Love Story

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Helping your child develop a servant's heart

This is a typical scene in our house: I call my 3 darling boys into the kitchen for snack and they all but barrel each other over to get there first. Then a mess of hands are waving in my face in hopes that that might some how win them a granola bar before one of their brothers. Or how about this daily occurrence - We get home from wherever our day has taken us. The older two boys start running the minute their feet hit the grass. We then hear whoever gets to the door first (usually the oldest since he does move at a much more rapid pace then our much smaller middle child) yell triumphantly, "I was first, I was first! That means I win and you LOSE!!"

What is it about kids that makes them think first is best? That everything is a race and that whoever is first is the winner? I don't think this is just my kids. I hope not at least! While I realize that this is completely "normal", it certainly isn't a characteristic I want to foster. It can't be possible to grow into a kind, generous, giving person if you continue to think of yourself first and do whatever it takes to beat the other guys. So how do we help our kids go from this state of me, me, me to a place of serving others?

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

A servant's heart isn't something we are born with. Not initially. Maybe it's a survival thing - babies HAVE to be demanding to get their needs met so they can survive and thrive. Maybe it's an environmental thing - a kid's first handful of words often includes the ever popular mine as a way of asserting ownership and dominance over anyone else who might dare lay hands on their coveted blankie or stuffed animal. Before you know it the teenage years have hit and Lord knows teenagers can't see 6 inches outside of themselves. It's not their fault, what with all those hormones bouncing around it's really a wonder they can accomplish anything! For some it doesn't get much better in adulthood - I know several grown-ups who have a case of "see it, take it, and I make it mine" (any Elmo in Grouchland watchers out there??) that has carried over from childhood.

Turn my heart towards your statutes and not towards selfish gain. Psalm 119:36

Despite what seems to come naturally, we are called to serve others as a service to God. And that means as parents we are called to teach our kids how to serve as well. How do you do that exactly? I don't have all the answers but I will share what we are doing in our house.

"...But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

Leading by example
You have all heard the old adage, "Do as I do, not as I say!" All of us with kids know all to well that children are far more likely to follow our example than follow our words. That is why it is important that our first method of teaching our kids how to have servant's hearts is to have a heart for serving ourselves. My husband and I make an effort to not only serve when the opportunity arises, but also to create opportunities for our entire family to take part in serving. Even if that means they come along as we bring a meal to a family in need. This simple act creates a teachable moment where we can talk to them about giving what we have even when it doesn't seem like much and how God blesses others through our willingness to give.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Giving opportunities to practice
I think it has been pretty well established that this servant's heart thing doesn't come naturally. That means that it is going to take a lot of intentional practice to help our kids get to a place where it begins to become natural. One way we have recently begun to give our children a way to practice serving is by setting the table. As they begin to take each cup and plate to the table we make sure to remind them to serve everyone at the table before serving themselves. The first few times this is all we said. After several times of doing this we made a point to talk about why we do that. We told our kids that when we are serving, we are putting others before ourselves. This has begun to lay the foundation for when the opportunity to serve someone else naturally presents itself. We can then say, "You know how when we serve dinner we serve everyone at the table before ourselves? This is just like that."

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Pray for them and with them
Let's not forget one of the most powerful tools that we as Christian parents possess - the power of prayer. By praying for our children daily, we are not only remembering to give their lives to God but we are also keeping them in the forefront of our minds. It's much easier to be intentional about something you are praying about. I like to pray that God not only gives my children a servant's heart, but that he gives me the tools to parent them in a way that helps develop that. Not only do we pray for our children but we pray with our children. Often. Yes, we do the typical pray at meal times and bedtimes, but we also make an effort to pray throughout the day and whenever a need arises. In the car on the way to school we pray with our Kindergartener, that his day would go well, that he would choose to be kind to the other students and listen to his teacher. This helps set his day up for success and also teaches him to give everything to God in prayer. So if you see your child struggling with serving others (and you know these struggles will arise because I still have them as a 30 year old!) stop and pray with them. Don't know what to say? It might look something like this,
"Lord, you know Johnny's heart. 
You know that he wants to follow you 
and that following you means 
putting others before ourselves. 
Johnny is having a hard time with that right now. 
We ask that you help him to 
make the choice to serve others 
even when it feels really hard. 
We know that you can do this and we know that Johnny
can do this with your help. 
In Jesus name, Amen." 
After modeling this several times you will find that with prompting your child will be able to pray this for themselves. And the hope that is eventually it will become a response that doesn't even involve you anymore.

