favorite Bible Apps for Kids!

I love that even the iWorld – apps and iPhones and iPads and the like – can be used to further the Kingdom of God!

We’ve recently discovered two Bible apps for kids that are amazing and I had to share them with you! I’m even learning things as the kids play the games on them!

Bible Apps for Kids

Adventure Bible Games

We just received an email about this free app {for iPad only} late last week and, being lovers of the Adventure Bible {affiliate link}, I downloaded it immediately and started playing around before I handed it to the kids. This app has SO much great Bible knowledge for our kids to learn and review!

  • Leapin’ Lemur is like Wheel of Fortune with Bible verses! A few words are filled in and the verse book, chapter, and verse are given, but then the kids have to pick letters to figure out what the verse says!
  • Books of the Bible reviews the order of books in the Bible. I was shakier on this in the Old Testament than I care to admit, but we were all singing through the Books of the Bible songs from Slugs and Bugs trying to remember the order and it was great fun!
  • Leopardy = Jeopardy for Bible trivia! Pick your category and point value and answer the question!
  • X Marks the Spot deals with biblical geography! We loved this one because just playing it is a learning experience
  • Truth Quest gives you a question, a time limit, and three clues to figure out answers to various questions about the Bible. It felt very much like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and there are several levels and categories to go through!

The boys love the jungle theme that all Adventure Bible products bear, the games have them hooked, and we’re all learning more about the Bible each time they play! That is a successful Bible-related app for kids to me!

The Bible App for Kids

The other Bible app for kids we love is the Bible App for Kids from YouVersion. This app is amazing – great animation, several different Bible stories with more being added all the time, AND review questions at the end to check for understanding!

Each story has the choice to be read by the app, but the words are also on the screen, making it great for children of any age and reading level. And within each story, kids can collect points by clicking on different people, places, or things. Earning points and stars makes everything more fun and interesting for kids, doesn’t it?!

With Lent starting Wednesday and Easter to follow, both The Cross and The Resurrection stories are in the app ready to read and share with your children. And The Bible App for Kids is available for many different formats!

Are there other Bible apps for kids your family loves? Please share!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

All the Words

Our littlest guy is growing up fast. Too fast.

20131117-221519.jpg

A little over a month ago, he climbed out of the pack-n-play, which I had him in while I started supper. On his own. With nothing to aid his escape.

Double J Climbing

This prompted us to move him out of a crib for fear he would scale the side of it next and fall much further to the ground. While we knew the transition to a big boy bed this early {20 months} would be rocky, I don’t think I’ve ever had to put a child back in his bed so many times in my life. At all hours of the night. Lord, help us.

The bed situation may be one of the more stressful parts of Double J’s growing up, but we’re just loving another part of his growth recently – his speech.

Double J Pumpkin

Within the last few weeks, he has gone from babbling like the one-year-old he is to putting words to just about every thought that comes into his head and even stringing together some toddler sentences, a.k.a three or four words in a row that kind of make sense!

Mommy
Daddy
book
car
more drink
cra-cra {craisins}
crackers
woof-woofs
puh-puh {better check the diaper}
no…no…and more no

My mom and sister visited this weekend and commented on how much he had opened up verbally since they last saw him a month ago! And all this talking came together for a pretty darn cute exchange Saturday night.

wpid-5284ebaed6f531.17412993.jpg

Well, it didn’t start out so cute. Cars was on TV and Double J pulled out our collection of cars die casts to play with his brothers. They unrolled our road floor mat and started lining up cars, driving around the town, and having a fun little brother time…until Double J picked up a car and threw it at Little J’s head. And laughed.

Oh boy…

Double J PP

Double J was reprimanded, gave his brother a hug, and was then removed from play time to get ready for bed. After getting his pajamas on, I took him to say goodnight to Daddy. I mentioned the incident to The Hubby at which point Double J launched into this progression {Jaja is what he calls his middle brother}…

Jaja no no
Jaja car no no
Jaja thow car no no
Ow
No no

Oh my word. I think it went on even a little longer than this. The Hubby and I both had to cover our mouths to keep from laughing as he processed his bad decision from earlier, complete with the action of throwing the car and shaking his head no. So cute, so hilarious, and so grown up!

