My Everyday Worship

my everyday worship

Everyday Worship…

It’s not about church or silence or lengthy prayer or even calm quiet with Him.

It’s about living and loving and serving amidst othe chaos of snotty noses and dirty dishes and kids who just can’t seem to get along.

My everyday worship looks more like…

Doing dishes with a song in my heart, or teaching my preschoolers about patience.

Folding laundry even though my eyes are sleepy, or listening to a kid-story that I’ve already heard a few times too many.

Looking up from my work and into their eyes.

Stopping to hug my husband even if I’m in the middle of something.

All this and more makes up my everyday worship.

It’s counting my blessings in the midst of real pain or confusion or doubt because the blessings are many.

It’s choosing to be purposeful in my parenting but still at peace.

It’s dancing in the car with the Christian radio station turned up.  Little hands waving in the air to the beat and grins plastered on their faces.

It’s feeling the sting of conviction when that small voice asks, “Are you happy, Mommy?” when she knows I am not.  And choosing to let go and embrace real joy.

It’s planning family fun night even when I’d rather just relax.

It’s the heart-swell of awe and thankfulness that comes from seeing something truly beautiful, be it a mountain or the ocean or a sunset, or a preschooler’s delight over a firefly captured in her hand.

My everyday worship.

It doesn’t just happen at church, folks.

Jen :)


I learned so much about worship and living out my purpose in everyday faithfulness in the seemingly small things from this book by Rick Warren (affiliate link):

Practicing Patience with Preschoolers


It’s the longest hour of the day, that chaotic stretch of time when naps have ended but supper isn’t ready yet and Daddy won’t be home for another sixty minutes.

In our home, it’s often a time of crankiness and whining and neediness and hunger and all too often, a time of mom’s frustration.

The older boys are home from school, so the seven-year-old needs help with homework and the teen needs a permission slip signed.  The twins are rubbing sleep from their eyes and asking for snacks or juice or just to be held.  I’m trying to find the motivation to start supper preparations, but one twin is clinging to my leg and the other is crying for some unknown reason in the next room.

What’s a mama to do?

I’m ashamed to say that this mom’s reaction can often be a sharp, “Everyone. BE. PATIENT!!” followed by a mini-rant of my own about how I only have two hands and they are both full and can’t they just wait for a few minutes because I can’t help everyone at one time!

Why is it that a request to be patient or wait creates the exact opposite effect than what parents desire to see in their children?

I think most children who hear “be patient” or “just wait” see it as an immediate no.

They feel we have not acknowledged their needs and are, in effect, just ignoring them.  So, they ask again…and again…and again…almost infinitely.

As an adult who sometimes (ok, maybe often) struggles with impatience herself, I feel for my children when they have to wait.  However, I know that they need to learn patience in order to survive in the real world, and preschoolers are the perfect age to start practicing patience.

The reason I say “practice” is that patience, like any other virtue, takes time to learn. Patience is also something we must intentionally teach to our children, not something they will magically acquire on their own.

And in this day and age, I think we can all agree that patience seems to be lacking in our society!

Preschoolers typically have short fuses and demand instant gratification, which is why we must intentionally teach them patience!  Use these kid-friendly methods to help your young child practice patience.     teaching preschoolers patience, how to handle impatient kids, teaching kids to be patient, modeling patience, 7 ways to teach patience, christian parenting, purposeful parenting, motherhood

7 Ways to Practice Patience with Preschoolers:

*This post makes use of affiliate links. For more information, please visit Being Confident of This’s About page.  Thank you for supporting the ministry of this site!

1. Model patience yourself.

I know you saw this one coming! :)  Young children are excellent imitators, and unfortunately sometimes that backfires on us parents.  Our middle child was a very impatient little guy, even from birth.  During his toddler years, I spent many days questioning my ability to parent him to adulthood, seriously.

One day, he was even more impatient than usual, and I found myself throwing a little fit right back at him, asking why he couldn’t just BE PATIENT.  As soon as the whiny words left my mouth, I realized I was being just as impatient with him as he was being with me.  How could he possibly learn to be patient when his mama was not?

Another way to provide models for your children is to read books about being patient with them. This one is a favorite with our youngest two children!


2. Change your speech.

When multiple children (or even just one particularly persistent child) make requests at the same time and you already have your hands full, what is your response?  As you read above, my first response is typically frustration over my inability to help all four children at the same time. What if, instead of a frustrated command to be patient, my children heard me talk excitedly about an opportunity to practice a new skill?

What if instead of frowning or scowling, I smiled at them (even if I’m not smiling on the inside) and said, “Let’s practice being patient!  Who can do a really good job waiting quietly for mommy while she finishes this job?  We’ll use our words  instead of whining, and we’ll wait until mommy’s hands are free. Who can practice patience for me?