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to help your child develop a servant's heart. As I said before, I am no expert. Just a mom doing the best I can and trying things out as I go. I would love to hear from you all on how you are making serving a priority in your kids (and your own!) lives. We all have something to gain from sharing our knowledge with each other.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Magid Lens Cleaning Towelettes Review

I recently received a box of Lens Cleaning Towelettes from Magid Glove and Safety. As soon as I opened the box my husband got all excited, "We use those things at work! They work great on my safety goggles." I had to shake my head and laugh because I get lots of cool things in the mail and THIS was what he got excited about. Go figure!

I have to say after trying them out myself I could see why he liked them so much. As messy and dangerous as my job at home with 3 little boys is, I don't wear safety goggles (although now that I think about it, it may not be a bad idea!). But I do sit at a laptop for more hours than I like to admit and rarely is it something I take the time to clean. After swiping down my screen, base and keys with one of these towelettes, I was surprised to realize just how dirty my laptop had been. I now felt like a had a brand new computer!

If you are interested in picking up some of these bad boys for yourself let me give you a little info that might come in handy:
  * They come in a dispenser that can be mounted on the wall or sit right on your desk.
  * Each dispenser comes with 100 5"x8" individually foil wrapped moistened towelettes.
  * These pre-moistened towelettes are permeated with an anti-fog, anti-formula perfect for cleaning glass, plastic or polycarbonate.
  * You can purchase the above mentioned box through Magid Glove and Safety at $7.88 individually or at a discount of $6.85/each if bought in quantities of 10 or more

--I was given a box of these towelettes in exchange for my review, however, all opinions are my own.--

Saturday, September 17, 2011

And the winner is...

The winner of the My Memories Suite Scrapbooking Software giveaway has been drawn at random by Rafflecopter. Are we all anxious to see who it is?

Drum roll please.....Entry #4 - Timberlee

CONGRATULATIONS TIMBERLEE!! I have emailed you the details so you should be getting hooked up with your software shortly.

For those of you who are slightly disappointed you didn't win and have gotten really hooked on the idea of owning this software, you aren't totally out of luck. MyMemories has been kind enough to offer my readers a promo code that provides a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook Software AND a $10 coupon for the My Memories store. That's a $20 value!! Just enter the promo code STMMMS88141 at checkout and the discount will automatically be applied.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Memories Suite Scrapbook Software and Giveaway

I am so excited to share this with you all! When I was given the opportunity to try out and review this digital scrapbook software from, I jumped at the chance. The truth is I love the idea of scrapbooking and have even gone as far as collecting the necessary materials and sitting down to start a book. But that is usually about as far as I get. The main reason I don't get around to it isn't the job itself but the work of pulling out all the materials and putting them away. In a perfect world I would have a craft room the size of Texas with a separate work station for each of my craft projects so that I could jump from area to area whenever I had a free moment. Unfortunately that room just doesn't exist in my house, so when you add the time for prep and clean up to the actual page creating, I can never seem to find a block of time that big.

This is where the brilliance of digital scrapbooking comes in. The Memory Suite Scrapbook Software allows me to work on my scrapbook in my time, whenever and wherever I am at. If I have 10 spare minutes between one obligation and the next I can open up my computer and get back to work where I last left off. And when I am ready to be done it is as simple as hitting the save button and I can move right on with my life. No more running to the craft store looking for the paper that is just the right color or the embellishments that will add that special something to my almost perfect page. With this software, all of those things are right at my fingertips!

Not only that but My Memories Suite allows me a wider range of options for sharing my creations. I can print at home, have my albums professionally printed or turned into a custom calendar, or even use a range of multimedia outputs to give my work a wider audience.

I have had so much fun playing with this software. Want to see a little something I made to honor my son's first day of Kindergarten? There are lots of designer templates to choose from but I decided to start from scratch and build my own. I think it's pretty darn cute!

Are you excited yet? You should be because has been kind enough to give one of my followers the chance to win the My Memories Suite v2.0 software (an almost $40 value)! Entry is simple:
Mandatory Entry - Visit and have a good look around. Come back and leave a comment on my blog telling me something you liked, be it a page, a theme, a layout or whatever else catches your eye. Once you've done that use the handy dandy Rafflecopter widget below to let me know you have followed directions:)
Bonus Entries - For those of you who like extra credit (or in this case extra chances to win) you can do any or all of these to get an extra entry. Make sure you let me know you have done this on the Rafflecopter widget below:
     *"Like" MyMemories on Facebook 
     *"Like" Chrystal's Corner on Facebook

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lunch Ideas - Jello

I realize that there is absolutely nothing revolutionary about Jello. But the other day as I was browsing Easylunchboxes Facebook page (check it out - even if you don't own the lunch boxes you will love all the great ideas!) I saw an idea for making Jello right in the lunch container. How brilliant!

