Love, Affirm, Pray

The more we show our children how valued and loved they are, the greater our opportunities for creating rich experiences with them will be.  When they know they are loved unconditionally, they will trust us.  When they trust us, they will allow us into their lives.

Our children are bombarded by the world daily.  They hear false messages, they are made to think their value is based on what they do or don’t do, their self-image is often created from fashion magazines and pop culture.  To be a kid or a teenager today is so hard.

When our children are with us, they should feel loved and accepted simply for being themselves, based on nothing they do or don’t do, how they look or don’t look.  They need our love.  The world will not love them like we do.  We can grow strong, confident children by pouring our love into them.   Pouring our hearts into their hearts.

We can tell them repeatedly, “I love you no matter what.  No matter what you do, my love for you doesn’t change.”  We can model to them the love Christ has for us.  Unconditional love.  Start a tradition of letting the last words from your mouth every night be, “I love you no matter what.”

When our kids have the opportunity to hear someone other than their parents speaking their praises, it can make a big impact.  How many of you had an influential teacher in your life?  Teachers spend more hours of the day with our children than we do oftentimes.  When a teacher is able to point out a strength in a child, it has the ability to encourage that child to try much harder in that area.

Our school year wrapped up a couple of weeks ago.  Awards Day left my husband and I in tears as we listened to the teachers speak about each of the children they were able to influence.  Our older two boys were completing kindergarten and second grade.  As we listened to the awards each of them received, and the words spoken about them, we were unable to hold back our tears.  They said things about our boys that we thought only we had seen in them.  Of course, we recorded each of them receiving their awards, and I have replayed them at least 10 times.  Each time wondering if it penetrated the hearts of my boys like it did mine.  Did they hear what others noticed about them?  Did they understand that the good was noticed and it did matter.  Did they hear?

The words spoken about them were so special I wanted them to be remembered forever.  I wanted the boys to have access to those words anytime they needed a little bit of encouragement.  So I spent one evening playing back the awards over and over in order to write down the speeches exactly as they were delivered.  I printed them onto cardstock and gave them to the boys.  I have a special binder for each child to hold special letters and cards they have received.

Have you captured a memory or a moment in time that you want to write down as a reminder?  Maybe it wasn’t an award, but another parent commenting on a character trait they observed.  What if we wrote down these compliments and stored them in a journal for our kids?  They could flip through them whenever they needed to be encouraged.  We can take these special moments and preserve them for our children.

We all need to be affirmed.  Though we want our children to be humble, we also want to provide encouraging reminders of the good they hold inside them.  We can love them, we can affirm them, we can preserve other’s affirmations for them, and we can pray, pray, pray.

We can pray that the positive traits that are being recognized will continue to develop and mature.  Then we can watch God’s workmanship as He molds and shapes our children.

Artwork Treasures

My boys are constantly drawing me pictures or writing me notes.  Their sweet pictures are precious to me, and I hated them being stuffed into drawers and boxes.  I wanted the boys to know that their time and effort to create something was appreciated and loved.

I also wanted their creations to be organized in a way we could continue to enjoy them together.  (One thing you will come to learn about me is that I LOVE organization.  When my world is ordered rather than chaotic, my creative juices flow a little more freely and I’m able to create more moments of life to enjoy. )

I decided to organize and store their creations using a 2 inch vinyl 3 ring binder.  I made divider sections for each year by age.  Next, I filled the binder with their sweet treasures.  Now that their artwork is in a binder, they can thumb through it anytime they like.  And I can look at it and see how much they are growing based on their drawing and writing.

I love having these memories in one location.  I love that my boys and I can sit down and look at their pictures together.  I love that I can show the boys how special their drawings are by giving them a special home.  I love the many moments and memories we can share together reflecting on their creations.

And the winner is…..

Congrats, Jen Hunt!  I hope you and the girls enjoy some fun with this.

Wishing everyone a memorable Memorial Day Weekend!

