Monday, November 29, 2010

Joy for the Season

During the Holidays many of our fondest memories are made in the kitchen as we gather together to bake, eat and fellowship. This month, I'm featuring ideas and activities to do with your kids in the kitchen. Go to my website at: www.Karolladd.com and click on blogs to read my weekly update. Please feel free to post your favorite kitchen ideas here on this blog.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Demonstrating Thanksgiving

Our own example offers the most effective teaching tool when it comes to teaching gratitude to our kids. We can try to pound the lesson of thankfulness into our children's hearts and minds, but when we demonstrate a grateful heart with our words and actions they catch the lesson and keep it. So how do we demonstrate gratitude? Here are three ideas to get you started:

1. Tell your kids how thankful you are for them. That's right, be specific and tell each child several of the qualities you really appreciate about them. It's something our kids need to hear (as opposed to nagging all the time) and they need to experience how it feels to be on the receiving end of kind and grateful thoughts. Although we assume our kids know how thankful we are for them, they need to hear it specifically expressed now and then.

2. Speak in a grateful way about the rest of your family members (that means your husband as well as your extended family). Instead of complaining about aunt Nancy's conversation skills or her awful sweet potato casserole, talk about how thankful you are for her gifts or talents or character qualities. Let's demonstrate to our children how to look for the good in others, rather than what is wrong with people.

3. Take time to stop and thank the Lord for His blessings. When you recognize God has allowed something good to come into your life, take a moment to say, "Kid's I just want to stop and thank the Lord for His kindness." Then ask the kids to join you in prayer as you thank the Lord. Even when things aren't going so perfect, you can always thank God for His presence and His help in time of need. I'm reminded of the story of the ten lepers. Ten were healed, but only one came back to say thank you. I want to be like that one who said thanks.

This week, take some time to allow gratitude to fill your thoughts and hearts and allow it to overflow from your mouth. You are never so beautiful as when you are living a grateful life. Show others what a thankful heart looks like as you celebrate this week with family and friends.
I'm thankful for you! Keep shining His light.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Praying Friends

"Rich is the person who has a praying friend." Janice Hughes

This past weekend I traveled to Eugene, Oregon (home of the #1 ranked U of O Ducks no less) to film a set of videos to go along with my upcoming book entitled A Woman's Secret to Confident Living. It was wonderful to be there with my dear friends at Harvest House Publisher as well as the crew at Chambers Productions.

Filming six videos in one weekend is a task beyond my capabilities, and so I asked a group of friends to pray for me. What a blessing to receive emails and texts and calls from these dear prayer warriors letting me know they were lifting me up before the Father. It gave me encouragement and strength. God so richly answered their prayers.

We all need praying friends. The powerful apostle Paul even recognized his need for prayer. In his letter to the Colossians he wrote, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ....Pray that I proclaim it clearly as I should."

As we go about the work God has given us, let us not neglect to ask for prayer from our praying friends. We are in a wonderful place when we recognize our need for God, and as we cast our cares upon Him. Instead of saying, "I can do it myself," we ought to humbly proclaim, "Father only by your grace and strength can I accomplish this work." Invite your friends to join into God's work as they pray for you, and you in turn pray for them.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Beauty of Loyalty

"We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty." G.K. Chesterton.

Loyalty is a rare commodity in today's world. When the going gets tough most people get going. Now and then it is healthy for us to do a loyalty self-check. We can ask ourselves, "Am I loyal to the people in my life through my words and actions." "Do I speak kindly of others behind their back, or do I use my opportunities to tell juicy stories?" "Do I guard my mouth when it comes to my kids and their issues?" Let's be aware of our level of loyalty and ask the Lord to help us guard our mouths and only use our words to be kind and build up others. Our kids learn how to be a loyal friend as they watch our kindness in action.

"There is one element that is worth its weight in gold and that is loyalty. It will cover a multitude of weaknesses." Philip Armour

Monday, November 1, 2010

How Devoted are You?

This past weekend I went to the Baylor UT game down in Austin, Texas and cheered the Bears onto victory! Although I was sitting on the UT side, surrounded by devoted fans dressed in orange, I still loyally shouted for the green and gold. It's amazing what we will do when we are devoted to our team.

The apostle Paul talked about devotion in his letter to the Colossians. "Devote yourselves to prayer being watchful and thankful." Imagine if we had the same devotion toward prayer as we do for sports teams. Devotion to prayer looks a little different than wildly shouting at a game. Devotion to prayer means a heart and mind that continues to look to God for strength and help. Being devoted to prayer means we have a quiet dependance on God instead of solely depending on ourselves.

As moms, let us grow in our devotion to praying for our needs as well as the needs in our family. Spurgeon said, "Sometimes we think we are too busy to pray. That is a great mistake, for praying is a saving of time." When we give our day and our cares to the Lord, we don't waste precious time in worry and the what ifs. May we continually see the Lord to guide our paths moment by moment each day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

His Power and Glory



“God is not waiting to show us strong in his behalf, but himself strong in our behalf. That makes a lot or difference. He is not out to demonstrate what we can do but what he can do.” Vance Havner



Key Scripture: Judges 7:2 - 4
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave and go home.’ Twenty-two thousand of them went home, leaving only ten thousand who were willing to fight. But the Lord told Gideon, “There are still too many!”

Mom’s Reflection:
The super-mom syndrome seems to run rampant in our culture. A super-mom does it all. She is the protector of her children, the coordinator of the overloaded family calendar, and the all sufficient one to meet her kid’s needs. The super-mom believes the livelihood and success of her children’s lives depends on her careful planning, preparation and follow-through. She is self-sufficient.
God calls us to be God-sufficient. Gideon started out with a super-army, yet God was not looking for the army that could “do it all.” He wanted a humble army that would look to Him and recognize the victory was found in God, not in self-sufficiency. He eventually whittled down Gideon’s army to 300 men. God granted the victory and the honor went to Him. God isn’t looking for super-moms who can do it all on their own. He is looking for moms who look to Him for guidance, wisdom, direction and strength. If super-mom’s kids turn out great, then she gets the glory. When children are raised under God’s strength and guidance, then the glory is His.

Prayer:
All sufficient God, I praise you for you are all power and all wisdom. I recognize that I can’t do it all. I praise you that you can. Thank you for loving and caring for my family. Lead me to be responsible, wise and strong. Help my children to grow to be well-balanced adults, so that you may be glorified. Thank you that you are the protector of our family and the guardian of our souls. In Jesus Name, Amen.

“We are not to think that, where we see no possibility, God sees none.” Marcus Dods

This week I will choose to see the God-possibilities, instead of my inabilities.
This week I will choose to be God-sufficient rather than self-sufficient.
This week I will choose to give God the glory and not myself.
This week I will: _________________________________________
Further Reading: Judges 7


This blog entry is an excerpt from my book The Power of a Positive Mom Devotional (Simon & Schuster)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Courage and Commitment

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” C.S. Lewis


Joshua 1:7-9
Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. Study this book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. I command you – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Reflection:
Sometimes I don’t feel so strong and courageous. Worries and fears can creep up and take the place of strength and peace. In our passage for this week we read that Joshua was about to face a fear-filled task. He was chosen by God to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. God didn’t suggest, but rather commanded that Joshua be strong and courageous. God also encouraged him by saying, “I am with you wherever you go.” What a powerful statement! We may not know the road up ahead, but we do know that God will be with us every step of the way.
God also told Joshua to obey all the laws of Moses. Study and meditate on them continually. It takes courage to stand up for what is right and to obey God. We want to teach our kids this type of courage. We are strengthened and enriched as we study and meditate on the truths of God’s word. God’s word not only tells us how to live, but it reminds us that God is with us. The end result is that our children will be blessed with a strong and courageous mother who is not afraid of the future because she knows the Lord is with her and she walks in obedience to Him.


Prayer: Great and Mighty Lord, I praise you that you are with me always. You guard me and protect me like a Good Shepherd. Thank you for your presence. Keep me from being overcome with fear; fill me with peace instead. Help me to be strong and courageous in my role as a mother. Thank you for your Word and the truth that it has to transform my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Perfect Prescription for Peace


Mommy anxiety hits us all at one time or another. Whether it is a sick child, troubles with friends or challenges in the classroom, we can all relate to the temptation to worry about our kids. Today I invited my friend Caroline Boykin to share her prescription for peace. Here's Caroline...