Or, what if we used the word “choose,” especially with children who are older.  Instead of a pert command to be patient, I can remind them that they have a choice about their feelings.  They can choose patience rather than frustration. (And so can the mama!)

3. Distract them.

Although preschoolers are experts at wanting things, they are also fairly easy to distract (in comparison to older children).  Ask your children to find another activity while they are waiting.  Although you might make a few suggestions, put the responsibility for occupying themselves on their shoulders, not yours.

When I’m cooking supper, I might say something like, “Why don’t you practice patience by coloring while you wait for mommy.”  If they don’t like my suggestion, then I let them know it will be up to them to find something to do.

4. Give young children a timeline.

While preschoolers are beginning to grasp the concept of time, they really can’t understand what minutes or hours or days are yet.  In their minds, ten minutes might as well be two hours, and that feels like a long time for a preschooler!

Even worse is the indefinite response of “Just wait.” However, if you relate those minutes or hours to scheduled events they are already familiar with, then they can understand how long they will have to wait.

For example, if we are going to the playground later in the day, but one of my children wants to leave now, then I would tell them we’re going after nap-time.  Use phrases like after this song, when you wake up from sleeping, after snack, when I finish this basket of laundry, and so forth, that give them more tangible ideas of the time frame they are dealing with.  If it’s going to be a particularly long wait, I give them multiple time markers, as in: first mommy has to vacuum the floor, then we’ll pick up toys, and then we get to go to the park.

I wish I would have known about this kind of kid-friendly timer when our children were younger, but I’m considering purchasing one still for our youngest boy, who has some special needs. I like how it gives a visual cue (other than numbers) as well as an auditory cue, and it would save me from answering repeated questions about “How many more minutes?” :)


Patience does not come naturally to children, which is why me must intentionally teach them!  Use these kid-friendly methods to help your  children practice patience.     teaching preschoolers patience, how to handle impatient kids, teaching kids to be patient, modeling patience, 7 ways to teach patience, christian parenting, purposeful parenting, motherhood

5. Remind them.

Let’s see if this scenario sounds familiar.  “Mommy can I watch cartoons?  Can I have more milk?  Can I have a cookie? Can I? Can I? Can I?” Preschoolers have many wants.  As a mom, I know it’s not healthy for me to indulge all of those wants.

So, while I’m imposing limits, instead of just saying no or wait (for an indefinite amount of time), I like to remind them of what they have already had.  “You already watched cartoons.  Now it’s time to play.”  “You already had a glass of milk, but you may have water.”  “I already played with you this morning, but I’ll play with you again after nap-time.”

6. Sing the “Have Patience” song.

I don’t know who wrote the “Clean Up” song, but that person deserves an award!  It’s like magic!  You don’t even have to tell children to pick up toys because when they hear it, they automatically know what to do.  The lesser known “Have Patience” song (by Music Machine) can have a similar effect if you use it consistently.

First of all, singing in general, tends to lighten the mood.  Second, the song reminds children of the behavior you would like to see.  You can find the “Have Patience” song here.  I only sing the chorus with the kids (and it is fun to speed it up as you repeat!).

You can also buy your own copy for use at home, in the car, etc. It’s currently on my wishlist!


7. Praise them lavishly!

At this age, children are often eager to please, so positive reinforcement usually works more effectively than negative.  If you see your children actively practicing patience, then tell them how much you appreciate their hard work (because it IS hard to wait, isn’t it?)!  Praise often enough that they are encouraged to continue practicing patience up to the very end.

For example, if halfway through a waiting period, I notice my daughter growing restless or whining, I will praise her for the good job she has done so far and ask her to continue. I might even draw her attention to how little time is left.  Many times, the magic is in the phrasing!

Patience is a virtue worth instilling in young hearts, but it’s not an easy task.  Learning patience takes time and consistency.  It also takes a mama who is willing to look at herself and ask, “Am I a patient person?”

Of course, we cannot expect perfection.   I’m going to suggest that we learn to be content with imperfect progress in the area of patience (to borrow a phrase from Lysa Terkeurst’s book Unlgued).

As long as we are consistently moving forward in the bigger picture (even if sometimes we move back), then we are progressively working toward patience in our homes.

And in my opinion, a patient family is a peaceful family!

Jen :)

When is it most difficult for your children to have patience?

When Church Becomes Worship

It’s almost here:  Sunday, a day when brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world gather together to worship the one true God.  And this Sunday, I will be able to go to church!  Isn’t that exciting?!

I’m ready, ready for worship, for fellowship, even for conviction to sting my heart during worship.

I’m ready for serving, for listening, for both giving and receiving.  I’m ready for hugs and how-are-yous and happy-to-see-you-todays.  I’m so ready that I would love to skip right over Saturday straight to Sunday!

