9 Powerful Resources for Praying Women

The school supplies are bought, the bookbags packed, and schedules are set in place. It’s back-to-school season!

Whether you’re the kind of mom who cheers when the school bus comes around or the one who wishes she could hold onto those kiddos a bit longer (or like me – a confusing mix of the two!), back-to-school season marks a progression of time that we just can’t escape.

For many families, the new school year means a return to routine, and as such, it’s the perfect time to establish, or perhaps re-establish, some important habits.

I don’t know about you, mama friend, but my devotional time in the summer tends to be less consistent, and I find myself longing for a good long time in the Word, or an hour to just sit and pray. So while I hate the busyness that  the school year brings, I welcome the chance to get back to a routine!

As I reflect on the past summer and think ahead to this coming school year, I know above all, I want to cover it in prayer. I want, no… need, to develop a more consistent prayer habit!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

We can always afford to spend more time covering our families, homes, relationships, work, ministries, etc. in prayer. In fact, I might argue that we can’t afford NOT to.

The resources for praying women below can help your back-to-school routine to incorporate more daily prayer by putting a specific plan into place!

What might happen in our homes, our churches, our communities if more women of faith really dedicated themselves to consistent prayer?

9 Powerful Resources for Praying Women

(a list of FREE or affordable Prayer Resources for Christians)

As much as I love to pray for my children, I recognize that a healthy prayer life begins with my own spiritual health.  And let’s be honest, as mamas we often put the needs of others before ourselves – rightfully so.

But as I mentioned earlier, my soul longs to connect to the Vine. More than mothering well, my prime responsibility is to follow after God well. I simply cannot be the mother/wife/woman I need to be when I’m not walking in the Spirit.

*This post contains affiliate links. Jen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Thank you for helping to support the ministry of this site!

Prayer Guides for Personal Spiritual Growth

1. The Fruit of the Spirit Prayer Challenge from Faith Along the Way

Sarah Ann has created a short but sweet 7-day prayer challenge for women who want to see more fruit in their lives. This challenge is a great starting point for women who want to establish a regular prayer habit.

The best part? It’s FREE! All you need to do is sign up. :)

If you want a consistent prayer habit, you need a specific plan. These powerful prayer resources give praying women a plan to follow! #Christianwomen #prayer #printables #spiritualqrowth resources for Christian Women | Being Confident of This | Praying Wife | Praying Mom | praying for marriage | praying for kids | war room | free printables | bliblical tools

2. Praying the Scriptures for the Fruit of the Spirit by Jennifer Clarke

If you’re not sure where to start when praying the scriptures, this free e-book from my friend Jennifer is offering will point you in the right direction! In addition to the ebook, when you join her mailing list, you’ll receive a guide for 12 ways to add prayer time to your day.

(BONUS – Jennifer has a whole series on praying the Scriptures broken down by 40+ topics, too)

Prayer Guides for Your Family and Loved Ones

3. A Praying Woman’s Jackpot from Kaylene Yoder

 

Prayer resource bundle - 5 resources to help you pray over your children and your marriage! #Christianwomen #prayingwomen #prayerguide #prayerprintables

A Praying Woman’s Jackpot from Kaylene is a HUGE set of prayer resources for women, covering the areas of marriage and parenting. This affordable bundle includes FIVE different resources to help you pray daily for the people who matter most in your life.

Talk about powerful resources for praying women!

4. The 30-day Prayer Dare for Parents from Kaylene Yoder

The 30-Day Prayer Dare for Parents, also from Kaylene, starts the beginning of September (and once again, it’s FREE for those who sign up)!

You’ll receive daily emails including prayers and scriptures to support those prayers, and if you want to take your prayer life a step further, you can also purchase an inexpensive workbook/journal to help you keep on track.

Sometimes we just need a bit of accountability to keep us going. :)

5. 31 Prayer Prompts for When Marriage Is Hard from Rebekah Hallberg

If you’re a regular around here, then you know that Rebekah is my co-author! She’s always busy providing practical help to women who are dealing with marriage issues and working to overcome them.  This FREE printable gives 31 different prompts for you as the wife, for your husband, and for the two of you as a couple.

31 prayer prompts for when marriage is hard - free printable to help you focus on intercessory prayer for your marriage. #prayerguide #prayerprintable #prayingwife

What better way to get back into a consistent prayer habit than to focus on uplifting your marriage through prayer!

6. Family Prayer Kits from Aimee Imbeau

These family prayer kits come with a separate prayer guide specific to each age group – children, teen guys, teen girls, and adults. Each resource is designed with the target audience in mind. The kits include everything from prayer journaling sheets, to bookmarks, and help with different prayer methods like ACTS.

As a favor to me, my friend Aimee has offered a special discount for Being Confident of This readers during the month of August! Use code “justpray” to get an extra 15% off your purchase!

I love Aimee’s family approach to the spiritual discipline of prayer!

Family Prayer kits - help your family develop a habit of prayer using these templates and printables! #Christianfamily #prayerprintables #prayerkits

 

For extra savings, you can purchase various bundles that combine the kits you need.

Prayer Guides for the New School Year

7. Back-to-School Prayer Challenge from Arabah Joy

Arabah Joy consistently develops resources that teach people how to pray using Scripture as a basis. You may have already encountered her book, Praying the Promises of the Cross, but this particular challenge focuses on praying for your children as they begin a new school year!