Double J Cowboy

This “word explosion” has started earlier and earlier with each boy, but it is so fun each time to watch them discover the English language and learn how to express themselves!

Now, if we could just get him to process the whole “stay in your bed” thing…

All three of our kids are talkers. I think I know who they get that from! How about your kids? Did they have a “word explosion” at a certain age or did they slowly add more and more words to their vocabulary?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Day 24: I Don’t HAVE to… Do Everything for My Children

31 Days of NOT Having It All Banner

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Moms, we have a problem…

A school administrator recently told a friend of mine that all the stuff that kids have these days isn’t what spoiling them; it’s their moms. Moms who hover. Mom who step in to fix problems. Moms who coddle. Moms who do not allow their children to suffer the natural consequences of their actions. No wonder a 25-year-old can be found still living at his parents’ home. ~Kay Willis Wyma, Cleaning House

It may or may not be hard for you to believe this, but I have already seen the beginnings of entitlement in our seven and five-year-old. It is my fault. I don’t really want to be one of the moms mentioned in the quote above, but I have underestimated over and over again what my boys are capable of, done it for them, and in the process, created boys who don’t think they can – or don’t want to – do the necessary things for themselves.

Do Everything for My Children

Does any of this sound familiar?

They know how to fold laundry…but it goes much faster if I do it myself.

They know how to clean the sinks…but I’ll probably just have to clean it myself again afterwards, so I’ll do it myself.

They know to make their beds…but they’re in such a hurry in the morning, so I’ll just do it myself after they leave.

Even at seven and five, my boys can actually do much more than I give them credit for, but I have to LET them do those things! In the past year, they’ve learned how to vacuum, fold laundry, dust, take out the trash, and do the dishes. They do these things quite well IF I don’t do the chores for them!

As moms, we need to recognize the value in teaching our children to do the things they should know how to do, around the house and in life. Yes, it takes a little more work right now, but it creates much less work for you and I in the long run!

And even though our kids might will complain at first, they will actually be empowered by this experience…

Our kids want us to challenge them to do more, particularly once they experience firsthand how much better it feels to be productive rather than to be catered to. – Kay Wills Wyma, Cleaning House

I’m fighting the grumbles of my kids and my own do-it-myself attitude this week to teach the kids some new skills around the house. I’m thinking big picture. I don’t want them to have life handed to them on a platter. I want them to know the value of hard work and the reward of a job well done, whether it be making their bed or putting together a big report for school on their own.

In Kay Wills Wyma’s book, Cleaning House, she goes through her 12-month journey to rid of her family of entitlement. In the second month, she teaches all of her children how to meal plan, shop, cook, and clean up from the meal. The month had major ups and some downs, but I love her observation at the end of that month…

I didn’t realize just how much I’ve shackled these kids by racing in and doing for them. On autopilot, I’ve shopped, cooked, and so much more, failing to see the countless opportunities to teach them about life and build self-esteem by helping them do what most of their friends have never considered doing.

Time to stop doing it all for them, moms. Myself included.

What could you teach your kids to do for themselves this week?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Day 18: I Don’t HAVE to… Homeschool My Children

31 Days of NOT Having It All Banner

Ah, the ever divisive topic of educating our children…

I said I would never homeschool my children. Six months later, God steered us right on to the path of homeschooling and we’re journeying that path for the third year now.

It took me quite a while to swallow my pride on that one. I really thought I knew the best way to do things, even if it was just for our family, but when God finally had His say {or I actually prayed about!}, He showed us something totally different.

People ask us all the time if we will homeschool through high school. I have no idea. We are just taking it one year at a time. And that is because I do not believe homeschool is the automatic answer to, “How should we educate our children?”

Homeschool Children

You do not HAVE to homeschool your children for them to succeed in life. You do not HAVE to homeschool your children for them to become “good Christians.” You do not HAVE to homeschool your children in order to be a good parent. You do not HAVE to homeschool your children to be following God’s calling.

The same could be said for other education choices as well. While homeschool is the hot topic, I know there are some who believe private school is the only way to go. And some believe all children should go to public school.

Education is not a one-size-fits-all for every child or every family. There are children’s learning styles and personalities to consider. Family schedules and priorities must be factored in. And parents must be willing to follow where God leads.