I wish I could say I felt this way each and every Sunday, but the truth is that I don’t.  Many Sundays, I would rather not attend church.  I would rather not serve or worship or fellowship.

I usually go anyways; it’s kind of hard not to when you’re the pastor’s wife. :)

But on those Sundays when I grudgingly rise up from bed and grudgingly head out the door to church, I’m the loser, the one who misses out.
Sometimes even the pastor's wife doesn't feel like going to church.  Here's a change in perspective that moves us from church-going to true worship.  When Church Becomes Worship

There is nothing different about those Sundays except for my own attitude.  I take worship for granted and fail to see it for the privilege that it is.  Thus, I miss out on the blessing church attendance could be.

It’s funny, really, how an illness or injury or absence of any kind can help you to appreciate those things in life that sometimes feel like burdens rather than the blessings that they truly are.  Like family.  Like motherhood.  Like worship.  Like serving the Lord.

We who are in Christ, especially here in America, are blessed with so many privileges that we fail to see as such!

When does church attendance become a burden?

When do we forget the blessing of knowing God, of being chosen?

When does spiritual life become less razzle-dazzle and more ho-hum?

It happens when we forget who we are and who He is.  Because when I remember what an unworthy sinner I am, how flawed, how small, how unlikely to be chosen, I know my real place.

And when I remember who He is,

the King of Kings,

Creator of the heavens and earth,

Blessed Redeemer,

Constant Provider,

a Refuge of Comfort,

Faithful Friend,

Lover of my soul,

then I leap at the chance to give Him the praise He is due!

I’m reminded, too, that I live in America, the land of the free, while so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world do not share in that privilege to fellowship and worship without fear!

In fact, nearly a third of the world does not even know the truth of a Savior who willingly bled and died for the sake of our redemption from sin and slavery.

And with that perspective, the opportunity to worship with fellow believers becomes a blessing and not a burden, a delight rather than a duty.  That’s when church becomes worship.

Sometimes even the pastor's wife doesn't feel like going to church.  Here's a change in perspective that moves us from church-going to true worship.  When Church Becomes Worship

I wish we who are in Christ could feel this way about a chance to worship Him in church every Sunday! How powerful would that be?  Even if our church isn’t perfect (and which one is?), even if our relationships aren’t perfect (yes, those, too), even if we aren’t perfect (and no one is, no, not one), our God is perfect.

Does He not deserve our adoration and obedience?

Hebrews 10

19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,

20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,

21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;

24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Where will you be this Sunday?  I plan to be praising my Lord at church because




Jen :)

Firsts Lead to Lasts

Due to my recent injury at Buttkill Falls, I’ve had extra time to ponder life, and when that happens, I tend to get a bit nostalgic. :)  Maybe it’s because I’m currently medicated, or maybe it’s because I’m missing out on some family life lately.  For whatever reason, when I’m separated from my people, I tend to think about them more.  I miss them. I appreciate them.

I miss them. I appreciate them.

I appreciate them.

As I’m resting and pondering, and thinking about how quickly the first day of school came this year, I realize that we’re about to enter a new season of life as parents.  We have just one more year left with littles at home, and one year before our oldest enters high school. For thirteen years now, I’ve been a mostly stay-at-home mom, but what will I do when all of these firsts lead to lasts?

First smiles and first steps.

First days of school and first solo bike rides.

First baby food and first big kid beds.

First instruments and first crushes.

So many firsts that we’ve been blessed with.

kids blackandwhite

But these firsts lead to lasts, and what will a born-to-be-a-mama girl do when all of her children are at school for the day?  It seems like these lasts come oh-so-quickly.

It seems like these lasts come oh-so-quickly.

Last days of kindergarten and last days of twin high chairs.

Last days of baby clothes and last days of soccer on Saturdays.

Last days of sweet toddler cheeks and last days of bedtime stories.

The truth is, the lasts stink.  I know I’ll miss them.  But those firsts that led to lasts will once again lead to firsts.  Firsts like driver’s licenses and shaving and so much more independence.

But those firsts that led to lasts will once again lead to firsts – firsts like driver’s licenses and shaving and so much more independence.

And while my children are enjoying a whole new world of lasts followed by firsts, I’ll be opening up to a whole new world of firsts, too.

Kids Bushkill1

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Jen :)

It’s Five Minute Friday again!  We gather together over at Lisa-Jo’s blog and free-write for five minutes on a single word prompt.  No planning, no editing, just writing.  It’s glorious freedom!  If you want to know more, join us at:

Our Big List of Favorite Games For Families

As a follow-up to the Mama Mondays post on Why Families Should Play Games on family game night, I wanted to provide some practical information on what games for families to use for family game night, neighborhood game night, church ministries, or special events.