Would a $50 gift card kickstart summer for you?

As a grand opening of sorts for Barefoot Walks, I will be giving away a $50 American Express gift card to a lucky commenter.  Use it to bless someone in your life, use it for a family vacation or outing, use it however you desire.

What is Barefoot Walks you ask?  Step on over to the menu pages at the top of the page to read About Me, Why Barefoot Walks, and Traditions.

Barefoot Walks is all about the journey to create moments, memories, experiences, and traditions with your family.  It’s about recognizing the moments that are right before our eyes.  It’s reaching out and grabbing them before they slip away.  It is a journey, a walk, we can take together to inspire and encourage one another.  It’s a step at a time.

This walk is not just for those of us in the child rearing stage of life or just those of us with children.  Grandparents, aunts and uncles, empty nesters, we want you to take this walk with us.  This stroll is for anyone who desires to create moments, create memories, capture hearts, and invest in the lives of the ones they love.  When you invest this time, you are providing security, stability, acceptance, and strength to the individual, which they will carry on to their own families one day.

Barefoot Walks is an attempt to help you (and me) focus on the joy in the moments we are given.  Focusing on the simple things, the beautiful things this life has to offer.  Joy is all around us.  Joy is a choice.  Even when life looks messy, beauty is there, waiting to be discovered beneath the mess, dusted off, and beheld.  You will be my accountability partner.  I promise to be genuine, truthful, and authentic with you.  I can’t write from the heart if I’m not living it out.  I fail time after time.  I mess up constantly.  Thankfully, there is grace and mercy from our Heavenly Father.  And though I feel unworthy and ill-equipped to write or to inspire, the Lord has laid it on my heart.

Through Barefoot Walks I hope to encourage you in your quest to spend time with your loved ones.  Therefore, I vow not to post something that will take you 30 minutes to read.  I will not fill your inbox with more resources than you have time to muddle through.  I want you living, experiencing, creating, loving, and making the most of every single moment our Lord gives us.  I will try not to post more than twice a week, unless you beg for more of  course 🙂

My prayer is that my blog will not become a distraction to your moments.

So, let’s take a little barefoot walk together, shall we?  Each step along  our walk leaves a footprint.  Our footprints create a path to a legacy.  When we reach our destination, we can look back on the richness of the moments in our past with a sense of peace and satisfaction rather than regrets and sadness.

It’s never too late to start your barefoot walk.  Let me repeat:  It is never too late.  Even if you have adult children.  Even if you have grandkids.  It doesn’t matter.  We all have moments in our life to behold.  We all have people who love us and we love back.

Ok, so let’s kick it off.  Here is the nitty-gritty:

In order to qualify you must :  leave a comment AND include which of the following you participated in with link backs.  If you do all, you increase your chances!

  • Post on your Facebook page and become a friend
  • Tweet this and follow me on Twitter
  • Pin this on Pinterest
  • Subscribe to BW via email subscription
  • Post on your own blog with a link back to Barefoot Walks
  • Send an email to your friends sharing Barefoot Walks
  • Be the second to comment and you are entered for 2 chances (my comment doesn’t count 🙂
  • Be the last to comment and you are entered for 2 chances

You can leave your comment on any post I’ve posted or any page (About Me, Why, etc).  You can leave any comment you like or you can comment on your favorite summer memory or tradition to this post.  Don’t forget to include which of the above you participated in with the links.

How many chances in all could you potentially have? 8!!  Comments must be submitted by 11:59pm Thursday night.  Winner announced on Friday.

Memory making on the cheap

Summer provides a great opportunity for creating memories and experiences with your family for little to no money.  If you spend a little time scouting and planning, you can plan some really neat activities that would typically be too costly to partake in.

Lego Monthly Mini Model build

http://stores.lego.com/en-us/StoreEvents.aspx  (Ages 6-14)

I can’t wait to surprise the boys with this FREE outing.  My boys love Legos, and they love visiting the Lego store.  However, we don’t visit too often because it only creates a want in them that can’t be satisfied.  This will be a fun way to make a couple of trips to the Lego store AND walk out with a toy AND spend no money.