Her text message read, “I have mono.” My heart sank. My oldest daughter, Amy, a freshman in college, felt crummy over the weekend. My husband and I encouraged her to go to the campus clinic Monday morning. We were thinking common cold, perhaps flu…but mono. UGG! Through broken sobs, she relayed her doctor’s orders: Good nutrition and 6 weeks of complete rest. The nutrition part, not a problem. The 6 weeks of rest, not a possibility! This was my musician, rock-climbing, intramural sports-loving, on-the-go-go-go college student, Amy.

I heard her disappointment and attempted to encourage. Everything would be OK. Not to worry. Her favorite homemade chicken soup was on the way. But between our conversations, my positive words did little to convince my own discouraged heart that this situation was anything other than awful. I inventoried all the great activities Amy had going on at the time (in addition to school work!) and declared silently in my heart: this timing couldn’t be worse.

Oh yes, I knew that God was in control, that He had my precious daughter securely in the palm of His mighty hand. But even so, my “mom anxiety meter” was rapidly escalating, fed by a litany of worries, fear, sadness and helplessness. Late that night, I e-mailed a few dear friends to pray (Karol was one!).

Waking up the next morning, a new list of anxiety-producing concerns for my daughter came rushing to my mind…only to be met quietly, yet powerfully, by simple memory verses I’d learned as a young girl:

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.
Psalm 37:7 KJV

And then another:
Jesus answered, “It is written:
‘Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4 NIV

Hmmm. Those verses continued to resonate throughout the morning as I made the 2 hour drive to Amy’s college. And then it became crystal clear. I had a bad case of peace-suppressing “Awefulizing” (just as contagious as mono). God’s remedy for relieving my anxiety and restoring a healthy perspective – good nutrition from His word and complete rest (reliance) in Him. The Holy Spirit wielded the Scripture hidden in my heart to successfully combat my discouragement.
As my mind was renewed, my spirit experienced a deep peace that God’s presence and grace would carry my daughter through this illness and that He would Masterfully use it for good (Romans 8:28).

Good nutrition from God’s word and complete rest in Him. It just might be the perfect prescription for what ails you today.


Caroline Boykin is a frequent MOPS speaker and author of The Well-Versed Family: Raising Kids of Faith through (Do-Able) Scripture Memory.

For more information on how you can give your child the treasure of God’s word tucked inside his heart, visit Caroline at her website, http://www.wellversedfamily.com/.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Living Loved

“God does not love us because we are valuable, but we are valuable because God loves us.”
Martin Luther

There are times in our daily routines when we can tend to feel a little less than loveable as moms. I want to encourage you today with a devotional from the Bible. This is what the Lord said to His precious people, the Israelites many years ago:

“The Lord did not choose you and lavish his love on you because you were larger or greater than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! It was simply because the Lord loves you, and because he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the Lord rescued you with such amazing power from your slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt. Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and constantly loves those who love him and obey his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:7 -9,

Mom’s Reflection:
What a beautiful love note to God’s people. As followers of Christ, we are His precious and beloved people. He lavishes his love on us, not because we have achieved any great status or because we are the most efficient mom in the world. No, he loves us because we are his people, adopted into his family through faith in Christ. He is faithful to keep his covenant and constantly loves those who love him. Aren’t you blessed to know that the powerful God of all creation, faithfully loves you and me?
As believers in Christ, we are his treasured possession, and He showers His goodness and grace upon us. On days when you feel less than lovely because you’ve yelled at the kids or become overwhelmed with activities, remember that God’s love is faithful and abundant. It is not based on your performance, but on His grace. Feel His warm embrace and know that you are completely loved by him, and you can not step out of that love. When we relish his love toward us, we can more easily pour that love out on others.

Mom’s Prayer:
Loving and Faithful Heavenly Father, I praise you for your redeeming love and mercy. Praise you that you are the High King of Heaven and yet you want to have a relationship with me. Thank you for being faithful and kind. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your family. I love you. Help me to share your love with others. In Jesus Name, Amen.
This devotional is an excerpt from my book The Power of a Positive Mom Devotional. This week on my website, I share a message about God’s love to us and through us. Watch my video at www.PositiveLifePrinciples.com.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Grumbling vs. Gratitude

“Gratitude takes three forms: a feeling in the heart, an expression in words, and a giving in return.” John Wanamaker

Numbers 14:26 – 30
Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, How long will this wicked nation complain about me? I have heard everything the Israelites have been saying. Now tell them this: As surely as I live, I will do to you the very things I heard you say. I, the Lord, have spoken! You will all die here in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, none of you who are twenty years old or older and were counted in the census will enter the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb… and Joshua.

Mom’s Reflection:
Complain, complain, complain. It became a habit for the Israelites in the wilderness. God provided food and water for them daily. He gave them victory against their enemies and a miraculous delivery from slavery in Egypt. The Bible even says their shoes did not wear out! Yet they doubted God’s goodness and choose to complain. As you can see by the passage, God wasn’t too pleased with their lack of trust. Only Joshua and Caleb had faith in God’s provision for the Promised Land.
It’s easy to complain about people or circumstances. Have you ever viewed your complaining and whining as a lack of trust in God’s provision? How would your life be different right now if you changed your grumbling into gratitude for God? Take a moment to thank Him for what He has done and will do. Granted, life in the wilderness wasn’t Pleasure Island, but it wasn’t slavery in Egypt either. Your life may not be the dream you always planned in your mind, but God is with you and will provide for you. Let’s keep our eyes on Him instead of our circumstances.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, you are my Provider. Thank you for taking care of my needs. Thank you for always being with me and never leaving me. I’m sorry for the times I have complained and not focused on your goodness and mercy for me. Help me to replace my complaining with thanksgiving for your blessings. Turn my eyes off my problems and on to you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

My Choices:
This week I will choose to take my eyes off of what is wrong in my life and look at what is right.
This week I will choose to replace my grumbling with gratitude.
This week I will choose to encourage my kids to see God’s blessings all around us.

This devotional is an excerpt from The Power of a Positive Mom Devotional by Karol Ladd

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Grace Challenge

A little more grace toward others – that’s what I need. How about you? Here’s a positive mom devotional from Leviticus (of all places) which gives us a charge toward being more graceful toward others.

“Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. Do not try to get ahead at the cost of your neighbor’s life, for I am the Lord. Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront your neighbors directly so you will not be held guilty for their crimes. Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:16-18

Reflection:
With thousands of Israelites trudging through the wilderness, a plan for civility was necessary. God provided laws for dealing with people and with circumstances in the book of Leviticus. As you can plainly see, those laws of civility and decency were not always easy. If we were to employ even a few of these laws in our relationships today, we would be better for it.
As Christians, we are no longer under the rules of the Levitical law, but rather under grace. Since we are recipients of God’s glorious grace through Christ’s sacrifice for us, we ought to also shower grace on others. What does grace toward others look like? I think it looks quite a bit like the passage we read today. Guarding our mouths from gossip, forgiving, not holding grudges are all practical ways to shed God’s grace on the people around us. As moms, we can encourage our kids to reflect on the goodness of God’s grace and in turn show His beautiful grace to other people.

Personal Prayer:
God of Grace and Mercy, thank you for pouring your grace on me through the sacrifice of your Son. Praise you that through faith in Jesus, I am forgiven. Help me to forgive others. Guard my mouth from gossip and my heart from grudges. Pour your love through me and allow me to truly love my neighbor. Thank you for your Word and the direction it gives. In Jesus name, Amen.

Choices:
This week I will choose to focus on God’s great love and grace toward me.
This week I will choose to show grace toward others.
This week I will choose to ask God’s help in guarding my heart and mind.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

National Day of Encouragement

Sunday, September 12 is National Day of Encouragement!

Everyone could use a hearty dose of encouragement. Kids coming home from school need it. Busy moms and dads could certainly be strengthened by it. Even grandparents and single adults need a good word now and then. The word “encourage” means to give strength. The root word “cor” comes from the Latin word “heart.” When we sincerely encourage someone we give strength to their heart, and we ourselves are uplifted in the process.

