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

 

 

7 Scriptures for a Steadfast Heart

Steadfast.

The word brings to mind a calm assurance, an unwavering faith, and unchanging character. Steadfast is a gentle power complimented by humble quietness.  A steadfast woman is a woman at peace.

This is my desire, friends, to be a woman who is steadfast in heart, faithful to Jesus and to her family.  I want to be the kind of steadfast woman who is Christ-confident rather than self-confident, who utilizes the gifts He’s given not for her own glory but for His glory.

Steadfast.

Last year the Lord kept bringing to mind the word Persevere, and if you follow along with this blog or the BCOT facebook page, then you know why I needed that word! We’ve been through a season of turmoil and change that still hasn’t quite settled.

Yet in the midst of all the chaos, I’ve found a more confident faith.

I’m not just referring to the recent reminders that Jehovah Jireh provides for all of our needs, but also to the understanding that He directs our paths in ways that don’t always make sense. What I’m learning is to trust His voice rather than letting doubt seep in through cracks chiselled by the questions of others and by my own fears.

So this year, my One Word is steadfast.

If you want to walk through this year with a steadfast marriage, a steadfast ministry, or a steadfast faith, no matter what curve balls life throws your way, then this one is for you!  Use God's Holy Word to help strengthen your faith and give you confidence.  Becoming a Steadfast Woman

 

That word applies to so many areas of my life in which I wish to remain secure and consistent.

Personal faith

Over these past few years of writing and speaking, my faith journey has taken many unexpected twists and turns. As I continue to grow in Christ, I want a steadfast faith, one that remains consistent no matter what challenges life throws my way.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Ps. 51:10 (NASB)

I want to remain confident in that work-in-progress promise found in Phil. 1:6.

Marriage

Faithful readers will already know that my husband and I have faced significant challenges in our marriage.  However, the Lord has been faithful to see us through many trials and to help us see the progress along the way. I find that I don’t panic anymore when conflicts come.  I’m no longer enslaved by the enemy’s lies that our marriage will never be any different or that we might as well give up trying to change it!

“After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore you and make you strong firm, and steadfast.” 1 Pet. 5:10 (NIV)

Being steadfast in my marriage this year means that I won’t despair during difficult seasons, but I’ll have a calm assurance that we will come out on the other side not only intact but stronger!  It also means I’ll keep doing the good work of becoming a wife after God’s own heart.

Parenting

Lately, the Lord has been convicting me that we need to keep persevering in our parenting methods even though our children are getting older and more self-sufficient. I want to be a steadfast parent who stays the course rather than one who gives in to laziness. My job is not yet finished! :)

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Gal. 6:9 (NASB)

If you want to walk through this year with a steadfast marriage, a steadfast ministry, or a steadfast faith, no matter what curve balls life throws your way, then this one is for you!  Use God's Holy Word to help strengthen your faith and give you confidence.  Becoming a Steadfast Woman

Writing

Being steadfast in the area of writing means I will aim to be more consistent, and that I will obey that still small voice when the Lord prompts me to sit and write.

“This hope we have as an anchor to the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast, and one which enters within the veil…” Heb. 6:19 (NASB)

It also means that I will grow in confidence in the voice He has given me so that I don’t make comparisons or look for outside approval. My heart’s desire is to write for an audience of One.

Weight-loss Journey

(Sigh….) Many of you know I’ve been working toward some weight-loss goals since last year.  I only got rid of a little over 25 pounds, yet I persevered through injuries, illnesses, schedule changes, and the upheaval of changing ministries this past fall.  This progress was only possible through the power of Christ in me!

“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” Ps. 57:7 (NASB)

This year  I’m aiming for another 50 pounds gone, an average loss of a pound a week.  So, being steadfast in this area means I’ll keep plugging away at healthy eating and exercise while trusting the Lord to take care of the results.

Church-planting

Being steadfast as a church-planter means I’ll be secure enough to be a fool for Christ, willing to take risks because my faith is firm and my identity is secure.  It means I will keep doing the work the hard work, but I’ll trust Him for the results.

I can also be steadfast by pushing myself beyond my own comfort zone, especially when it comes to evangelism and by trusting the Lord to continue providing for our physical needs.

Is your faith steadfast? When the storms of life come your way, will your faith stand firm and strong, or will it crumble?  Do you wish you had more confidence as a woman of God?  Let these verse speak to you - 7 Scriptures for a Steadfast Heart

I want to be like the Proverbs 31 woman who does not fear the future but greets trouble with an unshakable faith (v.25).