Now the recipe they shared was all homemade and organic. The one I did is all cheap out of a box. I am hoping to try it the other way sometime but for now I am using what I already have. Here's what I did:

Make up your Jello (following whatever recipe you have):
Add fruit to your container (this is optional). I sliced up some bananas:
Pour desired amount of Jello on top of the fruit:
Put the lid on and refrigerate. Easy as that!

I love the idea that it is all set in the container and ready to go. And I am confident my Kindergarten kid will love it too!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes - September 11th

This morning as we remember the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I thought I would share with my kids what today was about and what happened on that day. Granted, my oldest two are 5 and almost 4 so I kept the explanation very basic. After a few questions from my 5 year old he simply stated, "I'm going to pray about it."

Hands clasped, eyes closed, and head bowed Nathan (age 5) prayed:

"Dear God,
please help those bad guys not to be bad anymore.
Thank you for all the good guys that were there.
Help them not to be hurt anymore.
In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day of School

The time has come - My first born started school today. All day Kindergarten to be exact. To be honest I am kind of glad it is all said and done. I have been anxious about this day and spent a lot of time thinking about it so it feels good to have jumped this hurdle. It has been such a mix of emotions as we celebrate this milestone as well as say goodbye to the stage in our life where all of our kids are home with us everyday. I know that this is just the beginning of these types of days as our kids continue to grow and take on new things and it makes me want to hit the pause button. It's all going too fast!

That being said I am completely confident in Nathan. He has been ready for this day for sometime and was nothing but excited. In fact, he was up and ready by 6:15 all on his own! He was very concerned about being late for his first day and kept asking when he could leave. He also told Jordan that he would make sure to find every red thing (Jordan's favorite color is red) in his class so he could tell him all about it when he got back. So cute:)

Last night we got everything ready, including lunch. Sunday night I made ahead his sandwiches for the week and froze them so that made things even easier. I did a special dinosaur shaped sandwich to match the lunch box note I made him. Hope it brightens his day!

We of course had to do the obligatory first day of school pictures before heading out. Jordan just had to be in one with him! And I got the idea for the K sign here (they have free printable card which is way easy and cute!).

When we arrived at the school we prayed with Nathan about his day and then I let Jeremy take him to play on the playground while he waited to line up outside of his classroom. Poor Jordan burst into tears as soon as Nathan got ready to get out of the car. It was so hard to wait and watch from afar but I'm glad I stayed in the car because I probably would have embarrassed him! Jeremy said he did great and lined right up when the bell rang. I'm so proud of my little man. Counting down the hours until I get to hear all about his day:)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lunch box note - Dinosaur/Crocodile

Yesterday I saw a Hallmark product called Lunchbox Notes. I didn't really look at the cards themselves but the package they came in was part of a decorated brown paper bag. This give me a great idea for creating a cute note out of the bag itself. My sons are really into dinosaurs and crocodiles so I thought a note that looked like one of those would be a hit.
Here's what I did:

First I cut down the bag so just the flap and the back section of the bag were left. I then cut the length of the bag so that about 2 inches were left below the flap:
I then cut a head that was slightly longer then the flap so that it hung over on each side. I used a glue stick to attach it (make sure not to glue the flap shut!):

Time to give this guy a face. First I did the teeth which I glued underneath the face so they would be hanging out of his mouth:

The eyes and nostrils were easy, I just used "circle"ish shapes from black and white:
This guy is really starting to come together! Now for the inside of the bag. I added a green strip that would cover up the brown bag showing when the card was closed. The remainder of the brown bag became the mouth which I made all black:
Last it was time for a tongue. I measured a strip of red that would fit inside the mouth with a flap at the end to glue it on. I wanted the tongue to stick up when he opened it so I only glued the flap. Finally, I wrote a note right on the tongue:

And there you have it!! A cute and easy lunch box card sure to make any boy (or dinosaur loving girl!) excited to eat lunch at school. I am looking forward to my son's reaction when he sees this on his first day of Kindergarten this week:)

I am thinking about doing this once a week and sharing what I make so I would love to hear feedback on whether or not this would be of interest to you as an ongoing post. I would also love to hear theme ideas or specific materials you want to see used. Thanks!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Turning 5 in Robot Style

Our oldest son turned 5 on Monday. To celebrate we did the usual small party consisting of close family. Long before the planned date arrived Nathan was already making big plans...all centered around robots. So robots it was!

I have mentioned before that my parents are missionaries in Mexico. If you know anything about Mexican birthday parties you know they aren't a proper party without a pinata, so my parents had some good friends of theirs make him a robot pinata. Wow, was this thing amazing! And S.T.U.R.D.Y. I am talking dozens of whacks with a bat sturdy. I am talking our middle son is still wearing bits of the pinata as a costume sturdy. Unfortunately this will not be a yearly occurrence because despite the fact my mom was smart and just sent money so that I could fill it, the thing still cost an arm and a leg to ship. Oh well, it was definitely memorable!