The Back-to-School prayer challenge helps you cultivate a habit of prayer through weekly video encouragement and daily prayer cards containing the scriptures to use while praying. All of the organizational work is done for you – you just have to put it into practice. :)

8. Mom’s Back-to-School Printable Pack from Faith Along the Way

Overcome the back-to-school overwhelm with this free printable pack, including a focus on praying for the new school year! #parenting #prayer #freebie

Here’s another fantastic FREE resource from Sarah Ann to help you overcome the overwhelm that hits when a new school year starts. This pack also includes 30 days of prayer for the new school year!

Prayer Guide for the World

It’s easy to pray for the people right in front of you. After all, we see them every day, and we talk with them about their problems and worries.

It’s a bit more challenging to pray for people around the world whom you don’t even know. Their culture may be totally unfamiliar to you, as well as their needs.

But I think we can agree that one need we all have in common is for salvation through Jesus Christ!

So, if you’re in the same boat as me – determined to develop a consistent prayer habit, then you might find this free prayer printable helpful.

Use this #freeprintable to encourage your #family to #pray for the world's largest unreached people groups! Teach your children the importance of global missions right from your own home. T.H.U.M.B method of praying |Being Confident of This | teaching kids to pray | teaching kids missions | missional family | missions-minded family |praying family | Christian women | Christian parenting | raising godly kids

9. THUMB teaches you (and your family) to pray for the most unreached people groups of the world. Using each finger of your hand, you can use the acronym to help you remember the names of the people groups who are still desperate for God’s truth. This handy prayer printable also gives you helpful information on each group so that you can better pray for their needs.

Praying THUMB for the World is a part of the Being Confident of This free resource library available to all who subscribe to our monthly newsletter. Just sign up, download, and print! :)

Friend, if you’re taking a look at all of these fabulous resources and feeling too overwhelmed to even know where to start, then maybe you need this encouragement here: 8 Scripture Prayers for When Your Glass Is Empty But Your Plate is Full.

Start with God’s truth first by remembering who you are in Him – fully redeemed, fully loved, fully equipped.

Any praying you do must come from that place of resting in your God-given identity first.

If you’ve tried to establish a habit of prayer before and failed, then don’t give up! Don’t fall for the lies of the Enemy that you just don’t have time to pray, or that your prayers are ineffective.

Choose believe God’s Word when He says,

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16 (NIV)

Fellow work-in-progress friends, let’s be like the persistent widow in Luke 18; let’s be women who pray without giving up!

Jen :)
Want to be a prayer warrior but not sure where to start? This big list of FREE (and affordable) prayer resources will help you make a plan. Develop a healhty and consistent prayer life! #freeprintables #prayerguides #prayerwarrior #ChristianLiving Being Confident of This | biblical resources for Christian women | discipleship | spiritual growth | prayer | praying wife | praying mom | praying woman | prayer warrior | war room | prayer guide | prayer template | prayer methods

How to Parent Your Angry Child

Have you ever worried that your angry child might never learn patience? Have you lain awake at night wondering how to help refine those strong-willed tendencies into good character?

A while back, our second-born, strong-willed, ball-of-energy-and-strength-and-passion son was showing me a few of his latest “tricks.” I watched somewhat half-heartedly and made the typical distracted mom comments.

“Wow!”

“That’s crazy!”

“How do you DO that?”

When suddenly he made this horrible grimace.

He effectively described it as “putting pressure” on his face. To me it looked an awful lot like his angry child face.

Curious, I asked him why he would put pressure on his face. He matter-of-factly explained that it helps him get his anger out when he’s frustrated or feeling angry.

Then he showed me another of his typical angry child poses (fisted hands clenched tightly at his sides) and told me that putting pressure on his body helps him get anger out, too.

Once he was done with the demonstration, he sauntered away, like it was no big deal for a seven-year-old to have such knowledge of his own emotions and body.

I sat there stunned.

Not because our son is so intelligent, although he truly is, but because a posture that I tend to “read” as angry disrespect or rebellion was, in fact, the complete opposite.

His tense posture was actually an attempt at self-control! And here I had been scolding him to “have a better attitude” whenever the “pressure” face and those “pressure” hands appeared, whenever I saw evidence of an angry child.

If you have a child with BIG emotions, you probably struggle with some parenting discouragement. What I learned from my angry child changed my perspective and helped me focus on the work in progress!  Work-in-progress Parenting: The Angry Child  #parenting #emotionalchild #strongwilledchild christian parenting|Devotional |Bible study|christian family|helping emotional children|emotions|anger|angrychild|christian mom|strong-willed child

Hope for the Angry Child

It turns out my angry child understood his own emotions (and boy, does he have b-i-g ones) better than I sometimes understand my own.In fact, he was learning self-control methods that work for him, without any help from me!

Our conversation reminded me that even though I have now logged over thirteen years of parenting experience, I don’t know it all. In fact, I never will!

Each child is created uniquely and requires unique parenting, a truth I tend to forget.

What I perceived as defiance or disrespect was actually the most self-controlled, respectful act my son was capable of in his angry moments.

 

I hope I remember to exercise caution when I see the angry child come out. I hope I remember that he’s making a greater effort than I ever realized and applaud him for maintaining a measure of self-control in the face of anger.

He has come so far in the area of emotions and self-control in the last few years, and I’m so quick to forget that in a heated moment!

I’m so quick to forget that my child is a work-in-progress, too, just like his siblings, just like his parents, just like every other sinful human on the face of the earth.