For those who don’t already know, we have four children, ages four through thirteen, and we’ve spent a lot of years working with children and youth in various churches.  So, we’ve witnessed epic games and also epic failures. :)

I’ve divided the list into a few different categories such as age or group size in order to give it a little more organization.

*This post makes use of affiliate links. For a full disclosure, please visit the About page.

So you've heard the hype about family game night, but you're not sure where to get started?  Or maybe your go-to games are growing stale and boring? This huge list of family-friendly games will help!  Use if for family game night, special events, youth group, AWANA, neighborhood parties, etc.

Toddler/Preschool Games

Memory is one of our favorite games for families for this age group and utilizes memory skills, matching, and critical thinking.  We started at the age of 2 (possibly even younger) with our firstborn, but not with the entire game.  For very young children, I would start by choosing out just a few matches to start with and let them get the hang of it before building up to more.

Hi Ho Cherry-O
Hi Ho Cherry-O is another favorite and can be played from an early age with modifications.  This game teaches colors, counting, and following directions. In fact, before you even try to play the actual game, you could have your child do some color sorting by putting all of the cherries on the correct trees!

Go Fish Card Game
I love this game because you can make your own and use it to teach just about anything: for example,Go Fish Colors, Go Fish Shapes,Go Fish Animals, Go Fish Alphabet, and so on.  To make your own, just buy a pack of index cards, print off some graphics (or use colored cardstock) and tape or glue them to the index cards – laminate them for longer use.  Our middle child has always been our most active child and has been that way from birth, literally!  Go Fish is the one game he would actually sit still for at a fairly young age – young enough that he couldn’t even say, “Go Fish!” correctly. For little hands, you might try these card holders, too.

We played this game with our two oldest boys before our youngest (at the time) son could even count.  We just counted the spaces out for him.  Why did our active boy enjoy this game so much?  He looooved pressing the domed popper in the middle. He also really enjoyed landing on other players and sending them back home. :) After moving, we lost some of our pieces, so I’ve been eyeing this Despicable Me Edition.

Candy Land
The best thing about this classic, aside from being candy-themed, is that you move by colors rather than numbers.  Thus, you can easily play with very young children.

Elementary-age Games

(many of the games for families listed in the toddler/preschool category are still interesting enough for this age group as well)

 We absolutely love this i-spy type game that was introduced to us by friends!  It is easy enough to play that very young children can participate, but also quick-paced and competitive enough that even my husband enjoys playing.  It’s just perfect for our broad age range!  The board is a series of large square tiles that are moved often throughout this picture-finding game. With very young children, you can make every card an all-play card and take a less competitive, more team-work approach.

Battleship is an oldie, but a goodie.  I love this game because it’s challenging enough that my husband and I can play each other for at-home date nights, yet our two oldest sons can also play each other.  Our middle son learned to play it at the age of 6, but probably could have learned earlier. This game of strategy only requires 2 players!

Cranium Cadoo for Kids
We found this awesome spin-off of Cranium (see under Large Group Games) at Goodwill and it has quickly become one of our favorite games for families!  Easy enough for the little ones to participate, but interesting enough for the teen in the house, too.

Don’t Break the Ice and Don’t Spill the Beans
These are 2-4 player games that even young children can play as they do not involve counting or reading. Don’t Break the Ice uses a small plastic hammer to knock out individual ice cubes until the whole platform falls. Don’t Spill the Beans is a game of balance in which plastic beans are added to a pot one by one until the pot tips one way or the other.  These games for families both utilize and teach scientific principles, too!

Not sure where to start with family game night?  Or maybe your go-to games are growing stale? Huge list of family-friendly games for all groups and ages!  Ideas for family game night, youth group, special events, neighborhood game night, preschool, AWANA, and more.


Risk Game
Risk is a game of strategy and conquest.  You can make and break treaties, create and destroy armies, and take over the whole world!  I think this game appeals more to boys rather than girls, but my sister and I both happen to really enjoy it even as adults. Risk is one of the more time-consuming games for families, but soooo worth it!

 The Settlers of Catan
– see description in Family category below.

Murder - this game has been a youth group favorite wherever we go, and we even played it at an adults’ game night once!  You’ll need lots of playing space for the game to work well and you also need darkness. We created our own dim area by covering some windows when we played.  Basically, one person is chosen by random to be “it” and is unknown to the other players.  Then, everyone spreads out and the “murderer” is free to work.  What makes this game fun is that when a “body” is found, the lights come on and all players gather together to make accusations and try to figure out who the murderer is.  If the person accused is not truly “it,” then the game continues! Be sure to look up extended rules online.

Games for the Whole Family

Jenga Classic
Jenga is easy enough for small hands, but interesting enough for older brains, as well.  We have played this game with our four-year-old twins and it works very well as long as we help them a bit.