Regal Summer Movie Express

http://www.regmovies.com/specialvalues/

$1 G and PG movies every Tuesday and Wednesday through the summer.  Our boys love going to the theater, but we rarely go simply because it is just too expensive.

AMF Free Bowling for Kids 

https://freebowling.amf.com/

We signed up for this a couple of years ago, and it was a blast.  I would highly recommend this if you happen to live near an AMF.

Library Summer Reading programs

We love these.  The boys love reading anyway, but the excitement escalates as they fill in their reading chart knowing a prize is on the horizon.  It’s a great way to keep your kids reading through the summer.

Restaurant Kids Eat Free nights

I really love these.  Many restaurants allow 2 free kids meals with each adult purchase.  It is a great way to treat your kids to a night out to eat.  Plus you beat the weekend crowds as most programs are during the week.

Pool, lake, or spray park. –

We live in the Charlotte area and have a few of these spray parks nearby that are free.  When my boys were younger, we took advantage of these a lot.  Although they don’t believe they are too old for them, I’m scared they would accidentally take down an unsuspecting 3-year-old!  So now we just find a nearby soccer field that is watering the grass and let them go!

These are just a few ideas to get you started!

Overwhelmed at the thought of searching out ideas and planning them out?  Follow these tips:

  • Block out 1 hour of planning time-One hour of planning will save hours of frustration when you are in the midst of summer and running out of ideas.
  • Do a quick google search to check locations and dates of what you are interested in
  • Make a master list of all ideas that are appealing to your family
  • Sit down with the kids and allow them to help pick out their favorites
  • Make a summer fun calendar together
  • Add your selections to the calendar to make sure they actually happen

Happy Summer Planning!

Friday Night Chicken and Rice

 

Photo courtesy of Campbell’s Soup 

5 months pregnant with our first child, I sat on the bleachers watching my husband play in a church league softball game.  I was captivated by the interactions of the teenagers taking place in front of me on the bleachers.  To begin with I was impressed that on a Friday night they were at a church league softball game.  These teenagers stood out, they were different.  Comfortably they carried on conversations with the adults surrounding them.  They were the teenagers you watched in hopes that you would be so blessed one day.

Entering the scene was a nice looking teenage boy.  The greeting he received from the group on the bleachers was evidence that he was liked by all.  But what struck me was the beginning of his conversation with his friends.  As he bounded up the bleachers, one of the girls said, “Where were you tonight, why didn’t you meet us out for dinner.”  His reply, “Sorry about that, but it’s Friday night.  Friday night mom makes chicken and rice, and I never miss that.”

Wow!

The squeeze in my heart tightened as I thought about the little baby boy growing inside of me.  Would he choose to hang out with us over his friends on a Friday night?  How would we create an environment to compete with the world he would be bombarded with?  What exactly did his mom do to make Friday night Chicken and Rice so spectacular?  I wasn’t even that great of a cook.  How would I do it?

Over time the Lord revealed to me some key lessons that I endeavor to learn.

  • Relationship–  it’s key.  If you invest in the relationship now, you are laying the foundation for your relationship down the road.  Do you spend dedicated time together?  Do they feel loved and accepted?  Do they know that you love them unconditionally despite their failures and shortcomings?  Relationship means everything.
  • Time–  do you make time regularly to be together.  Is that time spent doing what they want?  During that time do they feel valued and loved?
  • Prayer- this is the gold nugget.  Prayer changes things.  Prayer will change the heart of a child.  Prayer will change the heart of a parent.  Prayer clears the path for a rich relationship.