It wasn’t a proud moment for me, rather it was a thank-you-Lord moment. I couldn’t take credit for my angry child’s heart changes; in fact, I was unintentionally discouraging some of the progress he was making.

Only God can take credit.

Because our little boy who is so quickly growing into a young man accepted the free gift of salvation a few years ago. And not long after, he publicly proclaimed his son-ship in Christ before family and friends as he waded into the baptismal waters.

I see the work the Lord is doing in his young heart and mind already.

Even now as he enters his teenage years, I see how his heart has softened toward his younger siblings and how they now look up to him.

Even though our son’s passion and energy often cause trouble for him, I have faith that someday he will use those gifts to be a great leader and a bold truth-teller. He’s a born leader in the process of becoming.

What faithfulness on the Lord’s behalf!

My friends, when you’re parenting progress seems to have stalled, take heart.

Continue to follow the Lord in your parenting, and wait to see what happens. Pray for their little hearts and minds to open to the Father’s touch.

If your emotional, angry child is old enough, ask about his or her actions during a low-stress time rather than in the heat of the moment. You’ll likely gain some surprising insights!

Look for progress in the little things, the still, small moments.Perhaps the problem with your child is really a problem with YOUR thinking! #parenting #workinprogress #beingconfidentofthis purposeful parenting|intentional parenting|christian parenting|stubborn child|angry child|emotional child|strong-willed child|parenting help|how to be a better parent| godly parenting

 

Remember who your child has been created to be. He’s created to be different than your other children and different even than you.

Take every opportunity to rejoice over the slightest step forward.

Because God knows what He’s doing.

He created these children, these gifts, purposefully just as he created you and me purposefully.

Only He can see where that purpose might lead them.

Jen :)

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12 Ideas for Fall Fun for Families

Each year when the back-to-school chaos has settled and the leaves begin to fall from our trees, I take stock of how our family is faring spiritually. With the craziness of settling into a new school year and the many Summer and Fall ministry events we participate in, I always seem to feel the need to focus on family in the Fall.

Fall also seems to be a time of year to stop and take stock – are we doing all that we can to raise our family well? How can we make the most of this season to strengthen our family and our faith?

Here are a few ideas for enjoying Fall while also being purposeful as a parent.

12 Ideas and Faith-based Resources for Fall Fun for Families

1. The Pumpkin Gospel 

The Pumpkin Gospel is a fun way to teach children spiritual truth in an interactive way. All you need is a medium or large-sized pumpkin, a candle and matches, and about 20 minutes of time (you’ll need at least 10 to prep the pumpkin).  Gather the family around for this faith-based Fall fun for families!  The valuable lesson learned about how Jesus changes us from the inside out is guaranteed to stick with your children for years to come.

 

Join the ranks of work-in-progress parents and download your free printable version of the Pumpkin Gospel object lesson! Fall fun|kids|parenting|object lessons|Bible lesson|AWANA|Sunday School|Preschool |youth group|Christ-centered resources|redeeming Halloween

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter (down at the bottom) to get your free printable version of the Pumpkin Gospel!

2. Ways to Cultivate Thankfulness in Your Home

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

With Fall being such a busy season, it’s easy to develop an attitude of ungratefulness. My friend Aimee shares 7 tips for cultivating thankfulness in your home. I especially like number 4 because it’s an idea I’ve been running across in Scripture recently. Maybe the Lord’s trying to tell me something? ;)

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

3. 10 Fall Outdoor Activities to Grow Closer to God and Others

This great article from Crosswalk suggests several ways to enjoy God’s beautiful creation while also strengthening family bonds. I love number 5 because you could enjoy Fall fun for families while also being missional!

4. Praying Scriptures of Thanksgiving

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

My friend Candace has put together a free printable list of Scriptures related to Thanksgiving. Stop by her blog for a reminder to focus on faith this Fall season. Involve the whole family in praying God’s Word – a unique way to enjoy Fall fun for families!

5. Thanksgiving Conversation Starters

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

Spice up your Thanksgiving conversation with this Fall fun activity for families from my friend Arabah Joy! She’s giving away this free printable, which includes 16 different conversation starters, over at her blog.

6. Family Thanksgiving Tree

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

Our family loves this faith-based, Fall tradition so much that we often leave our Thanksgiving Tree up for months afterwards. The Thanksgiving tree is an easy, hands-on activity to remember all of the things we have to be thankful for as a family. Each member of the family can be involved by creating their own leaves to add to the tree.

Not only is this Fall activity fun, but it’s also a beautiful visual reminder of God’s goodness!

Here’s another alternative for doing a Thankful Tree from my friend, Candace.

7. 15 Fall Date Night Ideas

Nothing’s better than enjoying the great outdoors with your loved ones! My friend Starla shares 15 different ideas for date nights (although many of these could double as Fall fun for families, too!).

8. 25 Frugal Fall Date Nights

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

Sarah Ann shares the best family resources over at her blog, and I appreciate the emphasis on keeping things frugal, too. Stop by for some great ideas on how to enjoy some Fall fun with your main man. :)

Make the most of this Fall season with your family using these faith-based resources and activities!  Fall traditions|family|kids|Christian family|faith-based resources|Bible lessons|fall fun for families|Fall activities|family fun night|Fall bucket list|grow in faith

9. 10 Fall Activities for Couples

Laura shares ten ways to celebrate Fall as a couple, but this post also includes a link to a free printable of 30 days of Fall activities that people of all ages can enjoy.  Stop by her blog for more Fall fun for families!