– see description in Elementary category.

The Game of Life Game
This favorite among our games for families teaches about life choices, careers, finances, and random chance. The first time we played, my husband’s pink “wife” fell out of his minivan game piece and our middle child got the worst case of the giggles. Now every time we play, we talk about the time Dad’s “wife” tried to run away. :)

The Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan is our all-time favorite family game (we actually call it “The Game”) and can be played with as little as 2 players and with as many as 12 if you want to re-paint or decorate some of the pieces like we did.  The game is very unique and involves a lot of strategy and planning, as well as bartering. Basically, you are a “settler” who chooses where to build.  Your object is to grow your territory using resources that you earn according to rolls of the dice.  You will build roads, cities, and other settlements as you earn the resources to build with.  You can also trade with other players, but beware of the black robber!  Although this game is a little more expensive and takes time to learn, it is well worth the effort and expense!!

This game is another oldie, but goodie and can be hard to come by.  You may remember playing with marbles on a wooden board as a child? This game is easy to learn, and is much like the game Sorry in that players can be sent back to home if they are landed on. New boards can be expensive, but keep an eye out at garage sales for the board! You can always buy new marbles to go with it. :)

This is one of the least expensive games for families ever, but is so much fun.  All you need is a set of dice (6, I believe), a printed out set of rules from the Internet, and paper and pencil to keep score with.  Although this game is numbers oriented, our middle son learned to play with help at age 6 and really enjoyed it.

Not sure where to start with family game night?  Or maybe your go-to games are growing stale? Huge list of family-friendly games for all groups and ages!  Ideas for family game night, youth group, special events, neighborhood game night, preschool, AWANA, and more.

Large Group Games

I love this game, especially for large group play, because it combines aspects of many of my favorite games.  There are 4 categories: one uses word-based clues (missing letters, scrambled letters, spelling, etc.), one uses music/acting based clues similar to charades, one uses data-based clues (true/false, multiple choice, etc.), and one uses clues that require drawing (sometimes with your eyes closed!) or sculpting with clay.  It’s basically like playing pictionary, charades, trivial pursuit, Boggle, and other games for families all at the same time!  The best part, however, is that you play in teams, so this game can work for anywhere from 4 to 20 or more players.

Apples to Apples
Here’s another party favorite among our games for families.  It is easy to learn and usually involves a good deal of humor.  Apples to Apples also gives you insight into the people you’re playing with. You can also buy a kid-friendly version called Apples to Apples Junior .

This game is a favorite for me and probably anyone who is good with words and/or talking.  It can be used in a group as small as 4, but is more fun with larger groups.  The beeping timer makes the fast-paced game-play even more intense and competitive!

Settlers of Catan – see the description in family games.

Euchre – an inexpensive card game that requires only a single deck of cards.  You can play with Four or more.  I had never heard of this game until I met my husband, but it quickly became apparent that I would have to learn.  It took me a while to learn this game, but it has quickly become one of my favorite card games!

Hand and Foot – another inexpensive card game in which you have two “hands” of cards – one to start with and a second one, called the “foot,” that you play when you finish your first hand.  I like this game best when played with partners, in which case you would need at least four players.  If you have enough card decks and table space, you could play with a group of 8-10 easily.  This game simply requires several decks of normal playing cards. Look up the rules online for more information!

Mafia – this game isn’t your typical board or card game, but can be fun if you have an adventurous group of people.  Basically, it’s a whodunnit? game, narrated by a player who sits out of the gameplay and simply tells the story.  The game involves a “criminal” who points at a victim, a doctor, who points at someone to save, and a police officer or detective who chooses someone to accuse.  The most important part of this game is choosing a good narrator because a lot of fun is in the details that they make up. Look up the details online!

Wink Murder - okay, so this game may be a bit juvenile for adults, but I guess I’m a kid at heart. :)  This is another game that you can play on the fly with no preparation and no supplies.  Look up the rules online for more information.

Active Games

Children and teens alike enjoy this game of contorting one’s body in order to touch the correct colored circles.  With our two youngest, we don’t bother with differentiating between right and left since they haven’t learned this yet.  Instead, we just say, “Put your hand on blue.” Surprisingly, one of the favorite parts of this game is the spinner!

Hide-n-Seek – yes, this is usually an outdoors game, but a few winters ago when I was doing some in-home childcare for a friend, I decided we could play indoors!  In fact, it becomes even more fun when you turn off all but a few lights and play Scary Hide-n-Seek!  Just be sure to tell the players if there are any off-limit areas before you start.

Sardines – similar to hide-n-seek, only the player who is “it” hides and everyone else tries to find him or her.  The twist is that when you find “it” you have to hide along with them until everyone ends up in the same hiding spot.

