These days we’re living, though, they are the good times we’ll love to look back on one day. And not because they’re easy or perfect or Pinterest-worthy. Like they all tell us, we will miss these days, mamas. One day we will look back and wish we hadn’t tried to rush our way through them and will them away so much. We’ll beg for just one more extended bedtime snuggle, one more little voice asking to be carried—just one more time of them needing us. Because despite what it may feel like at times, this monotonous and messy work?—it’s holy.Read More
I remember when my kids were super little wondering when would be the “right” time and what would be the “right” way to introduce them to Jesus and the gospel. How young is too young? Do I use stories? Pull out an old flannelgraph? (KIDDING) I mean, they’re pastor’s kids, so they should probably know some things about God and the Bible.
It’s funny now that I was so worried about that. I had no idea what a natural progression it would be. That my kids would learn by watching (sometimes to my dismay and regret). By being authentic with and in front of them, they learn humility and honesty. By extending kindness and second chances (even when their behavior drives me straight to Crazy Town), they learn what grace looks and feels like. When they see me consistently dedicate the first moments of my day to prayer and studying, they learn how to show up and get the most out of their relationship with the Lord. When they see me take time for myself to slow down and relax, they see that God created rest and that it is good. And when I apologize to them for losing self-control or handling a situation wrong, they learn firsthand what vulnerability and forgiveness look like.
We can have all the pretty tools and resources and crafts in the world, but the real teaching happens right in the mess of real everyday life. It happens whether we’re trying or not. If we’re not leading them well, they are learning two contradictory lessons—what we teach and what we do. I’m pretty sure we all want the way we live to reinforce the things we teach about the Bible and God, rather than work against them.
With all that said, I do have a few favorite resources I want to share with you that I use to help make the learning and growing process a little more fun and engaging. These resources help to reinforce the stories of the Bible, the character of God, and what it really means to live in personal relationship with Him.
Raising Prayerful Kids. I love everything these girls put out into the world. They are real and honest about parenting struggles, but also very encouraging when it comes to living the gospel alongside our kids. My favorite of their resources right now is the “Talking with God” journal. It is a fun and interactive prayer guide for kids with added scripture coloring pages. They created two different levels of the journal (one for preschool age and one for older kids) and they’re offering it for FREE right now when you sign up for their newsletter. Such a steal!
2. Night Night Bible Stories by Amy Parker, illustrated by Virginia Allyn. This is the sweetest bedtime book for littles. It features 30 Bible stories told in a narrative style, that are perfect for reading right before bed or anytime. I especially love the interactive rhyming phrases in each story. My kids LOVE to say them with me, and it helps to reinforce what the story is teaching. This author has other adorable faith-based books available on Amazon, as well. I wish I would have discovered her sooner.
3. Praise Music. Ok, this one may seem like a no brainer, but it has been huge for our kids! I can’t even explain to you the feeling it gives me when I hear my kids reciting verses from songs that sing truth about God and their identity in Him (Cue the tears, people!). One of my favorite videos on my phone is of my Paisley girl signing loud and proud from the back seat “I am a child of Goooood! ” Most of the time I don’t even realize they have learned the lyrics until I hear them singing along. Get in the habit of playing Christian music on the radio in the car and watch as your kids start singing out the truth. It’s just the best.
4. Kids Read Truth. (A branch off of She Reads Truth-a women’s ministry site and shop). Ok, this one I haven’t technically used yet, but they have SO many good things that have been on my list for awhile now. The resources are beautiful (like I actually wouldn’t mind having them up around the house) and so intentional in creating bible literate kiddos. Some of my favorite items from their shop: ABC Bible Wall Cards , Advent Scripture Cards & People in the Bible Conversation Cards . They also have some great bible studies for older kids.
5. Pray with them. Pray with them as a family at the dinner table. Pray with them before bed. Pray with them with they feel scared or when they are upset. Just pray. I understand this isn’t a material resource, but it’s the biggest “resource” we have of all. If we show our kids that prayer is important and powerful, it will become their first response in moments of crisis. What better gift can we give them?
I hope you’ve enjoyed these few ideas and resources! I would LOVE to hear about what you’re using with your kids to help them know Jesus! If your kids are grown, I’d love to hear what you found most effective when they were little! Drop it below in the comments!
Disneyland. One word evokes so many positive and FUN memories. It’s “the happiest place on earth”. The place where a full grown woman can go and feel like a kid again —unless, that is, she’s too worried about losing her kids in the crazy crowds, sweating profusely in the Southern California heat, standing in long lines with whiny kids, or shelling out the big bucks to feed the fam junky park food. Wow, that went downhill fast.