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.” Isa. 26:3 (NASB)

As this year progresses, I’m excited to see how the Lord continues to use the word steadfast to teach me.

Will you choose to be steadfast this year?

Jen :)

Sharing with: Tell His Story

 

 

25 Family Fun Days (We Are Fa-mi-ly Series)

All month long here at Being Confident of This, we’ve been addressing the need for strong families, the kind that stick together for life, the kind that leave legacies for future generations.  If you missed the first few articles, I suggest that you check the schedule at the bottom to catch up.

As I mentioned in previous posts, family bonding should happen often and in a variety of ways!

One way that our family creates memories and solidifies bonds is through what we call Family Fun Day, an entire day devoted to quality time together as a family.  No joke – the fun must last until bedtime or the most literal-minded of the bunch will call the parents out. ;)

However, if you can’t fit in a whole day of family fun, try starting later in the day and carrying on the family fun until bedtime.  Something about going to bed with an emotional tank full of happy makes family fun day stick in the minds of your children.

Here’s some help planning out your family fun days!

25 Ideas for Family Fun Day

Free (or nearly free) options for Family Fun Day:

1. Bonfire and games in the dark

If you don’t have a fire pit, you can build one yourself (make that part of the family fun) or you can buy a portable one.  Be sure to have supplies for s’mores on hand and check out my Family Fun pinterest board for some glow in the dark games!

2. Fishing trip

It’s just my opinion that every kid should go fishing at least once in a lifetime. :)  But seriously, the quiet togetherness of fishing allows for some great conversation!

3. Family camping

Our kids love to camp! We don’t even have to travel far to do it because they most enjoy the experience of being together day and night, sleeping in tents, and cooking over the fire – simple and inexpensive family fun.

4. Outdoor fun at a State Park

Pack up a picnic lunch or dinner and head to your favorite state park or nature preserve.  Choose a few trails to hike or go on a nature scavenger hunt. You can easily spend a day at a large state park!

5. Family Game Night

If family game night is new to you, then you should read about our favorite games (categorized by age and group size) and how to host a game night with other families when you have young ones at home!  Our four children ask for family game night again and again – it never gets old for them. :)  I love the ideas on this pinterest board for creating a trophy for winners!

6.Winter outdoor fun

Sledding, fort-building, snowball fighting – you catch the drift (hee hee).  If your family enjoys competition, then add some challenges to this family fun day – who can create the most unique snow creature or the best snow obstacle course?

Nothing helps to keep a family close quite like spending time together and having fun. Want to create fun memories with your children? Try one of these 25 activities for your next family fun day or night! From the We Are Fa-mi-ly Series at Being Confident of This

7. Active family fun

Bike riding, trail hiking or walking, family sports (soccer, kickball, whiffle ball, etc.) – any of these work for getting your family active together.  Be sure to choose something all family members can participate in and enjoy. You can take turns choosing the next activity.

If you happen to be stuck indoors due to the weather, try something from this list!

8. Wii night (0r other gaming system)

Find several multi-player games to challenge each other on, such as Super Mario Bros. (Coin battle or free-f0r-all mode add a fun twist), Mario Kart, Wario Smooth Moves, Super Smash Bros., Wii Sports mini-games, etc.  If your family really enjoys competition, draw up a leader board and keep track of points to declare a Family Fun Day Champion!

9. Performance Night

This family fun night may take a little more planning or it may just evolve spontaneously.  Most kids love to perform, especially to a captive audience. When Dad and Mom join in on the fun, the night gets even better.  Schedule a line-up of group and solo acts – singing, plays, skits, puppet shows, anything that only requires a little creativity and leads to lots of giggles.

10. Beach Day/Swimming

Load up all of the necessities and head to a nearby beach or pool.  We usually pack a lunch and plan to spend a good portion of the day enjoying the sun, the sand, and the water. Be sure to build some sandcastles together and play some water games as a family.

11. Lego Challenge

A Lego family fun day is on my list of things to try.  If you check out my family fun pinterest board, you’ll find some great ideas for a lego-themed day.

12. Playground Hopping

In the summer, this one’s easy. Pack a picnic and scout out several playgrounds to visit. Perhaps you can even take a day trip to a city with a well-known or unique play area?  Playground hop until everyone is worn-out, then return home for family movie night!  Inclement weather pops up?  No worries! Just find some nearby indoor play places at restaurants or in malls.

