Category Archives: why

Dear Lydia,

Today we had a first.

We spent most of the morning on the couch in our pj’s. We read lots of books and made a craft. Then I had to look up some phone numbers up on the internet and make some phone calls. You stayed next to me and played with your craft box and read. In between phone calls you looked at me and said, “I want to change clothes.” I shrugged and said, “OK, when I’m done, we’ll change.”

A minute later you were quite agitated and said, “I want to change clothes!”  And then you blurted out, “I’m hiding something from you! I’m hiding something from you!” You said this with your hand covering a part of your pajama pants. I thought maybe you had gone to the bathroom or drawn on your pants. Then I saw a tiny hole.

“Lydia, did you cut a hole in your pants with your scissors?” I asked.

You just nodded with tears in your eyes.

The dots all connected for me and I tried to speak gently, “And you were trying to hide it from me? That’s why you laid on the floor to read? That’s why you asked me to change clothes?”

Another nod.

I caught you up in my lap and had you sit face to face with me. “Lydia do you know the 2 things you did wrong?” I asked softly. You nodded in the affirmative again. “You cut your pants. Which you know you’re not supposed to do. We only cut paper. Then you hid it from Mommy. You shouldn’t hide anything from Mommy. Do you know what that’s called?”

You just stared at me.

“It’s a lie. And lies make Jesus so sad. They make me sad.”

This whole time all I could see was your sweet contrite face. And all I was thinking was, “Should I discipline her? What do I do?!”

So, I finally said, “I’m not going to punish you. We’re going to pray and you can ask Jesus to forgive you…remember our F verse? ‘He forgives all our sins.'”

You were really crying now and did not want to voice a prayer to Jesus! So, I prayed for us instead. I thanked God that you had such a tender heart that even in the midst of sin, you chose to do right.

This whole time I was still frantically wondering, “Do I punish her?!” I finally decided that instead of changing clothes I was going to make you wear the pajamas until it was time for us to go out later tonight. You were horrified. You were crying and crying, pointing at the hole in your pants, “I don’t want to wear these!”

You were so sincere and so remorseful. I honestly tried not to smile because you were so beautiful. And I said, “This is what we’re going to do. Let’s take your pants off and we’ll throw them in the trashcan, ok? This is just what Jesus does. When we ask him to forgive us, he throws our sins away and never remembers them.”

It was a long walk to the trashcan and you held my hand tightly the whole time. We threw your pajamas away. Never to be seen again. Just like your sin.

Lydia, I know you won’t remember this day. But I hope you remember this: that Jesus loves you. He takes your sin from you when you ask. And he dresses you with new clothes. (Isaiah 61:10) He sees you as his perfect daughter.

Just as I do.

love,
Mommy

amanda-sig-3

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Yep. The Letter Y.

I had to get away from the letter X as soon as possible. So, we didn’t do much with it. Yesterday we started the letter Y. And *sigh* I like it much better. I’ve got all kinds of stuff rolling around in my head for it.

Anyway, we did a simple Y craft…yellow construction paper, yarn (almost yellow) and a hole punch.

Have you ever tried punching holes in the middle of a paper? It was actually easier than I thought. I just folded it along the Y line and punched into it–making a double hole and quite easier to sew…

I picked Matthew 5:14 as our verse: “You are the light of the world”. It’s a hard one for a 3 year old to understand…especially when our I verse was “I am the Light of the World.” But even if Lydia doesn’t “get” it…this verse really hit home for me. Yesterday was one of those, “OMG, how am I ever going to be a good parent day.” Lydia was whiny, Asa was needy and I was selfish. I just wanted to get on the computer and hide from parenting and housework.

And as I tried to explain this verse to Lydia I realized that *I* was not being a very good light to my world. Lydia is with me 24 hours a day. And just like she is learning to clean the same way I do, color like me, speak like me and play like me; she’s also learning about Jesus from me. I have to let my light shine every second of the day so that SHE can see it.

When I was a children’s pastor, I understood this concept for my church kids–if they saw me at the movies and I was going in to see a rated R movie, I wasn’t being a great example of Jesus. But as a parent—this idea is magnified a hundred fold! With every eye-roll, aggravated sigh and short response from me, I’m teaching her to do the same.

I want her to see Jesus in me. NOT see ME in Jesus.