See that note? Where GOD leads. Not peer pressure or guilt or shame or even fear. Acting upon those feelings will almost always lead to disappointment or failure. But God. He knows. And He equips for wherever He may lead us and whatever He may want us to do.

The very vocal online homeschool community is a great support to those who have decided to homeschool, but it can feel like major peer pressure for those who don’t. Although a few homeschool bloggers are trying to prove that homeschool is the only way to go, most are just trying to support fellow homeschoolers with resources and such. If you don’t feel led by God to homeschool your children, then don’t let the posts and tweets of homeschoolers lead you off His path for your family.

There are a few HAVE-tos related to our children and education…

  • We HAVE to do what is best for each child and the family as a whole.
  • We HAVE to give the education decision over to God and let Him lead.
  • We HAVE to avoid making education decisions based on fear, guilt, shame, or peer pressure.

I have seen all three educational choices done VERY well and I have seen all done poorly, too. There is no one way we HAVE to educate our children, except what God shows us is right for our family right now.

Have you ever felt pressure from yourself or someone else to make a particular educational decision for your child?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Art Books for Little Hands

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Our local art museum recently became free to all visitors! It is a beautiful building and houses some magnificent works of art.

Art Museum

This summer, we visited several times, particularly because there was a French impressionist exhibit and I adore French impressionism. It was so peaceful and inspiring to be standing that close to the paintings of Monet, Renoir, Degas and more. It brought back such lovely memories of The Hubby and I’s last trip to Europe and our time at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. The kids were actually quite interested in the paintings, especially how old they were and finding particular things in each one.

Before we left, we walked by the gift shop and I spotted this cute little board book, A Picnic with Monet

Art Books for Little Hands

I thought it was so sweet, so we went inside to see if there were more. I was so pleased to find that there is a whole series of these board books full of artwork!

The Mini Masters series is series of art books for kids, featuring the beautiful work of a variety of artists in a durable board book format with cute, rhyming words to tie them all together!

A Picnic with Monet

Books in the series include:

  • Quiet Time with Cassatt
  • Painting with Picasso
  • Sunday with Seurat
  • Sharing with Renoir
  • On an Island with Gauguin
  • A Picnic with Monet
  • A Magical Day with Matisse
  • Dreaming with Rousseau
  • In the Garden with Van Gogh

I want to own all of them! These are the perfect books for our house – strong enough to stand up to Double J, easy reading for Little J, and a great starting point for an art lesson with both of the big boys!


We also discovered another great art book designed for little ones at the library this week. Art for Baby is a collection of black & white images created by famous modern artists. They are visually appealing to babies because of the high contrast, but Little J made it into his own art lesson by trying to imitate them on paper himself! I love that this became a lesson in shapes because there is no color to worry about!

We do use an art curriculum for homeschool, but these art books for kids are a great supplement and provide great exposure to the world of art for our littlest one as well!

Do you have a favorite artist or piece of art? Have you shared it with your children?

I’m linking up with K Learners this week to share ideas for teaching our kindergarten age kiddos!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Worship {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo! But it’s actually over at (in)courage today! 

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Worship.

*****

And go…

We went a few rounds today, me and that boy. He’s strong-willed, I’m strong-willed, and there are lessons we both need to learn in this mother-son relationship. But we both came to our ends and it didn’t play out well.

Yelling. Frustration. Tears.

As we walked away to cool off, I knew only one thing would bring my heart back to the right place.

Worship.

Worship is defined as so many things, but it’s the music part that drives me, moves me, focuses me, changes me.

The words of Christian worship music are a powerful force in my life. Just a few minutes has me falling at the feet of Jesus, laying down my faults and weaknesses and my I-want-to-have-control attitude.

Worship puts my mind at ease because it puts my mind on Him.

I love music. I majored in music. I taught music. The melodies are gorgeous, the rhythms fascinating, but the lyrics of worship are prayers I can’t pray when I just speak. When I can’t pray, I sing.

Five Minute Friday Worship

And the heart of worship was able to mend those torn bonds between my boy and I to move forward with calm, peace, eyes on Him and not my own strength.

Stop.

*****

I can’t wait to read through all the other musings on worship over at (in)courage! Hope you’ll hop over there as well!

And I would love to know your favorite worship songs to calm and focus your heart in the middle of a rough day!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook