My Favorite Family Read Alouds {For Cold Winter Days!}

three boy read book indoors

We love to get lost in books around here. I’m always on the hunt for titles to read to my whole crew…and I mean my whole crew. With four kids spanning the ages of thirteen down to six, I have to keep hunting for books we can all chew on and sit still for. We love to cuddle up on couches, on the floor or under the covers with big cups of tea and a great story. It is really the sweetest moments we make together. As the cold weather gets colder, we need this time more and more.

If you’re looking for books to warm the hearts in your home too, here is my list of favorite Read- Alouds that children (and adults) of every age will find captivating!

1.  A Wrinkle in Time- I used to imagine myself into this family as a child. Meg and her brother Charles Wallace must search for their father through space and time in order to save him and the Universe from a deep blackness. This book awakens something new in my soul every single time I read it.

2.  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle- This sweet lady has a  very unorthodox (ahem) remedy for every childhood ill you may be facing in your home. If whining, not sharing, laziness or bickering ever pop up in your house, you may have found a new favorite too! It has been the best way I have found to address bad manners in our home and we never read it without a complete giggle fit.

3.  Little House on the Prairie- I become captivated by the daily life and immersion into a childhood on the prairie every time I read this book- and the recipes are amazing! This series always makes my children count their blessings, want to bake and imagine just a bit more.

4.  The Chronicles of Narnia- I  cry every time we read this series. It is an allegory to our faith and world view, but it is also literature that awakens the best of our character, our longing for valor and courage to be real in our lives and quite literally opened up a whole new, quite cherished, world to our family.

5.  The Railway Children- This was one of the most pleasant books I have ever shared with my children. Three siblings loose their father to a false-imprisionment and head to the English countryside to live a simpler life, finding a sheer love for the railway and all those connected to it in their vicinity… and end up solving a mystery too!

6.  The Mysterious Benedict Society- Four very gifted and out of the box children are called upon to rescue their town and become under-cover agents for the Mysterious Mr. Benedict. My children are captivated by the adventure in this story and I love the loyalty and comraderie of the characters.

7.  The Saturdays- Four siblings in turn of the 20th century New York City determine to pool their allowance and each take a Saturday to do what they have always dreamed of. Each chapter highlights a respective adventure that is beautifully woven into the whole of the story of this family. It is lovely!

8.  The Burgess Animal Book- Peter Rabbit discovers his neighbors and gives you a naturalist’s education as you read and truly get to know the characters of the forest well. My children ask for this one again and again and even with higher language use, my little ones are in love and learn so much!

9.  Mr. Popper’s Penguins- This was my favorite as a child and I was so thrilled to read it to my own children. They loved the story of Mr. Popper, the unkempt house painter, his special Antartic penguins, and all their shenanigans, just as much as I did.

10.  The  Trumpet of the Swan- This is the story of a boy and a swan and the latter’s migration and struggle to be reunited with his family, all the while he overcomes an inability to “talk” learning to play the trumpet. This book made us laugh and learn and soak in the seasons all at once.

11.  Understood Betsy- Betsy is a frail girl who is sent to live with relatives on a farm in the country. They gently spur her to independence with love, extraordinary faith in who she truly is, and by requiring more of her than she thinks is possible. She soon begins to find her own inner strength and fortitude and leads young readers to do the same.

Ok, now it’s your turn! What is one {or more!} of your favorite read alouds? My library basket is waiting!

Blessings,

Kristen

www.hopewithfeathers.com

Hope for When You’re Raising a Strong Willed Child

I have a general disdain for being told what to do, and that’s the way it’s been since I was a little girl. I can take care of myself and make my own decisions, thank you very much. I also have the keen ability of finding myself in conflict, especially when something triggers my sense of righteousness. And I can also engage in a battle of words without ceasing and desisting until I’ve won.

Oh yes, I am what the experts like to call strong willed and what mommas liked to call “trouble” with a capital T.

There’s nothing fun about feeling like “trouble” nor finding yourself in the middle of it . . . all the time. It’s not like I choose to be this way. Neither did my daughter. She can match my strength and determination inch by inch. Her passion to stand up for the oppressed, her determination to persevere through a challenge on her own, and her skill at arguing a point, are all manifestation of her God-given gifts — her strength — but unyielded to God can leave a wake of destruction in her path. Yes, she often finds herself in conflict and feeling condemnation about it, too.

The problem in being strong-willed occurs when God-given strength is not yielded to the Lord for His glory. {click to tweet}

So how does a strong-willed person learn to yield? Moreover, how does a parent of a strong-willed child endure the battles while training the heart submit to the Lord?

