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How to Encourage your Children to Dream

They’re all asleep in the back seat.  I wonder what they’re dreaming.

How to Encourage Your Children to Dream

My Aeralind: quiet and determined to try.

How to Encourage Your Children to Dream

My Bronwyn: growing into a strong leader.

How to Encourage Your Children to Dream

My Sedryn: an engineering problem solver.

What will the Lord call these three little ones to pursue with Him?

More importantly, how can I prepare these little ones to pursue Him and the dreams He has for them? While in pursuit of my own dreams, am I taking the time to encourage theirs?

I’m not the best at this, I know, and I imagine I’m not the only dreamer who struggles to lead her own children.  So I’m going to compile a list of habits we can practice to encourage our children to pursue His dreams for their lives.

How to Encourage Your Children to Dream

Click here to finish reading this post over at God Sized Dreams

Dear Mom Teaching a New Skill,

I know the mess. Dear Mom Teaching a  New Skill-2

Whether you’re potty training the strong willed two year old.  Or helping the 3 year old measure cookie ingredients. Or letting the 4 year old sweep the kitchen.  Or showing that 5 year old how to run a tube of jersey under the sewing machine to make a skirt for a doll. Or teaching that elementary school child how to read.  Or that reckless teenager how to drive and respect authority.

Dear Mom Teaching a  New Skill-1

It’s a mess.  You could do it yourself so much quicker.  

You could sound out that word for them and save half an hour.  You could get it all into the dustpan all at once rather than sweeping up after a half finished job. You drive to the store on autopilot while listening to an audio book rather than stomping imaginary brakes in the passenger seat.

Don’t give up.

You may have never set out to be a teacher, but motherhood made you one.  And the more of these skills you spend time teaching, the more prepared your child will be for the next skill he/she will have to learn.  The more reasonable expectations your place on the child to continuously complete and improve the skill you’re teaching,  the more prepared they will be for their own journeys.

Dear Mom Teaching a  New Skill-3
 After all, that’s apologizing skill learned best through constant modeling.

Life is full of work.  Your child needs to learn this and find joy in a well completed job.

You might be learning this joy yourself as you chuck the dirty underwear in the trash can and empty your purse of every wet wipe you have with you.  Or as you watch half of the dirt make it into the dust pan for the first time. Or as you see your child sound out the word “read” instead of guessing “rat” for the hundredth time. Or as that teenager manages to break smoothly for the first time.

And at night when you slump exhausted into your pillow, thinking about the pill of fabric scrap from the doll cloths sewing adventure waiting to be cleaned up in the morning.  Smile.  That very exhaustion is the joy of motherhood.  The sign of a job well done.

Dear Mom Teaching a  New Skill-4

Smile remembering those proud smiles and their triumphant voices: “I did it, mama!”

Well done, mama.  Joy is yours.


(Images in the post taken by Aeralind and Bronwyn while mama tried to slow her racing heart from both little fingers too close to the needle and my livelihood in a 4 year old’s hands.)




Dear Weary Mom: Your Work Matters

Dear Weary Mom,

You’re making the 2058th  peanut butter (or almond or soynut or sunbutter) and jelly sandwich and wondering if anything you do matters at all.

Mom with peanut butter and jelly

Everyday everything you do seems undone or consumed like the sandwich there on the counter.

There’s still food on the floor under the table despite sweeping.  There’s still a Lego or two threatening tender feet.  There’s still the crock pot to clean and refill before heading into work the next morning.  There’s still the pile of clothing overflowing the basket: whether it’s dirty or clean.

And, as you ask the little people whether they want their sandwiches cut into triangles or rectangles, you sigh deeply in defeat.

Pure Simple Outdoor - Greenville SC Newborn Photography-2

Can I whisper a secret?  You really do have value outside of the check marks on your to-do list.

No one else could mother your children the way you do.  No one else gives them that special goodnight kiss.  No one else says “I’m sorry.” quite the way you do when you fail them again and need to apologize.  No one else knows which child likes those sandwich triangles better than the rectangles.

Pure Simple Outdoor - Greenville SC Newborn Photography-3

The bulk of your work is invisible because you’re leaving indelible marks on tiny hearts.

So ignore the mess on the floor.  Ignore the unchecked boxes on your to-do list.  Neither of these things give you value.

Hold your head high when someone asks you “So what did you do today?” and tell them the truth.