Oh, Lord, help me be a strong light for you in my little world!

amanda-sig-3

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Christmas Gift Guide

My daughter has only had three Christmases and I am already sick to death of PLASTIC toys. Why don’t grandparents think money in a college fund is a fun Christmas gift? *sigh* Well, if the thought of Toys R Us makes you cringe, here’s a gift guide I think you’ll like.

I’ve compiled CDs, DVDs and books that I’ve actually listened to/read/watched. And they are all products that I consider impress-your-kids-worthy. These are items that will help you instill God’s Word into your kids’ hearts. Songs that introduce your kids to Jesus. DVDs that promote Godly characteristics. And books that tell stories you can use as springboards for conversation.

I’ve linked to the actual item (most of the time) so you can go ahead and get that credit card out. And I tried to link directly to the author or artist’s site so you can get to know them, too!

DISCLAIMER: The quality of these products are just my opinion. If something they do/say is opposite of what you believe…well, don’t use it. And don’t come crying to me blame me.

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MUSIC

Little Praise Party by Yancy
Yancy is one of my personal bff’s. But I’d love her stuff even if I didn’t know her. She’s passionate about children, about worship and about the Lord. This album is filled with old and new songs that will have your kids dancing and singing!
Recommended Ages:
preschool
(also, Yancy has Rock N Happy Heart and Loud & Clear for Elementary kids and lots of other CDs for the whole family, too!)

And some old skool music…

Psalty
Yes, he’s a big blue singing songbook. Yes, it’s a little cheezy. But guess what? Kids’ music is kids’ music. You might want to listen to your very own playlist, but kids actually like KIDS’ music. Shocking, I know. And Psalty’s music is quality. All of his CD’s are full of scripture & solid Bible teaching. When I watch Lydia dance around and sing, “Make me a servant, humble and meek.” or “God is great. God is good. He kept His promise like He said He would.” I get excited!
Recommended Ages:
preschool to early elementary
My fave:
Kids Praise 4, Kids Praise 5

Donut Man
He was wiggles before grown-men-singing-kids-songs was cool. Lydia absolutely adores the Donut Man. Every song is either a scripture (complete with reference) or a Bible Story. We only have two of his CD’s but watch the shows on our local Christian station. Even though they were made in the 80’s Lydia loves them as much as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and JoJo’s Circus.
Recommended Ages:
preschool to early elementary
My fave:
Donut Forget Bible Songs Volume 2

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MOVIES

The Very Fist Noel
I discovered this one last year on accident. And what a find! It’s told all in rhyme, narrated by Andy Griffith and music is by a Hawaiian choir. One of the most creative DVD’s I’ve seen for kids in awhile. Plus the story is really good (with the exception of the Wise Men actually being at the stable…). Lydia watched this EVERY DAY in December last year. This is a must for your Christmas collection!
Recommended Ages:
the whole family

Baby Faith
You know Baby Einstein, right? Well, this is the same idea only with Bible stories. The best part of these DVDs is the puppets—mainly because one of my actual friends made and performed them!! Not to mention the narrator is the voice of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Jodi Benson! (These DVD’s are not to be confused with Baby Praise. The same idea, but in my opinion, not as fun.)
Recommended Ages:
babies and toddlers
My fave:
God Made Me, God Made Animals, God Made Christmas

Hoop Dogz
Fun cartoon DVD from the makers of Doug and JoJo’s Circus! Each one is based on one of the Ten Commandments. Cute, funny and high quality. Great for girls and boys.
Recommended ages:
elementary kids

Angel Wars
Action-packed CGI shows that remind me of Power Rangers and YuGiOh (or whatever is popular like that now…). I’ve actually only seen the first one but it was really good and all the boys we showed it to thought it was AWESOME!
Recommended ages:
older elementary kids

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BOOKS

Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones I cannot say enough about this book. My review is here. I really think every family should own this book. Seriously.
Recommended Ages:
the whole family

Peek-a-Bible by Tracy Harrast I can’t seem to find a link on any online bookstores to this whole series. There are several (I know, because I found a ton of them on paperbackswap.com). I randomly found one at Easter last year and another one at the library when doing our “S” verse. I think they are “meaty” enough while still being fun. If your kids are into the Spot books or any of the lift-the-flap books, they will love these!
Recommended Ages:
preschool to early elementary