10. How to {Simply} Host Thanksgiving Dinner

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

Nothing brings family together in the Fall season quite like Thanksgiving, right? But preparing a dinner for a large group of family and friends can be really overwhelming! My friend Ruthie has a nifty printable to help keep you organized so that you can stress less and enjoy your loved ones more.

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner together is definitely a favorite on our list of Fall fun for families!

11. Thanksgiving for the Military Family

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

My friend, Jen, shares about her Thanksgiving Attitude from the perspective of a military wife and what Thanksgiving really means to them. Enjoying Fall fun for families is definitely more challenging when some family members cannot be present!

12. We Give Thanks – Free Printable!

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

This pretty printable from my friend, Rosilind, will remind your family to focus on thankfulness this Fall season. Go grab yours now and start preparing for Fall! She also shares the story behind Thanksgiving – this is one we should be teaching our children and passing down from generation to generation. :)

Although Fall is typically a busy time of year, it’s also a great time to re-focus on the things that really matter in life. While you’re enjoying Fall fun for families, you’re also building important family bonds and strengthening traditions that will last. If you use some of the object lessons/activities listed above, you can even use this season to strengthen your family’s faith, as well.

How will your family celebrate the Fall season?

Jen :)

 

 

The Words Your Child Really Needs to Hear

“You’re the best Mom ever!” She proclaims, as she grins and squeezes me with her small arms, and my mama heart expands to near bursting.

“Well, you’re the best daughter ever!” I smile back down at her.

And it’s true. She may be my only daughter at this time, but she is also the best.

It may sound like a simple, sweet exchange between mother and daughter, come and gone in just a few breaths. But I know better. I know these words are building a foundation in her, one sweet word at a time.

I say all the words that need telling because I know she needs to hear those words; I know she needs me to tell them to her.  I know because I need those words, too.

I need the “I love you”s, and the “you’re the best”s, and the “you’re the beautifulest mom ever”s, and the “I missed you”s. If I, a grown woman, need all the words that need telling, how much more does a child need to hear these same words?

So much more. So much more.

They are the words your child really needs to hear.

All the Words that need telling, tell kids you love them, tell people the gospel

So I tell her all the words that need telling – the words about love, the words about like, the words about her character, and the words about her Savior – because she needs to hear all of those important words. She needs to hear them often.

She needs to hear them often.

She may be little now, but soon enough she’ll be heading into her senior year of high school just like her oldest brother. And then she’ll leave for college (Lord-willing), and who will tell her all the words that she needs to hear then?

When she leaves the safety of our home to venture out on her own, she’ll find plenty of messages about how she’s not enough, how she’s no good, how she’s less than.

Those words are enough to crush a person, especially if she lacks a secure foundation.

The Words Your Child Really Needs to Hear

We’ve only a few years, friends, a few short years to speak the words your child really needs to hear.  Only a few years to tell of our love for them.  Only a few years to tell of the Savior’s love, too.

And they need to hear them because love is so central to the Gospel, so important.

That foundation of faith and love (or lack of one) can help determine your child’s life course. Such a foundation is a refuge in life’s storms, a comfort when staring down rejection, a balm when wounded.

The words your child really needs to hear develop a confidence in them that isn’t easily shaken.

Are you saying the words your kids really need to hear? They seem like simple words, simple conversations, but they build solid character. Do you speak them? saying the right words|motherhood|parenting|Christian parent|Christian women|children|speaking to kids|building up your kids|kids and confidence

Don’t be shy; don’t hesitate, friend.

Even if the words don’t come naturally to you, tell the words today, the words your child really needs to hear, because we are never guaranteed tomorrow.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut. 11:18-19

Speak words of life to your family today, friend. Make the most of every opportunity.

Tell all the words your child really needs to hear.

Tell Love

and Truth

and Kindness

and Peace.

Don’t wait!

Jen

Christ-centered Easter: Resources for the Whole Family

With all of the excitement over the Easter bunny or Easter eggs, it’s all too easy for kids to get distracted from the real reason why we celebrate Easter – Jesus! Over the years, my husband and I have tried quite a few different ways to have a Christ-centered Easter that highlights the gospel message.

What better gift could we give our family than a better understanding of what Easter is truly about?

Here are a few of the resources we love for maintaining a Christ-centered Easter:

*This post makes use of affiliate links. For more information, please visit the Being Confident of This about page. Thank you for helping to support the ministry of this site!

1. The Lamb by John Cross

This beautifully illustrated book works as a year-round resource, but we’ve found that its gospel message is especially poignant for both children and adults during the Lent and Easter season. The Lamb is a chronological, creation-to-Christ approach to the Bible that helps readers understand the significance of the Passover Lamb and why Jesus’ death on the cross was necessary.

The gospel message is central to the book, so we like to start it well before Easter and read a chapter a week! You could also read a chapter a day leading up to Easter Sunday. This year, we are even using it as our Children’s Church curriculum since each chapter contains discussion questions at the end. If you can’t tell by now, I really love this book. Aside from the Bible, you really can’t find a better Christ-centered Easter resource. :)

Make the most of Easter with these Christ-centered Easter resources! Use devotionals, activities, books, movies, etc. to point your family to Jesus.  keep Christ in Easter, Easter and Jesus, Christian Easter resources, Christian family

 

2. Resurrection Eggs

I actually discovered this delightful way of telling the Easter story via pinterest several years ago, and it has since become a yearly tradition that our four children look forward to. With my background in education, I really appreciate the interactive teaching method that gets the kids involved in discovering the story for themselves. And for our special needs guy, being able to touch the symbolic objects helps the lesson to sink in even deeper. For those reasons, Resurrection Eggs are probably my second favorite Christ-centered Easter resource.