Encouragement must be sincere and specific. Don’t just say, “You’re great!” Instead, honor others by telling them exactly what you appreciate about them. “You are always thinking of others, I really like that about you.” Even more specifically you could say, “I noticed your kindness to the person in the checkout line today, I really appreciate the way you care about other people’s needs.”

Here are some starters:
· You sure know a lot about...
· I’m thankful for the way you…
· I noticed how you…
· Thank you for …..
· You amaze me by the way you….
· I was just thinking how you…

Creative ways to encourage (beyond text and email) include:
· Use erasable markers to write a message on someone’s mirror or window.
· Place fun, colorful note cards with an uplifting message in the car or lunch bag or briefcase.
· Wrap a note of encouragement around a favorite candy bar.
· One flower with a note attached does wonders for any woman.
· Write a note and stick it on a balloon.
· Take the time to send a card through the mail.
· Pick up the phone and call someone just to encourage them.
· Leave a message of encouragement on the answering machine if they are not there.
· Put a little note of encouragement in a small box, with a bow on top.
· Give a cute and inexpensive frame and put a message along with a picture in it.

Never miss an opportunity to give a good word. And Certainly don’t miss your opportunity to celebrate the National Day of Encouragement. A good word cost so little, yet the rewards are long lasting.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Will Help You

“Without the assistance of the Divine Being… I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail.” Abraham Lincoln

Exodus 4:10 – 12
But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I ‘m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me. I’m clumsy with words.”
“Who makes mouths?” The Lord asked him, “Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say.”

Mom’s Reflection:
Like Moses, it’s so easy for us to focus on what we can’t do, or perhaps don’t want to do. Those negatives can grow into large mountains of cares, concern and confinement. We build our own prison with the bars of “I can’t.” For moms, the can’ts come easily. I can’t cope with the kids, I can’t teach them well, I can’t get it all done, and the list goes on and on. What is God calling you to do? He will help you.
A friend of mine always says, “Where God guides, He provides.” Moses needed to heed those words instead of focusing on what he couldn’t do. We need to hear God’s voice saying to us, “You may not be able to do it on your own, but I made you. I know what you need and I can help you.” Whenever you are tempted to think, “I just can’t do it,” remember that as God leads you, He will give you what you need. He made you, and He is able to equip you for the job.

Prayer:
Oh Glorious Lord, you have called me to be a mother. You have given me a monumental and magnificent job, but I can’t do it alone. I don’t have what it takes, but I do know that you made me and you can equip me for the job. Help me to replace my “I can’ts” with “but God can.” I want to follow you and only do what you are calling me to do in your strength. Thank you for creating me and caring for me. May my life glorify you. In Jesus name, Amen.

Bailey
My Choices:
This week I will choose to focus on what God can do, not what I can’t do.
This week I will choose to seek God’s leadership and guidance.
This week I will choose to ask Him for help in all the tasks that I do.
Further Reading: Exodus 3 & 4

Monday, August 30, 2010

Open Your Eyes




“All things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things and by Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1



This weekend I was on the west coast of California and what a blessing it was! I had the privilege of seeing spectacular sights. The Monterey Bay Aquarium was the highlight, displaying a fantastic array of God’s beautiful handiwork.

On a drive up the coast I saw the sea lions and otters and a fantastic view of the coastline which I will never forget. When I observe God’s marvelous creation, I can’t help but praise Him for His wisdom and variety in creation. Open your eyes to the beauty all around you and allow it to point you to our glorious God. Recognize His power, creativity and wisdom, and thank Him that He loves you and wants to relate to you.

He is our creator. Each of us has been given unique and different qualities. Thank the Lord for the wonderful way He made you and the variety in all creation.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Created in His Image

“What we believe about God is the most important thing about us.” A.W. Tozer


Genesis 1:27, - 31 “So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them. God blessed them and told them, ‘Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals.’ And God said, ‘Look! I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. I have given all the grasses and other green plants to the animals and birds for their food.’ And so it was. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way.”

Mom’s Reflection:
Amazing! “God created people in his own image,” and His creation was “excellent in every way.” The power of these truths can have a tremendous impact in our lives and in the lives of our children. He is our creator and He chose to make us in His Image. Perhaps you don’t feel so God-like all the time. Me neither! Created in His image doesn’t mean we are exactly like him (which is quite obvious), but it means we are a reflection of his character. We can reason. We can show love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness. We have a soul, which sets us apart from the rest of creation.
When we are tempted to think, “I just don’t have what it takes to be a good mom,” or “God must have made a mistake when He made me,” we can rest in the assurance that God has created us and did so in an excellent way. Our worth is based on the fact that we are made in God’s image. Knowing that we bear God’s image gives us a positive view of ourselves and of others. Let us not criticize what God has made, but rather rejoice in his creation knowing that He makes no mistakes.


Prayer:
Glorious Creator, marvelous Father, thank you for the way you created each and every one of us. Thank you for caring so much about mankind that you formed us in your image. I rejoice in your excellent creation. Help my kids to begin the grasp the fact that you created them, and they are a reflection of your image. May they be assured that they are created in an excellent way for your glory. In Jesus name, Amen.


My Choices:
This week I will choose to rejoice in the fact that I am created in His image.
This week I will choose to encourage my children to know that they are made by God in an excellent way.
This week I will choose to enjoy every person in my path as a unique creation of God.
Further Reading: Genesis 1 - 3

This week's blog is an excerpt from my book The Power of a Positive Mom Devotional (Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to School

"Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs." Albert Einstein

As the beginning of school approaches, we want to help our kids approach it with enthusiasm and an attitude of expectation. This week focus on the preparation and anticipation of learning. Here's the last of my summer theme weeks. I hope you have enjoyed them.

Activities: Shop for school supplies, school clothes, locker supplies, get haircuts, get together with friends to play, visit your new classroom if you are able, prepare homework stations in the house, shop for lunches and lunch bags.

Books:
Morris Goes to School by Bernard Wiseman
The Magic School Bus Series, by various authors
It'S Back To School We Go! by Ellen B. Jackson

Crafts: Decorate notebooks, tennis shoes, school bags, make pencil holders for homework work stations, draw a picture to give to the teacher for the first day of school, put together school supplies for children in need.

Devotional: This week focus on praying for the coming school year. The Bible tells us to be anxious about nothing, but to pray about everything. Here is your opportunity to instill a heart of prayer as you prepare for the year.

Monday: Thank the Lord for the opportunity to learn and grow. Thank Him for your teachers and for the class in which He has placed you, and the new friends to be made.
Tuesday: Pray for the teachers at the school and all around the world, as the prepare to teach.
Wednesday: Pray for the principal and administrators and lunch room ladies and janitors.
Thursday: Pray God's blessing on the school year and that you will grow and learn.
Friday: Pray for new friendships and reaching out to new students.

Blessings to you as you prepare and encouarage the kids excitement with your own positive attitude.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Unrushed Week



A walk is a wonderful way to see your world. All too often we are going, going, going at a running pace, and we miss so much of the beauty around us. With the start of school around the corner, life tends to roll at an even faster pace, so my suggestion for a theme week this week is some wholesome and deliberate slowness. Yes, quiet, unrushed and relaxed time is the intention for this week. Our kids can benefit from stepping back, being quiet and not filling every waking moment with busy activities. Most importantly, when we create space to be quiet and creative, we also open up opportunity to listen to our Creator’s voice.

Activities: Take a walk, ride bikes, take a nap, play in the sprinklers, build a fort with sheets covering the kitchen table and just hand out there, play house, read, watch a few videos, look at clouds, look through a magnifying glass and a telescope to see more of the beauty in creation.
Books:
The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska
The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle
Glimpses of an Invisible God for Teens: Quiet Reflections to Refresh and Restore Your Soul by Vicki J. Kuyper
101 Relaxation Games for Children: Finding a Little Peace and Quiet In Between by Allison Bart

Crafts: Begin with a blank paper. Draw, paint, create using crayons, colored pencils or pastels. Use foil to make foil figures. Play with play dough.
Devotional:
Monday – Be still and Know that He is God. Psalm 46:10
Tuesday - Meditate and dwell on God’s word. Psalm 119
Wednesday – He leads us by peaceful streams and green meadow. Psalm 23
Thursday – Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath. James 1:19 – 21
Friday – Seek first the kingdom of God. Matthew 6:25-34

“How rare it is to find a soul quiet enough to hear God speak!” Francois Fenelon

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Compassion and Kindness week



“The one sure means of dealing with boredom is to care for someone else, to do something kind and good.” T. Haecker

This week I want to encourage you to focus on stepping up and reaching out in order to show kindness to others. Compassion takes intentional thought and deliberate steps of action, and we want to teach it to our kids at an early age. The summer offers a wonderful time to encourage kindness in your kid’s hearts and help them to understand the joy of serving others. Here are some activities, books, crafts and devotionals to make it a tremendous week.