Simon Says – I know this is an old school game, but my children love it.  The most popular position is Simon, of course, but it’s really good for our younger children to learn to follow directions and to listen!

Mother May I? – another old school game, but gets my children up and active without being too crazy.

Indoor obstacle course – This is mostly for younger children, but older children and parents can participate by creating the course.  Pull out your kitchen chairs, small end tables, and as many pillows as you can gather (you can even use boxes to create tunnels).  Find the longest straight stretch in your home and design your own course!  My children will do the course over and over and over……well, you get the idea. :)

Additionally, Energy-burning Indoor Fun for Kids is chock full of ways to help the kids burn off extra energy when you’re stuck inside.

Well, that’s it for our BIG list of favorite games for families. I hope you find some ideas for new games to try out at your next family game night.  To help you get started, here are tips on how to host a game night with young children in the home.

I also have a pinterest board specifically for learning games and activities where I gather ideas for homeschool or just home learning fun, and an AWANA/VBS board where I gather ideas for youth group and children’s ministry.  For family-specific activities, be sure to visit the Family Fun Day/Night board, too.

We’re always looking for new family oriented games to add to our collection, so please let us know if you have a great suggestion!

What is your family’s favorite game?  What games would you add to the list?

Jen :)

*This post makes use of affiliate links. For a full disclosure, please visit the About page.

Sharing with: Family Fun Friday,

Spirit-propelled Life

Good morning, friends! :)  Today I’m honored to be guest posting over at Encourage 24/7, a website all about encouraging Christians in their walks with the Lord.


Do you ever feel like you push and pull your way through a long day?  Are you sometimes overwhelmed and ready to give up by 10 am?  Do you ever long for something more, something better?

If so, this post is for you!  Come on over and join us at Encourage 24/7 to find out what I learned from my Kirby vacuum.  :)  Be sure to check out the Testimony Posts tab, too, for more encouragement from other bloggers.  Just click on the link below to find the post.

Lessons from a Kirby

Why Families Should Play Games


We love games!  Perhaps this love of game-playing stems from my MK (missionary kid) roots – no tv, no electricity, but we did have board games!  Perhaps the love for games also comes from many years of working with youth groups.  Perhaps the teacher in me just loves being able to engage young brains in learning activities that are fun and entertaining for the whole family.

I’m sure all of those reasons come into play in one way or another.  Over the years family game night has been something we all look forward to, and I think more families could benefit from it as well!  Even those who don’t have their own families can enjoy similar benefits by playing games with those they have relationships with (friends, neighbors, other relatives, church family).

family game night, why families should play games, what games to play, kids, parents, games, family fun, family night

  1.  Quality family time.  We play games together and laugh together.  Sometimes, we even get mad at each other.  :) Often family game time results in more than just playing a game to win.  While we play, we relate to one another and focus in on one another.  Playing games together leads to a lot of good conversation and sometimes even leads to family jokes that last well beyond game time.  Years later, whenever I hear certain phrases, like “rooooo-aaaaaaddd,” I’m instantly taken back to some awesome family memories.  Some games have even become part of our family identity (Settlers of Catan, for example, is simply known as “The Game” in our household). Why not build game-play into your family identity?
  2. Media-free entertainment.  Yes, I’m one of “those” moms.  Even before our children were born, I knew I didn’t want them to spend a lot of time in front of the tv.  My husband and I have compromised by allowing tv, but with time limits.  So, we try to find other ways to encourage our children to entertain themselves when they are bored.  On rainy days, wintery days, or long summer days of boredom, why not break out a board game or card game?
  3. Frugal entertainment. Other than the initial cost of a game, and perhaps some snack food, you can entertain a whole house full of people for very little.  In fact, we’ve entertained guests with games that you don’t even have to pay for, such as Mafia (a story-telling, role-playing, whodunnit? type of game). Family Fun nights are often game nights when the budget doesn’t allow for taking out a family of six.  Also, My husband and I even have mini-dates at home on occasion when the kiddos are sleeping by playing Battleship or other two-player games.
  4. Learning new skills.  Playing games is not only entertaining, but it can also teach your children new skills, such as counting, matching, planning, developing strategy, problem-solving, and more.  The bonus?  It’s so much fun, your children won’t even realize they are learning. :)
  5. Learning sportsmanship.  Children have to learn how to be good sports, whether they are winning or losing.  We have one child in particular who is extremely competitive and really struggles with emotions in general.  What a perfect opportunity to model good sportsmanship for him and his siblings during family game night.  Additionally, playing together as a family gives children multiple opportunities to make mistakes and grow in the safety and comfort of their own home.
  6. Learning about others. Whether with family or friends, playing games with others is a great way to get to know them better!  When people are relaxed, they are more open and honest about who they really are as people.  One thing our guests are sure to learn about us when playing games is that some of us are more than just a little competitive and that we all like to laugh!  I especially enjoy playing games with my husband. It brings out the silly side in each of us and gives us an opportunity to tease each other, much like the flirting of our early dating relationship.  Game playing fosters a feeling of friendship between us that is important for two busy parents who sometimes end up feeling more like business partners than soul mates. :)