Low-cost options for Family Fun Day:

13. Crazy Pinz/Bowling

In a bigger town near us, we have this place called Crazy Pinz, which often hosts family nights or cosmic bowling (gl0w-in-the-dark bowling). But it’s not your average bowling alley.  They also have indoor bumper cars, a huge arcade, and something called Ball-O-City – like big playground with these foam balls shooting everywhere!

Look for something similar in your area. Or, if you all enjoy the simple pleasure of bowling a strike, then stick to a regular bowling alley. :)

14. Mini Golf

Most mini  golf places also house arcades and some even boast of go-karts, climbing walls, and other fun options.  Nothing is quite as much fun as seeing one of the family members putt a hole-in-one, though!  And little ones make the day even more entertaining with their interesting putting techniques.

15. Laser Tag

Our family loves laser tag, probably because we tend to be slightly competitive. This active family fun day can be both competitive and team-oriented, however, since you usually compete against another group, but still receive individual scoresheets.

16. Paintball

Similar to laser tag except it takes place outdoors (not for young children) and is a little more painful.  We have not yet tried this as a family, but would like to!

17. Zoo Day

Large families should pay attention to membership prices because often a single visit for the entire family is close in price to buying a year membership!  Pack your own lunch and skip the souvenir shop to save more money!

18. Inflatable Fun

Find an indoor bouncy house attraction.  Most of these bouncy attractions offer inflatables for all sizes, so the whole family can enjoy time together.

19. SkyZone

If your family really likes to bounce, check for a trampoline attraction in your area.  Most of these offer a block of bounce time on various trampoline attractions – regular trampoline bouncing, trampoline basketball dunk, trampoline dodgeball, trampoline jump into foam pit, and so on.

20. Creation Museum (or another Children’s Museum)

Our four kiddos still talk about the time we went to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY.  We spent the entire day learning about God’s wonderful creation, and for our older sons, the experience was a real faith booster.  They still retain facts from the displays on Creation and use them to defend their faith.  If you have a large family, be aware that food items can be costly, but you can always pack your own!

We also enjoy the Indianapolis Children’s museum that isn’t too far from us.  Even our teenage son doesn’t mind going along.  This museum (and many others) offers several free days each year, so be sure to check before you make plans to go.

21. Family Olympics

Here’s another idea I found on pinterest for a family fun day that involves lots of fun and games.  Choose the games most appropriate for your ages and enjoy some backyard fun as a family!

Plan and save options for Family Fun Day:

22. Day trip to nearby attractions

Think amusement parks, dinner theaters, etc.  Look for savings on Groupon or Living Social!

23. Symphony

Not everyone enjoys classical music, but if your children are older and can handle sitting, you might find a themed night they would enjoy – like Star Wars or Disney.  Attending the symphony isn’t just good for family fun day, but is also a good cultural experience for kids!

24. Unique Restaurant

A restaurant with themed decor is extra fun for kiddos – think Rainforest Cafe or something similar. Since it’s not a restaurant you would normally go to, the day will automatically have a “special” air to it. Be prepared, however, as these themed restaurants are usually more costly than typical family dining.

25. Any Themed Day

This one doesn’t necessarily need to involve a lot of cost, but does require planning, especially if you need special decorations. Have a pirate day and search for hidden treasure in the backyard (scavenger hunt), or plan a family movie night around a specific theme.

The key is to incorporate as much of the theme as possible to make it a memorable night (pinterest is invaluable for planning these).

Now that you’re armed with a list of ideas, all you need to do is put a day or night on the calendar and stick with it!

Jen :)

Other articles in this series:

One way to build strong family bonds is to encourage healthy sibling bonds, also. This mom of three shares 3 tips for building strong sibling bonds.

What makes your family unique? What traditions do you cherish? Discover new ways to cultivate your family identity and strengthen your bonds. 9 Ways to Cultivate a Family IdentityWhile it's important to teach our children obedience and manners, how to play sports and succeed in school, the most important thing we can ever do for our children is to establish a foundation of faith. 4 Ways to Establish a Foundation of FaithStrong families don't happen by accident. Building a strong family requires a biblical foundation followed up with practical habits that build family ties. Does your family have these 4 biblical characteristics? Follow along in the We Are Fa-mi-ly series at Being Confident of This

3 Ways to Build Strong Sibling Bonds (We Are Fa-mi-ly Series)

This week I’m thrilled to introduce you to my friend Rebekah Hallberg, who is joining us as we continue on with the We Are Fa-mi-ly Series.