Activities: Bring toys to kids at a children’s hospital, read books to the elderly at a nursing home, volunteer at a Special Olympics event, bring cookies to a neighbor, write letters to military men and women, clean up trash at a local park, visit a homeless shelter, contact your church to find out some of the parishioners needs, have a garage sale to raise money for a charity, volunteer at a local food bank, surprise someone in need with an anonymous gift.

Books:
A Little Book of Manners: Courtesy & Kindness for Young Ladies by Emilie Barnes, Anne Christian Buchanan, and Michal Sparks
The Kindness Curriculum: Introducing Young Children to Loving Values by Judith Rice
Jesus Teaches Me Kindness (An Arch Books Series) by Inspirational Press

Also, visit http://www.kelsiskindheart.com/ to read about a wonderful girl who served others during her precious, brief life here on earth. You’ll find even more ideas on how to show compassion and kindness at her site.

Crafts: Decorate paper lunch bags and pack lunches to hand out to the homeless, draw pictures to hand out at nursing homes or children’s hospital, bake cookies or decorate cup cakes to give away, help someone paint a room in their house, make cards to send to service men and women, cook a meal for someone in need, decorate aprons to give to the school lunch ladies, create a photo album to send to grandparents and make their day.

Devotional:
Monday: God is kind and gracious. Psalm 103
Tuesday: What does true love look like? I Corinthians 13
Wednesday: Christ was our example of serving. Philippians 2
Thursday: If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to serve. Mark 10:44
Friday: Clothe yourself with kindness and compassion. Colossians 3:12-14

Monday, July 26, 2010

Creative Kitchen


Here’s a theme week that I know the whole family will eat up! This week make your kitchen into a creative fun zone and encourage your kids to learn about measuring, baking and blending together. The ABCD’s to making this a delightful week of cooking are:

Activities: Visit a bakery and ask for a tour, invite friends to come over to make and/or decorate cup cakes, go to the library to pick out recipe books together, make a trip to half price books to buy a few fun cookbooks, grocery shop together with your list of ingredients for the week, go to the dollar store to look for fun kitchen items (aprons, mixing spoons, colorful bowls), decorate the dinner table in fun new ways using flowers, homemade placemats, hats, lights, or pictures to name a few.

Books:
Mom and Me Cookbook by Annabel Karmel
The Everything Kids Cookbook by Sandra K. Nissenberg
Southern Living Kids Cookbook by Elizabeth Taliaferro
Snack Attack! (Teachable Moments Cookbooks for Kids) by Brenda Ward and Jane Jarrell

Crafts:
Cook fun recipes you discovered together in some of the cookbooks, or choose from some of the following ideas:
Cupcakes
Pizza
Play dough
Lemonade
Trail Mix
Cookie Cutter Cookies
Homemade Ice Cream
Lasagna
King Ranch Casserole
Tacos
Bread
Muffins

Devotions:
Exodus 16:31 God provides Manna
Ezekiel 4:9 Recipe for bread
Matthew 4:4 Man does not live by bread alone
Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread
John 6:35 Jesus declared, “I am the Bread of Life.”

Hope you have a delicious week!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Smart Art






“Art as far as it is able, follows nature, as a pupil imitates his master; thus your art must be, as it were, God’s grandchild.” Dante – Inferno

As we continue our series of Summer Fun Themes, we will focus this week on Smart Art. Several years ago my daughter Grace started an after-school art program called Waco Arts Initiative, and I thought we would glean some insight from her. I asked Grace to give me a few ideas she has used with her kids in Waco, so I could share them with you. Grace likes to use recycled or natural items as much as possible. You will see that the art projects don’t cost a lot of money and use good ole creative ingenuity. You can read about Waco Arts Initiative on her blog, http://www.wacoartsinitiative.blogger.com/ and also view a video about Waco Arts at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aevUEBSaCQ


Activities: Visit art museum or art galleries in your area, go on a trash hunt or nature walk to collect potential items to use for the art projects listed below, visit an art store for inspiration and a few supplies, reach out to the community by bringing a simple art project to do with senior citizens or children in need, watch Waco Arts Initiative video together as a family, send art creations to grandparents or relatives.

Books: Art appreciate books, picture books that feature different artists or a variety of art genres.

Crafts:
1. Planters. Collect milk or juice cartons. Use wallpaper paste and news paper to paper mache the exterior. Once dry, decorate with paint, feathers, sequins, buttons, etc… Poke a hole in the bottom for drainage. Fill with dirt and plant seeds.

2. Vases. Collect glass jars or bottles. Using glue to attach torn pieces of colorful tissue paper. After covering the glass with tissue paper, spray or paint the jar with Mod Podge or clear finish. Display flowers from your garden.

3. Bird Houses. Gather recycled items such as plastic bottles, milk cartons and cups. Use masking tape to attach items together to create a unique bird house. Be sure to make at least one hole for the bird, and add a hook for hanging. Use wallpaper paste and newspapers to paper mache the houses. Once dry, paint and decorate and hang outside. You can view another video of the Waco arts kids making birdhouses by clicking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oifjpdecgII

4. Sail Boat. Use 2 liter soda bottles, cut in half lengthwise. Glue popsicle sticks to make a deck. Paint or decorate the deck. You can make a sail by using a stick from the yard or cardboard tube cut from a hanger, secure the mast using putty or glue. Use scrap material for the sail. Once you are finished, take the boat to the pool or creek to see if it is sea-worthy.

5. Decorated Boxes. Collect small wooden cigar boxes or cardboard boxes (even food boxes will do). Cut or tear out favorite pictures from magazines. Using Mod Podge (found at craft stores)and attach the pictures to cover the box. Allow time to dry. Line the inside with fabric and use for special treasures or give to grandma as a jewelry box.

Devotional:
This week focus on the creativity of God and how He has given each of us with unique gifts and talents. Throughout the week point out God’s handiwork in nature and the unique talents you see in people.
Creation – Genesis 1
Work of skilled craftsmen in OT Exodus 28 and Exodus 35:30-35
Gifts and talents of the Proverbs 31 woman – Proverbs 31: 10-31


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Books, Glorious Books!

“A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.” Tupper

Never underestimate the power of a book to inspire and encourage a young reader. Books help us develop our imagination and create new ideas. Biographies and stories of great heroes, strengthen our own courage. We can learn how to do things, go places and accomplish new skills all through the blessing of books. This week’s theme of “Books Glorious Books” offers innovative indoor fun while encouraging a love for reading. Use this week as an opportunity to talk about how we must be discerning and wise in what we read and put into our minds. Not every book is a good book. Let us lead our kids to discover the joy of reading and the beauty of gaining wisdom and knowledge through good literature.

Activities: Create and act out dramas from your favorite books, dress up like different storybook characters each day, go to the library, visit a bookstore, visit a printer/binder and ask for a brief tour, study the life of a great author, research to see if there are any authors in your area, interview grandparents about their favorite books when they were growing up. Most importantly read, read, read.

Books: Allow the kids to choose their favorite books this week whether at the library or a book store. I would suggest a trip to a discount or half-price bookstore. Give each child a certain amount to spend (or allow them to earn it through chores) and give them the opportunity to purchase their own favorite book(s) to cherish and keep.

Craft: Encourage each of your children to write and create their own book. Provide blank paper and markers. Each day add a little bit more to the story. Allow younger ones to draw while you help them write the words. At the end of the week bind the story together and have a reading hour for each child to share their story.