When we decided to take our kids to Disneyland for the first time, we wanted it to be full of fun memories and NOT stress. We’re definitely not Disneyland pros or anything, but I did my research before we ever took kids and gathered all my favorite ideas. Then, of course, our first trip with our daughter led to some other strokes of genius.
A lot of you were asking about our Disneyland tricks and tips while we were there a few weeks ago, so I wanted to make sure and compile a list of our 10 favorite ideas to make your Disneyland trip a little smoother, a little cheaper and a LOT more fun!
Disclosure: You have to face the fact that you’ve chosen an expensive trip. Which leads me to my first point.
The best way to go on this trip (even with all the greatest tips in the world) is to save ahead of time and have a guilt-free experience! Create a budget and save a little each month until you reach your goal. There are plenty of apps out there that help you save up (I’ve used Mint in the past, but there are seriously so many now!) Or, if you are motivated by visual progress, you can create a trip jar, where the whole family can watch as the goal gets closer. Overall, it’s way sweeter to go on a trip you know you can afford.
* Here are some super adorable DIY trip jar ideas I found on Pinterest.
2. Check the crowds long before you book your trip! There’s nothing worse than trying to navigate giant crowds with kids in tow (especially cranky kids at the end of a long day). There are some awesome sites that tell you when the park is the most busy. I checked Is It Packed? each time we’ve gone with the kids and it has been pretty accurate.
Below is the calendar for June, just to give you an idea.
3. Go when the weather is nice! This seems like a no brainer, but it can make or break a trip. It is no fun to be stuck at a theme park with minimal shade in the dead summer heat. Even 85 feels exhausting when you’re walking around in it all day long. If you must go in the summer, go as early as you can.
*Each time we have taken our kids, we’ve gone in early to mid May and it was very enjoyable. We wore light layers and comfy shoes, which was perfect for the warm day and breezy evenings.
4. Do your research when it comes to hotel and tickets. We took advantage of the Southern California 3-day pass and booked our hotel separately. I did see a lot of deals where the price of tickets were combined with hotel stay. At first glance these looked appealing, but when I compared the benefits of having the three day pass and booking the hotel separately, we ended up saving a couple hundred dollars. It’s kind of a pain, but even spending 30 mins to an hour comparing prices and options can save big time!
Here’s the hotel where we stayed: Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel
*We ended up booking the Castle Bunk room directly through the hotel website, because of the $15 discount they offer for booking direct. It had the coolest castle bed for the kids and a comfy queen size bed for us. The kids still talk about it how much they loved the room. They also had a pretty great restaurant on the ground floor, a koi pond and really pretty garden courtyards.
**Our car stayed in the lot for our entire stay, because the hotel offered a free shuttle that ran every 30 mins. to the park and back.
***The fireworks are very easily seen from this hotel. It was so nice to head back to the hotel when the kids got tired. We bathed them, put jammies on, and then walked down to the front of the hotel for the fireworks show. After the fireworks we were so glad we just had to head back up the elevator to get in bed, instead of fighting crowds and waiting on shuttles to get out of the park.
5. Pack your lunches, drinks, snacks, etc. Well, except for the churro…definitely buy the churro...and maybe the Dole whip. Also, make sure everyone has a refillable water bottle. Not only do you save a TON of money, but you also have so much more freedom to eat when and where you and your little people desire.
I didn’t manage to snap any pics of our lunches, but I went to Pinterest and found some great ideas for lunch on the go ideas! I especially love these Bento box style lunches. Everything is so neat, and each person has all their items all in one place.
6. B.Y.O.S. (Bring your own SWAG) This one is one of my favorite tips. Each time we have taken our kids it has been in honor of a birthday, so we wanted to make the trip extra special. In any event though, the temptation to drop some serious dollars on the crazy steep in-your-face Disney toys is REAL. Give yourself some time before the trip to collect some MUCH cheaper Disney themed toys from The Dollar Store and Walmart. I put mine in bags and randomly pull out prizes either at the beginning of the day or throughout the park. It’s way cheaper than buying them in the park, and a lot of it is similar items to what they sell in the park, if not better. The kids still have the special memory of receiving it at Disneyland, and you save money!
Here are some things I’ve purchased in the past: princess dress up jewels and crown, bubble wands, glow sticks, character shirts, small plush characters, sunglasses, hats, stickers, etc. The glasses, hats, and musical bubble wands shown here are from Walmart. The mini Jasmine & Aladdin stuffs, and Mickey tees are from Target. The glow sticks, CUTE autograph books, Disney pens, and wands are from The Dollar Tree. Minnie ears are from Amazon.