NIrV Bible
This is the Bible version I recommend for elementary aged kids. It’s from the NIV, which is a very trusted version. It’s on a 3rd grade reading level (the NIV is 8th, NLT is 6th and the KJV is 12th). I like it because the verses still sound similar to what you might know, but it’s just broken down in smaller sentences. (Here, compare Romans 6:23 in the NIV and the NIRV. Good, right?)
Recommended Ages:
kids reading at or below a 3rd grade reading level
My fave: Super Hero Bible

If you are buying this for a child who is actually going to be reading it himself, make sure you choose a style (there are tons in this version!) that is NOT in columns. Columns are sometimes confusing for kids to read. Regular printing from one side of the page to the other is much easier for young kids to read.

DandiLion Rhyme Books by Dandi Daley Mackall
I’ve only read two of this series but I LOVE them. The stories are full of open ended questions that point to God’s love for us. The illustrations are modern and super-creative…they are a story within the story. I would read these every night if Lydia would let me…and she usually does!
My fave:
When God Created My Toes and God Loves Me More than That
Recommended Ages: all ages

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BOOKS for OLDER KIDS

Passages by Paul McCusker
Awesome Biblical fantasy by one of my favorite authors.

Dragon Keeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul
Fantasy a la Lord of the Rings. But a little more kid friendly and overtly allegorical. I really like these!

The Christy Miller Series and The Sierra Jensen Series by Robin Jones Gunn
If your girls are already thinking about boys and dating (uhm…HSM, anyone?) this is the series for you! An absolute must!

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The Stuff You Need To Love If You Want To Go To Heaven

(That’s what my husband always says…) Anyway, these are things I consider a MUST for every family. These are the products that help you talk about God while sitting at home or walking along the road. These things facilitate conversations when you lie down and when you get up. When you talk about them and have them playing in your house, it will be the same as putting them on your door frames. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
I honestly can’t put into words all the things God has spoken to me through these books. I’ve learned about apologetics, creation, baptism, forgiveness, sacrifice and heaven. Please take the time to read these together as a family. You will love the conversations that follow. Also, the Radio Theater versions by Focus on the Family are a-maz-ing. Great for car trips!
Recommended Ages:
the whole family

Adventures in Odyssey
Some of my best memories are listening to Adventures in Odyssey while driving down the road on vacation. Or listening to them before bed. Or while I was cleaning my room. Or well, just about anywhere. AIO are radio dramas about a small town full of zany characters. Each episode teaches a godly principle and is just plain exciting! Click here to read more about it.
My fave:
All of them! And guess what? You can listen online and on your favorite radio station, too!
Recommended Ages:
the whole family

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I encourage you to use this list to help leverage every opportunity to show your kids the love of God. The more you talk about it, the more you read about it, the more you watch it, feel it and show it, the more real it will become to your kids. God’s love and His Word will be IMPRESSED into their hearts. I hope these products help you with that—with your highest calling!

Happy shopping and Merry CHRISTmas!

(hey, did you see The Housewife’s Holiday Gift Guide?
Don’t forget to check her out! Thanks for linking to us, Jo-Lynne!)

(and yeah, obviously, this works for me!)

amanda-sig


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Show and Tell

Lydia and I have been doing our “abc verses” for several months now. And with each new letter, it was easy to review the letter before. Well, for about ten letters or so. Any more and Lydia would get a little bored with reciting and honestly, I couldn’t remember all of them!

We usually display the letter and verse of the week in an inconspicuous spot in the living room. But what to do with all the other verses? I wanted them out where we could review them. But good grief, where do you hang 26 pieces of construction paper? So, I decided to bite the keep-her-room-cute bullet and display all of them  in her room. And of course, we made a craft project out of it!

I grabbed a few clothespins (which I usually have for keeping frozen veggie bags closed), the few paints I own and paintbrushes cut up sponges.

We ripped open a Trader Joe’s bag for a dropcloth and begain to paint. Well, sponge paint.

Lydia was beyond excited about this. She could have done it for hours. We only painted one side of the clothespins. We didn’t even make them super cute. It was just about the experience! Although, I did bust out a few rainbow clothespins and even a wordless book clothespin.

However, her favorite part was washing her hands in the bowl of water I used to rinse the sponges out.

Once the clothespins were dry this morning (Lydia insisted they were dry last night but I made her wait), we attached a few ribbons to the back of her door and clipped up our masterpieces.