Devotional: This week center on the Best Book Ever Written – the Bible.
Mon – Psalm 119:105 – God’s word is a lamp to our feet, a light for our path.
Tues – Isaiah 40:8 – The word of God will stand for ever.
Wed – Joshua 1:8 – Meditate on the Bible continually
Thurs – 2Timothy 3:16 – the Bible is important for teaching us how to live.
Fri – 2Peter 1:20,21 – The Bible is the inspired word of God.

“The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men. It has God for its author; salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter. It is all pure, all sincere; nothing too much; nothing wanting.” Locke

Be sure to check out my Thrive blog about my trip to Joni and Friends. www.thrivedontsimplysurvive.wordpress.com

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wacky Water Week



It’s steamy and hot here in Texas! No matter where you live, I want to give you some help on beating the heat with wild and wacky water ideas to use for another fun-filled theme week with the kids. If you have been following our theme weeks then you know that I am offering ideas focusing on one theme idea per week with your kids. I give the ABCD tips for making it a memorable week (A –activities, B – books, C – crafts, D – devotional). Let’s jump right into Wacky Water Week, as I’m sure it will be a big splash for the kids.


Activities: Play in yard sprinklers, go to local pool or lake or beach, fountain hop (more and more cities are offering fountains that kids can play in - search online for several near you), visit a water park, go to a local aquarium, get new pool floats for your own pool, water gun or spray bottle play.


Books: Make Way for Ducklings, Time of Wonder both by Robert McCloskey. I Wish I had Duck Feet, One Fish Two Fish…both by Dr. Seuss, The Very Funny Frog, by Jack Tickle, Corduroy Goes to the Beach by Freeman, McCue. Ocean World by Discovery Kids.

Crafts: Paint Plastic Water glasses. Create water color paintings of the ocean. Make music with jars filled with different levels of water, use food coloring to color the water and watch it dissipate. Add oil to a jar of colored water, place secure lid on top and shake to show separation of water and oil. Play Sink or Float with items around the house. Try to guess what will sink and what will float.


Devotionals:
Day one: God Created the bodies of Water, Genesis 1:6-23
Day two: Parting of the Red Sea, Exodus 13 & 14
Day three: Elijah and the floating axhead, II Kings 6:1-7
Day four: Jesus calms the wind and the sea, Matthew 8:23 – 27
Day five: Jesus offers Living Water, John 4:1-26

Be sure to read my Thrive Blog http://www.thrivedontsimplysurvive.wordpress.com/
about being ready for Christ’s return. You’ll appreciate Rev 22:17 which says, “ 17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”

Have a great week! Next week is Prince and Princess week.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tree-mendous Nature Themes



“Nature is a volume of which God is the author.” - Harvey

Summer runs with a smooth flow if you add a few theme weeks to your family’s summer program. A “theme week” is a concept I started when my kids were young in focusing on one particular area of interest for the entire week by choosing activities, books, crafts and even devotionals that center on the theme. Today I want to offer ideas centering on nature as a theme. Now nature can encompass a wide range of creatures and creation, so use it as an opportunity to teach about God’s mighty handiwork. I’ll give you a several ideas to help you get started, but certainly you have room to add to it as I recognize the expanse of the topic on nature. You may even want to turn these daily themes into weekly themes for the summer.

Day One: Bugging Out
Activities – Make or buy bug catchers and go on a bug hunt, visit local natural history museum or university, rent a bug movie, chase fireflies in the evening, look at bugs through a magnifying glass.
Books - The Grouchy Ladybug, The Very Quiet Cricket both by Eric Carle, Ms. Spider series by David Kirk.
Crafts – Create your own antennae using a headband and pipe cleaners, make tissue paper butterflies, make and decorate bug catchers using plastic jars and netting.
Devotional – Consider the Ant, Proverbs 6:6-11

Day Two: Flower Power
Activities – visit a garden or nursery or arboretum in the area. Purchase seeds and plant a small garden or plant flowers in a pot.
Books – Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, My Backyard Garden by Carol Lerner
Craft – Paint and decorate flower pots and visors, make tissue paper flowers, color or water paint pictures of a garden, make ice cream treats with ice cream in clay pots, use chocolate cookie crumbles for the dirt and put a plastic flower on top. Add a gummy worm for effect!
Devotional – The Four Soils. Mark 4:1-20

Day Three: Super Skies
Activities – Visit planetarium, lay down outside and cloud watch talking about the different shapes that you see, star gaze at night, look through a telescope.
Books – The Cloud Book, by Tomie de Paola, It Couldn't Just Happen: Fascinating Facts About God's World by Larry Richards.
Crafts – Make drawings of both the day sky and the night sky. Use glitter for stars on the night scene and clouds for the day.
Devotional – Creation Genesis 1:14 – 19, The Heavens Declare the Glory of God. Psalm 19

Day Four: Amazing Animals
Activities - Visit the zoo, local farm, doggy park, rent or go to movies about animals, dress up like animals using face paint and making ears using felt and headbands.
Books – Anamalia, by Graeme Base, Animals Born Alive and Well, by Ruth Heller.
Crafts – Make animals out of clay or foil or recycled items. Bake and decorate animal shaped cookies. Draw pictures of the zoo and Noah’s Ark. Put together photo album of animal pictures from magazine or from the zoo.
Devotional – Creation Genesis 1:20 – 25, Noah’s ark Genesis 6,7

Day Five: Tremendous Trees
Activities – Take a hike through a forest, visit a wooded area and do bark rubbings, collect leaves, plant a tree.
Books – The Legend of the Three Trees, by Angela Elwell Hunt and Tim Jonke, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.
Crafts – Create tree bark rubbings by holding paper on the side of a tree and rubbing with a crayon to get the impression (collect several and compare different barks), draw a forest, make a collage from items collected on your hike, preserve leaves between wax paper or clear contact paper, write a poem about trees.
Devotional – All of creation sings God’s praises Psalm 96:11-12

Well I hope these ideas sparked your thinking and gave you some fun ideas to do with the kids this week. May the Lord bless you as you celebrate His creation. Be sure to add your own book suggestions in the comment area. Next week is Water Week and I’ll give you some fun and easy ideas to do with the kids all focusing on the theme of water. Be sure to check out my Thrive blog at http://www.thrivedontsimplysurvive.com/ for some thoughts from this past weekend.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Terrific Travel Tips


"Good company in a journey makes the way to seem the shorter." Izaak Walton


Yes, I promised travel tips last week, but then again I wanted to share with you just a little about our daughter’s wedding. Now we are back on track, and I know for most of you summer is already in full swing, so let’s talk travel. As you consider a summer family vacation here are several important tips to make it a great family time together.

Pre-prep for Success: Vacation Preparation is everything! For a memorable trip, begin preparing the kids beforehand for what they can expect or which family members they may be meeting. Together, you can look up on line some of the possible activities to do while you are at your destination. Talk about the importance of being flexible as weather or other circumstances may change even your most perfectly laid out plans. Buy tickets on line to save you the hassle and time once you get there. Check out comments from other families and make sure you are planning age-appropriate activities. Recently I was at the Tulsa zoo and saw a mom, dad and grandma all pulling their little bitty toddler along in a red wagon. It was obvious that the young thing had no interest at all in the animals, despite the fact that the family kept pointing and saying , “Look at the animals.” He was just too young, and definitely too hot and tired to enjoy the experience, which leads me to my next point.

Schedule for Enjoyment: You know your kids and you know what they can typically handle. Please don’t overload your little ones by trying to fit way too many activities in a day. They are already going to be on over-stimulated by the new environment, so don’t overwhelm them with too much to do. A good schedule for younger kids usually includes getting up and getting out early, a time to eat lunch and rest (or nap) then another late afternoon activity and dinner. For older kids, you may want to let them sleep a little longer and enjoy a mid morning brunch, then a full day of afternoon activities and sight-seeing. Plan out your days as much as possible ahead of time making your schedule work for your family’s needs, but always remain flexible. Teaching your kids to be flexible and adjust to new situations is a quality they need to learn for life, and they learn it as they watch your example on vacations. Schedules should not rule your vacation, they are simply a guideline to help you work through your day.

Throw out Complaining: Make one clear rule before the trip even starts, “No whining or Complaining allowed.” Now mom, you set the tone by guarding your own mouth, but also have a talk with the kids telling them how whining and complaining can be quite draining not only to the rest of the family but to the whiner himself. The energy used for complaining can always be better used toward choosing to enjoy an activity or work through a difficulty. We are happier people when we stop whining, and change our focus to something good about the situation. On one trip I had my daughters memorize the apostle Paul’s words in Philippians, “I have learned to be content no matter what the circumstances.”

