It is a delight to be a guest on the incomparable Ann Voskamp's blog today.
My heart has been hurting for our children who may feel unsettled and afraid in this big old world. With everything going on, sometimes it's hard to know what to do to help them feel secure.
Won't you stop over there and read, "1 powerful thing every parent can do to make this world feel safe these days."
And, would you do me a favor? I'd love for you to share that post in any way you can: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (just look at the gorgeous photos!) It would mean the world.
Now...go squeeze your little loves for me today!
Blessings upon blessings,
One of the my favorite scenes in life is the acres and acres of green corn and beans on the rolling hills of Nebraska...it is one of my best childhood memories. My uncle is a farmer there, and I know the hard work and cultivation that goes into making those crops happen. If you've ever driven through the midwest in spring time, you've probably seen farmers in gigantic tractors, tilling up their land in preparation for planting. They know that a crop doesn't just start when the seeds get sown, but it actually begins long before that - with soil management and planning months in advance. And once the crop is underway, there is a whole science of tending, watering, fertiziling and harvesting at precise moments for the best yield.
As moms and keepers of the home, one of the biggest aspects of OUR job is cultivation. Whether you know it or not, you are laying the groundwork for the kind of crop you will harvest. Soil preparation, fertilization, feeding, weeding, planting, tending, pruning....all are activities that apply to raising children and creating an atmosphere for growth and health.
Let's do a Small Thing today!
Today's Small Thing is to cultivate....intentionally.
Let me ask you: What kind of harvest do you want to reap? Here are some ideas to get you started:
If you want your children to be readers, take a trip to the library and set a "reading time" in their rooms.
If you want peace and quiet, actively set boundaries on noise levels and provide consequences for indoor yelling: i.e. show your kids the back door :)
For an appreciation of healthy lifestyle, create a meal that features an array of vegetables.
For spiritual growth, plan scripture memorization, a family devotional or a commitment to church.
For a deeper relationship with your husband, plan a conversation around a topic you know he enjoys. Take an active interest in something that's important to him.
For an atmosphere of "sanctuary" tidy up your living spaces and turn on a lamp or two. Make it cozy and nice.
The list is endless......I've given you just a few thoughts.
Today, think about the kind of life you want to live, and then take steps to cultivate that life.
Don't just expect a crop to grow out of rocky, untended soil. Do the hard work of preparation and cultivation and you'll reap the benefits many times over.
What will you be cultivating today? What steps will you take to reap the rewards?
I'd love to hear about the things you're doing!
Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends is all about cultivating kindness. It will inspire great conversation with your kids about ways to be a friend to others. You can find it on Amazon, along with the new paperback version of Flash!
My mom has always told me, "you never stop praying for your kids." Now that I've made it through the teen years and am well into the young adult phase of parenting, I know this to be true. Our mama-hearts still hurt over them sometimes, and we wish we could just "fix" things and make them all right...just like we could when they were little. Things are so much more complicated now, aren't they?
The very best thing we can do for our kids is pray for them.
Last year I put together a couple of special printable prayers and made them available on my blog. They've been downloaded thousands of times, and I thought I'd go ahead and link to them again today.
Today, I'm standing with you. I know some of you are in tough spots with your kids. You worry. You fret. You keep giving them to God, and then you worry some more.
For today, just let that worry go, wont you? Breathe these prayers and know that your heavenly Father loves that young man, or that young woman, more than you can imagine. He is working in their lives, even when you can't see it. He is using their choices and situations to bring them to Him and remind them that he is for them.
He will work it out. It may take some time, but you can trust Him.
You can find the printable prayers here.
Feel free to leave a comment, maybe with your child's name (or pseudonym for privacy) so we can all join together and lift him or her to God today.
This post first appeared in 2008, when doomsday talk dominated that election cycle. It's just as relevant today, if not more so:
"The end of the world as we know it...if the other party wins." ~ every other Facebook status
It seems like we hear nothing but dire predictions swirling around this election, and today I want to encourage you to, well.... put a lid on it. At least in front of the kids.