7. Bring or rent strollers enough for each kid to have a seat (if possible). It seems like a lot, but it’s so worth it to keep kids from whining of tired legs. It also provides a fabulous place to put all your stuff. Make sure to check stroller dimensions ahead of time, because as of May 1st 2019 they created new stroller size restrictions. They also banned wagons.
We have a Bob and also this cheapy light one from Target. We rotated the kids throughout the day. Basically whatever kid was sleepy got to ride in the Bob, because it’s way more comfy and can be fully shaded.
8. Tie a bright colored ribbon or something recognizable to your stroller handle. I saw one family on our last trip that had a laminated sign with their family’s name on it that was attached to the stroller handle using binder rings. A lot of times your stroller will get moved by the Disneyland employees while you’re on a ride, and you’ll need a way to recognize it among the sea of other black strollers.
Heres the laminated sign mentioned above. I shamelessly snapped a pic for example’s sake.
9. Use the free Disneyland app! You can save your tickets and fast passes to it, download park photos, check wait times, find characters, see maps and more! Trust me, this is a life saver when trying to plan out your day and not worry about finding paper items down at the bottom of your bags!
10. Ride the Disneyland Railroad. Maybe this is a widely known thing, and we are late to the game, but it ended up being one of our park favorites! First of all, I had no idea how much you get to see of each town (plus behind the scenes) from a completely different vantage point. There’s even a section where you through a tunnel and see some pretty cool interactive prehistoric scenes. Second, what a life saver it is to sit for awhile when you just need to rest your legs and simultaneously keep your kids entertained. Third, you have guaranteed shade and breeze. Fourth, it’s a great way to get from one end of the park to another without walking through crowds.
Welp, that’s it, friends! My top 10 Disneyland tips and tricks. I hope you’ve enjoyed these and maybe learned something. Many of the tips are simple, but I know they were game changers for us, so I couldn’t not share! Maybe you’ll just walk away inspired to plan your next trip. No matter what you gained, I hope that all your future Disney trips will be nothing short of magical!
Dear Mama Girl,
I see you. I see you trying to be all the things to all your people.
I see you tired beyond belief, but still making an effort to show up to the endless demands.
I see you juggling work life and home life.
I see you striving to keep up with what everyone else is doing in the world. I see you keeping score for all the ways you don’t quite measure up, try as you might.
I see you finding time for yourself in the crevices of your day, and then feeling guilty for not being with your family instead.
I see you saying “yes” to things you know you probably shouldn’t take on right now. I see you trying to live up to expectations—the most demanding of all your own.
I see you picking fights with your husband, when all you really want is to laugh with him again. I see you wondering if he still thinks you’re beautiful.
I see you questioning your worth and your value and your identity in this season.
I see you trying to be both girl and mom. I see you wondering if the girl you once knew is in there at all anymore—underneath all the snot and the messes and the never alone-ness.
I see you loving your job as a mom more than anything, but simultaneously wondering if there’s more for you.
Mama girl, I see you.
May you see that you can in fact be both—mama and girl.
May you see that the girl you once knew is in fact gone, but that a better one has taken her place.
May you see all the ways it has changed you for good.
May you see the ways it has taught you more about your Father’s love for you.
May you see your role as a mom as the greatest gift…but not the only gift.
May you see that the expectations you strive to live up to were never meant to be your prison.
May you see that the rhythm of your days is determined by you.
May you see that your striving does not equal thriving.
May you see that your truest rest comes from surrender—surrender of the ways you try to get it right and the ways you fall short. Surrender of the desires of your heart.
May you see that guilt and shame and condemnation are not from God…and not for you.
May you see that He has the best for you, mama.
May you see that He made you to be both mama and girl—and that when you live in both, you’re actually better at both.
May you see that motherhood is sanctifying work and that it’s what has changed you for the better.
May you see that all the stuff that feels heavy and monotonous right now is actually doing it’s job—chipping away all the rough edges in you to give way to the masterpiece He has been forming.
May you see that you are valued and priceless and perfectly imperfect.
So lean into Him and lean on your tribe.
Let go of perfect and let go of lies.
Keep your head up, mama girl.
You’ve got this.
A Mama Girl like you
Hello, friends! I hope you’re feeling this gorgeous Spring weather and soaking in all that is beautiful about this time of year. The sunshine, the luscious greens, the sweet smell of flowers in the air…oh and the allergies (Lord help us).