Give Goodies: A goody bag became a fun and expected item on Ladd family trips. I took great joy in putting together a fun little tote bag of games and snacks to keep the girls occupied while we traveled in the car or by plane. They even served to be helpful as we waited at restaurants. A quick trip to Walmart or the Dollar store will help you fill a bag with healthy snacks, water, markers, note pads, small books, pocket sized games, chewing gum, activity books, little toys, magazines, you name it! I built the anticipation by waiting until we got in the car or boarded the plane to give the kids their bags. They loved it, and it sure made travel much more enjoyable.

Bring books: You are never bored when you have books. My mom used to read to us on long car rides and it made the time go by so much faster for both her and us kids. I suggest you go to Half Price book store and pick out a few books that will suit your family. You may even want to bring a fiction book to read as a family on the trip such as Chronicles of Narnia. Books on CD offer another good idea for car or headphones. Yes, I would bring a few DVD’s along on the trip, but don’t neglect the value of inspiring your kids to read.


Writing on Return: Coming home from a trip can sometimes be a bit of a downer, but you can make it fun by taking time to reflect on the trip. I used to take a blank journal on each trip, and we put pictures in it and wrote reflections in the journal on the way home. Our favorite memories about the trip as well as funny things that happened along the way made good entries into the journal. We also added tickets stubs and brochures. You can even write a family poem about the trip allowing everyone to share in the creative process. Ask everyone to make a drawing or sketch of their favorite part of the trip. Years later it is a joy to pull out a journal and reflect on a memory.


Hopefully some of these travel tips will assist you in experiencing wonderful and memorable family vacations. For the next few weeks I will be sharing Theme Ideas to use week by week to make your summer a blast!!! Also, you may want to visit my other blog to read about “Flowers that Fade, but the Word of God Stands Forever.” http://www.thrivedontsimplysurvive.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Life Lessons from the Mother of the Bride



Yes, my daughter Joy was married this past Saturday, and it was a glorious celebration! Adam and Joy are tremendous young people who want to honor God in all they do. It was beautiful event, and everyone seemed to have a fun and memorable time.

In the days following the wedding, I have reflected on the memorable moments of the ceremony and the reception. I thought about how happy I was to see everyone else so very happy, most importantly the bride and the groom. To tell you honestly throughout the entire planning and celebration I was continually filled with peace and joy. As I considered the specific reasons why I never felt frazzled it occurred to me they may be worth sharing with others, because they not only apply to the Mother of the Bride but to life in general. So here are a few life lessons learned from the Mother of the Bride:

1. Focus on what really matters. In a wedding, what really matters is honoring the bride and groom and making it a wonderful experience for the guests. It is not about showing the world what a great event-planner I am. Also, it is important to continually keep in mind that the marriage is more important than the wedding. In life we must always readjust our focus in order to remember it is not about me, it is about honoring God and serving others. We must continually and deliberately turn our focus to the bigger picture of eternity and fix our eyes on Jesus.
2. Fret not about gossipers and complainers. “What will others think?” ought to be four little words that are banned from your brain as you plan a wedding. Remember, you will never be able to please everyone. Someone who enjoys gossiping and complaining will still do it no matter how perfect or traditional or expensive your wedding is, so don’t try to please them. This is your daughter’s wedding, not theirs. Generally speaking we ought to always live to please one person and that is God. He wants us to love Him and love others. He does not call us to live our lives with the goal to impress others.
3. Enjoy the moment. The wedding goes by so fast. Before you know it the couple is preparing to run through the gauntlet of rice, birdseed or bubbles and drive away. During the entire event I encourage you to set worrying aside, be flexible and enjoy the people and the festivities. Live in the moment! Embrace it! Similarly, choose to enjoy the place in which God has placed you and the people He has brought into your life. Why waste time complaining and arguing? It all goes by so quickly.
4. Put the right people in place. We prayerfully and carefully selected the florist, photographer, DJ, printer, cake lady and wedding coordinator. They all did their jobs incredibly well and made the event a great success (email me if you want their names and numbers). It makes all the difference when you have people in place who do their jobs well. In life we must recognize we can’t do everything, but we can associate and connect with others who are talented in specific areas where we are weak. Be wise and prayerful as you bring others on board to help you do what you cannot do on your own. We need each other and most importantly we need the Lord. Where we are weak, He is strong.
5. Love. That’s what a wedding is celebrating anyway. Love your guests, love your family members (even the annoying ones) and also extend God’s love to the wait staff and people who are working with you. There is great joy when we sincerely reach out and love those around us with a kind word, a warm smile and a helping hand. Love is patient and kind, it does not envy or boast, it is not proud or rude. It is not easily angered…love never fails. The wedding event will be a success if you extend love and kindness to all. Equally, you will experience joy in life as you reach out and choose to love the people around you.


Well, that’s my top five lessons learned as we went through the wedding process. I hope you found them helpful. One last thing I must mention, I can testify to the fact that when you pray and give your cares to God, He will give you a peace that passes all understanding. Every time I felt even a twinge of fear or worry, I gave it to God and sought His direction (with thanksgiving) and I want you to know He is faithful! Joy and I decided that every Wednesday leading up to the wedding would be “Wedding Wednesday Prayer Night,” so on Wednesday’s we got on our knees together and gave every aspect of the wedding to Him. Remember to cast your cares on Him for He cares for you!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sizzling Summer Fun!

It’s Here! Summer is upon us and is a wonderful time to build meaningful family memories. I want to use the Positive Moms blog to give you fun family tips to make it a tremendous time with the kids. Summer typically means a change in schedule and routine. It means hot days and more family togetherness. It also means some possible family vacations. Let’s make it great for everyone involved including you!

I like to begin summer with a bang to help the kids get excited about the possibilities as well as some of the different routine and rules that may need to be in place. After school officially lets out, plan a pancake breakfast to celebrate the new summer schedule. Allow the kids to see your excitement for the potential that summer holds for you as a family. Here are some of the topics I suggest you discuss over pancakes.

Summer Schedule – make a poster board with a general daily schedule. Include how much computer and television time is allowed. Talk about places you want to go and things you want to see during the summer. For younger kids, include a time each day to just lay low. I called it FOB (flat on back or flat on bunk) and it was a time for everyone just to stay on their bed to read, listen to music, rest and think. We all need down time, especially mom, and it helps to write it into the daily routine.

Boredom Busters – Tell the kids that the word “bored” is banned from your family. Boredom is only experienced by people who are not using their creative talents to think of something to do. And there is always something to do. Each summer we created a Boredom Buster can (a coffee can wrapped with construction paper)and inside the can we placed index cards on which we wrote ideas of things we could do when we felt the B-word (boredom) coming on. If ever anyone felt bored, they could go to the can and pick out one of the possible activities. We wrote things like shoot hoops, draw pictures, call a friend, roller blade, play in the sprinklers, make a tent fort, read, etc…

Learn and Earn - Talk about saving up money to go to an amusement park or Friday movies or to the dollar stores. Determine an age-appropriate system to help your kids earn money. Teach them how to save at least 10% and give at least 10%. Help them to learn wise ways to spend their hard-earned money. Summer can also be a good time to improve on some basic math and reading skills. Make time each day for reading to the kids. Choose some books that you will enjoy listening to together as a family. I would encourage you to consider the Chronicles of Narnia or Little House on the Prairie series depending on the age of your kids. Make or purchase math flash cards or work books and set aside a little time each week to work on them together. Learn a language together using flash cards or CDs. This is a time to enjoy learning with the kids. As they catch your love for learning, they will be inspired.

Travel Tips and Theme weeks – Next week’s blog will contain wise travel tips to make the most of your family vacations. The following week we will take a look at Theme Weeks and how they can make your summer sail by. Be sure to read my Memorial Day blog at: www.Thrivedontsimplysurvive.wordpress.com

Monday, May 24, 2010

Still in the Midst

“Dwell deep in the hidden life of God. The cedar grows more beneath the ground than above it.” A.B. Simpson

The month of May is an exceptionally busy time for moms. School programs, class parties, school trips, graduations, field days can all make us as frazzled and fractured as the holiday season. Now is the time to take a deep breath and deliberately step aside to have some quiet moments with just you and God. You may be thinking, What? Didn’t you just say this is the busiest time of the year? How in the world can I make time to be alone with God?