Yes, I know. I'm well aware that there are big huge problems facing us, and we have social issues up the wazoo. We must discuss them. We must vote.
But sometimes we get so wrapped up in talking about how bad things are and how much worse they're going to get, that we forget about the little listening ears that are taking it all in.
To kids, all this grown-up talk can be scary, frightening and depressing.
And it can leave them feeling hopeless about their future.
When you're ten, you should be dreaming of being an astronaut, or a doctor, or a fireman... not worrying about whether your family will survive an "imminent" holocaust. A six year-old shouldn't have to overhear talk that our country is going to hell in a hand basket. A high schooler shouldn't have to think "why bother?" because the world might end.
Trust me, I know.
Please, please listen.
We need to filter the information we allow in and talk about–so that it is age-appropriate and constructive.
Let's do a Small Thing today: Give your children (and everyone around you) the gift of hope.
I encourage you to refrain from talking about political catastrophes and instead, talk about your child's dreams.
What are his gifts?
What can she contribute to this world to make it better?
How can God help us be lights in our neighborhoods?
What can WE do to make a difference?
How can we show love and kindness to others?
What wonderful things would she like to do, and see, and be?
Oh, I know there is so much we can't fix around us.
The economy, immigration, unemployment....but none of that means anything to someone who just wants to color with you, or be pushed in a swing, have you watch them twirl or leap off furniture, or have you listen to a new song they found on itunes.
Don't rob your children of the joyfulness of life and hope for the future because you are caught up in the details of an ugly election season.
Speaking positive and hopeful words will communicate to your kids that you trust God to watch over you, no matter what.
Because He WILL watch over you! You will always be sheltered in God's love and care. There are wonderful, amazing things ahead...just wait and see.
And guess what? No matter who wins or loses, it won't be the end of the world.
God has mighty plans for the next generation of kids, and it will be exciting to see them rise up and take them on.
We NEED future astronauts and doctors, and firemen and teachers, and mommies and daddies, who believe in Him, and whose parents gave them the gift of hope in the midst of turbulent times.
I love this scripture:
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.
It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.
Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
In case you missed my Facebook Live video, here it is (click the link below the pic):
I know those of you on the east coast may be dealing with Hurricane Matthew and will not be able to be part...I'm so sorry, please know we are praying for you!)
The rest of you, set an alert on your phone so you'll remember to join Flash and me on Facebook (https://facebook.com/flashthedonkey) at 7 pm CT.
We will be posting conversation starters, crafts, coloring pages, songs...and of course a book reading. The stage is set, the pillows and blankets are ready–now all we need is YOU! I hope you'll bring your favorite kids (or tell them about it!) and party right along with me!
When was the last time you went to a pajama party?
Well, that's too long.
WAY too long!
I would love for you to come to my PJ Party on Friday night (Oct. 7) at 7 pm!
Now, not everyone will fit into my living room, so this will be a VIRTUAL party, via Facebook Live! All you need to do is hop over to Flash the Donkey's Facebook page, and I'll be posting live video so you can join in!
There will be music, games, food, and a special book reading...and of course Real Life Flash will be there too.
So, gather your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and any other kids in your life, and let's have some fun together!
Please wear your jammies!
PS There's a video invitation on Flash's page with a sneak peek at the "party set" we've been working on! (hint: there are life-sized storybook characters involved)
The winner in yesterday's drawing for Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends is Robin Brantley. Robin, send me your address via email and I'll get a book to you asap!
Here is Flash, straight from his new book Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends:
It's been so fun to get to introduce my storybook characters to you in the past few days. I couldn't wait to bring Flash out of the wings and onto the stage!
Just like his real-life persona, Flash is curious about life and interested in everything! He has a penchant for collecting odds and ends that catch his eye and that might come in handy someday.
He is full of good ideas.
However, sometimes his good ideas don't work out the way he plans.