I hadn’t thought about this memory for many years until we were with friends about a year ago and their son triggered the memory.  One of my best friends prepared a delicious mexican feast of tacos for us.  Her son, Jack, walked in the room and said, “What are we having for dinner?”  Stephanie replied, “Tacos.”  Jack’s response revived that squeeze in my heart I felt 8 years before when he said, “But it’s not Taco Tuesday.”

You see Jack’s family created a tradition of having tacos every Tuesday.  A simple meal enjoyed together each week.  They knew what to expect, they longed for Tuesday to come.  Acceptance, belonging, security, and love were wrapped in a taco shell.

It’s the little things.  It’s the simple things.  It’s the just doing it.  It’s the deciding to do something, to create something.  It’s making a footprint.  It’s building a legacy.

One small step

 

When it comes to our family histories or our current family situations, we all start from a different place.  No matter your past, you have the ability to change the future for your own family if you so desire.  Maybe you don’t need to do anything different from what you grew up with, but you feel that you are failing on doing as well of a job as your own family did with you as a child.   You want to create the same relationships with your children that your parents created with you.  Or you want to create better relationships with your kids than what you grew up with.

Life today is different from even just one generation ago.  More distractions, a busier lifestyle, and a faster pace of life make it more difficult to carve out time and space to really connect with our loved ones.

I love Nike’s “Just Do It” motto.  If you want to do it, it’s simple, just do it.  Well, we may not always feel capable of just doing it.  Life can be more complicated than we would prefer at times.  Though you may not feel that you can “just do it” in making a change in your family, you can just do something.

  • Set a goal–  What is your goal?  The most succesful people in making positive changes in their lives are goal setters.  Not only will they set a goal, they will write it down.  Studies show that when we write down our goal, we are exponentially more likely to accomplish that goal than if we don’t write it down.  It is important to be realistic  with your goal.  Set a goal worth setting, but don’t make it impossible to reach.  With each goal reached, you can always set a new goal.
  • Be intentional–  You know you want to create moments in time that your family will treasure.  So you must be intentional with your time or your time will vanish into thin air before you realize it.  Make a plan for what you want to do with the time you will carve out.  Figure out how you can carve out the time you want.  Does your family regularly eat on the road between activities and you desire to have regular family meals?  Look at your calendars and schedules, determine what can be eliminated or shifted around, make your goal the priority, and make it happen.
  • Act on it–  You’ve set your goal, you’ve intentionally carved out the time and made your plan to achieve your goal.  Now act on it.  Put it into action.
  • Take one small step everyday- You can’t reach your goal overnight, and you shouldn’t try.  When we are impatient in the process of reaching our destination, we often will become frustrated and throw our hands up thinking it is impossible to make the change.  But if you take one small step every day, you will be amazed when you reach your goal and look back on  all that was accomplished.

My oldest son just completed 2nd grade.  One of his nightly assignments was to read 10 pages.  He is a lover of books, so I thought this would be a breeze.  Until our schedules kicked into full gear and he was exhausted from a full day of school, chores, activities, etc.   However, he remained diligent to read nightly.  At the end of the year the teacher handed out scrolls to each of the children to show them how many pages they read over the entire school year.  Each child was blown away by the results.  They couldn’t believe that reading a simple 10 pages a day, could amount to thousands of pages collectively.  One student read 5,800 pages!  My son read 1,302 pages and was so proud of himself.  What  a great lesson for them to learn so early that when we set our minds to something and act on it daily, great things can be accomplished.

One small step a day.  Given time you will reach the top of that stairway, grab ahold of your goal, and realize it was worth every small step taken to get there.

Resources for goal setting:

http://www.goal-setting-guide.com/step-5-write-your-goal-down

http://family-life.familieswithpurpose.com/setting-family-goals/

http://blog.mysanantonio.com/stepfaniebishop/2012/05/creating-summer-goals-for-your-family/

Resources for being intentional with your family:

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.aspx?ID=%7BD016C451-E6DE-443A-A32D-BC038A2AA02D%7D

http://www.hiphomeschoolmoms.com/2012/04/being-intentional/