It is possible, but you have to be intentional about quiet alone time. Consider your typical routine and determine when you can have 15 – 20 minutes to just be still and know that He is God. It may look differently for each one of us. For you, it may be just after everyone is put to bed, or during nap time, or waiting in carpool line or perhaps early in the morning. Instead of doing one more thing that you think needs to get done or instead of making that phone while waiting for the kids, turn your eyes upward and quietly focus on the God who loves you.

Keep a Bible or devotional with you and take a moment to turn your cares over to God. Ask Him for strength and direction to order your days and allow Him to speak to you through His Word. Listen to God’s invitation to you to be still and know that He is God. It is amazing to me that the God of all creation encourages us to dwell and abide with Him. Here are a few quotes to remind you of how precious and important our time alone with God is to our daily lives.

“The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God.” A.W. Tozer

“Live near to God and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities.” Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“Oh for closest communion with God, till soul and body – hand, face and heart- shine with divine brilliancy! But oh for a holy ignorance of our shining!” Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“The nearer we come to God, the more graciously will he reveal himself to us.” C.H. Spurgeon
Next week on the Positive Mom Blog we will begin our Summer with a Smile series filled with creative ways to make it a great summer for you and the kids.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Power of Connection



This weekend we traveled down to College Station, Texas in order to watch our youngest daughter walk across the stage to receive her diploma from Texas A&M University. Although the ceremony was a bit long (thousands graduated this weekend) it was also powerful. The loyalty and connectedness between the students of A&M is a force to be reckoned with and goes far beyond obligatory school spirit. These students are fiercely loyal to each other. They not only stick up for each other, they believe it is their duty to live a life worthy of the standards and excellence of the university. Being an A&M student is a commitment to be an Aggie for life and represent the school with honor and dignity.

This same kind of loyalty and connectedness is what the apostle Paul desired to see in the lives of believers. Notice the charge he gave the believers in Philippi: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Having the same love, one in spirit and in purpose – well that describes A&M students, but sadly I’m not so sure it describes the body of Christ.

When the speaker at graduation talked about the expectations of living a life which respectfully represents the school, I couldn’t help but think about how the apostle Paul talked about walking in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Paul reminded the early believers that their citizenship was in Heaven. Now the Roman citizens of Paul’s time were expected to live up to the honors and standards of citizenship. They were supposed to promote the interests of Rome and live in a way that brought dignity to the city. Sounds like Aggies, doesn’t it? It should also sound like Christians, shouldn’t it?


Well, I suppose we could say there were a few life lessons learned from this observer of Texas A&M graduation. As fellow believers in Christ let us seek to:
· Be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and in purpose.
· Walk in a manner worthy of our high-calling as believers and citizens of Heaven.


It's time we looked like people who build each other up and not tear each other down. May our focus be on serving Christ and honoring Him with all we do and say. If Aggies can do it for their school, surely we do it in honor of our loving Heavenly Father!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Three Cheers for Mom!

Happy Mother's Day! May you rejoice in your high-calling as a mom. Here's a picture of me with my two daughters Grace and Joy. I'm so proud of both of them. I hope you enjoy the words of encouragement below.
Moms deserve a pat on the back and an enthusiastic word of encouragement, don’t you agree? Here are three cheers that come to mind when I consider the heart of a MOM:
1. Hurray for Humility – Humility is a rare and beautiful quality. Christ showed us the perfect picture of humility as He left his throne in Heaven and came to this earth in the form of a servant. Certainly a mom humbly serves in her home as she lovingly considers the interests and needs of her family often above her own needs. We are never so Christ-like as when we serve others in the beauty of loving humility.
2. Hurray for Compassion – Care and compassion seem to come naturally for a mom as she genuinely feels deeply with both the joys and the pains her children go through in life. She cries when they cry, she laughs when they laugh. Just as the Lord is compassionate and gracious with His children, so a mom pours out compassion and care to hers.
3. Hurray for Strength – A mom is resilient. She perseveres even when she is tired. She overcomes hurdles and lifts up her kids when they fall down. She keeps on going like the energizer bunny from morning until night. She’s a champion! May God continue to be her strength and joy for the journey ahead!
Celebrate one of God’s most precious gifts to this world - the heart of a mom.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Gift of Applause

Never underestimate the power of applause. This past weekend I was in Eugene, Oregon on business, but one little added extra blessing was that the Eugene Marathon was taking place during the time while I was there. The runners were going right by my hotel, so I strategically planned to eat breakfast at the outdoor café during the event in order to watch the runners and applaud them as they ran by my table. The president of Harvest House (my new publisher) was one of those runners, and I wanted to be sure and give him an enthusiastic cheer as he ran.

As most of the runners came along, some plodding, some jogging, and some pushing forward at a strong pace, I clapped and applauded for each one. My hands actually began to hurt from clapping for so long, but it was worth it! I saw the thankfulness in the eyes of the runners as they seemed to sincerely appreciate the encouragement along the way. Some even used what little energy they had to say thank you, and others looked to me and smiled. I could tell that the applause gave them a true sense of support and strength to keep on going. I was at mile 18, and I think they needed some encouragement about then.

It was a visual reminder to me that we all need a healthy dose of applause in our lives. Uplifting words are the delicious morsels that keep us going when we feel like we want to give up. I’m talking about sincere encouragement, not silly, fluffy flattery. The word encourage literally means to give strength to the heart. I saw how valued my applause was to weary runners this weekend, and certainly our good words are just as valued to weary travelers on the journey of life. Whether it is our kids or the neighbor next door or the lady working the cash register at the grocery store; everyone could all use a good word now and then.

Take some time and effort to offer applause to the people God places in your life today. More importantly remember to seek the applause of Heaven by drawing close to Him and intimately getting to know the God who loves you. If you want to read a few more life lessons learned in Eugene, go to my other blog at: www.thrivedontsimplysurvive.wordpress.com

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Strength of Mom

It’s amazing what a mom can accomplish in one day. Getting the kids to where they need to go whether it is lessons, school or story time, and making sure they have a good breakfast and a healthy lunch in the process. Laundry, volunteering, carpool, appointments, play-dates, errands, not to mention the priceless moments of listening, caring, hugging, disciplining and helping. Phew! A mother’s job is filled with joy, but let’s be honest, it can be slightly draining at times. In a good way, it drains us of our self-centered tendencies, but in a challenging way motherhood can drain us of our physical and emotional energy.

Where does a mother go to for strength and help? Certainly we must be deliberate about taking care of ourselves physically by eating right and getting the rest we need. We can also find support emotionally through talking with a trusted friend, finding wise counsel or journaling. As believers in Christ, God invites us to come to Him for strength. The Bible talks quite a bit about finding our strength in God. Isaiah reminds us, “Those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength.” The Psalmist said, “The Lord is my strength and my shield.” Paul said, “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Paul also talked about the strength he found to be content in any and every situation, whether in plenty or in need. He said he learned the secret to being content in every situation. Here it is, “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” He went on to say, “My God will meet all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Being content doesn’t mean God orchestrates everything to turn out perfectly for you. It means God will strengthen you in and through your difficulties. Lean on Him, look to Him, find your strength in Him. He loves you and will provide for you.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Never-Ending Student

This week I had the privilege of going with the wonderful young moms in my connection group from church (Christy, Stephanie, Tandy, Becky – love you all) to hear John Townsend talk about setting boundaries with kids. It was a tremendous time of learning, and I highly recommend any of John’s books (www.JohnTownsend.com) and especially Boundaries with Kids if you are a parent. It’s funny, but I thought I was going to the event just to encourage and support the young moms in my group, yet oddly I walked away with a wealth of wisdom which I needed to apply to my own life and relationships as well. We never stop learning and growing!

On Saturday I went to speak to the ladies at First Baptist Lewisville and funny thing, God wanted me there so I could learn as well. I attended one of the break-out sessions mainly because I wanted to just hear what the teacher had to say on a certain misunderstood topic in scripture (mainly submission), and once again I not only walked away with a wealth of wisdom, but also a fair amount of conviction.