We’ve also used these eggs as part of our church’s Easter egg hunt. We hide them with the regular eggs, then use them to teach the Gospel by having the children who found them bring them up one at a time. It’s a really fun way to keep kids engaged.

And the best part is that if the budget is tight, you can actually make them yourself! Find examples here on my Christ-centered Easter pinterest board.

 

3. The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story by Mike Berenstain

Because we love the Berenstain Bears, we bought this book a few years ago on sale. I was happy to see how the book addressed the commercialism of Easter in a way that children can easily understand. This is another solid addition to our Christ-centered Easter library!

4. Veggietales: An Easter Carol

Another favorite in our home is any and all things having to do with Veggietales! We love the funny voices, quirky characters, and silly storylines, but most of all we love how these veggies teach us biblical truth. Pick up this dvd to add to your Christ-centered Easter resources, and your children will learn once again that Easter is about so much more than bunnies.

And if you love Veggietales as much as you do, you might also want to check out ‘Twas the Night Before Easter.

5. Praying the Promises of the Cross

As much as I love the family-oriented Easter books and movies listed above, many parents long for a little more meat to dig into when it comes to having a Christ-centered Easter.  If that’s you, then you’ll want to consider this downloadable, printable resource – a 40-day journey of praying God’s promises that is specifically targeted to point you to the cross.  This is the perfect devotional to lead up to Easter Sunday.

Want your Easter to be more Christ-centered? Use this journal to pray the promises of the Cross. Each daily devotional is scripture-based and points us to our Savior! Easter devotional, praying the promises, Christ-centered Easter, Easter advent, Lent, preparing for Easter

Each day includes a brief devotional to read, as well as a scripture to read, write, and pray over. You can write your prayer right in the journal space provided. What better way to prepare your heart for Easter than to spend time in the Word and in prayer? :)

6. Easter Scavenger Hunt

Want your Easter to be more Christ-centered? Check out this list of top Christ-centered Easter resources for the whole family!  keep Christ in Easter, Easter and Jesus, Christian Easter resources, Christian family

My friend Arabah Joy has spent many years creating discipleship resources for all ages, and this is one that she shares for free over at her blog. This photo-scavenger hunt combines scripture with the fun of searching for objects both indoors and outdoors. It’s a unique resource for helping children to actively discover the power of the Easter story for themselves.

Just follow this link over to Arabah Joy’s place to print out a copy for each child and you are ready to go.

This stress-free, Christ-centered Easter resource is a quick and simple way for parents to remind their children of what really matters this Easter!

Help your family understand the deep meaning of Easter and why we celebrate! Use these Christ-centered Easter resources to teach them the gospel in fun ways.   keep Christ in Easter, Easter and Jesus, Christian Easter resources, Christian family, Easter activities, Easter books for kids, Easter devotionals

 

Make the most of Easter by teaching your family more about Jesus Christ this year!

Jen :)

Check out this great list for more ideas on how to celebrate Easter with your family!

 

3 Fears to Overcome When You’re Feeling Stuck

Sometimes I avoid writing just like I avoid prayer and time with the Lord. I know why I do it. I avoid these things because I’m feeling ashamed or unworthy. I avoid because I’m afraid I might not like what the Lord has to say about my wishes or my needs or my complaints.

I avoid because it’s easier than trying to change.

Do you ever do it, friend? Do you ever run like Jonah in the opposite direction? Do you hide away from the Lord like Adam and Eve and hope He won’t notice your absence?

Honestly, the last thing I felt like doing was praying this morning because I knew I had some confessing to do. The second-to-last thing I felt like doing was writing to you all because I know I’ve messed up, blown it, wasted valuable time, and squandered opportunities.

It’s the worst feeling in the world – feeling stuck – wanting to change, yet feeling like you can’t.

Last year, I set some big goals for myself, but to be honest, I only did so half-heartedly, and I failed to fully reach a few of them. I’ve always been resistant to goal-setting, a sort of inner rebellion against holding myself accountable. Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering why.

Why am I, a planner by nature, so opposed to making plans for reaching specific goals?

Why do I avoid the very process that could help me when I’m feeling stuck?

As I was praying this morning, I realized there are several fears that are holding me back from my God-given success story (because He is in the business of changing lives, after all), and I wonder if they just might be holding you back, too, friend.

Fear. It keeps us feeling stuck, unable to move, to change, to succeed. Overcoming these 3 fears will help you move toward the goals you are desperate to reach!

These three fears will keep us feeling stuck if we let them!

1. Fear of failure

If I set real, specific goals, then I’m taking the chance that I might fail, and failure is a perfectionist’s worst nightmare. We literally dream about it sometimes. The easy and safe path is to avoid setting goals at all, or to set vague goals so that we can partially achieve. What it really comes down to is an all-or-nothing mindset that fails to recognize the imperfect progress that I write about so often here.

2. Fear of self

Listen, friends, I know my own heart. I know there is this part of me that wants to achieve success so that I will look good to others. I know there is a part of me that wants success for selfish, unspiritual reasons. How do I keep fleshly pride at bay?