I’m certain there are other reasons for playing games together, as well, but these are our favorites.  I’m happy to know that my children enjoy playing board games just as much as they enjoy playing video games.  Although, I have to also admit that on occasion, family game night does revolve around the wii (Mario Kart, anyone?). :)  The main idea is just to take time to play together.  It’s an investment in your relationships that will multiply endlessly.  As our children grow older, we enjoy family game time more and more!

Be sure to check out Our Big List of Favorite Games for ideas on great games for the whole family.  The list is even organized by age and group size!

The family that plays together stays together…..or something like that, right?  I’m putting family game night on the schedule for this week or next.

Will you join me?

Jen :)

How does your family enjoy games? What are your favorites?

Like a Mustard Seed

Faith the size

It’s one of those paradoxes of Christianity, like “the first shall be last” and “you must first die to live.”  He chooses the small, the weak, the completely inadequate as vessels, rather the big, strong, and impressive.

It’s one of those things that I struggle with often, in spite of my work-in-progress mindset.  How can I possibly do these big things He’s asking of me?  Who am I, Lord, who am I to take on these giants of life?

I’m so small.

I’m so flawed.

I’m not right for the job.

There are so many better equipped, stronger in faith, more Christ-like. Would they not be better for the job?

Like Moses, I doubt.  Like Jonah, I wish to run.  Like David, I plead for wisdom and I wait. But like Mary, I also say, “let it be done to me according to your word.”

And like Isaiah, in my bravest moments I whisper, “Here am I. Send me.”

I may be small, but my God is not. I may be flawed, but Christ was not. I may not be perfect for the job, but I am a willing vessel.

Because when I am weak, then I am strong.

Only because of Christ.

With the faith as small as a mustard seed…

Jen :)

It’s Five Minute Friday, but I’m a day late thanks to recent events.  On Five Minute Fridays, bloggers from all over the globe write on a single word prompt for five minutes.  No planning, no editing, just raw and real writing.  Then we all share at .

Great Expectations and Buttkill Falls

Hello, faithful readers!  Some of you know that I was on vacation with my family last week.  We spent the week unplugged.  I wanted to jump right back in on Monday, but vacation didn’t go exactly as planned…

Buttkill Falls

In a cosmic meeting of great expectations and unplanned frustrations and discouragements, vacation became a lot more work than we all intended and culminated in what could have well been the deciding event at Buttkill Falls.  The rest of the world knows this picaresque waterfall by it’s real name, Bushkill Falls, but in our family, it will forever be referred to as Buttkill Falls because it broke my behind. Literally.  But that’s really the end of the story (no pun intended), so let’s go back to the beginning!

Three years ago, we went our first family vacation, not just your typical family getaway, but an extended family vacation consisting of our family, my parents, my brother and his family, and my sister and her family.  The adults enjoyed a lot of together time while the little cousins played.  It was wonderful!  While that trip was not without its own frustrations, we enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to make it a new family tradition that should take place every other year.

For those who don’t know much about my family, this vacation is important to us.  Because my parents were missionaries in PNG (Papua New Guinea), we spent a lot of years separated in various ways, sometimes even in different countries.  Today, we are separated into three different states.  So, like many families who have moved apart from each other, finding together time is difficult, even during the holidays.  And I think at least for me (since I can only speak for myself), those years spent apart overseas make that together time so much more significant and needed.  So, family vacation was the perfect solution!  What could be better than a whole week together?!

For many reasons, planning this second family vacation became a lot more complicated from the beginning.  In fact, we didn’t even get to go the year that we had originally planned.  Instead, we waited another year, and faced even more hurdles.  So by the time we worked through the hurdles and had firm plans in place, we were all anxious to actually get there. Expectations were at an all-time high.

Unfortunately, the discouragement began even before we left!  We experienced unexpected financial issues and so did some other family members.  The second house being rented by my sister’s family was flooded the week prior to our departure, and they were left with no place to go to.  In addition, One of my nieces started throwing up the night before they planned to leave.  The opposition we faced was unreal!  In fact, I have no doubt that the Enemy was at work even before we left, trying to suck the joy out of our much anticipated family vacation before it ever started.

But, in my father’s words, my mother is an eternal optimist, and thankfully some of us inherited this characteristic from her. :)  So, we prayed, and prayed, and my sister’s family actually left by faith before final arrangements were even made for their rental home!