This morning I picked up my dad’s latest book, Your Daily Mental Vitamin (by Garry Kinder), and the entry went like this: Read and inwardly digest one book each month. Feed the mind as you feed the body. Leaders are readers and readers are leaders. I think the lesson for the week, at least for me, is never stop learning. Be intentional about growing and learning. We learn from books, from the people God places in our lives and most importantly from God’s Word.

As a mom, we want to instill this love of learning with our kids. We begin with our own example. Allow your kids to see that you still love to read, grow and learn as an adult. Every now and then, tell your kids what God is teaching you. Read, read, read. Read to your kids, sit down and read next to your kids, and joyfully talk about what you are reading and learning in life. Begin a collection of classics for your home book shelf. Half-price books is a great place to find treasures. You will find a list of classics books for your kids in my book The Power of a Positive Mom (chapter 18). Enjoy the adventure of learning, and don’t be discouraged if you still feel like you are a never-ending student. Remember that He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

“Knowledge and experience are the best two feet anyone can have to equip him for successful living.” John Wanamaker

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Greatest Adventure


“Adventure isn't hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day-to-day obstacles of life - Facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, Testing our resources against the unknown and in the process, Discovering our own unique potential.” John Amatt (mountain climber)



This past week I went on a little adventure of my own. I drove to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to speak for a Christian Women’s Club luncheon, then drove on to Coffeyville, Kansas to speak at an evening event in the beautiful Brown Estate Mansion. It was wonderful getting to know fellow sisters in Christ in these precious “villes” and it was a joy to share the powerful truths of God’s love and forgiveness through Christ Jesus.


On the way home, I decided to take an adventurous detour to visit the Tulsa Zoo. What fun! That's me riding the camel!

My long drive from Texas to Kansas and back within 24 hours could have been viewed as a burden, but I chose to see it as an adventure. It was an opportunity to make new friends, share God’s love, see new sights and enjoy God’s great creation. The point I want to make is that every day offers opportunities and adventures. The person God places in your path today is a creation of God and a treasure just waiting to be discovered. The difficult detour in your life is an opportunity to trust God and discover new skills. You can always look at a frustration or a challenge in your life from a new angle and look with anticipation for ways God can bring hope and redemption. Yes life has many opportunities for adventure through the good days and the bad.

There is one great adventure in life which is available to each and every one of us. I’m talking about the adventure of knowing Christ. The apostle Paul said, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord….I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings...”

There is no greater adventure than knowing Christ! Not just knowing about Him, but truly knowing Him in a vibrant relationship and as the Lord of your life. Pursuing Christ makes life meaningful, joyful and fulfilling. As we come to know Christ, we recognize we are dearly loved and we experience his strength and power in our lives each day. We can look to Him for guidance and direction. Take a step today toward the great adventure of knowing Christ, seeking His face, and drawing close in His loving arms.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter All Year




Hope it was a great Easter for you. We had a tremendous time with our daughters (and our mastiffs) down in Austin. The bluebonnets were in full bloom and more brilliant than I have ever seen them before.

The week before Easter I was a t lunch with some friends and one of the girls asked, “So what’s everyone doing for Easter?” We all answered with about the same answer: going to church, enjoying a family meal, coloring eggs and giving Easter baskets (yes we still that even though the girls are grown), but after I got home from my lunch with my friends I started thinking about what I really should be doing for Easter. In light of what we are celebrating on Easter Sunday, I wish I would have answered my friends by saying, “I’m going to give the gift of mercy and grace to everyone I encounter because that’s the gift Jesus gave me on the cross. In honor of Him I’m going to die to my rights to hold something against another person. I’m going to love and serve others as Jesus did.”


Think about the beauty of the cross and ponder the power of the resurrection. Romans 8:11 reminds us that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, lives within us. He is able to give me what I need to love, serve and forgive the people around me. The power of Christ’s resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith. It is a reminder that we too will live with Christ in eternity. It is also a reminder that His spirit gives us strength and power to love like Jesus loved and live like Jesus lived every day we are here on this earth.


Yes, this Easter I still plan to give out baskets filled with goodies, but I also plan to give something much more significant. I plan to give grace and mercy to the people around me and reflect Jesus’ love on Easter. I plan to walk in the power of the resurrection knowing that God is able to do a mighty and transforming work in and through me.


Positive Mom Moment: Now that Easter is over, encourage your kids to continue to celebrate Easter all year long. Talk about how you can continue to give kindness, forgiveness and love to others to honor Jesus. Use one of the leftover Easter baskets (after they have eaten all the candy of course) to put little pieces of paper with random acts of kindness which you all can do for others. Sit down over dinner one night and brainstorm random acts of kindness together as a family. Holding the door open, being nice to someone lonely, baking a cake for the new neighbor, writing a note to lift someone up…all of these can be written down as acts of kindness. Then pick a piece of paper each morning and look for opportunities throughout the day. Share at the dinner table how you were able to carry out your deeds.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Princess Day

Moms don’t typically feel like princesses. Day in day out, the duties of motherhood sometimes cloud over the fact that we are one of God’s precious daughters. Today I want to give you just a little reminder of the beauty and wonder of being a part of God’s family and a follower of Christ.

The Bible says if anyone is in Christ, she is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things have become new. That’s a big change! We are talking about a major transformation, a total overhaul, a complete new creation. It’s kind of our own personal Cinderella story. What does it mean to be a new creation? The Bible tells us that when we place our faith in Christ:

We become children of God and a part of His family (John 1:12)
We become citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:19)
We become God’s possession (Ephesians 1:13)
We are holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)
We have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us (Ephesians 1:13)
We are declared righteous (Romans 1:17)
We are no longer controlled by our sinful nature (Romans 7:9)
We are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1)
We are forgiven (Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 4:23)

Paul put it this way, he said as Christians we have taken off our old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. I’m thankful for the difference Christ’s presence makes in my life. You know in Biblical times, Roman citizenship was highly honored and revered. People paid large sums of money to acquire the right to be a Roman citizen if they were not born into it. Those who were Roman citizens were proud of it and were expected to live up to the honor.

We have the great privilege of being citizens of Heaven. Our citizenship was bought at a high price, the blood of Jesus. May we walk in a manner worthy of our calling, our high calling as daughters of the king. Take some time today to thank the Lord for calling you to Himself and the great honor of becoming a new creation and a part of His royal family.

Positive Mom Moment: Declare a Royal Day. Let the kids make crowns and play dress up to become princes and princesses for the day. Make a castle by draping a sheet over the kitchen table. Ride stick horses and go on a royal adventure around the house or neighborhood. Then take some time to talk about the royal transformation God does in our lives when we follow Christ using some of the scriptures listed above. Remind them that as followers of Christ we are citizens of heaven and a part of God’s family.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Snowy Surprise








We just celebrated the first day of Spring, yet oddly here in Dallas we received several inches of snow last night. This is not typical weather for March 20 in Dallas Texas. We expect sunshine and warm breezy days, not this. But isn’t that just like life? Surprises happen all the time. How many times have you said the words, “This isn’t what I had planned?” Whether it is a day that started off with a normal routine and ended up in the emergency room, or your life that seemed to be going in one direction and now doesn’t look at all like what you had hoped or planned.



Surprises happen. Things Change. Plans get sidetracked. The question is how can we passionately live the life we didn’t plan? I believe it is important to grieve the loss of the old plan, but don’t stay there. Begin to ask God, what He has in store for your in the new plan. Ask for his help to navigate the new road ahead of you.



Some surprises are good and happy, but many can catch us off guard and be a bit scary. The apostle James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” But he didn’t leave us standing there saying “What do I do now.” James went on to say, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”




So if you find yourself in the life or situation you didn’t plan, ask for God’s wisdom and direction to make it a great new plan. Pray together as a family and be open to the ways He may be directing you. Sometimes He leads us through His Word, or through circumstances or through a wise and trusted friend. Sometimes He leads us through His still quiet voice. Take time to listen to pray and to listen to His direction.



I hope you enjoy your day today. As for me, I’m going to go play in the snow. Watch my show on http://www.webtv4women.tv/