Becky and I write about similar areas of Christian Living, including faith, marriage, family, parenting, and so forth.  Once a month, I’ll be sharing over at her place, Sharing Redemption’s Stories, and she’ll be sharing here at Being Confident of This.

Be sure to give her a warm welcome by sharing this post around and leaving some encouraging comments! ;)

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This morning we woke up to a winter wonderland. The massive amounts of snow they predicted arrived overnight and we’re looking at anywhere from 18-30 inches before it’s all over. What I really want to remember from today, though, is that my kids are spending time together – and it is not just because of the snow. With kids at a wide variety of ages, it can be hard to build those strong relationships.

I want to share 3 ways to build healthy sibling relationships. Please understand, I’m certainly not an expert and my kids do not always get along, but I think that these tips are ones we can all agree on and share with our children.

One way to build strong family bonds is to encourage healthy sibling bonds, also.  This mom of three shares 3 tips for building strong sibling bonds.

3 Tips for Building Strong Sibling Bonds

1. Prayer

As our family grew, one thing my husband and I have done is to pray for our family – specifically our children and their relationships with one another. We realize that you cannot force people to get along, but prayer invites God to work in ways that we cannot. Unfortunately, prayer has not always been our first resource. We’ve tried taking matters into our own hands many times. I often wonder how much less stress we might have felt if prayer had been our first resource rather than our last resort.

I often wonder how much less stress we might have felt if prayer had been our first resource rather than our last resort.

What we’ve really learned with prayer, though, is that it’s about more than just us praying for our children. The times that have been a big blessing in the kids’ lives have been when they have prayed for each other. There is tremendous power when you genuinely pray for someone else; it makes it difficult to stay upset with them.  Praying for each other builds strong sibling bonds.

2. Prepare

This seemed basic to me when I first considered it, but I’ve come to find that it’s an important concept:

Do your kids know the expectation you have for them? Do they know that you want them to try to get along with their brother or sister?

Our kids need to know what’s expected of them. Just as we prepare them to sit quietly in church, or to behave nicely at a restaurant, we need to convey our expectations of their behavior with their siblings. Communication with them won’t guarantee a change of behavior, but it will instill those expectations in their hearts where we can nurture them and hopefully see them take root.

3. Practice

Ok, mamas, this is where it can get real. Real tough. Real dangerous. But maybe even real fun! You’ve prayed for your children and for the relationship among them, you’ve shared your expectation that they get along with one another, and now you need to reinforce that by getting them into situations where they can work on those relationships, those sibling bonds.

Some of the ways we’ve worked on this include games, books, and activities together. I’ll share a few of our favorites which all of our kids have enjoyed, despite a major age gap between the oldest and youngest.

Games:

Sorry! – This is a favorite because young kids can easily play. There’s no money involved, so they don’t feel frustrated with math skills that may not be fully developed yet. It’s simply some reading and some counting (which older siblings can {gladly!} help with), and a little revenge which keeps it interesting for everyone!

Bubble Talk – We heard about this game from my son’s Speech Therapist. It has quickly become a family favorite! We play that one person at a time gets to choose the photo to be captioned. The others choose a card from in their hands which they feel has the “best” caption for the photo. Young kids will likely choose the literal best caption, while older kids choose the card whose caption is best in the ironic sense.

HedBanz – This is similar to 20 questions in that each person takes a card and slides it into a hook on the headband. Then they have to ask questions about the card – is it a food? is it an animal? is it blue? – and try to guess the image on the card based on the answers given. I think we have the most basic edition of this game and we all enjoy it!

Books:

Here are a few of our family’s favorites:

The Narnia Chronicles – We read through the series fairly frequently, and I know the kids have each read these on their own.

Pilgrim’s Progress and Young Pilgrim’s Progress – I’ve enjoyed these books over the years and I’m glad the kids have come to like them as well. There are so many good truths packed into the stories.

Missionary biographies – I love that these books are easy to read, and tell such important stories of faith from many different periods in history.

Activities Together:

Cooking a meal – This one may require some adjustments based on the age of your children. We discuss a family-favorite meal and then each child is responsible for one portion of the meal. The oldest may boil & drain the spaghetti, heat the sauce & meatballs. The middle guy might make the salad and get all of the condiments to the table, and the younger may butter the bread and set the table.