So many things went wrong that week: the rental homes were not what we were expecting (in fact, one had to be changed due to mildew and other general grossness), couples argued, family members failed to communicate, and the weather forecast predicted rain. all. week. long.  Have you ever spent a week in a crowded home with 11 children, all but one under the age of 8?  It wasn’t looking good for a week of peace that we so desperately needed.

But as I mentioned before, many of us are optimists and even those who aren’t optimists are at least believers in the God of the impossible.  So, we forged ahead with vacation plans.  There was a family church service on Sunday, followed by game time, and a beach day on Monday, and Guys golf followed by Gals shopping on Tuesday.


On Wednesday, it rained all the way to Buttkill Falls.  But we were determined. Besides, what else would we do in a crowded cabin with a pack of wild children? :)  The nice lady who charged us the outrageous admission price (yes, we outdoor lovers PAID to hike!) warned us that the trails would be slippery.  And to make a long story short, after misunderstandings and whiny, sometimes even disobedient kids and lots and lots of stairs, it happened. I warned my mother about a particularly slippery set of wooden steps, turned to go down the next one, and fell down three steps directly on my tailbone.

I couldn’t catch my breath at first, and then when the air came, so did the tears.  My arm was already bruising from the fall and my rear hurt terribly.  I assumed it would go away after a while, and it did go numb for a bit, so we finished the hike.  But not without another spousal argument and multiple instances of child disobedience.  The one redeeming aspect of Buttkill Falls was the awesome playground that we used to wear the kids out before hopping back in the van for a painful, hour-long drive back to the cabin.

Buttkill falls2

Needless to say, the rest of the vacation wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned.  There was a day spent getting x-rayed and medicated, followed by a day in bed while the others enjoyed a train ride (or train wreck, as my brother-in-law liked to call it), followed by a long drive to a huge boulder field that I couldn’t walk on (but at least I got to see!).  And then there was the day of the ten hour drive home and the donut pillow that failed to do its job.

It felt like one of those annoying movies where everything that can go wrong, does, and the characters never catch a break! :)

In spite of my unmet great expectations, I can honestly say I would choose to do it again.  Why, you ask?  Because in between the arguing, the parenting issues, the broken bones, the frequent disappointments, and the many other challenges that came our way that week, we had moments, family moments of joy, of togetherness, of teasing, of laughter, of memory sharing, and of memory making.

And we all enjoyed an entire night of rear-end jokes around the game table. :) (Better to laugh than to cry, right?!)

I wouldn’t trade those moments for the world, or even a healed tailbone,  because who knows if we’ll see another family vacation?  Who knows if we’ll have another year, another week, another day?

In our humanity, we love to make these perfect plans; we have these great expectations for life, for people, for jobs.  So often, they fall short, and we’re tempted to let ourselves become discouraged.  We’re tempted to lose heart. We’re tempted to see the negative, the bad, even the evil, everywhere we turn.

But our God is bigger, our God is stronger,

Our God is higher than any other…

And He holds us in the palm of His hand.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

His plans are not our plans.

I still don’t know why I needed to break my tailbone in the middle of family vacation or why family vacation had to feel like  work instead of pleasure so often, but He does.

I pray that the more I grow in the confidence of His grace, the more my great expectations will be His great plans.

And in the meantime, I choose to look for the good.

Even if it means surviving more Buttkill Falls incidents. :)

Jen :)

When have your great expectations ended in disappointment?  What brought you joy in spite of your failed plans?

Present (A Five Minute Friday post)

This week we’re on family vacation!! :)  So, I’m sharing  an older Five Minute Friday post that never saw the light of day.  As such, it is not a true 5 minute friday because I never finished it (for more information on FMF, see the end of the post).  So, it has been editted. :)


Present is…

a campfire glowing on a warm summer evening,

lightning bugs captive in a glass jar,

faces sticky with marshmallow.



Present is choosing to look when my littlest son says, “Look, Mom! I caught budderfwy,”

and laughing when I see that it’s really another lightning bug.

But he’s so proud and his smile is so wide that I haven’t the heart to tell him differently.

 Instead I exclaim over its beauty and his bravery.

And I choose to be present by putting the camera away.


Present is sometimes peace, sometimes chaos, but always worthwhile.

Present is a gift, not the kind that you open, but one that you give with your time, your attention,

your eye-contact, your helping hands and your listening heart.

It’s laughing at seven-year-old jokes that don’t make sense  and listening to four-year-old speak you can’t understand.

 It’s helping the teenager find a missing item and looking at your husband when he comes in the door, even if you’re busy.


Present is patient.  Present is loving. Present is giving.

Let’s choose to be present.

Jen :)

What reminds you to be present?

On Five Minute Fridays, we all write furiously for 5 minutes on a word-prompt given to us by Lisa-Jo Baker.  Come join us!