“I shaped the next generation with my service, my actions, and my love.”

Because you did.

And that’s the best check box you can complete each day.

Tips, Packing List, and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping Trip

So we went on a camping trip a couple of weeks ago.  We stayed at Dreher Island State Park and took a day trip to the lovely Riverbanks Zoo. Tips, Packing List, and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping Trip I mentioned this trip on Facebook and few folks wanted to know what we packed and what we ate.  So the following is a group of tips followed by a couple links to download the simplest packing list ever and a sample menu plan for the weekend involving minimal cooking. I promise one thing: you’re about to laugh at our bravery and our stupidity in taking 7 kids under age eight on this sort of adventure :)

Tip # 1

Make sure you get to the campsite before the sun sets. Tips Packing list and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping Trip

Tip # 2

If you don’t heed the above advice make sure that you have set up your new tent in the daylight before you try to set it up in the dark.  Not all tents work like your old double.

Tip # 3

If you ignore tip # 1 & 2 make sure you have adequate light and glow sticks to entertain the kids.

Tip # 4

You can forget any number of things with little to no consequence on a camping trip. Your lighter/matches and your cooking pot are not items with little to no consequence.  Although a bowl makes a pot in a pinch. Tips Packing list and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping Trip

Tip # 5

Two year olds don’t nap well on camping trips… even in the car.  Be prepared for this kind of crabby: Tips Packing list and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping Trip

Tip # 6

Two year old males who napped just a little become slap happy and will do anything to get the 3 girls in his tent to laugh.  Including pulling his legs up over his head and tooting loudly while singing silly songs. Tips Packing list and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping Trip This too late and too short car nap was our undoing…

Tip # 7

The thought that the kids will all fall asleep and you’ll be able to enjoy nice fireside conversation with the other adults is pretty much ludicrous when camping with 7 under eight years old.  Dropping that expectation before you leave would be a very good thing. Tips Packing list and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping Trip

Tip # 8

Being as close to water as possible is highly advisable.  Children love water.  You will get quiet adult time if there is water involved.
Tips Packing list and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping Trip

Tip # 9

Camping with another family crazy enough to do this… makes it so much easier (and crazier in the best way).

Tip # 10

Somehow going camping in early June meant we avoided 99% of the bugs.  The other 1% were ants and spiders and a giant 2″ bug: none of which bit us.

Tips Packing list and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping Trip

Tip # 11

Count on the kids to find something amazing.  Deer, osprey, boats, minnows, heron, killdeer (a bird), and the aforementioned 2″ bug were all found by kids.


Tip # 13

If it’s going to rain all day long: head to the zoo.  Stir crazy kiddos in tents with you all day… not likely a good thing.

Tips Packing list and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping TripTips Packing list and Meal Plan for your First Family Camping Trip

Click Here to Download a Basic Car Camping Packing Checklist.

Click Here to Download a 2 Night Super Easy Meal Plan.

Close: 5 Five Minute Friday

I’m joining this week with Lisa-Jo’s 5 minute Friday: a community for those who love to write.  It’s been a few months since I did any writing just for the sake of writing… so I’m jumping in again with these ladies.


I feel him moving close, right up against my hand.

He moves away to the window, trying to escape.  I chase him.

He’s scared of me.  I’m scared of hurting him.

We dance this little dance in my kitchen with the three little ones squealing and watching on from behind.

Finally, the gold finch takes one last desperate flight toward the window and stuns himself.

I scoop him up nearly weightless in my hands.  Hold him down close so that the three can see.

He’s panting and squeaking.  Wild eyed.

I walk outside with him and release him to fly.  He looks at me stunned.

Gold Finch

Motionless there on the towel.

He’s holding a wing at an awkward angle.  His beak open; his eyes wild.

I place him in a box and gather some seed and water.  I text my husband about finding a rehabilitation center.

Shoo the kids back to their lunches to let him calm down some in the box.

We check on him after lunch.  I reach my hand in to give him the seed and off he flies.

The chase is on again.  His heart beating and his body thrashing in the towel close to my palm.

The kids whisper good-bye.  I hold him out again and this time he flies.

It’s when we’re broken, when we’re scared, that’s when He’s holding us close. He’s just waiting to see when we’ll notice Him there.  His large eyes full of compassion that we may feel the confidence to do what brings Him glory.