Hope for When You're Raising a Strong-Willed Child

No doubt, raising a strong-willed child can be exhausting. It’s an endeavor that requires much prayer and perseverance in the pursuit of holy sanctification and heart-changing transformation. But it’s also a privilege, because within that child is a young person who has the potential to impact the world for the glory of God in powerful way.

She’s not strong willed. She’s a young woman who has yet to discover her leadership potential.

He’s not stubborn- hearted. He’s a man of honor who has yet to discover the impact of humble servant-hood.

Our strong-willed children still need to discover how they are wired so that they know how to use the gifts and talents God has given them.

 

Hope for Raising Strong-Willed Children

Training up a child who is wired with such strength demands equal commitment in going through the trenches with them. May these steps give you ways to find hope, help, and a healthy perspective as you get into the trenches of parenting with them:

1.  Change the Label

There’s nothing worse than being identified as strong-willed, or any other similarly negative label. While it may be truth, it points to the behavior rather than a Christ-centered identity. So skip the public or private “strong-willed” identifier in favor of calling out their God-given gifts and potential. Casting vision for ways they can use their yielded strength in leadership positions, career opportunities, and relationships. In the midst of conflict, affirm their God-honoring behavior. Praise their humility and the times they yield. Cheer for them to continue to exercise self control.

2.  Seek God Daily

It’s impossible to parent in your own strength, so devote daily time to connecting with God, being in the Word, and yielding your heart in prayer.  Pour out your heart before the Lord on behalf of your child, asking for wisdom and discernment to know what to say, when to say it, and how to respond in each situation. And ask the Holy Spirit to lead as you combat the emotions triggered by your child’s behavior. {Here’s a great guide!}

3.  Respond with Truth and Grace

Your child needs to be reminded of the truth of Scripture, but if emotions are escalated, it’s probably better to skip the lecture, threat, or insistence on behavior change for the moment. Offer grace through giving space in order for emotions to settle down before addressing the heart issue. Ask the Lord to work in their heart while working in yours as well during the cool down period.

4.  Use Questions for Everything

A strong-willed person hates to be told what to do and they almost always want the last word.  Whenever possible, use open ended questions to give your child the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. (This is the art of life coaching and why being trained as a coach was so beneficial to me). For example, “Would you like to finish your homework now or after dinner?” Offer a question while making a decision for them, such as “Yes, you can have a sleepover on Friday night, but this will be the last one until after break, or you can pass on this sleepover and arranged one for the first weekend next month.”

5.  Don’t Go It Alone

A collaborative effort is most certainly helpful and beneficial in raising a strong-willed child, so don’t be afraid to connect with your a mom-mentor, your child’s teacher, a pastor, or a counselor for insight and perspective. You don’t need to go at this alone!

You’ve been called by God to be the mom of a strong-willed child, even if you feel unqualified and overwhelmed. He is with you. He is your strength. May you parent this precious one on your knees knowing that God is at work accomplishing His purpose in their life.

Blessings,

Elisa Pulliam

moretobe.com & elisapulliam.com

blending beauty with grace | #thebeautybalance

I’ve been diving right into this 31 Day Writing Challenge, where each blogger chooses a topic to write about for 31(ish) days. Because it’s right where God has me, I’ve chosen to share on Blending Beauty with Balance.
(#thebeautybalance, if you want to follow along…or better yet, join the conversation using the hashtag!)

It’ll be a fun and encouraging 31(ish) days where I’ll be sharing tips and tricks while digging deeper, finding purpose, and blending beauty with balance — all with a heart of intention. {all 31(ish) Days will be linked here}

 a Mama and her little daughter lie on the grass

I tend to ponder so often about the message I’m putting out there on my blog and YouTube channel with all this beauty, makeup and fashion talk. And I confess that I have truly been in the trenches over this deep longing to know just how to live and share a life of beauty with balance.

And while it’s true that beauty, style, and fashion can make life a little more fun (I mean, can we just talk about the giddy joy in finding a fabulous shade of lipstick?) …what brings an even greater joy to my soul, is living that beauty, and knowing that the beauty we delight in is truly a reflection of our Creator.

But, I didn’t always see it this way, and I haven’t always had this sort of outlook when it comes to beauty.

I still remember the day I found out I was having a daughter, that day when I heard those four little words that brought tears to my eyes and a panicking fear to my heart, “You’re having a girl.”

And as we walked back to the car from our appointment, I grasped my husbands hand and whispered to him my greatest fear… “How will I keep her from becoming like me?”

For so many years up until that day, I had been struggling — drowning might actually be more like it — in placing my value and worth on what I looked like on the outside. And every time I looked into the mirror, I saw someone not good enough. Not beautiful enough. Not thin enough. And ultimately, not worthy enough.