But also like in real life, sometimes plans that go awry are the exactly what bring about the best things.
That's how he meets his new friends, Jed, Carson and Ruby.
Flash is charming and cute, with a slightly wistful air about him. After all, he had been looking for a place to belong, and just hadn't found a place to fit in. When Jed, Carson and Ruby enter the picture, he can only imagine how nice it must feel to have his own bed, and be part of a mismatched "family" of sorts!
When I imagined Flash's character, I thought about my son, Grayson, who is now 22. As a kid, he was always asking questions, always engineering things, always entertaining us with his ideas. I'd say there is more than a little bit of him in Flash! I had such fun creating him in my art studio, and it is beyond exciting to get to introduce him to the world in this new storybook.
Now that you've met everyone, I want to say thank you for a great first weekend of the book release! Several of you have already left Amazon reviews, which is wonderful! If you have a moment, I'd love to keep those reviews coming, as they really do help sell books! Don't forget to that the adult book is still available and makes a wonderful companion to the children's book!
Friday's winner of a signed book (and tea!) is Anna Lipinksi!
Today, tell us about someone who would enjoy reading Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends. Is it a grandchild? a nephew or neice? Your daughter or son? I'll draw a name and will send a book to your to share!
We are counting down to Release Day of Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends by meeting the quirky characters in the book.
Some people make you sit up straight and think about proper grammar, and how lovely it would be to have a cup of tea right about now.
Allow me to introduce Carson. He is just such a person, er, pig.
(I may or may not have photoshopped this cup of tea into his portrait, for effect.)
You know, it's very important to have that friend who always knows how things should be done.
Should you put your feet on the coffee table?
Oh, goodness, no.
Should you wait until the hostess picks up her fork before you begin to eat?
Why, everyone knows the answer to that! Of course you should.
Should tea be poured into the cup before the milk, or after?
Should this even be a question??
Carson is a stickler for rules, a bastion of gentility, a wealth of knowledge, and a defender of the semi-colon; properly used. (Unlike in this instance).
He is predictably punctual and perfectly pressed.
But for all his stuffiness, Carson has a heart of gold. Yes, he might have the highest score in Jeopardy ("Porcines, for $500, Alex"), but he would gladly share his last crumpet and generously give the vest off his portly shoulders to anyone who needed it.
You can count on Carson's calm voice of reason to help you see your way through difficulties, and you can be assured that there will always be a steaming cup of tea waiting for you on the other side, mostly likely on a lovely tray.
In honor of Carson today, let's talk TEA!
Leave a comment telling us about your tea habits: a beloved flavor, a special memory, or your favorite place to drink a cup! Maybe even your opinion of whether milk or tea should go into the cup first!
Are you a tea drinker? This is your chance to win a book....and a box of tea!
Yesterday's winner is:
Mary Sue Owens
Mary Sue...drop me an email with your address so I can send your book to you!
Well, what can I say about Jed? This guy...
Jed....well you could say he wears his heart on his sleeve.
You never have to guess what he is feeling because it's written all over his face.
And then there's his body language:
When Jed is excited, he leaps on top of tables.
When he is mad, he harrumphs up a pile of hay bales.
When he's annoyed, he crosses his arms and looks away.
When he's happy, he grabs a ukelele and belts out a tune.
Jed is the goat who shoots from the hip, speaks his mind, jumps to conclusions, and commands the room.
He's just like that "annoying little brother" that reeeally drives you crazy sometimes.
But you can't live without him because, after all, he's the one that brings the party with him wherever he goes.
Today, we celebrate the "Jeds" we know and love. Who is it that makes you laugh, drives you nuts sometimes, and lives life to the hilt?
Please share your own special "Jed" story today for another chance at a signed book!
I loved hearing about all the special "Rubys" in your lives yesterday! I got emails, blog comments, Facebook comments and tweets, telling me about the wonderful mother-hens who take care of everyone around them. The winner of the signed Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends book is:
Jane, honey...send me your address and I'll get your book to you!