Cleaning out the car – Maybe it’s odd, but my kids enjoy this! One child cleans out the front, another cleans out the back, and one vacuums. If your kids are older they can also wash the windows, wash the car, clean the dashboard, etc.

Do outside chores – in winter, one shovels the driveway, one cleans off cars, and one shovels the sidewalk. In spring, one mows, one moves all the outdoor furniture and one helps to weed the flower bed.

Spending time practicing what is expected of them gives them the opportunity to learn in a safe, nurturing environment. It also allows us, as parents, to point out specifically what we mean when we say, “You need to get along with each other”.  Thus, spending time together is essential for building strong sibling bonds!

It’s been a blessing to watch them grow as we’ve worked together to foster their sibling bonds! I hope these ideas, simple as they may be, will spark some ideas for how to foster sibling relationships in your own family!
Rebekah M. HallbergRebekah 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 people’s lives. Her goal is to be Sharing Redemption’s Stories – spreading the good news of God’s mercy and grace to a world in need.

9 Ways to Cultivate a Family Identity (We Are Fa-mi-ly Series)

You might know a family like them, the ones all decked out in team gear for Sunday’s big game. They root together, sharing the joy of a win or the sting of a loss. They’ll be talking about the game for days.

Other families you know gather for family dinner every Sunday or vacation together every year.  Some meet for midnight openings of long-awaited movies or run every area 5K together. Some even serve alongside each other for their favorite cause.

It’s just part of who they are as a family, part of their family identity.

Strong families know who they are and that they belong together, no matter what their individual differences.  If you want to build strong family bonds then you need to encourage and cultivate a sense of family identity in your home.

Here’s how:

9 Ways to cultivate a family identity

1. Clarify your family values.

Each family has its own set of values to focus on, and those values contribute to the family identity. When family members are certain of the rules and values established in the home, they feel safe and secure. On the other hand, failing to clarify values paves the way for confusion and chaos in the home.

Values guide us when we make important choices. Values teach us who we are and what we stand for.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)

What values lie at the core of your family life?  How do those values impact which activities you choose to participate in?  How do your family’s values guide your children in life situations?

2. Emphasize traditions.

Traditions give children a sense of belonging, and not just to the current family unit, but even to previous generations.  For this reason, celebrating traditions encourages the family identity.

How do you celebrate birthdays, holidays, and other special events?  What do you do to mark the first or last day of school?  Do you bake Great-Grandma’s special cookie recipe together?  Is Friday night pizza night?

Even everyday traditions become part of your family identity.

You probably already have traditions in place even if you don’t realize it, but you can always add new ones, too!  Emphasize the traditions you have. Draw your children’s attention to them and explain the significance of why you do the things you do.

What makes your family unique? What traditions do you cherish? Discover new ways to cultivate your family identity and strengthen your bonds. 9 Ways to Cultivate a Family Identity

 

3. Keep photo albums or scrapbooks.

I’ll never forget my Grandma’s bookshelf filled with photo albums.  I believe she had over 20 albums full of family photos, a treasury.  At Christmas every year, the aunts and uncles and cousins would pull out the albums and look through the physical representation of all our childhood memories.

Even as an adult, looking through photo albums is one of my favorite things to do!

Pictures remind us of who we are, where we came from, and what we’ve been through together – an important aspect of family identity.  They show us that our littlest boy has Daddy’s nose and our oldest has Grandma’s chin.  They document the progression of our family through time, the different places we’ve lived or visited, and the friends who have come and gone.

Memories are important to family identity!

4. Serve together.

Many families find part of their identity by rallying around a cause or a way to serve the Lord. Since I’m married to a pastor/church-planter, we are a pastor’s family.  We work together to prepare for and host church events and to serve our community.

It’s just part of our family identity to work together.

If your family has a heart for animals, then consider serving at a local shelter. If you’ve experienced cancer, perhaps participate in a cancer prevention walk. Whatever need or cause your family can rally around helps to cement family identity.

5. Support one another.

We have a rule in our family that whenever possible, we will all attend each other’s events. Obviously in a family of six, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. But for the most part, we go to soccer games, baseball games, plays, band concerts, and awards days together.

It’s important for siblings to feel supported by each other in addition to the support of both parents.