What if I set real, specific goals and then realize they were really my plans and not the Lord’s? I’ll have wasted all of that time, and I’ll be out of God’s will. Now, some of you may be chuckling at me at this point, but this is and has been a real fear of mine from a young age! It’s part of a perfectionist’s nature to do anything to avoid being wrong, and that plays into my spiritual life and some of yours, as well, I’m sure.

3. Fear of the hard work

If I spend time asking the Lord what He wants from me this next year, He might ask me to do things that seem way too hard! What if He asks me to uproot my entire family, or uproot our ministry, or do something really hard for a food-addicted person like me – give up sugar?!!

The truth is you and I might fail.

We might get it wrong to begin with, or we might convince ourselves the work is too difficult and give up part way through. There is no guarantee of success, no promise of perfect achievement, at least not in this lifetime.

So why take the risk?

Because the alternative is remaining stuck.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of feeling stuck.

I’m fed up.

I’m ready for real and lasting change.

I’m determined not to let the enemy’s lies hold me down any longer because I fall short of perfection. For several years now, I’ve been writing about looking for progress, yet somewhere along the line, I fell for the lie that it’s all or nothing all over again.

And as sad as I am about that, it’s okay, it really is. It’s okay because…

Grace.

Grace is what allows us to grab on to the rescue rope. Grace reminds us that when we can’t pull ourselves up, He promises not to let go. Grace teaches us to let our Father do the heavy lifting so that our burden will be light!

Those fears we have when we’re feeling stuck? They’ll still be there.

They’ll sneak back up on us late at night when we lay down to sleep. They’ll plague us when we slip back into old habits. They’ll whisper, “You can’t do it.”

The enemy of our souls seeks to devour us, but we can be protected if we’ll just put on our spiritual armor and choose to do battle in faith.

You and I? We must choose to believe the promise of God’s Word that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. That we are more than conquerors in Christ. That even when we can’t, He can! And most importantly, that He loves us still.

He loves us still.

I don’t have all of the answers when it comes to setting goals, friend, but I know the One who does, and I trust that even if we set the wrong goals, even if we fail miserably, even if pride gets in the way, He will set us straight.

If we choose to walk hand-in-hand with Him, rather than running like Jonah or hiding like Adam and Eve, we can be confident in our direction.

Let’s get unstuck together.

Jen :)

P.S.  If you’re ready for change that really lasts, my friend Arabah Joy has created a workshop called Grace Goals for goal setting that is biblically based (affiliate).  It’s one of the things I appreciate about her most – her material is always doctrinally sound and rooted in scripture. The second-best thing I like about Arabah Joy is that she keeps her products affordable, too. ;)

If you’re tired of feeling stuck, the first step to getting unstuck is to make a real plan for change!

Are you frustrated and feeling stuck? Did you fail to meet last year's goals? Or perhaps you're not sure where to start in setting goals for next year?  Grace Goals is a biblical approach to goal setting that can take the fear right out of planning for success!

Here’s what the printable Grace Goals workbook will assist you with:

  • Identifying the key area God wants you to take possession of
  • Setting practical, godly goals to take your promised land
  • Developing a doable, personal plan for change
  • Learning why grace is the enablement you need
  • Recognizing and appropriating grace in your daily life

Let today be the day of your fresh start!

If this year wasn't quite what you planned, then you need a fresh start!  Learn how to set goals by using this biblical approach. Experience the transforming power of allowing God to lead your efforts!

 

Sharing with: Grace and Truth

 

Letting Go When They Are Grown

It happens every time I see his name neatly typed out on mail from colleges: my throat begins to ache as I blink rapidly to stem the pending flow.

He’ll be our first to leave the nest just as he was the first to be birthed, and this year marks the beginning of that long, painful goodbye that I wish to avoid altogether.  Couldn’t time just stand still for a year or so?

Why does the letting go hurt so?

Knowing our time is limited taps into a grief that never quite left me after my years growing up as an MK (missionary kid).  My tendency is to just shut it out, pretend like it’s not happening, find comfort in denial, because that’s what I did for so many years without even realizing it. It’s easier to cut ties than to live with loss, after all.

But hiding away from loss means missing these bittersweet moments where pride and joy collide with that heavy sense of the approaching goodbye. If I let go of one, then I must let go of the other, and I don’t want to miss the joy of witnessing our firstborn take flight.

For the mama whose firstborn is nearly grown. Letting go takes all of the strength a mother can muster, but as Christian parents, we have a hope for their future that the world can't offer. Why then, is the letting go so difficult?

We’re losing little bits of him already in this, his junior year. He works hard at his high-level classes, and spends time on quite a few extra-curricular activities. Some nights we don’t even see him until after his younger siblings go to bed.

There’s this fierce, nearly primal, part of me that desires to cling, to hold him back, to draw my proverbial apron strings tighter. On the other hand, my more rational side recognizes that this is good, that he thrives on new-found independence, and that I was doing much the same at sixteen years of age.

 

And oh, have we been blessed with this boy, no…. this young man now. He’s been a firm yet gentle leader for his younger siblings, always encouraging them to do right. He loves the Lord and often willingly bears the burdens of others. He is slow to anger and respectful of authority. He’s not embarrassed to use his gifts for the Lord’s glory, either, not like I was at sixteen.

I admire his resolve and his confidence in who he is in Christ.

We really couldn’t have asked for an easier teenager, not that there haven’t been bumps in the road, but he’s never derailed.

I know I have to let go of my claim on him, for he was never mine to begin with, was he?

Children are a heritage from the Lordoffspring a reward from him.       Psalm 127:3 (NIV)

Why must letting go be so insanely painful?