I have to admit, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing thing you’ve ever seen. But, looking at all those papers reminded me of all the time we’ve spent together talking about God’s Word. It reminded me of the things I really want to instill into my kids’ hearts.

As we hung up the verses, we reviewed each one. And I was impressed (yes, impressed!) with how many she really really knew. There were a few she couldn’t say but mostly she could say them all by herself! God’s Word is growing in her heart!

YAY, ME! Yay, Lydia!

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The Reluctant Rainbow

***updated with pictures***

We’re still on the letter “r” and have said our verse about 3000 times, we’ve read about Noah’s ark & his rainbow. We made rainbow bread. But I wanted to do a real rainbow craft. Most of the ones I found online were so sunday-school-ish and none of them really did anything for me. I was actually thinking about finding some prisms and just playing with those!

But yesterday I needed to do the dishes. Not as in pack them in the dishwasher…but as in actually DO them. Because our dishwasher BROKE. I’m not happy about it. I can hardly keep up with a dishwasher, much less handwashing!

So, I needed something to entertain Lydia while I attempted washing the dishes. I drew a rainbow on a piece of paper. I labeled each bow with the correct color (Roy G. Biv, you know?) then pulled out construction paper for each color. I ripped up some of it into squares (a la EJ’s letter “a”) and pulled out a little glue (I put it in a muffin cup with a qtip for spreading).

I did one square of each color for Lydia. (As smart as she is, I didn’t think she’d be able to read it.) I told her to keep adding pieces of paper to the right color until the rainbow was all filled up. Then I stepped into the kitchen (merely feet from Lydia) to do the dishes.

She worked for a minute or two, tearing paper and gluing. Then she called for me and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

I was surprised. What 2 year old doesn’t want to play with glue and tear paper? I walked into the room and saw her rainbow. It had 2 giant pieces of paper glued to the rainbow. Not a small little square. She couldn’t tear them as small as I could.

So, I sat down with her and tore enough paper for the whole rainbow. We took turns gluing squares onto our rainbow. She matched the colors perfectly and was enjoying every second.

Finally, I decided she was getting it. I walked back into the kitchen to do the dishes and in just a few minutes I heard, “Mommy! I don’t want to do my rainbow anymore!”

And that’s when I figured it out. It’s not about the craft. It’s not about the verse. Or the letter of the day. Or the “fun” I had planned for her. She certainly didn’t care about it.

Lydia doesn’t want more stuff to do. She wants interaction and love and attention and affirmation from her Mommy.

All these activities are just a vehicle impress my daughter. A way to show my daughter God’s love and His Word.

There are times, of course, when she does art by herself. There are times she needs to do things alone and explore for herself. To become independent.

But our rainbow craft reminded me of what I really want. To impress my daughter—not with my housekeeping skills or my ability to multi-task or juggle several blogs—but to impress her with God’s love. I want the few hours we spend on God’s Word to be times Lydia remembers (at least in her subconscious!) as filled with love.

And now I’ve got the perfect excuse to not to the dishes.

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Impressive, no?

OK, these impressive puns could get old. But I gotta tell you, I’m impressed with my daughter.

Like I mentioned, we watched Veggie Tale’s Queen Esther dvd in honor of the letter Q this week. Lydia loves all things princess. So, I knew this movie was going to be right up her alley.

(sidenote: Even though I’ve always loved Veggie Tales, we haven’t been big Veggie Tales watchers because sometimes I think they are confusing for her when she doesn’t know the Bible story first. I mean, vegetables dressing up like the Wizard of Oz to tell a fractured version of The Wizard of Oz/The Prodigal Son? Even I get confused!)

Anyway, Lydia has fallen in love with Queen Esther. We’ve watched it at her request every day since! It is beating out JoJo’s Circus, so that’s saying something! (I sing JoJo’s theme song in my sleep!)

We’ve been talking about the show as much as possible because the underlying message is courage–being brave because God is there with you. Well, this is exactly what Lydia has needed to hear. She is very shy and timid. We’ve even had to do a little “discipline” because of her shy behavior (she can manipulate with it and will even pretend to be shy to her family, etc.) I know she is actually apprehensive about some situations, so we’re just a litte lost about what to do with it.