With Easter approaching next weekend, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what this means for us and the opportunity we have here. To be honest, I’m a little hesitant to jump into this post today. It’s not the one I had planned to write at all. It feels a little heavy and uncomfortable. But, I sat down and out flowed these words. That’s usually when it’s right though, amen? When the good and the hard go hand in hand.
Just promise me you’ll read this with an open mind. One mama to another…on an equal playing field…with no judgment one way or the other. Ok, here we go..
I was in Target this week (big surprise) and I overheard a little girl tell her mom, “See this, Mom? This is what I want for Easter this year,” pointing to a Barbie on the shelf. Something in me unexpectedly cringed. I don’t judge the family, because… well I learned a long time ago that’s never a good idea. But, I just wonder, how did we ever turn our savior’s death and resurrection into another present buying holiday full of expectations?
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love holidays and all things tradition!! It’s magical and SO much fun. Also, for the record, in past years I have always purchased Easter baskets for my kids.
But, I just can’t help but feel like there’s a better way. Like, if Jesus was here and He saw me making such a fuss to fill a basket with meaningless toys for my kids in an attempt to celebrate His resurrection, I think He might stop me with an incredulous “Are you kidding me?”. This revelation makes me uncomfortable. In my flesh, I want to keep going the way I’ve always gone. It’s fun to follow the way of the world and honestly it’s just fun to surprise my kids with things. It’s not wrong and it’s not harmful. But, what am I really doing for them in the long run?
By celebrating in this way, I’m showing them something different than what I aim to teach them. We do the resurrection eggs and we discuss the gospel, but if I’m being really honest, the real celebrating has been about the Easter bunny. He’s the one that shows up and leaves surprises. He’s the one we take our picture with. Inadvertently, he is the one they could easily come to think the holiday is about. I knew there had to be a way to change this and still have a great time and so I decided it…I’m not doing “Easter baskets” for may kids this year. (I’ll give you a second to recover from that comment, haha!) I’m also not a total dud, so here are some more meaningful options I’ve thought of instead:
Work with your kids to create a “Blessing Basket”. I’ve seen a couple different variations of this on Pinterest. Here’ s how it works. You set out the easter baskets ahead of time and have your kids collect rocks. Read to them from the Bible (a children’s bible is better for keeping attention) about how Jesus takes our sins (the rocks) and washes them away, replacing them with “blessings”. Have an honest conversation about what your kids struggle with (i.e. sharing, kindness, whining, etc.) and write these words on the rocks in each child’s basket. Make sure to provide an example of how you struggle to make them feel safe about sharing. The night before Easter, cover the baskets with some sort of fabric. Replace the rocks with “blessings” (practical things they need and other fun Jesus reminders like books, stickers, bible story coloring books, etc.) This is a great tangible analogy for them to begin to understand His saving grace.
Surprise your kids with a “Giving Basket” full of both practical and fun items to give away. Have a plan about where to take these items (i.e. A homeless shelter, a foster care center, out in the community, etc.). Make sure to explain that Jesus loves us in both intangible and tangible ways. He uses people to bless one another, and this basket will allow them to be in charge of blessing someone in a very tangible way.
Resources you can download now:
1. I’m planning to use this free scavenger hunt resource by Happy Home Fairy for the kids to track down their “blessing baskets”.
2. These super cute scripture eggs by The Crafty Classroom will be great for teaching about Easter and helping older kids memorize scripture.
3. These are the Resurrection Eggs we use each year. I love that they have a physical item to hold that symbolizes what happened in the reading. It has scripture along with a story format for each day. My kids get so excited about opening the eggs and guessing what’s inside.
All of this to say, I just really believe there’s got to be a way to teach our kids that who we celebrate matters. Our praise and adoration—those are for Jesus. Not out of obligation or legalism, but because we actually believe what He did for us and we do in fact adore Him and need Him on the daily. I want my kids to stand firm on the fact that our praise and our daily focus on Him is life changing, even from a very young age.
That’s how we create confident little people with the right priorities. Like Dr. Straub says, “When we lead our families with eternity in mind, the day-to-day becomes much more about who we are in Him, and less about who we’re not in the world.”
Thanks for hanging in there with me. Maybe you’ve gotten to the end of this and you feel God stirring. I challenge you to pray over and consider your Easter traditions. What do you do currently? How might God be calling you to tweak it a little to bring Him glory? I’d love to hear your thoughts below. I value your insight and I think we are truly better together in this whole mama thing.
May your Easter celebration be the best yet!
P.S. On a less serious note. Someone please have some Cadbury’s for me. This lactose intolerant girl is always craving them this time of year.