It’s not that I don’t trust the Lord with my boy, I do. I know our Father has great plans for his future that I can only begin to imagine.

It’s not that I’m worried about who this young man will become because I already see hints of Master Potter’s hand at work, and I’m thrilled with the molding and shaping taking place in our young man right now.

The letting go hurts because the love is deep and real, and it’s had nearly seventeen years to grow in this body of mine that was once overtaken by his tiny life growing in me.

The letting go hurts because he is me in so many ways and his father in so many others.

The letting go hurts because somehow it feels like our family of six will never quite be the same again, as if this year is the catalyst for a chain of events that will forever alter the fabric of not only his life, but our lives, as well. One part of us will always be missing.

The letting go hurts because this mothering has become so entwined in my own identity that it feels as if a small part of me is slowly dying inside. I know my son will always need me, but not in the same way that he needs me now.

I suppose I expected to be used to it by now, this slow loosening of pieces of myself. After all, we’ve been experiencing firsts and lasts for over sixteen years on this wild yet exquisite journey we call parenting.

But somehow, these firsts and lasts feel so different. So final.

I know the letting go will hurt.

It hurts already.

The best comfort I have is knowing that our Father God once let go of a Son, too.

Our Great High Priest understands. He knows what is best.

I believe He will bring joy from this pain just as He brought joy from the pains of childbirth all those years ago.

For now, I will rest in that truth.

Jen :)

 

Let Go of Holiday Guilt: Stress-free Advent for Families

If I have to add one more thing to my to-do list in the month of December, I just might spontaneously combust. For real. Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the season of “Peace on Earth” and “Joy to the World” is also known for being the most stressful time of year?

The last thing we all need during the holidays is one more thing to add to the to-do list, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I want to be the mom who does all of the fun things – the cotton ball crafts, the handmade Christmas ornaments, the sugar cookies from scratch – and especially the mom who does the important things, too, like teaching our children why we celebrate Christ’s birth.

After all, what mama doesn’t want to give her kids a good Christmas?

But there are only so many hours in a day, and I’m weary of this holiday guilt before we’ve even really begun!

Honestly, until a few years ago, we had never really attempted any kind of advent for families other than reading the Christmas story from the Bible, mostly because I knew my perfectionist tendencies would make it a burden rather than a blessing, a duty rather than a delight.

After all, I’m a professional at making lists and checking off boxes, but I also find lists and boxes stressful because, let’s be honest, how often do we create a list of things to do today that will really take an entire week to complete? :)

So, if the program of advent for families involves complicated daily activities, I’m bound to get behind at some point: cue the holiday guilt.

Here’s the thing about guilt, friends – it is counter-productive. Guilt doesn’t motivate; rather it incapacitates.  The enemy knows this all too well, and he is a master manipulator, the king of guilt-inducing thoughts, man-made rules, and unrealistic expectations.

Yes, I want to teach my children about Christ’s birth and our family traditions, but not at the expense of experiencing Christmas joy.

But I’ve found a stress-free solution…

Join me over at my friend Sarah Ann’s blog, Faith Along the Way, to find out more about avoiding holiday guilt and a simple, stress-free advent for families (plus FREE printables!).

As the season fills with busyness, how you can possibly fit in advent? Here's a simple, stress-free plan for avoiding holiday guilt. Stay focused on the true reason for the season with this simple, stress-free advent plan for families.

 

Sharing with: Grace and Truth

To the Doctor Who Gave Us Options

“The heartbeat looks strong. The measurements are all within normal range. Um, I have to go get the doctor to discuss this with you…just a minute.”

Dear Doctor,

You once asked me what I was going to do. You had just finished telling me that everything would almost certainly be fine, that a large number of people have these cysts as adults and have no problems. The cyst that was growing inside our baby’s head was no reason for concern.

So I replied that I would discuss today’s ultrasound results with my doctor the next time I saw her.

“There are other options.”

In one breath, you told me he was fine – there was no cause for concern. In the next breath, you gave me “options”. You reminded me that many people don’t want to be bothered with carrying a baby to term if there is the slightest possibility of a problem, though you said there was no cause for alarm. You told me this cyst would have to be accompanied by any number of other issues for there to be a “problem”.

You offered me options.

To the Doctor Who Gave Us Options

That child, the one who had a cyst and no other accompanying issues, is turning twelve. His health is amazing, just as you said it would be. He had a CT scan done in his first year of life and the cyst was gone, as you said it likely would be.

He’s my second child, well-loved by his father and me, and he was welcomed to this world by his big brother. A little over two years later, he would become the big brother welcoming a little sister to the world. We have three children now, each one so very loved!

This guy had a very different temperament than our first son. My goodness! He ate, filled his diaper, cried, ate and slept. Until he was 7 months old and the sleeping stopped. Two hours of sleep became a luxury – a labor of love for whichever parent was letting the other one sleep. We tag-teamed the overnight hours, exhaustion was our new companion. Five months later he had a slightly better sleep schedule.

He failed the hearing test they do for newborns. Twice. At age one, I once banged pots together to see if he’d turn his head because he would not answer when I called him. The loud noise jarred him; he could hear.

He seemed defiant. He would do the same things over and over, even when we said “no”. It would be five and a half years before we found out that he couldn’t understand language.

He attended preschool and pre-K, thought it was not smooth sailing. We didn’t realize how much he didn’t understand. He spoke so well, carried on fun conversations, yet he lacked an ability to understand the meaning of words spoken to him.