Although our middle son doesn’t always enjoy his older brother’s band concerts, he certainly enjoys having his brother watch his own soccer games. And as a parent, I love to hear a proud, “That’s my brother!” (or sister – whatever the case may be). :)

Be a family that celebrates each other. Make that an important part of your family identity.

6. Play together (or periodic random chaos).

Families that have fun together usually have a strong sense of family identity because they genuinely enjoy being with each other.  Our family loves to tease, whether with words or poking or pillow fights.

Sometimes when our teen is upstairs (or when Dad is in the bathroom), I’ll get the younger kids together for an ambush.  We wait quietly with koosh ball guns and nerf guns until the target makes an appearance and a war ensues. It may only last for 15 minutes or so, but it gets everyone laughing together.

Make laughter and playfulness part of your family identity by being silly together whenever possible!

7. Encourage common interests.

One way to develop your family identity is to teach your children to love similar things.  For example, my husband is an Indianapolis Colts fan, so we root for the Colts in this household.

You may not enjoy sports, but your family might enjoy music, or crafting, or watching old movies, or playing games, or spending time in the outdoors.

Find common interests that you can enjoy together as a family.

8. Give conversation a chance.

Our kids love to talk. I have to admit they come by it honestly with two parents who are also talkers. :) But when we are really busy as a family, we don’t have time to really listen to each other.  I’ve noticed during those times that we deal with a lot more negative behavior.

One thing we do as a family is to eat supper together at the table nearly every evening of the week. Even during sports seasons, we will eat early or late if at all possible. Eating supper together gives us a chance to talk.  The more we talk together, the more we learn about each other, the better our family identity.

Find a time to set aside for good conversation.

9. Spend time together.

Out of all the ways to cultivate a family identity, this one is perhaps the most important.  Spending time together is instrumental in forming close ties, so there is no substitute for quality family time.

Set aside one night a week or a couple of nights a month for family game night, or go play a sport together. Schedule a family fun day by devoting an entire day to family time.  Your kids will love it (and they will hold you to the whole day, so be prepared)!

One of our favorite ways to spend quality time together is to go on family vacation. Family vacation creates fond memories that are unique to us, which is key in cultivating a family identity.

Are you concerned about finances?  Your family vacation need not be expensive nor extravagant to accomplish its purpose. In fact, you don’t even need to leave home to set aside a few days for family time!

If you haven’t already put some of these tips into practice, I hope you’ll do so soon!  Cultivating a family identity is just one of many valuable ways to strengthen your family bonds.

Come back next week for another installment in the month-long We Are Fa-mi-ly Series!

Join in me in scheduling some family fun?

Jen :)

Other posts in the We Are Fa-mi-ly Series:

We Are Fa-mi-ly: 4 Biblical Characteristics of Strong Families

Establishing a Foundation of Faith (We Are Fa-mi-ly Series)

 

Establishing a Foundation of Faith (We Are Fa-mi-ly Series)

Last week we began the We Are Fa-mi-ly series here at Being Confident of This, so be sure to stop by the first post in the series if you missed it!  Today we’ll be discussing how to establish a foundation of faith.

While it’s important to teach our children obedience and manners, how to play sports and succeed in school, the most important thing we can ever do for our children is to establish a foundation of faith.

If we think of a family as a home being built, then think of personal faith in God as the foundation of that home.  Parents who aren’t well-rooted in faith will struggle to pass on an understanding of the Word, as well as biblical family values.

4 Ways to Establish a Foundation of Faith

1. Talk openly about your faith, even when you struggle.

Certainly, we can’t and shouldn’t tell our children everything we go through in life.  Some things simply aren’t appropriate to share with them.  However, parents are often afraid to show any sort of weakness or doubt, especially when it comes to their personal faith.

The truth is, our kids already know that we aren’t perfect.  They can see it for themselves! Thus, a foundation of faith depends on parents who exhibit and encourage authentic faith…

I’m sharing the rest of this article over at my friend Rebekah’s blog, Sharing Redemption’s Stories.  She and I share a burden for struggling marriages and families, and we’ll be working together this year to bring you quality content related to living out the Christian Faith.  Once a month, she’ll be sharing here at Being Confident of This, and once a month, I’ll be sharing over at her place.

Read the rest by clicking the picture below!

Jen :)

While it's important to teach our children obedience and manners, how to play sports and succeed in school, the most important thing we can ever do for our children is to establish a foundation of faith.   4 Ways to Establish a Foundation of Faith

 

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