These lies I believed to be truths caused me to turn down social invitations and withdraw from friendships where I just didn’t feel enough, or felt too embarrassed of the package I had to present. Instead it seemed better to be home where the only judgement I had to endure, was my own.

But on that day in that doctors appointment, when God knew what I needed better than I did, I realized that I had no choice but to finally choose the path to healing. And I had to get uncomfortable, even more than I already was, in order to really yank out the roots from the weeds of lies I’d allowed to take over my mind.

And on the day when Chloe was born, while I still had so far to go, I found myself finally in place where beauty no longer defined who I was or what I was worth.

It’s a journey, and I am imperfect, and I still have many moments of struggle.
But, the only difference is, I refuse to stay in that place.

And it’s those precious moments when I watch my sweet little girl sitting at my vanity, playing with my makeup, that I realize more than ever, that as women, mamas, and mentors, we have such a great responsibility to teach these little ones the truth about beauty.

And when I hear her ask me if I think she’s beautiful, I want nothing more than for her to know that her beauty is so much more than what she will ever see in the mirror. That true beauty is being adorned from the inside out, making every effort to blend beauty with grace, ultimately reflecting Him in all that we are and in everything we do.

And it’s when we ourselves believe and live that truth with devoted intention, that those little eyes and hearts watching us, will long for and understand the beauty God intended for us all to be and to live in all that we are and in everything we do.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

We are His poem and His masterpiece.
I pray with all my heart that we live this, and more importantly, that we pass it on.

xo,

Summer
www.summersaldana.com

The Mommy Guilt Cure

hugging mother and daughter

It was one of those really bad parenting weeks for me.

You know the ones I’m talking about. When our patience runs thin, our tone of voice loses it’s softness, and we react with emotion rather than with grace and intention, and it’s literally all we can do to just get through the day and make it to bedtime.

And yet, just when we finally get that moment of peace, silence and solitude, it’s loudly interrupted by the overwhelming emotions of mommy guilt and shame. And every memory of every mistake we’ve made throughout the day haunts our hearts and minds, and we’re certain we’ve ruined our children forever.

{I keep using the term “we”…I think because it makes me feel better to assume I’m not alone in weeks like this….ha!}

In the midst of this particularly tough parenting week, I found myself writing out my heart in the pages of my journal, which often times ends up being a lengthy heartfelt prayer to the Lord. And there I was, confessing my sins and selfishness before Him, asking for mercy and compassion, and hoping with all hope that despite my shameful behavior that week, He would still see my honest hearts desire was to be something completely different. And that, in his grace and mercy, perhaps he could keep my children from hating me and being screwed up all due to my numerous parental mistakes over the years. And…amen.

Just a couple nights later, as we were going over our foster care questionnaires with the kids, Taylor, my 9 year old son, out of the blue asked if we could maybe foster or adopt someone with a different color skin.

“Because, ya know, I just want them to understand that it doesn’t really matter what color we are on the outside, it’s really just about our hearts and how we are on the inside.”

Then he added… “But let’s just see if we can only get someone who has been teased a lot about it, so we can show them that not everybody is like that, ya know?”

And when I asked him if he wanted a boy or a girl, he responded, “It doesn’t really matter, it’s really just whatever God wants for us.” Then when I asked him what foster care would mean to our family, he very matter of factly stated, “It means we will have to work really hard to teach them about the Lord.”

As you can imagine, I was just about near a puddle of tears right there on the floor beside him.

You see, this child saying these wise things, tends to be what many would consider my Strong Willed one, or better put, the Child With Strong Leadership Skills. He’s the one that I’m pretty sure grows my gray hairs and deepens my premature fine lines and wrinkles. And yet, just when I think I have no idea what I’m doing or wonder how I can possibly mold and shape the children God has given me, this child busts out with a whole bunch of stuff Jesus would say and do.

And I am so completely humbled.

My goodness, doesn’t it seem as though the ones we love the most humble us the most?

I mean, how on earth with all the parental messing up I have done, could my children have ended up with hearts like that?

And it was in this treasured moment, that I knew the Lord was showing me just how much He truly does work in spite of us. And those moments where we mess up and we don’t seem to be measuring up to the parental standards we may have set for ourselves, God steps in and with all his love and mercy and grace, He fills in the cracks. He takes the brokenness and makes it whole again. And His ways, His works, His miracles are so much more powerful and life changing than our attempts at perfect parenting will ever be.

And so, we have to keep that truth close to our hearts always, especially because I get just how hard we can be on ourselves when it comes to the area of raising these sweet (most of the time) little souls.

And that truth is: Our God is sovereign, and his grace and mercy never fail.

“We try, We fail.
We trust, He succeeds.”
-Corrie Ten Boom

Blessings,

 Summer Saldana
SummerSaldana.com

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