He was challenging. He’d run away at the store, he’d scream about being confined in the stroller, he’d work on a plan in his mind – you could see the wheels turning. But we could never get him to tell us his plan – until he was almost on top of the fridge. Or until after he drew in Sharpie all over the walls.

He’s got a strong will. I mean – S T R O N G. We wouldn’t make any hard and fast rules for him unless we were willing to battle it out with him. If we gave in once, we’d have to start all over again and draw the line in the sand. It just wasn’t worth it.

School has been interesting – full of ups and downs. Therapy became a part of our lives in Kindergarten. I learned about sensory issues, brain development and functions. Asperger syndrome was added into the mix a few months later. An IEP – and all the legalities – became second nature. We learned how to deal with a “twice exceptional” child. Today he is a 5th grader who does work at a 6th grade level. And for the record, he has all A’s.

The first few years of his life were…difficult.

But there was always something about him. Maybe the twinkle in his eye, or the corner of his mouth that turns up just perfectly when he’s being mysterious. The impulses that we worked so hard to control often were rooted in love. He loved his family…and he wanted to show us that by drawing our family in Sharpie inside the bathroom cabinet.

Because of his intellect, and due to the many adults in his life, he’s had some wonderful conversations with his therapists, with family and friends. He’s dug deeper into his faith than many adults I know. He’s openly shared his faith with each and every therapist.

He’s learned how to play with kids his age and has gained some wonderful friends as a result.

And next school year they will be bumping him up to 7th grade. He goes to classes with his peers through a cyber charter school. He participates, he writes reports, he interacts, he sometimes talks out of turn, and he says funny things – just like all his classmates.

This will signify a massive “catching up” for someone who once tested at a kindergarten and 12th grade level in various parts of Language Arts.

Dear Doctor,

You gave us options that day. I’m pretty sure you felt that our life might be better spent without this potential problem, though you assured us that nothing was wrong.

I wonder how many moms have taken you up on various options. I wonder how many moms, years later, wonder if maybe they could have, should have, chosen differently. Chosen life.

Though our early years were so difficult, none of us would be the same without this child in our lives.

Dear Doctor,

Our son turns 12 this week. I wish you could meet him. I wish for you the opportunity to look deep into the face of someone whose life could have been an option.

I’d love for you to see someone who might not be worth the struggle.

I’d love to know how you would explain to him, or to me, how his life isn’t worth it.

The struggles we’ve been through with him have stretched us. They’ve flat worn us out.

And then the next day, we got up and we did it all over again.

Why?

Because we believe in one choice – LIFE.

We believe that God gives and takes life as He wills. It is not ours to decide when a life ends. You probably believe differently, and that’s your choice.

But, oh, I wonder how many might have had an experience like ours – if only they had been given hope…

instead of “options”.

This week we celebrate our second son’s 12th year.
And he’s been worth it all!

Rebekah M. Hallberg

Rebekah has been completely overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of the Lord in her life. He has proven His faithfulness in every area of her life, especially in her marriage. She has come to understand the power of redemption and God’s work in her own marriage. Her goal is to be Sharing Redemption’s Stories – encouraging wives who are praying for redemption in their marriage.

8 Secrets to Keeping Tweens and Teens in the Family

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare – losing connection with a child during those tough tween and teen years.  We see them making choices we don’t like, but they’ve isolated themselves to the extent that we no longer have room to speak into their lives.

How do we avoid this mistake?

How can we keep tweens and teens engaged in the family dynamic so that they stay rooted and connected?

How do we encourage independence without encouraging isolation?

I spent many years working with teens while my husband was a youth pastor, and I’ve noticed that those with healthy family dynamics seem to weather these turbulent years with much more ease. So when our own children reached the tween and teen years, we decided to be intentional about maintaining that healthy family dynamic!  Here are a few of our strategies.

8 Ways to Keep Tweens and Teens in the Family

1. Keep up the bedtime hugs and I-love-yous through those awkward tween years.

I remember around the age of twelve or thirteen thinking I was too old for bedtime hugs. So, I started saying goodnight from the doorway of the living room rather than going in to hug my parents.  This continued for several months until I began to miss those hugs. But by then I felt stuck.

Fast forward a few decades and I find myself in the same situation with our two oldest boys, one sixteen and the other ten.  Because we were intentional about asking our sons for hugs goodnight, our sixteen-year-old man-cub continues to do so. The ten-year-old imp is a little more reluctant, but he usually relents with a grin. Since I know he’s not the huggy type, I keep it brief for him.

As parents, we have to intentionally set aside any awkwardness in order to embrace our tweens and teens.

If we begin to act shy or awkward about hugging for real, then our tweens and teens will sense that and hold back, too.  But they still need those hugs.

We set the tone.

2. Guard the hearts of your tweens and teens by setting family rules for electronics, internet access, and phones.

We do this in our family in three practical ways. First, we limit the amount of time they are allowed to spend on personal devices such as ipods, Nintendo DSs, computers or tablets, and so forth.

The more time they spend engaged in their personal devices is less time they spend engaged with others.

Second, we have a rule that such devices…

To read the rest, follow me over to my friend Rebekah’s blog, Sharing Redemption’s Stories by clicking this link or the picture below.

It's every parent's worst nightmare - losing touch with your tweens and teens and seeing them choose wrong paths. How can we keep tweens and teens involved in family life during these tough years? 8 Secrets to Keeping Tweens and Teens in the Family