We decided to have the party at my brother's house since all of our family who attended lives within minutes of his house. That and we love to do an outdoor party seeing as his birthday falls at the end of August and our own lawn has been completely neglected seen better days. Not only was my brother kind enough to offer up his pad for the party but my sister-in-law agreed to make the watermelon robot I had found here. She even went a step further and added a cantaloupe friend. Aren't they awesome looking?
And then there was the cake. Oh, the cake. Let me tell you that up until the day of the party I thought I had gotten off easy. Everything had gone smoothly up to that point and I would even venture to say that I was not the least bit stressed. As far as my kids parties go, I really made this one easy for myself and was feeling good about everything. I should have known I wouldn't get off that easy!

To ensure that I wasn't running around like a chicken with my head cut off the day of the party, I had baked the cake the night before. I did a double batch of rice crispy treats to use as the base of the robot and used my 8-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup to bake the head. I left it cooling on a rack on the counter and was going to wait to frost and decorate it until we arrived at the party location so there would be no travel mishaps. I woke up bright and early the next morning to find my two oldest up and watching cartoons, the typical start to my day. I walked into the kitchen to get breakfast going to find that one side of my cake was mangled and a trail of crumbs was all over the kitchen floor.

My brain literally could not process this information. I couldn't begin to fathom what had happened. Did the cats jump up on the counter and do this? Would I find them in a chocolate coma somewhere? No, as I was thinking this they were both doing their usual morning thing. So I ask the kids who did it. "Not me, not me!" I heard over and over.  Wanting to believe my sweet little angels I again examined the cake, the crumbs, even eye-balled the cats once more. I then began listening to my kids and could tell that Nathan had not done it  so I excused him from the crime scene. And I don't know how this brilliant idea came to me, probably all these years of crime television paying off, but I decided to look inside Jordan's mouth. And what do you know...chocolate cake in his molars. He instantly started crying and apologizing. Turns out he got up before anyone else, saw the cake and decided to have an early breakfast. Can I tell you something? I wasn't even mad. The whole thing was so crazy and unbelievable I couldn't even be mad about it. Of course Jordan knows better then to touch anything on the counter without permission and we wanted him to realize that he had not only put a damper on his brother's birthday but created more work for mommy so his punishment was no cake at the party. After all, he did already have his fair share of cake for the day!

Having solved the mystery (oh no, now the theme song to Busytown is stuck in my head!), it was time to solve the cake problem. I tried making a second one but it stuck to the bottom of the Pyrex and was almost worse then the original. So I took both mess-ups with me and decided we would work it out at the party site. Luckily I had my clever sister-in-law to team up with because as we began putting it together and frosting it one side completely crumbled and instead of being stumped she instantly came up with a plan. All in all, I think it turned out okay. Nathan liked it so I guess that is all that really matters. And if nothing else we have a story to tell for all of time!

Friday, September 2, 2011


It has been way too long since I linked up with The Gypsy Mama for 5 Minute Fridays and after a timely prompt from a friend I have decided this is the perfect week to get back to that. For those of you who forgot or are new to this, this is the time where we take five minutes to just write. No interruptions, to edits, just write.

This week's topic: Rest. Ready? Go!

Can I tell you honestly that when I hear the word rest I just want to laugh. Maybe laugh isn't the right word...snort, roll my eyes, chuckle all at once might be a more appropriate description. As a mom of 3 boys ages 5 and under I really have to wonder if I remember what true rest is. Between staying up too late to hold onto every second of my "alone" time to being woken up by someone with a need in the middle of the night on more occasions then not to being woken up at some ridiculous hour in the morning, if I had to take a guess I would say I average about 5 hours of sleep a night. Not all of that is because of my kids but I do attribute my overall tired state to them.

As you can see I instantly connect the word rest with sleep. That isn't the only kind of rest I am missing. There is a rest that comes when you are at peace. When your soul is at rest if you will. I have to be honest and say that it has been awhile since I have had a truly rested soul. Not because I don't know how to get it and not because it isn't readily available for the taking, but because I choose the other path. I choose to worry, to overload my plate, to focus on the tasks instead of the outcomes. To make it about me when it really isn't.

And then Matthew 11:28 resonates in my mind - "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Yes Lord, I hear you. Yes Lord, I want that kind of rest. Help me stop and refocus on you so that everything else falls into place.


Want to join us? Head over to The Gypsy Mama and link up:

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