A few weeks ago I was telling my friend at church about her behavior and she said, “Has anyone ever told Lydia she was shy?” I said, “Uh yeah, like a few 100 times.” She said, “You need to tell her she’s brave. If someone says, ‘Oh, she’s shy.’ Say, ‘Oh, no! Lydia is brave!'” I literally slapped my forehead and said, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

So, for about a week or two we’ve been talking about how Lydia is so brave. This morning, I walked by Lydia while she was eating breakfast and watching Queen Esther. She turned to me and said excitedly, “Esther is not going to be afraid!”

Which was the perfect segue to what we did this morning…Lydia was invited to a Bring A Friend day at a ballet class. I knew she’d love it but would also be a little shy. I didn’t want her melting down and refusing to come off my shoulder while the other girls played and danced. So we talked about how Lydia was going to be brave at ballet class.

Then after getting dressed and kissing Daddy good-bye, she said to me, “I’m going to be brave like Queen Esther!”

And look who had the best time at ballet—not one tear, no whining or clinging to Mommy:

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What We Usually Do

Each week, here’s what I try to do. I’m not “homeschooling” her every day or anything. I just try to integrate our verse & letter into about 3 different activities across 3 different days. If I actually get all 3 of these things done I feel VERY VERY accomplished. Each post following this one will showcase one or more of these segments:

Day 1:

First: Find a Verse

We read the verse from the Bible, write it down on paper and then repeat it a few times. I try to pick verses that actually begin with the letter we’re focusing on. That doesn’t always work. Some verses are inappropriate for a preschooler…

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— ofr your love is more delightful than wine.” Song of Solomon 1:2

or they just don’t mean much…

“Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself.” Deuteronomy 23:12

I want to put scriptures into my children’s hearts that will be helpful to them (DO NOT BE AFRAID!) or that show some great quality about God (GOD IS LOVE!).

I usually look at the New International Reader’s Version first. It’s on a 3rd grade reading level and is in short sentences. However, I also use BibleGateway.com to look at several versions, in case something is written a little bit easier (or to make it start with our letter!)

Second: Go to Starfall.com

This is seriously my favorite thing ever. It’s a free site for parents and teachers. It’s got all kinds of computer “games” that teach letters and reading. The ABC portion is so cute. You click a letter and then it goes through all sorts of words that begin with that letter–they’ll show pictures, animations and even games. But the best part is it says the letter’s sound every time you click. I love listening to my daughter repeat the sounds with every page.

Third: Find a craft

I try to find a picture or craft that can be on our same Bible verse page. We display it all week…mainly so I can remember to say the verse with her. So, we’re not talking big honkin’ craft here. Just something more than coloring is all I’m after. We’ve done stamps, fun foam, feathers, yarn…whatever just happens to be laying around the house. Seriously, I have NEVER bought anything for this crafty endeavor.

There are tons of great sites out there. You can view them all on my sidebar.

Fourth: Letter Recognition
I usually print a Capital & Lowercase letter and let Lydia trace it. I found a great site that has the printable letters with the directional arrows on each one. Not that my daughter uses or understands the directional arrows. But still, it’s fun for her.

The tracing of the letters, the computer game, craft and Bible verse MAY take us a half an hour to a full hour. It’s not structured. I don’t make her do the craft the way I want. (Wait till you see the elephant she made for E. yikes.) It’s just about introducing the letter and saying the verse as many times as she’ll do it!

When our crafts and coloring sheets are done, we hang them up in the living room. She loves looking at her “abc verse” all week…especially if someone comes over, that’s the first thing she wants to show them.

Day 2: Activity

I try to find something else to do that goes with our letter.

C? Are you making chicken for dinner? Let your preschooler help.

A? Going grocery shopping? Let your son pick out three things at the store that begin with A. (uhm…apples, apricots and artichokes)

K? Go fly a kite!

E? Tivo a show about elephants.

F? Make an American Flag from tissue paper and let your child display it in their room.

Just whatever I can find online, remember from doing as a kid, or can just make fit into our letter.

Day 3: Library Books

We go to the library and look for books that begin with our letter. Or are somewhat about our letter. Or about the craft we did.

For example, the letter A; I found books about Johnny Appleseed. Then I just searched our card catalog for anything that had to do with apples. For B, we got Berenstain’s B Book. For C we looked for books about cats and caterpillars. For E I found Elmer the Elephant. You just have to search around.

Hope this helps! Please leave comments or questions!

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